Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Involve them!

Our kids were "raised in the halls of the church" quite literally.  At one point when the boys were babies we had cribs in the church office.   When Savanna was born we continued the tradition of "raising our kids in the ministry" and she used to do hospital visits with us all the time.  Her favorite ones were when she would get to see the newborn babies. 

I'll never forget her favorite little baby doll, Tieler.  She named him Tieler because when we pastored in Maryland, one of the ladies in the church, Anna Anderson, had her baby boy Tieler and we went to see them in the hospital.  Savanna was with us on the hospital visit and she  just loved him to pieces and so she ended up naming her new doll Tieler.  She took that doll everywhere.  

When we went out she would push Tieler in a stroller.  One time she accidently left him in the car after we came in from shopping and cried and cried that we needed to go back and get him but it was pouring down rain - thunderstorming.  I didn't want to go back because of the mess outside but she cried her little eyes out and said, "Mommy, Tieler is in the car by himself.  It's raining and he's scared!  He needs me!"   Yes, of course I immediately went out in the rain to get that doll.  I remember one night she moved his little wooden cradle right next to her bed and I asked her why and she said, "so it will be easy for me to hear him and get up with him in the middle of the night."  So sweet.  Precious memories.

Savanna is out of school for the summer and yesterday she was assisting me with some church work.  I asked her to create a graphic for our new preaching series at Celebration Church.  This is the first one she ever did and I think she did quite a job on it!  She did it all by herself without any input from me.  Just click to enlarge and see it at full size.

I'm a big believer in involving kids in the work of the ministry, giving opportunities for them to serve wherever possible.   For our family it's proven to be a very positive thing.  By the way, speaking of family - Larry and I brought a tag team message on Sunday, "How to Raise an Abnormal Family."  It just went up on the podcast.

Larry and I are preaching the "God is Able" series during the entire month of July.  If you are in Tampa we invite you to join us...and for that matter even if you're not in Tampa, you're still invited to come on never know what God will do!  It's going to be a month of miracles!!  


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

There's no place like home

I hated naps as a child.  Now I'm crazy about them.

The more my responsibilities have increased  the more I enjoy being home.   (By the way, all of these photos are taken at our home.)   The happiest days of my life are spent at home. 
 For the majority of our ministry, I accepted every  invitation I was given.  If there was a party I was there.  If someone said, "come on over" or "let's go for coffee" I pretty much went without exception.   
As time has gone on and my responsibilities have increased:  wife, mom, domestic engineer of our home, working at the church full time, working at NextJob part time, writing, traveling and speaking...when I have time off I just want to be home.  A perfect day off  for me looks like this: 

Sleep in.
Wake up to house that I already cleaned in days preceding.  

Brush teeth.

Teeb makes something for breakfast.  (Remember, I said this is the PERFECT day off.  LOL)

Go back to bed and watch a movie and snuggle with the man. 

Get up and take a bubble bath with Moonlight Path.   Have my cup of hot tea on the side of the tub while I'm there.

Get out of bathtub, let my hair dry natural and put it up in a clip.  Put some moisturizer on my face but leave it at that.  Spritz on some Moonlight Path  and put on a pair of clean pink flannel PJ's.

Read my Bible, listen to some preaching podcasts, spend some time in prayer.

Piddle around the house - play the piano, get on my computer and write for fun.
Talk to the kids when they come in from work/school.  Lay around for a while and talk.  

Get up and start dinner.  Cook something yummy that we all really like - a favorite like chicken casserole or tacos.
Eat together.

Everybody helps clean up. 

Go read a book, or ride my bike, or watch a favorite show with my family.  If it's wintertime, sit in the jacuzzi for a while, light a fire on the patio in the fireplace, maybe even roast some marshmallows.  Fun!  Usually Dec-March we'll make smores on the patio at night on our day off.

Fall asleep whenever I want to, having had a wonderful day.

It's my priority to be at all of our services and all of our offical church events and that won't ever change.  What has become rarer is for me to accept  personal invites to other things.  Most of the time when I go, I'm giving up what precious little time I have to re-energize.    For many years, although I was craving time to myself I  said yes to everything just to please people and avoid confrontation.   
Sunday it was our anniversary.  We had church things most of the day.  That night we went to Cinebistro  for dinner and a movie and it was WONDERFUL.  But we were craving some more time together and we took yesterday off.  We spent it much like I just described above.  It was perfect. 

I understand that many pastors are bi-vocational and they NEVER get a day off.  We have lived through that before.   I have learned if I don't protect some days off I end up not only getting exhausted but I become resentful.   That is why unless there is an absolute emergency (a death in the church, etc.) I don't answer the phone or return emails or messages on a Friday.  I have to have a day to unplug and be with my family.   These days more than ever, I know myself and what I need to function at maximum potential.  The older I get the kinder I am to myself and to others. So many times people -- especially women, leave themselves off of their to do  list, burn out and then lash out.  I've been there so many times and in growing older have grown wiser.  Jesus said we should love our neighbor as ourself.  If we don't love ourself, how can we love our neighbor?  

The kindest thing I do for myself sometimes is just stay home.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Two words of knowledge and one husband later...

If you are a single believer who desires marriage, one of the most important things to look for is someone who is sensitive to the things of God.    I wish every unmarried believer who is seeking would realize the importance of finding someone who belongs to Jesus wholeheartedly, who listens to His voice, who finds their sustenance in Him.  

We pastored one young man who had a wish list of attributes that he wanted his future wife to have.  The list included that she love to ski, be an avid rollercoaster fan, and have at least a size "C" bra size.  Somehow being a woman of prayer didn't make the list among the amusement parks and  tata's.  Believe me it takes more than that to get you through the storms of life.   Proverbs 31 says that charm is deceptive, beauty fades away but a woman who fears the Lord is greatly to be praised.

I got to thinking about this on our anniversary yesterday and something came to my mind that I have rarely if ever shared with anyone but I got a nudge today from the Holy Spirit to write about it here.

Prayer has always been a priority for me and in a time of intercession God shows me things through the word of knowledge, wisdom and prophecy.  It's always been that way for me since I've been a Christian although it's much more developed now.

When I first met my husband I knew on the first real "date" we had that I was going to marry him.  (That's a photo of us back then, by the way.  I thought I'd  include it here just for fun.)  The Lord told me before I ever loved him, before we ever kissed, held hands or anything that he was going to be my husband.  I never told him that until AFTER we were married, by the way.  (A word to the wise -- don't ever tell anyone that God told you to marry them, at least until you are already married.  That usually  freaks people out.  It would scare me if I was single, and I say that as someone who totally flows in the prophetic.)  Anyway...take a look at this boy and you can see why I wanted to marry him...I'm telling you, he is the jelly on my biscuit and the gravy on my mashed potatoes!  Whew!  (lol)

Seriously [ahem] as I was praying for my husband one day when he was just my "friend" not really my "boyfriend",  just a boy who happened to be a friend...and the Holy Spirit told me a few key pieces of information.  He told me his middle name.  Now, my husband had never told ANYBODY his middle name.  It's pretty much a secret because he hates his middle name.  Only a few people in this world know it and at that point in college no one on campus knew except for maybe the registrars office.  But as I was praying, out of the blue God just dropped his name into my heart.  I didn't even realize that Larry had any issues with his middle name -- nor did I ask God about it, He just gave it to me in prayer. 

I had also not ever been in my husband's bedroom.  We were unmarried, not to mention at a bible school where if I had been in his bedroom I would have been in real trouble and probably expelled or at the least suspended!  But the Lord also showed me the entire set up of his bedroom and the color.  Now, it wasn't just something "normal" like blue or red, but the color, the exact color the Lord told me was, "rust."  God told me the bedspread is rust, the curtains are rust, the bed is in this location in the room, the dresser is positioned here, etc.  I must say at that time and even since that time I don't think I've come across any "rust" furnishings.  [Okay I know I'm losing some of you here on the blog today -- you didn't realize I was this much of a charismatic fruitloop.  Sorry to disappoint you.  Don't worry I'm not going to start selling prayer cloths for $39.99 or ask you to send your seed money to keep the blog going.    Let's just call this "Charisma Day" and tomorrow I'll be back to talking about pizza recipes and Max and Maddie... deal?]

So one day shortly after Larry and I met we were talking about the things of God and we got onto the subject of prayer, and how God speaks and all that.   While I didn't tell him I knew I was going to marry him, I did let him know that I knew what his room looked like.  He was puzzled and said, "how?  You've never been in my room..." and I said, "Yes I know but you have a rust bedspread and curtains and the room is set up exactly this way..."    He almost fell off his chair he was so shocked.  Then I said, "yes, and your middle name is  _______________."  (Did you really think I was going to print the name here??!  LOL)  Again, he almost fell off his chair in shock.   He said, "nobody knows my middle name."  I said, "don't worry  your secret is safe with me."  I told him that these were just things that the spirit brought to my mind for whatever reason as I was praying.

My husband knew just from that early conversation that I was a person of prayer and I strongly believe not only in talking to God but waiting until He talks back.  Some of you reading this might wonder why God would tell me something so simple as his bedroom colors or his middle name, and find it really strange but I think in our case it would simply be so that my husband would know he was getting involved with a girl who hears from God on things large and small and prioritizes that above everything.

If you ar a single guy or girl please note it will take you a lot more than a man or woman's hot body to get you through the seasons of life!  I'm not saying you should go out and marry someone you are unattracted to but here is the truth - it will take MORE THAN THAT to get you through.  In fact it will take more than you could ever imagine.

I have talked to my children often about their future mate and stressed the importance of finding someone who holds most important the values of prayer, holiness, and serving Jesus and others with all their heart.  Some don't think about this a lot as they are teenagers or young adults which is why they need a parent or other spiritual leader to remind them of truth.  What is truth?  Well, at some point gravity takes it's course -- body parts sag, and hair falls out and  no matter how well you preserve yourself things just aren't the same at 40 as they are 20.  At the end of the day they need a man or woman who walks with God.  Superficial things or people will NOT get them through!   I also want to raise my children to be strong and powerful men and women of God for their spouse and children.  I think about this all the time and pray about it often...oh God make them holy, and bring them someone who is likewise holy. 

I know this is bold but I tell my boys rather than looking for someone of a certain bra size they better be looking someone with a heart for God underneath that bra because a heart after God is what will get them through the difficult times.   Rather than look for a BOD, look for GOD and you will be truly satisfied.   The heart for God that your spouse has will also influence and shape your future children for God, which cannot be underestimated.  Do not think that if you and your partner fail to see eye to eye on spiritual things that it will just work itself out.   Oh that more people would think about their future husband or wife  as a potential mother or father of their children before marrying them!!!    I have known many people who desire to marry someone but would have to admit if they were honest that the person would not make a Godly mother or father who would raise children in the things of God.

There are so many Christians who have to endure painful situations in their lives as a result of poor marriage choices and this is one reason I fast and pray so hard for my children to make right choices in this area of their lives so they hopefully never have to go through it.  A word to the wise:  really think about these things and fast and pray before you get married!   (A lot!!)

I'll close today's blog post with one of my personal goals:

Proverbs 31:10-31

 "A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.  Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.   She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.   She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.   She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar.  She gets up while it is still dark;  She provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.   She sets about her work vigorously;  her arms are strong for her tasks.   She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.  In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers.  She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.  When it snows, she has no fear for her household; or all of them are clothed in scarlet.  She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple.  Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.  She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes.  She is clothed with strength and dignity;  she can laugh at the days to come.  She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.  She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.  Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:  "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all."   Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.  Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate."

None of this happens by accident...only through prayer and perseverance.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

We're still here...

23 years later...

Here's to all our married friends who are still hanging in there with us!  Someone once said that a successful marriage is falling in love many times, with the same person.  I think they're right.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Deanna's homemade pizza

Actual photo I took as I was serving it last night...

Years ago, I made my homemade pizza because we didn't have money to order out.  Now I just make it because it's yum!   Enjoy, and if you have any questions just post in the comments and I'll help you out.

 Pizza Dough
1 cup warm water
1 package active dry yeast
2 cups all purpose flour plus about 1/2 cup more to use as you are kneading and rolling.
1/2 teaspoon salt

Pour the water into a large mixing bowl. Add the yeast, stirring with fork until dissolved. The water should turn a light beige color. Add 1 cup of flour and the salt. Stir with a wooden spoon. Add a second cup of flour and repeat. The dough should start coming away from the sides of the bowl, forming a soft, sticky mass. Take the last bit of flour and sprinkle it over a clean, dry surface. Flour your hands well.  Take the dough from the bowl and begin to work in the flour a little at a time. Use the heel of your hand to push the dough down and push across the surface, putting your fist in and twisting it over. Keep pushing the heel of your hand down on it until it does not stick at all.  Work as much flour as you need into it until it stops sticking while you work with it.  Lightly oil another mixing bowl.  (I spray mine with canola oil.)  Place ball of dough in bowl, and cover with plastic wrap or a clean dish towel. Keep in warm place and let dough rise for 30-45 minutes. When dough is done rising, turn it onto a pizza stone and roll it out.  (I use my pampered chef round or square pizza stone, and roll it out right on to that.)

Sauce recipe follows below.  You want to make this while the dough is rising.  Add sauce, cheese and whatever toppings desired, and bake at about 375 or 400 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until cheese is getting a little browned on top.  (For recipe shown above I used a bag of shredded mozzarella as well as a bag of shredded parmesan.) 

Yum, doesn't this look AMAZING?
Pizza Sauce
1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes (in juice)
1 small can tomato paste
1 can water (use same tomato paste can) 
1 small white or sweet onion, diced very small
4-5 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped minced
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. thyme
pinch salt
pinch pepper
pinch sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil

Mix ingredients and simmer on low in saucepan while making dough.    


Friday, June 25, 2010

I went ape for this!

I'm so blessed!  There are people in my life who do such nice things for me and for this I am ever grateful.

Wednesday night after prayer meeting, Bonnie came up to me and said she and Todd had something for me and proceeded to hand me a jewelry box.  She said they knew how much I love monkeys so they had special ordered this for me as a gift.   I was wearing one of my animal print outfits and had to take my jewelry off right then and there and put this monkey necklace on and wear it for Fusion!  How adorable!  They also said they ordered a second one for me that is carved out of jade, but it hasn't come in yet.  They are an amazingly thoughtful couple who show me such love and care.

Sometimes just for fun I pretend Maxie is a monkey since he sure does act like one sometimes the way he tears up things in the house.  I know, I'm crazy. 

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A few of my thoughts 23 years in...

This Sunday Larry and I will have been married for 23 years. We are preaching a tag team message this weekend at Celebration. We preach together all the time but this Sunday we’re really excited about it being that it’s our special day.

Working hard at marriage has always been important to me because I know firsthand what happens when a family falls apart.   My parents got divorced, and I know that as the years go on it’s not like the pain completely goes just find ways to make it work for you.   The purpose of this post isn't to judge anyone who is divorced, by the way.  I don't speak from a place of judgment, only as someone who has experienced pain and lived to tell about it.

In a 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.   In my experience, those who handle it well end up somehow turning their pain into their platform.

The breakup of my parents marriage was something that rendered my sister and I never the same again.   I determined as far as it depended on me I would never let this happen to my home. I realize there are a lot of people out there who say that, and it still happens to them. I’m not na├»ve. Notice I said, “as far as it depends on me.” I know there are lot of people out there who do their part, but their marriage partner doesn’t. I've been pastoring long enough to see quite a few situations where there really was one person at fault.  Some say, "there are two sides to every story."  Most of the time, yes.  All of the time?  No.  I have known quite a few people who have tried their darndest and their spouse was just an idiot!   I could give quite a few examples but to just share one, there was a man that we pastored whose wife had an affair and left him.  At their divorce hearing she admitted that he was a great husband but she became attracted to a man at work and left her husband for him.  She told the judge outright that her husband had done absolutely nothing to cause this, but this other man had such an emotional hold on her, she could not break away.  That is just one example but I share it simply to say I do know of cases where one person truly is at fault and the other was the innocent party who tried everything they knew to make it work.

I feel a lot of sympathy for those individuals. I’ve always felt though, that if a person does their part, “as far as it depends on them”, even if their partner fails and the marriage ends at least they will have no regrets knowing they tried their best.  I realize my husband like many others could choose to walk away. He could be unfaithful and leave our family. However, if he did this at least I would know I’ve done everything within my power to make it work.  In my experience of watching others walk through divorce, it seems to help the one who is wronged move on and heal when they know they gave the marriage everything they had and did all they could.

After my parents divorce I didn't stay where the devil left me.   I chose to not waste the pain.  It became my platform and was channeled into writing countless articles over the years and subsequently a book about intimacy and marriage that has blessed many people.   Larry and I have also had the privilege of leading marriage of our favorite things to do together.  For what it’s worth, a few of my thoughts, 23 years into this…

God did not give us marriage to first and foremost make us happy, but to spiritually mature us. Many people   think, "this person will meet my every need, and fulfill my every waking desire." False. Marriage means being humbled by the same person day in and day out for the rest of your life!   Marriage is an everyday exercise in getting beyond our selfishness.  

In the book of Genesis, the wife is called the helper. The Hebrew word there for helper is ezer knegdu, which means “helper” or “assistant”. Many people wonder…”are women designed to be doormats or slaves to their husbands?” No. We know this for fact because first of all, the same word used for “helper” in Genesis 2, is also used in this tense when the bible refers to God as “helper to the nations.” We know God is not a doormat or a slave. You are called to be beside your husband as a helper, not behind him. (I hate that saying, “behind every successful man is a good woman…” God never called you to be behind a man.  If you are married he called you to be beside him as an equal helper.)  
My marriage has not always been easy by far.  But by God’s grace we have the partnership that we have. Some important things I learned --

1) Acceptance – I have learned to accept my husband as he is. Often we fall in love with someone and thereafter set about trying to change everything about them. My husband is not anything like me and that’s probably a good thing. If both of us were the same one of us would be unnecessary. I’m striving to do as Proverbs 31 says, “bringing him good – not harm all the days of his life.” I want to make it easy for him to achieve his goals, not be like a huge weight on his back while he’s trying to do as God has called him to do. Proverbs 12:4 says, “A worthy wife is her husband’s joy and crown, but a shameful wife saps his strength.”
2) Preferring – Romans 8 and Philippians 2 tell us to prefer one another. It’s not easy to prefer anyone else, including your husband. The truth is, it’s not all about me. God spoke to me long ago that a key to being a great wife is to shake off “neediness” and whining! Some ladies have heard me say this and ask me, “But when do our needs come in? When does OUR promotion come in?”   Proverbs says that promotion comes not from the east or west but from the Lord.  The Bible also says that what we make happen for others, God makes happen for us. The truth is, my promotion does not come from my husband.  God promotes me.  As far as my needs being met, yes my husband does meet some of them but at the core, God is the primary One who meets my deepest needs. Too many women expect their husband to meet the needs that only God can. Things got a lot better in our marriage when I stopped expecting Larry to be Jesus.  They also got better when I stopped trying to be the General Manager of the Universe.

3) Forgiving – My husband is not perfect and has made his share of mistakes. (Not that I haven’t.) But, I must forgive his mistakes, and then show him tender love and mercy as the Bible tells me to. (And besides, forgiving and making up is really fun!)  There is so much forgiving that goes on in a marriage that is working, and the truth is, if you know how many times you've forgiven then you really haven't forgiven even once.

As I said, I've had so many thoughts on this that they have been channeled into countless articles and such, but these are just a few of my thoughts today 23 years in... with a lot left to learn, and I'm all in.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

10 Building Blocks to Leadership

The following are notes from the teaching I presented to my life coaching class this past Saturday.  It's an acrostic -- each point makes up the word, "leadership."  ~ Enjoy. 

L – Love – Passion for people and for what you do.

This should go without saying but the truth is, lots of people go into leadership for other reasons than love or passion. They go into it because maybe their parents were leaders, or maybe they just crave being the leader instead of the follower.  (How many people do you know who say they want to start their own business so they can "be their own boss"?)  The truth is, some are power hungry but have no idea what authority costs.

The truth is that passion and love count for a lot. Coach Paul (Bear) Bryant of the Dallas Cowboy Football Team made the statement, “If I ever quit coaching football, I’ll be dead in 6 months.” He retired from coaching and died 6 weeks later.  He was a man full of passion for what he did.

If you have a love and a passion you don’t have to convince people that you have it – they know it by your actions. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important as a leader to express your love for others. A good leader will verbally express their love, however even if they didn’t a mark of a true leader is that the people they lead know they are loved.

E – Emotionally Healthy

A leader must constantly pursue good emotional health. Those you are leading will be all over the map with their emotions. While we are emotional creatures and God designed us this way he also designed us to be healthy in expressing those emotions in a mature way.

If you are going to be effective as a witness and a leader in God’s Kingdom, you must develop a thick skin that doesn’t feel offenses easily, quit worrying about the small things that won’t matter in a few days and learn to accept people as they are.

The Bible gives us instructions about leadership in Ephesians 4 and says that leaders are there to help the people mature. If we have not worked toward maturity ourselves how can we lead others? You can’t take someone else where you haven’t been. The scripture says that we will not be like infants tossed back and forth, but that we will grow up in all things.

Leaders don’t have the luxury to respond like everyone else does. My husband always says that in leadership, everyone else can be jerks but us. Do you know how many immature or mean things people have said or done to me? If I responded to every one of them I’d never be in leadership today.

It’s no secret to anyone who knows me personally that I color my hair.  My hair grows quickly, and my roots show in between times although I recolor every four weeks. Two weeks after we came to pastor in Tampa , a lady came up to me and said, “what are we going to do about you? You are our new pastors wife and you look like a skunk!” I had to deal with that lady for the next seven years here and trust me the skunk comment was mild.   At one point that same woman went around and told people in the church that she was the spiritual mother of the church, not me. I had to keep my head up, know who I was and just keep going.

Sometimes it’s a matter of working with that person, praying with them and bringing them to maturity and seeing God change them. At other times when they are unresponsive it’s just a matter of outlasting them.

If you are going to be a leader you will have to have a sense of who you are, and what you came to do. You cannot be an effective leader if you are always emotionally worked up over something. That sort of overshadows everything and when everyone else is emotionally all over the map a leader needs to be able to be steady and chart the course.

A – Attitude

According to statistics, 90% of all people who are fired lose their position because of a bad attitude.

Abraham Lincoln said, “A man is about as happy as he makes up his mind to be”.

Proverbs 23:7 says, "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he…”

The importance of a great attitude in leadership cannot be overstated.

D – Dedication

There is no substitute for hard work and dedication.

Real leaders are “extra milers”…

Matthew 5:40-41
"And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.  If someone wants you to go one mile, go with him two miles."

Jesus was telling us that we should be willing to do more – to go the extra mile. It will not always be convenient -- in fact most of the time it will be inconvenient!!! Those who become leaders in the Kingdom of God must learn to work harder, stay longer and be dedicated to their calling.

Everyone goes the first mile because it is required for existence. Only leaders will go the second mile to give their best.

The road to the next level is always uphill, and if it were easy, everybody out there would be doing it.

E – Expectation

Learn to have high expectations of yourself, and also expect the best in others.

There is power in your words so expect the best and speak with positive faith. Give the very best…your first fruits…not your leftover of whatever you have including your leftover energy or time.

I often hear of people saying, “well I’m doing the best I can doing this with my leftover time.” That’s part of the problem – they are choosing to give their leftover time instead of dedicating their best hours to that which God has called them to.

We always have more time than we want to admit to. I will hear that people have no time or money to do something. They say they have no time but then I see on their facebook they have just gone to the beach. They say they have no money but I see on their facebook they have just gone to Steak and Shake.

As a coach I can pretty much look at anyone’s schedule or checkbook and within five minutes tell them exactly where they would have more time or money if they made a few adjustments. Rarely would most people be open to that kind of introspection, but the truth is that at the end of the day, we all do what we WANT to do.

It comes down to the issue of giving your first fruits --

Numbers 18:12, "All the best of the oil, and all the best of the wine, and of the wheat, the first fruits of them which they shall offer unto the LORD, them have I given thee."

R – Responsibility

Leadership is servanthood and responsibility at the core.

You have to give up to go up! I have heard leaders say, “since I serve on the worship team, I can't stand by my spouse anymore while we sing or take communion.” All I have to say to that is... welcome to the ministry!

Or, “since I am on the worship team, we have to drive in separate cars and it's inconvenient…”

Or, “since I teach Missionettes I don’t get to hear the teaching on Wednesday night.” Well, duh.

Responsibility means I will do whatever it takes for as long as it takes until the job is done.

God has given us a work to do, whether it be a family to raise a ministry department to lead, a team to be a part of, a church to build, a family to raise and that is our responsibility. Only if we all do our part can these things prosper.

S – Servanthood

I read a statistic this past week that 7 out of every 10 people who want to become leaders will never achieve their goal. Why? Because they aren't committed to being a servant.

How do you know if  you're a servant? Simply see how you react when someone treats you like one!

Matthew 23:11-12, "But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted."

H – Honesty –

Have you ever gotten extra change at a cash register when you check out? What do you do about it?

Do you say, “Halleluiah, God has provided!!!”??

Your character is what you will do when no one is watching.

Your personality  is what you do when people are around.

A USA Today poll found that only 56% of American teach honesty to their children.  One thing I often remind parents about is that with kids, things are more "caught than taught."  Even among those who do teach honesty, living it out is a different story as many kids witness their parents lying about all sorts of things or worse yet asking them to lie for them. As a pastor I’m shocked to see how much of this goes on in the church.

I - Initative

Leaders make the first move.

If you are going to be a leader you can’t wait for people to come to you. People expect the leader to come to them, not the other way around.

As a leader it’s not about what you FEEL like doing, it’s about what you are called to do.

Feeling like doing something is not a requirement for success.  You don’t have to FEEL IT, just do it.

When I walk into a room, as a leader I can’t afford to wait for people to walk up to me. It’s up to me to walk across the room and introduce myself and say, “how can I help you?”

If there is a problem, a leader also takes the initiative to approach the person. This is not always easy. I don’t like to deal with problems, but as a leader we can’t shy away from difficult situations.  No leader loves confrontation -- if they do they are a sick person.  Leaders typically loathe confrontation but we know that for the health of those we lead and the organizations we serve, we must do it.

In the Bible Deborah was a person of action. She got things done. The Bible says in Judges 5:7 that “village life in Israel ceased until Deborah, a mother, arose in Israel.”

Things just stopped until Deborah was put in charge and got on the move.

In pastoring a church, I can tell who emerging leaders are by noticing who is getting things done even without me asking them to.  Budding leaders are self starters.   
Some people want to be a leader but they don’t want to actually do anything.

Leadership is more than a title, and the truth is, it’s not up to your leader to give you initiative…that’s all in your court.  After all, isn't that the meaning of initiative in the first place?

P – Punctual

Being on time is the first step to defeating the enemy.  Showing up is where it starts!

So if this area is not one that is under control in your life – it’s important that you make this a priority.

Lateness is a sign of poor management skills. When you are late for appointments, meetings or work, you show a lack of respect for other people's time as well as your own.  Also, if you can't manage to get yourself to meetings on time why should your leader entrust you with anything else?

Why is there so much stress in the workplace? One reason is that people have the tendency to put things off until the last possible moment, forcing them to complete the task at a frenzied pace and narrowly miss, or make, their deadline. If you are that one person that completes their work early, or helps someone else meet their deadline you'll be setting yourself apart from the rest.  A lot of success in business or ministry is simply in setting yourself apart from the rest based upon your level of excellence in service.

As a leader – it’s very important to be on time and if something happens in any event where you might even be a moment or two late, call and advise those you are working with of your ETA. To do so is just professional courtesy.

To summarize:

Love - passion for people and for what you do.
Emotionally Healthy
Expectations - of yourself and others

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Everything's coming up podcasts...

Yesterday, I posted the link to the podcast from Sunday's message at Celebration Church which was a tag team from my husband and Dustin.  If you missed it, please go here and check it out.  What a fantastic job they did.  So proud of my guys!

I'm catching up on posting podcasts today and for those who missed my radio interview on WSRX 89.5 Praise FM in Naples last month, go here and you can listen to it in it's entirety which is about 25 minutes.  Enjoy!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Father's Day
Father/Son Podcast

Click here for the podcast.

Yesterday was off the chain!

It wasn't "my day" yesterday for Father's Day but oh MY, was I ever blessed!

I was expecting a great day at church but I had no idea what was in store.  Worship and everything else went well but the biggest surprise was when Larry came to the pulpit to preach and he said, "we've got something extra special today...I'm going to invite my son Dustin to the pulpit and this morning we're going to present a tag team message!"  You could have just knocked me off my seat.  I had no idea!  They surprised even me and worked on this message without me knowing! 

Dustin has been preaching in youth periodically in addition to  leading worship.  He does have the call of God upon his life and is cultivating that, however, he has not preached in Sunday morning service.  This was a first!  It was amazing!!!  What a job he did.

We are going to be putting the message on the podcast asap and I am going to post the link here when we get it up.  I was hoping to have it by last night however with the Father's Day festivities it will have to wait til' Monday.

Sunday morning I just realized once again how very blessed I am.  There's no greater joy than to have your kids serve God and follow Him wholeheartedly.  This past week I was prompted once again to read and pray through, "The Power of a Praying Mother" and "The Power of a Praying Wife" again.  Those are two books that have really blessed me and impacted my life and family.  They have helped us navigate many waters.  When I go through Sundays like this past one I realize that every moment of prayer that has ever gone up to heaven on behalf of my family has been more than worth it. 

We had a great day yesterday relaxing with our family and friends.  After some amazing steaks on the grill we laid around, napped and watched the movie, "Leap Year."  Fun!

Here's to a great week ahead...not claiming a manic Monday...believing for a miraculous one.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

I only wanna be with you...

"I can't help it if I'm lucky...I only wanna be with you..."
Hootie and the Blowfish

I asked my husband what he wanted for Father's Day.  He just wants me.  :) 

I thought for sure he'd want to go out to eat.  Aside from going to church and preaching this morning he said he wants to come right home and have a quiet day at home, cooking steaks on the grill and just being together.  He did want to have our friends the Riveras for lunch as well so they are coming, but aside from having these folks here, he just wanted to chill. 

I was so tired after teaching life coaching yesterday -- I had been up extremely late the night before and that really wiped me out.  I came home after coaching and took a several hour nap and when I got up he told me he wanted us to plan to have Father's Day lunch at home.  This would require some work I wasn't prepared for.  Thankfully Savanna cleaned most of  the house and Larry ran to the store to get what I needed and I began to do some cooking.  He wanted steaks with my shrimp pasta salad (which is UH-may-ZING, I must say...anyone who has ever had it who is a seafood lover goes gaga over it...will post the recipe at the end here for anyone who is interested.)   We are also having baked potatoes...I make them the "Red Lobster" way by covering them with a mixture of butter/oil and coating them in sea salt.  Then I wrap them in tin foil and cook them in the crock pot while we are at church.  By the time we get home they are all done and smelling just WON-der-ful!  We're having some other veggies, and stuff that the Riveras will bring.  A great lunch is in store, and even greater company!

I went shopping for Larry's Father's Day present on Friday.  I was positively stumped as to what to get him.  He's an extremely hard person to buy for.  I have taken SO much stuff back the store that he doesn't like or can't use.  I get tired of going to customer service and returning stuff, quite frankly!  So after looking for a while I came home frustrated and said, "babe, I'm not going to surprise you...let's just go get you something that you can pick out yourself."  He said he wanted to do that Monday but I wasn't happy with that and said, "no, no...that will be after the holiday...I feel bad that you aren't geting something special on Father's Day."  And then he says, "I just want you." 

(Insert "ahhhhhs

I said, "what's different with that?  You can have me every day." 

But evidently he doesn't get tired of me. :) 

So for today that's what he and a steak.  Ha! 

This past Mothers Day was possibly the last one for a long time that I would have all three of my children together in church, as Jordan is going into the Air Force any day now.  I didn't think Larry would have another Father's Day with them but God in his provision has kept Jordan home a few more months and now Larry will have a Father's Day tomorrow with all of them.  I am so grateful.  Perhaps for that reason it will be even more special that we are home all day and not going out anywhere but church this morning.

I am really blessed to have Larry as the father of our children.  He's the type of father who really enjoys doing things with them.  Whether it be going to a game together or watching Survivor or  going on a Daddy/daughter date...he really truly enjoys taking them places and doing things with them and generally being an extremely involved father.  He really gets into their world and is not content just to be a "Father"...but a "Daddy."  Here's to Larry and all the fathers out there who do more than just biologically father children, but give them the heritage of a Daddy who loves and cares for them always.

Deanna's Shrimp Salad

1 box macaroni or other kind of pasta you prefer (for today I used corkscrew pasta for something different)
2 lb. steamed shrimp (peeled, deveined)
1 green (bell) pepper chopped 
1 yellow (sweet bell) pepper chopped
2 large tomatoes chopped
1 medium onion chopped
About 1/2 jar Hellmann's mayonnaise (I only use Hellmans...makes a major difference in my humble opinion.)
About 3 Tbsp Old Bay Seasoning or to taste 

Cook macaroni according to directions.  I do mine "al dente" - do not overcook.  Drain pasta and rinse in cold water.  I get my shrimp steamed at the store to save time and just peel it at home unless they do it there at the store for free.  (Every store varies as to how they steam their shrimp and if they peel and devein it.  I go to Sweetbay most times and they will steam it for me in Old Bay but I peel it myself.  Note that I still add the same amount of Old Bay to the recipe even if they steam in it.)    Add all other ingredients.  I do not measure the mayo or Old Bay -- I do it according to consistency and taste.  Refrigerate immediately - keep cold and do not just leave this out for hours if you go to a picnic, etc. because it has the mayo and shrimp and you want to be careful.  This salad is very simple, the thing that takes time is simply washing and chopping everything, but it's SO good and of course the secret is the Old Bay flavor!   Enjoy.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Fun Friday with the pups

The majority of my day yesterday was spent just how I love to spend Friday best --  at home in the quiet.   Yesterday I hung out with the dogs and did some things around the house  that I love to do most like cooking!  I pulled out the camera to take some candid shots during our time together.  I am just crazy about my pups, for anyone who hasn't figured it out yet.  

A little too much partying last head is killin' me!

Watchin' Momma cook...lickin' my chops -- smells so good!

Hello Mr. are you today?  Just checkin' ya out.

Alarm just went off this morning...haven't had my coffee or shower yet...

Is this my best side?

Oops!  She caught me!  (This is Maxie...he's always getting in some kinda mischief!)

Friday, June 18, 2010

There's nothing funny about it at all

Yesterday we took our assistant Cathy out to lunch for her birthday.  She wanted to go to Red Lobster, which is somewhere I love to go too.  After being seated the server came to take our drink orders and my husband asked for his usual, a Boston iced tea.  Immediately the server says, "I'm sorry sir, we're out of cranberry juice."  My husband's face displayed immediate disappointment but he didn't complain and responded, "okay I'll have a diet coke."  Then the server says, "no, I'm just kidding, we have the cranberry juice.  I'll bring you the Boston iced tea."  So we all sat there and just sort of went, "mkay...moving right along.  That wasn't really funny but whatever..."

Our lunch progresses and the server continues to do this kind of thing.  With other requested items he proceeds to tell us that they don't have them available...sees the disappointment register on our face and then tells us, "ha ha, just kidding!!"  It really got annoying.  I realize this was just a joke, and while I'm all for fun, this is exactly the kind of joke I can't stand.  
What kind of person gets a kick out of seeing other people's disappointment?   What is so funny about disappointment?  Nothing!  If it were just food and drinks it wouldn't be quite so bad, but people do it with so many other things in life.    In the past I've had key players or soloists tell me, "Oh Pastor Deanna, did I mention that family plans have changed and I won't be here for the Easter concert?"  After my heart totally sinks to an unbelievable level about how I'm going to make a concert work with somebody missing who has a major part they say, "ha ha!  I was just kidding!  Of course I'll be here!"  The joke may have only lasted a few seconds or minutes, but quite honestly it was two seconds of stress that I didn't need. 

Sometimes people do this with much more serious things.  Have you ever had people play a "joke" on you like this with something big or small and had the wind knocked out of you emotionally even if but for a few minutes?