Friday, October 31, 2008

Notes from Transformational Leadership Workshop

We had a several hour workshop this afternoon with Dr. Lori O'Dea on Transformational Leadership. It was excellent. I've heard her speak before and appreciate her insight so much. I'm glad to share it here with you for all of you friends who couldn't come to the conference. This is not every single thing she said (I have about 10 pages of notes) but I am going to try to condense. The whole thing was based on I and II Timothy.

Here we go:

  • Real change will not occur without the presence of women.

  • Paul never "hedges" in his encouragement to Timothy...always communicates, "you can do it!"

  • There are options in ministry. And, God has NO LIMITS!

  • There are obstacles already in ministry -- don't add more! Stop negative self talk.

  • Transformational leadership occurs when people and organizations are changed in form and character to reflect the nature of Christ and the church.

  • "Our transformation is never for ourselves alone. It is always for the sake of others." - Ruth Haley Barton.


  • Commit to the call

  • Get over yourself. (potential slowdowns are shame and suffering; guaranteed accelerants are saving grace, the Resurrected Saviour, Divine Appointment.)

  • Build leadership strength - multiply leaders, Participate fully in your place of ministry; don't skip the hard stuff; don't make end runs - play fair; Don't opt for the stands - get your hands dirty. The farmer (who gets their hands dirty) gets the first of the crops.

  • Practice Reflection - build space in your life. Ask yourself, "what have I learned? What is God saying?

  • Journal - someone once said, "Thoughts disentangle themselves when they leave the mind and come out through the fingertips."

  • Keep focus - example - Billy Graham; once entertained the thought of the presidency but stayed the course and stayed focused.

  • Focus killers = an unchecked need for approval; the need to be right; the need to belong.

  • Crave leadership character.

  • Leadership black holes are: inner neglect; forest blindness; ego tending, security deprivation; insanity defense; alignment problems, Hurdle imitation.

  • Learn to navigate the storms of conflict - be a student on this subject.

  • Avoid the stupid stuff. This is beneath your leadership.

  • Teach for positive change.


  • Manage hope - a function of the leader is to keep hope alive.

  • Cast vision that - embraces truth, and embraces real needs.

  • Point out the truth to people and help them see the way out.

  • Leadership blinders are - form without power and selling out to the hopeless.

  • Practice discernment - lack of discernment leads to deception of self and others, depravity, indecision. We are susceptible to being paralyzed by indecision.

  • Discernment is required for vision casting, leadership multiplication; and reading the room while in a meeting.

  • How do we get discernment - stay full of and seek the spirit.

  • Eliminate "postponed" thinking. Have an understanding of the current situation and act accordingly.

  • Maintain balance - healthy solitude - transparency.

  • Balance the hard stuff and the blessings.

  • Balance fitting in and being yourself.

  • Balance over-reacting and detachment

  • Balance pressure and rest.

  • Be sensitive in times of transition.

  • Don't over-react to bad news.But also don't stay so detached that they think you aren't real.

  • Learn to love pressure. To do that you have to dedicate yourself to constant improvement.

  • Learn more - immerse yourself in the Word, trusted teachers, reading widely, cross discipline studies (can you learn something from Pizza Hut? Absolutely) experience, and ongoing formal education.

  • Communicate effectively - to say there are "high stakes" is an understatement; Gods Word trumps yours; preparation is a lifelong endeavor (listen to yourself speak on CD - evaluate and ask others to evaluate.), offer a balanced diet.

  • "How" matters as much as "what" -- communication is 7% of what you say.

  • Hold loosely to your ministry. How? Comprehend; Obey, Anticipate, Trust

  • Success without a successor is a failure.

  • Lead in community. When doing so you have better organization, better leadership, better participation and better performance.

  • The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team (Patrick Lencioni) Absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and inattention to results.

  • Do you have a gender problem? Can you work well with women? And men? Commit to INTENTIONAL inclusiveness.

  • Women become a negative force if they are a natural born leader and they are not serving. They can't help but lead, so what do they do? Rise up and lead a rebellion in your church... Help them learn to lead without the negativity.

  • Community has the potential to hurt you...forgive.

  • The benefits of this outweigh the harm.

Notes from this morning's sesson

Can't wait to share with you these notes from the two sessions this morning! Get ready to receive these nuggets of wisdom from the Conversations Conference in Phoenix!

"Overcoming Disappointment or Giving up the Dream?

Darlene McCarty - Co-Pastor and International Evangelist

Darlene began by sharing her story of their church split at their current church in TN. Amazing story of what they went through and how God helped them not only survive that time but ultimately thrive. Here are her pearls of wisdom on surviving disappointment/heartbreak/betrayal, etc. in ministry:

  • The enemy doesn't fight you if you're not valuable.

  • Praise God if he fights you because you know you're headed somewhere!

  • When people load their weapons against you, they always multiply. They will always be there. However, if people hold on to their weapons and keep them long enough, they will turn on them and destroy them.

  • People will blame pastors for things you didn't create and can't control. People in the church will sin, and then some folks will actually blame the pastor as if he/she could actually have stopped it!

  • How do we know the Lord's return is near? Matthew 24:10 Jesus said that many will be offended to the point where they will betray. Certainly this is going on in our churches today.

  • Keep in mind Jesus was saying the above scripture to the CHURCH, not the WORLD!

  • When Satan confronted Eve, she betrayed God and became offended at Him and believed Satan's report.

  • We are not dealing with people - we are dealing with a spirit - a demonic spirit.

  • It is a choice to allow your circumstance to dictate to you or to dictate your circumstance.

  • Key to getting beyond a disappointment in the church is to rid yourself of all negative people. Only spend time with the positive people.

  • Surround yourself with praise and worship. One minute of praise can change your life!

  • Romans 13:1-2 Scripture is clear on the subject of authority. Pastor, Co-pastor, PW, realize you have been placed by Almighty God in the authority position. If people rise against you they are rising against God himself.

  • I Peter 2:20 - important to keep in mind.

  • When people split a church and leave keep in mind that God cannot bless what is cursed.

  • People will stand before God one day. Note that they will stand for their actions, but we will stand for our RE-actions.

  • Realize that people who betray you don't care that you have been hurt. Don't allow them to hurt us further by occupying any of our thoughts.

  • Truth smashed to the ground will rise up undaunted! Stay righteous. Those who hurt you, if not repentant, usually lose all if they don't repent.

  • Can people steal your dream? No. Only one thing can...QUITTING.

    "Nurturing a Community or Going Alone?"

    Leila Ojala, Co-Pastor

  • Mission and community are "where it's at"!

  • We have to ask ourselves...what's going on today with the church? Why all these moral failures?

  • Community is the answer. How can we begin this process in our churches? It is essential.

  • A simple question: "How are things?" is often the key that unlocks the door with people.

  • Most people in the world don't have a problem with Jesus -- they have a problem with Christians and the way we behave.

  • We have to create a safe community.

  • John 13:35

  • If we are dealing with new believers who are dealing with issues such as living together w/out being married, or those considering abortion, we can't just pray for them or encourage them...we have to tangibly help them. (Find a new place to live that is affordable? Help them discover extra income so they can move out. Financially help them with the baby, or offer to watch the child for them at times. Perhaps even adopt their child if necessary!) This is the essence of community.

    All I could say was.....WOW. Awesome, huh?

    I'm headed to another session this time on Transformational Leadership. I'll share the notes with you sometime tonight or tomorrow.

Bullet notes from yesterday's sessions...

I'm up early this morning - way before the first session and have some time, so I do want to share some bullet points from everything except Beth's message (because it's so deep and would take forever to explain right now...) but here are some things we talked about yesterday...

Taking the Plunge or Sidelined by Fear?

Presenter: Robyn Wilkerson, Trinity Church, Miami, FL

  • Poverty begins in the heart.

  • We don't take the plunge because of fear of people and fear of failure.

  • We don't take the plunge because of fear of loss of prestige.

  • To take the plunge, you must DO SOMETHING. Deuteronomy 27:2-5 ("ON THE DAY WHEN YOU CROSS...)

  • You must be willing to compete!

  • You can't wait anymore.

  • The place God is calling you may not be what you envision.

  • Elevate your thinking and you elevate your life.

  • See in the Spirit that which doesn't exist.

  • Cut all griping and emotional breakdowns out.

  • Faith is a substance.

  • God is not ever moved by need, only by faith.

  • Definition of "Abundance" - having all the resources that you need to fulfill the call of God upon your life.

Managing Relationships or Avoiding Conflict?

Presenter: Kate Cory, Chi Alpha Boston

  • Most people are dealing with secret conflicts underneath.

  • There are often long term spiritual and emotional effects.

Honestly, I was mostly listening and didn't take too many notes from this speaker's message, however I took lots of notes at our table discussion. Like I said yesterday I had some heavy hitters at my table - Martha Tennyson (International Evangelist), Marsha Woolley (our district WM director), Sheri Hawley (Co-pastor, Winterhaven, FL), Darlene McCarty (Co-pastor, Memphis, TN & International Evangelist) - not to mention Dawn, my bff! So the incredible stuff that was flying around the table was amazing! Here's some bullet points from our discussion and the name of the person who said it if I can remember:

  • When dealing with conflict, we can't be in fear. When we have fear we won't have a sound mind. We will never make a good decision if we aren't of a sound mind. - Martha

  • The ministry is hard and we have to ask God to continually refresh us. - Marsha

  • Sometimes we are going back and plowing again and re-doing something we've already done. That's hard. But we have to ask God for a fresh anointing because it may be the same plan, but a fresh anointing and that makes all the difference. - Marsha and Martha

  • TIMING is so important! Do the right thing at the right time.

  • We must let the spirit pray through us not just to get the answers but to ask the questions! - Martha

  • Remember, we are created for big purposes and little purposes. Ministering the Word is important but so is reaching out to the hurting woman in the grocery store and speaking into her life. - Marsha

  • Love for God casts out all fear when we are in conflict with someone. - Martha

  • We are never rewarded for results but for obedience. God never says, "well done my resultful servant." - Martha

  • When some people in the church hurt us, we do need to change our relationship - walk away if they are behaving unGodly and will not change. We can have a "friendship" (be friendly, cordial) but not a "relationship." - Darlene

  • When dealing with someone in a conflict in the church ALWAYS have a person with you. Don't meet alone with them, ever. - Darlene

  • The person who has hurt us cannot heal us. Stop waiting for them to do something. - Martha

  • When someone hurts us God does start to heal it and it starts to scab over but we pick at it and keep the wound open. Stop doing that. - Martha

  • Stop rehearsing those who have hurt you and what they've done. Move on.

  • People today who are leaving churches have no idea what they are doing and what will result. When they leave and take someone with them, if that person misses heaven, they will be directly responsible. People never leave alone, they always influence someone who previously had no problem with the pastor or the church. - Martha and Darlene

  • Are you tired of what you think people are getting away with who are critical and in conflict with you in the church or those who have left? Don't worry. You keep mowing the grass and God will get to the root with them. (Mowing the grass = living righteously, doing the right thing.) - Martha

  • Others may choose the path for you at times, but you have a choice of how you will walk it. - Martha

    As you can see we had some great discussion. My hand was writing as fast as it could. I was the group leader, however the ladies at my table were so full of wisdom and knowledge about life and ministry, I normally read the question, and then just sat back and wrote my heart out copying down what they said and then just asked the next question! Their insights were amazing.

    I'll do Beth's message when I have time and give you ladies those bullet points. I know a lot of you who read my blog are in FT ministry and although some of you can't be here (I know there are those of you who really wanted to come but couldn't get away at this time) at least if I can give you my notes you will be blessed by some of the rich insights by way of my notes.

    I'm so looking forward to this morning! Darlene McCarty is our first speaker, followed by Leila Ojala. These are the first two morning sessions but after lunch we have Lori O'Dea, Alicia Chole, and Jodi Detrick. Those of you who are AG will almost certainly know these names but for those who don't, let me say these are incredible women of God and we are in for an amazing treat!

So deep

I usually do "bullet points" from conferences to detail what is being shared but wow, I don't even know where to start. The teaching by Beth Grant tonight was so deep, I have six pages of notes and can't begin to dissect it here. I'll just say, it was on community and was EXCELLENT.

This morning we had a teaching entitled, "Taking the Plunge, or Sidelined by Fear?" and the second was "Managing Relationships or Sidelined by Fear?" I was the group facilitator for discussion for our group and thoroughly enjoyed it! I had some heavy hitters as my table...some awesome women of God like our district WM director, Marsha Woolley and also Sis. Martha Tennyson! We had a fantastic group discussion and all of us related so much to the teachings.

Have had such a fantastic time spending sharing time and meals with Dawn and Sheri, and we have been so blessed. So much to talk about especially after these fantastic sessions!

Got to go...morning comes early with the next session...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Live from Arizona...

Hello my friends in blogland...

I didn't blog yesterday -- too much going on. We left the house at 7 am Tampa time and flew to Atlanta and then on to Phoenix. We arrived at 1:30 AZ time (that's 4:30 FL time) and Randy picked us up and took me to what he knows is my favorite place to eat here -- Jack in the Box! Seriously. I'm crazy about it. I have always been and we don't have them in FL. Then he took us to his favorite ice cream place -- the Golden Spoon. It was really good and had a ton of low fat and sugar free options. I loved it!

We came home and talked for a few hours and set Randy up on a facebook (so much fun! No one can believe he's actually on there!) and then Dawn had to go teach her Financial Peace class at the church. She was going to be gone til' late so later on we all went to On the Border, another place I don't get to go to in FL either. Fun!!

We stayed up late talking until I couldn't keep me eyes open anymore and then I got an incredible night's sleep with no kids to get up for school in the morning. Ahhhhhh...wonderful. There was no 6 am wake up call today. This was really needed. You don't realize how much rest you need until you actually get away from home with no kids and sleep uninterrupted. (No, it doesn't end when they aren't babies anymore. There are plenty of times I'm sound asleep and at 1 am, one of my kids will knock on the door and say, "Mom, my permission for is due tomorrow and I forgot to ask you to sign it..." (SMILE)

Tomorrow Dawn and I head over to the Wyndam hotel for three days at the National Women in Ministry Conference. We are so excited! It's going to be awesome, I just know it!

I'll blog as I can...

Have a stellar day, my friends...

Much love,

Monday, October 27, 2008

News from Shrodesville

Dustin is 19 today! He took the day off of work. I'm so glad...he needs a break. He is consumed with working and going to school and it was nice that he had the day off.

He went out last night after work with his friends to Starbucks. This morning he slept in real late. (Chip off the ol' block!) And then he...went to the movies! The management at the Cobb remark that he 'lives' there as well as works there. He absolutely LOVES working there!!!

He asked me for his favorite meal tonight so I made Fried Chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, broccoli with cheese, and biscuits. I also made a very special birthday cake. His favorite is chocolate cake with chocolate icing. (Yep, a chip off the ol' block with that too!) I decided to do a variation of the white chocolate cake (Lucretia Noble's recipe) that I made last week. I made that same cake but just switched all of the chocolate ingredients dark chocolate instead. Yum!

In other news, Savanna made the honor roll this last quarter! Oh what a difference a school makes... and, I got a call from her language arts teacher today. She was chosen for the "writing academy" at her school which means she is now part of a group of students who are good at writing and the program is to help them hone this skill and go to the next level. Three students from school were chosen. She will be out of some of her other classes once a month to do writing academy and then make up the other work later. I am so excited for her to be a part of this!

And finally in other news, Jordan is playing varsity soccer this year on the high school team. He's excited and so are we. And thankfully it has all worked out to far with his work and church schedules as well.

I did say finally, but you know what it means when a preacher says that......NOTHING! Larry and I are finishing packing tonight and preparing to leave early in the morning to head for Phoenix. I am so looking forward to this trip. I'll be attending the Nat'l Women in Ministry Conference there and be a table leader/facilitator of one of the small groups. Yay! We're going to have so much fun but I am planning on come back even more filled up and fired up than I already am about what God is doing and wants to do! Shout now, somebody...I'm actually waking up in the mornings happy now!

Still working on Africa's not that I'm lazy (anybody who knows me more than 5 minutes knows that) however I don't write just to write...I want each message to be completely crafted by the Holy Spirit, not just something I concoct. I could just whip up something but I don't want to...I want God to just breathe it into me and then let it come out on the paper.

By the way I'm still collecting gifts to take to Africa, to the women. Right now I'd estimate I have about 550 gifts. My goal is AT LEAST 1,000. I know you're wondering how I'm ever going to get them there but keep in mind what I'm collecting are small and lightweight like earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and scarves. I'm also including some other goodies like chapsticks, lip glosses, etc. These are "extra special" treats these ladies in the region of Africa I'm going to never get while us American ladies probably have untold numbers of these things. If anyone would like to help me take some things to Africa please mail to: Northside AG (c/o Pastor Deanna) 16235 Lake Magdalene Blvd, Tampa, FL 33613. Every little bit helps and even if you just sent one chapstick or one bracelet keep in mind that is one more African lady getting a gift who wouldn't have otherwise received one.

I will blog in Phoenix this week as I am able to... blessings to everyone...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Fantastic day!

Way too tired right now to blog anything major...I'm headed in a million different directions getting ready for both of my trips this month. So much to do yet, and so little time. But I just wanted to stop in at blogland and tell everyone - we had an awesome Sunday! The good weeks just keep right on coming! I'm so grateful. Please keep me in prayer that I get everything done in due time to leave for Phoenix. I've got two more messages to finish for Africa. I'm almost there...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Let your pastor's wife be who she is and don't try to silence her voice!

Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us.”
~ William Orville Douglas

On Thursday the mail came at the church office, and there was a very heartfelt two page letter for me from a blog friend, Aaron, from Iron Sharpens Iron. (Some of you read his blog too. What a blessing he is.) Upon opening the envelope two gift cards fell out onto my desk. I was so touched when I saw what they were . They were Carrabbas gift cards so that Larry and I could go on a date. Anyone who has read my blog for long knows that is my favorite place to eat. I was so blown away by this special gift and more than the gift - the precious letter that accompanied it. He was giving appreciation for some things I had written on this blog and how they had blessed him. (I'm writing this with his permission by the way.)

I have something I want to share with you about Aaron's letter. He said, "Thank you for your blog and sharing with us EVERYTHING. (Well...almost everything.) Pastor's wives are usually concerned more with image than honesty. By sharing your real feelings and struggles, I was able to identify with you and receive hope -- new hope...a hope that stems from example."

Why am I sharing this with you? No, I'm not on an ego trip. First, I wanted to thank Aaron publicly as I have already done privately . Second, immediately upon reading his letter I thought of a message I want to get out there to anybody who will listen.

First let me say, I'm blessed as far as how I am treated by my church people. I want everyone to know, I am not saying any of the following to complain about my church. I think by this time everyone in my church understands this and if they didn't like it nor understand it, they aren't still in our church. They have evidently left to find a church where the pastor or spouse will never admit their struggles.

I decided long ago to say what I have to say, be me, and let the chips fall where they may. Sometimes the chips have fallen on the wrong side, a hurtful side in the past, and yes I've had criticism, and yes I've had people leave me over it and to be honest there have been times I've left them. And you know what? I'm perfectly fine with that. Anybody I have to be a fake for to stay in relationship isn't really meant to be in relationship with me anyway. I love people and I accept them however I'm not willing to be a fake for anybody. For three months from mid July until mid October I wrote every day about my pain and frustration here on my blog and hard things I was working through, some with the church. I poured my soul out. Did EVEN ONE of my church people complain? No. Absolutely not. They stood with me. They lifted me up. They had nothing to pour out upon me but their love and encouragement. They prayed for me until I had a breakthrough, and until our church had a breakthrough. They "get it."

There's a reason a lot of pastor's wives out there don't feel they can be honest. There is a reason many of them wear a mask to church every week, and why many of them don't write anything but pollyanna sounding stuff on their blogs despite the fact that some of them feel like they are being eaten alive. Don't blame them...there is usually too high a price to pay for their complete honesty and it can threaten their family's very security if they do!

It's a shame that because of the way many people treat their pastor's wife, they feel they have to hide who they truly are. If they are having a bad day, you'd never know it. If they are breaking inside, they cover it. If the church is abusing them, they take the blows silently. They don't feel comfortable enough to tell you they are hurting. Some of you out there from Peoria, IL to Singapore who regularly read my blog need somebody to enlighten you as to how to treat your pastor or pastor's wife! So, here I am. I am not afraid to speak my mind on this blog. Yes, I have gotten some hate mail in times past like any opinionated writer gets. But anybody making a difference in the world and speaking their mind is going to get criticized. Everybody who ever changed the world has had somebody hate them for what they have said. I want to change the world, so I won't shut up.

Right now I have two pastor's wife friends in different locations who have recently gone through hell. I will not share the identifying details here because it's not my place to. Recently both friends wrote on their blogs concerning some of their frustrations. It wasn't anything inappropriate --nor did it name anyone or personally slander them. They were just being honest about some challenges in their lives and ministry. They asked for prayer. Some of the church people could not handle that and even called meetings for the purpose of "calling them on the carpet." Have you ever heard anything so ridiculous??!! For a while, one of these ladies considered giving up her blog but I'm proud of her that she hasn't. Because she is making a difference She is "real" and she has a lot to share that the world needs to hear.

What truly amazes me about the whole thing is that it was the people who had exhibited unGodly behavior, yet they were angry that the pastor's wives had not kept completely silent about the frustrations. Did they ever think that THEY are the source of their pastor's wife's frustration? No, obviously not. They just think it's their pastor's wife that needs to change.

People in the church who mistreat their pastors and spouses thrive on the fact that they believe it will be kept secret. They capitalize on the fact that we in ministry are supposed to keep many things "confidential" and they think their ill treatment will be no different. Therefore they believe they can continue their bad behavior undetected while those in the ministry suck it up and go on.

By these pastor's wives sharing simply that their lives in ministry were difficult at the present time, it basically let the world know that they were in a less than the best situation, in fact rather unhealthy situations. They both have a large readership on their blogs, so this was probably what was most threatening to the church people. They were exposed as far as having a pastor's wife who was in pain at the hands of the church or someone in the church and so therefore they were more than likely embarrassed. My thought: instead of being embarrassed, why don't you just CHANGE? Why don't you just REPENT of your PITIFUL BEHAVIOR instead of blaming your pastor's wife for your RIDICULOUS actions?

So you think, "Oh no! People will now think our pastor and pastor's wife aren't happy!" Well, shock people...THEY AREN'T!" So start treating them right and maybe they will be happy and they will stop sharing their pain on their blog with their readers who actually CARE! (Yes, there's a lot of caring out there in blog world and some pw's get more prayer and care from their blogging friends than from their church people. Sad!) If you are mistreating your minister or spouse, they obviously can't share it with you because of your unfair expectations that they be a silent verbal whipping post. Many churches also expect this behavior our of the pastor's kids. God forbid these kids express pain they have endured in the church. Do you want to know how much pain some of these kids are in? Ask anyone who has been to a "pastor's kids retreat" and they will tell you. My kids have attended them annually for years and this year Dustin was a counselor. Each year the altars are filled nightly with weeping children who are letting out the pain they have endured at the hands of the church people. Last year in his first year of college Dustin even wrote an essay about this for one of his classes. My own son was emotionally healed years ago at a summer church camp, of pain he endured years ago at the hands of church people.

Right now there are many families in ministry all across our nation going through craziness at church member's hands and really need our prayers. I believe the vast majority of them are kind hearted, purely motivated people who just want to lead their people into the fullness of God. Why else would they stay in ministry? If you didn't truly feel called, what you have to go through would not be worth it. Despite being called, did you know that 1500 of them are leaving the ministry yearly because of this kind of stuff? People talk about a ministerial shortage...well, this is why. If you don't believe this statistic, start surfing the web to see many others that are even worse along the same lines. Go here and here and here just for starters. For some of you this will be a much needed eye-opener.

If you are a church person reading this, please let me say to you that it would be great if you would just let your pastor and pastor's wife be honest about their feelings. Don't trap them into having to fake it all the time to keep them job. Yes, it's ministry first and foremost (they are not a hireling) but let's be honest, it is also their livelihood in the majority of cases. Also don't trap them into faking it by putting them through tribulation if they don't. It does your church absolutely no favors to mistreat the pastor or their spouse. If you want your church to be stymied and never grow...just keep giving them hell. I guarantee it will never grow because instead of seeking God and being led by His spirit into the getting a vision for the next level of the church, they will more than likely just be consumed with licking their wounds and surviving. Let their kids be kids. Don't expect them to fake it either. Don't expect out of these kids what you wouldn't expect out of any other child in the church.

I am very thankful for my church in that I am free to be me. Honestly if I wasn't, they'd be the ones having a hard time because I decided long ago to just be me and not turn back. I told the people of Northside when I first came (and have repeated it several times since)... "there are plenty of pastors and pastor's wives at the gazillion churches here in this city who will never admit to you that they've had a problem...never admit to you that at one time or another their lives have been falling apart...never admit to you that they have been to counseling... and if you want to have a pastor/pastor's wife like that, I encourage you to go seek one. But if you want someone who will just be real with you...stick around."

Pastor's wives out true to who you are. It's not worth it to be someone you're not just to hold on to a church or it's people. Don't let them put you in a box, or shut up your voice!! You have something important to say. Is any of this really worth it if you have to be a complete fake, at least until retirement? My Lord,not only is that going to be really boring but it will also end up making you sick. I'd rather work at McDonalds the rest of my life than put up with that. Many of those who are "old school" will tell you to live in that box for the sake of the ministry. One time when I was first starting out in ministry a person near retirement who was in my denomination's leadership told me that women in ministry just have to learn to supress themselves for however long they are in this thing. No! I'm not going to. I refuse. Let's be honest, a lot of the previous generation had heart attacks or burned out, or lost their families. Was it really worth it? I do understand many people's anxiety over being "real"...I lived it myself for so long when wondering which route to go -- fake or honest, and I have lived in both worlds. But then one day I decided Fakeland wasn't worth it.

People ~ let your pastor's wives be who they are. Pastor's wives ~ take the who you are...let your voice be heard ~ locally and to the millions on your blog. As Harry Belafonte once said, "You can cage the singer, but not the song." Your voice cannot be caged, my friend. The first thing the enemy wants to silence is your voice -- there is power in what you say. So keep saying it. I want to hear what you have to say and so do many others. Keep the words of the heart flowing. Don't feel that you have to be perfect or on cloud nine all the time. People who are worthy of being in relationship with you will listen and accept you for who you are.

p.s. thanks again Aaron...I am going to enjoy my house salad, SpeidinoDiMare, rigatoni with tomato cream sauce, and chocolate cake. And Teeby will enjoy his chicken soup, chicken parmesan and mashed potatoes! Mmmmmmm.

Friday, October 24, 2008

A woman's work is never done

Can't really call this a typical fun Friday because aside from taking some extra time to sleep after the kids were off to school, I worked 90% of the day, trying to get things ready to leave for Phoenix, and beyond that to Africa. I'll only be home for a few days from Arizona and then leave for Africa. To be gone this much I have to work waaaay ahead. This week I had to get six messages done (not all for Africa, some for church and other events.) Plus all kinds of other paperwork that I normally take care of...

I'm making real headway with it, it's just a long process if I'm going to do it right particularly with messages. I put my whole heart and soul into them, and don't make exceptions to that even if I'm having to do them in advance.

Tonight as I was finishing my second message Larry made his spaghetti for dinner. He makes THE BEST in the world. I've bragged on it here many times. We all just love it. It was a bright spot in my day of plowing through all this work.

After working until my brain was so tired, I decided to go out and walk/bike 3 miles. Just couldn't do six tonight...I had too many other things to get back to, like dishes, and other house stuff. My goal is to get the whole house in good order by the time we leave too...not to mention last minute wrap up for Sunday services.

And, last but definitely not least, we'll celebrate Dustin's birthday on Monday night! Yeah! My wonderful first born will be 19! Only one more year as a "teen". Amazing. I can't believe it! Speaking of Dustin, something major is on the line for him right now and it has the potential to be SUPER good so please pray for him that he would have favor! I can't say what it is right now...but as soon as I know, I will. Just pray for him.

After exercising 3 miles I came back and showered and put my Wonder Woman pajamas on. (Yes, I do really have them...Becky from church gave them to me a a gift!) And sat down to finish a few message outlines. At this point right now I'm wondering... should I push through for another one or watch Fox News and go to sleep? I think I might opt for sleep, not sure yet.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

I got an award today from my gynecologist! (Disclaimer: post for women! Men, read at your own risk...)

Today was my yearly exam with the OBGYN. I go every October around the 15th, like clockwork.

When the doctor enters the room he says his usual..."My, my my, time flies when we're talkin' about pap smears, doesn't it?" We laugh and get on with the inevitable.

After my exam today he said, "Deanna, I want to give you an award!" (I'm wondering what in the heck for...) and he puts the clipboard with my chart on the counter, flips open the pages and slaps each one as he files through, exclaiming, "2002! 2003! 2004! 2005! 2006! 2007! 2008! This is an UNBELIEVABLE record!" I said, "how so?" and he said, "in all my years I don't think I've had another patient this diligent. You are in here every single year like clock work! If I could get every woman to do that we'd have a whole lot of healthy patients..."

Then he asked why I've always been so faithful, and I said, "Doc, I have a lot of people counting on me. I'm a wife, a mother, I co-lead a church of people, and I'm a friend. I can't afford to get sick, especially for any amount of significant time. And I can't leave this world when it not really my time due to lack of diligence and leave my family behind. " I went on to tell him that every August like clockwork I also have my annual general physical, a complete blood work up, and every year I have four dentist appointments. (Two are routine and paid by my insurance, two that are not and I pay for two extra cleanings out of pocket to hopefully ward off any cavities which would be four times as much money as a cleaning to fix! Except for once last year when I was in Africa I have never missed. I intend on keeping all my teeth...for life.) He was amazed.

What's my point to this? Please, please listen to me ladies...


I wasn't always great at this, but losing several women friends to cancer has absolutely changed my life. In each case, the women had not gone regularly for checkups. One even worked in the medical field but was so busy caring for others she never got checked herself! Her physician told me personally that a simple yearly blood test would have warned them years ago that she needed help. They could have caught her cancer at stage 1 but instead by the time she started getting really sick (10 years later with no check-ups!) it was at stage 4!!! I stood numbly at the keyboard playing at her funeral just shaking my head and crying at how senseless it all was. A simple blood test, and she'd still be with us..." Why didn't she take the time?

Another friend wasn't too busy to go however she was afraid to go. With each year that passed, she felt that since she kept letting time go by, they would find something bad and so she kept waiting more months, that went into more years. By the time she finally went it wasn't for a routine exam, but because she was in pain...and yes, she was a stage 4 cancer too. A few months later, she was...gone. My friends, this DOES NOT HAVE TO HAPPEN. And really it's kind of selfish. Because of our fear of a needle or a little discomfort with our feet in the stirrups, or someone putting our breasts in something that is like a vice grip for a few minutes, we take a chance that our family will have to say goodbye to us much earlier than God ever intended.

Many will say, "mistakes happen in the medical field. There are people who have had mammograms or paps and they didn't show anything wrong and then later they were diagnosed with cancer..." Several doctors and other medical professionals have told me that it doesn't usually happen that way if the patient goes EVERY YEAR. Even if your test is wrong ONE year the chances are definitely in your favor that they will catch it the next year. Most tests would not be wrong year after year, which means there would still be in time to treat the problem a greatly enhanced chance of success. Always go SOONER rather than LATER.

This is breast cancer awareness month and I have lots of women who tell me it's been forever since they went for a check up. Some are over 40 and have never had a mammo. I go ballistic when they say that!!! My standard line is, "I love you and want you around! I want to do life with you for a LONG TIME! So stop being crazy and get to the doctors!" Stop the excuses. C'mon's time to "SAVE THE TATAS!" as the breast cancer awareness people say. We can make a big difference.

I just researched it and the average mammogram in the USA is $102. I hear lots of women say they don't have insurance and can't afford it. I see many of those same women with at least a few new outfits throughout the year. Here's my advice...get a mammo instead and wear your old clothes. If you are dead you can't wear your new clothes. Think about it. Get some stuff from the thrift store and choose the mammogram instead. If anyone asks you what you want for your birthday, say a mammo. I'M SERIOUS! Do it so that you'll have another birthday! I have a friend who was turned down a few years ago by her insurance company for a mammogram. They said she was two young to have them yearly and they would only pay for them every other year until she was a certain age. She was very uncomfortable with that, disagreed and paid for that year's test out of pocket. Good thing she did. Months later her surgeon told her if she hadn't gone when she did and months later had a masectomy and gone through chemo she wouldn't be alive today!!!

I'm not writing any of this to scare you but to motivate you to take care of're worth it!!

I know you hate it. There aren't many that give me such discomfort as sitting in that cold room in a stiff little paper gown that never covers everything, and then assuming the "position" and hearing "scoot down further" and going through the routine. Do I like going to the radiologist every year to have my boobs completely smashed flat like a pancake, sometimes mutiple times because in the last film it didn't quite show all angles they needed clearly so they needed to do it again?" Do I like giving blood - in six or seven vials at a time every year? No. I'd rather listen to my kids' Christian screamo music for an hour where it sounds more like some guy is choking on a pretzel rather than singing. I dread getting all this done annually, however I breathe a sigh of relief after I do because each year with the clean bill of health I rest easier. I also go through the hassle of all this because I know in addition to the healing power of God and his protection over me the Bible says that the "rain falls on the just and the unjust." Bad things sometimes happen to Godly people. My prayer is that if I do happen to become ill in some way, I've taken every precaution that it will be right at the beginning stages where the doctor says...

"Deanna, we did find something...HOWEVER...due to your diligence we've gotten it at the very beginning and it's going to be a very easy process to fix and get you back to full health..."

Please, please especially in this breast cancer awareness month will you ladies please join me in being diligent in yearly physicals, and also SELF EXAMS. (When's the last time you did one of those? Again, not to make you feel guilty, but c'mon, it takes all of 2-3 minutes once a month.)

I do not say any of this to scare you but to motivate you that you're worth it! I love you my friends!

My prayer is that all of us sincerely take care, and that many lives are saved as we care for the physical house God has given us to live in while here on earth. Thank you for listening to my women's health rant. It's only because I care...really.

If you are a man and you actually had the courage to read this, please pass this post on to your wife, mother or sister and say, "I really care about you and love you and want to make sure you are doing all you can to take care of yourself so you can live life here with us as long as possible..."

Update on Jedidiah

Readers ~ I asked you in this post on Saturday to pray for one of our precious Northside babies, Jedidiah Lilly, who was born with two holes in his heart. He has spent most of his 4 months of life in the hospital. After his last operation he was not supposed to have any more for a few years, however he took a turn for the worst a few weeks ago and had another procedure and things weren't looking good. I asked you to pray Saturday and just four days later I just got this letter:

Pastor Deanna,

I hope you are having a good day. I just wanted to let you know that Scott took Jedidiah to the doctor yesterday and they ran an EKG on him and they said his heart looks really good and they even took him off the oxygen that he had to have once a week. They also said that he won't need another surgery till he is 3 years old. I was so excited to hear that. He's still in alot of pain but he's doing good. Thank you so much for your prayers and encouragement.

I LOVE YOU, Susan.

PRAISE THE LORD!!! PRAYER WORKS! Please keep praying for Jedidiah's complete healing. Signs, wonders and miracles are for today! We're not giving up.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


My dear friend/mentor, Sis. June Coker, just sent me this and I think it's really important for us to pray these over this election.

Whether we pray this exact outline or not seems not to be the important thing here; what is important is that we PRAY. The scripture references, however, are wonderful.

It is critical that Christians pray for the coming elections. There is amazing power in united prayer. Please print out this prayer guide and pray daily until the election. Pray with others whenever possible. The power of prayer can overcome any obstacle or ungodly influence and, indeed, do great things!

Psalm 86:14-17 - Pray that the Lord would defeat those who have no regard for Him in this election.

2 Cor. 12:9 - Pray that the Lord would empower and enable his man in any area of weakness.

II Kings 13:16 - Pray that the Lord would put His hands on the man of His choice for president (and his team) and guide them in this election.

Proverbs 1:5-6 - Pray that God's man will listen with discernment, add to his knowledge, and receive wise counsel in this campaign.

John 16:33 - Pray that the man of God's choice would be given wisdom and ability from the Lord to overcome any obstacle or difficulty during this campaign.

Acts 17:30 - Pray for repentance for yourself and for our nation.

Luke 12:54-57 - Pray that God's man and our nation will be discerning and do what is right.

Phil. 4:13 - Pray that the Lord's choice for President will have special strength and unusual ability from God.

Habakkuk 1:5 and 3:2 - Pray that the Lord would do something that would utterly amaze us and give His servant victory.

Remember 2 Chronicles 7:14: 'If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.'

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

This should be on Africa's funniest videos...

I will soon be in my beloved Africa in just a few more weeks. Can't believe it's actually this close! I just got my malaria meds the other day and it really made it reality!

I saw this video today and it served to do three things:

1) Remind me how beautiful parts of Africa are!

2) Reminded me how beautiful the animals there are. Yes, I saw lots of them up close and took pictures! Last year I saw them in Nairobi, but this year I'm going to see them in Nakuru.

3) This really gave me a laugh. You aren't going to believe this video. Watch and remember to watch where you're going!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Pastor Appreciation

Okay, so I'm a little bit stoked!

Sunday the board of directors came to the platform and announced the plan to the church for Pastor Appreciation. They are sending us on a vacation --just Larry and I! A romantic's going to be awesome. And that's not all...they are also going to be taking an offering to do some special projects in our home. Yippee!

We're also going to dinner with the board. Very excited...I love spending time with all of them, always. Can't get enough of it. You know a lot of pastors have the worst problem in the world with their board and I thank God that's not the case with us, in fact it's the opposite. We just love hanging out with them as much as possible.

The vacation and special project thing are going to be presented to us on Sunday night, November 23 at our annual Thanksgiving dinner and they are also celebrating the 7 year mark of us being the lead pastors here. Seven is a year of completion and I believe we have completed a season here and are on our way to a brand new season at Northside...a beautiful one. I'm so excited about what's to come. If you could have been there Sunday (and some of you were) you would see that what's taking place for us is really amazing.

Thanks for sharing my's been a long time coming. It really is true that weeping may endure the the night, but joy comes in the morning.

p.s. Six more miles walked/biked tonight. Beautiful weather here in Tampa right now!

Conversation with my daughter this morning

Pasco County schools are off today so I'm home with my kids. This morning after she woke up my daughter Savanna came in and climbed in bed with me and snuggled up. She said, "Momma, why do you have so many nicknames for us?" I said, "Well, I've heard it said the more nicknames a person has the more you know they're loved. So that's why I give you kids lots of them."

"Well I don't understand some of them. Like, "what's a beeber?"

"I made that up," I said."

She answers, "well what's a teeber?"

"I made that up too," I said.

"Momma, don't you have to get permission from the government to make things up?"

"Well honey, we might if some people have their way..."

Let's hope that no matter who wins this election that FREE ENTERPRISE will continue! May all Americans see the light of the dangers of socialism. Let freedom ring!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Slam dunk!

That's what this morning was! The Holy Spirit absolutely took us into overtime. Seriously.

What a service!!! Worship was amazing. We did Freedom Reigns with a bridge that I found online that another church did (haven't heard it anywhere else) but it says, "We shout to every wall come down! We shout to every wall come down! We shout to every wall! We shout to every wall there is freedom!" It was time to declare it today...any remaining wall was coming down!

Great worship and special music time. I did a song right before Larry preached and the majority of the church jumped to their feet and were singing and dancing to it and the place just erupted. I couldn't help it -- started preaching a few minutes as the people were shouting and the song ended...just went into a powerful exhortation but it was time for Larry to take the pulpit so then when I came off the platform, Debbie handed me a paper she had written on and it said, 'WE ARE IN A BREAKTHROUGH!!!!!!!!!!" Yep. Yep. Yep. Tis so!

We had an auction for Speed the Light right after service and it was fun!! Then we had choir luncheon and rehearsal. All around it was an extremely blessed day. Somewhere in there Lourdes took photos of our family for me to take to Africa. The people constantly ask about my family and want me to bring them, or at least see their photo. Well it's like this -- where I go in Africa there is no screen, no powerpoint, no none of that. Just putting a picture up there and saying, "here's my family" is impossible. So I'm doing a bookmark for each woman at the conference (yep, that's a ton of bookmarks!) with my family's picture and in Swahili it will say, "Ladies of Kenya, we are praying for you and we love you! The Shrodes Family and Northside Assembly of God, Tampa, FL." Trust me this will be a big deal to these ladies and they are going to love it. We also have lots of other stuff we are taking to Africa -- scarves, jewelry, perfume, and other things. I thought I'd post the photos here for you to see. I used the one for the bookmark that I put at the top.

They announced today what they are doing for Pastor Appreciation. I'm so excited! I'm going to tell you tomorrow here on the blog so.......stay tuned!!!

In the meantime if you are reading my blog today and you are a Northsider...if you thought today was off the chain, look out! You haven't seen anything yet. We are getting ready to skip a few levels. Were there a lot of people today in the house or what? Was the presence of God just hanging over the place or what?

Let it Rain!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

I love babies!

If I can't have another one, I'm at least going to hold everyone else's and enjoy them as much as I can!

I especially love this baby...He's an extra special miracle. I'd like to introduce to you Jedidiah Scott Lilly! He is Susan's nephew, and he's 4 months old.

We have been praying for Jedidiah even before he was born. He was born with two holes in his heart. He has spent most of his life in the hospital, hooked up to machines, unable to be held. Last week he had just been out of the hospital for a few days and his dad, Scott, brought him to church. Right away I said, "ooooohhhh let me have him!" Susan said, "Scott, I told you this was going to happen...Pastor Deanna will take that baby from you in a second!" And with that, somebody promptly pulled out one of the rocking chairs out of the nursery, and brought it outside where we were having our friends day lunch and I rocked the baby while Scott got a chance to eat, uninterrupted. Oh joy! I was in heaven.

Readers, just breathe a prayer for this little one right now. We are praying for his healing but in the meantime while waiting, he sure is going through a lot.

*Photos by Lourdes Manners

Friend's Day Decor

Now you know why Cathy and I were so excited about
what we found and put together!

We're leaving it up for a while til' the next season...

This was what we put in our breezeway ...

We also had a huge mum in a basket out at our entrance with a little sign that said happy harvest but we didn't get a photo of that...maybe next time! I will share more pics of our friends day over the next week!

*Special thanks to Lourdes Manners for taking these pictures!

Friday, October 17, 2008


It was exactly three months ago today that I wrote this post to my blog readers, asking you to pray for me. I chronicled each day of my darkness for three months here on the blog. I shared the veil of hopelessness that seemed to be draped over me. Not all the details, just the overwhelming sadness in my heart. It has been a rough season in ministry and I have been pretty transparent here about it on the blog.

I thank God for the strength of my family - my husband, children, my sister and mother in law in particular. Without them, I never would have stayed sane. My husband was going through his own pain but he was always there for me.

I went to the office and worked, and of course I was at church services. However, any moment I wasn't doing that I stayed in my bed. If I wasn't such a responsible and committed person by nature, I would have just quit. I did delve into God's word, prayer and worship like never before. Aside from those three things, I just wanted to sleep my life away. For something to take away the ever present pain in my heart.

Bed used to be a fun and restful place for me but for three months it was a place to hide. One day my oldest son came in and said, "Mom, you're getting out of this bed today and that's all there is to it!" I said, "no, I can't." And he said, "yes, you can and you're going to." And he pulled me out into the kitchen but I just couldn't manage to stay there for long and we ended up going back into my room. He sat on the bed with me and read a story with me. He said, "I'm not going to let you be alone." And I wasn't. There were also some incredibly good friends who reminded me constantly that I wasn't alone. Some would always end their emails or calls with, " are not alone." I can't even tell you what just that one phrase has come to mean to me.

My friends knew the details and after listening countless times, they listened some more. Never underestimate the value of listening! Whether it was in person or at 1 am on the phone or 3 am in an instant message, or in person over coffee -- they were there. Tara went so far as to call a prayer meeting on my behalf. I was stunned that 50 people participated! One thing's for sure, you don't mess with Tara. She's a fellow co-pastor and my dear sister in Christ who takes off her high heels and her earrings and gets down to business of her family and close friends.

Many of you I have never met in person but you read here and comment or e-mail a response and are so loving and supportive. You have said things that have encouraged me over the past three months and on many days gave me the hope to go on. Don't ever think when you click on somebody's blog and leave a comment that it is inconsequential! Sometimes it's absolute life to that person. A group of ladies at a church in Miami committed to fast and pray for me everyday until the breakthough! I'll never forget that. There were days I could literally feel those women's prayers.

Three months ago I was crushed by some things that happened in the church. I am still not going to share the details publicly, for others' sakes. Suffice it to say: criticism, disappointment, betrayal, finances, giving and investing in others to an extreme degree only ending up in failure, rejection, heartbroken over sinful and immoral choices people made, it was all there. No one realizes how shepherds hurt when these things happen, unless you are a one. If I didn't love so deeply and care so much, it wouldn't hurt. This is part of the price of loving and giving. Sometimes, this happens. At any rate, one big gigantic blob of pain is what it was and it just made me heartsick. Like the post I wrote about Ezekiel, things just seemed to go from bad to worse.

On the worst day one of our staff members already knew it was a difficult day and hated to even tell us, but they came up to the office and told my husband, "Pastor, I need to tell you this...the sanctuary is flooded." To make matters worse, it was on a Wednesday. I will never forget Pastor Craig Sloan calling that same night 30 minutes before church (obeying God's prompting) and giving me the word, "When the enemy comes in LIKE A FLOOD the spirit of the Lord will raise a standard against it!" The same day, without knowing any of the circumstances, Nancy Seelow who is one of my blog readers emailed me and said God brought me to her mind. She had been praying for me for days and God had given her a specific words for me THAT DAY which was...WHEN THE ENEMY COMES IN LIKE A FLOOD..THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD...." THANK GOD FOR PEOPLE WHO OBEY GOD!!!!!!!! Words like this were what I held onto. Some of you also sent me songs that were my lifeline. I listened to those songs countless times.

It really seemed to just get worse and even during the week of Unstoppable I wasn't even going to preach and was preparing to have Tara take my place on the night I was supposed to speak. But I decided to push though and I spoke on Ezekiel and "Wrecks" -- a message based on this post. Many people told me it was absolutely life changing for them. I told the ladies I hadn't come to the breakthrough yet and was still waiting for the dry bones to live again. I was so encouraged by the support that weekend and all that we shared. I still miss everyone from that weekend terribly ~ we were bound together in such a profound way.

There are a ton of places in God's Word where we see that he SUDDENLY changed something. A few weeks ago, something different began to stir the waters. I detailed the word I received at women's breakaway in this post, when our WM director, Marsha Woolley prophesied over me at Breakaway and said, "THE TIDE IS TURNING, DEANNA, THE TIDE IS TURNING!" At that point, it did. That very weekend, the tide turned.

The past few weeks have been a miraculous breakthrough. I can't even describe it all but let's just say that the Lord is restoring absolutely everything the devil tried to steal from us. When you get right down to it, you can't call it a restoration because to be restored means that you get something back that you once had. We haven't really gotten something back -- we've gotten an EXCHANGE. It's glorious! We are much better off with an exchange, so that's what God is giving us. Sometimes what God does is show us that what we were holding onto so tightly was not best for us, and He wants to exchange it, not give it back. That's because He is all knowing and sees the big picture . When you're in the midst of something you can't see the forest for the trees. You are blinded because you don't have the "other thing" yet. There is no replacement for what you were holding onto -- there is just uncertainty. You are in limbo wondering what in the world is going to happen. But then...GOD! But God, but God, but God!!! He causes the new to unfold and then you realize, it was His plan all along to get you where you needed to be. God has to do things we don't understand to get us to a place of new revelation and anointing. When the breakthrough comes, oh my, my, my! SHOUT NOW, SOMEBODY!!!!!!!!!!!!

What is happening in my life and in our church is amazing. And it's very unorthodox. We are heading in a whole new, completely different direction. It's coming in a way I never expected. The tide has turned. I'm not drowning anymore, I'm surfing. My husband and I are so expectant of what God is getting ready to do in our church we can hardly stand it. We are not having a 360 turnaround, but a 180 -- turning our backs on our old season and walking straight into the new spectacular season. It is not restoration to the same, it is restoration to the completely NEW. The word in our church right now is FREEDOM. We are finally becoming free to be what God has destined us to be!

Sunday was such a great day and afterwards several of our leaders approached my husband and said, "we could have never experienced the possibility of our new season without some of the changes that we had to go through over the last few months. These specific things needed to happen for this new level of freedom to come to us, for us to get to the place God wanted us to be. He had to turn our obstacles to opportunity."

Also, our incredible board of directors  has something special in store for Larry and I! I can hardly wait to tell you about it!!! But I can't yet because they haven't announced it. As soon as they do, I'll tell you!!! I'm so excited I could burst! (But I won't, that would be kind of gross.)

I love waking up in the mornings! I love who I'm living life with! I love what I'm doing! I love my family and my church more than I ever have before! I am moving FORWARD into a new level of understanding and authority.

On my birthday, I shared this post about the plant I pruned and how yukky it looked after I did, and the subsequent word God gave me. After pruning he told me that my situation and my life would flourish again when the plant did. As I looked over several days ago I noticed it was sprouting again! It is time for the plant, and also for me...for us. IT'S A NEW SEASON!

I have learned new things in this season I never could have otherwise. I am closer to the Lord. The Lord has made Isaiah 45:3 reality in my life: "I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name."

Throughout the past few months I have talked repeatedly here on the blog about the darkness that seemed to cover my life. It was very real. But now it is reality that God has given me TREASURES because of this darkness, and RICHES that would have never come to me in any other way! I also know more than ever that He knows my name. My faith is higher than ever before.

Look out Tampa, look out Africa, look out world!!! Deanna is out of bed!!!!!!!!!!!! I am baaaaacccckkkkk!! Devil, be afraid, be VERY afraid.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Shout now, somebody!

I can't remember the last time I saw gas for under $3.00!! I was so excited when we stopped for gas on the way home from work, I had to take this photo to celebrate!

This was the day to get poked with a needle and pee in a cup...YEAH!!!

To all of you who posted a comment or emailed me yesterday, you're life is springing forth. I'm flourishing, and that's what I wanted you to know by my picture post yesterday.

Not to drag this out or anything but there are about five people I have needed to personally email or call to give the 411 before I post anything else. My close friends who have stood by me so faithfully day and night, and hashing out the details of my life deserve not to read it in a blog post.

Just like I posted on August 1, God had something to teach me about pruning and flourishing. For three months I was waiting for the plant (and my life) to flourish again. I have two more people to e-mail or talk to and then I'll post more...I promise!

In today's news, I got a blood test this morning. This is pretty significant. Hang on and you'll understand why.

I would rather have a baby than a blood test. Each time I've had my children, I asked the nurses, "do I have to have that IV in order to have the baby?" And each time they've said yes. It's been the worst, most dreaded thing of the experience. I faint each time if I'm sitting up, so I always tell them I have to lay down. Then I take my orange juice and crackers to have as soon as they are done.

Today I was a little peeved because when I went to the lab they told me due to new OSHA standards, there are NO food or drinks allowed AT ALL in the lab. They said it's a "bio-hazard." How orange juice is a bio-hazard I'll never know. I was a lih-tle upset but figured, hey if I pass out they'll just have to deal with it and maybe they'll tell OSHA how stupid this rule is not to allow patients to have an orange juice after their test since after all they haven't eaten in umpteen hours and they have had 6 or 7 vials of blood taken from them!!! Sheesh! Thankfully I did good. I'm serious when I say I quoted Psalm 91 in my head the whole time.

I was just there for my routine yearly blood work. I'm very particular about having yearly checkups, lab work, mammo's, etc. I just believe in taking care of myself. It was 3 months ago that I had my yearly physical. My doctor subsequently referred me to a lab for my yearly blood work. But unfortunately that was the week everything fell apart in my life and I went into horrible depression. I have to be honest, I wasn't up to getting my lab work done. I wasn't up to living, let alone blood work. I wanted to stay in bed all day and never get out (as you know if you are a regular reader) and the last thing on my mind was a blood test. At that point I would have just said, "skip the blood work, let me die if something's wrong with me." I wasn't in a state of mind to care. With my distain of blood tests, I thought, "I can't stand one more moment of pain or dread. I'm just going to wait." So I did. I thought, "when I'm happier, and the world starts looking like a place I actually want to wake up to everyday, I'll get this lab work done."

Weeeellllllll...........Today was the day! I've had the best week EVER in FOREVER. My week has been GLORIOUS! Seriously, I was so unbelievably happy that I woke up today and thought, "THIS IS LAB WORK DAY!!! I COULDN'T BE MORE THRILLED WITH LIFE! LET'S DO IT!!!"
I was in a state of mind this morning where I could handle coping with getting stuck with a needle, and peeing into a little cup. In fact, I was so excited to get back to normal, back to caring about living healthy, and moving on with God's plan for me.


It's a new dawn! It's a new day!

Life is good, my peeps!

God is good!

The world is once again a brighter place, at least for me.

And now I have to help other people out of their darkness...

Gotta go, my tears are making it hard to see the computer screen...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What might this mean?

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.

If you are a regular reader of my blog you might have a hint as to what this means...

If you are a new reader you'll have no clue, but this post might help you a bit.

Like I said, a "report" is on the way!

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Yes it's ladies night, and the feelin's right oh yes it's ladies night oh what a night!

Tonight was ladies night at my home and what a time we had! My goal was to make it a more intimate gathering at my house for dinner and a movie...everyone was invited but with schedules and such I knew many would not be able to be here. We have many women who, with their own work issues and many going back to school and child care, etc. couldn't make it. But 20 ladies gathered at my home last night and we shared dinner and I had a movie planned but played it by ear, (I thought they'd probably want to talk instead) and that was right. The noise at my house was so loud you could barely hear yourself talk at times! I'm serious. From the second everyone got there they were so immersed in talking I had to quiet them down to pray before we ate. So cool that they were connecting that much.

Some of my precious new ladies came such as Yisenia, Elizabeth, Rebecca and Shelley. These are women who have been coming to church regularly for about 2 months now and it feels like they've been here forever already! What a blessing they are.

I had decided we'd have china, cloths napkins, real silverware, teacups, yada yada yada...all the trimmings. Best of all I didn't do the majority of the dishes as Margaret jumped right up to do them! (Thanks Margaret, you are the best, and one of the funniest women I know besides!)

Mid-evening I said, "if anyone really wants to watch this movie I'll let you go in my bedroom and watch it away from the noise..." but not a person wanted to stop talking while devouring our desserts and coffee. (Everybody enjoyed the white chocolate cake, by the way!) We told stories and laughed so hard. Some people stayed pretty late and we told more stories, and laughed...

We took this photo below during the course of the evening however a few people had already left when Lourdes thought about taking the group shot. Oh well, we did it with those who were still there anyway.

Over the coming week I'm going to post photos of mine and Cathy's decor for last Sunday as well as some other photos from Friend's Day that Lourdes took. She's so phenomenally gifted with photography. Check out her blog here. I might post a few sets of photos a day, so keep checking back.

I love my ladies...they are a definite sweet spot in my life. (SMILE)

A day in the life

I have some exciting news this week ~ I can't wait to share it, but first I have to call and e-mail a few bff's and tell them personally and not let them read it on my blog. :-) I owe that to my close friends. But just wait, I have great news.

In the meantime, here's the majority of what I did yesterday...

Woke up.

Went in to make sure Jordan was up for school. Bedroom light on. Bathroom light on. His door open. I hear him milling around, assume all is good. I lay back down for some extra zzzz's before getting Savanna up. Big mistake.

Saw Savanna off to school and got ready for work.

Came out to leave for work and noticed Jordan had gone back to bed and was laying there sound asleep. Very frustrated. (Me, not him...) Wanting to wring his neck but I don't want to be late for work. Decided for once to deal with it later.

Went to work. Read some devotional things on the way to work as usual. (Larry drives)

Busted through a ton of work in a few hours. Probably 7 things on the agenda including personally following up on all the visitors from yesterday.

Had a few hour staff meeting over chinese food. Yum. Solidified planning for Thanksgiving and Christmas church events/services.

Went to three stores looking for stuff I need for the women's meeting tonight.

Went home.

Greeted kids..."how was your day,", etc...

Checked messages to answer on home phone.

Repotted plant on back patio.

Pulled some weeds.

Cleaned and swept patio and furniture.

Cleaned kitchen and started supper...spanish chicken, rice, peas, broccoli...

Did load of clothes.

Cleaned out fridge/freezer in garage and wiped down while Larry did the one in the kitchen.

Fixed some picture frames.

Finished writing project I left undone at the office.

Dustin called to ask if he and Casey could come back home for dinner. (They were at the movies on a date.) I said of course.

Ate dinner.

Cleaned kitchen again.

Made White Chocolate Fudge Cake for women's night at my house next day.

Cleaned it all up again.

Bagged trash.

Soaked feet while simultaneously finishing another computer project.

Made Savanna's lunch for school.

Wrote new music chart for song we're introducing Sunday.

Updated choir blog.

Looked through a bunch of special music numbers to think about Sunday's offertory.

Answered five or six e-mails that have been waiting. (Sorry to the rest of you I didn't get to yet.)

Wrote e-mail memo.

Wrote 2 blog posts and read a few daily blogs.

Cleansed face, flossed, brushed teeth, and...

Went to bed at 2 am.

And that, my friends is a pretty typical day in the life of Deanna Shrodes except I didn't get to exercise yesterday and normally I spend more time with the fam. Somehow it all works out ... but now you know why I just have to chuckle inwardly when people repeatedly call me and say, "Hey, got a minute?" My standard answer: "For you, I'll make one!" Or there's the ever popular, "Are you busy right now?" My standard answer: "How can I help you?"

Monday, October 13, 2008

I made it!


Lucretia Noble's White Chocolate Fudge Cake! (Lucretia is wife to Pastor Perry Noble, Lead Pastor of Newspring Church, Anderson, SC) My friend Pastor Tara and I read Perry's blog daily -- I highly recommend it! And he has highly recommended his wife's cake to everyone near and far. I mean the man RAVES about this cake like it's so good it could make a tadpole slap a whale. Seriously. So he put the recipe on his blog and Tara decided to go for it and make it and she too raved about it. You can read about her experience with making it here. So I said, "I've gotta see for myself what's going on here..."

I decided to make the cake tonight in preparation for a special ladies night I'm having at my home tomorrow night. We are having a dinner and I have lots of people coming over and I decided this would be the perfect time to try out this recipe. (If it flopped we'll still have plenty of other things but it doesn't look like it's going to be a flop in the least!) Just the icing tastes AWESOME. It makes a ton of icing so there's lots left over and I had some as well as Dustin and Casey, Jordan and Savanna. I can't wait to taste the finished product. I'll let you know what the ladies say about it! Here's the recipe:



1 box white cake mix
vegetable oil
(these three things above are dependent upon what the box mix calls for.)

1 package white chocolate pudding
1 tsp vanilla
3 oz melted white chocolate


1 can vanilla icing
3 oz. melted white chocolate
1 tsp vanilla
8 oz cool whip


1/4 c powdered sugar
6 oz melted chocolate ( semi-sweet or milk)
3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp lt corn syrup


Make icing first. Mix can of icing and white chocolate. Then add vanilla and lastly, mix in thawed cool whip by hand. Allow icing to refrigerate while making other layers.

Make fudge filling next. Heat butter until melted and then stir in melted chocolate. Stir in corn syrup. Lastly, stir in sifted powdered sugar to warm mixture. Allow filling to refrigerate while making cake.

Prepare cake mix according to directions on the box. Mix in vanilla, pudding powder, and melted white chocolate. Place cake batter evenly into 2 greased, round cake pans. Cook per directions on cake mix box. Allow cake layers to cool before putting cake together.

Putting it all together - 1st cake layer, fudge filling, 2nd cake layer, and then ice entire cake. Refrigerate cake until ready to serve.


1) icing and filling need to be firm enough to stay on cake but soft enough to spread easily

2) make sure melted chocolates are mixed in well

3) make sure powdered sugar is sifted and mixed in well

4) I usually do not use all fudge filling in 2 layer cake. You can but fudge layer is fairly thick if you do.

5) I usually do not use all icing on 2 layer cake as it is also thick if you do, but some people like thick icing.

ALTERNATIVE: Above recipe makes average size 2 layer cake. Can double cake mixture and make deluxe size 3 layer cake with 2 fudge filling layers between each cake layer. I do not double icing and filling recipe if I make 3 layer cake, but if you like thick fudge and icing layers then you would need to double those also.