Wednesday, January 30, 2008

GOVERNMENTAL WARNING


DO NOT SWALLOW CHEWING GUM.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Check it out


New blog post, "How much prejudice is too much?" at my other site ~ Equal Time.

It's about something that happened to me today, however I thought it fit better with the theme of the Equal Time blog.

For those of you junkies who just can't get enough of my writing, go get yourself a hot tea, and read your second helping today... (LOL)

Also, there is an excellent post by my friend, Pastor Leanne Weber, on her blog today, that I want to direct everyone to. She's a great writer with insights out the wazoo and this post is no exception.

Eenie meenie miney moe, catch a president...


Today I voted in the primary election.

I always vote. I feel strongly that to not vote is a slap in the face to everybody who worked so hard to get everyone the freedom to vote, especially women and minorities. That's a whole other post in itself, for another day.

Although I vote because it's the right thing to do regardless, today's vote was rather anti-climactic. I'm not excited about anybody. Not that presidential candidates normally get my engine running or anything, but c'mon - have we ever before in history had this pathetic of an array of choices?

As I have blogged about before, nothing would please me more than to have a woman president, or a president of color. But why for the love of God, when we finally get both a woman and a black candidate do they have to be those who are currently running? Just because I believe strongly in a qualified woman's equal right to lead, doesn't mean I will check my brain at the door and vote for anybody with XY chromosones. Just because I feel very strongly about people of all races who also qualify having an equal opportunity to serve in leadership doesn't mean I'm going to vote for the first person of color that gets on a platform regardless of the fact that they might have unGodly values.

No, I'm not excited about anyone. No one.

A few people have said to me, "what about Huckabee? You're not excited about him? He's a preacher, after all..."

Yeah yeah, Jim Jones was once a preacher too. Listen, he's good friends with Bill Gothard. Do I really need to know any more than that about him? You know the saying --"show me your friends, I'm show you your future??" Well, the friends someone keeps tell you something about them --past, present and future. Mike Huckabee is a huge Gothard supporter and vice versa. Google both their names together and read all about it.


Gothard's ideas cause me to teeter totter between being scared to death and laughing hysterically. When you read some of his stuff you wonder if you are reading the work of a Baptist preacher or if you have mistakenly picked up a manual written by the leaders of the Taliban.

(Gothard has a strong following in the fundamentalist leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention. Former SBC presidents Adrian Rogers and Charles Stanley testified to Gothard's influence on their ministries. Gothard was featured on FamilyNet, a TV network owned and operated by the Southern Baptist Convention, and spoke to trustees of the SBC International Mission Board in 1992.)

Gothard believes women are to be completely subservient to their husbands and fathers - you basically go from being your father's property, to your husband's property. The fact that a woman is being abused is insignificant in Gothard-land...divorce is unacceptable under any circumstances, period. Dating is forbidden - parents make all a person's life decisions and individuals must live with their parents until they marry. Gothard teaches that most mental illnesses including schizophrenia are simply a lack of personal responsibility. Cabbage Patch dolls are "demonic," and music that has an accent on beats 2 & 4 (what he calls a "back beat) is satanic. Let this serve as a notice to those of you listening to or playing black or southern gospel - you're bound for hell unless you start clapping on 1 & 3.

Of Gothard's teachings, Huckabee is quoted as saying "As a person who has actually been through the Basic Seminar, I am confident that these are some of the best programs available for instilling character into the lives of people," Huckabee wrote in a letter promoting Gothard's prison ministry. Arkansas prisons had been using Gothard seminars and materials since 1996.

Do I really want anyone in office who hangs out and seems to be BFF's with the leader of this organization and actually uses his materials in teaching or leading various aspects of government? Okay, he's not out there signing off on the killing of babies, thank God. But do I really want someone in office who seems to be two peas in a pod with somebody who espouses these other ideas that are not only neanderthal but quite possibly qualifiy as spiritual abuse?

Um, no thanks.

People have described this election as the choice of voting for the "lesser of many evils..." So true. Yesterday I got an email that was sent to thousands of people from a district official from the denomination that I serve in (not from my particular district but another district in the US) that basically hailed Huckabee as the choice for us as evangelical Christians. Okay, so Huckabee's a Christian but what kind of Christian is he? There are all kinds of flavors of Christians out there and quite frankly IF Huckabee shares the views of Bill Gothard, it's the flavor I don't want in the White House. Honestly I would rather have a heathen run the White House anyday, over a Christian who holds views of prejudice. And I realize that's my personal opinion, and that's the beauty of America - land of the free, home of the brave. We all get a vote, at least those of us over 18 who haven't committed a felony.

I went and voted today primarily to honor those who went before me in fighting for my right to do so. But with the lack of good candidates part of me felt like I might as well go, "eeny meenie miney moe" instead of giving any real thought to this because I felt like the ballot was a disgrace.


Where are J.C. Watts, Elizabeth Dole, and Condi Rice when you need them? Not running for president, unfortunately.

p.s. So who DID I vote for today? I'm not telling. Many people say a pastor should not endorse a candidate or talk politics and that it's even against the law to do so (in the pulpit or at a church sponsored event). However please remember that although I would not speak of it in church or at a church function, this is my personal blog, not the pulpit. Second, I did choose to blog on this issue because quite truthfully there is NOBODY I endorse although I did vote. Third, although we shouldn't endorse a candidate, talking about the issues is another matter especially when they relate to our Christian beliefs. One of my beliefs happens to be Galatians 3:27-28.

What secret thing are you dealing with?

It's my opinion that everyone deals with something in life that would be surprising to those around them if they only knew.

Think of this as a "private handicap" if you will. By this I don't necessarily mean a secret life as in having moral issues or such. But simply a private difficulty you have to contend with on a regular basis that people would be surprised at.

I have something like this in my life - something I will never be able to discuss with anyone, as a matter of ethics. Yet it's a very difficult challenge.

I can't change it - because it's not within my control. We can only control ourselves (you know, that whole serenity prayer thing) and even with that, we can only control our response, not what happens to us. (you know, the whole rain falling on the just and the unjust thing...) In my case, I simply roll with it and do what it takes from day to day to simply handle what I have to handle through God's grace. Everyone has their own stuff to carry and this happens to be mine.

So why bring it up if I'm never going to tell you what it is? Is this post just to tickle your curiousity?


No, I bring it up for four reasons:


1) To point out that many people around us every day are dealing with thorns in the flesh we will never know about.
2) Realize, the internal pressure can seem great for them at times.
3) Don't assume that anyone is okay.
4) If you get the urge to pray for someone even if outwardly they always seem fine - pray fervently for them because truthfully -- you just don't know.
4) Realize how much little things mean in lifting someone's spirit. You could be the lifejacket to someone who is emotionally drowning.


Yesterday I talked with my friend Ada for a few moments out of my busy day. I just called to tell her something real quick about my hair and she was sick and sniffling and sneezing when I called but she didn't want to hang up real quick, so but then we talked a little longer. Just hearing her say, "can't wait to see you Thursday...love you..." put a smile back on my face. Then my friend Pastor Jenn called me, and hearing her voice and a, "hey, how was your day yesterday...really?" did the same. After doing a hospital visit, I came home and there was a card in my mailbox from my friend Pastor Andrea telling me what a great job she thinks I'm doing especially in light of some major obstacles I overcame last year. These were the high points of my day which was otherwise dismal. Don't ever underestimate the power of a friend's caring voice whether by phone, card or in person.

The bottom line of this post? I believe every one of your friends is dealing with something they might not ever be able to tell you about. None of my friends past or present know about my issue - it's between God and me. My thorn will likely go to the grave with me or up in the rapture, but just their voice or their hug, or their "hey, you're doing a great job" means the world.


We are all wired for connection and we need each other to stay healthy admist our challenges. Be a person who prays in the spirit for your friend and follows the leading of the spirit to call, write or pray when God prompts.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Stand on the Word


"Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ." Colossians 3:23-24

Some days, a word like this just has to be enough.

What makes me love you?



What makes me love you, Teeby dear...

daily decision to unconditionally love aside?

Is it the fact that you sometimes bring me breakfast in bed, taking care to make my tea just like I like it?

Is it the times you do a chore around the house without me having to mention it?

Is it the times you say, "I have a surprise for you..." when you come home from the store?

Is it because of your warm body pressed against mine in the middle of the night?

Is it because of the times you are first to say I'm sorry, or when you've written me a letter that is more than just a few lines?

Is it because you make the best spaghetti?

Is it because you gave me a car I loved?

Is it because you dance with me?

Is it because you put all of the Amy Grant CD's on my computer for me to listen to?

Is it because you tell me I'm beautiful...all the time?

Is it because you like to take me on dates?

Is it because you've given me three beautiful kids and given me the privilege of being a Mom?

Is it because you're proud of me, not threatened by me?

Is it because you were enough of a man to marry a woman like me?

Is it because you value my mind, my thoughts, and what I have to say?

Is it because you hold me when I cry?

Or is it because you calm my fears?

What makes me love you, Teeby dear?

It's not one of these things, and all of these things...

It's because you are you...and you are mine...my funny valentine.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Great day with God's people...



Today was a FULL day, being with God's people and totally enjoying it!

Fantastic morning at Northside...God was in the house, and we had our game on today too. The choir did a phenomenal job - I was so proud of them. Wowza! Larry preached on momentum. Good stuff. We've got it going on right now...

After church we went out with a few families and enjoyed lunch at Hungry Harry's BBQ which is one of our favorite BBQ places. For those who don't live in Florida one thing you need to know about Florida is that it's known for it's BBQ. Did you know that the cattle/beef industry is bigger in Florida than in Texas? I never knew that before I moved here and was shocked to discover that! We've got some phenomenal BBQ here and Hungry Harry's is one of the local best. I love their pulled pork with sweet BBQ sauce, potato salad and baked beans and corn bread. Mmmm.....

We went to lunch with the Stewarts, Garlands and Mackleys and took over a whole section of the place. (And my boys weren't even with us today - they went to make a movie over at Stephen's, some project they are doing for youth...) But there were still 16 of us descending upon Harry's for lunch. I've included some pics here that Savanna took. In case your wondering, yes she did indeed even take the pic of herself and Britney, above. She's my little photographer and does such a great job taking pics for me whenever I ask.


I always have such a good time spending time with people after church at lunch I never want to leave! But I always have something on Sunday night to get ready for. Larry and I enjoy spending lunch time with some of our people whether we go out or have them to our home. Sunday is just a day to worship and also to invest, invest, and invest some more in the lives of people. Every moment we get to spend with them is precious.

After lunch I had to head home to get our leadership meeting stuff underway... (preparing more food...seems like that's all we Christians do at times is eat, eat, eat. Hence my passion for weight watchers and working out, as well...)

Tonight for leadership meeting I made my famous seafood bisque and chicken salad sandwiches, along with hot fresh cookies out of the oven. I made a big pot of the bisque and it was almost totally devoured. It was definitely a hit!

After we ate together as we normally do to begin our meetings, Larry and I gathered everyone in the family room and we pulled up our chairs, me sitting in my rocker as usual. We just talk to our team about what's on our heart. Sometimes it's more of a chat, sometimes more of a teaching. We talked with our team about momentum and where we're headed from here and just debriefed from the last month and shared time together. Larry and I are firm in always "processing relationship before task!" How some pastors can try to lead people and have absolutely no relationship with them always boggles my mind a bit.

Our leaders were so excited about what God is doing in the church. Things that were buzzwords of the night:

Opportunity - NOT obstacle!


Don't limit God!


Increase! Increase! Increase!


What is gained through intercession must be maintained through intercession...


and much more. Of course, we also ended with a powerful time of prayer.

We always have a pile of our kids at our house (leadership meeting or not) and tonight was no exception. Kirstie took some pictures during the meeting for me. I thought I'd include some here.

It was a great Sunday and now I'm ready for a good night's sleep.

Can't get the choir song out of my head...

It's in Jesus...all in Jesus...
It's in Jesus, He's the one...

Rock of Salvation, a
firm foundation
it's in Jesus He's the one...


Goonight Jesus...


Good night everyone...
Love you...

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Super-ific day and night

I love Saturdays when they are like today - a perfect mix of work and pleasure.

It's very rare that I would have a whole Saturday off...I think it is that way with most pastors, at least the ones who work hard. :-)

Larry and I generally work 6 days a week with Friday off. Saturday is only an "off" day if all the work is done, or we don't have any meetings - which rarely happens. But we at least try to manage to make it a "sleep in" day.

It wasn't such for Lar today, but for me it was. Larry got up at the crack of dawn to go to Men's Breakfast. I slept in as late as I could possibly sleep. When I woke up, it was because Larry was back from Men's Breakfast and walked in our bedroom with a breakfast tray for me. When he does that for me it just screams, "I love you" at me all day long when I think about it.

Our boys got up and headed to work at the church and then decided to spend the night at Stephen's. Savanna came in as I was eating breakfast and said, "Morgan wants me to spend the night...can I go?" Wow, this was shaping up to be an incredible evening...by ourselves with no kids! I love my kids...but I really enjoy being alone with my husband whenever the opportunity presents itself. I took Savanna to Morgan's and then went to grocery shop for all the food for the leaders meeting (for 20 people) we're having tomorrow night.

I came home and started cooking some of my favorites. Sometimes I have the leaders all bring a dish to share and at other times I cook the whole meal. Being that this is the first meeting of the year I wanted to do everything. So today I have been getting all of the food prepped and the house clean for the meeting, making last minute calls for tomorrow's services and meetings, getting all of our clothes prepared and such.

After doing all that, Larry and I had dinner, and then watched a comedian on Comedy Central. After putting the finishing touches on lining up everything for when I wake up in the morning, Larry and I will enjoy this time that we have to ourselves in the house. If I didn't have to get up early for church in the morning...I might have decided to stay up all night...

One of my favorite nights of the year


It's almost 1 am and I'm just getting home from one of my all time favorite highlights of every year...

I know, I know...I'm not that old (really, I'm not!) but I love the Gaither Homecoming. This is what I grew up on -- my heritage --the foundation of my learning to play and sing. I started out by listening to Happy Goodman records (33's - remember those?) and playing by ear. This music holds an incredibly special place in my heart.

Pretty much anybody who has known me for any length of time knows this. I never miss a Homecoming and they come to Tampa every year the 3rd week in January. Unless I were hospitalized or deceased, I will always be there provided Bill and Gloria are still showing up.

Pastor Lindsay blessed me with tickets to this year's show, as a Christmas gift. Originally it was just supposed to be me, Larry and Jordan going. This is normally a "mother/son" thing we do , Jordan and I, together. I always prayed, "Lord, just let one of my children love this like I do, and let us share it together..." and Jordan is that child for me. Over the years, he and I have ridden alone in the car sometimes and sing together, everything from, "Oh My Lord, What a Time" to "Let Freedom Ring". He's a good little tenor and can hold a note out forever. Last year we were at Homecoming by ourselves and raced from table to table buying everything from Signature Sound's new CD to GVB's latest and listening to our favorites and singing them all the way home. Keep in mind my son is 16, and he's one of the coolest dudes on the planet... he surfs, skateboards, drums, and...loves the Gaithers too! :-)

Ten of us ended up going together -- and had great seats compliments of Pastor Linds and her connections at WTBN. My whole family went as well as Stephen, Pastor T & Misty, Bill, and Anita. We decided to go a few hours early and eat at Stumps Supper Club, chowing down corn bread topped with butter and honey and southern delicacies like fried chicken and southern style ribs. Yum!!! Pastor Linds met us there.

The theme this year was "Give it Away." Every time I'm at a Gaither concert a bunch of great memories flood my mind. I'm a firm believer in concentrating on the GOOD memories in life. Lord knows all of us have things we want to forget, so we have to hold on to the things that are pleasant for us to remember. Singing "Til' the Storm Passes By" and "Where No One Stands Alone" are some f those good memories for me, among many others...


Funny moments of tonight I just have to share before going to sleep...

We were listening tonight to a piano solo by Gordon Mote (is the guy incredible or WHAT?) I have been giving Savanna some piano lessons and she's doing well. As we're watching Gordon Mote play some incredible piano chops, Savanna leans over and she says, "Mom, that right there takes some serious practicing..."


and I said, "yes honey, you're right but YOU CAN DO IT! After all, Gordon Mote is even BLIND and he does it!" and then she quipped back, "Yeah Mom, but I'm blond!"

My daughter can be so funny sometimes. Then a little while later as we're listening to the concert and Bill Gaither is introducing all these groups she leans over to her Dad and says, "Dad, Bill Gaither is so busy I don't know how he does all this..." and my husband says, "what do you mean?" She says, "Well, he's gotta do these concerts and manage all these singers and then run around and make and sell all that computer stuff." And Larry says, "What? What computer stuff?" And she says, "you know, he makes the computers..." and Larry says, "Do you mean Bill GATES?"


"Oh yeah," she says........... "I guess I thought for some reason they were the same guy."

Yep, my daughter IS blond. (SMILE)

Keep in mind I am now blond too, BUT...it comes from a bottle. :-) (GRIN)

G'night all...

Friday, January 25, 2008

The research is in...



Found this today on the web and I'm still laughing...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

"All Dressed Up and Somewhere to Go!"


I didn't post this two weeks ago when I had it in mind to, but I thought today I would share with you the outline of the message I preached at our first women's meeting for the 2008 year at Northside.

If any of you speakers want to take it and preach it as your own, God bless you. All I have is yours...just give God the glory. I know it's a long post, but what can I say, I'm a long-winded preacher. (SMILE)

Here we go...


"All Dressed up and Somewhere to Go!"

I believe God wants to take us to unbelievable places in Him this next year. Something great – something of incredible increase is in store as we seek Him. A key to success is being dressed for the occasion. How we are dressed for an occasion speaks of what we expect to happen.

I love to dress up! Always have. As most of you know, I get excited about clothes. What we are wearing actually tells us something about what’s getting ready to happen.

When I’m going to speak somewhere, I don’t show up in my workout sweats and a t-shirt. I'm a woman on a mission and I want to make a first impression. At the same time, when I go to Clearwater Beach, I don’t show up in a pantsuit that I just wore to speak in. When I pull out the Victoria’s Secret clothes, well...you know. Actually that would be all about getting unclothed…

If you’re reading Song of Solomon you’re probably getting the message that you should be unclothed a lot of the time, but read the rest of the Bible and most of the time God is talking about us being clothed. Earlier this year on Sunday mornings, Pastor and I did a preaching series, “What Not to Wear” and basically talked about what the Lord commanded us to wear (love, humility, etc.) and what he said to take off. (bitterness, jealousy, unforgiveness, etc.)

Tonight I want to talk about something we must put on in this new year if we are going to step into the increase that he has for us. It goes along with this week of increase prayer that we have just experienced.

TEXT: Ephesians 6:10-17

10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Paul said to put on the full armor of God – to clothe ourselves.

WE ARE IN A FIGHT…THE FIGHT OF OUR LIVES! The Christian has not even begun to fight until we have learned to pray.

We need to be reminded – we are not on a playground, we are on a battlefield. We are in the absolute fight of our lives. There is no room for laziness when it comes to prayer and putting on the full armor of God, for too much is at stake.

Your life – your family – your church, not just it’s increase but it’s very life – it’s very survival – depends on our intercession and our being dressed properly, spiritually.

The enemy wants us to be stupid Christians, totally clueless about what he is capable of. The bible says in II Corinthians 2:11, “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us, for we are not ignorant of his devices.

Did you know one of the main reasons you need to be filled with the Holy Ghost? He doesn't just fill you to blabber on in tongues. He fills you for purpose, and one of those purposes is so that you won't have to be clueless. The Holy Ghost has come to TEACH YOU.

You can’t be ignorant of how the enemy fights.

How many of you have ever been in a fight? Some of you might be able to teach this better than me depending on how many people you beat up at the bus stop…

But although I haven’t been in too many physical fights, I’ve done plenty of wrestling with my boys and this has taught me a thing or two.

First of all, you’ve got to keep your hands up – and stay on your guard. A fighter cannot just fight, but must protect themselves from the fatal blows of the opponent. Not only that but you have to always be on guard for that left hook. Just when you think you’ve got something all figured out and get a little comfortable, BAM!

Realize, out of the six things we are going to talk about on the armor of God that are used for warfare, only five of them are for defense and one is used for offense. This means the majority of the fight is about standing firm – defending ourselves against the devil’s schemes. What does the Bible say...after you've done all to stand........STAND.

1) THE BELT OF TRUTH.vs. 14 says stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist.

Believe it or not the Bible talks about "spiritual spanx." Support undergarments are spoken of in the Word of God. The "belt" is sometimes called a girdle. The first thing a soldier needs is the belt…just about everything a soldier needs is carried in their belt or girdle.

They might have every other thing with them but without the belt, all of other stuff would have no place to firmly attach.

You see, the belt was not for show or adornment – it secured everything. That's what a girdle does. Paul said that truth is the element in the Christian life that holds everything together. It’s the great girdle of Christianity.

The Hebrew word for truth is spelled with three letters, and they are the first, middle and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The truth of God is the beginning, middle and end of life. Truth is everything.

We must be walking in the truth, living and walking in the truth of God’s Word…

I like to watch Lifetime TV sometimes and one thing you often see on a Lifetime movie is, “based on a true story.” It’s not completely accurate, but perhaps loosely based on a situation that happened. Too many Christians are living a life just “based on a true story” but not completely walking and living in God’s truth. My life is not just “based on Jesus” – my life IS Jesus. His truth is the only truth. In Him I live and move and have my being.

Are we really living in the truth of God’s Word and in His fullness or are we just tacking him on to whatever else we’re doing in life? God wants to lead us into His fullness…this only comes by walking in truth - the truth of God's Word - and having Him AS your life, not as a PART OF your life.

2) THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

A breastplate was worn over the heart to protect against disabling wounds—made of leather and covered with copper or tin.

A breastplate guards the heart which is the center of a man or woman and their source of life. You can live without a gallbladder, without an appendix, without quite a few other things on your body but you can’t live without a heart. It must be protected at all costs.The breastplate guards the center of our spiritual life which is our heart. What is at the center of your heart? For some it is envy, greed, lust, bitterness, etc. and for others who are walking in righteousness it is integrity and holiness.

In addition to living in the truth of God’s Word we have to guard our heart…and be righteous.

The Bible says that victory is in store for the upright, or the righteous. I have seen so many believers go around saying, “God’s gonna give me the victory! He said he would arise, his enemies would be scattered…and God is going to fight for me…blah blah blah”

The truth is, God fights on behalf of the righteous. He doesn’t just fight on behalf of those who are members of a church. I have seen so many church people convinced God is giving them the victory and meanwhile they are exhibiting behaviors that are so unrighteous. I have literally pastored people who say, “I just can’t forgive them but I know God is fighting on my behalf…” oh really??? Interesting theology there...

It’s amazing what we think we will accomplish without righteousness.

The truth is God increases and blesses those who are refusing to wear the worldly garments of envy, jealousy, bitterness, gossip, unforgiveness.

Why do we think we will be so blessed when we are wearing all the wrong spiritual clothes?

There are times I’ll say to my daughter Savanna, “get dressed, we’re going somewhere”. Maybe I’m going down to Brandon Mall and I want to take her with me. Nothing makes her happier than looking around in Claire’s and Bealls! She's a chip off of the old block! Well, sometimes I tell her to get ready and then I go get ready myself. I come out 30-45 minutes later, dressed and ready to go and there she is laying on the couch watching Hannah Montana in her pajamas. I say, “I thought I told you to get dressed! I wanted to take you somewhere…” and she's not ready at all and I end up leaving her with back home and going because she wasn’t ready. Meanwhile Jordan hops up and says, "I'll go with you, Momma, I'm ready!" and he's the one who gets to go with me and is blessed while his sister has to stay home with Dad.

God is saying, “get dressed, we’re going somewhere…” and we lay on our spiritual couch and decide to keep our clothes that he’s told us to change out of, on. Meanwhile God says, “I wanted to take you with me….but you're not ready, girl...”

What are you trying to accomplish in your life without putting on the breastplate of righteousness?

Alright, we’re getting into exciting territory here…the SHOES!

3) THE SANDALS OF READINESS.vs. 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

The power of shoes!!! Jesus knew the importance of shoes. Shout now!!!


The soldiers sandals back in the day were fitted with nails or spikes to make them hold firm in the ground. This was to provide solid footing in battle. The soldier was prepared for hand to hand combat.

Peace is about learning when to stand still and see the salvation of our God.

(John 14:27) Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.(Philippians 4:7) And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Sometimes we’ve got to take off our running shoes and put on our standing shoes.

Recently I heard a sermon called, “don’t just do something, stand there!”


God has called us to stand, in peace.
Don’t run from your problems but stand before them with peace.

We need to live at peace with our circumstances, but also we need to be people of peace. The Bible has such high praise for peacemakers.

Nowhere in the Bible do you find accolades for people who cause strife. God isn't doing any favors for people who are keeping things all whipped up.

Peace makers-(Mat 5:9) Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.Most of our troubles with people are a result of lack of peace and resolve.

When you enter the picture, let your reputation be that of a peacemaker. Are you somebody who always keeps this whipped up and can be counted on to give a negative word about something? We are to live at peace, and in peace – with God and man. Are you at peace with your circumstances, with God and man? One thing Jennifer Hart often says to the ladies in our life coaching class is, "be the solution ladies, be the solution." So what are you - the problem or the solution?

As we go into this new year, is there anyone you are not at peace with? If so, it will affect your increase, so take care of it.

4) THE SHIELD OF FAITH

When everything else is attacked, the shield of faith will protect it.

The shield was used to block the arrows of the enemy. The arrows were set on fire.When Satan sends his most deadly, fiery weapons toward us, we can ward them off with faith.

Faith is the key. Jesus couldn’t even do miracles in some places because of a LACK OF FAITH. We are called to be BELIEVING BELIEVERS. We can’t afford to leave our shield of faith behind.

There are two kinds of faith.IF—if all goes well, if life is hopeful, prosperous and happy, then I will believe in, and trust God.THOUGH—though everything comes against me, though I'm in the fight of my life, though everything goes wrong and the day or night seems so dark, nevertheless, I will believe in, and trust God.

God wants us to have “though” faith… THOUGH THE DEVIL MAY TRY TO DEFEAT US, NEVERTHELESS WE WILL TRIUMPH IN CHRIST!

Sometimes the only way to meet a flaming arrow is by the “shield of faith;” by confidence in the promises of God – the Word of God. You see, the shield can turn in any direction. It can face anything. There’s nothing you can throw at the shield of faith that it can’t stand up against.

5) THE HELMET OF SALVATION

Soldiers sometimes complained about the weight of the armor, and sometimes left the Helmet off. This caused them to be vulnerable to attacks.You never, never, never take your helmet off.

God’s continuing work of salvation in our lives is like a helmet to protect us.

The helmet of salvation protects our head- our minds. It’s easy for our minds to become desensitized in this day and age. The more you stay in the Word and protect your mind, the more you will be sensitive.

The Bible tells us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Salvation is accomplished when we pray the prayer of confession and faith, however – you have to continually stay fresh in living out this work of grace that God is doing in your life.

When I went to Africa I felt like I needed to get saved all over again. I thought to myself, "dear Lord, I know nothing about God compared to these people." They knew God in a very different way than I had ever experienced. The closer you get to God the more you realize, you don't know squat. You see, as we live the life of faith we realize our incredible need for Him.

Don’t get careless and lazy with your salvation. Don’t forget the miraculous work He did on the cross for you that makes all things possible.

I think of precious Marcus Danielson here at Northside. That boy breaks my heart. (In a good way.) Sometimes when we pray in church he just cries before God. He is just a little guy but his heart is so tender for the Lord. When we mention Jesus dying on the cross for us, he just weeps. How long has it been, my friend, since you wept over the realization of His sacrifice for you on the cross?

If you will preserve faith, then faith will preserve you. Part of taking up the helmet of salvation is guarding your mind. (Rom 8:7) Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.(2 Corinthians 10:5) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

(Phi 4:8) Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Many soldiers have been slain on the battlefield of the mind.

The good things of God – His Word, His truth, prayer, worship – must be continually input into our minds to preserve our minds which is so crucial to our faith.

6) THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT

This is our only offensive weapon.

Our sword is the Word of God. It is second to none.

I want you to think about something. Many of you go to a doctor whose name you cannot pronounce. He or she gives you a prescription you cannot read. You take it to a pharmacist you may have never seen. He or she gives you medication that you really don’t understand all the properties of and how it works, and you take it. All in sincere, trusting faith. Why not use that same faith with God?

Time and time again what did Jesus defeat Satan with? THE WORD OF GOD.

We have to have a renewed love for the Word of God. A renewed passion for the Word of God.

If we don’t have a hunger, what are we snacking on? When my kids come to the dinner table and I've made their favorite meal - a roast - with mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, homemade biscuits and chocolate cake and one of them says, "Momma, I'm not hungry," the next words out of my mouth are, "What have you been snacking on?" Usually the answer is junk - cheetos, cookies or whatever else. They aren't hungry for the good stuff because they've been inhaling all this junk.

I dare say, as American women we are even eating some tasty snacks on some things that sound spiritual and good, however no matter what else is in our lives, even good things – they don’t compare to the Word of God nor do what the Word of God can and will do.

Now, let's talk about the back side.

One thing you might notice is that there is nothing to cover the back of the soldier. That’s because they are never supposed to turn around and retreat!

One time a pastor’s wife who was going through some stuff came to me, upset about some things. As most of you know I have a heart as big as all outdoors for pastor's wives and very seldom will I offer anything but compassion. However there is also a time to exhort or speak the truth in love. This was one such time. So this lady was upset about some stuff and she said, “I just feel like everybody just expects me to keep marching on!” and I said, “well, isn’t that what a soldier does? What are you going to do...quit? Because a soldier doesn't quit or go AWOL.” This dear sister thought that quitting was a viable option, but you see for a called one, quitting is not an option. We are not mere volunteers. We are not hirelings. We are SOLDIERS IN THE ARMY OF GOD.


Retreating is not a proper option for a soldier of Christ, no matter how hard the battle. There’s nothing on your back because you’re not supposed to turn around. Giving up is not the solution.


Ladies, we have had a great week of “Increase Prayer” and prepared ourselves for 2008. But we can’t forget to STAY DRESSED for what is ahead. We have to keep the full armor of God on. We’ve got to stay dressed because HE’S GOT SOMEWHERE FOR US TO GO! He’s wanting to take you places as a woman of God. He's wanting to take us to a higher place as the women of God of this church. And something happens when the women of God go to a higher place in Him. I'm ready.

Are you ready to GET DRESSED? We've got somewhere to go, so let's do it.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Counseling Session at Bealls




Romans 12:15, “Rejoice with those who rejoice. Mourn with those who mourn.”

Yesterday I was shopping for some things at my favorite store and a lady was in front of me in line at the register ~ an absolutely adorable older woman who was dressed “just so.” We started talking and she told me she was 84. It was clear she had taken really good care of herself and she didn’t look nearly her age – I had pegged her to be much, much younger. We were engaging in some conversation as the cashier was scanning her items and then when she went to pay, she flipped open her wallet, and a photo of a beautiful young woman was right there on top when she did so.

The cashier looked down and said, “Oh…is that a picture of when you were younger? How incredibly beautiful!” And right away the woman got a wistful look in her eyes and said, “No…no…that’s not me…that’s my daughter. She passed away…”

Instantly the cashier looked horrified that she had said anything. The older woman got tears in her eyes. She said, “It’s still hard, even after the years have passed. I keep her picture there to keep her in my heart every day…and remember her. You’re right, she sure was beautiful...so beautiful…”

The cashier started crying and kept trying to apologize but I just gave her a look like, “it’s okay, don’t worry” and continued a conversation with the lady a bit and just gave her opportunity to share with us. In a few minutes she looked actually a bit more lighthearted and happy than when she came in as she headed off with her merchandise. However when she left the cashier turned and said to me, “I never should have said anything! Why did I open my mouth?! I can’t believe I did that” And so, I took the time to have an impromptu counseling session at the register.

I shared with her that actually, in the majority of cases, people WANT to talk about the loved one they lost when they are grieving. They don’t want everyone to act like it never happened, or that their loved one never existed, or that everything is just fine.

Some people believe that when someone experiences significant loss, they need to stay away from the subject at all costs, and avoid it. Truthfully that is one of the worst things you can do. Among the other “worst things” are saying things such as: He’s in a better place now," "It was God’s will," "Things will go back to normal before you know it," "Time heals all wounds," “God needed another angel,” and"You need to be strong." What are these? They are all statements and cliches that minimize the reality and pain that the person is feeling and the very last thing they want to hear.

So what kinds of things help a person who has experienced a loss? First of all, just let them talk and don’t require them to measure their words. It might not sound all nice or theologically correct when it comes out. They are angry. They are confused. They are hurt. This is all part of the grieving process. Be a great listener – that’s the first thing they need.

When someone in our family died, a family member who was torn apart by grief the day after the death told my daughter Savanna that God needed to turn the person into an angel and that’s why they died. Although that was completely biblically incorrect, I didn’t correct them right then in front of Savanna – it wasn’t the time. I took Savanna aside privately that night and said, “Honey, so and so didn’t turn into an angel. But right now, the person who told you that is just hurting and confused and that is why they said that to you. They are trying to make sense of all this and it doesn’t make sense to them right now. It’s not the time for us to correct them, it’s just time right now for us to love them and let them cry right now. The time to sort it all out will come a little bit later.”

When people first experience loss they just want someone to be there to hold them and cry. You don’t even have to say anything at all. Some people look at those who are hurting, and think, “I wouldn’t know what to say…so I’ll just avoid them.” And that’s one of the worst things you can do because then the person just thinks you don’t care. It will mean the world to them just to have you sit there quietly beside them.

When my husband and I lost our first child to a miscarriage back when we were in bible college, some people said some pretty strange things to us. When I told the ladies at my work about my miscarriage and was crying about it at work, one of them said to me, “Oh, don’t be upset…this isn’t really that big a deal…you’re young – you’ll have plenty of kids.” Another lady in the church leaned over after service one day and whispered to me, “you probably should be thanking God that this happened. The baby was probably retarded and God spared you of dealing with all that…”

But Pastor Jeff Ferguson, my husband's baseball coach, and the Dean of Men at the time at the college, came over to our apartment right away as soon as he heard the news. Pastor Jeff didn’t have any profound words for us. He didn’t read from the Bible. He didn’t quote anything. He just sat next to us on the couch and cried with us. It meant so much. Those two ladies made me want to curl up in my bed and never come out of my apartment again, but Pastor Jeff? He was like a healing balm to our souls. When he left that night, it was like for a moment in time we could emotionally breathe again. If you’ve been through something like this before, you know what I mean.

I encouraged the cashier yesterday ~ she hadn’t done a bad thing at all. In fact, it was probably the highlight of that lady’s day to talk about her daughter who she misses so much. I hope the cashier learned a little something yesterday about comforting and encouraging a person who has experienced loss, and I hope if you are dealing with someone in the same situation, maybe this helped you today too.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I got a set of balls



Aren't they stunning?


Everybody should have a set of these!


So these are my latest acquisition for my family room and sit on my favorite antique refinished coffee table in this gold bowl alongside my coffee table books and a candle. Lovely, huh?

I got them at Bealls Outlet, my fav store of ALL TIME. I got them just today when I went over to get some frames for some photos that I'm putting up at the church this week. I've been planning this whole new coffee table thing, but today was just...the day.

I worked from home today and got twelve initiatives done which is really good. Always love Tuesdays because I can zip through my work so easily without getting interrupted. My message is done for tomorrow night and a bunch of other projects which will make my Wed/Thurs at the office go much better and not quite as under pressure. (Plus give me a little breathing room for unexpected things that come up at the church.)

After getting my work initiatives done, I went to work out (fitness walk) on my usual route in the neighborhood. Getting back into an exercise routine has been so difficult after coming back from Africa and then the holidays but I'm getting there. It was hotter today than it has been. People were out cutting their grass and trimming. I was actually very sweaty when I got home...got bathed and cleaned up and made dinner.

Just after I popped dinner in the oven Bobby walked through the door...He came for supper tonight and just to spend the evening here with us. We've missed him the last few weeks. He got a new job at Remington's and has been in training. Tonight I made meatloaf with the tomato based topping that Jordan likes (versus brown gravy kind) and mashed potatoes, peas, corn and bread. Bobby had NEVER had meatloaf in his life, until tonight. He loved it. Always amazes me what some of these kids experience at my house the first time. I realize with the environment Bobby's been raised in (without a Mom) he has a whole lot of firsts at our house and it always blesses me to see him so blessed. He and the boys played video games afterwards and Larry and Savanna and I saw Idol and laughed our heads off.

It's raining real hard right now. I mean REAL hard, as in thunder and lightening and tornadoes in some places hard. Hopefully it will simmer to a slow steady rain and make a good environment for sleep.


Tomorrow, I'm going to post about what happened when I made my purchase at Bealls today. I had a counseling session at the cash register.

p.s. So, when people are googling stuff I am guessing today's post title is going to get me, oooohhhh, roughly at least 25-50 more people logging on tomorrow to see what in the world this post was about, and my stats should go through the roof.

Monday, January 21, 2008

I had a dream...

(cause I slept in today!)


No, really. Not making light or fun of MLK day at all - as I honor Dr. King for all his accomplishments and his life, but since we were off today from work (because at Northside we honor MLK day) I did actually get to sleep in. And it was glorious! (I finally did get out of bed today by the way, and here's a photo that Jordan took of me in our back yard today.)


Last night it was a cold night in Tampa and on those nights I sleep best. I do love Jan/Feb/Mar in Tampa. I call it "boot weather". I wear my boots almost every day and my leather jacket or one of my jean jackets. It's fun to do this for three months (or a little less) and then go back to flip flop weather. During these next months, there's nothing like waking up on a cold morning, being under my down comforter and pulling it tight around me. This morning I slept in and then Teeby brought me homemade pancakes in bed. Yes, it was a B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L morning!

I spent the morning and early afternoon reading and writing mostly and then Larry said he wanted to do something as a family as we always do on this kind of a holiday off. So we all got ready and went out. We had a gift certificate for our family, from Christmas, for Chili's. We went for dinner together and had a really nice time talking and planning our summer vacation. We are thinking of a family "memory tour". (I'll explain in a future post...) and then we went to the movies.

The guys wanted to see a movie that was sort of scary and I'm not into that at all and neither is Savanna. I already have enough of a hard time sleeping - and don't need to add a scary movie on top of it. So we decided to separate as guys/gals for the movie. The boys went to see Cloverfield and we girls went to see 27 Dresses. Definitely glad we opted for this - Savanna and I really enjoyed it! It was a fun movie.

Coming home tonight Savanna and I are sacked out here laying around in bed reading and writing again and the guys are watching Prison Break (Larry's favorite show). It's back to work tomorrow but I already started on some of my initiatives tonight simply because having today off will set me back a whole lot if I don't, and I really want to have some time off Fri. as well which won't happen unless I tackle a few things tonight.

It was a good day. And seriously...I'm really glad that Dr. King did have a dream...not one while sleeping, but one while he was awake. It was a God-dream. Thank heaven for God-dreams.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Too awesome

What a day we had in God's house - from a great worship service this morning (despite a few media glitches - God was so there...) I felt God's presence so much this morning I really didn't care that the DVD opener didn't work and we had a mic malfunction. But the rest of the service was so PRIMO that this was really small potatoes in comparison. And yes, we had a good time with "You are My Brother"... (see previous post below)


Capped off the night with a great choir rehearsal.











Anointed!

Smokin' hot!

We're ready to roll with 2008...


Next week is going to be

A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!




You'd really have to be there to experience it for yourself, so if you are in Tampa, BE THERE...Sunday morning...10:30 am...

PREPARE FOR THE ROOF TO COME OFF.

I AM YOUR BROTHER American Idol/Northside Assembly Edition

Many if not most of you probably saw the American Idol episode the other night with this guy singing his own original composition, "I am Your Brother" to Simon. It was just priceless. Well... here's my own funny story about it.

In our household we were laughing hysterically as this guy sang the song. But I told Larry, "you know, the guy has a terrible voice but it wouldn't be THAT bad of a song if he right person were singing it, in fact it would kind of be a nice song." And he says, "WHAT?! You're crazy." So I (who have a decent singing voice)proceeded to sing it for him myself. Only I was laughing so hard I couldn't get through it properly and do it well. So instead, because my family was telling me it was still a stupid worthless song no matter who sang it, ran to the piano (I play pretty well by ear) and I said, "hold on, at least I can play it right while laughing and let you hear how it should really sound..."

So I played it and my family was laughing like this was the craziest thing ever. But I thought I had proved my point. I said, "see! It's not a bad song."

Well this morning before prayer, I was telling this to the worship team and Joel Powell (one of our singers) says, "Pastor Deanna, I dare you to play that song in the background while the Royal Rangers are having their council of achievement presentation today in the morning service!"

Well, anyone who knows me well knows that many times I'll take a dare especially if it's something really crazy. (I am not into dangerous stuff, just funny stuff.) So.............

This morning after the opener of the service, the Royal Rangers get up there to do their thing and I just inconspicuously start playing the keyboard in the background while the senior commander, Alex Rivera is talking, and I'm playing my rendition of, "I am your brother." The worship team was trying hard not to lose it and bust out laughing and Pastor Lindsay was even mouthing the words as I played it.

Actually, it worked. The song worked. I'm telling you, it would even work for an altar call and your church people would be none the wiser. For all they know you could be playing some old hymn they never heard.

Maybe some of you should try it next week. Mix up the repertoire.

Try it for offertory.

You never know, a few people might even get saved or at least be really blessed! (LOL)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Life is Beautiful



“Any time you sincerely want to make a change, the first thing you must do is to raise your standards. When people ask me what really changed my life eight years ago, I tell them that absolutely the most important thing was changing what I demanded of myself. I wrote down all the things I would no longer accept in my life, all the things I would no longer tolerate, and all the things that I aspired to becoming.”
~ Anthony Robbins

Right now I am acquainted with someone who, without a miracle of God, is going to die much sooner than what would be considered a normal life span. She's of middle age, and way too young and anointed to die.

Seeing someone go through something like this, you gather a much greater appreciation for the life you live, no matter what your current circumstances. Coming back from Africa and experiencing what I did, and then finding out about this person's illness, has all added up to make me a lot more grateful these past few months. I came back from Africa on November 17. Everyday I still get in my shower or tub and look up and say, "thank you, Jesus. Lord, you're so good."

Everyday I look at my family and even if we had a bummer of a day I still give thanks. Because I'm so blessed. It's a beautiful life even through difficult circumstances sometimes. Oh that we would remember that!

Today I had lunch with my son, after a meeting I had at the church this morning. He works there 20 hours a week so we often connect there at various times. Dustin has become such a wonderful young man, he's amazing. I don't just say that because he's my son - I say that because it's true - just ask anyone, or check out his myspace for yourself here.

So, I told him the other day that I'd like to have another baby. Don't mistake - I'm not actually going to, but I wouldn't necessarily mind right now and might even enjoy it. He said, "why Mom? Are you out of your mind?" I told him, "son, quite truthfully just seeing the way you've turned out makes me want to have another, because now I know at least I have done something right at least once! I am so proud of you!" (My other two haven't reached legal adulthood yet so we'll have to wait and see.) What a joy when your children have grown up and have safely reached adulthood. Not that I want them to be so safe that they never take any risks in life or try anything big. But what I mean by safe is - stayed away from the sins that could have destroyed their very lives. "Safe" to me is the fact that they love and serve Jesus.

Today I came home from a class I taught and Larry had been housecleaning and also made dinner. Wow and double wow! Shortly after my arrival home it was thunderstorming and the house had gotten dark and things quiet with all the kids gone or busy with friends. Teeb had gotten himself comfortable in our bed watching a movie. It was a great moment in time for me to come in and spend some time with him under the covers just listening to the rain...watching "We Are Marshall"...along with some making out, of course. (LOL) Again I say...Lord, you're just too good to me...

Someone once said, "Never fear or despise growing older. Some people have never had that privilege."

Indeed.

Today began a new year of women's life coaching in our church. This is a mentoring group that I lead for women of all ages. Through this ministry I do monthly teachings, we have weekly homework and I teach them how to pray, especially praying as Pentecostals - in the spirit, learning to see the face of God. Today I was admonishing them about growth and I told them that they will get out of life coaching what they put into it this year. Their growth will be greatly dependent upon the number of absences they have, the amount of homework they do, to what degree of seriousness they take this opportunity for growth.

I teach the life coaching class, however, I learn a lot through it myself. They say if you want to learn - TEACH! It's true that when you prepare a lesson you are always learning yourself. Since I prepare several a week myself, that must mean I'm learning a lot! But I'm not satisfied...

I can't wait to see what God will unfold in the coming months as I seek Him ~ and as I pour myself into others ~ as we seek the Kingdom of God first...I believe this is going to be an unforgettable year in all the best ways possible.

p.s. Speaking of the beauty of life... Tina brought 5-day old little Addison Faith to life coaching today! What a beautiful baby. I got to hold her for a while and get my "baby fix". :-) By the way, I just love women who pop out a baby and come to life coaching five days later. Reminds me of me in the "baby days." Great memories...

Friday, January 18, 2008

Obstacle or Opportunity?


"Life is hard. After all -- it kills you."
~ Katharine Hepburn

What do we expect? Life is a glorious privilege but it is also a continuous challenging rollercoaster of events and emotions.

Sometimes we are tempted to think we got an unfair shake in life but the truth is, no one's life is easy. We are so easily deceived into thinking some others have somehow escaped hard things in life.

I have friends that appear outwardly to be relatively problem-free. They look so put together, it's pathetic. They dress to the nines every time you see them, every hair is in place, their homes are beautifully decorated and neat as a pin, their husbands are powerful men, and their children are delightful. But being their close friend, I happen to know the inside scoop...

Their hair looks crappy when they roll out of bed in the morning (women's retreats - please don't get any weird ideas...) and underneath the Jones New York suit they wear on Sunday mornings, there is a lot of cellulite no one in the church knows about especially if they are in a church that still doesn't believe in "mixed bathing."


Their house looks like a disaster zone when they are sick or return home from a retreat after being gone two or three days...


Their husbands do really stupid and sometimes even hurtful stuff that 99.9% of the rest of the world would never know...

Their children's actions have taken them through multiple boxes of kleenex, crying themselves to sleep over disappointing things they have done.

My life is no different. One day I was preaching and started an illustration by saying, "One day I was really going through some depression, and..."

After church a lady came up to me and said, "YOU WERE DEPRESSED? You've got to be kidding me...I could never imagine you depressed..."

That was before I started this blog, I might add. Anybody reading it regularly knows I do have some days where I was sorry I got out of bed or days I never did get out.

There are aspects of everyone's life that no one knows, and if they did realize this information they would soon come to the understanding that LIFE is not a smooth road for anybody. The grass is not greener on the other side of the fence. One of the enemy's biggest traps is deceiving us into believing that a bunch of other people have it easier than we do and we have somehow been singled out and marked for difficulties.

Recently at one of our prayer meetings a word from the Lord came forth that said, "don't see obstacles...see only opportunities." That has resonated with me strongly. I had read an article months ago about that very thing and when the word came, it was a confirmation. Life has many obstacles and we can either sit and think about what's missing, what we don't have, what we wish we had, and what was rather than what CAN BE. This thought is giving me a fresh outlook on life right now with challenges I am facing.

M. Scott Peck said, "The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers."

Dr. Lee told Larry and I that people always lead better in crisis. Our greatest moments don't come out of the places in which we are comfortable, but from what shakes us to make some type of change. Sometimes the curve of change occurs because of something we did or brought on and other times it has nothing to do with us. In my case personally, the changes I have nothing to do with are the hardest for me to navigate. The "out of control" feeling that nothing I could possibly do could keep this or that from happening...is often what sends me to bed with a box of kleenex. But I am learning to stop doing that as much and see the perceived obstacle as a beautiful opportunity.

What could this change open up for me that I never realized before? What does God have up His sleeve that I don't know about? What has to be lined up for the good of my future that I was completely unaware of? What or who did I cry over that walked out of my life that God knew was best for me to leave behind? What changes do I need to make to be better prepared for life ahead? What blessings does He have for me that I might have totally missed had I not been willing to go through the obstacles and lose some things I thought I desperately needed, and gain some things I never knew existed?

There are different ways.

There are truer answers.

And I'm committed to the journey of finding them.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The art of being happy...

a.k.a. dealing with the dumb and the divine


"Being happy doesn't mean that everything is perfect. It means that you've decided to look beyond the imperfections.”

I read this quote today and it grabbed me after dealing with the rollercoaster of the dumb and the divine.

I got lots of great stuff done and moved forward on projects and was quite happy with the results. However, I also dealt with a few dumb things. Again, Christians continue to amaze me. It's never the unbelievers that shock me. They are really good at being...unbelievers. If only Christians were as good at being Christians as unbelievers are at being unbelievers!

These are things every pastor deals with in the up and down life of pastoring. I guess it should really be no surprise ...we just had the "week of prayer". And with any surge forward you have to expect the counter attack of something out of left field that really makes no sense. (Thus the reason I have termed it dumb.) I have come to the point in my life where I realize, this is just ministry and life in general. It just is what it is. It's always going to be like this to some degree...so I might as well just CHOOSE to count it all joy and keep the joy producers up close to me and the joy zappers as far as possible.

Author and therapist Dr. Charmaine Saunders says this:

You can have that `bliss’ [happiness] all the time, in the sun, in the rain, on good days and difficult, when life is going your way and when it appears everything’s against you. It’s feeling `okay’ inside all the time. That is true freedom.

Yes, it is a very freeing thing to realize you can be happy no matter what is happening. You can be as happy as you want to be. I know it's sometimes easier said than done. When I wake up and nothing was done the night before in the house except for what I did, I think to myself (and sometimes say out loud), "And I'm supposed to be happy?" Well, yes. In spite of what I may wake up to, face at work, or come home to - happiness doesn't have to be based on these events.

James 1:2-3 "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance."

All the stuff's gonna be there tomorrow. It's going to be there three months from now, three years from now, thirty years from now. Might as well count it all joy, right now. There's no better time than - now.

I came home tonight and started making dinner. I promised Dustin I would make fried chicken. I rarely do anymore because it's not exactly the healthiest dish in the world. But tonight I made it with homemade mashed potatoes and gravy, and corn. Casey joined us for dinner and brought some cookies with her for dessert. It was a good night sitting with my family around the table.

Everything is not perfect. Ministry takes care of that. :-) But I choose tonight to look beyond the imperfections and enjoy things ...

sitting with my family eating dinner...

laying here with Larry reading and blogging quietly...

going over our plans for our Fun Friday date...

loving the fact that I have a great sense of satisfaction at what I can accomplish through God's power and the gifts He has given me...

experiencing great fulfillment and joy, living with the goal everyday that He find me faithful.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I almost fell off my couch

when I saw this American Idol audition last night. Too funny. Enjoy! I want to work this into a sermon series somehow as a video clip.

BLOGGING: The next American Idol?



I've read several blogs lately written by Christian women who have quit their blog and given a huge "funeral like" farewell on their final post. The final "eulogy" post speaks of priorities, and God telling them not to blog anymore and making it sound like they had some "come to Jesus meeting" where the Spirit of God spoke in some way and told them it was imperative for them to stop posting. I really have to wonder about this.

Either they are extremely slow writers or God has a serious thing against blogs.

If it was just with one or two people, I'd say it was isolated but I've read this on quite a number of blogs lately - written in the same type of Christianese. I'm beginning to wonder if it's a fad. These were blogs that had a decent readership as evidenced by all the comments, and the writers basically state that their blog was "taking them away from time with God" or "away from their family time" and that God sovereignly spoke to them to "lay it down", at least for a while. Apparently this 10-15 minute exercise each day had become an idol. Am I the only one that finds this kind of melodramatic? Honest to God I wonder how much of this is not the sovereign move of God but just an effort to look spiritual or something.

Get in reality here. Nobody has put you on a "blog deadline." You do not have to post everyday. You don't have a job description with objectives and expectations for your blog. You don't have to moderate comments or even respond to them. Sheesh! It's a blog, silly.

Really, even for those who blog daily like I do, how much time does it really take? Puh-leease. This is not an all day job folks. Now, I realize I do have to admit (just to be fair on this issue) that I do personally type 130 words a minute. This is why I rarely write anything out by hand - it's just too time consuming compared to how much time it takes me to click away on a keyboard. I knew I was sorta unique when the lady behind the deli counter at the grocery store looked at me like a martian when I ordered my provolone cheese and she glanced over and said, "um...is that a TYPED grocery list?" Yep. It saves me time.

But I digress. Back to the subject....

Most posts only take me about 10 minutes, 15 tops. Most days I only post once except my day off when I usually post more than once simply because it's my day off. In a few minutes time I rattle off a quick post about whatever I did that day, or an issue that really has me thinking - like this one. This is not like writing War and Peace. It's not even like writing a magazine article. It's just a BLOG POST, for crying out loud, not a major project. Perhaps I should be more careful and not just rattle off something in 15 minutes and publish it, and some of you are thinking, "wow, maybe that's why some of her posts are way too intense or personal," but as Paul said, "I am what I am by the grace of God." (I Corinthians 15:10) I think the best blogs are written from the heart of the writer without analyzing the heck out of everything. Sometimes in just letting your thoughts tumble out as they come you find some of your best writing.

Let's just suppose that somebody only types half as fast as I do. Perhaps it takes them 20 or 30 minutes to write a post.. Does this qualify as something that is an incredible time taker that "takes you away from God...away from your family...screws up your priorities...leads you astray...something you must "lay down" to go on to what God has for you?" Sounds just a wee bit exaggerated to me and quite honestly a bit silly.

I just can't imagine that God is up there wringing his hands about the dangers of blogging and beseeching people to quit. Actually from all accounts I've read and heard, blogging has been nothing but a blessing for most people's friends, their congregations, and lots of people they don't know.

I usually speak several times a week at my church in some form or fashion, and I speak a lot outside my church, and hands down...what do people comment most in the last three years? My blog. They don't just talk about the frivolous aspects of it, but many people at places I go to preach will say, "something you said on your blog really changed something in my life and I just want to thank you..."

Some pastors are now saying that their blog is a more powerful influence or at least equally as powerful as what they say to their people from the pulpit. Keep in mind some pastors post sermons or devotionals on their blogs - many simply use it as another avenue to get the Word into their people another time that week. Many people use blogging as an opportunity to share their vision for the church. I do this occasionally, not all the time. But my point is, I don't really see blogging as a drawback but a positive thing for both the reader and the writer. Even if you are just journaling with your blog, that's a rather healthy thing to do.

I was preaching last year at a place and I really didn't know anyone there prior to going that day to preach and in the midst of this huge crowd a lady shouted out, "Pastor Deanna, how is Dustin doing with his MRSA? Is he feeling better? We are praying for him!"

I looked out in the crowd and said, "how do you know that about my son? Have I met you before?"

She said, "I'm a blog reader...and I have faithfully read your blog for a year now..."

WOW.

I couldn't believe it. This lady basically followed my life for a year knowing every little detail of my blog. It wasn't so much what I preached that day that resonated with her, but instead what I wrote on here each day. I have to be honest that it amazed me. Anytime anybody reads what I have to say I consider it a miracle. I'm called to write, so I'd do it whether anybody was reading or not. I was blogging daily long before blogging on the internet ever existed. Really, blogging is just an online journal that you let others get a glimpse (or in my case more than a glimpse since I write a lot!) of your thoughts, daily activities, what God is telling you, or whatever you feel like sharing at the time. In addition to this blog, and Equal Time that I co-write with Pastor Tara Sloan - I also have a private online journal that I use to write everything that Larry considers too over-the-line and would be horrified for me to publish here. Even with these three, it's still a drop in the bucket of my time.

Maybe I'm just in my own little world of speed typing and I'm not realizing that somebody out there is taking two hours a day to write a post. I dunno, but that sounds pretty unlikely.

Who am I to tell somebody that they shouldn't stop writing their blog?

No one.

I have no right to say whether somebody is to continue a blog or not or what they should do with their time. My whole point here is just to say that I think it's kind of dumb to blame the whole thing on God in a sappy "final post" and act like it's a huge time taker...unless you have a ton of blogs. Blogging is not a full time or even a part time job. It doesn't even take as much time as cleaning out your silverware drawer. In the time I post a blog it wouldn't even take me as much time as it takes to unload and load my dishwasher. What's the big deal here, folks? I just think this is rather "mountain-out-of-molehillish."

Molehillish? Hey, it's my blog, I can make up the words if I want to.

I have to confess, when people do this I don't think, "Wow, how spiritual." I just think, "Bummer. What a shame. I'll miss their writing, but whatever." There are plenty of blogs in the sea.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

57 Girl Confessions


I got this Meme from somebody and thought it was fun. It's not even Friday but I'm goin' for it... especially since I love true confessions of the womanly kind, although I think these are really tame compared to what my friends and I talk about when there are no guys around. Just about anything is fair game then.

1. Is it cute when guys kiss you on your forehead?

Only one kisses me on the forehead now, but absolutely. I'm all for kissing anywhere, anytime. Yum. Yum.

2. A big poofy dress or a short party dress?

Since the poofy dress only makes me look poofier, definitely the party dress especially since I've been told (by more people than just my husband - by women - who are usually the hardest critics - that I have great legs.)

3. What would you do if you received a long love letter?

I'd definitely save it and read it again.

4. Group dates or single dates?

Both are fun.

5. Do you hate it when guys act different around their friends?

Well, sometimes but not always. It depends. Is he acting different simply letting his hair down and being a guy, doing gross stuff like body noises? Or is he acting like I don't exist when he's around his friends? If he's just doing funny and gross guy stuff that is normal. If he's acting cold, aloof, refuses to acknowledge my presence or show me any affection and acts like I don't exist in front of his friends? He might as well stay out with them and not come home. I'm not going to play that game and will send a very clear message - it won't continue if I'm going to be his woman. The boy will straighten up and fly right. That's just "the way I roll" as my Jordan would say. (SMILE)


6. Are diamonds a girl’s best friend?

No. They are awesome, but they don't take the place of someone to talk to.

7. Is your hair up or down today?

It's too short to be up anymore.

8. Do you straighten your hair?

Yes, most every day.

9. Favorite mascara?


I think it's called Dangerous Lengths or something like that. I forget - I'd have to look in my makeup bag and I'm too lazy to get up right now and see.

10. Do you get your nails done?


Oh yes. Very
important to me to have nice looking hands. I pray with people, hold their hand at times, use my hands when I speak, and I just want them to look great all the time. It's a priority to me.


11. Small or large purses?

Both. But on an average day - large. Larry calls my purse "the black hole" because it's usually a big one with a ton of stuff in it that makes it hard to find anything.

12. In your purse, what are your must haves?

My wallet - debit card and lipstick. Also wint-o-green lifesavers.

13. Jeans or sweats?

both

14. Do you wear clothes/shoes/jewelry that’s uncomfortable?

If it's for something special, but I take my comfy shoes and put them on as soon as I leave the event.

15. Do you text message a lot?

No, I hate it. When I get a text or have to text someone back, I cringe. Text messaging is clearly part of eschatology. The writing on the wall in the Old Testament was a shadow and type of the anti-Christ and what is to come later on revealed in the book of Revelation which ironically enough is manifesting itself now through modern tools such as the text message, instant messaging, and so forth. This is right up there with microchip implants and the mark of the beast. Read your Bible, you'll see it all there. Or just watch TBN - I'm sure John Hagee will preach a message about this soon or come out with a book...THE COMING APOCALYPSE...TEXT MESSAGE UNMASKED.

16. What would you do if you got pregnant?

I might get invited to be a guest on Oprah with the topic of "miracle conceptions". This would be a shocker since my husband had a vasectomy (he calls it his "season pass" to sex) and I've had an endometrial ablatian and with the combo of these two little operations, it's supposed to be near impossible to get pregnant. Strangely enough I used to say I'd want to die if I got pregnant at this point in my life and I'd need counseling and have a nervous breakdown but in the past year I have felt differently. I really wouldn't care if it happened in fact it might be cool. I know that sounds crazy. Maybe it's that I'm to the point where I trust myself more as a parent now because all the things I've believed in so strongly (that I used to doubt when my kids were younger and misbehaved or messed up at times) I'm now starting to realize really DO work. You just have to wait years sometimes to see the manifestation of all that you work for and go through. Until you see how your kids are starting to make the right decisions in life, you doubt yourself, big time. There are even a few times now when stuff happens and I go, "Uh, God...did you really ordain me to be a parent because right now I'm feeling like a big failure..." but then a week or so later the kids do something that rocks my world and makes me so proud. I know much of it is a miracle that despite my feeble attempts at parenting they have turned out this way but some things I did were right and for that I'm ever grateful. I would be a lot more confident as a parent now if I started over again. You live and learn. Believe it or not I would be willing to adopt a child right now but my husband says, "ARE YOU C-R-A-Z-Y?" Yes. I am. In many ways. That's what makes me so compelling that some of you log onto this blog all the time. Just admit it.

17. What’s your favorite color?

pink

18. Heels or flats?

Both but mostly heels

19. Did you ever cry during a romantic movie?

Yes. With my favorite one I have to stop the movie every single time, go out of the room, sob a while and then come back and put it on again to finish. Larry says, "AND THIS MAKES YOU HAPPY? Why not just bang your head against a wall if you just want to sit here and sob for an hour?"

20. Would you ever leave the house without make-up on?

I don't like to but at rare times I do like when Teeby wakes me up in the morning and says, "hurry up, just pull some clothes on and let's go get breakfast..." I do a real quick clean up and leave and then come back and get "ready" for the day.

21. Walmart or Target?

Both

22. Do you wear collared shirts?

Sometimes.

23. Do you like preppy boys?

Oh my yes. I love pretty boys. Preppy boys. G-Q boys. Boys who smell like Curve and Drakkar. Boys who wear suits and shiny shoes. Boys who grow up to be men like my man.

24. Do you think lip gloss is the best!?

Love anything that is lipwear...can't live without it. I like Avon Glazewear a lot...Susan keeps me stocked in it.

25. Do you own any big sunglasses?

I had a pair but sat on them and broke them unfortunately.

26. How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?

One hour if I wash my hair, 30 minutes to 45 if it's the second day and I'm just styling it. I try to only wash it every other day and just shower on the off day because it preserves my color and highlights more and keeps them fresher til' the next time and doesn't "dull them" as much.
27. Do you like to wear band-aids?

No. Who except someone in elementary school with no fashion sense would be crazy enough to love wearing bandaids?


8. Do you like skater boys?

Yep. My Jordan (pictured at left) is a skater boy and ya can't help but like him.

29. Do you often wish there was something you could change?

Absolutely! I wish I could personally take on all the 'causes' of the world. The lack of work ethic in America, the poverty in Africa, the gas prices in America, the insurance industry as a whole, the judicial system, the lack of good candidates in the presidential race, prejudice of all kinds, the lethargic state of much of the American church, the political aspect of the ministry, the fact that many parents today are afraid of their kids that they birthed and won't step up to the plate to discipline them, the whining and selfishness in the world, the pettiness on the part of many people who are saved who should be concentrating more on winning the world for Christ than whether they like the worship music or who sat in their pew, the fact that so many of my friends and family are so far away, the lack of financial resources in ministry at times, the fact that child molesters usually don't get the death penalty, the fact that somebody can hold credentials in the A/G and not believe in women in the ministry though it is one of our official positions...um, I could go on here all day with stuff I'd like to personally change in the world, but I'll stop now.

30. Gold or silver?

Both but I wear silver more.

31. Do you like to receive flowers?

I love flowers. When Teeb brings them to me, I just melt. Jordan sometimes gives them to me too.

32. Do you like surfer boys?

Yep, my Jordy is a surfer boy too and ya gotta love him! Look at this boy - he looks like he came straight out of Hawaii 5-0. (Revealing my age there a bit!)

33. Do you dress up for the holidays?

Many times I do. Always for some occasions such as communion, etc.

34. Do you like to wear dresseses?

Oh yes.

35. On a scale of 1-10 how much do guys confuse you?

Not really a lot - I think I have them pretty well figured out to be quite truthful.

36. In the last 48 hours have you hung out with a guy?

I'm next to one right now.

37. Would you date a guy shorter than you? The man I date now is 6/2. But if tragedy were to strike and I were to be on the dating scene again, height means nothing to me really.

38. Do you like to hold hands?

Oh yes.

39. What is the youngest you would date? Teeby is a year younger than me. As far as if I were ever single again through tragedy and I dated, what would I do? Lots of women talk about dating younger men and what a rush it would be, but quite honestly maturity is so important to me especially at this phase of my life that I don't know that I'd want to have to go through someone "growing up" again or feel like I'm "training" them or something. God forbid, I'm so past that. No, no, no. I'd want somebody who is at a solid, mature place in their journey of life and there are some things that only come with time, really.

40. What is the oldest you would date? Again, not applicable at this point in my life. However if the aforementioned tragedy was to be the case, I am not sure if I would have a limit.


41. What do you notice when you first meet a guy? The first thing I notice is if they are genuinely interested in what I am saying and engaging in real conversation. If they don't value my mind I truly don't care about their smile, eyes, hair, how they dress, etc. If they don't respect what I have to say they could be Brad Pitt and I could CARE LESS. Conversation is what I find attractive most of all. Can he woo me with his words? Can his ability to listen rock my world?

42. Is it hot when guys sweat?

To me, not really unless it means Teeb and I are going to get in the shower together and get rid of the sweat.

43. What is the best feature in a guy?

His ability to carry on interesting conversation. Fortunately Teeby is good at this.

44. Do you like making eye contact?

Have to. I don't talk to Teeb when he's in the other room. I'll wait til' I can see his eyes. The eyes as he talks to me is the gateway to my heart.

46. Would you kill for chocolate?

Kill? No. Maim? Maybe.

47. Did you ever spend all day/night getting pretty for a guy?

Not all day but an hour or two, yep.

48. On a scale from 1-10 how fun is shopping?

10 plus if money is involved. If no money involved it's minus 100. I don't window shop. How excruciating to just look at stuff you can't have. So stupid. I just stay home unless I have money to spend.

49. Do you freak out if you miss your favorite show?

No not at all. That's what TIVO is for.

50. Do you yell a lot?

I've gotten better but yes at times.

51. Do you wear sweatpants/pajamas to school/work?

Not unless it's "work day" at the church office. I definitely believe in dressing in professional business attire. You can't be sloppy in doing God's work or any work in my opinion. How you dress says a lot about how serious you are about your job.

52. Have you ever dressed unlike yourself to impress a guy?

No, never. If I can't be myself around him why would I want to impress him? He's not worth it in that case.

53. Do you write a lot of mushy love poems?

Poems, no. Letters, yes.

54. What makeup could you not live w/ out?

Lipstick.

55. Do you fall in love easily?

No. There's nothing really easy about true love. It's unconditional and sacrificial. Love is a decison - if it's true, you don't fall into it - you build it. You fall into infatuation and lust but love, no. If love it not the hardest thing you've ever done, I don't think you've ever really loved at all.

56. Do you have cramps?

Not anymore since I had my ablatian.


57. Do you have the bestest friend ever?

I'd like to think so. If everyone who is married doesn't think that, they should work as hard as they can to make that a reality in their relationship. As for me, we have our ups and downs but I'm committed every single day to work on it so that we still consider ourselves the best of friends. It would be very easy to lose that quality in our relationship if we didn't work on it daily.