Sunday, October 31, 2010

Comin up...

Today at Celebration we're going to be featuring our children's ministries and highlighting all God is doing in KidZone.  In the past few months they have more than DOUBLED in attendance!  Amazing things are happening in there.  Can't wait to see what they are going to share today under the leadership of Pastor Adam and the Kidzone staff.

By the way, thanks for the prayer regarding Kayte getting along with Max and Maddie.  We have been socializing them more and last night the three of them were actually in the same room twice without any leashes, and getting along relatively well.  Still not totally smooth sailing but 100% better than their first exposure to each other.

I'm in for a crazy week this week and am just not going to stop to think about it or it will depress me.  I have jury duty this coming week.  Some say, "have fun with it and enjoy doing something different."  Well yes, and at the same time I can't just table all my work for a week and come back to it when I'm done.  So when I get home in the evenings I'll be doing work on my other jobs to keep up with what has to be done.   If anyone in Tampa wonders why you probably won't be able to get ahold of me this week by phone or why I'm slow on answering mail, the answer is, I'll be at jury duty during the day and playing catch up in the evenings.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Hilarious billboard

Yeah, this really makes you wanna send your kid to public school in South Bend, Indiana, for sure...

Still LMBO!!!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Update on rescued dogs...

Happy endings are good.  :)

Gayle took Molly Brown (little dachshund we rescued on Wednesday) to the vet yesterday and her tumor as removed.  Thankfully it was benign.  She is healing up and will soon be good as new!  The dog is adjusting well although their cat doesn't care for the dog so Gayle slept with the dog out in the trailer last night.

In case you're just catching up here, we have the Jack Russell (who some believe may also be part rat terrier) at our house and Dustin has claimed her and named her Kayte.  She's doing just great all except for the fact that she doesn't get along with Max and Maddie.  They would have no issues with her (I think they would love to play) but she's very threatened by them and comes unglued when they are around and gets very mean.  Right now it's kind of stressful as we have to keep them gated and separated at all times so they don't kill each other.  Kayte becomes very aggressive and M & M defend themselves.

So prayers right now would be appreciated for both Molly Brown and Kayte to adjust.  

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Birthday surprise...

What an eventful day  yesterday.  I bike in the mornings on Wednesday because we have church that evening and if I don't go in the morning, I wouldn't be able to go.  When I was coming home in from my ride yesterday morning I looked down and noticed a little dog had followed me right on  into the living room!  I hadn't even heard her because I had my earphones on.  She was a little black and white Jack Russell.  Before I could even bend down to pet her, lo and behold there was ANOTHER dog -- this time a brown miniature dachshund!  Where in the world did they come from?  We had no idea, but we went out and started talking to neighbors and discovered they had apparently been wandering around the neighborhood together for 3 days!  They were panting...and so thirsty.  The dachshund also had a huge (tennis ball size) lump on her neck.  I noticed they were scratching a bit so after feeding and giving them water, I told Dustin to help me put them in the tub.  We bathed them real good with flea and tick shampoo, and then called our vet who told us to bring them over to see if they were micro-chipped.

The Dachshund was micro-chipped however the owners never registered their information so there is probably no way of locating them.  The Jack Russell was never registered or chipped.   Chances are they were abandoned.  Both are trained and seem to have very good dispositions.  Gayle Lechner from church immediately said she would take the dachshund and get her whatever medical care needed.  They were immediately smitten with her and have named her "Molly Brown."  (The unsinkable Molly Brown!)  Dustin would like to have the Jack Russell if he can handle her and has named her Kayte ("Kay-Tee").  It was an unexpected birthday surprise, for sure!    He will have to see how he does with taking care of her for a week or so, and he'll also have to take her back to the vet to have all her shots re-done as well as any other care she'll need.    So far Maddie's doing ok with Kayte but Max isn't so sure.   I'm praying that they will be able to become friends.   Also that Dustin will adjust well with her.  He'll have to totally step up to the plate and take care of her as Larry and I have our hands full with M & M.  Of course this will be a moot point if the owners come forward, but my gut feeling tells me these dogs were abandoned and that won't happen.  If they weren't abandoned and somebody's searching for them I sure hope they find us because how painful it would be for somebody to be missing their babies. 

In other surprises, we had a party after church last night for Dustin's birthday.  He took Kayte with him to church last night because we didn't have a cage for her at home and Michele was bringing one to church.  It was just as well - everyone got to see Kayte.  Friends came from outside the church including his friend Peter from DSOM (District School of Ministry) and Pastor Sam & Tamara and the kids.  Some of my wonderful Celebration friends helped in making a bazillion cupcakes.  Dustin drinks "Simply Orange" everyday and his friends blessed him in bringing a whole bunch as well as Chic-fil-A milkshakes.  After everyone got something to eat people took turns coming to the microphone to say things about Dustin and memories they have with him and how much he means to them.  It was very touching and a great time was had by all.  When he got home with Kayte he discovered that "Mrs. B" the manager from the theatre where he works had left him a balloon bouquet on the front door.   She wanted to come to the party at the church (I invited her) but had to work last night.  She thinks the world of Dustin (who is a supervisor at the theatre) and he feels the same.  He's one special young man and anybody who comes into contact with him knows that after just a few moments of talking with him.  Yup, I'm a proud Momma.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Today is a very special day

Twenty one years ago today our lives were forever changed in an amazing way!  A little after midnight at Our Lady of Lourdes hospital in Camden, New Jersey, I gave birth to Dustin!   He absolutely rocked my world with his big chocolate eyes and his smile, and his little pointy chin.  

When he was born I had all kinds of dreams about what kind of person he would become.  I have to say he has exceeded them all!  When he turned 18, I realized how amazing parenting can be when they grow up and turn out right.  I wanted to have even more kids but my husband said we were done.  He was just too tired to have more.  People ask me, "why in the world do you want more kids?" and I just have to say, "Meet my kids...they're incredible!   Why would I not want more of this?"

Dustin still melts his momma's heart with his big brown eyes and his smile.  But more than that he loves God so much, and his favorite thing to do is to sing and play to Jesus, and share His love with everyone.

He is turning 21 but tonight on his birthday he will not be out in a bar somewhere getting smashed.  He will be leading worship at Refuge.  Yes, on his 21st birthday.  Because that's the kind of young man he is.  

What more could a mother want?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

So another church is reaching the dogs...

If there's one thing I learned during the neighborhood prayer blitz on Saturday it's that people LOVE dogs.

Every house but two that Sue and I went to had dogs.  I had as much fun meeting the puppies as the people!!  There was one lady who had six or eight of them!  Another house where we rang the doorbell but no one answered had so many dogs we made a game out of counting all the different kinds of barks to try to figure out how many dogs were behind the door.

When we came back to the church and compared notes with all of the other teams, they all remarked about how almost all the houses they went to had dogs.  This was true whether we were in high, low or middle income neighborhoods.  Sue and I went to one house that was probably a 4 or 5 million dollar house and we went to some poor areas too.  No matter where we went there was one thing in common:  DOGS!!!  DOGS!!   AND MORE DOGS!!!

Months ago I suggested to our leadership team at Celebration that we have a "blessing of the dogs" day as an outreach.  A few key leaders thought I had lost my mind.  They've had more than a few good natured laughs at my expense.  Well, on Saturday Sue pointed out to me a church sign from another local church and guess what they are doing?  "The blessing of the pets"!  Yep, they beat us to it.  More power to 'em!  I bet it's going to be a huge success and I wish them well.  Sue is thinking of taking her cat to this other church and if I thought I could control Max, I might just take him and Maddie.  (Max is quite literally a bull in a china shop at this point...)  Instead of them blessing Max, he might knock over their pulpit and chew on the altars.  So I'm not too sure.

I pray over and bless my dogs every day.  I believe God cares about them.  The bible tells us He cares about the birds of the air, so  I know He cares about my Max and Maddie too.

One day I am going to sponsor a creative outreach involving dogs...I just don't know what it's going to be yet.  My thought is that people love their dogs so much, and if you can do something to bless the dogs,  you can reach the people.   Any ideas?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sister Wives season finale...and why I'm
blogging about this in the first place

So nine days ago the season finale of Sister Wives was broadcast.  The season wrapped up with Kody and Robyn's wedding.  From all outward appearances this was a joyous occasion as TLC featured footage of people celebrating to their heart's content over this latest hallmark moment for the Browns.

It's taken me this long to mentally process the finale, and settle on what I am going to say about it.  Some may wonder why I watched Sister Wives, and furthermore why I'm writing about it.

TLC among others are endeavoring to soften the public's view of various lifestyle choices and make them seem legitimate.  I also watched the Sister Wives interview on Oprah and noticed that although Oprah didn't shy away from tough questions, there was a vibe of sympathy for the Browns who are being investigated and may face time in jail.  There is an endeavor to put a kinder gentler face on this issue and I believe there is a need for people to speak truth about it in response.

Many have observed that for all the happiness the Sister Wives purport, at least one of them are crying in almost every frame.

Most women claim that this lifestyle of polygamy would never appeal to them as they would never share their husband with another woman.  I do believe however that through the right marketing and public softening on the issue it may become as acceptable as other aberrant lifestyles that used to be publicly taboo not too long ago.

Sister Wives assert that this lifestyle is so worthwhile because they have:
  • Help around the house from the other wives - aren't responsible alone for all of the things that it takes to run a household or mother children.
  • Women living together who understand and are on the scene to help, comfort, talk, share burdens.
  • A greater sense of family  (more people to love, more children, more family activities in general).  Kody Brown often points out, "love should be multiplied, not divided."  (Yet, his time is "divided" between four women.  Something about this equation doesn't add up!)
The price of all of these supposed benefits for the women  (aside from eternal consequences) is sharing one's husband with other women - not having exclusivity.  Before you dismiss this as something "mainstream" women are not willing to do, consider the following:

  • How many women out there know their husband is having an ongoing affair but choose to stay?
  • How many women have a gut feeling there is another woman but choose to stay in denial because it's too painful to deal with reality?  
  • How many women date a man (and have sex with them) for years who is unwilling to make a commitment and want the opportunity to date and be intimate with others if they desire? 
The only difference between the Sister Wives and these women is that the Sister Wives have "married" the man.  A woman we pastored years ago found out her husband was having an affair and chose to stay even though she knew his behavior was ongoing.  He would repent and leave one relationship only to start a new one.  She told my husband and I that, "a piece of a man is better than no man at all -- at least I have him the majority of the time."  She didn't want to lose her home, lifestyle to which she was accustomed and what was familiar to her.  This was a Christian woman who actually believed she was honoring God by this choice of staying, despite her husband's continued dalliances with others.   The only difference between her and "Sister Wives" is that the other woman didn't live under the same roof.

Why might a polygamous lifestyle appeal to some women or at least give them pause for thought?  A lot of them are overwhelmed with the work of their households.  The majority of them do the lion's share of the housework even with a spouse who "helps out" - the women bear the greater burden for keeping things going.  One of my dear women friends who is a successful business woman but also has to bear most of the responsibility of keeping her home going (her husband helps out but it's minor compared to what she does)  often quips, "all I'd need to succeed even more is a wife!!" Many wives also feel that they aren't heard or understood as much as they would like to be.  Although they love their husband, a lot of them lament that no one hears them out for hours on end or really "listens to their heart" like a woman friend.  Now, keeping those two things in mind, do you  understand why TLC putting a fresh face on this issue may actually entice women who are not even Mormon or living in Utah to think about this lifestyle as a viable option?  With the way many so called  "Christians" twist the scriptures, you might even have some who will manipulate the Bible to try to justify this lifestyle. 

Like quite a number of my blog readers, I'm a pastor who works up close and personal with people every week who are hurting in real life.  A few months ago a young woman who attends our church came to me and shared that she's been selling cocaine to take care of her child.  She claims she doesn't do cocaine, she just sells it.  I love this woman just as I do all of the people who walk in the doors at CC, however you can imagine that I had a serious talk with her about why this is an unacceptable choice for her to make.  I told her, "we have a food bank right here at Celebration that will completely take care of that need.  You don't need to sell drugs in order to eat."   She said, "no, you don't understand, Pastor Deanna...I can make in one day selling cocaine what it would take me a week to make as a waitress, and I can pay all my bills that way and stay home with the baby and not have to work."

So basically this is a lifestyle choice that she is making that is more convenient.
It's easier.
It makes her happier to do this than to waitress.
It's more comforting for her to work one day a week from home rather than be on her feet all day serving food.
It enables her to stay home with her baby rather than put the child in daycare.

It's also illegal, and immoral.

Does the end justify the means?  No.

It's the issue of happiness that I want to zero in on in today.  People put great emphasis on happiness in their lives.  We even say, "Whatever makes you happy!"  Really?

Happiness can be an idol.  We Americans are addicted to what makes us happier, what is easier, what brings us more comfort.  

This is one of my greatest concerns with the way TLC is spinning polygamy.  They are trying desperately to make the Browns seem "just like us"...people who are searching for family, fulfillment and happiness in life.  Although I hate what these ladies are doing, I don't hate them as people.  I must admit, I could see myself sitting down and having coffee with Christine!  She's the sister wife that I like the most, for whatever reason.   But I can also tell you that I would not for a second agree with what she is doing.  How many impressionable people who lack discernment might be swayed, however, into going down the slippery slope that, "well maybe what they are doing isn't so bad..."???   We tend to go soft on issues when there is a familiar face/name that goes with them.  It's like this with any sin, really.  I know people who have been vehemently opposed to various things UNTIL their child or friend gets involved, and then suddenly it doesn't seem so evil anymore.  

God never told us to "Go forth and be happy."  Furthermore, true happiness is only found in Him.  We have elevated the world's standard of happiness to a human's reason for being and the truth is that our reason for being is to live as a son or daughter of God, enjoy fellowship with Him and fulfill His purposes.  There will be times along that road we may not feel happy and in fact we may not be living in comfort.  One of the least popular topics to teach on is that of sharing in the fellowship of Christ's sufferings.

Whether a lifestyle "makes sense" [to our carnal mind] or "brings greater happiness" or "provides comfort" is not a reason for any of us to choose it. 

I have spoken out about this concerning divorce as well.   The "idol of happiness" is the biggest thing negatively affecting marriages.  The idol of happiness is otherwise known as selfishness.  Did you know that 85% of all divorces are for "non-severe" reasons?  This means there was no affair involved, or anything of great significance.  Rather, at least one spouse was just unhappy and decided it was all about them.   

And that is why I am interested in what this show is putting out there for public consumption, and why I speak to the issue and stand by my words.   I believe especially as pastors we should be aware, and remind others of what God says in His Word on these issues.  Like the men of Issachar, may we, "understand the times, and know what to do."  (I Chronicles 12:32)

As a side note, I never wrote about Sister Wives for the purpose of increased blog traffic, but I will say that my stats shot through the roof as soon as I did, with new readers who had simply Googled, "Sister Wives" and landed here.  To those of you who are among that crowd, welcome.  I'm glad you're here and I hope you received a unique perspective on this show that you may not have received had you simply relied on TMZ, Perez Hilton or the Huffington Post to give you insight about Sister Wives.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Amazingness ahead!

Margaret, Candy, Chris, Savanna and Taylor  hitting the streets at the Prayer Blitz yesterday

Yesterday was great and I can hardly wait to see what will happen today!  We had a prayer outreach where a bunch of us from Celebration went out into the community to simply knock on doors and say, "We're from Celebration Church and are out in the neighborhood today to just introduce ourselves and ask if there is anything we can pray with you about..."

Amazing things happened!  In one case, Candy and Chris saw a lady walking in a neighborhood with seven children.  Yes, seven!!!  Some were even babies, and she had no stroller or anything.  They found out she not only needed prayer, she also needed food.   Candy invited her to pile everyone in the car and let her take them to Celebration to our recovery service which is also a  food and clothing ministry.  She agreed.  She  and the children came and got a meal and groceries for the week, and most importantly when she heard the message, she responded and accepted Jesus as her Savior!!  Then Candy and Chris drove her and the children home.  They also quickly arranged a ride for the lady and the seven kids today for church.  Right then and there, CC, just grew by eight more people.

That's just ONE story from yesterday -- there were quite a few miraculous ones.  God is so good!  We came back to the church after the community prayer blitz, and shared an Italian meal and testimonies.

There's no telling what will happen TODAY especially as we just let God have HIS way!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Catching up

Although my schedule has been busy the past few weeks I'm making time to bike for 35 minutes a day, every day but Sunday. It's one of my favorite times of the day. So far all I can squeeze in is 35 minutes but that's better than nothing.

This week amidst everything else going on that I normally have to do in balancing several jobs we had a memorial service.  We also celebrated Candy's birthday on Thursday.  She wanted to go to the Acropolis where they have belly dancers.  The belly dancers were not there that night but fortunately there was an older man playing a guitar and singing traditional greek music and the servers periodically danced while throwing what seemed like a bazillion napkins on our heads.  We dined on saganaki, souvlaki, gyro, baklava and coffee and more!  Yum! So good.    

This weekend we have a prayer outreach at Celebration and much more.  I know it will be a good weekend.   I spent a lot of my day off cleaning at the house and there's still a lot left to do.  I am behind in so many things.  I am hoping to do a little bit each night on the weeknights though my schedule is busy so that on my next day off maybe  won't have to clean and I can sleep. :)

Before signing off today, here are some recent favorites of my babies...

Maddie just chillin on the bed
Maddie checks the computer for any updates
Max catches up on sleep.  I love napping right next to him.  It' s my goal to do that next Friday.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Stuff I say all the time

Yesterday we had a memorial service for someone who passed away who was affiliated with our church.  People recalled things the deceased said and did.   It got me thinking about the fact that we all have stuff we say all the time...our unique "isms".    These are some things that come out of my mouth at least once a week, some every single day.  I'm sure my friends could add more obvious ones than I am just not thinking about at the moment.


"It's amazing!!!"

"If you don't ask, the answer's always no!"

"If you just do the right thing long enough, it will catch up with you."

"Are. You. Serious??!!!!!!!"

"That tastes so good it would make a tadpole slap a whale!"

[To my kids]  "I brought you into this world..."


"Oh my Lord!!!"



"I love you."

"Get ready, get ready, get ready!!!"

"Cancel, cancel, cancel!"

"I need that like I need a hole in the head."

 "Well, at the end of the day..."

"I need an iced tea."

"You have GOT to be kidding me!!!!!!"

"Well, halleluiah Jesus!"

"Somebody SCREAM!!!"

"Dear Lord Jesus in heaven!!!!"

"Well let me tell you..."

"I am not even kidding you..."

"Give a shout up in here!"


"How can I help you?"

"Yep, for you I've got a minute."

"Deanna -- D-E-A-N-N-A,  all one word with two n's." 

"Tomorrow is a brand new day."

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Nothing like it

The other night I went out with two of my dear friends for a girls only night which is my best form of therapy.  :)  Oh what a time.  Sharing our hearts, even some tears, and a whole lot more chuckles. We closed down the restaurant (it's becoming a habit ) and the staff even commented, "we've really enjoyed listening to you ladies laugh tonight..."  We did savor these insanely good ice cream desserts pictured above, but more than that we enjoyed the company of one another.  

There is nothing like the sweet fellowship of like minded, loyal friends.  It's more comforting than ice cream.

"Oh the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away."  ~George Eliot

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Puppy love

Savanna and Maddie
I wanted more children after Dustin turned 18, but my husband declared us done in that department.  It was probably just as well as I sometimes have a hard time keeping up with the children I do have.  On the other hand, does ANY parent really stay on top of it 100% all the time?  Who really IS ever ready to have a kid, or more kids?

At any rate, it's not an option for me anymore and I have thrown my energy that I would have thrown toward another child toward our two dogs.  I really consider them to be my new babies on the scene and can't thank Larry enough for insisting that we add them to our family.  I don't like being away from them, and think about them all the time when we're apart.  I give them both plenty of TLC each day and can't imagine life without them.  Every day I hold them both and pray a prayer over them for health and long life.  They are so easy to  love.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Regrets, I've had a few...

"Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter
and those who matter don't mind." 
Dr. Suess

I have few regrets in life, but I'm about to disclose one of my biggest.

I caved to what I would now consider bullying and sold my personal  values for continued opportunity and a small amount of money.  Before the days of blogging, I had an article published on one of my websites.  An editor of a magazine I was writing for called me about a particular piece, upset.  I had no idea this was coming - otherwise I never would have responded as I did.   She was alarmed at the frankness with which I wrote this particular piece, one that contained interviews with pastor's wives who had been abused,  and demanded that I delete it.   My writing was too forthright for her tastes and her exact words were, "if you are going to keep writing for us, we demand that you delete that, right now."  

She was alarmed by my frankness and also felt this expose' of abusive churches would "turn people away from Christ."  (In my humble opinion it was the behavior of the churches, not my article that would have turned people away from Christ...)  She told me the pastor's wives who were interviewed would one day greatly regret it.  That what they needed was just prayer, not a discussion of what they  had been through.  That this could only bring harm not good.  That some things are better left unsaid.

I was shell shocked.
Caught off guard.

I was also less confident, younger, and desperate for people to buy my work.

She wasn't calling to ask me to consider it and call her back.  She was demanding a change, right then, on the phone.

I didn't defend myself but quietly agreed to take the article off the site.  I felt like a four year old being scolded by my mother.  After sharing her disappointment with my level of transparency she  condescendingly asked if she could pray with me (I still bristle when I recall this) and then said that when she came to Florida some day she would like to have lunch with me, realizing that I was (in her words) "an up and coming leader who God was really using.".  I'd rather have lunch with Nancy Pelosi, quite frankly.  Yeah, that's how bad this memory is in my mind.

Had I had time to think about this, I never would have agreed to remove the article .  But I felt the pressure on the phone as she made her demands that day.  As the years have passed, I felt that I sold a little of my soul that day and I vowed I'll never do it again.  Ever.

I've realized since that time that the pen is truly mightier than the sword.  Martin Luther said, "if you want to change the world, pick up your pen."  I believe what a person writes is even more powerful than the spoken word, because what people say can be easily forgotten.  Even today in this era of technology, people receive and process a text or a twitter much more readily than a podcast!  The written word has the power to last forever, and it's therefore a huge threat.

 I've been preaching for 25 years and writing for even longer.  And I have learned that what I write hands down has the power to stir people more, for good or bad.  If somebody's gonna get their panties in a bunch, it's usually over a blog post or article, not a message although I many times say much more controversial things in my messages!  This is true of most if not all writers/speakers that I know.

I made a decision after that regrettable experience of acquiescing  to that editor that I will never do that again.  No platform of opportunity or amount of money is worth altering who I am to please someone else.

I'm still friends with the pastor's wives interviewed for that article and not one regrets speaking out.  If anything they regret not coming forward sooner to share their experiences openly.

Incidentally the magazine I was writing for (one that enjoyed many prosperous decades) is now defunct, having been discontinued due to lack of subscribers and funding.  Perhaps if the writing had been more frank and compelling it would have survived.


Monday, October 18, 2010

I seriously recommend...

Listening to this song.  It's like my "song of the month."  I get dressed to it.  I bike to it.  I listen to it when I need a faith lift.

Riding a bicycle.  Do it at sunrise or sunset.  It's wonderful for your mental health.

Arby's chocolate turnovers.   Available for a limited time only, so go quick!   You can join this facebook group, to help "save the Arby's chocolate turnover."  Do it!

Laughter. So good for the soul.

Being yourself.  Refuse to settle for anything else.  There will always be people trying to squish you into their mold.  Stay true to the original you. 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

What God is doing

Since June 27, 2010, there has been a revolution at Celebration Church.  It happened within three months time.

That Sunday is significant for a few reasons but I'll only share one here today.

Since that time, 15 new families have been added to Celebration Church.  These are not people who came once or twice and faded out.  They are not casual attenders.  We're talking "all the time people."  Most of these people have only missed one, or two Sundays if at all since that Sunday.  Tonight I have a list of all those people's names, to share in detail with our leadership as we celebrate what GOD HAS DONE. We can't thank and praise Him enough for His favor.

This month is pastor appreciation and in addition to the board members talking to the church every Sunday morning about this, (and doing a fantastic job!) I also taught on this subject yesterday at life coaching and shared with the women unique things about the pastoral role, and how they can be of most help to their pastors not just during pastor appreciation month, but all the time, to be an integral part of seeing God's will and purpose fulfilled.  Tonight we have leaders meeting and our leaders are going to teach on that subject.

Can't wait to hear what they're going to say!
Can't wait to see what God is going to do in service today!
Can't wait to see who's life is changed!
Can't wait to see who walks in the doors next and how many families we add TODAY!

I know it's going to be amazing.

The next breakthrough is on the way!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

This morning...

Life coaching today...

lots of "next level" stuff coming...

I'll probably have tons to report Sunday night or Monday in an update here... still lots to wrap up for the weekend.

I had a great Friday off - bike riding, spending time with my friends, and gearing up for an extremely busy weekend in ministry but I feel a great one coming on...

Do your thing, Jesus!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Would you choose to...

There's a game that I downloaded onto my phone, called, "Would You Choose To..." and you vote on things such as:

Would you choose to...

  • Be super hairy hairless
  • Go shirtless for the rest of your life or...go pantless for the rest of your life 
  • Be kicked in the face by an angry donkey roundhouse kicked in the face by Chuck Norris
 So while I'm bored and waiting in line (after having checked my mail) I can flip through this game and make choices and see how I rate with the rest of the millions of people who have also voted on these things.  It's fun friday and I thought I'd make up my own today, just for fun.  That's right, forget about reality my friends, and let your mind wander a few moments into these scenarios...

Would you choose to...

  • Pastor the same preacher killer church for 30 years straight, or hang over a snake pit for 30 years?  Wait, isn't that the same thing??
  • Never be allowed to to wear a bra ever again, or always have to wear a bra 24/7?  Depends on if it's underwire...
  • Have your car stall in the middle of the busiest intersection in town or throw up on the grocery store conveyor belt?
  • Have to eat Cherrios for dinner 30 nights straight or be forced to drink only pomegranate juice with meals for 30 days straight?
  • Live in 103 degree heat for a week or temperatures of 10 below 0?  
  • Have your kids ask for your help with a science project due the next day that they haven't started on or have your husband tell you that four friends are coming for dinner in an hour...unexpectedly?
  • Live without eyeshadow the rest of your life or live without hairspray?
  • Be forced to wear pantyhose everyday for the rest of your life, or get a mammogram every Monday afternoon for life?  
  • Have a husband who insists on swearing Speedos in public or private for that matter or  or a son who insists on getting ear spacers (gauges)?
Have fun choosing on this Fun Friday...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Who are you to judge me?

Walk through this scenario with me...

A man named John Smith commits a crime.

John Smith is tried for that crime, found guilty and sentenced by the judge to 20 years in prison.

You are a witness to this.

Some days later John comes and asks you, "so, what's going to happen to me?" and you simply respond, "Well John, the judge said that you are going to serve 20 years in prison."

Have you just judged John?  Actually no, he was judged by the judge.  You never judged him, you simply repeated what the judge said.

In another related scenario, let's say  a mutual friend who knows you is aware of the case asks, "so, what's happened with John Smith?" and you say, "Well, the judge sentenced him to 20 years in prison..." Did you judge John by telling your friend this?   No, you are simply repeating what the judge said.

There's a lot of talk these days about judging. People decry how wrong it is to "judge" and if they are referring to the true act of judging I would agree with them.  But there is a difference between actually judging someone and simply repeating what THE JUDGE has already decided.

While we don't know everything about the future there are some things we do know because the Bible already declares them as so. 

One time a lady came to my office at the church to talk to me.  We already had a rapport - she had been coming to the church a few months and I had welcomed her with open arms and she felt a comfort level with me.  She came in to talk because she was in an affair with a married man and in a lot of anguish.  She wanted to know what she should do, and what would happen to her if she continued this affair. I told her, "I'm not a psychologist, nor a counselor.  I am a pastor who gives biblical wisdom.  I  will share with you what God has already said in His Word, not my opinion.  It's not up to me to judge or decide what you should do.  So, let's look to God's Word together.  I gave her nothing of my opinion I simply opened the Bible, and read to her a bunch of verses containing what God Himself says about the situation.  And with that she burst out crying, got up and walked out.

I suppose I could have shared a bunch of verses about Jesus feeding the 5,000 or Noah's ark, or the Sermon on the Mount, but with plenty of scripture that speaks directly to her situation, why would I do that?  God's word is relevant to our everyday life and gives direction about what to do if you are in an adulterous affair. 

Now, did I judge her?  No.  Not at all.  I simply repeated to her what God says about adultery, what takes place if one does not repent, and the grace that is available for one who does.  It wasn't my words that she had a problem with, for it wasn't my words that were shared.    She wanted desperately for me to agree with her situation.  I accepted her, I loved her, but I also shared truth when she asked.  Not my truth  -- God's truth, straight from His Word.  My opinion is irrelevant but the Word stands for all time.

It's very fashionable these days to chastise anyone who takes a stand for anything by declaring what God has already said.  I encourage any Bible believing Christian who is reading this to not back down on sharing truth just because someone accuses you of judging.  If you are simply repeating what God has already said  it's not you they have a problem with.  There's an old fashioned term for this:  Holy Ghost conviction!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Stuff my husband does right

 (Photo by Rachael Rice ~ taken at 2010 Spice Conference at Celebration Church

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."  Philippians 4:8

It would be real easy for any of us to focus on what our spouse does wrong, and at times, all of us do.   And when we do it very long we see what a demoralizing, get-us-nowhere exercise this is.

Yesterday morning I was given a wake up call (literally) about something I haven't given my husband credit for.  How in the world have I missed giving him props for this?  In the middle of the night last night he got up, stumbled in the dark to the bathroom and I could hear him peeing in there.  He flushes, washes his hands (yeah, my husband is an avid hand washer, also a relentless teeth brusher, which we'll come back to..) and he comes back to sleep.  I peacefully go back to deep sleep.  Nothing unusual about all this.

Early this morning still before the sun is up I feel the urge to go potty (can't hold it anymore now that I'm peri-menopausal, aren't you glad to know that?) and I sleepily make my way into the bathroom feeling my way in the dark as I customarily do.  As I get to the bathroom and reach down to lift the toilet lid in the dark, and then sit down on the seat, I suddenly have a epiphany.  Yes, I even have them on the toilet.  I am suddenly struck with the thought that after 23 years of marriage, I have never fallen into the toilet as a result of my husband leaving the seat up!  He always puts it down.   Always.  Really!  He not only puts the seat down, he puts the lid down too!  Yes, I'm a doubly blessed woman.  (I can already hear what you're thinking...and yes...he does pee standing up!  :::giggles:::)

All the talk I hear from my friends about having to put the seat back down every time and stories about "falling in" are foreign to me.  This is one of the many blessings I count in being married to Larry Shrodes.

 A few other things he does right:

  • Cooks great!  It's not a strange thing at all for me to come home from my bike ride and find him cooking dinner.  And it's really good stuff.   
  •  Always has fresh breath.  As I mentioned before, he brushes his teeth all the time - after every meal and probably 2-3 times a day beyond that.   
  •  He can fix stuff like a vacuum cleaner cord that was chewed all the way in half by the dogs.
  •  He's good with some other things he's pleaded with me not to blog about, so I'll leave it (at least today, lol) to his prowess with toilet seats, cooking, teeth brushing and vacuum cleaner cords.
  • He puts up with me writing posts like this.  If you've been around for any length of time you know just how much, and you're still here, bless your heart. 
Focus ladies...focus on the positive -- tomorrow when I pee again without falling in, I will say, "thank you Jesus, for my man that puts down the lid."   Don't get your religious panties in a bunch now...I learned this in church..."count your blessings, name them one by one..."

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Calculating friendship

Do you know how many friends you have on facebook?

I don't know how many I have.  Honestly, even for the writing of this post, I resisted the urge to look.  I know it's probably a good number because the last time I glanced at the number which was a few months ago if memory serves me correctly I think it was in the neighborhood of 700 something.  But I couldn't tell you exact numbers to save my life.  And I really don't care. 

I do know some people who check their number daily, sometimes more than once.  And whether it goes up or down means a lot to them.  So much so, that if the number goes down they work through process of elimination to figure out who deleted them.   

I not only find the idea of calculating facebook friends to be a very exhausting idea, but the idea of it strikes me as insecure. 

Something I've tried to live by and also teach my kids is that when something like that happens to you whether on facebook or real life, look at it as an opportunity for more room being made for others in your life.  

Facebook is a great networking tool but not a true representation of my relationships.  

Another decision I've come to through experience is that I don't delete anybody I find irritating (just creates needless drama at times that I don't need) and so I "hide" them instead and move on. 

What about you?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Classic quotes from last night's episode of Sister Wives

I knew it was going to be an unforgettable night on Sister Wives when I heard the opening statement tonight from Kody:  "I don't wanna be kissin' my girlfriend while my wife's in labor!"   


I was going to do a commentary with my thoughts on last night's episode but once I wrote down the following quotes for my blog I realized, there is no need to expound.  The quotes speak for themselves, except you do have to imagine the fact that they are crying the majority of the time while saying all this.   Apparently I'm not alone in my observation that for all the talk they do about this "happy" lifestyle choice there is more crying on this reality show than any other I've seen.  After this post, one of my readers, Pastor Leanne Weber, made the following comment:

"I am finding it hard to believe that this "choice" is a happy, wonderful alternative lifestyle when they show one of the wives crying just about every frame - including the one who isn't even a wife yet!"  

I so agree.  Why go through all this grief if you don't have to?  Not to mention, it's abominable.  On with some standout quotes from last night's episode:

Robyn:  "Going from 3 kids to 15 is kind of overwhelming at times..."  [immediately bursts into tears when saying this...]

Christine:  "My gosh, Kody, it's your 13th child!  Born on the 13th day!"  

 Robyn:  [while their little girls play with Barbie's]  "They've been fighting over the Mommy dolls, cuz we have four Mommy dolls."  

Robyn:  "Remember you girls need to take turns playing with the Daddy doll!"

Kody:  [to the OBGYN doctor,, laughing] "the business I'm in is kids..."

Aspyn:  "Seeing my mom give birth was...kinda weird."

Meri:  "When you have 20 people it's pretty much chaos...especially when most of them are kids."

Robyn:  "I have to say Brown chaos is really special."

Meri:  "I always wanted to have a big family...always wanted to have a bunch of kids.  I guess I just went about it a bit differently."

Meri: [to Kody]  I just want you to acknowledge that I have these jealousy issues...and if I were to be giving attention to another guy how would it make you feel?" 

Kody:  "Obviously it's not something I'm comfortable with imagining.  The vulgarity of the idea of you with two husbands or another lover sickens me.  It seems wrong to God and nature and I understand it seems somewhat hypocritical but I don't know how to get around it.  Me answering this question....there's no way I can win.  I feel like I'm admitting that what I'm doing [in courting Robyn]  is completely and utterly unfair. 

Kody:  [speaking of his and Meri's daughter, Mariah] "There's a chance that just because she's a polyg kid she's not going to get a recommendation..."  [from the governor to get into the Naval Academy in Annapolis]

Kody: [to Mariah]   "going into the military is a big's like...............marriage." 

Robyn:  "When I see the longevity of each relationship it encourages me and makes me think...okay............... this is stable." 

Meri: [referring to Kody] "I don't think that he understands me a lot and what I'm going through.  And I'm not saying I understand everything he's going through, but...I really want him to understand." 

Meri [bawling] "If I were to ever think of my family of 21 right now down to just a family of 3 that would be so................ empty."  [more sobbing]

Kody:  I want to say that I'm sorry in this process that heartbreak happens".  [to Meri as she is sobbing]

Kody:  [to Meri] "I have an idea.  A 20 year anniversary present.  I actually think that maybe we should go ahead and do in vitro fertilization.  That would be our 20th anniversary present."

Meri:  "Well, do you want me to say how I really feel about that?  I don't see the point."  

Kody:  I haven't been told in a strong enough fashion yet that no  means no yet."

Meri:  Even though Kody and I are in a polygamous relationship, we can live happily ever after too."

Sunday, October 10, 2010


  • Life has been crazily busy the past few months (no one really has a clue...I'm not whining, just speaking truth)  In keeping with that, we got up at 5:30 am yesterday to take the boys to bible school (DSOM) in Ocala.  Dustin's car is out of commission right now.  The school is an hour and a half away.  Being that the boys have class until 4 or 5 pm, Larry and I stayed the day when taking them.  We also ate at a little hole in the wall hot dog joint that Guy Fieri from Diners, Drive Ins and Dive's visited on the food network. It was awesome.
  • Dustin and Jordan both passed their class yesterday in bible school!
  • Did more weeding and trimming in my yard this weekend...and I'm sore.  I am trying to get the yard up to standard (expected in our neighborhood) in the next few weeks.  I haven't had time to keep up the past few months and it's been so hot it's really gone downhill.  I have a lot of catching up to do but it'll get there.  One day at a time.
  • Bright spot:  got an oregano plant and a culantro (cuban form of cilantro, or so I'm told) plant.  So excited!  Can't wait to cook with them.  Haven't had much time for serious cooking lately but am believing that will come again...
  • Prepping for an amazing day at Celebration Church. 
  • Starting Christmas music at choir rehearsal today.  I just made a huge pot of chicken and dumplings for choir lunch.  Our luncheons are amazing and the love of the choir family even more so.
  • Believing for a miracle.  Am not sharing details at this moment but just ask all regular readers who care to pray with me today.  Thank you!
Much love...

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Riding off into the sunset...

People talk about how living happily ever after and riding off into the sunset isn't reality.  They're right if they are referring to the fact that no marriage is perfect. There is one relationship, though, where we are guaranteed to ride off into the sunset, always satisfied for the rest of our lives.

The other day I was riding my bike at sunset, my favorite time to ride.  The best moment for me is when I come to a certain point on my normal bike route, I begin coasting downhill, pasts a bazillion pine trees which smell absolutely wonderful, the wind whipping through my hair, and as I gaze ahead I see a beautiful sunset through the trees.  As I was on this journey the other day, a path I have taken literally hundreds of times I heard the voice of the Lord speak to me, "you know, you really can ride off into the sunset with me...for the rest of your life, and be perfectly content."   Yes, it's possible.

I'm not mad at Larry nor have we just had an argument!  I'm not writing this for any other reason than sharing what the Lord showed me about contentment in relationships.  I love my husband but the truth is -- he and I are both human so therefore, sometimes things aren't "perfect" in our relationship.  The good news is that our relationship with Jesus can always be one of contentment and joy.

If we find ourselves struggling with unmet expectations from our spouse -- frustrated when they don't change or do what we want them to do, remember that often we expect from them what only God can give!    Have we been placing expectations on our husband or wife (or anyone!)  that God never intended for us to have?  Some of us need to let our spouses out of prison and ride off into the sunset with Jesus...

Friday, October 08, 2010

Lessons from Kathryn:
Skin in the game

I have been thinking recently about leadership teams I've served on as an adult and what made them effective...or not.  Sometimes you learn as much by an ineffective team as one that works. 

On all of the teams where I have served I have been a leader of some sort though not always point person.  Right now in my life I have the best of both worlds as I am the point person for many things as co-pastor of  CC, however I am on the coaching team at NJ and not the boss. 

I got to thinking about the subject of passion and drive in serving on a team.  There are times that I've shown up at a meeting on various teams I've served on, only to hear all the plans of something that have been finalized, with no input from anybody on the team.  Basically these could be called, "briefings" not "meetings".  There's no meeting of the minds, no brainstorming, no opportunity to let the creative juices of the team're just informed of decisions made, given an outline of what's expected of you and go on your way.   I am really sad to say that in years gone by when I first started out leading in ministry, I handled some of my own meetings like that, where I was team leader.  I cringe when I think of some meetings I had.   It's no wonder a few people walked away from me back then.  What reason did they have to stay, really?   They had no skin in the game, no personal investment, no ownership.  They just showed up to hear me tell them what they were going to do...and really, how fun is that? 

Then there is the opposite approach where you still have strong leadership, yet shared ownership.  This style of leadership invites input from team members and fully utilizes their gifts.  I'm happy to say this is the kind of leader I've become over the years, and the way I choose to operate within any team that I lead.  I'm sure I've fallen short at times but by and large I try to take this attitude with every single thing I lead at CC.  Rarely if ever do I come to my team members with something solidified.  I'm a person with a lot of creative ideas, sometimes even too many to keep up with.  But I find that every time I get in a meeting with my team, even when my idea is a winner, whatever they contribute makes it so much better.  They point out things to me that I never considered.  They suggest things that take my original idea to the next level.  They prevent me from making some big mistakes!

I'm also blessed to be serving at NJ under this kind of leadership.  In my work there, I want to always be the kind of team member that reciprocates by showing how grateful I am to work in this environment.  Being that I live a dual role as I mentioned before, I understand well the kind of pressure my boss is under.  So,  I don't ever expect things I shouldn't expect!  I know full well who the leader is and don't take advantage, but I appreciate the value that is placed upon my gifts and talents and the invitation to share my feelings and ideas.  There are many times Kathryn will ask me, "so how do you feel about this decision?" and I'll say, "does it matter?  You're the boss...just make the decision" and she usually responds, "well, yes it does matter how you feel.  And I'm interested in knowing if you have another idea that might be more effective."  And she's not just slinging the bull.  She really means it.  Many times quite frankly I don't have an idea that is any better than what she just proposed but I'm really honored that she even cared to ask.  It makes NJ a very pleasant place to be.

Here's a question for all of you leaders out there who are leading any kind of a you invite your team members to have skin in the game?  What incentive is there for them to stay?  Is there opportunity for them to share their creative ideas, thoughts, and feelings?  It doesn't mean that you  have to utilize every one of their ideas, in fact there's no way you can.  We tell our leadership team at CC that as we brainstorm on any given night, probably at least 99 ideas will be rejected!  There are nights we literally look at 100 creative ideas for 1 outreach that we're going to focus on.  Only one idea will be implemented at a time, but the point is, we took time to listen to all of them.  Even if everyone's idea didn't get selected, everyone felt heard.

Feeling heard.
Time to share.
Collective dreaming.

I believe all these are key ingredients to an effective team.  I love what Rick Warren says, "All of us are smarter than one of us!"

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Letting go...

Last night I started a new series in Fusion, called, "22 days of letting go."    We normally have fusion groups but last night God led me in another direction and we didn't have groups, we just hit the altars and God showed up in a big way with people laying down their "Ishmael's" and letting go.

Last night's message was based on the story of Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac.

Genesis 16:1,2
  Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar;  so she said to Abram, "The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her." 

      Abram agreed to what Sarai said.  So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian maidservant Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife.  He slept with Hagar, and she conceived. 

The flesh is capable of producing something that will satisfy for a while but in the end it will become a thorn in our flesh.

At first it may even seem like the fulfillment of God’s promise, but anything we have to conjure up is a cheap substitute for what God wants to give us.  I always tell people that if they push doors open in their life they will always have to stand there holding the door.  You'll have to work to keep it open.  But if God opens a door no man can shut it.

We have all produced things on our own because we are tired of waiting.  Or we have held on to things because they are familiar.  When you birth something it's painful to let it go.  It wasn't a walk in the park for Abraham to let go of Ishmael.  It was horrible I'm sure, as he watched him walk away.

 It will hurt as you cut away what you have birthed in your life that doesn’t belong there.  You shouldn’t have done it, but you did.  You know you didn't belong in that toxic relationship but you got involved in it anyway.  You know you shouldn't be staying in a toxic relationship but it's comfortable now and you fear being alone.  You might have birthed anger, bitterness, resentment, even attention getting behavior.  You birthed it, it has been your security for however many years. Now, God calls you to let it go and row away from the dock. 

It will be painful at first but once you get over the initial pain there is relief, and real life as you walk in blessing and are no longer tied to your Ishmael.