Saturday, October 31, 2009

What a difference one trip to McDonalds makes

The conference wraps up this afternoon and we come home.  We're having an amazing time.     Last night I went out with my church ladies after the service.  This was a really important time for us.  With my other responsibilities I don't get to sit with them or be with them all the time so mealtimes especially are important times of sharing with them as well as riding places in the car and talking.  Last night the only place open was McDonalds but we were out til' 2 am.  

I am not even kidding about this but when we were walking in the parking lot to go in, a man tried to run us over with his car.  He was crazy.  All we were doing was walking inside but he purposely tried to run us over and we ran away from him.  Then he screeched to a halt, looked at us sort of hanging his head out the window and laughed this horribly  deranged type of laugh.  I mean it was horror flick kind of stuff that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up.  We were screaming and running and all of a sudden I just stopped in the street and stretched out my hands toward him and said, "In the name of Jesus!!!" and he just stared at me, hanging his head out the window with a sick look on his face.  Then he sped around the corner.  I looked at the women and said, "this man is possessed.  He needs help."  We went inside and told the manager he tried to run us over.  I also told them he was possessed but of course they probably thought I was kidding.  It was crazy.  If there weren't witnesses with me when crazy things like this happen nobody would believe me about stuff like this, I'm sure. 

Aside from a man trying to kill us last night we had an amazing time talking about the kind of stuff women like to talk about.  :) 

Friday, October 30, 2009

I had tea with the founder of Harney & Sons!!!

Okay, so this is just THE most amazing thing EV-ER!!!  Everyone who knows anything about me knows that I love tea, and in fact my entire kitchen is decorated with "all things tea" (I have an amazing teapot collection among many other things) and my all time favorite tea is Paris Tea produced by Harney & Sons.  I have introduced many people to it and have blogged many times about it. So......

Today I was privileged to be in attendance at an absolutely amazing tea for senior pastor's wives, (thank you, Marsha!) that was held at the Ritz Carlton in Sarasota.   As the host from the Ritz welcomed us he said, "and today we are especially blessed to have with us as our special guest, Mr. John Harney, founder and owner of Harney & Sons teas".  Everybody politely clapped but I was about to scream like I was at a Doobie Brothers concert.  Seriously.  I don't think these ladies realized how amazing an honor this was!   This man is responsible for my favorite tea EVER and to me he is a celebrity.  So, I said to my friend Joy, "Do you think it's completely dorky that I'm going to and ask for him to get a picture with me?"  She says, "Absolutely not!  I think it's awesome!  Give me your cell phone..." (It was all I had with me.)  So I said, "Hello Mr. Harney, my name is Deanna Shrodes and   I really hope you don't think this is utterly ridiculous by I would be so honored if you would take a picture with me!  You produce my favorite tea EVER, Paris Tea!"  His face lit up with a smile and he said, "Oh my, you have just said the magic words!!!"  He hopped up, ran over to a briefcase that was across the way and grabbed samples of Paris tea.  I told him, "this is not only my favorite brand of tea, but my friend Kathryn's as well!  We are huge fans."  He said, "Here, take a sample for her too!"  I said, "You do realize we will not drink these, Mr. Harney.  We will save them as something treasured because they came from you."  He seemed so delighted by that.  He took a photo with me and hugged me. 

Meanwhile Kathy Powell was sharing with me that Mr. Harney actually presents teas for the Queen of England!  Can you believe that??!! 

This was so amazing today.  After the Ritz served us high tea, Mr. Harney came up and shared a few special things with us about tea such as the four types of tea, how to make a perfect cup of tea, and the health benefits of tea.  He had no idea he was going to be there and we didn't know he would be there either -- this was a total spontaneous "God thing" and how awesome!!!!

After we took the picture all my friends said, "Okay, we know you are itching to blog about this, right?" 


The view out my window

So here's where I'm staying this weekend...the Hyatt Sarasota.  Great hotel where every room is a waterfront room.  The Just Breathe conference is here, for the women of Pen-Florida and about 1,000 of us have descended upon the place this weekend for a tremendous time, Lisa Bevere being the keynote speaker.   It's been amazing so far -- Marsha was the speaker last night and kept us all on the edge of our seats as usual.  She spoke on experiencing God's rest and it was a different spin on that subject than I have ever heard.  I took four pages of notes.  Excellent stuff.   Some people also experienced some great healings, life changes, etc., at the altars tonight.

 I'm real busy between responsibilities as a rep and the wonderful group of women I brought with me from Tampa.  It's all good!  We are having the time of our life.   I laugh when I'm with "my l ladies" like no other time.   So many memories come from these times away.  They have already taken many photos that I truly hope never end up on facebook.  LOL 

 One of my favorite things is seeing all of my network of friends around the state that I do not see all the time, but connect with on email and phone.  Precious friends.  Important relationships to me that do not get as much cultivation as I would like...yet they are very valuable. 

I love weekends like this but sure do miss my family, Maddie included in that of course. 

Thursday, October 29, 2009

"Just Say It" Series:
"For the good of the church"

*I'm headed to Sarasota today with some of my very special ladies, for a women's conference.  Will be blogging from there, God willing.  Here's the next post in the "Just Say It" series...with more posts in this series to come next week, so get ready!  Today's post is about people who think they are doing certain things for the good of the church... 

Some people honestly believe they are doing God and their church a favor by criticizing their pastor or their pastor's family memberes.  They are what author Marshall Shelley calls "Well Intentioned Dragons" in his book by the same title.  There are those who are convinced they are on a mandate to "clean up their church" or "straighten out the pastor" (or their family) or "set things in order for true revival" but they are misguided individuals.

I am not referring to when a pastor has a true moral failure, such as an embezzlement or an affair.  What I am referring to are times when the pastor is criticized over petty issues or simply does not align with the preferences of others and is railroaded out. 
One of the things these people often say is, "well, I'm just doing this for the good of the church..."

Consider one friend of mine who had video games on his computer at the church and occasionally took a break to play them.  (How is this any different from me taking a mid-afternoon break to walk down to the lake on our church property, or taking a coffee break?  It's not and furthermore it is no one's business.)   A secretary went to the board and said of our friend, "Our pastor plays video games in his office when he should be praying and seeking God for our people and this church..."  That was the beginning of the end...he didn't last there very long as his resignation was soon called for.  (It should have been the secretary who was fired in this case.)

A pastor's wife who is a personal friend of mine had some ladies from the church over for lunch and while there the women couldn't help but notice the huge library in their home.  Like most pastors, her husband was a book lover and had them from floor to ceiling at both the church office and at home.  Sitting in the parsonage that day, as a few ladies were glancing around at the books on the shelf they noticed the book, The Joy of Sex.  Shortly thereafter the pastor was called in by the board over some "explicit materials" that were reportedly in his home, and the deacons finally admitted that all they were referring to was this book.    Evidently some of the  women thought this was completely inappropriate material for the pastor and his wife to have in their home, let alone openly on the shelf.   Two weeks later they were asked to leave the church over it, and the board told the church, "We had to do this for the good of the church.  God won't bless our church when the pastor is living an unholy life with filthy literature in his house."  That pastor was hurt so badly by the incident that he left pastoral ministry, went successfully into business and he and his wife are leading a peaceful life today, although not fulfilling the call to pastor.  I can't say that I blame them.  [Side note:  I'm sure those church ladies had pathetic to non-existent sex lives.]

Others are criticized because of their families.  Pastor's kids (PK's) are targets for many reasons (I will blog about this next week) namely the fact that they've had 18 years intense discipleship by the time they turn of age, and the enemy is scared out of his stupid little mind about them.  Lame things can be heard such as, "Their kids should know better, I mean, after all they are pastor's children and they need to set an example...we just felt we had to say something for the good of the church, you know..."    

Still others are criticized because of changes they have made in the church. "I don't think God is in this new thing that our pastor is proposing.  We've never done it this way before and as a matter of fact somebody did try something like that here years ago, but it never flew and for the good of the church, he just needs to listen to us."    

This last one deserves it's own post so I am going to do a follow up in more detail, but there are always those who believe they are more "spiritual" than their pastor.  They believe they have a personal hotline to God that others don't,  and unfortunately the pastor is doing something different than what God told THEM should happen.  And... "For the good of the church, I must say something because God spoke to me, and the pastor is just not hearing from God correctly...I'm feeling something different in my spirit..., and I've tried to tell them what God is saying, and save our church before things go too far, I must speak up so that God's will can unfold for our church..."

Have any of you heard these things before?  There is one origin to all of these type of comments.  Although they may be well intentioned, they do come straight from hell.

People better be very careful what they are doing for "the good of the church."  I have never seen it truly work for GOOD.  Every time I've ever seen someone act on something like this, a church falls apart.  Some actually have to close their doors for good.   This is because you are not doing God, the church or yourself any favors by criticizing or attacking your pastor.   In fact, the scripture says that when you strike the shepherd, the sheep will scatter!  (Matthew 26 and Mark 14)  If you are a church member who is guilty of any of this type of behavior there is a place you need to head to as soon as possible:  the altar.

 The Bible says that it is NOT for your BENEFIT to bring sorrow of this kind to your leader.   "Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit."  Hebrews 13:17

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A sampling of Dustin's Baby Blog

July 9, 1990 (9 months old)
Today was a full day for you and I.  We got up at 6:30 am and took your Dad  to go on a trip with the youth group to Schooley's Mountain.  After that, you and I went to the Cherry Hill Mall.  You love checking out the sights while in your stroller.  I got you some strawberry ice cream from Haagen Dahzs and fed it to you.  It was your first time having strawberry ice cream and you were crazy about it!  I also bought you two books, "Rock a Bye" and "Let's Go".  I love reading to you.  And you love it too!  I also picked up some frames to put your new pictures in.  When we got home it was time for me to feed you again and then we went to the church office where I worked for a while.  After getting some work done we were both tired  and we went back home and I rocked you til' you went to sleep.  You are pulling on your ears because you have a tooth coming in.  I can't believe how fast you are growing.

July 24, 1990 (9 months old)
You are the ever growing boy, and get around fast crawling from room to room.  Although you can't walk yet you make up for it by how fast you crawl.  One day you toilet papered our room, your room, the bathroom and hallway, in nothing flat!   You  absolutely love getting ahold of cassette tapes and shredding them.   Guess what I went to the doctor and found out that soon you are getting a new brother or sister to join you in  all of this fun you are having...

October 17, 2990 (1 year old)
Happy birthday Dustin!  I can't hardly believe you are a year old already.  You are a wonderful boy.  We had a party for you today.    All of the family came from Maryland as well as the church family.  You had fun with all your new toys and played in your cake and ice cream, making a total mess.  You talk all the time and favorite words are, "Daddy", "Momma," "Uh-oh!", and "Hi!"  You love to laugh.  Your smile absolutely lights up my life.

March 1, 1991  (17 months)
Your new words are "duce" (juice), and "dis" (this) and "Gee-sus" (Jesus) which you always say in a special whispered tone.  You really hate it when people leave the room or when people come to visit and then leave.  You always start crying when it's time for goodbyes.  Your brother or sister will be here in a week or two!  I know you'll make a good big brother. 

July 25, 1991 (21 months) 

Baby Jordan Andrew is now with us and I've had quite a time getting adjusted to two little ones.   But we're on our way!  Jordan is four months old now and you are 21 months.  You reacted excellent to his arrival and you visited me everyday at the hospital.  You quickly warmed up to him -- almost too much.  You want to be close to him always, hugging and squeezing him tightly.  You dote on him and call him, "your baby."  You are talking in sentences now.   A few days ago I gave you a donut for breakfast and after the first one I asked if you wanted another one and you said, "No, I'm on a diet."  Ha!  What a funny little person you are.  You are Momma's jewel.

October 11, 1991 (almost two years old)
Some of your favorite things right now are kids praise video, oatmeal, being outside and feeding your fish or your "fishes" as you call them.  This week you went into your first Sunday School class where you sat for actual teaching time and you learned a new song called, "I am glad to be at church!"  You have been singing it.  When you got home from your first class I asked you how it was and you responded, "It was good.  There were Bibles."  We are so proud to be your parents.

January 10, 1991 (2 years, 2 months)

What a communicator you are!  You speak so well.  And you are such a joy.  Of course sometimes I do have to discipline you and when I sit you in a chair after a few minutes you sweetly look up and say, "Good boy, Mommy.  I be good boy Mommy.  Pees get down?"  (Pees means "please.")    Last month you made a birthday cake for Jesus and you had fun blowing out all His candles.  Right now you are very protective of Jordan.  When others hold him you walk right over and say, "My Jordy!!" letting them know you've got your eye on them.   You are our pride and joy, a wonderment to behold.

February 19, 1991 (2 years 3 months)

What a communicator...we marvel at what you come up with.  Quite often you say to us, "I wanna give my heart to Geesus".   You also love to pray.  Yesterday I had a headache and you came in and laid your hand on my head.  You said, "Dear Gee-sus...touch the head.  Aaaaaaa-men."  Yesterday you were playing and having fun throwing yourself on the floor and you'd shout, "Praise-a-bord!  Gory!"  You love church.  You are always putting your coat on saying, "Time for church, Momma?  See Diane?"   (She's your SS teacher and she does a great job.)   It's my greatest desire that you find delight in God and the things of God and that as the Word says, you are led into all truth.

April 3, 1992 (2 years, 4 months)
Your vocabulary amazes everyone.  The other day I found you jumping on the couch which of course you are NOT supposed to do.  I came in and said, "Dustin, what do you think you are doing?  Get down!"  and you raised you fist in the air and shouted, "Momma!  Take a stand for Jesus!"  Now how can I possibly punish you after a statement like that?  Of course I did make you get off the couch...

By the way, you know your colors now and you can count to 16.  You also love cheese and waffles, Garfield and the Flintsones.  We love spending time with you.

October 30, 1992 (3 years old) 
You memorized  two Bible verses this week:  "Care for one another," and "God saw everything He had made, and behold it was very good."  We're so proud of you!

March 20, 1993 (3 years old) 
You are smart as a whip and so funny.  The other day we were having a party and I made punch with sherbet.  It was foaming up in the bowl.  I asked you if you wanted some and you said, "Yes please, but I don't want any soap in mine, thank  you."  What a card!  This is even better...
Yesterday you said to me, "Momma, where's Daddy?"  I said, "he's at work."  You said, "Where's Jordan?"  I said, "In the living room."  You said, "Where's Grandma?"  I said, "Baltimore."  You said, "Where's the pizza man?"  I said, "I don't know Dustin.  What pizza man are you talking about?" and you said, "Who cares Momma?  He's just the pizza man!"  You are hysterical!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Dustin's Birthday Dinner

Setting everything up is one of my favorite parts of family/friend dinners...

The special plate for the birthday boy

 Friends Eddie and Jake, Dustin, Savanna

Excited about his cake...he loves this kind of cake.  We lovingly call them "MRSA cakes" since I made him one every single day when he came home from the hospital and was going through his recovery.  The doctor said he could only eat soft foods.  This qualified.  :)   He's probably the only person in the world who recovered from MRSA on double chocolate layer cakes.  LOL

Maddie wanted to sit with us just for the cake although she couldn't have any. 

The big 2-0

Dustin giving Maddie some special instructions about staying away from his ice cream.

Dustin and Maddie listen as Eddie tells a story.  (Never mind that Maddie can't hear...she is respectful of conversation none the less...LOL.)

** Coming tomorrow...a sampling of Dustin's "baby blog"! **

Dustin Shrodes hits the big 2-0!

Today is a very monumental day in our son's life...he turns 20.  He's not a teenager anymore!  It really does seem like just yesterday that we were welcoming him into the world.   We couldn't be prouder of him, for who He is, and what He has accomplished in these twenty years.  I'm proud of him that he works full time as a supervisor at the Cobb and consistently gets outstanding reviews and awards while carrying a full load at college.  I'm proud of him for leading worship in the church and being a role model not only to young people, but many older people as well.  I'm proud of him for being a great songwriter, guitar teacher, and a great comedian.  More than ANY of these things I'm proud of his heart...who He is inside, the creative, kind and gentle soul that is Dustin.  And of course above all else is His love for God and His unwavering commitment spiritually.  He first prayed to accept Jesus at two years old, and He has always been a God chaser.

When he has asked me, "why do you wish you would have had more kids, Mom?" I said, "look what has come about as a result of me having kids!  I'd love to have more."  But alas, three (and one in heaven) is our limit, and our next babies will be grandbabies someday.

For years our family was in the habit of going to Kobe for birthdays.  But the last few, the kids have asked that I make their favorite dishes at home.  Tonight Dustin asked for what has become all three of the kids favorite -- my pot roast recipe.  He used to ask for homemade fried chicken but the past few years roast has taken the #1 spot.  So tonight's menu is a list of family favorites ~ ceasar salad, rolls, pot roast, mashed potatoes with gravy, corn, and chocolate layer cake with strawberry ice cream.  Oh, and root beer.  Dustin loves root beer.   Jake and Eddie are joining the family for dinner.  Becca had to work tonight but she'll join us tomorrow for some dessert. 

  I had a little bit more time than expected to get all of the festivities ready starting on it all last night  Larry and I were supposed to have a special date last night however Savanna was sick and had to be home from school.  Sunday night she started complaining of headache, and stomach ache.  She never stays home from school...she will push herself to go, she loves it so much.  I know she's truly sick when she asks to stay home.  Since we couldn't go on our date last night I had more time to start on the cake, get out the linens and china, and start the set up for dinner once Savanna was settled.  She's doing better now.  It must have been a 24 hour thing, thank the Lord.  

So tonight is our family dinner -- just a small celebration, but next week he is having a big party with friends.  It will be a costume party  He has scheduled it for a day when I'm out of town preaching and will come back just shortly before the party starts, so preparing for this juggling act will be interesting as I had already agreed to help him with planning all of the food preparations and such, but it shall be done!  

Tomorrow I will be posting photos from our dinner tonight as well as a story from Dustin's baby blog/journal.  I wrote a blog for the boys when they were infants/toddlers (before blogging on the internet existed I wrote it in hardcover journals and books) and I will share a few of the entries with you!  

Monday, October 26, 2009

Weekend Wrap Up

I will be continuing the "Just Say It" series with another post in the next few days, God willing.  Today I just wanted to do more re-capping from the weekend.  If you  haven't gone back and read all the posts from this weekend, I encourage you to do so especially to see the announcement regarding this: 

and much more! 

This is our new church logo and will go on all of our new marketing in preparation and after our launch on January 30th.  Just wanted to share that!    We are one excited bunch.    A little over 90 days and it will be reality.

Celebration church is a place to BELONG, where people in the Tampa Bay area can discover how amazing it is to BELIEVE in Jesus, and BECOME all they are destined to be.

In upcoming days here I will share our core values and more. 

My kiddos last night at Holy Roller Night!  They aren't just THE most beautiful kids in the world, they are the most fun too. 

   Last night was our  "Holy Roller Night" that we've been doing for several years now which is a grand party at Town and Country Skateworld.  We rent the whole place out and have a great costume party/skate night.  Most of the music is 70's and 80's and we have an AMAZING time.  Last night we had a terrific crowd with many first time guests. 

 I skated almost the entire time as I usually do.  I am a true child of the 70's, teen of the 80's and rollerskating was a huge part of my life.  I still love doing it with my own kids.  We had a blast.   Larry even dedicated one of "our songs" to me last night..."Still the One" by Orleans.  :)  I am so blessed by his love.

Becca and Savanna ~ Tinkerbell & Alice in Wonderland

After the skate night we had "Trunk or Treat" in the parking lot.  Lots of cards were decorated with the trunks overflowing with candy and the kids went to each trunk to fill up their bags.  It was awesome as usual.  The Riveras won for the best trunk.  They had a beach theme.   

Jordan and Savanna ~ they had a blast putting their costumes together.

  It's going to be an extremely full week as I'm getting ready to take my ladies on a a retreat in Sarasota  this weekend, (Thurs/Fri/Sat) and have a ton...and I do mean a ton of appointments scheduled this week.  It's all crammed in Monday - Wednesday.  In addition, Teeb and I are going on a special date tonight after work, and we are celebrating Dustin's birthday tomorrow night, with church following on Wednesday.  Somehow (GOD'S GRACE!) it will all get done before I leave Thursday.

I love life!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

We're going to Tennessee!

This morning the "plan" for Pastor Appreciation was revealed!  Michele Danielson was the board member who spoke this morning and came and said some wonderfully touching words.  She blogged about it here and included exactly what she said today.  After she finished sharing, a slide presentation  came up on the big screen and showed that they are sending Larry and I on a  vacation to Tennessee, just the two of us!  They have rented us this amazing place,  We will have this huge place all to ourselves.  Taking a look at everything that's there I'm more excited every moment just thinking about it.  Mostly I'm just so excited that it will just be him and I.

We have been really busy as usual burning the candle at both ends and last night as we laid in bed I nuzzled up to him and said, "We need to go away soon."  He just tiredly hummed in agreement (exhausted after the wedding).  I said, "I want us to go away where I have you all to myself, and we're turning the cell phone off."  Again he gave me an "mmm hmmm."   And then...we go to church this morning and THIS is what the board of directors came up with to surprise us with!  Now THAT is timely, and definitely God-orchestrated!

We have to get the dates in order to go but I will say it will be sooner rather than later...we are really needing some time together -- without all the distractions -- and will take it asap.  We both had our "Tres Dias weekend" but now it's time for us to have a time away alone where we can just renew and process together all that the Lord is doing in us not just separately but together. 

Thank you, precious Northside (soon to be Celebration) people.  You are loved, and so appreciated by us in return.

We're moving forward!

This morning we did this song for the first time in worship in our church, and I just love it.  It characterizes just where so many are at personally in their lives, and also where we are as a church.  "What a moment you have brought me to, such a freedom, I have found in You, You're the healer, who makes all things new.  I'm not going back, I'm moving ahead, I'm here to declare to You my past is over!  You make all things new, yes You make all things new, and I will follow You, forward!"  

Well this morning the big announcement was made.  On the weekend of January 31, 2010, we will officially become Celebration Church!  This morning we not only announced the new name but we also released our official core values and focused on our capital campaign for renovations of the facilities.  Our entire leadership team has already pre-pledged to this cause and stepped up to demonstrate to the congregation our commitment.  

The congregation was VERY excited.  To illustrate what a different type of church we are (and I'm sure a few of you more traditional folks might not agree with this -- to each his own) but when the announcement was made, "Celebration" by Kool and the Gang came on and the church jumped up and started dancing to it.  My son Jordan ran to the front where I was sitting and danced with me.  He even did the "worm" at one point at the end.  :)  Seriously.  At the end after the pledge cards were passed out for the capital campaign, we did the song, "Moving Forward" again and then when the people were dismissed, they did Celebration, the Electric Slide and the Cupid Shuffle.  (Yes, in the I said we're a very unique church.  This is one reason we have made our new name CELEBRATION CHURCH.  We do it in a big way and we have fun together.  By the way, Larry's message today was about Jesus' first miracle being at a wedding celebration!  

 I have more VERY SPECIAL news to report from today but it deserves it's own post.  It's about what the church unveiled this morning for Larry and I for Pastor Appreciation.  They gave us an AMAZING GIFT.  So I will post a little later with this in between getting ready for our "Holy Roller Night" tonight.  What is this? It's when we rent a local skating rink and invite all of our friends and we skate mostly to 70's and 80's music and have a blast.  At least half the people come in costume.  Again, we are.........celebrating!    I can't wait to blog later about the special surprise the church did for Larry and I.  Keep checking back. 

Celebration Church is on it's way!  Moving forward...a little over 90 days to the miracle.

Deanna's heartfelt prayer

Saturday, October 24, 2009

...and they lived happily ever after

Tonight we performed the wedding of John and Sophia at Clearwater Beach, at sunset.  It was a beautiful night.  The ceremony was very special, one of the most meaningful that Larry and I have ever had the pleasure of doing.  The wrote their own vows and I particularly loved what Sophia prepared for John:
I, Sofia, promise before God and these witnesses that I will enamor you with words of love daily, with passionate kisses and profound embraces. I will take care of your heart so that every heart beat will be one with mine. I will support you and encourage you my love, because your triumphs are my triumphs, your happiness is my happiness and your sadness my tears. Every morning you will have me nuzzled at your side to start each day, with the promise that our future is one and our love complete. I promise to love Jessie and Juan as if they where my own children and I will be with you to see them grow and become people of God. I love you John Torres with all my heart. I ask God to give me more than five decades to live our love!
We enjoyed a reception afterwards with traditional Spanish food (that was amazing!) and lots of fun dancing, everything from latin to the electric slide to the cupid shuffle, YMCA and more.  Most special was the time spent with close friends celebrating the beginning of this great union. 
 Both the bride and groom were so touched by the ceremony and immediately after, Sophia just hugged me tearfully and said, "Oh my God, a new life...a new life...a new start...this is AMAZING!"  Indeed.  

This is something that makes pastoring worth it all..seeing people like John come to the Lord and grow as He has in the past few years...can't remember how many it's been now, probably about four?  It seems like we've known him forever.  It's been a wonderful ride, and it's not over by any means.  The best is yet to come.  John is "the man" when it comes to media and has taken our church to a whole new level!!!  He has has grown by leaps and bounds and turned into an amazing man of God.  He deserves a woman like Sophia and we couldn't be happier!  God has amazing things in store, if this isn't already amazing enough. 
John and Sophia, we love you and will be here to support you in the years to come with all of our love, prayers and whatever else you need. 

Photo Potpourri of Happy Feeling Photos

Savanna doing something she loves to do - take pics -- most of the photos of Larry and I that are posted on my blog are taken by her.  She took this one in front of the mirror in her room.

My favorite flower is a rose.  My grandmother (the biggest influence in my life) used to call me "Rosebud."  It's the reason I named my daughter Savanna Rose.  It's meaningful to me.    I'm blessed to have people give me roses throughout the year.  These were some that Susan gave me for my birthday that sat on the edge of my big tub for almost two weeks.  That's my favorite place to put my this...

I like to put them there because it's where I start my mornings most days...and usually a cup of coffee or tea sits on the edge while I'm soaking.  It's one of the special things I do for myself, choosing to begin serenely in what often becomes a day that goes 100 mph down the highway of life.  This is one of my sacred spaces so I like to add many touches to it, from flowers to candles, to different bath products.   It's also one of my fav places to end my day, sometimes with my man which makes it extra special.

Jordan at Ft. Desoto this summer.

I took this photo on vacation...Often I  look up at the sky, get taken in by the sight of a beautiful day and start taking photos.  Things considered small by others are big to me.  Last weekend on our retreat I walked slowly back to my room one night just staring at the stars in the sky.  I'm sure some people thought I was crazy, which never bothers me.

Jordan at the beach this summer.

Jordan getting ready to eat a sandwich at Primanti Brothers this summer.  I love these sandwiches but usually only manage to eat 1/4 of them. 

Dustin playing guitar this summer on vacation.  The past few vacations we have had to borrow a roof rack from Bernie just so that we'd have enough room for Dustin to take his guitar.  He can't be without it or his time anywhere is just not enjoyable.


Larry when he baptized Bladimir Lainez at Ft. Desoto a few months ago.  This was one of  the most memorable baptisms ever.

My birthday dinner at Carrabbas this past year.   My favorite thing there is house salad, Speidino Di'Mare, rigatoni with tomato cream sauce, and chocolate cake.  But even better is the conversation with those I hold so dear.   

Speaking of's something I love to eat most!  I wish we had them like this in Florida.  (I'm a Baltimore girl...these were ones we had on vaca this year.)  I am a seafood FREAK!  Thankfully I'm married to one too, so it's something we really love to enjoy together.

What the table looks like when we're done...

Baby Madeline Shrodes her first week with us.  Can you believe she was once this tiny?  I am more smitten with her everyday.  One reason I baby her so much is because she's my last baby.   :)

Larry and I at Mike's 50th birthday party, sitting in one of the amazing Packards.  Gosh this was an incredible night.

Our Savanna Rose this summer on vacation.  A precious girl who is so witty and fun...she was every bit worth the 6 year wait to have her...and more.  I feel like my life started again when she was born.  There's just something about a girl...

Who are these people? LOL