Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Yay for me!


I got on my scale this morning when I woke up and I had lost another pound and I exclaimed out loud, "yay for me!" Yep, I celebrate myself. You have to. The Bible says David encouraged himself in the Lord and sometimes you and I need to do the same.

I'm not down another pound due to the 50 day challenge/fast. (We're coming down to the wire -- 11 more days ) but I usually gain weight on a Daniel Fast. I know, I know it sounds crazy. But the truth is, I tend to go a little crazy when certain food groups are off limits. It's hard not to eat more, much more of what you CAN eat, to compensate. I realize this challenge we're on is NOT a diet. It's about getting closer to God, period. But I'm just saying, while on this challenge it's hard for me not to gain because of the temptation of over-compensation.

I do much better strictly on WW flex points program than I do anything else, especially canceling out anything but "certain food groups." I know the Daniel Fast is fruits and veggies only and conventional wisdom would say, "you're bound to lose weight." For most folks, yes. For me, no. In fact, the fleshly side of me (that wanted to lose more weight in prep for summer) actually hemed and hawed around a little with my husband about going on the Daniel Fast because I knew it would send my weight up, and not down. And I didn't want that. Some of you might not understand this (Michele does - evidently she and I share many of the same eating habits...) My husband loses much more weight on a Daniel Fast because he eats things with practially no calories. He's lost around 30 pounds. Me on the other hand - I'll eat as much as I'm able to, and instead of carrots, it's potatoes, potatoes and more potatoes. (My favorite food.) And I eat them, and eat them, and eat them with no limits.

I knew to keep weight off I'd have to work out all during these 50 days. So I have been - walking 3 miles or thereabouts 6 days a week (Sunday off) without fail. Normally when I'm on WW program I don't work out every day, more like 3 days a week. But this walking 3 miles a day is really working for me. I think I'll keep it up even when we're done the fast and I'm back on program. I can't wait to get back to Flex points. It seems almost easy right now in my mind compared to what I have been doing. Of course I haven't been on a diet during this challenge, it's a spiritual discipline, not a diet. However the primary adjustment on an everyday basis has been my diet so therefore it is affected.

Make no mistake, I know being strictly OP is not a breeze, not easy by any stretch however I'm just saying, it seems much easier to handle right now afterwhat I've been doing for almost 40 days.

Yay! Yay for me!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Backtalk does you NO favors


The Boston Globe just did a story about Brooke White and other American Idol contestants who constantly talk back to the judges, and therefore, do themselves no favor with the public. I couldn't agree with the article more. In fact, the behavior of Brooke White and some other contestants has really been irritating me to say the least.

When this season of AI started, I was really crazy about Brooke, in fact I was rooting for her as well as a few other people. But at this point I can barely stand to watch her sing. And when she gets that pouty puppy dog look on her face as the judges are giving her feedback, as well as that glossed over look in her eyes, I just want to snap off my TV set. But I don't. Because usually David Archelete hasn't sung yet! (LOL) What in the world did Brooke think she signed up for anyway?

It just blows me away that these contestants don't realize they are shooting themselves in the foot by talking back to the judges. The judges are industry experts who, first of all, have been in the business for many many years and are speaking from a wealth of wisdom and experience. Second, and perhaps most important - the contestants would not be on that AI stage - PERIOD - were it not for the judges who put them there. They owe them a great debt of gratitude and should be doing nothing but using their EARS at the point of the judging, not their MOUTHS. I don't care WHAT Simon may say or do, it's not up to Brooke or any other contestant to correct him - about a song choice, about a violin player or anything else.

Remember the episode where Simon talked about the violin player that was accompanying Brooke and referred to it as "weird" and she started that dumb thing of poking her lip out to an extreme and rambling on and on to correct him? She pokes that lip out so far that I think, "can this girl stick her lip out any further and manage to look any more forlorn?" She did this combo "feel sorry for me" and "I'm about to cry" look and demanded that Simon apologize to the violin player. I'm sitting there in front of my TV thinking, "this is incredulous! You've got to be kidding...!" He probably doesn't even know the violin player, he was just saying that to choose a violin as a feature on that song was kind of weird and awkward. It was a poor choice. It was dorky. It didn't work. Whatever the case, Brooke is on a reality TV show but clearly out of reality. David Cook talked back to the judges (although not in as bad of a fashion -it was more of a borderline talk back) but I think he's seen the error of that and never crossed the line again. I'm so glad because he's become one of my favorites, and honestly that's one reason why - he doesn't talk back. Michael Johns was INCREDIBLE as a performer and I loved him, but one week he talked back to the judges about the "purpose of American Idol" and why he sang the song he did (after they called it a poor choice) and then, BAM! he's gone. Shocker! Or is it? Get a grip. Simon Cowell is one of the creators of American Idol. I can't even fathom what must have been going through his head when a contestant is standing there trying to expound on what the purpose of the show is. ** Sigh **

Reality is Simon, Paula and Randy put the contestants including Brooke on that show, and she's going to have to button up that poked out lip of hers if she expects to stay there. She's got a ton of potential but she's cutting her nose off to spite her lip her face. Last week the judges remarked that she was unusually quiet during the feedback time. She said it's because she realizes she had been talking back too much. I hope she hasn't learned her lesson too late. I used to enjoy her Carly Simonesque songs so much but at this point her back talk has sent me to the kitchen to get my black bean dip with corn chips and cranberry juice to stall for time until her songs are over.

This really relates to so many things besides AI. I have seen this time and again in life and ministry. In his blog post on receiving from his mentors, Pastor Perry Noble recently said, "When I meet with a mentor I don’t spend 30 minutes telling them about myself, my daily routine and how good I think I am. I ask questions and then SHUT UP! If I disagree I do not argue. If they ask me a question then I will answer…if not then I will keep on asking them my questions. They didn’t ask to meet with me…I wanted to meet with them–TO LEARN from them, not debate them..

Whether on AI, in business, school or the ministry, I think some people just naturally "get it" and some don't. If it wasn't so sad it would be humorous.

Monday, April 28, 2008

A pointed observation


It's raining. Something it hasn't done for weeks since I started walking three miles a day or more. I'm tired tonight but committed to walking three miles no matter what the weather. I'll go to the gym in my neighborhood instead if that's what I need to do. I plan to come home after working out, shower and maybe just do some reading tonight after catching up with the kiddos. I'm so tired. Had a long day at work, nothing bad, just lots of catching up to do from Sunday and stuff like that.

I came across an excellent blog post today by a guy named Jonathan Herron who is a pastor in Ohio. This man wrote an incredible post called, "A Pointed Observation" and it's about pastors, encouragement and criticism. This guy really knows how to break it down. At first I was just going to tell all my pastor-friends to check out this post but then I realized, many people who aren't pastors read my blog from all over the place and really, it's church people all over the world who need to hear this. I encourage you to read this man's post and pass the information along to your church people. If everyone would realize the importance of what this man shares, things would be A LOT different in ministry.

I also want to say before anyone even reads this, that by and large I have a fantastic situation with my church. The vast majority of Northsiders are just incredible when it comes to this. God has given me some INCREDIBLE encouragers. We also have some people who are just so incredibly loyal, they would do anything for us. Some have even moved to our neighborhood to be closer to us. :-) But we have our few difficult situations to deal with like anyone else, and we have also been around the block quite a bit in 21 years of ministry and dealt with some stuff in the past, so I know EXACTLY what this man speaks of. No situation is perfect. And occasionally "stuff" happens. I found his post worthy of printing the entire thing here for those who might be too lazy to click and go to his blog, (yeah, I'm sometimes too tired to click, are you?) so here ya go:

A Pointed Observation

by Jonathan Herron


Pardon me for a moment while I make a pointed observation: I have never met an over-encouraged pastor. It's almost an oxymoron. Almost all are walking-wounded. Bitten by their own sheep.

It has always boggled my mind when someone who has never undertook the tremendous physical, mental & spiritual challenge of planting a church criticizes a church planter. That takes a lot of gumption, y'know?

Likewise, it has always astounded me when someone who has never pastored a church criticizes their pastor. I think Paul said something about this in 1 Timothy 1.6-7. It would be like me trying to tell my primary physician he's doing everything wrong while he's trying to treat me. Ludicrous & judgmental, right?

Further, it has also always struck me as audacious when seminary students criticize pastors. This is like a first-year med student walking up to a tenured brain surgeon with years of mettle and experience and saying, "Hey Doc, I'll take the scalpel here. I obviously have a steadier arm having been watching from the sidelines. You can scrub out."

My point? Your pastor doesn't need your criticisms & judgments, trust me. He needs your prayers and loud encouragements. Allow me to go a step further with this observation: If you have a long critical email/blog post/phone call that you can't wait to use to get your pastor's attention, read Hebrews 13.17-18 first. And then if you're still feeling moved to speak, watch Session 2 from Unleash (unpacks Heb 13.17 perfectly).

Bottom-line: It's hard to create something beautiful with a sledgehammer. Criticize by creating. Trust that the true Senior Pastor (1 Peter 5) is consuming & guiding your local pastor's heart - the workman already approved.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sunday Reflections


Well it was a rough morning for me with music/worship. Things just didn't jell. Quite frankly it made me wish I was on drugs. (Legal ones of course - LOL.) But I'm not on any drugs. So I do things like walk 3 or more miles a day to deal with my anxiety when a day like today happens. It takes the edge off. Thankfully Teeb came up and redeemed everything by preaching a great sermon and it was a good day. I realize God CAN move and do something even when the worship doesn't click or connect. Believe me I know He doesn't even need a band or vocalists to accomplish anything. He's God. However, I often wonder...if things went in the natural - in the human sense - like they were supposed to every time - how much more WOULD God move? It's a question that I'm constantly wondering about.

Vito and Pat walked through the doors just as SS was ending. (They are friends of ours from our church in MD.) How awesome to see them. It instantly made my day. We miss them so much. This is probably their fifth or sixth time here to see us, at least. They surprised us today and we went to Olive Garden after the service. It was so good to be with them, to talk to them, laugh, share together, catch up. Vito and Cherie were just here back in February.

We have leadership meeting tonight at our house, and we just finished cleaning up things at the house. I'm tired, wanting to catch a power nap before everyone comes but first I'll list some takeaways from Larry's sermon this morning, which was about fear:

Quote from him - my favorite of the day: "When you soar like an eagle, there will always be a chicken waiting to talk smack about you!"

We must replace fear with faith.

Some of Satan's methods to use fear against us:

1) Past sins, mistakes and failures.
2) The possibility of the future -- "what if's"
3) The potential of failure
4) The certainty of criticism. (insert quote about eagles/chickens here!)

82% of the things we worry about never happen. (Statistics tell us...)

The more we analyze the less we are apt to have God do something big.

It's better to try something and make a mistake than just remain idle.

The enemy will use your fears and keep you from becoming effective. We can be so afraid of losing our money, our marriage or our job that we never enter into all that God wants for us.

When this happens we don't...
Serve...
Develop deep relationships

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Jordan's going to nationals...



We’re back from fine arts. Jordan received superior with invitation and advanced with both his short sermon and drum solo. So he’s headed to Charlotte, NC to compete. We’re proud of him, and of all the kids. They all did a fantastic job. It’s been a long tiring weekend as fine arts weekend always is, but worth it. Although Larry and I don’t stay with the kids and stay up all night or anything it’s still a long weekend for me in getting back and having so much work to do in prep for Sunday. It’s not that we procrastinate and leave things til’ the last minute, it’s simply that (as most pastors realize) there is no way to get it all done during the week. There are always loose ends. I feel like my life many times is all about "loose ends" and "picking up dropped balls" and "catching stuff that falls through the cracks..." I think every pastor's wife could give a hearty AMEN to that. It's sort of in our job description, but I'm not complaining in the least. God has honored and favored me.

I’m back home now and walked three miles as soon as I got home. Then I got to working on the loose ends, going over my notes again for tomorrow, clothes ready, house cleaned and ready for leadership meeting tomorrow night. We have the meetings at our home so I have to have everything in shape at home and ready to go and we share a meal together beforehand so even though most times everyone brings a dish to share, I have to have everything set up for dinner such as plates, cups, napkins, flatware, drinks, yada yada yada. It’s something we do every time and although it’s work I don’t mind getting everything together for it because I believe so much in the importance of hospitality and also time for fellowship with our team.

I am stirred with an extra special appreciation and love for Larry today…just feeling how blessed we are to have each another. Most would never understand the relationship we have. Even those who are closer to us still have no idea what we are to one another. Some things are just unexplainable. I love my Teeby.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Fine Arts Weekend

Today we are in Orlando all day for AG Fine Arts FestivaI where Jordan and members of the youth group are competing. I needed to get up at 5 am for such and we needed to leave at 6:30 am. Needless to say this NEVER happens to me but either the alarm did not go off or I slept through it. We sprang up at 6:26 and were out the door without really “getting ready” like we normally do. Suffice it to say I felt yuck, but there was nothing we could do. Larry and I simply don’t believe in being late. We ended up being early anyway because their time to compete was changed.

The kids are staying at a hotel but Larry and Savanna and I are staying with our friends Pastor Gary & Tammy Rice who pastor here in Orlando. They graciously offered their home and wanted to spend time with us and of course we love spending time with them.
Jordan did an INCREDIBLE job on both his sermon and his drum solo. I can hardly wait to see if he’ll place this year. Last year he placed 3rd in state for sermon. I did not see the other entries except one so I don’t know what to expect. I told him today, whether he wins anything or not, to me he did absolutely ASTOUNDING. Seriously, I am so proud of him!

After dinner tonight before we went to our friend’s house, Larry and I found a park in Altamonte Springs that was absolutely beautiful. They had a walking trail and I got a few miles in after dinner. They even had a live band! I was a little concerned about not having time to walk a few miles today because I’ve been so good over the previous weeks to never miss a day but Sunday. When I said I got serious…I meant it. I had planned to either walk extremely late night tonight or double tomorrow when I got home, but now I don’t have to. I love it when God provides something that is not only what I need, but he does it in such a beautiful way.

I am blessed.

The warmth of friends


Right now I have a few friends who have stepped up to help me in a very tight spot I find myself in and I can't thank them enough.

I am not at liberty to share all the particulars here but I will just say that some friends have come together to help me in a very special way. At the top of the list is Tara Sloan, who came up with the solution for my friends to get together to help me in the first place.

Sometimes the world feels so cold. Stuff happens and suddenly you just feel numb and frozen inside. Friends who truly have your heart have the ability to bring warmth back into your life and turn your world right side up again.

"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?" Eccesiastes 4:9-11

Obviously I'm not laying down with my friends (lol) except for Larry, but you get the point. A friend is a warm spot in a cold world.

Thank you, my friends. I love you and I'll never forget it.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Do we expect the church to do
what God has called US to do?


Just a pet peeve that's on my mind today that I'd like to point out...

parents who expect the church to raise their children...or create a miracle to undo the mess they made.

I'm all for ministries in the church that minister to specific age groups or needs - children and teens among them of course. But we have to be careful that as parents we don't expect the church to do our job for us. Years ago when my husband went into the church where he was first youth pastor in Clayton, NJ, one of the deacons approached my husband after he had been YP there for about six months and he said, "Pastor Larry, I have a concern. My son has been coming to your youth group for six months, but he's still not serving the Lord. I have an issue with that." He was upset with my husband personally and felt that he had failed him somehow, as the youth pastor. Well, my husband was young and perhaps shouldn't have said such a strong word to a deacon, however it was just what flew out of his mouth and, true to boot. He said, "With all due respect, you've had Tim for 16 years and I've only had him for six months."

Being in ministry for 21 years now, I've seen parents blame the children's or youth ministries for the state of their children's lives many, many times. I've seen it whether the ministry was small, or whether it was large and booming. I've experienced this in rural America, in the inner city, and the suburbs -- we have pastored in all three type locations.

The bottom line is, parents many times want to blame the church for their own failures. I have personally found that although Sunday School teachers, children's pastors, youth leaders and other adults in the church have been an incredibly helpful influence in my children's lives, NOTHING takes the place of my involvement. We must have a relationship with our children. It's not about having the biggest boomba for them to attend. It's not about "things". We've all heard about the parents who try to buy their children's love and think they are doing the best by them by just buying them Wii's, Playstations, even cars or whatever and think, "this is what they want." The truth is, nothing takes the place of a loving and nurturing parent. Not even a children's or youth ministry. Those things are great but I believe they are the icing on the cake!

Don't expect the children's pastor to "save the day" when you've ignored your responsibilities. Don't expect the youth pastor to do what you haven't been able to do for 16 years.

Dustin is 18, but that doesn't matter - I'm still his mother and placed in his life by God to help and guide him. Some nights I go into Dustin's room until he kicks me out. :-) Seriously. We'll talk for 2 hours and then he'll say, "Mom, I really need to get this paper done, you need to leave now.." or "Mom, I really promised I'd call Casey in a little bit, so can we finish this up?" I hate that our little chat has to come to a close, but I realize he needs time and space for other things. Sometimes they have pushed away from me at various time and when I reach out for a kiss or hug they go through the "too cool" phase where they resist. I don't let them get away with that. I realize this is just a cover up. They truly do want my affection they are just going through a phase. So I push back and say, "c'mere or I'm going to hunt you down and tickle you!" and plant a big hug or kiss on them whether they like it or not.

We are not a perfect family and sometimes I am at my wits end with them and very frustrated. But I won't give up even when times are difficult.

Children and youth pastors have my utmost respect, but I don't expect them to do my job for me.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Been a while...



Got this from my friend Pastor Leanne over at Musingsnstuff. I haven't done one of these mindless surveys in a while and need some zone out time desperately, so here goes.

What is your name spelled backwards?
Annaed

What did you do last night?
I cooked supper, walked a few miles, watched American Idol, and spent time with Teeby.

What was the last thing you downloaded to your computer?
A preaching podcast to listen to on my next walk.

Have you ever licked a 9 volt battery? No.

Last time you swam in a pool?
Wow...it's been a while as far as a pool. Can't remember...I do the beach more than the pool.

What are you wearing?
Black pants, pink shirt, silver jewelry

How many cars have you owned?
One. And only. She was incredibly special.

Type of music you dislike most?
Screamo

Are you registered to vote?
ABSO-FREAKIN'-LUTELY! To not vote or be registered to vote is an absolute slap in the face to all the sisters that went before us and worked so hard for the right to vote.

Do you have cable? No. Satellite

What kind of computer do you use? HP Pavilion Laptop

Ever made a prank call?
Yes, I have. One call stopped me FOREVER. Never again. When I was a teenager friends would dare me to sing (knowing I love to sing and will do some outrageous things). So, at a PJ party they dared me to look funny names up in the phone book and we found one that was Mr. Felix somebody, and my friends said, "call up and sing that song, "Felix the Cat, the Wonderful Wonderful Cat." So you know how PJ parties go, you do zany crazy non-sensical stuff . I called the number and as soon as the lady answered the phone I burst into the song and sang the whole thing through and then when I was done she solemnly said, "Honey, I'm sorry, Felix is not here. He was my husband. He died last summer." I burst out crying said I was sorry and hung up the phone. My husband always said maybe SHE was playing a joke on me but I don't think so. She sounded so genuine. I never made a prank call again. I'm serious.

Do you like anyone right now?
I like a lot of people!

Would you ever go bungee jumping or skydiving?
No, no no. A thousand times no.

Furthest place you ever traveled?
Nairobi, Africa

Do you have a garden? No, and sadly they aren't allowed in my neighborhood. It's against the HOA rules. They're very strict here. But I am thinking about growing a few herbs or veggies in some larger flower pots on my back patio. Jordan would eat hundreds of dollars worth of tomatoes if I let him. I always have to limit him. I would like a tomato plant or two if I could get away with growing it here. You know some people in this world try to get away with growing pot. I'm not trying to grow drugs, I just want to grow a few tomatoes, but in my neighborhood the HOA police might getcha for that.

What's your favorite comic strip?
I don't have one. Not really into comics. Cartoons yes, comic strips not so much.

Do you know all the words to the National Anthem? Yes

Do you shower in the morning or night?
Sometimes both if I work out, but always in the morning.

Best movie you've seen in the last month?
Ummm...new movies? Well, the lastest newer movie I saw was I am Legend. It's one of my kids favs but I didn't like it. Too gory. Sad ending. I did watch I am Sam again which is an old movie but I love it!!! Must be something about "I am" movies this month.

Favorite pizza toppings?
Olives, mushrooms, eggplant and if I'm not watching my calories...bacon.

Popcorn or chips?
Oh my, my, my...CHIPS. I am a chip addict. Even being on WW, I cannot give them up. I eat the ones that are "reduced fat/sea salted". My all time fav food is mashed potatoes and my fav snack is potato chips, without a doubt.

What cell phone provider do you use? Cingular

Have you ever smoked peanut shells? What? What the heck does that even mean? I didn't even know people did that. I'm surprised in all my years in ministry nobody has confessed this to me.

Have you ever been in a beauty pageant?
A "beauty pageant" of sorts...not really...I was in my high school pageant and I was also in "Miss Loyalty" pageant and was actually crowned "Miss Loyalty" - not kidding. I have the photo to prove it. These were not based on beauty but rather community service and patriotism and school involvement and stuff like that, though you did have to wear a formal and all that, it was mostly about answering questions and stuff like that.

Orange juice or apple?
Neither if I have a choice...I like Cranberry or Grape and those two mixed even more.

Who were the last people you sat at lunch with? Staff

Favorite chocolate bar? Dove dark chocolate.

Who is your longest friend and for how long?
Oh wow, that's a hard one to answer. I am not in a lot of regular contact with people from elementary or high school, although I talk to a few people from back then on an occasional basis we are not "super close." But my longest friends that I am still close with today, just to name three would be Randy and Dawn Visconti 23 years, Tana Miller 23 years. And then of course she's a family member, but my sister Kim - for 37 years, who I would also consider a friend. :-)

Last time you ate a homegrown tomato?
I can't remember.

Have you ever won a trophy? Yes, a few of them. For "Teen Talent" (before the days of "Fine Arts" in the AG, and things like Miss Loyalty.)

Favorite artist?
Amy Grant as far as music artist goes...

Favorite computer game?
I don't play them.

Ever ordered from an infomercial? No.

Sprite or 7-up?
7-up.

Have you ever had to wear a uniform to school/work?
Yes, when I was a waitress

Last thing you bought at Walgreens?
A card and gift bag

Ever thrown up in public?
Yes all the time when I was pregnant. I refused to stay home or slow down so I was always puking somewhere. I got used to it.

Would you prefer being a millionaire or finding true love?
I've already found true love, so give us the millions, please.

Do you believe in love at first sight?
Lust, yes. Love, no.

Can ex's just be friends?
They can be but I don't believe it's wise to be close in the majority of cases. While being on good terms is always a good thing, being "close" can really create major issues. Especially if you ever plan to have another relationship or marry someone else.

Who was the last person you visited in the hospital?
Sheri Powell

Did you have long hair as a kid? Yes

What message is on your voicemail machine?
At home it's Savanna and on my cell it's me, saying, "It's a great day in Tampa Bay, this is Deanna Shrodes and I'm not available, but leave me a message and I'll get back to you...thanks a bunch..." (It's not always a great day in Tampa Bay, but I try to look at the positive side...)

Where would you like to go right now?
On vacation

What was the name of your first pet?
Kelly

What kind of backpack do you have and what's in it?
Don't have one.

Last incoming/outgoing call on your phone?
Joy Conley/Larry

What is one thing you are grateful for today?
Mine and my family's health

What do you think about most?
How much I still have left to do.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Responses



"You can do anything if you're willing to deal with the response. I'd take what anybody would dish out for the right to be myself."

~ Whoopi Goldberg


I picked Savanna up from school early today and took her to the dentist. While we were in the waiting room I picked up a MORE magazine (I really love those!) and started reading and there was this quote by Whoopi. I immediately identified with what she said, although I don't condone everything about her lifestyle, I think there is truth to this particular quote.


We can do absolutely anything if we are willing to deal with the response. I think most people live their lives in fear or they are not real simply because they have fear of responses. Others don't have a fear, just an intense dislike for dealing with responses. There is nothing wrong with that, it's simply their choice.

Take my husband for instance - he can "deal with" a response anyday - he's a strong man. However most times he has such a serious dislike for negative responses, he plays life much safer than I do.

The older I get, the more fearless I get concerning dealing with a response. What about you?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Savanna's Birthday

Today is Savanna's birthday. Can't believe my little girl has grown so much. Larry wrote a special tribute to her on his e-zine today and it was so heartwarming. Maybe I'll soon get him to post it on his blog if he has time.

We made a video of some of our evening and then she wrote an e-mail to a few people and I decided to copy and paste it here for you to see:

So what do you normally do on your birthday? Well, I'm totally different arent we all? When it isn't my birthday I have a terrific day but today was especially great because I had lots of fun. The first great thing that happened to me was at school. They announced my birthday on the intercom and the whole class cheered even when it isn't some one in the classes birthday no one cheers! Then I read to the kindergarteners and I won for the best book and reader! Then I went to the office and I got a birthday pencil and card from my principal and also my principal sang happy birthday to me!!! After that I got off the bus and walked home with my Mom. When I got home I got a card with some money in it from my Pop Pop Bob and Grandma Sally. I used that and $10 on a game for my ds when me and my dad went to Best Buy today. The game I got is so cool. It is called Star Wars the complete saga!!! Then I got home and we called to go get some pizza for dinner. Then we went and got it then brought it home. We ate it and then I told my parents it was time for cake. So I put sparkly candles in the cake and lit them up, made a wish and blew them out!!!!! During pizza cake and after cake my Mom was video taping me. Then we went outside and talked about my present (also on tape). We then came inside and put the video tape on the internet so you can check it out at: www.lifetimeintimateportraitds.blogspot.com that is my mother's website. So I love ya and hope to talk to you soon!!!

p.s. special thanks to Deborah from Deborah's Encouragement blog for sending Savanna a birthday card from South Africa! ((hugs))

Sunday, April 20, 2008

This weekend in ministry

Friday was my day off and believe me if you know anything about me you know that in order to be ready for my upcoming week and especially for the sake of the anointing on Sundays, I desperately need that day. On Friday I met Rosemay (my doctor/friend/church member) for lunch at Sweet Tomatoes. It was good. I had a yummy salad and french onion soup, sans cheese and bread. :-) We talked until we were talked out and then I went home and shared the rest of the day/evening with Larry and the fam.

Saturday was life coaching, my small group for mentoring. Always a good time of dealing with real life stuff, and moving forward to new levels. Susan took a photo Saturday and I'm sharing it here. Candy was the only one missing but everyone else from our current group was there. I am amazed at how different ones are coming along. It also blesses me so much when they share different resources with one another to help each other out. With a team effort, much is accomplished that we could never do on our own.

Today was good but it's been a difficult week of spiritual warfare for both Larry and myself. We have had so much to pray through - a great battle in the spirit, and we know God is on the verge of doing something awesome. The enemy fights it so much because he knows we are fasting and praying and God is about to pour something out. For some reason the sanctuary was without electricity yesterday and TECO had to come out several times. Last night they finally got it fixed, so we were ready for today. Keep in mind this never happens on a Tuesday, a Thursday...or any other time but Saturday night or Sunday.

Things like this, in my opinion, are never a coincidence. The enemy is defeated, but that doesn't stop him from kicking and screaming. He tries to slow the people of God down and get out of his punishmentt, but he won't. We've taken his job. He was the worship leader in heaven - got booted out and now we've taken over. And we won't let up. We ARE victorious. We will praise the Lord straight on through to the victory. We WILL triumph. Through Jesus, we win.

We did a new worship song today, "Hear us From Heaven" (old to some, new to us) and it flowed really well. Larry preached on revival as part of our "MORE" series. Some takeaways from today's sermon:

** We have not because we ask not - and when we do ask many times it's with the wrong motives.

** Have we gotten to the point where God's spirit moves and we say to ourselves, "yeah, I'm used to this..." and we are lacksadaisical and don't even get broken by lost souls anymore, nor excited when they come to Christ? Does it still hurt you when people fall away from God?


** You can't have a miracle until you have a huge need.


** Are we living safely versus living courageously?


** We have to stop analyzing and trying to be safe all the time.


** Being safe doesn't qualify you for a miracle.


** God wants to deliver "worry addicts". (This was for me today!)


We have choir practice tonight and then I'm stopping to get everything to make Savanna's birthday cake when I get home. Can you believe she's 11 tomorrow? And she'll be in middle school next year? A - May - Zing! She's my "little momma". She loves kids. Yesterday she told me she wants to open a daycare when she grows up. Of course she also wants to be a missionary to France. Maybe she'll run an orphanage or daycare in France? I dunno, but whatever the case, she loves babies! She would love for ME to have another baby. That's not possible nor would Larry agree to that anyway. But, one of her favorite things is watching little Addison from church. She asked the other day if we could adopt her. Of course I told her Ms. Tina would never, never go for that! But she watches her every chance she gets. Yesterday she came to the church while I was at life coaching and she watched the baby. She loves babies...always has. It warms my heart to see her care for them in the way that she does.

It's going to be a busy week coming up, so much going on as far as work and personal appointments and many decisions for me to make. Not to mention the spiritual warfare...dear Jesus...the spiritual warfare. All of you pastors and pastors wives know that it NEVER lets up, especially if you are determined that you want MORE of God.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Still got snow and rain?


This was the word I shared this past week in my e-zine devotional to my church women. It seemed to strike a chord with them. I got quite a few e-mails in response from ladies saying they have been there, done that, bought the t-shirt on this. Either they have lived in denial (and are now out) or someone they love is in denial. My heart breaks for them -- I understand and my prayers are with all of you who read this today and in some way are coming out of the darkness into His glorious light. - Deanna


A grown daughter was on the phone expressing her feelings to her father about hurts and even abuse that she went through as a child. Instead of facing up to the issues and answering to them directly - when the woman was done pouring out her heart, all the father had to say was, "So, you still got snow and rain?" It was if she had been saying nothing important. He didn't want to deal with it or acknowledge the reality of what this woman had gone through. Moments later the conversation ended.

Sometimes people have a habit of trying to move forward in their lives without taking care of the past. We can move forward, but only after we have faced reality and taken care of things properly. The Bible tells us in Ephesians 4:22-24 (AMP): "[First] Strip yourselves of your former nature-put off and discard your old unrenewed self-which characterized your previous manner of life .... [Then] be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind-having afresh mental and spiritual attitude; and put on the new nature (the regenerate self) created in God's image. . .

Until we get in reality and strip off the negative things of the past, it is almost impossible to move forward. We have to discard the old junk that was holding us back, and then put on our new self, regenerated in Christ. This grown daughter was very eager and willing to do that, but the father was still in denial. We can tell ourselves a million times, "I'm just going forward. I'm going to forget the past and go on". We can try to "reinvent ourselves", start a new life, we can "speak good things" all we want, we can name it, claim it and whatever else we want to do but if we have not dealt properly with the past, it will be difficult if not impossible to move into the future that God has for us.

Many people think if they just bury their hurts and their past, time will heal it on it's own. Keep in mind, time never heals anything - only Jesus can heal. I do believe Jesus plus time is very helpful. But time minus Jesus? No, that's not helpful at all. T.D. Jakes says, "covered things don't heal well." Have you ever had an injury and you cleaned it, medicated it and put a bandaid on it for a few days? If you took it off after that, chances are, the sore healed. If you never took the bandaid off to give it fresh air, it wouldn't heal properly.

As someone once said, "Da' Nile is more than a river in Egypt!" If we're going to move ahead, we have to come out of denial first.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Tom Cruise Defends Scientology Video!

This is sooooooooooooooooooooo hysterical. I got it from my son Dustin. Enjoy!

Thoughts about vision


Man, I just eat up everything Perry Noble writes. I love that guy. Never met him but I'm crazy about his writings. Here's another great post, this time about vision.

How do you know if your vision is from God?

Great question. Here are a few suggestions:

If you feel confident that you can accomplish what is in front of you with no problem at all…then you didn’t hear from God.

If no one is angry at you…then you didn’t hear from God.

If you don’t have to ask anyone to sacrifice to make the vision come true…then you didn’t hear from God.

If religious people are not steaming at you, blogging about you and/or leaving your church…then you didn’t hear from God.

If you have the money in the bank to do what God has asked you church to do…then you didn’t hear from God.

If every step is perfectly designed and nothing happens to totally throw you off along the way…then you didn’t hear from God.

If someone doesn’t try to talk you out of what you are about to attempt…then you didn’t hear from God.

If you don’t stay up at night thinking about the vision…then you didn’t hear from God.

If your vision is in contradiction to God’s Word…then you didn’t hear from God. (And no, you didn’t get a “special revelation” that gave you permission to trump His Word!)

If you know all of the answers…then you didn’t hear from God.

Those are just a few things that came to mind. :-)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Tune in for Teeby...


Larry is going to be hosting America's Prayer Meeting tonight on CTN (Christian Television Network) which is local channel 22, also on Sky Angel and Direct TV. If you have either one of those you can see it all over the country, yes in all 50 states. He'll be on here on the east coast from 12 am - 3 am, and of course on the west coast that would be 9 pm - 12 am. If you are up that late, tune in!

I'm proud of him. He's a good man, a man of God - yes, a pastor...but an even better husband.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Ridiculous!


Today I was reading an an article by Andrew Leonard entitled, "The Great Depression: The Sequel" and among other things, he says:

"A record number of Americans receiving food stamps. Gas prices at an all-time high, and staples such as milk, eggs and bread costing a prettier penny every week. The average number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits reached its highest level in two years last week, while just this week, construction spending fell for the fifth straight month and manufacturing activity shrank to its lowest level in five years. Real estate values are even plummeting in the Hamptons, and hedge funds started off 2008 with their worst quarter ever."

There is no skirting the fact that indeed finances have gotten progressively tighter for everyone in America over the past year and that has not extended just to individuals but to organizations. I know of one mega church that stopped their building program for a while because of the recession and another that let go of several paid staff positions that they filled instead with lay-leaders. The sacrifices these churches made to keep their head financially above water have been hard, change is difficult for some and so they have lost some folks. Let me go on record saying I think that's totally lame. If the people were reallly "with" those churches, they wouldn't abandon them in a difficult time just to satisfy their cravings and would pitch in to do what they could to help. Many people today are filled with what I call church consumer lust. (Low investment/High Expectation) But that's another blog post.

Yesterday I went to the grocery store and despite that I'm on a 50 day fast I've been cooking for my kids as much as possible so they don't have to survive on cereal and frozen pizzas. I'm not as disciplined as Larry with food and I have my "issues" as most of you know. But my call to be a mother comes before my food issues anyday. So I have tried hard to make the kids things they love for dinner and such despite the fact that sometimes I feel like I will have a meltdown in the kitchen while I'm smelling chicken and chocolate cakes baking. I was going to make them my famous chicken casserole yesterday until I saw the price of boneless chicken. Yikes! It was ridiculous! I changed the menu and just made them baked chicken quarters with "shake and bake" instead.

Dear. Jesus. Help. Us.

I've said it before - I'm not gaga over any of the three possible presidential candidates. What a lame election. But I sure do hope whoever gets the presidency will call on God and use some wisdom to pull America out of this financial mess.

I do realize things here in the USA on our very worst day are a utopia compared to third world countries. We have so much to be grateful for. We don't realize what we have, until we go somewhere and experience those who live without daily. However, there is no denying our economy is an absolute ridiculous mess by American standards. Anyone who says we are not in recession has their head in the sand.

As for our family, we've changed some of our grocery shopping habits (much more bargain shopping, cutting coupons, cooking less expensive foods), making sure all our lights get turned off when we leave a room, turning the air back, and any other ways we can think of to save. Of course this is Larry and I determining to make the changes and then having several "family meetings" reminding the kids of "the plan." I realize it's just good wisdom to make sure a light is off when you leave the room - we should be doing it all the time - but honestly I didn't used to get too worked up over it, and had so much else on my plate to worry about besides a light that may have been on when I left the house. Know what I mean?

What about your family? Have you made any small or big changes as a result of the current economy?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Stuff Christians Like


I'm in love with a new blog. It's called, "Stuff Christians Like" and is written by a guy named Jon Acuff who's a PK. If you have been raised in the church, you will soooo in incredibly identify with this site and if you are a pastor or pastor's wife, well, let's just say you'll find it extremely entertaining. Evidently somebody is talking to this guy already about a book deal and I can see why. I'm alternating between shouting amen and falling off the couch reading his posts.

His insights are hysterical and so true. My two favorite posts so far are one he wrote about people who feel good when they see the pastor's kids mess up. There are people who are actually glad when that happens because for some reason it makes them feel better about themselves or their kids. Sad, but true. My other fav is one he wrote called "Using Let Me Pray About It as a Synonym for No" . It's about people who, when you ask them to help/do something, tell you "I'll pray about it" when they know they are going to say no. They are just buying themselves time to go home and write you an e-mail telling you no, because it's easier to rattle off an e-mail than face you in person. His posts about dating God and bald worship leaders also had me rofl.

This dude's writings are so funny and I haven't read his whole site but I have read quite a bit of it and have to say, 99% of what I've read has been so accurate it's uncanny. Enjoy the entertainment, folks.

Brrrrrrr!


It's cold here in Tampa Bay right now. Nippy to the point where I was wearing two sweatshirts to walk last night when I got home from work, and tucked my hands inside the sleeves as I walked as my nose turned red. It's kinda nice. I didn't sweat even though I walked real fast and didn't feel all yukky when I got home though it was still a good workout. I have been walking about 3 miles a day, every day but Sunday. (Here's another photo, from one of my recent walks in my neighborhood.)

Spring break is over for the kids now and it's back to school...back to "normal life" at least until the summer hits...

We went to the office yesterday morning and were in the rhythm of our 50 day fast -- today is day 24. We are almost half way there. I must say this is probably the longest it's ever really felt like I'm on a fast. (I've done the 50 day one several times as has Larry.) Sometimes it's easier than others, for some reason. Pastor T has said it feels very easy for him. I'm one of those people that don't find it easy, but very profitable spiritually. Every morning it's the same thing - wake up, make a smoothie and start the day. We have already fried one blender...yup, it burned up. And promptly bought a new one because we really can't do without it on a Daniel Fast.

Last night I layed down with Savanna watching Jon & Kate Plus 8 (one of her favorite shows) and planned to take a bubble bath in my big tub but never made it there. It had been a long day at work. Mondays are always a challenge for me. Nevertheless I got six important projects done, plus staff meeting. I resisted the urge to open my briefcase when I got home. It's a never ending temptation that I too often give into. I'll admit, I do get a ton of work done at night. There's simply no way I could ever finish it in office time. And I work most Saturdays, but that's not a complaint. It's such a blessing to serve. But along with that, I try to balance it out with plenty of time with my family, snuggling, eating, watching our favorite shows, talking, and doing things for me like walks and workouts. Not that I have everything balanced, nor do I think that's reality anyway. People say, "how do you balance it all?" The answer is, I don't. I've attended some seminars/workshops in the last few years but by very respected people in ministry who have stated - true balance isn't really possible, but you learn about discerning what is needed at any given time. My friend Pastor Jennifer Lee says, balance isn't possible, but you do have to learn to juggle. Most of us who have been in ministry for a significant number of years have become really good at juggling. We not only pick up a lot of balls other people have dropped, but we keep our own original ones going at the same time.

Sometimes we get tired, but remind ourselves of what a blessing it to serve God and His people. We GET to do this!

Monday, April 14, 2008

A tribute to my sister...



Photo of my sister Kim & I, at her wedding, October 29, 2006

From time to time here on my blog I introduce you to people who are special in my life. One person I have referred to several times and posted pictures of, but I've never done a whole blog about her, til' today. She is my sister, Kim. She's a faithful reader of my blog every single day without fail. But more than that she's a loyal sister who loves me and stands by me, always.

So Kim, this post is dedicated to you.

K - you're kind , most of the time. I say most of the time because although you're an extremely nice person, you are very protective of your family and close friends and will half kill anything or anyone who tries to hurt them. You are very loyal and this is something I greatly admire about you.

I - incredibly resilient, after all you have been through in your life, you have come through a masterpiece. What you have come out of through your childhood and not only survived but thrived through is nothing short of a miracle. I'm proud of you!

M - mother extraordinaire , that's you. You put the rest of us to shame sometimes. You are amazing as a Mom whether on the sidelines of the football field or as class room mother. But most of all you are just in love with your two kids and everyone can clearly see it.

B - being honest always - something you can count on from Kimberly Moraniec. Yep. She'll give it to you straight both barrels if you need it! No sugar coating the issues. If you wonder where you stand, just ask Kim. She'll give you your exact location and then some. (SMILE)

E - everything's in it's place. Yep, that's what you get with Kim. When you go to her house, there is a place for everything and everything in it's place, plus at least five or six candles lit. She's very orderly and her house smells like apples and cinnamon and this is something I love about her home.

R - remembers everything and I do mean everything! If Kim tells you something happened, the fact is, it happened. She remembers amazing details. If something is downloaded into that head of hers, no matter how many years have gone by, she can recall it in two seconds flat. Wanna know the details? Ask Kim. She's got 'em straight! This can be a little dangerous. She tells stories on me all the time from when we were growing up.

L - laughs a lot. I can pick Kim's laugh out of any crowd anywhere. Kim, I love it when you start laughing so hard that you start that uncontrollable coughing. Not that I want you to cough or anything, but you know what I mean. It's just funny to see you so caught up in the hysteria of whatever it is you're laughing at. It's so funny. You are a very funny person yourself and it doesn't take a movie to make you laugh but I do remember watching Meet the Parents for the first time at your house in your living room and practically rolling on the floor laughing ourselves silly. I remember falling off the couch laughing and you coughing when Ben Stiller was in the airport scene going, "bomb, bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb!!!" Memories......

Y - yell when you get mad but gosh, who doesn't? Most normal people do, but believe me folks, ya haven't been yelled at til' you've been yelled at by Kimberly Ann Moraniec. She's passionate about what she believes in and she's usually right. If she stops and says, "NEWSFLASH" and then proceeds to tell you something, take cover. If you are in an argument with her, well, you'd better have a good lawyer. Kim works at the University of Maryland, but I think perhaps she could have had a good career in law as well. :)

I love you, Kim and I'm proud to be your sister.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Cool day today

literally and figuratively


Temperatures are down in Tampa today - love this weather for sleeping! I get such a good night's rest when it's like that. I'm tired, SO tired right now as we've had such a full slate today but it's all COOL! This will be a quick post because I desperately need sleep.

We had a good service this morning - God was in the place. Gotta love that.

This afternoon we went to Olive Garden (and ate veggies) with John Torres and his new girlfriend who came from West Palm. Lovely lady...we're real happy for him. He said it was important he have the approval (besides God) from three "P's. (His Parents, the "little People" --his kids, and his Pastors!) We approve. She seems like a great gal. We had fun talking and laughing over zucchini and eggplant. :-)

Tonight we had newcomer's night at our home. What a packed house. The family room was crammed. Praise the Lord, great 'problem' to have. Some great new people have become a part of Northside and for this we are ever grateful and honored for the privilege of serving and being their pastors. Isn't it amazing, we GET to do this? We are special.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Great day of ministry



Cathy (my assistant) and I left this morning for Ruskin where I spoke today at a fantastic church... Destiny Church, pastored by Jerry and Linda Lubrano. I just love them to pieces, and their women's director, Wendy Ranney is a delight.

Their women's ministries (called the Women of Destiny) had a ladies tea today with the largest turnout ever, and it was wonderful. The tables were absolutely exquisive, and they asked Cathy and I to judge the tables and select a winner. Oh my! I did not want to do that, because the choice was so difficult. The last thing I wanted to do was hurt anyone's feelings who had worked so hard to do a table. But they really wanted two impartial judges and since Cathy and I do not know the women, they asked us. We did judge the tables but the did not announce who the judges were, which was nice. :-) (Anyone who may be reading this from Destiny church...shhhhhhhhhhhh....the secret's ours!)

Linda (Lubrano - pastor's wife) wore a tiara during the event. Apparently a few months ago at an event, her ladies "crowned her a queen". I thought that was so cute!!! She's originally from England. I never knew that before today. I love learning new things about the wonderful creatures known as pastor's wives. :-) They are all so uniquely gifted. Linda is a super pastor's wife. You can tell that by spending, oh...about 5 minutes with her. :-)

Obviously Cathy and I are on the 50 day Daniel Fast so we couldn't have any of these absolute culinary delights they had but they graciously provided us each with a fresh fruit plate. The chicken salad was calling my name (or maybe it was Satan?) but I was a good girl and rebuked it/him.

Their theme for the day was "Jesus is More Than Enough" and this is what I preached on. Linda came up to dismiss at the end and was so emotional over what had just been shared. She could hardly get herself together. She said, "I'm sorry ladies, I'm just getting so emotional right now..." but she managed to get through it and close in prayer. She said she just didn't want it to end. It was all good - just reacting to the message and what had been shared. It was my honor to pray with some precious women. I love days like this. What could be better?

I have to tell you about Destiny's church sign. We noticed when we pulled into the church parking lot that the sign said, "Great Sex - Sunday, April 13". That's what Pastor Jerry's preaching on this Sunday! You can read about it by going to his blog. When Linda introduced me to preach this morning, I started out by saying, "Well ladies, I see out on the sign that tomorrow morning at Destiny Church you're having great sex! Wow, I'm kinda sad that I can't come to church here in Ruskin in the morning. Maybe my husband and I will have to stop by after our service in Tampa!" The ladies roared with laughter and started clapping. What a fun church. Some of them have heard me speak on marriage at the Pen-FL conference in Orlando so they know what I teach on that subject...a few told me today, "hey, I read your book!" and I said, "awesome! but are you putting it into practice?!" (LOL)

As soon as Larry and I are off of our fast, we're going down to Ruskin to have dinner with the Lubrano's at By the Bay Cafe. I can hardly wait! Not only that but Cathy said to me today..."PD, as soon as we're done with this fast let's come back down here and eat..." (great minds think alike.) Not that we're not loving the spiritual results of this fast, but some days it does get challenging. Today was one.

Cathy and I were starving by the time we left Ruskin so we stopped for lunch at Applebees in Apollo Beach on the way home and had some vegetables together and talked a while before we had to hit the road to get home and get all in order for Sunday. We told the young boy who waited on us to bring us mashed potatoes, with no gravy. He brought them out smothered with asiago cheese. What was he trying to do, throw me into an emotional meltdown? Egads! We had to explain to the poor dear why we couldn't eat cheese or gravy right now. He was terribly confused at why two normal looking women like us would not like something smothered in cheese. We sent it back for him to get us some plain potatoes. (Man, that cheese sure did look good...just sayin'...) I know right now Pastor Lindsay has been having a cheese crisis of sorts. She has been fantasizing over cheese cubes. Dear Lord, what are things coming to around here when the staff members are dreaming about CHEESE? These are desperate times Lord, we need you to move! :-) All kidding aside, the fast has been a great blessing. This is day 21! (It ends on Mother's Day - Pentecost Sunday)

Cathy and I just love making these speaking trips together...it's fun for us to spend extra time together outside the office but also we just love seeing what God does in women's lives. I am so thankful for His power, His anointing that brings the breakthrough.

Came home today and it was back to the real world of cleaning the house and preparing for our newcomer's night tomorrow night. I did take time for my fitness walk (I'm doing 50 minutes a day now) and did it at my favorite time - sunset. Nothing better than Florida sunsets, I tell ya. The sights, sounds and smells in my neighborhood are very nice at dusk. Truly I am blessed to live where I do. Walking home and seeing the light between the trees at dusk is just exhiliarating for me sometimes. (Here's a photo I took at right during one of my recent walks before my camera broke.) I just take a big breath of air, and smell the mixure of the smell of freshly cut grass, steaks on the grill, pine trees, flower blossoms...it's all just great all except I don't like to smell the steaks right now...) and I thank God for all His many blessings while I walk. Just being in the quiet or listening to a good podcast while I walk sets me right side up again when I need it.


Yes, it's great to be alive and doing His work.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Attention all pastor's wives and women in ministry!


As many of you friends know, I founded a ministry, Pastoring Partners, for women in ministry back in 1998. Through this ministry countless women worldwide have been encouraged, and empowered for ministry. To God be the glory, great things He has done!

An update on the Pastoring Partners web site has been a long time coming. Those of you who are regular readers, I apologize that it's been so long overdue for an update. But finally, it's ready! I spent my day off today from church ministry getting the final touches on the PP site to get it ready for upload. (Special thanks to Teeby who fixed the glitches in uploading it...he's my Superman.)

Although the web site is all new and updated, our message boards remain the same. Here ministry women all over the world find a place where others understand...where they can connect.

To check out the new site, go here.

Special new things to note are podcasts from me as well as a link about our Unstoppable Conference for women in ministry, which happens here in Tampa Bay in September. Tell every pastor's wife and woman in ministry that you know about it. They will be changed forever by the weekend!

p.s. all of you on my blogroll who are pw's or women in ministry have been added to my new link page on pastoring partners. Hopefully you'll get even more traffic to your blogs from it. (((hugs))) to all...

This time they got it right

Well,apparently there are a whole lot of people upset for one of two reasons:

1) American Idol contestants sang shout to the Lord, which in some people's eyes was inappropriate, period.

2) They left Jesus out on Tuesday night, to the offense of many Christians.

Apparently they have heard loud and clear about outcry #2 because they did a reprise of the song on last night's results show, and they put the word JESUS back in.

Thank you, idols. (Never thought I'd be using the phrase "thank you, idols." Ha ha!) Anyway, it wasn't their decision of course, it was obviously the producer's decision.

If you want to read about some of the controversy over the two versions of this song, and the whole fracus in general, just go to http://www.realitytvmagazine.com/blog/2008/04/09/american-idol-jesus-controversy/, or google it and you'll get a zillion things coming up.

My point remains, whether they left him out or put him back in, He's still THE ONE AND ONLY...and ultimately EVERY KNEE WILL BOW AND EVERY TONGUE CONFESS THAT JESUS CHRIST IS LORD.

End of story.

Yo Peeps...it's JESUS

Everyone's buzzing about the fact that the contestants sang "Shout to the Lord" as the finale on American Idol last night. I was stoked about it myself, until a few moments ago...

Why? A pastor just pointed out to me...(can't believe I missed it!) they left out one important word in the song...JESUS. No kidding, they left out the name of Jesus. My gosh, HOW could I have missed that? I guess I was just too spellbound by the fact that the American Idols were actually doing a praise and worship song on national TV before countless millions.

For the record, the lyrics are supposed to be, "My Jesus, My Savior, Lord there is none like you." This was strategically left out.

I know, I know, there are all different religions represented by Idol. Brooke is Mormon, and I'm sure there are many other religions represented, but still...just another example of our PC society.

Make no mistake I do think it's great that they chose to do that song. What a song it is! I've led it countless times in worship and think Darlene Zschech is AWESOME. Some probably think, "we should just be grateful the song was on there in any form at all..." Maybe so.

But Darlene wrote that song with one purpose in mind -- lifting up the name above ALL NAMES, the ONLY NAME, the name of JESUS. When she writes shout to the LORD she doesn't mean Mohammed, Allah, Rev. Moon, Joseph Smith, Oprah or ANYBODY ELSE but JESUS!

Truly nothing compares to the promise we have in...HIM.

I have often said you can see who's who and what's what by whether they just talk about God or whether they dare to bring Jesus, the son of God, into it. Notice when the Grammys and all those award nights come, a zillion people say, "I'd like to thank God..." but rest assured there are many who say that who aren't Christians in the least. They may claim to love God, and even talk to Him on a regular basis, but the question is, is JESUS THE LORD AND SAVIOR OF THEIR LIFE? When I want to know if somebody is just religious or if they have a real RELATIONSHIP with Christ, what I listen for is somebody who talks about JESUS because that right there...well, that's the lightening rod. Nothin' against God, but I'm just sayin'...

Apparently they thought Jesus would cause quite a stir in the atmosphere last night because they...left Him out.

Indeed, He does cause a change in the environment. That's because He's DA MAN!!! Forever and ever, amen.

I really need this day off...

Time to turn the "on" switch to "off"


It's Fun Friday, but aside from working out and cleaning a few areas of my house, I just need to REST. I am going to preach in Ruskin on Saturday and then Sunday is it's usual race against time. I seriously need my day off in a bad way.

One thing I really don't like in ministry is having to justify the importance of my day off to some people. Now, many people if not most are great about it. But there are always a few people who really don't understand and usually they are some of the closest people to you. What they don't understand is why you need the time to yourself, away from all things church...and yes, even away from your friends there.

I have found myself in the situation of explaining this so many times...

"But it's just a cookout..."

"it's just the movies..."

"it's just going out for coffee..."

"it's just coming to our place..."

People think as long as it's a relaxing activity or something recreational that it won't interfere with your "day off" but the truth is, if you are with people from church, it does, no matter how much you love them! What they fail to see is that this is really not relaxing at all for a pastor when it concerns anyone from church because you're always "on." If you don't know what I mean by that, you're not a pastor or from a pastor's household.

Sometimes your "on" switch just has to be turned "off". Even with those who are friends. Even with those you incredibly love!

Larry can't shut down unless we're away from everything or home by ourselves. He can be sitting there with friends from church, eating at a barbeque and moments later, it's "pass the chips, and oh yeah...Pastor I was meaning to ask you..." and thus begins either an impromptu 'counseling session' about something in their family or a question about a ministry in the church. Suddenly the off switch has just gone back on...and he comes home feeling very tense. I didn't use to but as the years have gone on, I've gotten just like him in this regard. I have a much greater need for down time on Friday, the more time goes on. I don't want to hurt people's feelings by taking my time off, even turning down recreational activities with them, but I really need to, for my own health and that of my family.

My kids are all home right now because it's spring break so our house is not exactly quiet, but with taking a fitness walk, and working out in the yard, it provides some quiet time for me to get my head back together fully and in gear for a new week. I especially enjoy being out there at sunset. The photo above was taken outside of our house at dusk. The past two days I've done a lot of walking after work in the evenings and the weather has been just beautiful for it. Can't wait to get out there tomorrow!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Are you bruised?


This was my "cup of coffee" ezine devo that I sent to my ladies yesterday morning...thought my readers here on the blog might be blessed by it...especially if you are dealing with some "sore spots."


Matthew 12:20-21 “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he leads justice to victory. In his name the nations will put their hope.” NIV

So, what’s up with this verse?

Jesus has not suddenly taken up working in a greenhouse or making candles. When he’s talking about bruised reeds and candles, he’s talking about people.

Bruised reeds are people who have been hurt – in all different kinds of ways. You can be hurt by life’s disappointments that come along as a result of living in a world where the “rain falls on the just and the unjust” (Matthew 5:45). You might be hurt by something intentional that someone did, or even something unintentional. The good news is, whatever the case, Jesus is more than enough to handle it. I’m getting ready to preach on this theme this weekend as I travel to a ladies event and so these thoughts are mulling over in my mind quite a bit.

Praise God, the Bible says that He holds victory in store for the upright! (Proverbs 2:7). If you are a “bruised reed” today, you can be assured, He will lead justice to victory.

When we get a bruise on our bodies, it is sore to the touch for a while until healing comes. For a while we give that spot a little TLC while our body is mending itself. If you are a bruised reed emotionally today, give yourself a little TLC in the Word, spending time in His presence, and worship. Rehearse the good things over and over in your mind that God says about you in His Word. Turn up the volume on His truth loud and clear and shut out the rest. Allow Jesus to mend you.

If you are bruised today, rest in the fact that as you spend time with Him, He will heal you. How long it takes depends on the level of the bruise. But whatever the case, He is always more than enough.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Apparently I rool


Really, nothing can compare in life to the love of your kids. Okay before ya think I'm gettin' all unspiritual here, yes I know nothing compares to the love of Jesus, and of course in my life it's God first, and Larry second. But one's offspring...yep, their love is like no other. I'm just sayin'.


I'm getting to the point where two of my kids are going into young adulthood and it's such an interesting place to be. It's fun, adventurous, and downright scary sometimes. At times I just cry out to Jesus, "please, just let me get these kids safely to adulthood." It's not easy being a Mom but any of you who are Mothers already know this information.

We all have our ups and downs as parents, walking the tightrope between discipline and love. Sometimes they've been so mad at me and I've responded with the famous line so many Moms have said..."that's okay, hate me now. You'll thank me later." Such a hard place to be. But knowing that as the years go on your kids not only love you, but still like you...and actually want to be with you, or be like you......well, it's monumental. I realize it's a precious thing. Not everyone gets along with their parents even as adults. I want to share something with you all today that Dustin put on his Myspace yesterday. Apparently I "rool". By the way, the mis-spelling is intentional. Dustin is a writer and pretty much a grammar policeman. Okay, he wrote:

Momma, you pretty much rool. I look up to you more than anyone. You and I are very similar and it has made it easy for you to not just be my mom but also one of my best friends. I trust you with my life and with my problems. You are very wise and very understanding. I hope to one day be as talented as a writer as you.

Wow, is there any greater compliment than to hear that from my kid? That'll keep me going for the next few months, AT LEAST!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Madea Comparing People To Trees

Some of my favorite movies are ones with Madea (Tyler Perry). Whenever I need a serious cheering up, I just pop in one of those DVD's and laugh my head off. I'm so crazy about them all it's hard to pick a favorite but Diary of a Mad Black Woman would probably get my pick as an all time fav.

The interesting thing is, the character Madea really is a wise person. She's not just so likeable because she's funny but because she's been there, done that, bought the t-shirt and she's wise. For all the hysterical moments in those movies, there's a million things from Madea that'll preach... Sometimes I wonder if she gets some of her material from T.D. Jakes. No kidding, sometimes it sounds like one of his sermons, verbatim...

I was wanting some laughs and looked up some Tyler Perry clips and found this one. In it, Madea is giving some of her words of wisdom and compares people and relationships to trees. She's not the only one who does...

Proverbs 1:3 says, "He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers."

The Bible also compares people to trees and tells us to be PLANTED firmly. Psalm 92:13 tells us to be planted in order to flourish.

So, what kind of tree are you?

Going for the HNL
(Hole 'Notha Level)



We are doing a 50 day challenge in our church and part of it is fasting for 50 days in some way (Daniel fast, one meal a day for 50 days, or a delicacy fast is what our people had to choose from this time) as well as increased prayer and reading the Word. Each day Larry and I send out a devotional that our people receive each morning. Here's the one they got today and I thought I'd share it with my blog readers as well. Here we go:


God’s love is unconditional but it’s about one of the only things in the Bible that is. I’d have to comb through the entire thing to see exactly how many things come without condition but let’s just say there aren’t many others if any! Except for His love just about everything else comes on a condition. Time and again God says IF you do this, THEN I’ll do that. The Bible is full of tons of other “IF YOU/THEN I’LL’s”.

Pastor Ed Young talks about HNL’s (what he calls “hole ‘notha level’s) If we want to go to a new level, if we want to live at a new level, it requires something. God just doesn’t go around doling out HNL’s to just anybody.

Throughout the Bible we see various groups of people. There are the virgins that had their lamps prepared, then there were the foolish ones. There were the people who got in the ark, and the people who stayed behind and were drowned. In the parable of the talents there were those who used their talents wisely and those who did not. The examples go on and on of groups of people who made different choices and hence received different outcomes.

In these last days in the church there will be a remnant of people who choose to take God at his Word – to come out of their lethargy and go to an HNL – a hole ‘notha level!

By making the choice to fast and pray you have placed yourself in position for a HNL. You have chosen to take II Chronicles 7:14 seriously. Now you need to have an EXPECTATION of what God will do, like never before. You have made a seriously awesome decision and an HNL awaits you! A level of living that you have yet to experience awaits.

HNL’s and revival do not come cheap. New levels and revivals come at a price. When we are willing to pay that price, what’s on the other side is incredible, the very best of which is an intimacy with God like never before. Hopefully you are starting to experience that by now.

Welcome to the HNL!

Crying my eyes out


Okay, so it's 1:50 am and I'm just getting ready to go to sleep but I'm still feeling too awake to put my head on the pillow just yet. I need to let my head clear.

I have been sitting here bawling. Not for a bad reason though. I've been after Dustin to take time to watch I am Sam with me. It's one of my favorite movies of all time. Tonight he agreed after he got off the phone with Casey he'd watch it with me but it was late when we started. We sat there on the couch together and watched it and I boo-hooed my head off as I normally do. :-)

At least Dustin appreciates it with me. Jordan says, "Mom, I don't know why you're crying. That message of that movie was nuts. They should have never given him that kid! He clearly wasn't equipped to handle her..." (Um, some days I don't feel equipped to handle my kids or much else...)

Dustin understands why I find the movie so heartwarming, on so many levels. But his practical analyzations are funny. He says, "Mom...how did he have time to do all this and work all those jobs? I mean, he had Pizza Hut and walking the dogs and how did he find time for all of that? Do you really think that's realistic?"

I dunno. I just watch the movie and enjoy it. :-)

Praise the Lord and pass the kleenex.

Monday, April 07, 2008

A word in due season


"A man has joy in an apt answer, And how delightful is a timely word!" Proverbs 15:23



Today I got a word from the Lord through my dear friend, Pastor Tara Sloan, pictured at left. It was very personal and had to do with other people, not just me...so I'm not sharing the word here at least at this moment. But my point today is this...

A word in due season when God prompts you is so important. In a recent post I shared about how Cassandra and Sharon also e-mailed me with a word one day, not a "thus saith the Lord" type thing as Tara did, yet a very timely word of encouragement. Cassandra felt an overwhelming urge from the Lord to go to her computer and write it at a certain moment and that moment was really crucial to me.

Don't ever hesitate to SPEAK when God gives you an ENCOURAGING word. Don't hold back and don't be too busy to share it! You have NO IDEA how you will change someone's day or their life!!!

The other day I was going about my daily routine and felt an overwhelming urge to pray for my friend, missionary Barb Kuert who is in Kenya. I interceded for her and then followed it up with an e-mail telling her what the Holy Spirit prompted me to do. She said that she had just come back from a trip to the coast and was very, very sick. She was in desperate need of prayer and my e-mail was a great encouragement to her.

The other thing is to not be afraid to share something no matter how stupid or crazy the details might seem. Often things people have thought are insignificant or crazy have been just the confirmations I, or others, needed to hear!

Thanks Tara, for being an ever encouraging, sensitive friend. I love you!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Sunday Night De-briefing



It was a rainy today in Tampa - torrential downpour, all day. Even as it was raining outside, the Lord was raining upon us with His presence.

Mallory led worship today and did a great job as usual. I preached today, and my message was the second in our new "MORE" series. My text was Revelation 3:14-22, about the church of Laodicea, the main point being verses 15 and 16: "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth."

I spoke of two areas of lukewarmness - our personal relationship with the Lord, and then our zeal/service to God and others. When talking about mediocrity, I used a funny clip I found YouTube called Profiles in Mediocrity. It's a good one to use when you're preaching about people having passion for what they do, and doing it right. I also had a little skit with Pastor Lindsay, Joel, and...Savanna! Today was her acting debut. She was nervous but really wanted to help out. Had choir tonight and I'm absolutely beat. Time to sleep...finally.

Some of my main points today from my message:

  • WE CAN HAVE AS MUCH OF GOD AS WE WANT TO HAVE.
    His Word says He has given us everything we need for life and Godliness.
    He has spread a table before us…
    He says come and dine… (COME AND DINE, NOT WHINE!) Stop whining about how tired you are, how you're not being fed, being picky about the spiritual food provided, yada yada yada. What we NEED to hear is not always what we WANT to hear.

  • We must "taste and see that the Lord is good…" If we are not hungry for Him, what have we been snacking on? (The junk of the world.)

  • Jesus Christ did not die on the cross, and rise on the third day in power so we can lay around and whine about being tired or that we're not being fed. How much more does He have to do for His people to arise to the occasion? A feast is before us every day. It's time to get up and eat.

  • Some think, “who cares? I just stack ketchup packets at a fast food restaurant.” I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU DO, THE WORD OF GOD SAYS DO IT TO THE GLORY OF GOD!
  • Somebody is always watching you who is capable of greatly blessing you.

  • My husband always says to the staff, "I don’t mind that you make a mistake – if you don’t make mistakes you aren’t taking any risks for God or getting anything done, but learn – and don’t make the same mistake twice! And for heaven’s sakes, get something done!"

  • As Pastor Larry said last week, God’s looking for people who will go just a little bit further…
    do just a little bit more…
    pick up the ball when other people drop it… (when I get to heaven, I'm going to have my own "ball pit" from all the balls I've picked up that others have dropped. You can come jump in it...)
    He's looking for those who will stand in the gap…be the one.
    God is looking for people who know how to get stuff done…the “go to” people. Be the "go to" person.
  • Realize, God has supernatural power and without Him you will not do a thing, however remember that your flesh must be brought under subjection and you must cooperate fully with him.

  • Whether it be speaking in tongues, or cleaning up a parking lot on a work day, or getting a ministry started, or doing your job at work, you have to take the first step in the flesh and DO something. What happens in the spirit is often begun in the flesh - when you don't feel like it.
  • We must guard against and pray against the lethargic spirit that has gripped the church today.
  • Let's seek the Lord while He may be found.