Monday, August 31, 2009

Yep, it's a Monday.

Very busy day that was a typical Monday for a pastor. Found myself doing many tasks that ministers find themselves doing on a Monday. If you are not a pastor and have no clue why Mondays have any significance, just google, "what do pastors want to do on Monday morning?" and you might find out.

After a long day I'm headed to a sectional ministers meeting tonight. I'm exhausted. It's a good thing our presbyter makes things interesting and it will be a worthy meeting to drag my butt of the couch this evening for.

Before I do, here's a list of a few more things I friends, you've gotta look on the bright side every day!

I love banana blueberry pancakes! (I make them home made. Just make regular pancake batter, then I smash up one banana and mix in, plus throw about 1/2 cup of fresh blueberries in the batter. Mmmmmm....)

I love the people I work with.

I love the Dearborn girls and I know they are reading this right now.

I love candles.

I love naps.

I love when my dog greets me at the beginning or end of the day.

I love Africa.

I love the smell of grass that has just been cut.

I love Clorox wipes. They make life a lot easier.

I love my bed.

I love Speidino DiMare and Filet Mignon Bryan at Carrabbas.

I love Bath and Body Works Moonlight Path

I love the Psalms

I love Wonder Woman

I love flip flops and have at least 10 pairs.

I love cupcakes!!!

I love silver jewelry.

I love back rubs. Well, make that whole body rubs. Yeah.

I love OPI nail polish.

I love laying on a blanket at the beach.

I love snuggling with my kids.

These are a few of my favorite things. I know some are repeats. It's a good thing to re-count your blessings, and name them one by one...

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Missions Weekend

Missions weekend was awesome! How amazing it was to have my dear friend, Pastor Walter Nyangweso from Kenya with us! He is now not only my friend but a friend to our church. They just loved him like I knew they would and vice versa.

We had a phenomenal weekend together just sharing and catching up, and raising a lot of money for mission all around the world. And the best is yet to come!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Company's coming!

This weekend is our annual missions convention. Today I'm excited that my friend, Pastor Walter Nyangweso from Buru Buru Assembly of God in Kenya is coming to visit and minister at Northside this weekend. He arrives tonight and we'll have dinner together and then services all day tomorrow.

Here are photos that were taken when I was ministering at his church this past year. Plans are in the works now for me to go back. :) Can't wait!

Friday, August 28, 2009

This is a test, this is only a test...

I'm leaving in a few moments to have my endoscopy done this morning. I'm really not looking forward to taking my day off to do this. I like to use Fun Friday for the purpose of dating Larry, spending time with my kids when they aren't working or in school, reading, writing, exercising, movie watching, sleeping, going to the beach, and the like. But today is different. I've struggled health wise since getting back from Africa and I need to get well and move on.

I am not wrestling with fear over having the actual test. I also had it done 22 years ago when I had an ulcer and remember waking up in recovery thinking, "that wasn't so bad after all. What did I worry so much about?" So I determined this time not to stress over the actual test. What I'm struggling with are the results. (Thanks for your prayers. Extra special thanks to Melissa Kelly who has been not only praying but fasting for me. She has done this on my behalf multiple times. That lady is a warrior.)

I thought I would share on my blog this morning what I have learned through this time. After nine months of laboring with this, I'm hoping something new will be birthed. My prayer is that FEARLESSNESS will be birthed.

Some friends I've said that to have been puzzled and said, "YOU? You need to pray for COURAGE?" I know I can come across as pretty fearless. Not only am I contributing writer for the book "Chocolate for a Woman's Courage", sharing my own stories of personal courage, but there are many things that tend to scare others that don't scare me at all.

For years I ministered on a regular basis in prison, including maximum security prisons, and those on death row. I walked among them, right in the middle of the cell block, and never felt fear. I have ministered in the worst slums of Africa, visiting people's "dwelling places" if you can call them that. What I've witnessed is indescribable filth and pain. I have preached in some of the worst inner cities of America, right in the streets with the people, going to places where people are regularly gunned down. I have been in the jungles of Africa right next to wild animals. Another time a man we pastored was angry and seriously treatened to shoot me and kill me in the middle of one of our church services. This post here describes the scene pretty well. I've encountered many demon possessed people and ministered to them. None of this scares me, in fact I seem to thrive on it. So why am I praying for fearlessness?

Everyone's fears are different. While I can do all of the above without flinching, standing over a pool of three or four feet of water scares me. You couldn't pay me to jump in there. (Michele says she's going to help me counquer this fear this year.) I have fears about decisions or mistakes my children may make, because I love them so much and fear for their safety, health or happiness. I have fears about my health, or that of my family and friends. I have had fears about failure.

The years 2007 and 2008 were difficult for me. If you've been reading the blog for very long, you walked through it with me. Some of you who I have never even met in person did things like send cards to my office or home, or sent other goodies you wanted to encourage me with. One reader sent me a gift card to Carrabbas knowing it's my favorite place. Another sent me a teddy bear. Others sent letters by email and snail mail telling me how my honesty about what I was walking through made a difference in their lives. You implored me to not give up. My blog friends, you will NEVER realize what a lifeline many of you were to me during that time. There are some of you I might never meet here on earth but in heaven let me tell you we are going to have ourselves a time!!

I experienced some fear in that time to the degree I never have before. Several times I called some of my closest friends like Pastor Tara who were there for me in the midnight hour to pray and speak a word of hope into my life. My main fear was that my circumstances would never change. I had doubts that the tide would turn. One day, THANK GOD ALMIGHTY, it did.

This year has been completely different. It's been downright amazing, in fact. But I am now paying the price in my body for those two years of fear. If there is anything I have learned from this is that fear is seriously of the devil and it's SO NOT WORTH IT. My friends, I beg you...learn from my mistake. Don't allow fear to stress you out and make you sick.

During my own personal time with God I began to focus in on conquering fear. It's the main thing I'm reading about in the Word this year because I'm determined to overcome this. There are pages and pages and pages that God showed me about this. But I just want to share a few with you this morning before I head off to undergo this test this morning. I need to preach to myself a little bit, so here I go:

Fear is conquered with trust. Fear FREEZES paralyzes us. But faith FREES us. (Got that nugget from my dear friend, Joy.)

"So do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10

Fear imprisons us, but faith RELEASES us. We must "be still and KNOW that He is God"!! Almost every single book in the bible has "fear not" in it. That should tell us something. Matthew 13:22 tells us that fear and worry choke out the Word of God that has been planted in us.


I must get the Word of God concerning fear planted within me...Romans 8:15, "For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but the spirit of adoption whereby we cry Abba Father." I do not have to fear, because my Father is with me. Psalm 91:10-11 declares to me, "Nothing bad will happen to you - no disaster will come near your home. He has put His angels in charge of you to watch you wherever you go."

I am hidden in Him, so I need not fear. "God is a safe place to hide, ready to help when we need Him." Psalm 46:1

I may be experiencing sickness right now, but it's not too difficult for my Father. Psalm 103 - "He heals your diseases, every one." Jeremiah 30:17 declares to me, "I will give you back your health and heal your wounds." I will, according to Colossians 3:15, "let the peace that Christ gives control my thinking." Part of becoming fearless is CONTROLLING WHAT I THINK!!!

I will stop dreading things. The Word of God tells me that in love, there is no fear, and dread does not exist. (I John 4:18 Amplified Bible says this) The thing God showed me about dread is that we have to do whatever it is we are dreading many times anyway. It makes no sense to dread what you know you have to do. Find some way to make it fun, or memorable and just DO IT!

I learn lessons about fearlessness daily. The first time I started enjoying the beach was when I moved to Tampa. This is because the waters here are so calm. The current here is not very strong so it won't drag you out against your will or knock you over. That why I love the beaches here, and started going in beyond my ankles or calves. I believe if for no one else, God created these calm Tampa Bay waters for me. Last Sunday I was at the beach with Savanna, Becca and Irene. We went to Sand Key and for some strange reason the waters were uncharacteristically rough by Tampa standards. We had four foot waves, which I don't think I've ever experienced here. Soon after going out with my pink noodle, a wave knocked me down and I had immediate fear. I screamed at Becca, "Oh my gosh it' a mini-tsunami!!!" She laughed at me at first but also realized I was serious. She said, "don't back away from the wave. Face it head on and then right as it's getting ready to hit you, jump right into it and over it." It worked like a charm. I never got knocked over for the rest of the time we were there. We spent several hours jumping over waves that would have previously frightened me. Once I got the hang of it, it was amazing fun. I didn't want to leave and we stayed in the water til' we were prunes.

So I'm going in to get this test this morning. When they put the I.V. in, I'm just gonna pretend that four foot wave is in front of me, face it, and jump in. I know Jesus LOVES me. "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear." I John 4:18 He loves me PERFECTLY.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


When he was about two years old, Dustin turned to his Dad and inquisitively said, "Daddy, what's a booby?"

My husband thinks up clever answers faster than anyone I know. It tends to work out really great for him in an annual business meeting but I really hate it when we're in an argument and he does it. So upon being asked the booby question he says, "Well, Dustin, it's when you see a bee, but the bee doesn't see you coming and when you get right up on it you turn and yell, 'BOO, BEE!!!' and you scare it. " [sigh] Yes, life with my husband has been quite entertaining.

Last night at church we were getting ready to leave and as usual the pastor's family is the last or almost the last to leave. We were with three other families standing around and talking and Savanna and Jordan noticed the condensation on the glass doors of the sanctuary. This seems to be a magnet for many of the kids of the church and it drives me crazy. I hate seeing any smudges on the doors and wipe them down all the time although Susan (who cleans our church) does a great job cleaning them, somebody's always touching them and messing them up. This is normal for glass doors, I know, but normal things in life often drive me crazy. Spare the jokes about Monk, please. So, back to my story...

The kids noticed the condensation on the door so one went over and wrote BOO on the door with their finger. Never mind that church was over and almost everyone was just irks me to see something written on the door even if nobody's in the building. Well before I could run over and erase BOO, the other sibling comes over and writes, "BY"next to "BOO" on the door...bringing the word to "BOOBY."

So I turn to Becca and Bethany (also PK's) who are standing with me and I said, "leave it to two pastor's kids to write 'booby' on the doors of the church." They hysterically laughed, because how well they understood. They've done some crazy stuff in their time. It's just what PK's do. It keeps their parents humble.

I erased the word.

We locked up the church and went home.

I wonder where my kids get the nerve to do things like this, but then I stop and realize that I might be the only person in the ministry who has written an entire blog post entitled "Booby." :)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Lessons from Kathryn:
The power of ONE thing

I stand in my kitchen, laptop open on the counter , checking my e-mail while talking on my headset phone. I simultaneously stir spaghetti sauce, put breakfast dishes in the dishwasher, set the table, make a salad, click down my e-mails and delete junk, quickly answer a few that only require one sentence answers, and take our whining dog out to go potty while still holding the conversation on my headset. I glance over at the weeding that I have to do in our flower beds after supper, which I always do while listening to teaching podcasts on my Zune. When the dog is done with her potty break I wash my hands and resume cooking while I answer various questions my kids are posing during this time like, "what's for dinner?" and "where's Dad?" [ on the toilet ] and "did you sign my permission form yet for the field trip Thursday?" while finishing out my call and taking another one that is waiting on call waiting. At the office and even offsite I operate in multi-task mode most times without people in the room knowing it (always have email and text coming in) and in between all this grab a sandwich, or when I get desperate or particularly stressed, Hershey kisses or cookies are usually readily available, by pressing my intercom and saying to my asst., "Cath, you have any candy?" [insert Cathy laughing now as she reads she puts up with me I do not know. Prozac? Xanax? Leftover Demoral or Vicodin from an operation? These things might be required to work with me. ]

Hey, I'm just being honest here. It's one of my strengths...or weaknesses, according to Larry depending on who you talk to. Trust me, many other people do this, they just don't have the nerve to admit it like I do.

I guess Kathryn heard some fatigue in my voice today as we were in our weekly meeting. I didn't even realize it was detectable, to be honest. We live our lives and they are, well...our lives. Meaning, we're so close up, sometimes we can't see the forest for the trees.

Kathryn: "I hear the tiredness in your voice, Deanna...what's up?"

Deanna: "Life. The same crazy schedule I always keep with a few extra things thrown in lately...but it's all good."

Kathryn: "Well, I don't doubt that it's all good, but what can we do to make it better?"

Then she proceeded to tell me something she's learned lately about the power of doing ONE THING as opposed to multi-tasking all the time. Where did multi-tasking ever get such top billing from? I'm a good multi-tasker but I'm realizing that it's something I shouldn't be doing 24/7 and that was confirmed by our talk today. Kathryn's suggestion to me was to try something she's learned for herself which is to get one thing at a time done with better quality...a "one-mindedness" she called it, saying, "if you're going to eat -- eat. If you're going to sleep -- sleep. If you're going to work -- work. But do it one at a time." Wow, what a concept. It's rather embarrassing to admit it's an idea I haven't even thought of. But why not? What do I have to lose? Quite possibly a whole lot of stress that I don't need.

Come to think of it, multi-tasking is hard to keep up with on a constant basis because it requires a continual switching of gears This leads to more mistakes, which in turn lead to lower productivity. It is more complicated and does require more brain power. I've tried everything I know to do to make my workspace more peaceful -- everything from keeping a very neat and clean office, to lighting candles at my desk, to playing classical music, to drinking my favorite tea while I work. Even with all that I sometimes feel like I'm going to pop a gasket. When my eye starts twitching I know I've gone too far and make a point to get a few hours extra sleep.

This insight was a timely word from Kathryn today. One-mindedness. It almost sounds like something of biblical proportions. :)

Goals I developed after today's meeting:

1) Do one thing on my initiative list at a time. Finish before going to next item .

2) Answer email and get it out of my box asap but don't do anything else while I'm answering them.

3) Don't eat while I work.

4) Do my least favorite task for the day first. Mark it off the list and get rid of it.

5) When working on things that require strategic thinking, turn phone to silent, and don't stay online.

6) Stop every hour to just breathe a few minutes.

7) Refuse to worry about an item before I get to it.

8) Be understanding of myself and others when interruptions happen.

9) When I feel like I'm getting behind remind myself I'm going slower to go faster, ultimately.

10) Celebrate at the end of the day in some way all that has been accomplished!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Personal catch up

Just thought I'd throw a few things out for those who keep up with any details of my life aside from the other prolific (?) boundary pushing things I post here.

This past Friday didn't get out of bed all day/night except to take Jordan to work. Larry says, "are you really going to go outside in your nightgown?" Yes. That's how tired I was. I figured the world wasn't going to fall apart because I was walking outside to the car and driving him to work in my nightie.

I'm going in for my scope (Endoscopy) on Friday morning. Thanks for your prayers, friends.

This weekend is our missions convention. My friend Pastor Walter from Kenya will be arriving on Saturday.

Larry and I will preach a tag team message on Sunday and Pastor Walter will speak for the banquet. It's going to be a busy weekend and another awesome one.

School started yesterday and I signed a bazillion papers for Savanna. She's excited...she loves school and does well, despite me signing all those papers without reading them.

Jordan is meeting with an air force recruiter today and taking the Asvab test. (Please pray for him for wisdom and that God's will be done.)

So........let's end today's blog with 5 things I love...

1) Sandpipers!!! I fell in love with these little birds on the beach. Adorable.

2) Scrunchies. Yeah, I still love 'em.

3) Blogging. I never get tired of it.

4) Getting my hair highlighted.

5) When someone surprises me by doing a job I was dreading doing and they take if off my plate. My "love language" is "acts of service." My husband gets 100% sexier when he takes out the trash, does the dishes, or cleans the bathrooms. I am just so blessed when my husband, children and others in my life do such nice things for me to make life easier.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Brilliant interview strategy

A few weeks ago I said I'd post career advice here from time to time, and today's another such day where the mood is striking. One of our coaches at the company I work for shared a brilliant strategy that one of our job seekers used and it worked extremely well. I want to pass this on to those of you who are preparing for an interview, especially in this current very competitive job market.

A common question asked in an interview is, "What do you see as your greatest strengths?" and then the dreaded follow up, "What about your greatest weaknesses?" Nobody wants to answer that. If you go too far, you've lost the job opportunity and if you say something too shallow they can read right through it. One of the worst answers people give is, "Well, I'd say my weakness is perfectionism..." (They say this in a futile attempt of thinking the hiring manager is going to be attracted with that answer. They usually won't and can readily see through the insincerety that you are simply trying to build yourself up as someone who crosses every "t" and dots every 'i".) Some of us actually are that anal and perfectionistic, but it's not something you have to announce. If you are a perfectionist it will be readily noticed in everything from the way you communicated up to the interview point, to the way you are dressed. Besides that, only in the church is perfectionism viewed as a bad thing. Everywhere else it's practically revered.

So here's what this brilliant job seeker did. He knew this question was probably going to be asked so he prepared for it. When asked the question he said, "I thought you might ask that, and in preparation for that I called my former boss and asked them what they thought my greatest weakness was. Here's what they said..."

This communicated a few things to the interviewer...

1) This job seeker had guts! (To call their former boss and ask this question means they were not dealing with an insecure person.)

2) This person has a good enough rapport with their former boss to be able to call and ask the question.

The hiring manager was very impressed and the job seeker was hired.

Of course this will only work if:

1) You do have guts and are not so insecure that you can't ask this question.

2) You didn't burn your bridge with your former boss.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Day at Sand Key

On Monday I made the decision to structure things this weekend to have some time off.
The last two weeks were insane with wedding planning, keeping up with two jobs, keeping things in the home running and everything else. This next week coming up is missions convention. It was time to release some pressure before the heat is on again. So, on Friday, I took my day off. Completely. No interruptions, no returning calls, no answering emails. Then last Monday I announced to the choir through an e-communication that we wouldn't have rehearsal today and that everybody would have the afternoon off today from practice although we did have early morning rehearsal and an off the chain service today! God was all over the place. After a great service, Savanna and I headed off to Sand Key with Irene and Becca. We had an amazing time... Spent the afternoon/evening "just us girls" laying on the beach with our toes in the sand, riding the waves (they were so high today by Tampa Bay standards!) At one point a wave knocked us over and I screamed, "Oh my gosh, it's a freakin' mini-tsunami!!" much to the delight of Becca who absolutely laughed herself silly over my reaction. She also cracked up at the fact that when two dolphins swam just a few feet away from me and all I saw was a fin when I looked over, I thought it was a shark and I screamed bloody murder and started running for the shore. She was laughing hysterically and hollering, "It's two dolphins, I swear, come back, come back!!!!" Ahhhhhh...the hysterical things that took place today you would never believe...

Savanna did her typical thing digging holes and building castles...and laying under the umbrella talking... we had a wonderful time together...

While we were at Rita's Italian Ice we saw this pink car in the intersection. I fell in love with it, pulled my cell out to snap a photo. It's the first car I've ever seen that even compares to a Mustang. I could drive this car and be happy. Anyone who has known me for very long knows that's HUGE. I still can't bring myself to buy another car. Irene asked me about it today and I said, "amazingly after several years it still hurts...but my son is alive so that is my consolation and what I give thanks and praise to God for daily. A car (even a Mustang) is just a car and my son is my everything." At the same time I am still not ready for another car, even after all this time...unless it was just the right 'stang or a car like this...I would rather ride along with Larry, ride my bike, a bus, catch a ride with a friend or just do without. I know, sounds crazy right? But when have I ever done anything conventional?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

She lights up my life...

It's been a while since I posted any photos of Madeline. She's such a big part of my life, everyday. I love being with her and when I'm away, can't wait to get home to her. Here are some photos Larry took of her this week...

Friday, August 21, 2009

Lessons from Kathryn:
The Likeability Factor

So I know many of you from Boston to Singapore who read my blog may be waiting with bated breath to find out what I learned from Kathryn this week. Wait no longer my friends...

This week I didn't really ask Kathryn any serious questions about coaching or anything else leadership related. She began our meeting as she always does by asking about what's happening for me both personally and in my job. I began telling her about this week's wedding, and being that it's such an amazing story it's pretty much what we talked about during our meeting. She found the story about the wedding to be as cool as all of you did. Of course it was very enjoyable for me to tell her about it, as it's had me literally on a cloud all week long that has lasted to this moment.

When I got off the phone, I thought to myself, "Drats! Besides talking about the wedding I only asked her a few little piddly things about my work...did I just waste that time? I could have been learning something about coaching and leadership and I just blabbered on about my weekend..."

Actually, no it wasn't a waste. I realized something else I've learned from Kathryn and that is that people want to do a good job for a manager they like. Individuals perform better for those they actually enjoy working with. One of the first keys to likeability is having a genuine interest in people's lives. A manager who is likeable tends to be gifted in motivating others to fully engage and accomplish the company's objectives. Robert Levering, the primary researcher for Fortune magazine’s ‘Best Companies to Work For’ studies, found that organizations with positive employee relationships produce 15 to 25 percent more. Inspiration and respect really are at the core of productivity.

I have a unique vantage point from both sides of this issue. At one job, I am managed, at my other job, I am a manager. I do realize it is my role in management in the church that helps me to appreciate Kathryn more -- both the responsibility that rests upon her shoulders, and the value of what she imparts to me. There are times I have wondered about those I manage or have managed over the they realize how much rests upon my shoulders? Do they understand how many things about work keep me up at night? Do they truly appreciate the level I have gone to in investing in their lives? All of these things cause me to appreciate Kathryn's leadership more because I do know the cost of leadership.

Kathryn is very likeable. If somebody she manages doesn't like her, they are just a loser and there is really no other way to slice it. She's very caring, always "processes relationship before task" as I call it, is creative, interjects humor into anything possible within the workplace, and much more. Even her memos about submitting reports ooze with creativity. Her leadership style motivates you to want to do a good job, for her, but also for your own benefit. She's big on the fact that we should all take ownership of our successes and celebrate them which is something she did gave me kudos for this week, noting my involvement in the wedding planning.

I'm learning how much fun it is to work for a likeable manager but also being motivated to be a more likeable manager. I know people won't always be crazy about us in leadership -- sometimes we have to make hard decisions people won't like, and there is a price to be paid. The higher you go the higher the price. As Elbert Hubbard one said, "To avoid criticism do nothing, say nothing, be nothing." I acknowledge that to be liked cannot be our main goal in leadership. otherwise we'll never get anything done. However, there is a balance there. I have thought about my team over the years that I've managed. Years ago two people were working for me that didn't share mine or Larry's values at all. They didn't like us or what we stood for and ultimately they didn't respect us. Not surprisingly, productivity was at an all time low and frustration was high. The end of the working relationship couldn't come soon enough. Contrast that to those I current manage who have been with us for a long time by ministry standards. I won't put words in their mouth and announce on my blog that they are crazy about me, or that I definitely have the likeability factor. That's up to them to speak for themselves. But I will just say, I don't think they would spend holidays with me or come over on off times and sit in my jacuzzi and talk if they didn't like me. If I didn't like my boss, you couldn't pay me to sit in their hot tub. Seriously.

Some might say this is the likeability factor run amok or over the boundary lines but I think it's a little different especially in ministry when you move away from all of your family and those you work with many times become your family. We have always treated those we work with like family...I think the difference now is, we have a group of people who appreciate it.

In a nutshell I've learned from Kathryn this week the importance of the likeability factor -- appreciating it from the person who is managing me, and striving for this kind of relationship in those I am managing.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

From the Honeymooners ~ Part II

Another e-mail from the happy couple...this time a poem the groom wrote yesterday and some more honeymoon photos to go with it...

I thank God for who I am
and the person I've become
I thank God for who's in my life
and that I'm safer than some

I thank God for my church family
and how they're always there
I thank God that they embrace me
and how they'll always care
I thank God for all my natural family
and the trust they have in me
I thank God for my happiness
that's now so easy to see

I thank God for the gift of life
and that it's good and pure
I thank God for who's in mine
to make me safe and sure

I thank God for his Holy Son
and what He means to me
I thank God for how my heart felt
when He set me free

I thank God for my favorite gift
a special gift, it's true
I thank God for this special gift
and that special gift is you

I thank God that you're by my side
that our hearts have become one
I thank God that I have you now
for my love will never be done.

I love Jesus, My wife, My kids , My church.

~ Bladimir Lainez

Deanna here: This is what ministry is all about. Thank you, Jesus!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

This just in from the honeymooners...

Yeah, okay... I know it might not be totally normal for someone to e-mail their pastors on their honeymoon, but we are anything but conventional around here. I was delighted to open my e-mail box last night and have a letter there from the new Mr. and Mrs. Lainez with some photos. Since everyone has been such a part of this story from the beginning whether you know them personally or not, I thought I'd share their note and photos on my blog:

Hello Pastor Deanna!

Well, we can't get enough of all the blessings God poured down on us Sunday starting with such a wonderful church and pastors!!! We love you sooo much! You and Pastor are one of a kind. We would love to be there for the [missions] banquet. Me and my WIFE were talking about it and she said she'll bake a chicken or turkey...she has signed up with Janice. We can't wait! Thank you again for all that you do...attached are some pictures we wanted to share with you and Pastor Larry from our honeymoon. We love you!


So is it totally amazing or what that they not only took time to write and send me these photos but that they were actually love their church so much they were thinking about it on their honeymoon? Man, that's dedication for sure. lol

I also love how he capitalized the word WIFE. Yes, his WIFE...that has a ring to it...literally. :)


Does Angela look beautiful or what? Yesterday my sister Kim was reading the blog and called me and said, "Deanna, she looks like J-lo!" (Jennifer Lopez) Yes, indeed she's a beautiful woman inside and out.

We love you Angela and Bladimir...can't wait til' you get back and we're so glad you are having such a good time at Indian Rocks.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Gourmet Pretzel Favors ~
How to make them

We have gotten all sorts of questions about the pretzel favors that were made for the surprise wedding on Sunday. They are very easy and they are a HUGE hit with people. You could make them for any occasion, not just a wedding.

The white chocolate was purchased in the food aisle at Michael's. The pretzel rods were Snyder's and purchased at the grocery store. I purchased the sugar from a place on line, Country Kitchen Sweet Art, since it was much cheaper and they had a larger selection. I highly recommend ordering from there as it came through regular shipping in just 3-4 days and they sell 1 lb. bags for $2.30 each versus getting them at a local place for MUCH more money and a lot LESS product!

I had Larry take photos of me making them so I could demonstrate it here and show you just how EASY it is:

I don't have a double boiler (I need one!) but made a little makeshift one with two pans in the church kitchen. If you have one, fantastic but if not you can probably make one out of two pans in your kitchen like I did. I put some water in a pan on the bottom and put a smaller pan on top with the white chocolate. I brought the water to boiling, put the chocolate in, then turned it to low for the duration. Stirring it well and getting the chocolate fully melted I then twirled each pretzel in the chocolate, holding it sideways.

Holding the pretzel over waxed paper, sprinkle sugar over it while turning it and continue to do this, coating it. (Pick up the wax paper periodically and put the sugar back in the cup to keep using it and get the most out of it.)

Next, lay the newly dipped and sugared pretzels on sheets of wax paper in the fridge and let them harden for about 15 minutes. It's important to check to see if the chocolate is completely hardened before taking them out. At such time as they are ready to come out they can stay at room temperature.


We purchased "pretzel bags" from Michaels to wrap each one individually and then tied them with thin purple ribbon, also from Michael's which I purchased for 50 cents a roll, and a little card with the bride and groom's names, with a hole punched in the card and the ribbon attached. I also made two wine glasses filled with 8 pretzel sticks each, and then wrapped them in clear cellophane and white tulle, as a special treat for the couple to take with them.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Surprise Photos ~ II

Balloon ascension ~ as the guests release their balloons,
Bladimir and Angela let go of arch of balloons...

And away they go...

Angela getting ready to walk down the aisle...

The kiss

The Rojas family with their pastors... :)

The couple received a toast at the reception
from their small group leaders at Fusion
(the small group ministry on Wed nights at our church)
Bernie Currie, and Candy Rivera

All photos courtesy of Lourdes Manners,
of Snapshots by Lourdes.