Thursday, July 31, 2008

I will bless the Lord at ALL times!
Long update ahead...

Has the thing I'm dealing with gone away? No. However, every day I choose to bless the Lord. I choose to thank the Lord! I choose to share of His goodness! Even though I am going through a great struggle right now, I WILL BLESS THE LORD! HIS PRAISE SHALL CONTINUALLY BE IN MY MOUTH! Thanks again for your continued prayers for my situation.

I may be going through something but it does not totally encompass my life, THANK GOD! I have a praise report today to give of some bright spots that occurred yesterday that were like incredible beaming rays of sunshine onto the darkness that has hung over my life lately.

I walked into the sanctuary last night and a dozen roses awaited me...they are so beautiful. I'll try to take a picture and post later once I get fresh batteries for my camera. In addition to the dozen roses there was a beautiful pink gift bag full of "Moonlight Path" products including the new moonlight path shampoo, conditioner, and oil warmer/fragrancer! It was all from Susie Q. and it was just an "I love're gonna make it...thinking of you" gift. Wow and double wow. I was so blessed. That girl is somethin' else!

Then David and Gayle walked in the sanctuary and said, "hey we have something for you..." and proceed to give me this big magnet that says, "save the tatas" (research for breast cancer advertisement). They knew I'd love it. I did, but Larry won't let me put it on the car. I put it on the fridge last night and Jordan says, "Mom, please don't put that thing about tatas on the fridge!" Where oh where am I going to put it? I don't know but I'll find a place.

Then right before church started, Tom Gay comes up to me and says, "I've just got to tell you something..." and he proceeds to tell me in the months he's been coming to our church he's grown like never before in his spiritual walk...he's never been part of a church like ours...never had pastors like us...can't wait each week to get to the building...lives for Sundays and Wednesdays...and he says that he got the last few messages on CD and mailed them to his grandmother. He said, "Pastor Deanna, the only person I've ever heard that can teach Sunday School like you is my grandmother and she's been doing it for 42 years!" I said, "Well Tom please tell your grandmother I want to be like her one day. I've been teaching for 26 years now (seriously!) and people like his grandmother are my inspiration!!!" (I'm a SS nut, if you don't know that by now. I highly believe in it, will never stop teaching.) Tom wants John to start putting the SS Messages on CD. We'll have to see about that...

So why did I tell you all this right now in my blog...some of you who have never read it might think, "that's really bragadocious that she's telling us all this wonderful stuff this guy said about her and her husband at church last night." Well my friends, you have to understand, that this man's words last night were like life to me. I have been in such a depressed state and just hearing him say that what I am doing in serving is making a difference in his life and that he actually compares me to his grandmother who has been doing this for 42 years shows me that what I do makes a difference. Yes, believe it or not sometimes I get in the throes of depression and I doubt that what I do makes any difference in anyone's life. I typically don't "need" boatloads of encouragement to do what I do...I normally get such a high from serving and giving -- I don't require it to do an excellent job and keep going. But lately...well, I've just been in such a state that I take in encouragement like a little sick bird who is being fed through a dropper. I just drink it in and it's helping me to feel Jesus' love and nurse me back to health again if that makes any sense. And I'm just so glad to have something GOOD to share with you. Okay, on to the next report...

After Tom Gay comes up and gives me this great encouragement I noticed that on the first night of our new format for Wednesday nights, we have a phenomenal turnout, with many people who normally do not come on Wednesday nights!!! Last night was the kick off of our new format which I am leading with a new leadership team, and it not only includes praise and worship and prayer and the Word, but also "fusion groups". These are small groups of 10 that take place at the conclusion of the teaching. With the leadership we currently have in place and the groups we have set up, we are almost totally full! We only had a few spots open in the groups last night and so I'm going to have to come up with another leader or two pretty quick to make more room for others. All the leaders were very excited! And the people seemed to LOVE these new groups.

Last night we served drinks as the people came in, then had worship, prayer, I preached for about 25 minutes and then they split up in groups for about 30 minutes. They had discussion questions based on my message and group prayer. During the 30 minutes I looked around the room I saw a few group members crying and others encircling them to lay hands and pray over them. I heard one group rejoicing and clapping over what God had just done in their circle. The other group was sharing laughter together. One man (a new man) came in after his wife had just served him with divorce papers that day and said, "this is exactly what I needed tonight...I can't believe we're having these groups...this is incredible." Wow, what a hit! I can't wait to see what God does next. I am now completely over adult ministries on Wednesday nights. Which leads me to my next praise report...

Several weeks ago our youth pastor resigned and left. (This is not the praise report.) My husband is doing the youth in the interim during this time (indefinitely, until he gets it how he wants it and knows it can be - and until he finds someone he can implicitly trust to put over it). If you don't know, we were youth pastors for many years and quite effectively. But that's many years ago and my husband wondered, "could he still do it today?" He also wondered how this would go over now that all three of our kids are in the group! (To our surprise all three of them screamed with excitement when their Dad told them he was taking over. No kidding. I think that's a testimony to our relationship if anything.) Anyway, Larry has a huge heart for youth (we both do) but he wondered how this dual thing of being the Sr. Pastor/Youth Pastor would go over. Well, in just a few weeks time he has gotten 11 solid adult leaders and begun training them to form a real solid leadership team with adults leading, and the youth group has more than doubled!!! Last night there was not ONE empty chair! They sent someone down to the sanctuary to get a camera. Isa happened to have hers and came up and took these photos that are here. All of the seats were filled last night and the altars were full too and one young man gave his life to Christ! Someone has been getting saved almost every week and there are lots of new kids.

Larry was so thrilled and several parents came to me in the sanctuary afterwards and said, "this is amazing...Pastor Larry was just what our youth group needed."

I'm so proud of him. Let me say, my husband has time for this like he needs a hole in the head, and he's tired. He's exhausted, but those parents are right - it's God's timing for this. Today believe it or not he is out with the youth at Adventure Island all day! He has been doing so many things with them. He just took them to see the Dark Knight and is getting ready to take them tubing on the rainbow river, and then have an all night lock in. I'm amazed by Teeby. Truly amazed. With all that he is under right now, he's plowing through...with excellence, glory to God!

Well, this is my report for today. It's a good one, and I'm excited to share it here on my blog. Yes, I do still need your prayers, but in the midst of what feels overwhelming, GOD IS WORKING, GOOD THINGS ARE HAPPENING, GOD IS BEING GLORIFIED!


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Friends help us to feel God...
when He seems far away

This was on my little desk calendar for today:

"The God who created, names and numbers the stars in the heavens also numbers the hairs of my head...He pays attention to very big things and to very small ones. What matters to me matters to Him, and that changes my life." - Elisabeth Elliot

I know God cares - theologically I do know this to be fact, I have just not been feeling it too much lately. I have borrowed a bunch of faith from my friends.

Tonight I will be preaching at church and my topic is, "Created for Fusion", and it's going to be about why we in the body of Christ need one another so much. Part of what I'm going to share about is the fact that through other believers we sense and know God's love and care. Author Gary Burge says, "When God's love feels distant or non-existent, the body of Christ's love is real and tangible."

So in other words, even though we don't feel His love directly sometimes and He seems so far away, and our prayers seem to just bounce...through others, we feel His love. That's really huge to me right now.

I have been feeling like God is so far away right now (though again, theologically I know He's not...) however friends have reached out to me and through them, I feel the incredible lavish love of God.

Thank you friends, for helping me to feel and sense God...through you I feel His tangible presence.

Look what Lourdes did...

Lourdes Manners, member of our life coaching group - and official photographer, made this online scrapbooking piece today and sent to me...isn't it adorable? She's the only one missing from the picture because she was taking it... (and we have other members in life coaching but these were the ones who were able to get away to go to Go Girl conference.)

I love my ladies. Yesterday I spoke of the last days and dark times in the ministry. Fortunately my life coaching group is an incredibly bright spot for me! Thank you gals, for being who you are. I love you so much.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Duh, it's the last days, stupid!

I'll admit it. Some days I've just sat in a daze wondering why pastoring is so hard in these days and times. I'm not alone in feeling that way. Every pastor or pastor's wife I know feels the pressure.

Well, today I took time to read through I Timothy, II Timothy and Titus...the pastoral epistles. This is basically the handbook on pastoring. I make a point to read through it several times a year and keep reminding myself of things again and again and again. (The Word leaks out of me...gotta keep putting it in...)

Each time I read the pastoral epistles I get many new things out of them. Today while I was reading it, I was struck with this thought:

Is it any wonder why pastoring is so hard today?

The pastoral epistles point again and again to why it is so hard! We are living in the last days!

Get this:

II Timothy 3:1-9 "But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these men oppose the truth—men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone."

Okay, so that explains it. There will be terrible times in the last days. And make no mistake that what is described in II Timothy as characteristics exists not only in the world but in the church. Notice the line, "...having a form of godliness..." This pretty much describes the state of many churches and church people today!

The good news is, we can make it. We have to! Because we're living in the last days and souls depend on it! We must be faithful to the task though God's servants are dealing with all of the above and more. II Timothy 4 goes on to charge us to continue to fight the good fight, keep the faith, finish the race. Not only because souls are at stake now but because there is reward for His servants. Verse 8 goes on to say, "Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing."

I came home from work at the church office today and as Larry was cooking supper and I was tidying up the house we had on FOX News and I was riveted to the TV as I saw Governor Schwarzenegger from California giving a press conference about an earthquake there today. Apparently it has quite literally rocked their world. What does the Bible say will happen in the end times? Mark 13:8 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.

We are living under the threat of terrorism everyday, in the midst of the Iraq war, experiencing Tsunami's, earthquakes, and yes, famines. I should not wonder anymore why pastoring can be so hard, and neither should the rest of you who are doing this. Here's the thing...we are definitely in the last days and unfortunately instead of repenting and being concerned about souls and holiness, we have a lot of carnal Christians displaying the above behaviors just like the world!

It's not easy out there, my fellow ministers. No, not easy at all. But God put us here for such a time as this. Out of all the times we could have been born, He chose now and He chose YOU and ME for this task. Let's keep going for much is at stake, and our eternal reward is great.

p.s. regarding your prayers for me, Larry, our family...we still need them. This more than likely won't be a quick process, unless God brings a miracle. I still believe in them. Thank you for believing with me. I will keep you posted from time to time on the blog as well as a personal update to anyone who has written me an e-mail. Thanks so much, friends.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The process is the goal

My devotional in Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, really spoke to me strongly today. I'm off to take a bike ride before the sun sets, but wanted to share it here:

"We tend to think that if Jesus Christ compels us to do something and we are obedient to Him, He will lead us to great success. We should never have the thought that our dreams of success are God’s purpose for us. In fact, His purpose may be exactly the opposite. We have the idea that God is leading us toward a particular end or a desired goal, but He is not. The question of whether or not we arrive at a particular goal is of little importance, and reaching it becomes merely an episode along the way. What we see as only the process of reaching a particular end, God sees as the goal itself.

What is my vision of God’s purpose for me? Whatever it may be, His purpose is for me to depend on Him and on His power now. If I can stay calm, faithful, and unconfused while in the middle of the turmoil of life, the goal of the purpose of God is being accomplished in me. God is not working toward a particular finish— His purpose is the process itself. What He desires for me is that I see "Him walking on the sea" with no shore, no success, nor goal in sight, but simply having the absolute certainty that everything is all right because I see "Him walking on the sea" ( Mark 6:49 ). It is the process, not the outcome, that is glorifying to God.

God’s training is for now, not later. His purpose is for this very minute, not for sometime in the future. We have nothing to do with what will follow our obedience, and we are wrong to concern ourselves with it. What people call preparation, God sees as the goal itself.

God’s purpose is to enable me to see that He can walk on the storms of my life right now. If we have a further goal in mind, we are not paying enough attention to the present time. However, if we realize that moment-by-moment obedience is the goal, then each moment as it comes is precious."

Deanna here again: Wow, this was such a timely reminder to me. I am being reminded once again that to God, the process IS the goal. Too many people speak of destiny as it being all that is important but the truth is, destiny is now.

Yes Lord, I'm listening.

If you haven't signed up yet

Prayer Event Button
for DRIVEN TO PRAY, please do so!

It's coming up on Sunday night, and I can't wait!

To register for your spot at this FREE live teleconference call, simply go here.

If you are wondering what in the world this is all about and you have happened upon my blog for the first time, go to my prior post here, or to the Driven to Pray website here.

Once you have signed up to "attend" you will follow the step by step instructions when calling into the, "Women Driven to Pray" event. Again, it's this Sunday night, August 3, 2008 at 8 pm EST. You will dial the Attendee dial-in #: (712) 432-1001 and when prompted, enter the Attendee Access Code: 489447432#

Can't wait to hear all the PRAISE REPORTS of what will occur through this WORLDWIDE prayer meeting! Mega kudos to my dear friend Pastor Tara for responding to the call from the Lord to do this.

Sunday night is going to be a night of breakthrough! I have been preparing my heart in prayer this afternoon for this and I sense a strong breaker anointing over this whole event. Get ready!!!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Family Chat

(Larry and I pull up our chairs to have our "family chat" with the leadership team tonight. We're real relational like that...)

Great day at Northside today!

The Lord really moved among us and we don't take that for granted for even one second!

This morning's service was really good with the spirit moving through the worship, right into the Lord moving in the gifts of the Spirit, into a great message from Larry about living in God's "intervals" and staying in the place of intercession as Daniel did. Powerful. Tons of comments about how much the sermon ministered to all...

Tonight was our leadership meeting which we have in our home. I love our leadership meetings. We have a great group of leaders who are very supportive. Tonight was an especially good meeting. We listened to a CD of Pastor Perry Fruscella, a friend of ours, giving a message on "How to Support Your Pastor." Well, we already have a good group of leaders but this kicked it up a notch! The message was really good in opening up some behind the scenes things that pastors deal with that most people have no clue about. It is amazing how once you clue your leadership in to some of those things, how supportive they can become if they just know about it.

Larry and I just shared openly with them tonight and poured our hearts out and they responded...

God is good.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Message...
perfectly describes my feelings
so many times

Psalm 51...The Message Bible...

" Tune me in to foot-tapping songs, set these once-broken bones to dancing... God, make a fresh start in me, shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life. Don't throw me out with the trash, or fail to breathe holiness in me. Bring me back from gray exile, put a fresh wind in my sails!"


This is my prayer.

(I took this photo at Clearwater, by the way...)

Few more photos from yesterday...

Some sanddollars and shells Jordan got from diving...


My sister, Kim in the Ft. Desoto

Savanna and Lexi building castles...

Capturing the end to another beautiful day on was like this when I was taking my walk on the beach at sunset before leaving, just talking to the was pretty deserted out there and a perfect time to chat...

Friday, July 25, 2008

While you were sleeping...

More and more I realize just how much the Lord loves me and cares about my needs. The Bible says if He cares for the birds of the air and provides for them, how much more will He provide for us? I took this photo today of Jordan enjoying the birds and running around on the sand at Ft. DeSoto. I'm reminded these days in all kinds of ways, large and small - just how much the Father cares for me and is watching out for me. Every sunrise I see, every sunset I experienced, every e-mail received, every comment, everything positive that is large or small is shouting out to me right now in my spirit about how much He cares.

I woke up this morning knowing that our plans were to go to breakfast with my family and then to Ft. DeSoto beach. I was looking forward to going and spending another day at the beach with my sister and her family, but as my eyes opened this morning, I felt the heaviness of some things with work upon me. I thought, “Lord, you know what has to be done and even though I worked myself to the bone before my sister arrived so I could take this time off, how can I possibly relax with this that I have to do?” I was concerned, because I’m up against a certain deadline right now that is weighing on me like a ton of bricks on my chest. Well, guess what happened…???

A few moments after waking up I logged on to my computer and checked my mail. There was Tara Sloan…telling me she had basically been working for me already, doing exactly what I would have spent my time doing today had I not been on vacation! The Lord sent me a friend to work FOR me. Amazing. I didn’t ask, I didn’t even tell her I was thinking about this today, but she just did this as a blessing to me. Tara, you’re the best. Your help this morning enabled me to leave my work behind for another day, go to Ft. DeSoto, float on my noodle and get some rest.

What a day! We ate breakfast out this morning and then I introduced my sister to my favorite shopping place – Bealls Outlet. Then we headed to Ft. DeSoto Beach and it was such a beautiful day. Two things happened at the beach this week that were so funny. First, my nephew got a custard cone (I love frozen custard! Addiction Pastor T got me started on) and Cody had this piled up custard cone and right when he purchased it, a seagull swooped down and ran right into it, ruining it! Ugh! (They gave him a new one right away, free.)

Second, today I was getting ready to lay out in the sun for a while and sleep (it was so wonderful!) and I prepared to lay on my stomach. This necessitates me digging two holes in the sand so I can comfortably do that. (Is this TMI?) A lady on a nearby blanket that I don’t know bursted out laughing and shouted, “Ahh haaa!!! Look at her, she’s got to do the same thing I have to do! She has to dig two ______ holes!” I’m thinking, “Um, announce it a little louder lady, New York can’t hear!” (LOL)

We had a really nice day together on the beach, staying til’ sunset, diving for sand dollars (Jordan got about 100 of them at least, no exaggeration!), floating on noodles, laying out, feeding seagulls, walking the beach, and more. I got a walk by myself in at sunset and nobody was around and I walked along singing, “Breathe on Me, Breath of God” by Hillsong. It was just on my mind today and I was worshipping to that, and just talking to the Lord throughout my day whether I was walking on the sand or out in the water by myself for a while.

I love the Lord and am grateful for all of His many blessings on me. I am giving Him thanks and glory for each and every thing I see daily around me that is praiseworthy, and even things behind the scenes that can’t see that I know He’s doing without my knowledge. While I was I prayer today, I thought of Tara going to work on my behalf and I felt the Lord say to me, “While you were sleeping I had already set it up. Relax.”

Another amazing post from Craig...

I don't even want you to have to do so much as click to read the amazing post Craig posted last night. I'm fixing to post the entire thing here for your convenience. I read this and all I could think was, "well, I'm really blessed. I've got more than a few real friends! Halleluiah!" I understand this whole concept of friends vs. fans. I've had way too many fans, believe me...and I don't say that in an egotistical way.. please note in Craig's blog post, fans are not something of a positive nature. In this case, "fans" are bad. The more time goes on, I am learning the difference between friends and fans. I am learning to let a fan go and thank the Lord for His provision over my life in protecting me. The past few weeks I have a whole new appreciation for real friends and also a new level of discernment about fans. Thanks Craig, for another awesome word...


by Craig Sloan

John 2:23-3:1 "Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did. 24 But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, 25 and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man. NKJV

Oral Roberts once said, "If you get to the end of your life and you have five close friends you are blessed."

If you have more than three to five friends, they are most likely not friends. but fans. Jesus is accumulating a lot of fans in this text. They are people from a distance that love your gift, not you. They love you based on what you bring to the table, what they can get from you to advance them. Most people come after you for what they want from you, not the real you.

T.D Jakes, in some people's opinion the world's greatest preacher, and leader of a powerful movement, shared at one of his leadership conferences with tears in his eyes that when his mother died, he had a funeral service and only a handful of people showed up. He said he was devastated. He learned that they don't love him, they love his gift.

The root word for fan is fantasy. Fantasy means to project a unreal image. When you love my gift, you love a unreal image. I am not my gift 24 hours a day. That's why a lot of famous people die tragically. The fans fall in love with the way they look after 100 plastic surgeries. They project a image that is not real. Many of them die tragic deaths because every time they walk out of their house they feel the pressure of projecting a image that is not real. A fan has a picture of what is not real, and they want you to project that image all the time. They put expectations on you to be something you can't provide something to them that you weren't intended to provide. This is how we get idols and gods. Jesus is trying to give us the wisdom of who are to commit our lives to with the understanding that the masses will never love the real you. It is only a handful of people that can look beyond the exterior and love the real you. This also helps you to understand the nature of people. For example let's look at critical people...

Critical people are people that criticize what they don't understand. That is their nature, so I base my expectation of them on their nature and I'm not offended or hurt. Who is your fan and who is your friend?

* Fans love you for what you can do for them, but when you need something, they are no where to be found.

* Friends can see your behind and still love you. Fans want to share your behind with everybody else.

* Fans are perfomance based. Friends are permanant. They don't love you more or less based on your performance. They are constant.

* Fans put false expectations on you, and when you can't meet them, they become offended at you. Friends are flexible in the relationship realizing things change.

* Fans will leave when something better comes along, Friends stick with you through hell or high water.

* Fans will praise you one moment and crucify you the next. Friends will die with you.

* Fans share inside information with others to make themselves look more important. Friends keep your secrets.

Why do people leave us? It is not because of something we've done, it is because they expected us to do something we didn't. Disappointment is the child of a unrealistic expectation.


Where we spent yesterday...

We went with Kim and the family to John's Pass and Clearwater Beach. After floating on a noodle for hours and playing in the sand, we went to eat at a phenomenal seafood buffet called Shephard's. So good. I ate crab legs until I couldn't eat one bite more.

Here's Dustin's heart he made in the sand for Casey. She was supposed to come yesterday but she got sick. (We missed you, Casey!)

Here's where I spent lots of the a chair, scrunching my toes in the sand...just what I needed...beach therapy.

Started out raining this morning but by the time we got to the beach it was so beautiful. Did I mention how much I needed this day? Thank you, Jesus.

There is nothing I love more, especially when admist a stressful time, to be at Clearwater at sunset, floating on my noodle...

We got home tonight and Larry said, "we need to do that more...on our day off." Mmmmhmmm. I agree.

Thanks to all of you who are continuing to pray...I love you all.

I saw a little sign in a shop today at the beach. It said, "I don't just believe in miracles, I'm counting on them." My feelings exactly! In the same shop they had a little box for prayer requests. I wrote mine on there and dropped it in the box.

If you've sent me an e-mail, I'm behind on answering them with taking some vacation days, but please know I've read them and I'm encouraged. I'll answer asap. Please know, you make a huge difference.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Re-cap of the day yesterday & some pics

Yesterday and today the family spent time at Busch Gardens and Adventure Island. A good time was had by all who went.

Parks are not my thing anymore ~ and thankfully my kids are all old enough now to not care if I go or not. :-) (Bad part of that is...they are growing up! Fast!) Anyway, I had a quiet day just cleaning up around the house a bit and resting, which has been sorely needed in my life more than anything. I need to get a little stricter about my days off, upcoming, if possible because I can see that my body/mind needs them more than ever. And that means days off where I don't necessarily go anywhere or do anything, but just a day to seriously rest. I've just been at a real breaking point...

Special thanks to those of you who posted a comment or emailed me personally. You're amazing. I have been so bouyed by what all of you have shared. When I haven't had enough faith for myself, friends have loaned me enough of theirs to get by. It's that whole I Thessalonians 3:10 thing again! ("Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith.") That one friend has called a worldwide prayer meeting, another was standing proxy for me with her husband at their altar on Sunday morning, one prayed all day from 6 am the other day, many have said, "we won't let up til' we see victory", wow, wow, wow, I feel so surrounded.

Craig Sloan said a promotion was going to come from this. I believe it with all my heart. Please keep praying for me, for us, as it comes to mind. We're not at the point of breakthrough - circumstances all still the same, but my faith is being strengthened daily by reading the Word, speaking what it says over our situation, praying, worshipping and being surrounded by amazing people like many of you who read this blog.

By the way, got the photos from our weekend away at Go Girl Conference...Lourdes gave them to me tonight at church and I thought I'd post a few here. Above you will see our life coachers (not all of them, just some) who went for the weekend ~ left to right, Kim, Susan, Tina, Michele, Cathy, Liane, Yours Truly and Lourdes. Also here's a photo of the team of speakers for the weekend: Pastor Andrea Fruscella, Marsha Woolley, me, and Dr. Debbi Dunlap.

Had a good night last night at church...we got to sharing about the goodness of the Lord in the sanctuary, started testifying, building one another's was great. I love Jesus and I love our people.

By the way, when you get back from the Mouse House, Michele, just know how much I missed you last night in the sanctuary. :-)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Latest few days with my family....

Monday we went to Tarpon Springs with Kim, Dave and Lexi. We ate at Hellas, and then just walked around the shops all day and headed over to Howard Park afterwards to the beach to watch the sunset.

It was really beautiful. They loved it.

Yesterday they were all at Busch Gardens, but I chose not to go being that it's really not my thing and I would have just been a drag, quite honestly. I will never use the pass again and didn't want to spend the money, so I had a quiet day at home by myself...which is extremely needed right now.

As far as my situation I've been going through it actually just got a bit worse. I got a negative report yesterday. For all of you who have been praying, I just ask that you pray even harder if possible. :-) Thank you so much. I mean it (not just cliches or the "thing to say" here) but I REALLY MEAN IT when I say thank you for holding me up -- you'll never know what it means.

I just have to believe that God has a miracle in's my only option, so I have to believe.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Christian Women Take Root!

A few months ago I was contacted by a woman named Noelle Mena, and asked to start writing a column for ministry wives at a new online community she was starting called, "Christian Women Take Root."

CWTR was just launched on Monday and is an incredible gathering place for women of all ages and backgrounds. It is a community by women, for women. There are over 20 groups (and 21 writers involved at this time ) who are speaking out on every topic imaginable, and leading these online groups.

My column for ministry wives will be published here every first Friday of the month. My bio page is here, although I think any of you who read my blog regularly probably have this information memorized by now. (SMILE)

My good friends Pastor Tara Sloan and Pastor Leanne Weber are also writing columns for CWTR. You can find Tara's column, Feminine Fire, here. She will be blogging at CWTR every Tuesday from this week forward. And, find Leanne's column, Women in Ministry, here.

There seems to be some fantastic insight and encouragement being shared at CWTR, so I encourage you to check it out!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Guest Blogger:
Pastor Tara Sloan

As many of you know, Unstoppable 2008 will take place September 4-6 in Tampa, FL. Unstoppable is hosted by my dear friend Pastor Deanna Shrodes. This conference is second to none. If you are a woman in ANY ministry capacity, ever have been or desire to be in the future, you MUST not miss Unstoppable 2008.

The vision Pastor Deanna has for Unstoppable and the Pastoring Partners Network would BLOW YOUR MIND if you ever sat down with her. This ministry is God ordained and is life changing… let me share my own story with you.

Last year I made it a priority to attend Unstoppable 2007. Craig and I had to scrimp, save and plan, but we both knew the importance of my attending. To say the very least I had had a very rough year. Every fiber of my being had been through the ringer, my calling questioned and scrutinized. I was near my breaking point.

On the very first night after a beautiful and delicious banquet, Unstoppable launched with a powerful time of praise and worship. I remember losing myself in the presence of God, almost melting into Him. I was determined to suck every bit of marrow out of Unstoppable.

Pastor Sherri Hawley brought the Word that night. As she spoke I felt myself begin to break, all of my walls came shattering down around me. At the time of ministry I collapsed into the arms of Pastor Deanna who prayed and encouraged me for quite a long time. After the service I felt so light, so refreshed. I slept better than I had in months. The days following were just as powerful. There were sessions for EVERY woman and hours of fellowship and networking. Pastor Deanna spoke on Friday night on the topic of, “Why Women Stop.” As Pastor Deanna and the other speakers made themselves available for one on one ministry so many woman received a fresh impartation from the Lord. I watched many women who walked into Unstoppable downcast become filled with the joy of the Lord once again.

Unstoppable 2007 was one of if not THE BEST conference for women I have ever attended. And allow me to say, I have been to MANY! One thing that separates Unstoppable from every other Christian Women’s Conference venue is the personal touch that is given. There are women on hand to serve and love on every one of the attendees. The speakers are accessible and available to minister corporately and individually. The facility is gorgeous and very reasonable! I could go on and on and on but I won’t keep you!

For more information, including excerpts from last year’s speakers, go to Are you in need of a touch from the Lord? Do you desperately need to hear from Him away from present influences? Are you looking for a place to gather with other women you can network with and call on at any time for encouragement and or prayer? Do you just need to get away????? Unstoppable 2008 is the place where you can experience ALL of those things and SO much more!!!!

I know the economy is not great right now, but I also know that if you are determined to go and you commit to do so, God WILL provide! You may have to get a little creative, but it will be possible! Need some ideas on how to get creative? Email me and I’ll brainstorm with you! I don’t want you to miss this opportunity!!!! If you haven’t made a decision to attend, let me encourage you one more time to take the plunge. Do it! You will be so glad you did. Do whatever is necessary to be there. I can’t wait to hug your neck! Be Blessed!

Tara Sloan

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sunday wrap up...

God knows what we need when we need it! Today we had "ministering angels" called alongside to help us.

Of course it was nice to have my sister and family in church with me. Some other things that meant a lot today...

Tom and Cathy drove in from vacation to be at church today...just felt it was important to be there for Larry and I. You know, it means the world...really. They didn't have to do that. Who drives back home from vacation to be with their pastor? The Garland's do, because they do anything they need to do to show, "we're with you." It's part of who they are.

Second, Debbie and her words of encouragement today were like a healing balm. Often over the past 6 years Debbie's words have just been absolute LIFE and HOPE to me. Today was no exception. I don't know ANYBODY who has the gift of encouragement like she does. Every single week when I come off that platform, Debbie is waiting for me with an encouraging, "I love you," and some word of LIFE to speak into my spirit. She is a friend in the church who comes from a pastor's home. She grew up in the ministry...and so she understands it. She knows what pastors and their families go through and she has made it her mission to be there for me, to always speak a word of encouragement to me on a continual basis. Every pastor out there knows what a value this is, to have somebody like this. She sits with her husband Eddie behind on the second row, and there are countless times over the years, I'll feel a squeeze on my shoulder, as Larry is preaching or makes a point, Deb will squeeze and say, "that's for you today, receive it," or "I love you, I'm behind you..." or "Pastor Deanna, the anointing was flowing so powerfully through you today...we're headed to the next level." She's AMAZING, that Debbie...

Third, we had a surprise visit today from our friends, Pastors Mark & Judi Cotignola who co-pastor the A/G in Palmetto. They were on their vacation today and decided to be with us in service. At the conclusion of the service, just talking to them for a little while was like a cold drink of water in a parched world. I told Judi, "you're on vacation, this isn't your time to be ministering and functioning like 'a pastor's wife' a this moment, but here you are spending your vacation time, ministering to me..." She said, "no, I'm not 'the pastor's wife' at this moment, I'm just A FRIEND."

Thank you Jesus, for friends! Friends who follow the leading of the spirit. Judi said, "Now I know why we were here today...everything happens for a reason..." Sometimes God knows when to send the pastor a pastor!

In the next few weeks once my family goes back to Baltimore, Mark and Judi are going to make another trip up and spend time time with us over lunch. Fun! Have I mentioned lately how much I believe in the fact that ministers need each other? Yes, we do! Connection, networking, support, fellowship with others in ministry is one thing I'm so passionate about. Judi told me today she knows one reason I'm so under attack right now is my work with the Unstoppable Conference & Pastoring Partners. Anything the enemy can do to try to bring me down he will because I am passionate about encouraging and strengthening other leaders. And if the enemy can stop that - he will. He is NOT going to win though, in Jesus name He is NOT going to succeed. The enemy IS DEFEATED.

I am reminded of the story of Joseph of the Old Testament, when he went through trials...the Bible would chronicle those trials and then the Word would say, "...but the Lord was with Joseph..." I am feeling this week that although I am going through trials, "...the Lord is with Deanna..." Yes, He is.

The next week as I'm spending time with my sister and her family, I'll post photos as I have time along with highlights from our time together.

I also have some posts pre-scheduled that I've been working on that are just things I've been thinking about and wanting to share in blog world.

There will be something here for you each day, so come back and enjoy. :-)


Saturday, July 19, 2008

"You Go,Girl!" Highlights

We have just gotten back from the "You Go, Girl!" Conference in Jacksonville, FL. I was one of the speakers there this weekend and took my life coaching group to it. We had a great time! So many good memories and some great spiritual highlights.

I'm too tired to blog anything major right at the moment and need to gather my last minute things for in the morning and get to sleep...I had planned to post a few photos that I had gotten off of Lourdes's camera disk, however I thought I had downloaded them onto my computer and now that I look, I discover that I cannot find them on here. Ugh!! Evidently I did the wrong thing in downloading her disk. No clue. I'll have to wait to get the photos

Anyway, other speakers were Marsha Woolley, Dr. Debbie Dunlap, and Pastor Andrea Fruscella.

Marsha preached a word that was so off the chain and basically what I'm dealing with right now...I needed it so much. Great time spent together, great conversation...just talking to the ladies riding in my car was an amazing uplift. I am not alone. Not at all.