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.

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.


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

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 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...

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? 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.

Friday, March 16, 2007

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

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.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

10 things right about today


1) We cleaned A LOT. Our garage...getting rid of about 10 garbage bags of stuff from Savanna's room...and so much more. Areas that have needed some major attention that we just don't have time for on a regular basis. It feels good to have a lot of this conquered. 

2) I rode my bike at sunset. Some new flowers have sprouted since my last time out there. Beautiful pink and red.

3) It was an absolutely beautiful day here in Tampa. Positively gorgeous. 

4) My Mustang is clean inside and out (yeah, took time for that today too)...even went around to various little smudges and worked them out by hand. Now if I can just not park under trees so much.

5) I didn't overeat at all today. Not even this weekend for that matter. 

6)I'm feeling stronger moment by moment. Thanks Jesus...thanks doc for the meds!

7) Tomorrow is church and we're expecting a great day in the house. Although a few key families have told me they'll be away...no matter...God will be in the house.

8) Finished a work manual this past weekend. Sometimes I feel like I'm the manual queen. But I think I tend to do them pretty well. 

9) All my clothes have been washed, dried and put away.

10) Despite my crazy schedule, I still made time for ME this week.

Friday, March 09, 2007

"Hold-over" Churches - Why I don't believe in the concept



I have coined a new phrase. While I've never heard anyone call it this before, every pastor out there has experienced it. At some point, you have been a "hold-over" church to somebody, and I guess in effect, that makes you their "hold-over pastor." What exactly do I mean by this? Allow me to explain.

A hold-over church is one you go to until whatever you don't like about the church you call home is straightened out. (i.e. the pastor leaves and a new one comes) This is how it works...

Your pastor does something you don't like. The church leadership does something you don't agree with. Instead of working it out, handling as Matthew 18 would have you to, or (gasp!) submitting...planting yourself and growing through whatever the challenge is that is presented to you, you head to somewhere else to worship. You are going to just use this as a "hold-over" until things change in your previous church, which you pray to God happens sooner rather than later. But until then, you try to find somewhere else you deem "suitable." When you first go there, you might even throw yourself completely into the activities and the ministries of the new church. You will more than likely gush over the pastor who is "like a breath of fresh air.

Yes, a hold-over church is like a yummy snack that tides you over until you are ready for supper. In this case, the "supper" being things being turned around YOUR WAY in your old church, the new pastor coming in, or a new deacon board coming on, or whatever. Make no mistake, this "hold-over" church is a perfectly good church. It's not a second rate church, in fact usually people find a hold-over church to be somewhere they could very well call home for life. But they don't. Although they might even be there for several years, their heart is not truly there deep down inside. It never is when you have left somewhere else for ill motivated purposes. Here's what you do if you are doing a "hold-over"...

You get involved in this new church...become immersed in it... telling everyone how "refreshing" it is...how you are getting so much out of it, what an incredible blessing the pastors are. For that time, you really mean it. You may talk about getting healed...this new church is such a "respite"...an "oasis" after what you have gone through. And then "D" day as I call it, comes.

A shift in leadership comes in the "home church". The pastor you had a problem with resigns. A new one comes. Or, the old board steps down and a new one is elected. And suddenly, you feel "the call" away from the hold-over church, back to where you knew you were originally planted all along but just couldn't submit to the process. In your eyes, "the problem" of the previous church is gone so now you don't need a hold-over anymore, as much as you have enjoyed it while you've been there. So you say to your hold-over pastor, "Ta-ta! It was fun while it lasted!" All along you have led this hold-over church to think you are not just 'engaged' to them, but you've married their church family. You may have even pledged membership! But in the back of your mind you were holding out for a change. It was like a secret old flame from high school or college that you fantasized about in the back of your mind...possibly coming back into your life again and a relationship being possible.

So what does this process means for the home church and the hold-over church? When you refuse to submit to whatever process God is taking you through, the church you originally left hurts because they are losing a part of the family which always hurts. Someone they love doesn't worship with them anymore, and besides that, there is now a plethora of ministry "holes" left behind that they will have to fill by your absence. No fun.

And what does this cause the "hold-over" church? Well, you breezed in there claiming they were such a breath of fresh air, got involved in people's lives not to mention ministries and now they are going to have to plug holes left by you too. And it leaves the pastoral staff in this hold-over church feeling like a bunch of used up rags laying by the roadside that you just cleaned yourself up with for a while. They served their purpose when you needed them.

I don't agree with someone using a church as a "hold-over" until something they want to see happen happens. By the way, I've been on both sides of the fence. I've been the pastor that people are waiting to see leave - who have left to go to the "holdover" and I've been the pastor receiving the unhappy people who are coming to use me as a holdover. It's no fun either way! Nobody wins in this situation except for the person who is USING.

Some people will try to overly spiritualize this or justify this by talking about "seasons". There are "seasons" in people's lives where they will leave and come back. I DON'T BELIEVE THAT. The scripture states those who are PLANTED in the courts of the Lord will flourish. It doesn't say that those who plant, then uproot for a year or two because they didn't like the way the gardener tended things, and replant will flourish.
 

What's right with me


Well, my last post was what's wrong with me, so now it's time to talk about what's right with me! I have so many people who care about me...I am so blessed. Everybody from my church people to my pastoring partners on the web, to people I don't even know read my blog and write/call and say, "are you alright?" Yes, I'm more than alright! God is good. I have a great doctor and Dr. Jesus. Just to prove to you how alright I really am, I am posting this photo that I just took TODAY. Here, you can see how healthy I look. Larry took this photo just for all you friends who are wondering if I am still alive and kicking. YES! Here I am in my front yard, just loving life.

Looks are not deceiving. I really am on the mend. Getting stronger every moment. THANK YOU, EVERYBODY WHO PRAYED. (Keep it up though because satan hates me and I'm always under attack of some sort. This happens when you are the devil's worst nightmare. Worst nightmares for him are people who JUST WON'T QUIT or forsake the calling of God upon their life. That's me! Okay, what else is right? 

1) It's going to be a beautiful weekend in Tampa! In the 80's! Yee ha!
2) I exercised on the elliptical today and it felt GREAT. These legs are going to be so toned again, Larry is going to faint when he just walks into the room. Woo hoo!
3) I ate oatmeal for breakfast this morning. I love oatmeal. (especially with a little smidge of fat free cream, and fresh blueberries...just a few...
4) We are getting rid of some junk in our garage today. I couldn't be happier.
5) Things for mine and Pastor Lindsay's conference are REALLY coming together. It's a God thing all over the place, I'm telling you!
6) I took a long warm bath today. Used my honeysuckle bubble bath that Susan gave me. (Thanks dear!)
7) Read some great articles on leadership today. It's my day off and I love to read on my day off.
I'm feeling more like my normal self again, whatever that is!!! :-) I think Larry is real happy about that, for many reasons. It's fun Friday, and it's starting to feel fun again...
8) I can't wait to ride my bike tonight!
9) I can't wait to watch a movie tonight!
10) I can't wait to do whatever I want to do...it's my day off. And right this moment...I feel good.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

What's wrong with me...a dissertation...grab a Snickers, it might be a while


Well, my doc got down to the nitty gritty once again and discovered what's hurting me.

The tests results are in...(at least half of them) and so far we've found it's a hiatal hernia (see photo at right to illustrate) and...anxiety. I know, I know, you're SHOCKED about the anxiety part. Ha! Ha! I try so hard not to be anxious, I really do. More about that in a minute...
Anyway, she was so sure it was something like this (ulcer or hernia) that she already had me on medication for it a few days before I got the test for it so my symptoms already started improving some. (I've had an ulcer in the past. Sort of comes with the territory of ministry and dealing with difficult people sometimes I guess.) I needed to start getting some sleep and she had to put me on something to take the pain away so I could rest.
Thankfully this can be treated with medication and most of all PRAYER, and so far it appears to be working quite well, and I'm not feeling like I'm having a heart attack, scared to get on the elliptical machine or ride my bike. As far as the anxiety? It's getting better too...Doc is helping me with that as well. As are a few armor bearers in the church who have risen up and determined to protect me.   

I've always been flat out honest here in my blog and pretty much everywhere else (much to my husband's chagrin sometimes). He flinches everytime I talk so freely about whatever it is that's on my mind, but all in all he loves me for it too. That's why he calls me "Sassy" and always has for 22 years. But I'll just say...regarding anxiety...everyone always tells me, "you do too much..." "you have too much on your plate..." "this is why you get so stressed out..." yada yada yada. Really, that's not completely true, not even mostly true. Yes, sometimes I have a little more than I can handle as far as "initiatives" in a week, and during those times I realize it and try to be wiser the next week and get into balance. But my anxiety usually is not over tasks. I THRIVE on tasks. I absolutely THRIVE on work, on accomplishments, on getting my hands in something and working on it. I love to "be" - to be in God's presence, to sit at His feet, to have quiet times. But after all that, nothing makes me happier than DOING and nothing makes me sadder than being bored. I'm a multi-tasker at heart. If I'm not creating, I'm unhappy. Retiring someday would put me right in the grave and that's why I'll never retire. Don't believe in it. Did you know statistics tell us that most people die within two years of retiring? That's because even subconsciously something says to them, "my work is done." They feel their purpose has concluded. Well let me tell you, my purpose will not conclude til the moment I take my last breath!!! And I'm not going to rock my life away in a rocking chair looking out a window thinking of my finer days. I'm going to live my finer days all my days. And despite the fact that my chest still hurts a little bit right now, let me assure you THESE ARE MY FINEST DAYS YET!!!

Work isn't an evil thing. In fact, did you know that work came before the fall? Even before the fall of man, they worked. Work is not a bad thing. God blesses work. He wants us to work. Many people say, "at the end of this life, you won't ever say, "I wish I would have had more time to work. Or, I wish I would have had more time at the office." To that I say, NOT TRUE. And no where will you even find that in scripture. It's just something somebody stuck on a plaque and everybody started saying because it sounded so sentimental and sappy that rest and family is the ultimate spiritual act of worship and work is some kind of sucky thing, or even evil. Well, I don't believe that, as much as I love rest and solitude and I love my family. Work -- when you do something that you LOVE - is the bomb diggity. They say if you love what you do, you'll never work another day in your life! And truly friends, I DO love what I do. I just don't like mean people. And for every 100 people I work with, there are at least one or two mean ones. And don't you know it, they stick out like sore thumbs. You know how your whole body can be healthy but one of your toenails is ingrown? It throbs and throbs and you can be in the best shape of your life but darn it if that toenail doesn't threaten to drive you insane. But back to work...

Did you know that the word "retirement" or even the concept of retirement is not in the Bible? It's not even scriptural!!! Did you know that Michaelangelo, at the end of his life said he wished he had more time to work, because he had SO MANY MORE DREAMS AND SO MUCH MORE WORK HE WANTED TO DO? But his life simply ran out. There was no more time. I have big dreams like that too. My dreams, my work, do not cause me anxiety. They energize me.

So, why anxiety? When my children have problems, it causes me anxiety. Why? I'm a mother. That needs no further explanation. But let me explain anyway, because I'm Deanna Shrodes. And those of you who know me know that I'm the explanation queen. I will just say this, it's been a little stressful season with my kids. Some things for their own privacy I will not blog here. I do have that much sense. No they aren't smoking, drinking, drugging or sleeping around. But you don't have to have all that to have stress. So here's how it is... if I can just raise them safely to adulthood I feel like I should get a humongous crown along with every other Mom out there who does it. A few teenagers learning to drive can give anybody a heart attack, ulcer or hernia not to mention an anxiety attack. Getting calls from my kids teachers? I don't even know why they are calling and my palms start to sweat. They just call about little stuff. Everything from spit balls to note writing in class. Goofing around on the bus. I know some of you know what I'm talking about. A friend told me recently that just because your kid's not on drugs or something "serious" doesn't mean you don't face stress or that they really need prayer.

Then, realize on top of raising three kids who all have their own free will, (unfortunately), I'm in a career that can be fraught with demanding people. Difficult people cause me anxiety. Carnal people cause me anxiety. Unreasonable people cause me anxiety. Demanding people cause me anxiety. People who send me nasty emails or faxes cause me anxiety although I delete them. (the letters, not the people...I mean, if we could delete nasty people with the click of a mouse life might be easier, but we can't.) They still frost my flakes although I try to pretend they don't exist. People who share "concerns" (translation: stupid unscriptural concerns) with me cause me anxiety. I try to forget they ever opened their mouth to me, but...they did. Every pastor goes through this, some more than others. I'm not talking about "worry-anxiety" as much as stress, irritation, an anxiousness that they would just be change, be quiet, or go away.

Some of them have gone away. And I'm all the better for it. I had to get myself out of an abusive church situation in the past to realize just how damaging it was to my health. And now having the wonderful staff we have shows me just what a relief it is not only to a working environment but even to one's physical health to be working with the right people.

When my husband deals with fussy people, or my children are going through stressful situations, it makes me anxious too because when someone hurts them, I care about it. It stresses me. When a girl breaks up with my son it stresses me out. It makes me want to choke her. It makes me want to hang a girl by her toenails when she cheats on my son. I know they are just teenagers but their little hearts break and fall so hard. And I hate it. So folks, please listen to me and listen close. Before you give me any lectures about working too hard, realize I do not have a hernia because I work hard. I have a hernia and anxiety attacks at times because some people drive me crazy. I have a hernia and occasionally anxiety because I get concerned about my kids. Just thought I'd make that perfectly clear. And by the way, my doc sees my point on this. Not only is she a spirit filled Christian, but she knows me well, knows my life, my family, my work, and she is a faithful member of my church. Not just some Joe Schmoe off the street. And she agrees with me on what I just said to you.

So there you had it, the reason I have been feeling like I've been run over by a truck these last few weeks. For those who have ever had this problem, (a hernia or anxiety attacks) it makes you feel as if you are having a heart attack, intense pressure in your chest, indigestion, general intense fatigue, and more. When your chest feels like it's in a vice grip and the room starts spinning around (and you aren't on drugs) you know you need to find out what's wrong. 

But now...I'm on drugs. Halleluiah. Thank God for drugs. (LEGAL ONES) And the staff is getting a true kick out of that - I've gotten kind of loopy this week. Yesterday Pastor T mentioned the movie "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" and for no apparent reason I screamed to the top of my lungs, "PASTOR LINDSAY, YOU AND CATHY AND ME HAVE TO SEE THAT!!!! They were like, "okay, but you don't have to scream about it to get us to do it... I said, "just ignore me, I'm on drugs! I scream things I normally wouldn't scream, or I just stare into space at things that would normally make me scream..."
Well, more than having all that... 

having the best doctor in Tampa Bay, having the best staff Larry and I have ever had in our lives - the BEST IN THE WORLD FOR THAT MATTER -- and a few incredeible armor bearers in the church to keep unreasonable (or even mean) people at bay, and Pastor Matt to counsel my children, and Doctor Jesus on top of it all makes for a 100% healing. I'm on my way... 

My best days are ahead. 

So okay  Lindsay and Cathy, when are we going to see the movie?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Working out...purse diversions...and lingerie


Well everybody keeps asking how I'm feeling and the answer is...better but not completely better. I'm on a lot of medicine so it sort of just keeps me floating throughout the day if you know what I mean...which is fine. I'd rather be floating kind of woozily through life than laying in bed clutching my chest for dear life in between working on the laptop. Sound like a no brainer there. Actually I think the staff might like me even better on drugs. Let's try it another week and see what they think. PD on drugs? Off? What lends itself to better pastoring? We'll let them decide.

Since I had an EKG and everything's cool there, I got back on the elliptical and the treadmill today. I can't just balloon up and gain weight even if I do feel like a mack truck ran over me. I refuse to get out of shape and in fact I want to be in better shape. I still have to lose ten pounds. I'm on my way to that -- lost 5 more pounds last week. Now that I know that nothing's wrong with my heart and this problem is something else, I'm going to exercise again on my bike and the elliptical and walk as many miles as I can -- despite whatever else is wrong with me.

Forty five minutes on the elliptical today actually felt exhiliarating and after we watch Idol tonight we'll hot tub and go to bed!

I normally don't meet the staff for lunch on Tuesdays as I work from home (my quiet day to get all the bulk of my messages, writing projects, etc. done without phone calls) but I did meet them for lunch today at a new place that we all ended up loving called Weck's Deli. I can see this will become one of our favorites for staff lunch. Good news is, they have plenty of HEALTHY things there to eat. Among my favorite already is the pumperickel swirl bread. Yum. 

Amidst doing the orders of service for this week, finalizing the booking with Vicki Yohe, answering a gazillion e-mails, meeting with Larry over a bunch of administrative stuff, writing a message, and a bunch of other church odds and ends, I got a leopard print bag and some lingerie. Larry won't care one bit about me buying the bag since I got the lingerie at the same time. That's one of my little wifely secrets. Buy something I really want that he might find questionable, but then get some lingerie with it and it's a miraculous diversion, bait-and-switch tactic. Works every time. It's the notion of, "I could care less that my wife just bought a purse since she just got something that's going to make me extremely happy in the bedroom."

Larry: "How much did you pay for that bag, and why do you need another one? Don't you already have several purses?" 

Me: "Yes...but....take a look at what else I got..." (opening robe, modeling lingerie that I strategically had on for him when showing him the purse)...

Larry: (eyes glazing over) "No matter about the purse...just come over here...." 

I am now free to enjoy this purse. And he is free to enjoy...well, you know.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Maybe I should just get used to being sick


REALITY. That's what this blog is about. Welcome to my personal reality blog. Well, I had planned to take some time off today and tomorrow but it's just not to be. So I keep plowing forward. I went for another test this morning first thing, then went in to the office. I would have just had to work from the lap top at home and it wasn't worth it to drive all the way back home plus somebody needed to run the staff meeting since Larry could only be there for 30 minutes of it today. And it was a long one. 

He left the staff mtg. and took Dustin for his senior project at 4:30, which by the way, Dustin totally rocked. He thinks he definitely got an A. So proud of him. 

So I finished up in running the staff meeting, left at 5:30 or something like that, can't remember the exact time but left there and went major grocery shopping. All the while the kids are ringing my cell phone asking what's for supper. I said, "I'm buying it now." So, I come home, and the kitchen is a rip roaring mess. I took one look at it and said, 'NO SUPPER!!!! I promptly cleaned up the kitchen, put the groceries away, and went and locked myself in my room. If they don't have enough respect to clean the kitchen in preparation for me to come home after being at work all day (sick I might add), then grocery shopping, then they don't deserve for me to make them something to eat. So I didn't. Lisa called me in the midst of cleaning my kitchen to see how I was doing and I said, "totally depressed to be looking at this messy kitchen." I just wasn't going to knock myself out making them something only to clean it up again when they obviously didn't give a rip about helping at all (even knowing how sick I was), they cared about nothing but feeding their faces. So they scrounged and got peanut butter sandwiches or whatever and maybe now they will think next time about next time.

These are among the many things in life that stress me out, even make me feel sick at times. But I'm not supposed to be upset about any of it. In fact if I do get upset about it Larry thinks it's strange. He sees nothing shocking about me coming home to this monstrosity. I'm supposed to just glide through life perfectly happy that I come home after not feeling well, having my head into no less than 6 projects, walk the aisles of Publix for an hour, load the car, come home to a slopped up kitchen and I'm just supposed to say, "PRAISE YOU, JESUS!!!" and start firing up the stove.

I'll praise Him in my room alone with the door locked, thank you very much.

I look around many days and think, "no wonder I don't feel good physically" but I truly many days do not know what to do about it. I was going to sleep in tomorrow to try to feel a bit better but Larry has an early morning meeting so I'll be getting Savanna ready and taking her to school. Then I have to go get a dental cleaning (something I hate getting done, necessary evil with more poking on my body), followed up in a few days by all the blood tests Rosemay has scheduled for me getting done. Then I have a bunch of work to do tomorrow too. Not complaining about work...I love work - it's my passion, what I thrive on. But it's the other "stuff" in life like mean people, messy kitchens, lazy people, etc. that drive me to the edge. 

Being constantly poked on, and keeping a regular schedule is hard sometimes. I'd better get to bed so I can have at least a little energy for the poking I will endure tomorrow. I think I'll go read about Ezekiel. I've always said Job stole some of his attention. Ezekiel went through a lot...losing his wife, not allowed to grieve, had to shave his head, lay on his side, yada yada yada. Totally unfair...one poke after another. Today sort of feels like an Ezekiel experience. 

Maybe that's what happened to Britney Spears. One too many Ezekiel experiences and she shaved that head of hers.

Debriefing from Sunday...


Sunday in the house at Northside came right on the heels of the Inspire Conference and it was a GOOD DAY in the house today. Last week's service was (for me) disjointed, but that was largely due to the way I felt physically. Today things went great...and I attribute this most of all to the power of the Holy Ghost, and...MEDICATION!!! Yes, since some of my physical problems are now being treated, I was able to do better today.

Tomorrow morning I go for some more tests and we will work toward defining exactly what the problems are and how to fix them. God is good. We cancelled leadership meeting tonight and I just stayed home and slept for 3 hours. Sunday morning was about all I could handle...even with drugs. :-) By next week I'm really hoping I'm back to my old self again. That's the game plan, at least.

What a sweet spirit of God in the place today... I just so enjoyed it.

Cathy and Tom ran interference for me today with being able to minister in the areas needed without being so bombarded by folks trying to side track me. I have three people assigned to help me with this now - Cathy and Tom, and Lisa. I've got the right people in place for this and we're going to make it happen. I think I have a little bit of a slower paced week this week, at least it appears that way so far and I'll be able to catch up on some rest as well as projects that have been sitting on the back burner. Oh those back burner projects...I have a whole tickler file just waiting to be attacked. So much to do...

It'll get done...my days of freaking over it are over. My health is far too valuable.

I've decided to invest in stress balls.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Inspire Conference Day Three

Vicki Yohe and me...at Inspire '07
Speakers from Inspire Conference '07

Well, Inspire Conference is officially over now and I’m back in Tampa. What a time. It was life changing for so many reasons, many of which people would never understand, unless they were walking in my shoes. It was a prophetic weekend to say the least, and is setting the next level for me into motion, and bringing me into Kingdom connections that are needed for that.

Above you can see my photo with Vicky Yohe, who was the worship leader for the conference. Awesome. Of course I’ve known of her ministry before in fact we hosted her at Northside a few years ago. (And – surprise – she’s getting ready to come back! I’m in the midst of setting it up with her right now….) But we really got a chance to spend some time together this weekend, talking, eating, talking about “next levels” in all of our lives. Also pictured above was our speaker team for the weekend. Left to right are Missy Monokian, conference host Sandy Phinazee (co pastor at Crossroads Assembly in Callahan, FL), Vicki Yohe, me, and Terri Yohe Huffman (Vicki’s sister – also a speaker at the conference. She also leads worship for Benny Hinn.) So there we are! Don’t we look like we’re having fun?! We were.

The energy that emanated from the placed this weekend was just incredible with the dynamic women of God that had fasted and prayed and plowed in the spirit for this conference. It was prophesied that Inspire will triple next year and I wholeheartedly believe it. God did a special work in many ladies marriages this weekend who shared with me how they were impacted by my message. We sold most of the books I brought. Doing good at the product table basically means an increase of opportunity for my women’s ministries back in Tampa. Most of it is funded through my book sales.

I made some great connections this weekend, just in general in ministry and then also for our upcoming Unstoppable Conference. I’m talking it up and can’t wait to get the brochures out on it. There seems to be a lot of interest. Just want to have something tangible in my hands to give them. Right now I’m just saying, “save the date!” One thing I’m just so grateful to Jesus for is helping me to get physically through this weekend and be able to ENJOY not only my time of ministering to the ladies as I spoke, but being able to attend all the other aspects of the conference and enjoy that too. Larry came and stayed with me – we basically just had bedroom time together, but hey…that’s the best kind.

Monday is time to finish up my physical tests and start getting back on the mend physically. I’m holding steady this weekend, but come Monday it’s time to get serious about getting well. Since I’m in this for a marathon and not a sprint, doing this is something I have to be real intentional about.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Day Two Inspire Conference








Well, my session was this morning and went well. I'm really hard on myself, so I'm always analyzing the heck out of whatever I do. Sometimes something can be a blockbuster and I don't even know it. They were responding well during the message and many talked to me afterwards to tell me how it impacted them. One group wants to buy the Intimate Woman books and make it study for their women's group. Always blesses me to hear that this is changing lives and marriages.

Again, the whole morning was a class act from all these people working the Inspire Conference. They treat their guests like gold. You don't so much as have to carry your own Bible or even walk to your hotel room alone.
Had lunch at a place called Salsa with Pastor Sandy and her leaders. And also Vicki and Teri Yohe. Had a WONDERFUL conversation about "next level" things that I'm going through right now and how to navigate these waters of growth and change. God knew I needed this, not only for me to be here to speak a Word into these women's lives for the weekend, but also, there were a few people here who needed to speak into MY LIFE. God is good. Personal ministry happens for me sometimes when I least expect it.
A word in due season is...invaluable.

The hand of the Lord was also mightily upon me in feeling good while I was preaching. No pain. Through HIS POWER, doing HIS WORK was possible. Thank you, Jesus.