Saturday, May 31, 2008

Prayer and Pancakes again...

I'm beyond tired but it's a good tired. There is nothing like the power of prayer!! We had "Prayer and Pancakes" last night at Northside. For those who read my blog who aren't NS attenders, just to clue you in, we have late night prayer Friday night from 11 pm - 1 am, followed by fellowship at IHOP. It's a huge hit! Our people LOVE it. The worship team is there the entire evening and plays the whole 2 hours and we keep worship going as a backdrop the whole time and prayer during prayer. (And sometimes we stop praying and enter into worship for a while in between having different prayer focuses.)

Last night we had the lights out in the sanctuary, and a bunch of candles lit the whole time, and all of our posters and such up for Missions Convention, so people were able to go and pray at different "stations" and pray for various countries and ministries. Man, it was powerful.

We take over the local IHOP afterwards and it takes forever to get the food because there are so many people but that's alright we have a lot of fun talking and spending time together and we get home at about 4:00 am or somethin' like that. Just like the book of Acts...prayin' together, eating together, just spending time together. Everyone is always so hungry after prayer - and we eat A TON of pancakes and the like. I got regular pancakes last night but then I saw Cathy's stuffed french toast and was a little sorry for my choice. Next time I'm going for the stuffed french toast and have already planned for blueberry. (They also have apple, strawberry and banana.)

I've posted some photos from the evening here... Savanna loves taking photos and when I am not able to she does it. She took all of these photos for me while I was at the piano.

We finally went to sleep around 4:00 am and I had to get up in time to do my prayer shift this morning. I couldn't sleep in as much as I wanted to anyway because the lawnmowers and weed wackers were out in full force in my neighborhood making it impossible to sleep. Today, Saturday -- our church is having 24 hours straight of prayer shifts. I have another shift early in the morning tomorrow and then that's it for me. (For the shifts, we pray for our individual shift and then call the person who follows us to pray with them and 'hand the prayer shift over' to them. Works well.) Lotsa prayer! That's the key, I do believe... we must PRAY THE PRICE for whatever we are expecting God to do.

After my prayer shift I had to take Savanna to an eye doctor's appointment (all is fine - she is just having some strain because she reads so much, according to Dr. Stanley. Good problem to have! I love it that my kids are voracious readers just like their Momma! Doc Stanley says Savanna needs to take a little break once in a while and look away in the distance when she is reading for long periods of time. I'm telling you, that girl is like me, always a book, or books with her.) We came home and I've been getting my food made for the missions banquet (international banquet tomorrow night.) I made a casserole and Cathy and I are taking care of the cuban bread and butter for the evening. Yum, yum, love that Cuban bread! After cooking I walked a few miles with Lisa and we had a good talk about being people of THE WORD. So many reasons we must be IN OUR BIBLES in these last days, more than ever. Savanna and Ashley rode their bikes and swam while we walked and now Ashley will spend the night here. I've always got an extra kid or two's life as we know it in Shrodesville.

I have to get our family's ironing done (yes, I still iron everyone's clothes in prep for Sundays...) and I'm finally caught up with tomorrow morning's things and can take a bubble bath and pray for a while and go to sleep.

We're excited about our convention with missionary/evangelist Joshua Ben King and his wife, Melissa. Great and mighty things are in store! I can hardly wait! Oh God, touch your people to reach the nations!

* last photo here is of Savanna and her friend Chelsea at Prayer and Pancakes

Friday, May 30, 2008

The economy:
Obstacle or opportunity?

Yesterday I read a news story about a married couple who recently committed suicide together because their home was foreclosed on. According to this article suicides are up with the state of our current economy as well as other indicators of mental anxiety and stress.

I believe we Christians need to realize this is an opportunity for us to brightly shine the light of Christ in this time of economic darkness our country is experiencing. We can view this as an obstacle or an opportunity. We must share the love of Jesus with others and let them see that while money or lack of it can create some discomfort in our lives, it's not the way to happiness even if one has lots of it. If we think money is the answer and brings joy and peace all we have to think about are all the famous people who have overdosed and killed themselves. Are we sharing with those we come into contact with on a daily basis that Jesus is the only true way to peace? We Christians must be about God's business and His business is the hope dealing business.

I have gone through hard financial times in my life where I needed a miracle to survive and I've had many friends who have done the same. Countless friends of mine have risen from the ashes of financial devastation, foreclosure, bankruptcy, and are on the other side of it now, with God's help. Larry and I once lived with all our belongings stored in a Sunday School room, and I'm not kidding. We've had our hard times, but have learned to hang in there because "this too shall pass" and on the other side there's a blessing in the storm. People need to know there is hope in Jesus -- that they should not give up. But who will tell them? We must share with them.

And for you Christians who already know all this but you have just been depressed about the current financial state of things - let me just give a reminder to all of us that our eternal dividends are most important and there are certain things you just CAN'T PUT A PRICE TAG ON. Last night I was sitting here thinking of some of them in my life. I was thanking and praising the Lord for a while before I went to sleep. You need to do this for yourself and count your own blessings, but a few of mine last night were this...

1) My house was filled with six kids last night (my own plus three more) and all couldn't wait to give "Momma Shrodes" a great big kiss and hug and share the love. How in the world do I put a price tag on that? Every day my husband says, "I love you babe." Every day my kids say, "I love you, Momma..." and mean it. I could lose everything and as long as I still had the love of my family I'd be the among the richest people in the world. I not only have my natural kids that I'm raising but lots of them that I'm spiritual Momma to. WHAT A BLESSING! What whopping ETERNAL rewards!!!

2) We came home from work last night and I was so beat and my head was starting to hurt and I went in and laid down. Teeb made dinner. He told me he had a surprise for me. A little while later here he comes with a plate that looks like it came off of the food network. He tried to recreate my favorite dish from Carrabbas and he seriously came really close to doing it! Right now we don't want to drop the $$ to go to Carrabbas because like all of you a whole lot of our money's being spent at the gas pump. But Teeb tried to bring me my very own personal Carrabbas cause that's just the kinda guy he is. He wants me to feel special. How do you put a price tag on that? It's about more than whatever he paid for the groceries to make it - to me it's about his heart to please me.

3) I was doing the dishes and talking to my kids and discussing praise/worship with the boys as far as our late night prayer meeting at the church Friday night. All of a sudden Savanna bursts out of her room and yells, "MOMMA CAN I COME? CAN I PLEASE COME TO THE PRAYER MEETING?" My 11 year old is running out of her room begging to go to a prayer meeting. (Never mind that she wasn't going to have a choice and she goes to prayer meetings whether she likes it or not), but still...her me folks, you can't put a price tag on that.

4) A new man to our church, Timothy, gave a testimony Wednesday night about how 30 days ago he had a box cutter to his wrist and was going to kill himself when he walked into our Saturday outreach and Rob Hart began to minister to him. He had slept on our property the night before, homeless - no where to go...was feeling like giving up in life and had fully planned to take his life. But then Jesus put Rob in his path. As Rob begin to minister to him and he felt the love of others as well at Northside, he came into relationship with Jesus and he has had a revolution these past 30 days. He is a new creation. This man testified Wednesday night that not only was he delivered from thoughts of suicide, but he is cleaning up even the little things in his life. He said, "30 days ago I only showered once a week. I'm showering daily now, cleaning up my life on the inside and the outside and I'm making a new start." The past few weeks he's been on the second row at church just praising God and soaking in every bit of Him that He can get. I'm telling you, we've got to get through to the Timothy's that there is HOPE in Jesus.

There is OPPORTUNITY for ministry amidst this OBSTACLE that we are facing. I recently read the story of a group of people who have started the "Pray at the Pump" movement. They are calling on Almighty God to bring gas prices down. I don't see anything wrong with this. I'm not out there at the pump praying (yet) but I sure am praying at home! The government and politicians sure aren't going to take care of this. Our trust must be in the hand of the Lord, not the arm of the flesh.

From praying at the pump to encouraging your friends and neighbors to turn to Jesus, to doing acts of kindness for them, giving to others who don't have as much as we do - there are many opportunities.

Let's be about the Father's business.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Prophetic preview becomes reality

"Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that all was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, and make it possible."
~ T.E. Lawrence

Most of you know about my experience on my Africa trip last year, preaching at the national AG women's conference in Nairobi. I have never been the same to this day.

I still get in my shower each day and say, "thank you Jesus."

I still wear my Africa dress at least a few times a month and get a little emotional when I put it on. Yup. Still.

I drink my Kenya tea and coffee and smile when I sip it.

I pray for my friends there daily. I support them financially.

I think of them all the time.

The wonder of the place and the people never ever leaves me.

Yes I do realize I am called to pastor in Tampa and I love my home and church and am committed first and foremost to it. But a part of my heart is in Africa!

I knew I'd be going back to Africa -- the excitement was high while I was there and they invited me to come back and bring Larry and do a national pastor's conference. While at the women's conference I was just savoring the moments on our last night. I drank it in, thinking, "this is a unique moment that I will probably never experience again." The meetings we had there were just indescribable. Signs, wonders, miracles, healings. Part of my emotion in leaving on the last night of the meetings was realizing I'd probably not go back and do that particular conference, (the women's) at least for a number of years. According to the missionary that hosted me, they have never in 30 years or so time had the same speaker back twice in a row...they always get someone different. (I believe due to extenuating circumstances they had one of their missionaries who was already there in Kenya as the speaker two years in a row, but that was it.) Quite honestly I was not "assuming" a future invitation at all. I try my best not to be presumptuous. But I longed for the day when perhaps in the future I might have opportunity years later to go back and be with that same group of women, plus more. Oh how our hearts were united and knit together. If you forgot exactly what happened during all that time go back and read my blog for November 2007 and all the details are there.

In January of this year it seemed hopes were dashed of even going anytime to Kenya in the near future. As you know, a civil unrest broke out on New Year's Day in Kenya with many killed and even one AG church burned down with people barricaded in it. Since the new year, violence has been horrible and only very recently have things gotten better at all. As soon as I saw that on the news, I cried first for my friends there, second I cried for me...(selfishly) that I might not be able to go back. The outbreak of post election violence is one reason they had not gotten back to Larry and I about the final details or invitation for the pastor's conference in April. We have been in a holding pattern. Just waiting to hear back and start planning and raising funds and such.

Over the past month or so as I've been walking and riding my bike and spending time talking with the Lord, I began to have a vision in my mind of being at the same conference, preaching, being reunited with different people there, etc. This was all during my prayer time. I really considered it "wishful praying". Or just daydreaming while awake. I do that a lot. I'm tellin' you, I'm a God-dreamer. Now I stand corrected on the "wishful praying" thing as my friend Pastor Tara Sloan calls it a "prophetic preview." I truly believe that. I was not just wishful praying, but God preparing me for what He wanted to do.

Dr. Kuert and his wife Barbara contacted me and let me know they had been in contact with the women's executive committee and the General Supt., and they are inviting ME back again this year! Yes, the prophetic preview has become REALITY! With everything that has happened in their nation in the past year and the unrest and what they have been through, they believe it would be the perfect idea to have me come back and minister to the ladies again! With the relationship I was able to build with them last year, they believe things will just build to a new level for this year. Something very unique was birthed in the spirit last year. I am going again this year as their keynote speaker at their conference in November and will hopefully take a few people with me to experience it. I can't wait!!!

Plans are to raise enough support for this plus the pastor's conference. While there in November, I would talk to the leaders there about the upcoming April conference and promote it at that time.

You can't imagine my reaction when I saw my e-mail from Dr. Kuert and the subject line was: START PACKING! Yes, I saw a prophetic preview. But I still couldn't believe it. I was very emotional -- crying, praising God -- having a total Holy Ghost breakdown! This is a dream beyond a dream for me. I went bonkers in my office when I opened the email. I was just overcome with emotion. I have so many visions and dreams of what God wants to do and will do...

Can you believe before I had even gotten the invitation I had already been praying about messages and God's will for the week of ministry? I thought perhaps I was preparing my spirit for years to come...perhaps I was just getting stirred up for something else I knew not of. But no, God was opening THIS DOOR, this door I've longed for so much since November 17.

Honestly, I've had to go through a whole lot since stepping back into my world here back in America. You don't have time for me to tell it all, folks, believe me. Just trust me. Some of you who are in my circle know. I feel like this is an incredible gift Jesus is giving me for going through some of the stuff I've gone through. Let me tell you something, I've gone through too much HELL in my life to give up now and not get everything the Lord has for me. The time to say PAY UP to the devil is HERE. You know he's gotta pay back seven fold what he's tried to steal from God's people. Yes, I'm pouring myself out on behalf of those precious Kenyan people, and I'm going for the purpose of giving, not receiving. However, as any of you know who GIVE anything...the more you give the more you get back. Because that's just God's economy. It's so much more blessed to give than receive and when we give, we often feel like we've gained the greater blessing.

Sunday night we had a leadership meeting and our team has just come off of a 50 day fast and now we are going into a week of intense prayer. We have late night prayer Fri. night and then 24 hour prayer shifts on Saturday until Sunday and then our missions convention weekend which we are believing for signs, wonders, miracles. Where God is blessing, Satan's messing. One of our leaders, Sean, prayed, "Lord, we know starting Monday the attacks are probably going to be great this week...because your plans for us are great...etc..." and in that moment I thought, "oh my, he's right" and I wondered what I'd deal with. Well, the old deceiver himself makes sure he does his job well. (Why are we so surprised when a liar lies? When a stealer steals? When a destroyer tries to destroy? Sometimes we are clueless even though we KNOW what the bible says we forget what the Word says the attributes of the devil are.) Some of you know what I'm talking 'bout. But within 5 minutes of dealing with a situation that was straight from the pits of hell, this Africa confirmation came through!!!

I thought to myself, "Devil, you have no idea who you're dealing with here. If you think my focus is going to be off one little iota you have another thing coming, because God is pouring out something greater in my life than he EVER has before, and THE BEST IS YET TO COME! And I don't intend to miss it! I'm too blessed to be stressed! IT IS PAY BACK TIME! It's time to get my Holy Ghost game on. Let me tell you, the first half of BREAKTHROUGH is break, and I've lived that. The first half of TESTIMONY is test. I've lived that too. Sometimes you'll deal with some crazy stuff in a test, but you've got to stay true to God and your call and throw it off.

The price has been paid in prayer, fasting, and GET READY, GET READY, GET READY.........because it's only the beginning! SHOUT NOW!

God has been so good to me. He's given so many true friends and a real family who rejoice with me as I go forth to live the prophetic preview as it continues to unfold and become reality. I love all of you so much and thank God for you.

I'll keep you posted on things as they unfold for November and April. I've been told that to raise all the missions funds needed for both trips in this economy, we might as well expect to raise someone from the dead. Well, that's alright. We believe in that. Jesus still does stuff like that. My friend and doc, Dr. Rosemay Latortue just told me -- God ordered it, He'll find a way to pay for it. As Larry says, the first thing required for a miracle is that you have a need. Well, we qualify. And God is in the miracle working business!

Gosh, so much to do. I've gotta start collecting things to take to my precious Kenyan ladies again. Last time I had enough gifts for about 1/2 of them, plus all of the pastor's wives got special gifts. This time my goal is to have enough for EVERY SINGLE LADY. So much to do....gotta be Mary AND Martha to get ready for stuff like this. Thanks for celebrating with me, my friends.

Soon, it's gonna be time to fly! I'm gettin' a prophetic preview right now.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

God has been so good to me...

INCREDIBLE new doors of ministry have flung open in the last week. Confirmation came today. I am going back to Africa MUCH sooner than expected!!! (Not to live...just to visit.)


Details coming soon. Right now I'm just having an HG breakdown. God is soooooooooooo good!

p.s. I do need help getting there. The bill has not been paid yet, but praise God, I'm on my way with God's help through my wonderful family and friends who believe in me and support me. Thank you so much for your prayers. Details forthcoming!

My interview over at Deborah's Encouragement

Deborah over at "Between Dollas ~ Deborah's Encouragement" is doing a new blog series on Women of the Word. I'm honored to be her first woman interviewed! Go here to read all about it.

Deborah is a wonderful woman of God living in South Africa. Part of me is jealous! Yes, I blogged yesterday about living in paradise and she called me "Paradise Dweller" today and I just realized the initials PD could signify Pastor Deanna OR Paradise Dweller! How cool is THAT? LOL Anyway, I'm a little jealous that she's also living in one of my fav places. Many of you know, a piece of my heart is in Africa.

Deborah has been one of those people the last few years on the web who HAS truly been an encouragement to me...a real woman who opens her heart and shares openly and loves extravagantly so much you can feel it across the thousands of miles that separate us.

I love you, dolla!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Just another day in paradise...

Tampa Sunset

I just took a bike ride in my neighborhood as the sun was getting ready to set and once again I'm tellin' you folks that Florida is a breathtaking place to be! I like it. I love it! I want some more of it! Good thing I live here and can have more anytime my little heart desires.

I know the economy's bad right now and moving is not exactly popular right now. But once this financial squeeze passes, if there are any of you that feel so inclined to move to paradise and help Larry and I to win souls here in Tampa, Florida, just c'mon down. We'll have a blast on a quest for souls in paradise. Halleluiah! I am SERIOUS for those who may wonder.

I didn't move here to Florida for the reasons many do (the beauty, the sunshine, the weather, the beaches, the tourist spots, etc.) I did move here because I was called to the harvest. We had only been to Florida twice (once to the Brownsville Revival and once to General Council in Orlando - both on "ministry trips") and hadn't really truly seen "Florida". We had no clue we were moving to paradise. But I say this - if you are going to be in the ministry and go through the stress of it, for God to place you in a place this beautiful, WOW, what a bonus!!! And let me tell you, if you come here you ARE ministering to the NATIONS. This is truly a melting pot. I love the cultures of Tampa and the cultures that make up Northside. I love pastoring an "international" church.

So if any of you feel thus called...well, just let me know. This might be "paradise" but trust me folks, in the church, we would also put you to work for the Lord!!!

Now, on to my "Memorial Day" memories. I didn't blog yesterday. I had a day from H-E double toothpicks. Yup. Til 2 am, it was like weeping, wailing and nashing of teeth. Seriously. It was a day where the children were trying desperately to console the Momma.

My laptop has had a few problems lately. The laptop is my main writing computer where my books that I've written are stored. (Do you know how long it takes to write a book? And they are like birthing children. Seriously.) Also hundreds of my articles and sermons are on my laptop, not to mention all of my children's pictures, my Africa photos, my podcasts, my pastoring partners website, yada, yada yada. Also, now that I do digital photos I rarely print them out unless I want to frame them. But "poof" all of a sudden all of our memories were GONE. Well, Larry got a program that was supposed to FIX the issues I was having but instead it deleted my entire hard drive. I cried more than a few tears. I've been meaning to back everything up but just got busy and hadn't. Yes, I was kicking myself all day yesterday for that. How could I have been so dumb?

To the average person out there who just has a computer to email and such it would be devastating. But to a WRITER? It's like your home burned down. It's like a farmer who plants a field as their livelihood and watches it burn in flames before the harvest. And my children's photos?! Dustin's graduation, prom, not to mention our vacation, Africa, and so much more. Photos mean so much to a family. My, my, my. I was upset.

I didn't want Savanna's day to be ruined because mine was. Dustin went to Busch Gardens with his friends. Jordan had to work at Dairy Queen. I decided to take Savanna to the pool in our development. It's so beautiful there. I always feel like I'm sitting at a hotel when I'm up there. Well, we went up and she swam and I laid in my swim suit on a chair with my sunglasses, bawling my eyes out on a towel and then I'd take a break, read a Nicholas Sparks novel, then cry again, etc. We came home. Larry worked on the computer ALL DAY trying to figure out what to do. What a man. He NEVER gave up.

I came home, Savanna took a bath and settled in to watch movies and I went into Dustin's room, laid in his bed and cried and talked to Jesus. Almost 2 years of work - books, articles, sermons, blood sweat and tears not to mention all our photo memories. All I had left were my blogs. I did plan if we didn't get the hard drive back to at least go to the companies that turn your blogs into hard bound books and pay to have that done as a consolation.

I came out of Dustin's room at 8 pm or so and Larry told me he had found a company that he thought could restore it. He had called HP, and lots of other stuff, frantically trying to fix the mistake. What a good man. Anyway, I warmed up some leftovers on a plate (in no mood to cook yesterday - we just ate leftovers all day) and watched him work on the computer. He got a program, installed it, and started running it. It took 13 hours but finally recovered ALL MY STUFF!!!!!!!!!!! WOO HOO...I'M TELLING YOU, THAT SUCKER WENT INTO THE ENEMY'S CAMP AND TOOK BACK WHAT HE (THE DEVIL) STOLE FROM ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The first thing Larry did today was go to Best Buy and get me an external hard drive. Everything has been transferred over to it. We are also sending the most valuable stuff to my office computer too just in case we need third copies. Some is on there already but not all. When I'm editing a major project like one of my books I do so on my laptop because I take it everywhere and edit when I have even a few moments time. I have a bad habit of just keeping that copy and not sending it to myself elsewhere or copying it on a disk. NO MORE. Never again. You won't find me crying in my Coca Cola again over lost documents or photos.

Larry's friend Pastor Gary from Orlando called him this morning and said, "Hey Lar, how was your Memorial Day?"

Larry said, "Memorable."


Today I had a full day at the office. I normally work from home on Tuesday but today we had a special project and meeting so I had to go in. It was a very productive day and now my husband has made me one of my favorite meals ~ his spaghetti. It's so delicious. One of my fav things EV-er!!! Tomorrow morning we both go strictly back OP, so therefore, we decided on a "treat" tonight. Since his spaghetti is more points that I normally eat, we're goin' for it tonight.

And that, my friends, are my Memorial Day Memories and life here in...........paradise.

Thank you Jesus for my beautiful Florida and for restoring my data. You rock.

What men and women need to know before having sex

Straight talk with my kids has always come rather easy for me. Maybe it's because I started having an open and honest dialogue on all of life's topics with them early on. If you've been reading my blog for very long you know I'm a big proponent of this. One post about why I believe this is so important can be found here, in case you missed it.

I do believe that God's plan is to wait for sex until marriage and I base that upon what the Bible says. I share Biblical truth with my children first and foremost. But I also talk about the myriad of other consequences, about making not only a sinful but an unwise choice. Many people focus only on the spiritual ramifications. Those are real, but not exclusive. Because of this, I have chosen to also discuss other subjects as well with my kids and show them the whole picture of what can go wrong when they make a sinful choice. I don't believe enough parents share on practical matters like this with their children, until it's too late.

Recently I was teaching a class of adults and several shared their issues and frustrations, all of which centered around the topic of child support, and I thought to myself, "where were these people's parents to guide them before any of this happened?" That's not to say that if your parents guide you, you'll never make a wrong choice. But the fact is, when I minister to people whose lives are in a mess with these difficult issues and I ask them, "did your parents ever talk with you, advise you or guide you at all regarding any of this growing up?" I have never had a person tell me yes.

I recently came across an article by Regina Brett, columist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer. It's excellent and I've passed it on to Dustin, Jordan, Bobby and Stephen. (My natural and spiritual sons) The article is, Things Men Need to Know Before Sex. Regina Brett also has an excellent column, Things Women Need to Know Before Sex, that is excellent information for girls/women as well. I'll be sharing it with Savanna and her friends, when they get just a bit older.

Make no mistake, Biblical information is most important, but although the main reason to abstain until marriage, it is not the only one. I do not want my children to make a bad decision and one day say, "why didn't somebody tell me all this could happen???" I want them to consider themselves well warned. If my children make these mistakes, at least they won't be able to have ignorance or lack of of parental guidance as an excuse.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Sunday Wrap Up

Good morning to all of you who are getting your coffee and checking in with my blog after the weekend. (According to my blog stats a ton of you are checked out on the weekends and come back on Monday mornings to catch up.) I realize a lot of people may still not come back to the blogosphere this week til' Tuesday since Monday's a holiday. Lots has happened this weekend as usual so have fun looking back on the last few days if you have time.

We had a good Sunday...way down in attendance with the holiday weekend, but good spiritually. God is continuing to do something in His church. We had Sarah with us as a guest player on the worship team today. Wow. She's totally amazing. Lar and I brought a tag team message today...had a great lunch with the Powell's...I managed to get a 1 hour and 15 minute nap before getting up and pulling things together for leadership meeting at our house. Afterwards we had another meeting with Sean who now heads up our greeters/first impressions. Good stuff. Can't wait to see some things that are going to unfold.

Larry and I preached this morning on, "Perceive the Blessing". We also had gave special appreciation for all those who serve in Northside's Ministries.

Below are a few of the notes from my portion of the message. Enjoy...

Luke 17:11-19
"Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!" When he saw them, he said, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, "Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" Then he said to him, "Rise and go; your faith has made you well."

Jesus says, “Something is wrong here. Weren't ten people healed? Where are the other nine?"

It's interesting that everybody so quickly forgot to say thanks except for this "foreigner?" You see the one who came back to say thanks, was supposedly the one that did not even know God!!


You see, this one leper's heart was filled with appreciation. There are times we are so stoked about a gift, we forget about the giver. Now, let's put this into relationship with those who serve us for a moment...

Of course we are most grateful for the precious gift of Jesus. But,have you stopped to think about the person who led you to Jesus? Have you ever gone back and thanked them? Where would you be had they not told you?

I'm sure you are thankful for all the knowledge you have of the Bible, but have you ever written a letter to the Sunday School teacher who has taught you the most?

Let me tell you who the heroes are among us...those who SERVE. We have many great servants here at Northside and we honor you today.

When it came to the leper, it was because he returned with appreciation that Jesus told him, “Rise and go, your faith has made you well.” (or whole) In the KJV it says that the nine were cleansed, but in verse 19 it says that the one leper was made WHOLE. He was given something the others were not given.

The Bible says, “And one of them, when he saw that he was healed”. The Bible says that he saw he was healed. The others realized they were healed of course, but with this man there was something different. The Greek word used is "eido," and it means to “know, see, or perceive.” There is a perception and then there is a PERCEPTION. You see, but do you SEE? Do you not only perceive but ACKNOWLEDGE? He took the time to note that he had been blessed. He realized that something wonderful had happened to him. He was sensitive to the power of Christ working in his life. His perception had entirely changed.

The point is, SOME PEOPLE DO NOT KNOW THEY HAVE BEEN BLESSED. Many do not take time to appreciate. Let's not be guilty of that. For some it takes losing something to realize they are blessed. As one of my mentors, Sis. Coker says, “you won’t miss the water til’ the well runs dry…”

If our freedoms in America were taken away, we would surely realize and appreciate the sacrifices more than our soldiers have made for us and are still making for us.

If no one showed up to teach your Sunday School class, you surely would realize something was missing.

Let me tell you, if Susan Lilly didn't show up an hour early for church each time, a lot of things would fall through the cracks. I don't know what we did before Susan came on the scene. Everything down to mine and Pastor's water glasses are set right in place on the platform and lined up for us for the services. Susan keeps a lot of things in order around here that no one sees or would notice...unless she didn't show up to do it. But she's so faithful. Go, Susan!

From large things to small things, may we, as the leper who was made whole STOP AND NOTICE the sacrifices that are made for our wholeness. Learning to be appreciative of what God has done for us, and what others do for us is a major step forward in being made well.


Do you really perceive the ways, large and small -- that God has blessed you?

Did any of you come in here literally starving this morning? No, you really didn't, I guarantee it. We don't have anybody here who is actually starving. We have a food ministry and would have alread fed you this morning thanks to Rob Hart who runs our outreach ministry. Go, Rob!

Did you come in here clothed this morning? Yes you all did or somebody would have thrown something over you real quick until Rob could have opened the clothing bank for you to get some clothes to wear. We do that here too. Go, Hopetown workers!

Especially in America, we are blessed. Many people are blind to the blessing and talk about only how their life needs to have a change instead of how God has blessed them. Noticing the blessing is the first step to wholeness.

I want you to see something here in this passage that, when he saw that he was healed, he turned around. You've got to take the time to turn around and notice the blessing. Stop what you're doing and take the time. The Lord had given the command for the leper to go to the priest but he waited just a moment and turned around…why? TO GIVE THANKS WHERE THANKS WAS DUE. BECAUSE HE PERCEIVED THE BLESSING. AND HE WASN'T ABOUT TO MISS OUT ON PERCEIVING/ACKNOWLEDGING IT.

Why didn’t the Lord get upset with him for waiting a moment to follow the command to go to the priest? Because the Lord realized the fact that the man "got it". He saw something the other nine people didn't. So Jesus was totally cool with it because the man had realized the priority of gratitude and appreciation. This man fully intended to obey the Lord’s command to go to the priest but his call to thank Him came first. So what's this mean for you? Well...

You see, if you don’t stop to perceive the blessing on a daily basis and give thanks for what you’ve been given it won’t be long until your obedience just becomes a job to do. If you are failing to perceive the blessing, you lose the meaning of what God has given you to do. You become unthankful and even sometimes develop an attitude of entitlement!

There is wholeness is perceiving your blessing. Notice the Lord told the man, “arise, go thy way, thy faith has made thee whole…” This was something that the others did not receive.

A new power was given to him that day. He had faith, not just to be healed, but many commentaries state that he had the faith to follow Christ. Realize the blessing of God comes in different degrees. Although we can’t earn our salvation and it is based solely on the work accomplished on the cross, realize the blessings and favor of God are different.

This man’s thankful and appreciative heart was his ticket to WHOLENESS. Perceive the blessing. Be blessed, and WHOLE, my friends.

p.s. remember the dream I had the other night about me singing, "Higher Ground"? I decided after that dream to do it for an offertory today. Sarah joined me on it. Hey, I'm all about making dreams come true. :-)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The story continues...

with my new Muslim friends

Yes! They are Muslim.

Wow. God has set me up. (And them too!)

I went on my bike ride tonight and sure enough there they were. This evening was our fourth conversation.

(I'm simply calling them husband/wife from now on here on the blog since I've discovered this couple seems to be sorta well connected in their nation and apparently maybe ours too and I don't want to do anything to jeopardize them by blogging with their names.)

Husband: "Deanna! Where have you been?"

Me: "Oh, my schedule has been different the last few days with having my day off and stuff going on so I walked or biked at a different time than you. I'm sorry we didn't meet up the last few days. Hopefully you didn't think something was wrong."

Husband: "Well, we missed you."

Me: "I missed you too! In fact, I want to invite you to dinner at our home."

Husband: "And you to ours! We accept. Let us do both."

[Me inside going, "yiipppeeee!" ]

Husband: "Let's set it up when my wife and I get back into town. We are getting ready to leave tomorrow to go to West Palm beach for a few days. One of my former clients has invited us to spend some time at a place the Kennedy's own...

[WAIT. Did he just say the KENNEDY'S? As in JFK, Ted,, yeah, that's what he joke!]

Husband continued: "for a few days, so we'll be out of town.

[Me thinking: is he SERIOUS? Wow. These are sorta influential people I guess. The other day I found out he's the former CEO of an airline, today I find out he's hangin' at the Kennedy's place?]

Husband: "of course we'll accept your invitation and come to dinner! Who could possibly say no to YOU?"

Me: "um, my husband!"

[hysterical laughter on everyone's part here]

Husband: "no, no,no, I'm certain that's not true. Anyone married to you could surely not say no. My wife was just commenting to me the other day, "there's something so different about our new friend, Deanna."

[me ready to run in circles and shout halleluiah here...containing myself somehow from having a HG breakdown*]

Husband continues: "You are always smiling, always so congenial with us. We can only imagine, surely you must be married to a super man!"

Me: "Matter of fact, would you believe one of my nicknames I'm fond of calling him is "Superman?"

[Laughter on everyone's part here and entire time husband is talking his wife is standing beside him broadly smiling and nodding. She doesn't speak English as well as he does and he does most of the talking but she is so sweet and manages to piece together a few words on occasion.]

Me: "seriously, Larry really is a super man and I can't wait to introduce you to him. But I assure you he sometimes does say no to certain things...

[smiles on everyone's face here]

Husband: "well, we shall come...we shall meet this Superman, and have dinner! Yes. We shall. God willing, we shall."

Me: "Awesome. I can't wait!"

Husband: "You know Deanna, we are enjoying our stay so much in America and we have talked about it and we are considering staying..."

[looks at me pensively here]

"but we are wondering if we will be as easily accepted by others here as you have accepted us...what do you think about this?"

[big smile on my part here...envisioning them settling down here, becoming friends...close friends... and having not only months but YEARS to lead them to Christ, disciple them, be part of their whole journey...oh the thought... ]

Me: " I think that's a WONDERFUL idea, and I believe many great friends are in store for you..."

Husband: "Really?" .

Me: "Yes, really"

Husband: "Thanks be to the Almighty that we meet again today."

Me: Yes, indeed. thanks be to God."

Husband: You always have a smile on your face...

[ I keep smiling here, not bothering to tell him I don't do this 24/7...]

Wife: "Such a nice lady...that is what we keep saying, ..."

Me: "Thank you. And you as well. I am blessed to have you as my new friends. Blessed to have you in America. Blessed to have you in my neighborhood. Blessed that we have opportunity to meet. What day is good for you to join me for dinner?"

Husband: "Well, we go to Mosque on Friday nights, but any other night is good."

[My confirmation that they are Muslim]

Me: "Awesome! We're doing it, as soon as you get back from the Kennedy's."

[I never imagined a sentence like that coming out of my mouth...the Kennedy's?]

Just came home and reading a website on how best to minister to Muslims. Got the #1 thing on the list covered...says to put friendship as priority, not "witnessing". Just be a TRUE FRIEND first. Okey dokey, that's cool. I'm there. Article goes on to say nothing is quick about the process of leading a Muslim to Christ and it could take years and years. No problem. I'm willing to do whatever it takes for however long. And I realize I may be just a link on their chain of coming to Christ. (I might plant or water, and somebody else will see the increase...) I'm just so overwhelmed right now to be part of the PROCESS when just weeks ago I couldn't imagine doing anything to a Muslim but bonking them over the head with my bottle of nail polish on a plane if they tried anything goofy.

But my only question right now is...

what do I cook for supper?

I have never cooked for a Muslim before. So somebody tell me...what's off limits if anything?

A friend of mine was ministering to a Hindu and had dinner and pulled out a hamburger.

Yikes! Not a good idea. They didn't speak to them for a while. LOL


How do Christians not get stoked about sharing their Jesus with others? I have to admit to you, I don't get it. I just don't. This puts me on such a high, I'm going in the other room to have a HG breakdown* right now.

* Holy Ghost breakdown = something true old time Pentecostals do from time to time. Never seen it? Hang out with me for a while or watch a Martha Tennison video. :-)

Preparing the WORD, the House, my heart...for tomorrow.

If you are a Pentecostal pastor you definitely get this cartoon if you're up on some current events right now.

(Hey, I'm just providing a laugh to my fellow peeps out there who are endeavoring like Larry and I are to bring the full counsel of God's Word --or to even open the Bible in our service in the first place...ahem ahem...) That's all I'll say about that. Really. Not commenting other than that, publicly. (To any of you pastors/pw's who have no idea what I mean or do know and want to talk to me about it, e-mail me privately...thanks.)

Today was a full Saturday but a good one. I got up to take Savanna to the JAM walk-a-thon this morning and go teach my women's life coaching class. Good times. I like life coaching. I think those in the class do too. :-) (An excited teacher tends to make for an excited class.) Opening God's Word and breaking it down in a way that people can apply it to everyday practical life? AMAZING FUN.

Savanna and I came home and we had lunch with Larry. He had just finished shampooing the carpets at our house. He does it every few months to keep them as clean as possible. Being that we have off white carpet in our house (not our choice, it was here when we moved in) it's really difficult to keep clean especially since our home is grand central station to so many. In fact we're having extra kids spend the night tonight as usual and tomorrow night we'll have all our leaders here for our monthly leadership dinner/meeting. While he worked on finishing off floors I tied the loose ends up on our message tomorrow. He asked me to tag-team it with him in the morning and we're doing a message called, "Perceive the Blessing." It's gonna be good! (Well, if I didn't think it was gonna be we wouldn't be preaching it...) LOL

I am excited about tomorrow morning...I have felt good about my Sunday School teaching for in the morning as I was preparing it this week, and now our message that we're doing together. Buckle up, Northsiders!

Along with getting the final touches on the messages for in the a.m., I've been making chicken salad and iced tea and stuff for our leadership meeting. Everybody brings a dish to share and that's just what I'm personally doing but we always have a really nice potlock dinner or "share a dish" as I call it. I have stopped calling it that because one of our leaders, Adam, thinks it's funny that I call it that and he brings an empty dish to the meeting, as a joke, to pass around. (GRIN)

Larry is having some friends over tonight to watch hockey. I'm going to ride my bike a few miles, shower and clean up, have dinner, get our clothes lined up for in the morning and then sit in my special chair (seen here) and read or watch a little TV and chill out. I love rocking chairs! Always have.

Do you have a special chair in your house that you like to sit in to read or have conversation? This is mine. I usually sit in it for any significant conversations I have - it helps me think better. The little pink bear that you see in the chair was given to me recently by First Lady Melissa Sutton, who writes over at Melissa's Quiet Time Cafe. And the little pillow that says, "Friends are family one finds along the way..." was given to me by my friend Pastor Tammy Young in Sarasota, FL who doesn't have a blog but probably should. :-) Love you and appreciate you, ladies.

Friday, May 23, 2008

After the Rain

I had one of the best days off today, ever.

Nothing earthshatteringly different about it, but just doing stuff I love to do. I had an appointment that was cancelled today last minute and nothing could have made me happier. I got Jordan up for school at 6 am, went back to bed. Got Savanna up at 8 am, went back to bed. Slept until 12. Yes!!! Noon! Whoever said when you "grow up" that you don't like to sleep in like you did when you were a teen? I'm tellin ya, I have never ever lost my love for sleep and on my day off it's my fav thing to do more than ANYTHING.

I sat up in bed at noon, ate a Bagelfull (have you had them yet? They're great! 4 pts. each) and laid in bed and read while it thunderstormed outside. I love sitting in my room while it's raining and dark, just reading. I waited for the rain to end, got up and dressed and went out on a several mile bike ride. Just as the ride was really refreshing yesterday in the rain so it was awesome today after the rain. Just the scent as I was riding along was wonderful. I came home, had an iced tea and took a long shower and prepped to take Savanna to a birthday party. Teeb and I normally have a date by ourselves on Fridays but this time we had Jordan with us. So it was a special "Mom/Dad/Jordan" evening. Speaking of Jordan...

Jordan got his first paycheck today! He is so excited! Yes, my boy is a workin' young man now! He's so excited. Here he is today proudly holding his first paycheck.

He got paid and wanted to get a new bike tire. He's been riding my bike to work. This is a great embarrassment for bike is pink. :-) But it's all he has right now because his back tire was flat. And, there are times he needs to go to work and Larry and I are at work and he doesn't have a ride. Being that he works just a short ways down the road he takes the bike. He's been wanting to get his back tire fixed to liberate him from the pink bike situation. We dropped Savanna off at her party, went and shared some Chinese food together and then went and got him a bike tire. He's a happy camper!

We had a nice time talking together just sharing and talking about everything from his job, to foods we like, to missions, to you name it. I love my Jordan. He's such a cool kid but not so cool that he doesn't still show affection to his dear Mom. Tonight when we were walking into the store he took my hand and held it. That's just the kind of young man he is. Yes, he's hyper and crazy at times and definitely beats to his own drum. But he's also a tender and affection boy who loves his Momma.

That's just one thing I have to be thankful for today. Five more before I sign off tonight...

1) Some of the weeds in my yard died! (Without me pulling them!)
2) I have three kids who love the Lord.
3) God seems to trust me with opportunities and situations.
4) The Lord has given me such wonderful people in my church to love. Larry and I were just talking tonight about the sweet people that are a part of NS. (Mean people don't last long in our church. Not an environment they are comfy in.)
5) I have great opportunities before me to lead people to Jesus! There's nothing I love more. THANK YOU, JESUS!

Hysterical Video for Pastor's Wives

Okay, so this is circling the web right now on many pastor's wives blogs and such. Those of you who are in the ministry will get a huge kick out of this, or at least an "ouch"!


What Dreams May Come

"You may say I'm a dreamer.
But I'm not the only one..."
John Lennon

Last night I had a dream. It was so vivid and I woke up remembering the entire thing. Several times in my life the Lord has spoken to me through a dream. Perhaps I shouldn't brag on this as the Bible says the old people will have dreams and the young people will see visions. (Acts 2:17) Most of the time when we dream, it's simply like breathing - another function God created us for. According to medical science, everyone dreams about 100 minutes per night; we just have difficulty remembering our dreams. One hundred minutes is over an hour and a half per night of dreams—longer than most movies or TV programs we see.

Also according to doctors and scientists, dreams are representations of thoughts, feelings, and awarenesses that have been occupying our mind—usually for the day or two prior to the dream. Sometimes nightmares or negative dreams occur because our focus has been on the negative for several days or weeks, instead of focusing on the good things God wants us to focus on. (I always tell people who have been having nightmares to make sure they are reading God's Word, in prayer or listening to worship music just prior to bedtime.)

But many times in addition to our "good dreams" that are just the stuff of life, or our nightmares which are a result of wrong focus, other dreams are from the Lord - to give us a message. Maybe we were too busy to receive it during the day when we were awake and out and about. Or perhaps it's just the way he wants to tell us something for whatever reason. A dream from God is simply a message from him to us, being delivered in a different form. God is not limited in the ways that He speaks to His people. Those of you who know me well know that I am not given to Christian fads, or every wind or wave of doctrine that comes down the pike. I do not believe every dream is from God and some people think they've had a dream from God when they've just had too much pizza before they went to sleep. . But the fact is, God does speak through dreams at times. The Bible tells us this. You might wonder why the Lord would ever come to someone in a dream that is full of symbolism and not just tell them something directly while they are awake. My response to this would be that Jesus often used parables too. Matt. 13:10-11 tells us, "And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.”

Last night I had a dream that I believe was from the Lord. I was in a large place filled with people sitting high up on bleachers. The people began to sing a song - the old hymn, “Higher Ground.” After three or four words everyone in the place faltered and stopped because they didn't know the words. This was where I came in. My husband teasingly calls me the "name that tune" of the church. I was raised on old songs and hymns and rarely can anyone stump me and believe me, they've tried. Perhaps this is not something to boast about - again, it makes me seem older by the minute.

Anyway, someone cried out in this big place, "is there anyone here who can lead us in this song? We don't know the words." And I came down out of the bleachers, looked up at the people up top and sang every word:

I'm pressing on the upward way
New heights I'm gaining every day
Still praying as I'm onward bound
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground."

Lord, lift me up and let me stand
By faith, on Heaven's table land
A higher plane than I have found
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground

My heart has no desire to stay
Where doubts arise and fears dismay
Though some may dwell where those abound
My prayer, my aim, is higher ground.

I want to live above the world
Though Satan's darts at me are hurled
For faith has caught the joyful sound
The song of saints on higher ground.

I want to scale the utmost height
And catch a gleam of glory bright
But still I'll pray till Heav'n I've found
"Lord, plant my feet on higher ground."

Here I was in this big place leading all these people in this song, and in this dream it was like my very own amazing, "Gaither Homecoming". At the end of the song, I walked to the back of the room and someone raced up to me and said, "that’s it! That was have found your niche!"

I really believe this was a word from God for me. For what? Does this mean someone is going to call me and invite me to be part of the next Gaither Homecoing tour? Um no. That WOULD be not only a dream but a miracle and I'd absolutely faint with shock and awe. But that's not what the dream meant.

I believe God was giving me a message to to endeavor to live the words of this song more in my life than I have been. My "niche" is in the Psalm 91 "secret place" that He has for me. He wants me to live there and lead other people to live there. God wants me to live at a higher place despite the doubts and fears the enemy tries to throw at me. He has different realm of living for me, a protected place from Satan's "darts" that are hurled. The Lord has a higher place for you and I to live at, if we will just head up to that higher ground and determine to not just visit there but live there - to have our feet planted there. There are times others around us will not understand. The will not have the same realization - (they won't 'know the song') and will be looking to us to lead them to a higher place that they themselves have not realized yet. We must be ready, to head to higher ground ourselves, and to lead others there to that place that God has for us.

Perhaps my dream is not just a word for me, but also for you. Are you pressing on to higher ground no matter what the enemy has tried to throw your way? Are you determined to not only get there yourself, but to lead others there? Join in with me as together we sing and live…”Lord Lord, lift me up and let me stand, by faith, on Heaven's table land; A higher plane than I have found; Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”

Note: This was my weekly "cup of coffee" ezine that I sent to my Northside ladies this week. I thought my blog readers might enjoy it too. Little did I realize the other night when I had the dream and wrote this ezine this how much I would need this "dream from God" when things happened on Wednesday...God prepared me. He's so good.
~ Deanna

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Singing in the Rain (or biking)

"A man's health can be judged by which he takes two at a time - pills or stairs."
Joan Welsh

Continuing on in my "weight loss journey" blog series...

One thing I've discovered I have to talk to myself a lot about on this journey is exercise. I don't love exercise in and of itself, but I do love what it does for me. My worst days for exercise are Mondays and Thursdays. And on those days I must push myself harder and talk to myself all the more to convince myself of what is right.

To lose or maintain I personally have to exercise at least 5 days a week, preferably 6. (I always take Sunday off.) Mondays are a horrible day because I'm slammed at work with a million things to do, plus it's our late day to work because of staff meeting and sometimes after coming home, cooking supper and eating it's 8 pm or thereafter once all that is wrapped up. The last thing I want to do is go work out. I just want to lay down. Thursdays is another day where I'm slammed to get any undone projects done if I want to truly have my day off on Friday. I know I have Saturday to work too if need be but that's also my day to get my house in order, unless I'm going to do nothing but house/yard work on Friday all day, thus giving me absolutely no down time or date time with the Teeb and my kids. So, Thursday I am usually exhausted and then by the close of work I'm in the mode of relaxing and preparing for my day off, not working out. But I know it's not best for me to do that. Tonight was one such night...

I had a bazillion projects going at the office today and was on deadline. I told Cathy (my assistant), "don't let anyone interrupt me unless it's a real emergency." We got different projects done, had a meeting at the Hilton for our upcoming conference and some other stuff and although Larry and I have work to do on Saturday to wrap up things for Sunday it looks like we'll take some time off tomorrow. Well...

Larry took Jordan and Savanna to see Prince Caspian tonight and Dustin and I are home together. We're going to watch a movie we already have at home. I just wanted to lay here and do nothing but rest the entire night but I know I needed to get myself up and exercise. I had started to talk myself out of it because it was getting late and almost dark. But I began to use self talk to remind myself of what was best for me. Because it was getting dark I didn't think it was a good idea to walk but decided to take my bike. I always feel safer on the bike if it's later at night.

Upon going down the driveway I could see it was sprinkling. First thought... "oh no, it's raining - go back in..." but on second thought I said to myself, "it's not so bad. It might stop in a minute. And besides, why not? This might be refreshing." It was only sprinkling for a while and stopped mid way through my ride. I forgot how beautiful my neighborhood can be at night. The street lights come on. I can look out at the lakes riding by and it's so peaceful and breezy. Hardly anyone is out on the sidewalks and it's a clear path to ride without having to move to the left or right for other people or bikes. It was a wonderful ride, for my mind and my spirit.

I came home and once again had the same self-talk that I normally do after such a night:

"Wow, this was so worth it...."
"I'm so glad I talked myself into that..."
"The atmosphere was so refreshing..."
"I would have regretted not going later on tonight when it was time to go to sleep...
I feel proud of myself for having followed through and done that...

Exercise is vital to my weight loss or maintenance efforts and to my health in general. There are times I know due to our evening schedule it will not be possible to walk, bike or go to the gym in the evening and in those cases I set my alarm earlier than normal and do it before work (I dread that but have done it when I have to), or find time during the day. My days are normally crammed but in the case of having to find some mid-day exercise time on rare occasion I will eat lunch at my desk while working. Then instead of taking a lunch time away from my desk I take that time to exercise by either shutting my door and doing my Leslie Sansone Walk off the Pounds Power Walk DVD or I will go outside if it's a nice day and walk for 30 minutes and then finish up with 15 more minutes at home before I go to bed.

I have the Walk off the Pounds DVD's that are 1, 2 and 3 mile and can tailor them to whatever time I am aiming to utilize. (1 mile - 15 minutes, 2 miles 30 minutes, 3 miles 45 minutes). You can get these DVD's at Walmart, Target or wherever. I love them and use them when the weather is bad, or when I am traveling to a place where there is no gym or safe place to walk. As long as I have my laptop, I have an exercise program at my fingertips.

I have learned that doing what is best for me often requires me talking myself into it time and again and reminding myself of WHY I am doing it. Try this technique the next time you are giving yourself all the reasons why not - make a list and review it daily about why you should follow through and get your body moving! It's worth it even if you have to do it in the rain!

This is a good day for a miracle

Well my friends, you will notice I did not post yesterday. I wasn't up to it. It was a heaven and hell day for me, as I call it. I was overwrought with emotion and in no shape to write for public consumption. Actually I wrote a brief post to tell you that and then deleted it because it sounded goofy to me. Or maybe it just sounded like a Psalm I don't know. Didn't wanna take a chance though so I zapped the delete key.

Sometimes I get out of sorts when I'm emotionally overcome, which is not often. I am not one who cries a lot. I am very passionate all the time..."effervescent" as Dr. Sherry Lee calls me. (I will never forget when she called me that one day. I considered it such a high compliment and never forgot it. It means "high spirited", "bubbly" and "animated." When Sherry Lee compliments you, you remember it. ) I may be effervescent, but given to crying jags? Demonstrative for no reason? No. There's always a reason. Yesterday I went from the heights of effervescence to the lows of depression. As mentioned, I was going to blog it but then the downside sounded so bad, I reconsidered and got my angst out on the piano for a while.

One of the greatest things in my life ever happened for me yesterday. God has opened a door of ministry that I have dreamed about so much. There's a vision of my heart that came to pass. I was literally envisioning this a month ago out walking and listening to worship music and then, came the opportunity. I do believe 100% that it's His will. But being in His will is not always so simple. I am not kidding you that in present conditions, it will take a miracle akin to raising the dead for me to be able to walk through the door even though it's God's will. Does God do stuff like that? Yep, I believe He does. Thankfully I believe in miracles. I do have faith. Larry often says, "to qualify for a miracle, you have to have a need." I'm there.

Right now I am seeing other faithful, called people who are walking in God's will who are having a difficult time walking through the doors God has opened due to our current economy. Some of our missionaries who are called and anointed are not able to return to the field when planned and are experiencing delays because of the economic situation. The harvest is ripe...God has a work for us to do. But times are tight and in some places in America people are paying almost $5 a gallon for gas. This should have nothing to do with whether we reach our harvest but unfortunately many ministries are affected. I hate that. My husband reminds me even in good economic times this would STILL take a miracle!

There are opportunities for others to walk this journey with me that God has opened up... and actually experience this right alongside me, yet I also am concerned about disappointing them should provision not be there for some reason. Why oh why does it take miracles to do ministry? I guess so God will get the glory and it will be something we could never do on our own or take the credit for. They say your dream is too small if it doesn't keep you awake at night. Mine has me awake and feeling sick at times quite frankly.

Yesterday when this invitation came (which I'll tell you more about later once I know more and work out a detail or two), I cried many many tears of joy. I was overcome with emotion. But shortly thereafter when the financial reality hit me of what it would take to walk through this door, I cried more tears but this time of a torn heart. How in the world would I manage to NOT do this if the provision didn't come through? The thought of missing it pains me deep inside my soul more than words can express to you right now. I just bawl when I think about it. Is it about "me"? No. This is about receiving, it's about pouring myself out on behalf of a people who have turned my heart inside out.

My heart is so wrapped up in this, I went back and forth between crying tears of joy and tears of pain yesterday and then wanting to lay in my bed depressed at the thought of "what if". Then I thought to myself, "something that's God shouldn't make you feel this way..." Or should it? I don't know quite honestly. All I can tell you is that when reaching certain people grips ahold of you with a passion like never before it will almost make you sick.

My dear friends, will you please stand with me in prayer that God would do a WORK OF THE SUPERNATURAL so that I would be able to walk through this door and take some others with me on this journey as well? I need some warriors who know how to stand in faith and believe God for a miracle.

This is a good day for a miracle. A very good day.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Without a doubt, my favorite Weight Watchers "tool for living" is anchoring. I said in my last post in this weight loss series that I'd talk more about the tools for living, and of all of them this is the one I relied on most, and still do.

Of course, as a Christian, my ultimate "anchor" is Jesus Christ. Whether in weight loss or anything I do in my life. In addition, the WW program taught me about using milestones in my life as anchors.

The WW program says the following about what they call "anchoring"...

When sticking to the plan is tough, that's when you need Anchoring, a process for creating cues and triggers to remind yourself of your weight goal and the inner resources you have to achieve it. You use Anchoring every day. When you hear a song that makes you smile because you associate it with a certain memory, that's an anchor to that memory. Anchoring can help you achieve your "Winning Outcome" by reminding you of a particular inner resource you may need to connect to when you're having a hard time. "

Me here again:

People choose different anchors for various reasons of what things are meaningful to them. My two anchors were/are my fingernails and my wedding ring. I know this sounds odd, perhaps. Allow me to explain my reasoning. Until I became engaged to Larry I bit my fingernails terribly. It's something I did since I was a very young child. I would bite them profusely and seemed powerless to stop. I bit not only the nails off but all the skin around them, in a horrible nervous habit. It was so gross! I tried everything you can imagine to stop. Finally Larry told me he wanted to propose to me but he wasn't going to put an engagement ring on my finger if I kept biting my nails. He said, "I'll propose to you - I'll marry you - but not with a ring. I'll buy you a diamond engagement watch or something, but not a ring, until you quit biting your nails." This was before the days of the nail business being as it is today. Back in 1985 we couldn't just go down to a local nail shop and have fake nails put on in 30 minutes time. I had to stop biting my nails and grow them out the old fashioned way.

I loved Larry and I really wanted to get engaged and so I overcame my nail biting as hard as it was. Let me assure you, it really WAS hard. I have not bitten my nails in almost 22 years now however still to this day when I get stressed it is still sometimes a temptation. Would you believe even now after having acrylic on my nails and getting them professionally done there are still days I find myself putting a finger to my mouth to bite a nail when I'm frustrated and I have to remind myself that I don't do that anymore, and quickly stop. Larry promised me we'd get engaged as soon as I grew my nails out. Sure enough when I had grown them out, he proposed to me, with the ring! I have always been really proud of myself for accomplishing that because only I knew how hard it was to really do it.

With anchoring, the thing is to remember - you've accomplished things in the past - you can do it again! When I am tempted to give up, veer off, forget trying anymore, talk myself into quitting, I simply tap the end of my fingernails or touch my ring and say to myself, "No, I'm not giving up. I've overcome in the past. I can do it again."

The Weight Watchers Program gives the following instructions regarding creating and using an anchor:

Create your anchor with these steps:

1. Identify the inner resource you need to respond the way you want.
2. Remember a time when you had that inner resource. Think about the circumstances that surrounded you. See what you saw, hear what you heard and feel what you felt at that time.
3. Choose an anchor that will bring you back to that time in an instant — a mental picture, a word, a gesture or an object.
4. Then, remember again that time when you had that strong inner resource. When the feeling you had then is strong within you, connect it to your Anchor.
5. Use your Anchor by itself. Did it work? Are you in touch with your resource? If not, keep repeating
Step 4 until your Anchor grounds you when times are rough.

Me here again:

Did I resent my husband for making me grow out my nails if he was to propose? No. It was a change I needed in my life. My hands are my favorite feature - and my husband's too! I take pride now in keeping my hands looking nice especially since I'm always greeting people, hugging people, joining hands with them in prayer, laying a hand on them in prayer, etc. Not to mention I speak a lot at places and people see them right away (such as in the photo above at a recent conference). I love my hands and they are used to serve the Lord, my husband, my family, my church. I'm so glad they are also an "anchor" to remind me I can win my weight loss battle. You can win yours too. Create/select your anchor and go for it.

Monday, May 19, 2008

So proud of my girl

Today "Coach" Michele blogged about Savanna over at her blog. I came home from work, walked a few miles and then settled down for some reading. Savanna was laying down next to me as I was reading Michele's blog and I read it to her...and started crying.

No, I'm not typically an overly emotional sap or anything but when it comes to my kids I sometimes do get emotional particularly if it's something about their spiritual growth.

You got me, Michele. (GRIN)

Savanna had an ear to ear grin the whole time we were reading the blog.

Just to show how much she's grown since we came to Northside...

Here's a photo of her when we came, and then one of her more recently. She was only 5 when we came here...can you believe it?

In case you don't know it already, I'm a HUGE supporter of Sunday School/Christian Education. I'm always beating this drum with our Northsiders. I have been teaching SS for 25 years (since I was 16) and I really believe in the importance of it, not only for children but for adults. Learning God's Word on a deeper level and and memorizing it is SO important. Thank you, Michele, for being such a faithful and caring teacher!

p.s. back to the weight loss series tomorrow...just interrupted today again to tell you about my kid and how proud I am of her...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

I'm beat!

Very tired right now...

Long day of rehearsals, teaching, worship service, lunch meeting, and more.

I would love a break right now but it's not coming til' the end of the week. Oh well... such is life of us "special" (translation: called & faithful) people.

Here's a pic of Susie Q and I at choir practice. :-)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

We "SURVIVED" Joel's birthday party! :-)

I'll pick up on the weight loss blog series on Monday but for tonight and tomorrow I want to write all about my weekend.

Larry took the guys of the church on a camping trip this weekend to Camp Oklawaha. They had a phenomenal time canoeing and such. I have watched a few short videos and it looks like a blast. While he and

Jordan were away (Dustin was working) Savanna and I worked ourselves to pieces here at the house. Larry was amazed when he got home at all that we got done. I did a lot of deep cleaning including our walk in closet, the van, our bedroom, Savanna's bedroom, and did about 6 loads of clothes, plus had a crockpot of one of his fav things -- hot sausage, peppers and onions on for him when he got home. Unfortunately he came home stuffed from the campout, so it went in the fridge for him for tomorrow. That's one thing he'll eat as leftovers. (As a general rule my husband hates leftovers except for stuff like spaghetti or hot sausage, etc..)

I worked until the last moment that I could work today on household things, sorting, throwing away, scrubbing, bleaching, and all that stuff until I had to shower and get ready for Joel Powell's 40th birthday party. It was awesome!!! It was a surprise party and was right after the men's campout. He and Sheri are huge "Survivor" fans. Sheri rented a bunch of inflatables like an obstacle course, jousting, bungee run and did a full blown Survivor party complete with eating weird foods. It was hysterical. No one knew what foods were under the lids until they removed them and Savanna and Britney had sour gummy worms (not too bad) but Tom and Jordan had two barbequed BATS. (Yes, I'm SERIOUS, real bats...) Ew, gross! (They wolfed them down. Jordan won. Pastor T would be proud.) For those who are wondering where in the world you get this, believe it or not there's a place here in Lutz called Hot Rods that sells barbequed bats. No kidding.

It was a reallycreative party. Jordan says, "Mom, that was THE MOST fun birthday party I have EVER been to in my entire life!!! Sheri and her sisters organized it well and everyone had a great time. The only mishap of the night was Teri injured her ankle while jousting with Sheri (her twin sis for those of you who don't know them).

Sheri's Dad made meatball subs and I'm telling you they were the best ever. It kept getting on my face while I was eating it and Lisa would say, "PD, it's on your face and finally I said, "don't tell me again til' I'm done because it keeps getting on there, I will just wipe it off at the end." (LOL) Meatball subs are one of my fav things EV-ER. Would you believe Lisa had NEVER had one until tonight? Seriously. Until tonight she was a meatball sub virgin. LOL

We gave Joel a dress shirt and tie (he likes to dress up) and you know he's one of the singers on the platform and when we went shopping Jordan saw a Donald Trump brand tie that he liked and thought Joel would like so we got him that with a black shirt.

Here are a bunch of pictures from the night. Savanna sure does love the babies. Little Jacob just warms right up to her each time he sees her, too. We are a church blessed with many babies. I just love them too...sometimes I miss having a baby, and I know some of you think I'm crazy...
but I really do! Hey, I'm really not too old, I mean after all Joel is 40 years old with a newborn... although Larry would NEVER agree to any more kids (I've already asked him) and plus that it would be a physical miracle since we're both fixed. I have talked to him about adoption and he says, 'ARE YOU CRAYYYY-ZEEE?" Yes, I am. Many times, I am, I admit it.

By the way, we have a practical joke on the burner for Northside in the morning. Everybody who was at the party is in on it. Can't wait to pull this off. Just wait!

In other news, Teeb is catching up on his hockey game that was Tivo'd while he was gone and then he's coming in to spend time with me. I've already got all the candles lit. Yippee!

Breaking through my prejudice
with new friends

Some of you will remember my post back in October 07 about the fact that I've had some prejudice towards Muslims. I'm just being flat out honest that although I've truly never had a prejudice bone in my body toward any other race, or people group, (and in fact have always hated any kind of prejudice like the plague!!!) I have had issues with this group of people because of 9/11. I won't belabor this point here because I fully discussed it in my prior post. Suffice it to say if I even saw an Arab or stereotpyical Muslim-looking person in the store, I'd switch to the next aisle over. If I was seated on a plane near them I always had something in my purse that I planned to bonk them on the head with as hard as possible if they made any false moves toward me or anybody else. Seriously. I know that's terrible, but I'm just keepin' in real here.

Well, I realize this is wrong, and I need to change. I understand that all Muslims are not the same and besides that, they all need Jesus just as we all do. I'm passionate about evangelism and discipleship but I have to be honest with you until God began dealing with my heart on this, I didn't care about this group of people and would laugh when people would make jokes about annihilating them. I came to the point where I realize how wrong this is and need to ask the Lord to forgive me and give me opportunity to be a friend, and a light to Muslims.

The Lord has done the most wonderful thing for me. He brought some people who are quite possibly Muslims into my life for me to befriend. This is a big step for me. Months ago I had confided to Pastor Lisa about my thoughts and feelings on this issue and the need for a breakthrough in my life. She's someone I can talk to about stuff like this. I know she's been praying for a God-opportunity to happen, and here is is.

I met the most amazing family. They are from Bangladesh. I have been told that 80% of people from Bangladesh are Muslims with the rest of the 20% mostly being Buddist or Hindu and a few Christians. Chances are, my new friends are Muslim. (Even if not they are in another group of people who need Jesus - and here I am to introduce them to Him.)

I was out walking Thursday night and Lisa was not with me this time so I wasn't in conversation, I was just walking and listening to worship music and praying inside my head. That's when I saw them up ahead on the sidewalk. Yes, I'm stereotyping but they looked sorta like what I'm normally very afraid of. Immediately the Lord spoke to me and said, "take your headphones off, run up and catch up with those people and introduce yourself." I have gotten used to listening immediately when I know it's the voice of God when He speaks to me like that and not wait or hesitate. So I took off and started running toward them and caught up. They were a very distinguished looking older couple and I immediately flashed a friendly smile and introduced myself. They seemed overwhelmed in a good way. We walked back home the entire way together. I found out the husband is the newly retired CEO of an airline. (He gave me his card to prove it although I would not doubt his sincerety.) Yep, he ran the airline for his nation. Wow-ee.

We have walked together for two nights in a row now. I have not pressured them in the least or even told them I am a Christian yet, I have just befriended them. They referred in our conversation to the "Almighty" and even said they "thanked the Almighty for introducing us". I am not sure why they worded things that way. I had not told them God told me to introduce myself. I am not sure yet if their Almighty is my Almighty if you know what I mean. Gosh, wouldn't it be funny if we are talking about the same One True Almighty God? Realize, either way it's a breakthrough for me already. In obeying the Lord, I have felt the chains of fear and anger toward this group of people break off of me.

We're going to find out more about what my new friends believe as the days unfold because would you believe that although we've only walked two nights together, they have already invited me to Bangladesh to visit them? They are here for a few months but they are going back. Today they asked for my phone number and asked if it's okay that they call me. My next step is to have them in my home for dinner. Yes, eventually we sure are going to talk about THE Almighty God. :-) But I am wanting to just be their friend first...genuinely love them, not act like I'm ramming something down their throats.

Is this amazing or what? God is working in me. I feel genuine love for these people. I'm not afraid anymore. I really want to be their friend and quite honestly I think they might teach me more than I will teach them.

Please pray for me that I would be able to connect even more with my new friends and that the Lord would direct our steps. Whether they are Muslim, Buddist, Hindu, or not even sure what they believe at all...I pray that God would work through me to show Him His love.