Thursday, April 30, 2009

Marriage Series:
Guard the Treasure

This is the fourth post in this week's marriage series. Tomorrow I will be posting all of the questions that have come in this week, with my answers.

Keeping your priorities straight is easy for the first few months of your marriage. It happens with ease because you are in the honeymoon phase and everything is new and exciting, and it is your heart’s deepest desire to make your marriage work. But after the months and years go by, and especially after you have children -- it is often easy to get into a comfortable pattern.

Many couples and particularly parents who have been married for a while relate to each other more like brother and sister than husband and wife or lovers. How often have you heard an older couple call their spouse "Mama" or "Papa" or "Mom" or "Dad"? Nicknames like babe, sweetheart, darling, and the like go by the wayside as spouses begin to relate more to one another as parents than a duo that is united by romantic love. Others feel the husband and wife love relationship is just another job to do that takes too much effort and they don't need something else on their already overloaded "to do" list. The enemy tries his best to get us to get into this mode. He wants couples to be comfortable, and bored. We really need to fight against this. Some couples who are “comfortable” even spiritualize it and say, “well, our marriage is about more than being lovers...” but the fact is, God didn’t give you a marriage partner just to be your buddy.

The proof that your marriage is top priority is in your pursuit of the protection and nurture of it. I don't know if any of you reading have noticed this, but children will try to divide you. And you mustn't let them! (If they do, it's your fault, not theirs. Children are children and adults are called to act like adults and take responsibility.) Many couples believe the lie that “we’re in a special season right now and don’t have any time to spend together in any significant amount. Someday our time will come.” A whole lot of people live life in a continual cycle of “somedays” or “if only’s.”

If only I could find a man...
If only I could get married...
If only I could have children…

and it's the same thing with “someday " ...

Someday when we get married, we’ll have more time together…
Someday when we have kids, we’ll be so much happier…
Someday when the kids finally start school…
Someday when the kids go to college...
Someday when the kids move out...

YOUR SOMEDAY IS NOW.

It’s important to sacrifice to have time together in all seasons of your marriage. Someday may never come, tomorrow is not guaranteed -- so take the time now. Whatever you feed grows and whatever you starve dies. So feed the passion in your marriage. Some marriages are dying for lack of attention and it's all blamed on the "special season" you're in. Don't buy that lie. You will always be in some sort of "season". Life really doesn't take a break. Take time for each other now.

Someone once said that the greatest gift a father can give to his children is to love their mother. The most important relationship children have is not with their father or mother, but the relationship the parents have with each other. In an landmark study, researcher and author Judith Wallerstein tracked a large sample of children of divorce for 25 years. Wallerstein found that unless there is violence in the home, kids suffer more from parents getting a divorce than staying in a bad marriage. She writes all about her findings in her book, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce. By tracking approximately 100 children as they forge their lives as adults, she has found that contrary to the popular belief that kids would bounce back after the initial pain of their parents' split, children of divorce often continue to suffer well into adulthood. Their pain plays out in their relationships, their work lives and their confidence about parenting themselves. You see, the greatest impact you have on your children is through the relationship you have with your spouse. They need to see and know that your relationship is secure.

You must put your marriage relationship first in the home. Child centered homes have ruined countless marriages, and just about as many children! After years of living in a child centered home, the marriage breaks down because there is no nurturing of the marriage relationship. The couple have just “lived for the children.” This is not healthy. Do not let your children run your home. First of all, it's a lot more stressful. Second, in the long run, they will appreciate the time Mom and Dad took to improve their relationship, and keep it first -- because it benefits them.

Most times couples have different backgrounds and ideas on how to raise children or run a home. There needs to be a meeting of the minds, and open communication about this between spouses, so your family can thrive. You must be in unity, praying, planning and persevering together on behalf of your family. There are only two things we can take to heaven one day -- ourselves, and others that we love (if they know Jesus Christ as their Savior). People are most important in this life. The stock market may plummet, but no matter -- people are still the most worthwhile investment on this earth! You will never lose by investing in your marriage and your family. There is not a thing on this earth you can take with you to heaven, materially. But those you love can go with you. Invest in them.

There is nothing wrong with having money or being blessed. The Bible says that God delights when His people are blessed. But some people consider financial provision the greatest thing they can do for their family. They are sadly mistaken. Some people work 70 or 80 hours a week, and even multiple jobs to own everything they desire to. Many work extra hours to buy their dream house, but then can't even spend the time they want to spend in the house because they have to work overtime just to pay for it. What good are all the "things" in your life if you don't get to spend time with those you love? Having a meaningful, significant life and impacting others for Christ is much more important than having a dream home and several cars in the garage. At the end of this life when you are on your death bed, will you celebrate your home or car? No, but you will think about your loved ones. The bible says, “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where they can be eaten by moths and get rusty, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where they will never become moth-eaten or rusty and where they will be safe from thieves. Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be.” Matthew 6:19-21 (niv)

It's not all about what you have in this life. It's about who you have beside you. In regard to this, Larry and I have always realized that no matter what happens in our lives, we can be happy if we are together, and serving God with all our hearts. Throughout our marriage, Larry has always said, "Home is where we both are at the same time." It doesn't matter where we are, what "things" we may acquire, or what other situations come into our lives. What makes it all worthwhile is that we are together and that we are making an impact in this world for the Lord through our marriage and our ministry. In fact, our marriage IS a ministry unto itself. God is glorified. Is there anything greater?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Marriage Series:
What's the fuss about?


This is the third post in this week's marriage series.
Last year I blogged about a sermon series at Relevant Church here in Tampa where they did the 30 day Sex Challenge for married couples. There was a huge media blitz about this and people everywhere were just shocked at the thought of 30 days straight of married sex, let alone among Christians! Even CBS news interviewed the pastors of Relevant about this bizarre suggestion that married people should have sex 30 days in a row.

Before hearing about Relevant's series, I had seen a TV show about Charla Muller, a wife who gave her husband Brad the gift of sex every single day for a year to celebrate his 40th birthday. This was a completely radical thought to many people and in fact Mrs. Muller had friends who didn't want their husbands to hear about her gift, because they were scared to death their husband would suggest that they do the same thing!

I read stories like this and I wonder, "what's the fuss?" Has marital sex really gotten that bad of a reputation?

I don't believe there is anything abnormal or shocking about frequent or even every day sex for married couples. I realize that is rare for most people, however, I think that's a shame. It shows how overloaded our lives are with other things, and how little time or energy we prioritize for this purpose. What is it that happens a few months to years after the wedding that we lose our passion?

 Intimacy gets relegated to the bottom of the list, or not even on it for some couples. People say, "life happens...you have kids...they are demanding...you work a lot of hours, and yada yada yada." The truth is that lovemaking is a very important part of married life and even when other things in life are happening, couples should work together to ensure that you have adequate time to keep connecting -- spiritually, emotionally physically.

I read a statistic this week that was taken from a recent survey that most married couples with healthy marriages have sex two or three times a week. However the same husbands surveyed in those marriages report that they masturbate another 2-3 times a week in addition to this. What this means is, your typical man needs sex more than two or three times a week. And men aren't alone...there are women out there (believe it or not - GASP! ) who have normal or even high sex drives. When I discussed this with my husband this week he said to me, "what's so surprising? We've known that all along, right?" Well, I did know this in my heart of hearts, but to have it confirmed by statistics and a survey was key for me.

Married women need to realize that they are their husband's only legitimate sex partner. Who else is supposed to meet this need? (And vice versa, they are our only legit partner and are commanded by God to meet our needs.) When women tell me they don't feel like doing this for their husbands, my response to that is, "well, who else do you suggest should do that for them?" (Usually silence befalls the conversation at that point...)

Many women say, "I'm too tired". When ladies in the church confide this to me and ask for advice, I always counsel them to let their husband know they would like to have sex more if they weren't so tired. Usually when they tell them that the husband will help them do whatever it takes to make it happen. Even when your kids are small, you have to keep your priorities straight and set aside time. After she heard the story of Charla Muller, one of my friends decided to take the challenge and give her husband sex everyday for a year last year and it went so well they are committed to keep going this year! It has really improved their already good marriage, and actually taken it from "good" to "great".

Years ago someone shared a statistic with me that Larry and I often share in our marriage conferences. Did you know a man is most likely to have an affair during the six weeks after his wife has a baby? Any clue why that might be? Well, it's the time doctors tell women not to have intercourse during the six weeks after a child is born. That is certainly reasonable as women need time to physically heal. But, there are many ways aside from intercourse, that a husband's needs can be met during this time but many women do not do that. They simply think, "Yippee! Six weeks off from sex!"

Many men get depressed during this time and feel they are on the back burner. Some say, "if he really loves her, he'll wait patiently during the six weeks." Of course I believe a man should do the right thing no matter what. But I would also say, if she really loves him, she'll take the time to think about her husband as well. Before they were parents, they were lovers. How did the baby get there in the first place?  There is a high cost that is paid when we do not keep the nurture and care of our mate at the highest priority throughout all seasons of our life. Much frustration and heartache could be avoided if marriage partners took just a little bit of time daily to meet one another's needs.

Whenever a Christian leader boldly speaks up on the Bible's admonition for couples to frequently have sex (and yes, the Bible DOES say this in I Corinthians 7) somebody inevitably rises up and says, "Hey, marriage isn't all about sex! Why is the focus on sex? Some people are happy without so much sex...and I don't even think a pastor should bring this up in the first place...." And all I have to say to that is, hurting people react this way. In the majority of those cases the person who says that has experienced some type of trauma in their lives that has hindered them sexually and they need to be free. It's not the pastor's problem, it's their problem. Or, they are simply in denial of what God's Word says on the subject and very convicted about it, thus the reason they get so touchy when the subject is mentioned. Please understand, I am not writing this today to hurt anyone's feelings, in fact that is the last thing I would ever want to do! However, I believe that someone needs to step up to the plate and boldly talk about this, not to hurt people, but to help them.

It's my prayer that there will come a time when people will no longer believe frequent sex for a married couple to be abnormal. What a sad commentary on marriage that it is seen as odd. Married sex should have the very best reputation since it's God's way of doing things. The current reputation of it's abnormality might have something to do with a lot of single men fearing a commitment to marriage. They hear horror stories from married men about how the sex wanes after a few years of marriage, and they are fearful. Rightfully so, I might add.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Marriage Series
Body, Soul & Spirit Marriage


This is day two of the marriage series. You can see yesterday's post here.

God desires that we be "one," not only physically, emotionally and financially, but spiritually.

When God unites a man and a woman in marriage, He desires that we become one in all things.

There is a lot of spiritual warfare involved in marriage. Two things go together very strongly in this equation: prayer and sex. God tells us to make sure we are fulfilling each other sexually, abstaining from sex only for a very short time to devote ourselves to prayer

I realized more than ever the importance of this a few years ago when I was working on a project at the church one night. Larry came in and asked me if I was ready to leave and eat dinner. I had been working with another church member in the sanctuary for several hours on a project and I told Larry I was hungry but couldn’t leave until we were done. He volunteered to go down to a local restaurant and pick up some takeout and bring it back for all of us at the church. He ordered it by phone then went to pick it up. When going in he was instructed to pay the a waitress in the bar area where the food was waiting. Upon doing so, the woman at the cash register said...

“Hey…I’m getting off work here in about 30 minutes…how about if you stay and we can have a few beers together?”

Larry said.....

“Well, that wouldn’t be a good idea for two reasons. First of all, I’m a happily married man. Second, I’m the pastor of Celebration Church, here in Tampa.”

She smiled and said......

“Oh, I know…I was there on Easter Sunday.”

There are a ton of visitors at most churches including ours on special days like Easter and my husband had no idea who she was. But she had Larry marked when he walked in the door. She knew exactly who he was and overtly made a pass at him.

There is a destiny for your marriage, and the enemy will repeatedly put assignments on your marriage that must be canceled. You must remain in vigilant prayer and pull down the strongholds. It is not just the minister’s marriage that is under attack, but all marriages, because God has a plan for all of us. So what does this amount to? You have to pray and play!

 Do you see how dangerous this situation could have been if I was not meeting my husband's needs sexually and if I was not praying for him and for our marriage?

Prayer is intimate. That's why some people are afraid of it. But if we want to go deeper in intimacy in our marriage relationship we need prayer. Listen to this incredible statistic from the National Association of Marriage Enhancement: One out of every two marriages in the United States ends in divorce. However, only one out of every 1,150 couples who pray together on a regular basis get divorced!

Prayer is a major key not only to divorce prevention, but to marital happiness and to sexual satisfaction. Many couples are afraid to pray, especially out loud. Or they say, "We never have time to pray. Something always comes up." Well, of course it does. The enemy makes sure of that because he knows how dangerous it is to him when you start praying! There will be no end to distractions. My encouragement to you about the fear aspect is to go slowly and don't have unreasonable expectations especially when starting out. You can start out with a one minute prayer, very simple, conversational prayer with God, about your relationship. Take a moment to ask Him to bless your time together, and thank Him for the blessing of one another.

God designed us for intimacy in three ways: body, soul, and spirit. In Genesis 4:1 when it says that Adam "knew" Eve, the word "knew" is the Hebrew word "yahday" which means intimate knowledge. It is an intimate knowledge of one another in all ways. Let me tell you that the enemy hates it when you are united not only physically, but spiritually. You see, when you are a praying couple, and you have the physical union to back up your prayers, the enemy knows you are unstoppable. You are unbeatable. This is because you have guarded yourself against temptation and joined together not just in one way but three…body, soul, and spirit.

I Corinthians 7:2 tells you, "Do not deprive one another except by consent for a time that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self control." (NIV) It's something of a mystery as to what happens when couples pray together. There is an intimacy -- a depth you can't even imagine (until you try it) when you take your partner in your arms and ask God, the Creator of the universe, to bless your relationship. When you address your deepest feelings, needs and desires to the one who created you, as you love the partner He gave you…there's nothing like it. Regarding problems in your relationship...why don't you take it to prayer first? Even the details about the most intimate problems within your relationship should be taken first to God in prayer. Sincerely bring the issue to Him and I assure you that in many if not most cases, it will be resolved. There are some things that won't require a counselor or pastor's help or guidance. Prayer does change things.

There was a pastor who got tired of doing so many hours of marriage counseling and seeing the same people with the same problems spinning their wheels. It seemed the couples did not experience any lasting or real change. He decided to do an experiment. He told those coming for counseling that the sessions would take two hours. When they arrived at his office, he redirected them to the sanctuary. He told the couples that they would spend one hour in the sanctuary praying, after which they would come to his office for the second hour which would be counseling with him. Amazingly, after the hour of prayer in the sanctuary many of the couples came to the pastor's office and told them they no longer needed to meet with him. God had given them the answer in prayer.

This may sound very simplistic to you, but I assure you that prayer still works. Anything is possible with the Holy Spirit's working in a marriage…and liberal doses of humility and forgiveness.


Monday, April 27, 2009

Marriage Series
It's time to give up!


Marriage has experienced an assault in in recent days like never before.  One of the accusations leveled against those of us who propose upholding the sanctity of marriage is that we haven't been too successful at marriage and in fact over half of all marriages end in divorce. While we should not hand holy matrimony over to those who wish to change it, we do need to acknowledge that indeed married couples in today's day and age need a lot of help. It's my prayer that in this blog series, some of you will be inspired, blessed and strengthened in your marriages or future marriages!


One statistic that makes me very alarmed and sad is that 85% of all divorces happen for "non-severe" reasons, meaning that serious tragedy or abuse was not involved. The overwhelming majority of people simply get divorced because of selfishness and at least one person in the relationship wanting their own way.

Much of what I'll share with you this week are things Larry and I share in the marriage conferences that we lead. I want to say from day one of this blog series, the reason I believe I'm qualified to speak on this issue is not that I have it all together, but rather than I've been where some of you are at...ready to quit!

Although we have never faced the heartbreak of moral failure we have had our difficult times of adjustment. We have faced hurts, and arguments and blow out fights, like many or even most other married couples. We have been at absolute rock bottom financially, literally living on the poverty level during much of our marriage in times past. At one time when our life sort of fell apart, we simply lived out of our suitcases, with no other belongings, for several months. We have experienced the loss of a child through miscarriage, serious illness, death of close family members, financial devastation, ministry hurts, and so much more.

The other day, I said to my husband, "Do you love me more today than you did when you married me?" He said, "Oh my, yes!!!" I said, "why?" He said, "because I've been through way too much with you not to love you more. We have shared all of our life's adventures good and bad and it has bonded me to you." 

I remember one particularly difficult time in our marriage. I was at rock bottom and just numb. We had been arguing so much. I couldn’t respond to this like any other woman and just come to the altar and let it all out in front of people. (It really doesn’t look good for the pastor’s wife/co-pastor to come in on a Sunday morning, go down to the altar and boo hoo about her marriage.) So I would go into the sanctuary when no one was there at night and turn the lights out.  I was still afraid someone might come in and see it was me, as crazy as that sounds. All they'd have to do to see it was me was flick the lights on, but I was not thinking straight at the time. I would lay on the floor and cry and say, “Lord, help me through one more day of this.”

I expected the Lord to speak gently to me and say something like, “Deanna my precious princess…I see what you are going through and the pain that Larry is causing you and I’m on your side…” Instead, as I was crying on the floor, He spoke to me and said, "these problems in your marriage will be resolved when you get beyond your selfishness and make unconditional love for your husband more important than anything. This will be over when you get beyond having to have your own way! The solution will come quickly when you decide that you don't have to be right anymore. A turnaround will come when you decide to humble yourself." 

 That was really hard for me to hear. In fact at first I was thinking maybe there was a demon in the sanctuary! Surely that could not have been God. I wanted to disregard it. Surely there had to be something in the Bible that would back up my thoughts, my feelings, my needs. Who wants to give up what you feel are "your rights"? But if we are broken before the Lord, and have dropped our pride, we won't care anymore about "rights." We don't act on feeling, we begin to act on fact. This is the word the Lord gave me when I was on the sanctuary floor...he said, "act on the facts, and the feelings will come." God showed me that I needed to act on what His Word says in how I treated Larry and although I wouldn't feel love or anything else for him (at first), in time the feelings would come if I obeyed the Lord.

This is counter to everything the world believes! The world simply goes by feelings. What about the old love song that says, "It can't be wrong, when it feels so right…"? Well, I'm here to tell you, it can be wrong even when it feels right. Our flesh longs for and cries out for "feeling" but we must act on fact if we are going to be blessed. The day our marriage turned the corner was the day I realized, it wasn't all about me.

Larry wanted us to start dating again. We had stopped for a while back then because our marriage had deteriorated and besides that we were flat broke. (We had to learn, a date didn't necessarily mean we had to spend any money.) But the issue at first when I was still in my "bad attitude stage" was that I didn't want to date him! I was so angry. Please don't think it was all his fault. There were so many areas of my life that were out of whack. I needed to change as much if not more than he did. At first when Larry asked me to start dating him again I didn't want to but I did so after God spoke to me and told me to act on facts. Being that spending time with your spouse is in line with God's Word, I started to do it solely for that reason for quite a while though I was hurting inside.

The exciting news is, a change in your marriage doesn't require your spouse to change. All a change requires right now is for YOU to change, and when YOU change half of your marriage has just changed, and that is a considerable amount. Keep doing what the Word says, keep acting on the facts and you will see God begin to move. When I got up from that floor in the sanctuary that night, I made a change in myself and sure enough, the feelings eventually came back. No, not overnight. I will say it took a significant amount of time. We are talking many months to a year's time. Today not only are the feelings back, but I’m crazier about him than I have ever been! I am head over heels in love with the man!

Can something that was once dead live again? Can God bring things that were once thought impossible about? Absolutely! My marriage started to live again when I gave up! I gave up my need to have my own way all the time. I gave up my rights. I gave up my way of doing things every time. I gave up the whole idea of my, my, my...me, me, me. Marriage is an everyday exercise in getting beyond your selfishness. It's an everyday opportunity to out-serve each other!

Important Disclaimer: Every time I teach on this subject I have someone who comes afterwards and says, "well, what if my husband is abusing me?" Let me just say, I am not referring to those in abusive situations in this post!! God does not want you to stay in a situation where you are abused and in harm's way. Please do not think for a moment by this post that I am encouraging you or anyone to remain in a situation of abuse. Please seek shelter immediately if you are in a situation of abuse. If you don't know where to go and need help, e-mail me with your location and I will find a place where you can get help in your local area.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

I have my work cut out for me...


Tomorrow begins the marriage blog series. I felt in my heart that inviting your questions or suggestions for specific issues/topics would open the floodgates and sure enough it already is... (see comments under yesterday's post). This does not include private e-mails that I get at PastorDeanna@aol.com.

Some of you may undoubtedly be shocked by the content of the questions. Let me just say that these topics are on the mind of not only the general population but many Christians. And they deserve answers. As promised, I will fearlessly answer them, boldly and forthrightly from scripture as the foundation. Again, if you are uncomfortable with any of the topics, feel free to check back in here at the blog once the series is over. I'll be blogging on this topic for at least a week.

By the way, if you are reading this on facebook (it's automatically posted each day from my blog to my facebook) you will have to come to the original post at http://www.deannashrodes.com/ to see all of the questions or comments from people that have prompted some of the posts in this series.

p.s. It was a great day today at church and an excellent leadership meeting tonight. Loving the new set up of the stage!!! We are really headed for higher ground. Gear up, Northsiders!


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Just ask!


As I prepare to kick off the marriage blog series on Monday, I"m inviting readers to send any questions or issues my way that they want me to address. Some of you have said, "I"d love to say a few things on my own blog but with family or church situations, I can't." Well, I can. And I'm happy to say it for you! :-)

I am going to answer questions or address issues with no holds barred and I don't have to worry about losing my job, or my family and friends. Anybody who really cares wouldn't be upset with me for speaking truth. As the great theologian Dr. Suess said: "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."

Also, if you have a question for Larry, send it my way too and I am going to ask him to help me out with anything my readers would like to know from the male perspective. I"m volunteering him for this, btw, and haven't even asked him yet so...hmmm....that may be a topic for a post in itself..."spouses who volunteer their spouse for things without asking them first..." lol

Feel free to post a question here anonymously or e-mail me at PastorDeanna@aol.com

Do keep in mind, I"m a pastor, not a shrink...so my answers will be completely Bible based. :)

Ask away!


Friday, April 24, 2009

Marriage blog series to start Monday


Never in my life have I witnessed such an extreme attack on the sanctity of marriage as I have seen in the last few months. It seems that the enemy is accelerating his attack to an alarming degree upon holy matrimony in our nation and an unGodly agenda is being forced down the throats of Americans at a rapid fire pace. I for one am not content to just hand over holy matrimony to the world to do whatever they want with it. Marriage is a sacred, divine institution that belongs between a man and a woman exclusively and must be protected. For those who say, "well, heterosexuals aren't doing so great with the marriage issue...they are failing at a 50% rate." Point noted, we need to do better. But that doesn't give people license to turn holy matrimony into perversion and do whatever they want with it.


This issue has always been close to my heart, at least as long as I've been a married woman. Larry and I, together and separately have ministered on the issue of marriage and spoken out boldly from our hearts what we believe God's intentions are for such. This is something we've taught often within our own church, and at many other conferences and venues. At times we've taken serious hits of criticism for it. We've paid a price for some strong and transparent things we've said, however ANY price we have to pay on this issue is worth it to us because we believe so wholeheartedly in God's plan for marriage.


Next week I'm going to be doing a week long blog series about marriage. I'm going to say some things my readers undoubtedly already know and need to be reminded of. I'm going to say some things you might not have ever heard but need to. I'm going to say some things that might make you uncomfortable, and you might even consider inappropriate. If you think you might have issues with this topic, I am giving a fair warning that you might want to skip reading this blog for a week and come back when the coast is clear. :-)


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Something good is coming out of California after all...

I'm very proud of this young woman...she's got it together. She is standing against the tidal wave of compromise when it seems one of the world most popular pastors has just been swept away by it. Jesus help us! (See all three videos to follow...I don't have to expound here folks...the videos tell the whole tale. Watch and pray!!!)




First video when he was still standing against the tide:




Second video after political correctness and compromise set in:




Even so Lord Jesus, come quickly...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Savvy's birthday


Today is our baby girl's birthday. Our precious baby girl that we waited six years to have. When she was born my life changed forever, in fact I felt in many ways, life just started for me. Having a daughter is such a wonderful thing. It is indescribable! In fact on her birth announcement we included the scripture, II Corinthians 9:15 ~ "thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!"

Today she is twelve and I am so proud of her. She performed her first fine arts human video Sunday and did such a good job. She and Jordan are both in the large human video and to see them together is just amazing. I believe they will go to nationals.

Tonight we will have her family birthday dinner. Casey will join us and we have plans to go to Kobe..what is usually the place for Shrodes family birthdays. Unless she changes her mind that is, we will be there. I will post photos later.



Monday, April 20, 2009

Look what came today!



Yep, my Starbucks certificates for a job well done!


Abso-freakin-lutely ridiculous!



Well folks, if you oppose taxes, the bail out, or abortion, you are evidently being profiled as a terrorist. People who believe this way are on the watchlist of the federal homeland security. The initial report I was given is here. I also went and checked it out further and Fox News Report confirms with this. My friends, this is real as crazy as it might seem. If you want to read more about it simply google "homeland security report" or "homeland security report radicalization" and I found a plethora of info backing up what would seem to be upon first glance a crazy report.

I cannot be any more disheartened about the downturn our country is taking. Stop the insanity!!! Nothing would shock me next...

Even so Lord Jesus come.

Weekend Wrap Up

I'm tired.

Fantastic day today at Northside. Phenomenal! Couldn't be any better.

Today was youth day and the kids led worship, and presented their fine arts entries. Larry preached a powerful message, and if I may say so looked hot in his "professional underground" style of dressing. I was thinkin', I like it, I love it, I want some more of it. :)

I don't think I've ever seen a more powerful human video than what the kids did today. EXCEPTIONAL. I was impressed and I'm not one to be easily impressed.

Had a great lunch at Moe's with a bunch of very special church members and friends...followed by me going home and crashing in bed with all my dress clothes on...(too tired to take them off) and slept a little too late because by the time I woke up it was almost time for the newcomers to arrive at our house for tonight's newcomer's meeting. I was racing around putting finishing touches on when they got here. First thing I heard from one of them was, "PD, you're still all dressed up!" I confessed, "well, um, I just crashed in my dress clothes and slept til' you got here."

We had a fun night getting to know some new folks better and now Teeb and I are laying here with our laptops, checking mail and a few blogs and getting ready to sleep and get up in the morning and start it off like a rocket. It's going to be a great week...

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Coaching



"All coaching is taking a player where he can't take himself."
Bill McCartney


This morning is my life coaching class that I lead at the church. Isn't it interesting...I now do coaching in the church...and outside of it in my job as a career coach? Who'da thunk it?




Friday, April 17, 2009

Worried over nothing

Statistics show that most of the things we worry about never happen. I've known that for a long time but still fail many times to act upon that knowledge. Yesterday I learned a few lessons all over again. I sure hope I'll remember it for next time but it's one of those things that doesn't come easy for me.

One of the most important core values I have is a standard of excellence and personal work ethic. As I've gotten my feet wet in my new [additional secular] job, I've had some stressful moments of learning new software, company protocol and procedures, and all kinds of other stuff. I'm the type of person who always wants to do something not only well but uncommonly well and as my resume states, "Leading by example, I consistently demonstrate the ability to take on new challenges and achieve objected outcomes on time, every time." Nothing is more important to me than that, with the exception of integrity.

The past few days my boss [at secular job] has been pressing to talk to me. That's not always easy as I work remotely from church and home. We've been playing phone tag as both of our schedules have been crazy. She kept persisting and finally set up a formal meeting since we kept missing each other and so it was on for 4 pm yesterday. I was dreading it. Being that I set a high standard for myself and I could see my shortcomings, I was sure I needed to be corrected and I had visions of the meeting being really bad.

My husband said that was crazy. He said, "there's no way that meeting is going to be bad. You have a work ethic like nobody I've ever seen, and it doesn't matter what setting you are in, you're a producer."

I still doubted. Because my expectations of myself are high and if I don't meet what I expect I imagine I don't meet what someone else expects. My fearful thoughts persisted despite achieving my goals last week. Management decided that they were going to do a 24 hour blitz and any coach who engaged clients during that period of time would get a Starbucks gift card for each one. I went after every client like crazy. Not because I wanted the Starbucks cards (although I'm definitely a fan) but more importantly to achieve objectives. At the end of the 24 hours, all of mine were engaged! (Starbucks, here I come!) A few days ago, management told me I was the only one who engaged every client assigned. So why the anxiety? Well, after coming on board, some of the clients subsequently backed off and became inactive. Being new, I didn't realize this is completely normal and not necessarily my fault at all. It happens to the best of 'em. It's inevitable in a few cases , but I was plagued with thoughts of, "what could I have done to prevent this or create a different outcome?" Nagging thoughts persisted..."maybe they don't think I'm doing a good enough job."

Four o'clock came and I took a deep breath and faced the music. Far from being a come to Jesus meeting where I was told all I was doing wrong, it was a meeting where she wanted to take time to talk about everything I'm doing right. She was concerned about me and wanted to (in her words) "reach out to me and find out how I'm feeling about things". She wanted my thoughts about what I'm enjoying about the job, as well as what I may need help or advice with. She wanted to know how I'm balancing everything in my life. (She knows how much I have on my plate and is totally supportive.) She also wanted to tell me what a good job I did on some specifics of coaching my latest client. Then she recommended a book that would really inspire me on the subject and...that was it. This was the pressing reason for the meeting.

Can you believe I was so flippin' worked up over all this? I was sweating just waiting for the bomb to drop. The sad thing is, I really need to be delivered of this kind of thinking so I don't get worked up over it again because truth be told everytime I hear, "I'll need to meet with you asap" my first thought is always, "what did I do wrong?" instead of "what did I do right?"

Does anyone but me ever struggle with these kinds of thoughts to this degree?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Learning from scratch


"No one lives long enough to learn everything they need to learn starting from scratch. To be successful, we absolutely, positively have to find people who have already paid the price to learn the things that we need to learn to achieve our goals."
-Brian Tracy

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

No-guilt pleasures! (Big update!)


I'm getting ready to make up for the fact that I haven't done one of my mega posts in a long time and also tell you what's going on in my life...

Often we hear people talk about "guilty pleasures." I don't have any of those. Not one. Far from being selfish in this matter, I simply realize that to keep the insane pace that I sometimes live at, requires me to do nice things for myself as often as I possibly can. Some things I am able to do for a short time each day, others once a week or month, and others only once or twice a year. One of the major mistakes most women make is not putting themselves on their own "to do" list. We do so much for others, and if we don't nurture ourselves we won't be able to sustain the pace many of us live at.

People ask me, "how do you do all that you do?" Quite honestly, most of those people know different parts of what I have on my plate but none of them really know it all. If they did I assume they'd give me a lecture so I don't tell them. :-) My answer much of the time is, "I don't know other than to tell you that God helps me and sometimes honestly...I fail." Yep, occasionally things do slip through the cracks at times. I hate when that happens, but it's just reality. I try to let the less important things (like scrubbing my baseboards or weeding) slip through rather than the most important thing, which is people. Before I share my no guilt pleasures, I'll list what I have on my agenda on a weekly basis:

In addition to trying to keep my marriage as hot as possible, mothering my children, and keeping my home, (which is a full time job in itself) I work full time for Northside Assembly of God as co-pastor. Some of my responsibilities are accomplished during the office hours of 9:00 - 4:30 however quite honestly there's a ton of it that I don't do during that time. Much of it gets done at 2:00 am or later. And as any pastor or pastor's wife knows, ministry is really 24/7 and there is no such thing as "part time." You're ALWAYS "on".
What many don't realize is, outside the pastorate I am not only bi-vocational but at this point I would classify myself as quad-vocational. :-) Aside from the busy demands of the pastorate, I also freelance write, and am on deadline with usually at least one writing job a month. Don't get too excited. It pays about enough for me to keep getting my nails done, but hey, that's one of my most important no-guilt pleasures! And I'm very grateful. I also travel and speak. On average last year I was gone at least once a month traveling somewhere. I love meeting different people and seeing their lives changed and for me it's never been about the number of people and certainly not about money. (I come with no financial requirements and many times don't take an honorarium.) I'm just as happy speaking to 10 people out in the middle of the boondocks as I am to a few thousand people in Africa. And, as anyone who travels with me to assist me can testify, I've done the boondocks plenty of times. I'm the women's ministries representative for the Tampa Bay area for the AG on top of this and serve our Tampa Metro section, and on the district reps board.
Aside from my family, housekeeping, freelance writing, traveling, and women's ministries I also teach a few piano and voice students. This is a great way for me to meet unchurched people in the community and not only teach them about music but hopefully influence their lives. All of my students are currently unchurched but that is changing, in fact one of them came with their family to Easter service! Without exception I am seeing each one of them move closer to crossing the line of faith every single day.

Finally... in the last few months I began working another secular job. I'm a career coach for an outplacement organization based in Oregon. The road to this is a long story that only a few of you reading this know. And the details are not important. But suffice it to say, if there was ever a "secular" job created to utilize my gifts, this is it. I hesitate to call it secular because honestly anything we do is to the glory of God. Whether a son or daughter of God is scrubbing a floor, preaching, or in a meeting for their "secular" job, it is anointed and making a difference in the world. Aside from my work with there, I decided that I will also take one personal client each month purely as a blessing to someone, to sow a seed into their life. My first people that I helped in that regard were another pastor and wife. Each month I'm being led of the Lord in who to help. Going forward I also plan to be a blessing in providing help to our church people in this regard, as much as I am able to. I believe as I continue to invest my life in others, God will bless me. One unique thing about most everything I do is that I can set my schedule aside from emergencies that come up. Urgent things are unexpected, but beyond that I pretty much control what is on my daytimer and manage to fit it all in.
The past few months have been a time of getting my footing as I've been balancing all the things I normally do, and my new work on top of it. God has helped me to juggle so far in what has been an amazing way that I'm hoping gets a little easier going forward as I get my footing. For years I have looked at Pastor Tara and Pastor Lisa as icons in balancing marriage, family, pastoring and secular career. Now, I respect them even more. They've both been extremely encouraging to me in this process of learning to juggle and even combine the two.

So...let's talk about no-guilt pleasures! They are essential if somebody with a ridiculous amount to do is going to not only survive but thrive. I couldn't make it without them. Here are some of mine that keep me going and I offer them as suggestions to you and invite you to share yours with me. Keep in mind it should go without saying that time spent with the Lord is the greatest rejuvenator! I've also indicated the amount of time or frequency I usually do each of these next to them to give you some idea.

1) Baths in my big tub ~ (usually at least 5 out of 7 days a week I take a bath instead of shower) It sounds so basic, I know. But I can't leave this out! In fact, I am starting with it because it's my first thing of the day. It takes longer to take a bubble bath than to shower. But I learned the value of this no guilt pleasure from a friend of mine who is a broker and works insane hours. Her day starts at the crack of dawn and her phone rings with clients up until midnight at times. But she always starts every single morning with a soothing bath in her big tub. She inspired me when she said that despite the craziness of her day she always knows it's going to start off with something good that relaxes her and this one spot in the midst of her daily routine is what gives her the rejuvenation to keep the pace. I'm partial to Bath and Body Works Moonlight Path for aromatherapy, and a peach apricot iced or hot tea while I take a bath. I usually also listen to soothing music on my Zune while I'm in there. (Caution: hooked up to speakers outside the tub - not my headphones!)

2) Riding my bike - (minimum seven miles daily - 6 out of 7 days a week) I will be honest I let this slide for a while because I got so overwhelmed with my new schedule. I thought I just couldn't keep it up. Then I realized my new schedule was all the more reason I needed it. I can't make it without this outlet, both emotionally and physically. I find this usually gives me a second wind for a few more hours of work. It also helps me to sort through problems as I come up with some great solutions to things as I'm on my bike pedaling real fast. Don't ask me why, it just happens. (Note: yesterday when I was so frazzled from dealing with a situation first thing in the morning, I biked 7 miles AND took a bubble bath, all before 8 am! Then I did another 7 miles when I got home from the church office. That as well as a few praying friends were key to my survival yesterday.)

3) Movies - (once a week) I love them -- they are a great escape for a few hours and we see so many of them since Dustin works at Cobb Theatres we go for free on Sunday through Thursday nights.


4) Blogging - (every day) posting, reading and commenting. This is one of my greatest pleasures. I won't give it up no matter how much I have to do. It's a wonderful world all it's own and such an outlet for me and I'm sure for many others. At times during the day or even middle of the night when my brain is fried, I take a 15 minute blogging break and it re-boots my system emotionally and intellectually. After this diversion I find my mind is clearer to delve back into whatever project is at hand.

5) Reading books - (at least a few minutes before bedtime, or when Larry is driving) Takes me into another world, great relaxer at night or momentary diversion even for 15/20 minutes at a time.

6) Lunch with a friend - (I try to do this at least once a month) Nothing like having a few minutes to just sit face to face with a friend and let down.

7) Thrift Store Shopping -(no real frequency/time for this, just whenever I have a few moments here and there.) Even if I was a millionaire I'd probably still love second hand stores. I have gotten an amazing amount of my clothes, shoes and purses there. I go to Bealls Outlet for most everything else. Amazing bargains!! When I do have real money to spend such as Christmas gifts or a gift certificate, I love JC Penney's, Bealls or Aeropostale.

8) Coffee and Tea - (all day) soothes me throughout the day and is not only a short diversion to BREATHE, stretch and go get a cup throughout the day but I also sip on it the whole time I work. Such a simple thing but it makes me happy.

9) Naps - I take them once a week, usually on Sunday afternoon or Friday. Not too often, but when I can it's the best. Larry and I laid down and snuggled late yesterday afternoon during the storm for a nap and woke up two hours later! It was glorious.

10) Sex - I debated putting this on here. You know how people just get their panties all in a bunch when you mention sex. :-) ha ha! But honestly I'm very true to who I am on this blog and so here it is, and not for some gratuitous reason either. God has blessed married couples with one of the greatest no guilt pleasures ever. The first benefit is oneness - intimacy in marriage. However, there are many other God-given reasons. A great stress-reliever, and comfort -- sex also has the power to give you a great escape at the end of the day (or really anytime!) Let's be real, it's just pure fun too. Some of you are wondering...is she really going to put on this blog how many times a week she does it? No. I'll just say...as often as possible! I believe this is God's mandate for every married couple as I've already said here.

11) Sitting on our patio, on swing - in front of the fire - or in the jacuzzi. (Frequency depends on the weather/season but in good weather I like to sit out there a few minutes each night, sometimes combined with other things I enjoy.)

12) Going away with my husband overnight - (at least twice a year for one or two nights) Essential. I would die without this. I need it as much as the air I breathe.

13) Dating - (at least once a week, usually on our day off) Another thing just as essential to me as breathing. When we miss it for whatever reason I just can't wait to make up for it.

14) Girls night out - (once or twice a year) just doing something fun with a few friends like a movie or dinner or even a sleepover at someone's house. Gotta love girl time!

15) Facebook - (10 minutes or so a day) keeps me connected with friends across the miles that I don't see everyday and also some that I do.

16) Getting my nails done - (once or twice monthly or whenever needed) I not only like my hands and feet to be looking nice, but this something I keep up on just to care for my body and be good to it.
17) The beach - (A few times a year - no rhyme or reason to when we go - but not nearly enough!) I love to go and float on my pink noodle and stay out there for hours until sunset.

18) Favorite shows - (once or twice a week) I don't watch that much TV and what I do is usually Tivo'd unless it's the news. Although I love it, I have little time for television but try to make time for at least one show with my family a week. Some favs when I have time are American Idol, 24, LOST, Forensic Files, Today's Detectives, and Fox News.

I've enjoyed sharing with you what's been happening in my life, as well as my no-guilt pleasures with you and encourage all of you reading this today to take at little time each day to do something nice for yourself. Each of us have unique demands on our time and stresses that are a very real part of our lives but they don't have to swallow us up. In addition to refreshing that only comes from the Lord He has also provided other enjoyable things to help us refresh, renew and restore our bodies, spirits and minds for another day.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Storm warning


This morning we got the kids off to school and then a phone call came from someone in Pasco County weather advisory, telling everyone to stay inside -- that there is a serious tornado warning. Right after that, a really bad thunderstorm started. Thank God we had just taken Maddie out to go potty before the torrential downpour! (lol) This photo is an actual picture taken this morning by the Tampa Tribune, and is from the storm going on right now. Provided no one gets hurt or their property destroyed, this really isn't a bad thing. Families can spend some time indoors together and we sure do need the rain! So far I have heard of no injuries or deaths, praise God. On a personal level, it gave Larry and and I opportunity to snuggle. We went back to bed for a little bit once the call came. Now we are working on our laptops at home in the dark, listening to the rain pelting the roof. We could turn the lights on but it's rather calm and serene just sitting here in the dark.

Larry just checked and the storm warning is until 2 pm. So we are pretty much working from home today. Despite the extra snuggle time we will both actually get twice as much work done today as there won't be interruptions we get at the office.

Thank you everyone for your prayers yesterday. Things are looking a bit better with our situation. We are dealing with something with one of our children. My heart was just broken yesterday. Don't let anyone kid you, parenting is THE hardest job in the world. One thing I have realized is that it's much better not to go it alone. I mean, Larry and I have each other and we ultimately have the Lord. However, it helps to reach out to other human beings who might be able to not only pray but advise you or even talk to your child if necessary and speak into their life. I meet so many parents, even in the church, who are so private about family struggles and when it comes down to it -- prideful. They won't speak up for fear people will think they are not the perfect parent, they don't have the perfect kid, they don't have it all together. Well surprise, no one thinks you're perfect anyway so you might as well reach out and get help. In our house, we don't air our dirty laundry to everybody. I generally ask for a special prayer request without giving details but there are some people we do open up to, lay it all on the table, and ask for specific help. Yesterday there were a few angels on assignment who helped us. Praise God. I believe things will progressively get better in the days ahead through God's help and other's positive influence. I appreciate all of you and your prayers.

The Lord helped us through a family stormy yesterday and today he is helping us through a literal storm outside. We're going to be fine -- He just thought some people in Pasco County needed some more snuggle time, I guess. :-)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Most precious Easter gift...


Before I share about a special Easter gift I received I just want to ask you friends reading this to pray for me this morning. I cannot share all the details but suffice it to say I had one of the most horrible mornings of my life. (Some of you might say it's because of a great service yesterday, the enemy's attack, etc.) Perhaps that is correct, I am not sure. At any rate, I am just heartsick and forcing myself to go through the motions today of my work, and everything I have to do today. Truth be told at this moment I want to give up and run away from life despite anything that happened at church yesterday. By the way, I'm not being melodramatic, this is also not PMS nor the change of life. :-) We need a miracle within the next two months, specifically. Thank you for praying.

Besides some of my unchurched friends coming to our service on Easter and the salvations that occurred, the most special thing to me on Easter was a gift that my daughter Savanna gave me. I thought I'd show it to you here:

In case you can't read the letter it says:

Mom,
Happy Easter. You're a wonderful mother and I love you. Thank you for always being here for me. I know you said that I didn't have to get you a gift but I wanted to because every year you get me, Dustin, Jordan and Bobby Easter baskets, and I felt you were being left out in all the presents and all. When I saw this notebook I immediately thought of you because it's pink and it's animal print and you take lots of notes. I know you already saw it but as they say, it's the thought that counts. I hope you like it. I'm pretty sure you will. Enjoy.
I love you Mom!
Savanna Rose
p.s. I enjoyed the shopping with you at Ross.

Deanna again: I said there was a major update coming after Easter, and there is, so stay tuned!


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!


We had a great one and trust all of you reading did too. We had a packed service this morning. I couldn't even sit in my usual spot...every seat was filled on the front row. No problem! I gladly moved. Had a TON of first time guests. The follow up tomorrow is going to be insane! I don't think we've ever had so many first timers at church. It was amazing. The choir was on fire! Larry preached a message called, "Almost!" Lots of people raised their hand for salvation. Choir was smokin' hot, did I mention that?! A great day all around.

We had a bunch of people over for dinner after church. The menu was spectacular...here's what we had in case you're interested in drooling over the thought of it...lol:

Fruit & Cheese Plate
Ham
Fried Chicken
Salmon with Hollandaise Sauce
Potato Casserole
Fully loaded mashed potatoes
Spanish Rice
Creamed Corn
Macaroni and Cheese
Coleslaw
Strawberry Shortcake
Layered Brownie dessert with frosting and nuts
Cupcakes
Homemade Biscuits

If you are wondering, I didn't make all this. Everyone who came brought something. We just made the ham, potato casserole and biscuits. If we could have we would have had the whole church over. Not possible so it ended up to be five families plus us. We ate and talked and mid-way through a conversation I fell asleep and was out like a light. I woke up a long time later and everyone was still talking and we continued on until 10:00 pm!

Great day at church, and wonderful friends, conversation and food...how much better does it get than THAT?


Friday, April 10, 2009

Easter prep


Had a good Fun Friday off with my babe for the most part. The phone rang off the hook and I had to share him a little bit, but he's worth every bit of persevering and waiting for. I really expected interruptions with it being Easter weekend anyway and had braced myself for it. The thing I tell myself each week is, "oh well, next Friday is another fun Friday!"

Today we did have lunch with Savanna and Dustin which was nice, and Larry went with them this morning to see Monsters vs. Aliens 3-D.

Not a lot of time to blog today because we are getting our house ready today for Easter and tomorrow we'll put the finishing touches on at church.

It's going to be a great weekend. I'm so excited!

By the way, I have a major update coming up here on the blog after Easter. Stay tuned... much love to all my peeps.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Unique Thursday


My day started bright and early this morning with a meeting and other sundry things that I needed to get done. Things have been so busy with getting ready for Easter Sunday and so many other things on my plate. I'll share more on this in the coming week or so...I promise. However today was a welcome diversion for a few hours as I spent some time this afternoon with one of my friends and church members, Candy Rivera. We've had this on the burner for a long, long time and finally today was our appointed time. We had lunch and then went and did a little shopping. (I got an outfit for Easter. Yay! Can't wait to wear it. Candy is so expert at picking out clothes -- she would make a great host for "What Not to Wear".) In addition to that she is one of the funniest people I know...a person it's impossible to be with and not laugh a WHOLE lot.

As is common with Candy, many funny things happened today (we actually had a few people in the store say, "WHAT are you ladies laughing so hard about?" because we were making such a ruckus at times.) Really, we are grown women. Please keep this in mind when I tell you this. I know some of you think I am totally dignified 100% of the time. Prepare for shock. Candy couldn't help but take a few pictures of what happened today. I'm not going to show you all of them, but here are just a few interesting ones. The first thing is that the sales clerk at a store was really, really busy and when the dressing room would lock behind me she was taking forever to come open it. It was a real pain in the neck especially when you're wanting to try on so many things. We were really sick of waiting. All of a sudden Candy says, "remember when you were a little kid and would just go under the door?" "Aha!!! BRILLIANT! " I thought. And so yes, right there I just went under the door while she snapped a photo of me doing with her cell phone and laughed so hard the entire store heard it.

Second she pointed out a necklace she wanted me to try on that went over your head instead of using a clasp. I said, "I really don't want to put this on my neck. I can tell already that I hate it." And she said, "just try it, just try it." I said, "ok, WHATEVER!" But first she had to snap a photo of me wearing it on my head like this. She said I'm a true child of the 60's/70's. (GRIN)

I'm spending some precious time on Fun Friday with Larry tomorrow and then it's back to work hitting it hard for Sunday. We are spending Saturday cleaning up some things around the church, setting up some stuff, and all kinds of last minute prep. I'm very excited for Sunday. I have quite a number of unchurched friends attending, some that I have prayed for a really long time. It's a day of divine appointments! I can't wait.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Hitting the sack


Very busy day from sunrise to sunset today. I'm exhausted. No energy to blog at the end of the day...I have just been busy with several projects, rehearsals, Easter, and more. GREAT service in Fusion tonight. I've really hit a rhythm with this current series and I'm loving it. Terrific choir practice tonight and we're ready for Sunday. Didn't go with Larry tonight to the TV studio to do the show because I just have too much on the agenda and need to get a few hours sleep tonight. I miss my guys...keeping the bed warm for Larry for when he gets home. We haven't spent a whole lot of time the last two days and have pretty much just passed each other in the halls at church and slept together a few hours a night. I know it's going to be a busy weekend with Easter but despite having a crazy Saturday and Sunday this week I am looking forward to some quiet time with my family on Friday. No one really has any clue what I have on my plate right now. I just need to find my stride with it all. When I get more in the pocket with it, I'll blog something more significant. So many thoughts swirling in this head of mine...so much I want to share. I just need my sleep first.