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Showing posts from November, 2010

True Church Stories - #19

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A few years ago Larry was preaching a message on a Sunday morning called, "Sharpen Your Axe!"

It was a great message on staying spiritually sharp.  However when it came time for the altar call, he had a little slip of the tongue and instead of saying, "If you want God to sharpen your axe, come down to the altar," he said, "If you want God to sharpen your a$#, come down to the altar!!!"

Oh. My. Stars.

It was the funniest thing ever.  He was upset and embarrassed as you might imagine.  I didn't make it any easier when on the way home from church as we were riding in the car I said, "Honey, I went to the altar this morning and stood there a long time, but things are still the same...

If looks could have killed...

True Church Stories - #18

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I love buying clothes for my husband although that is his LEAST favorite thing for me to give him.  I go back and forth between forcing this on him, and giving up and having him choose all of his own clothes.  LOL

Years ago when we were youth pastors in New Jersey I had purchased a new suit for Larry for his birthday and he planned to wear it the next Sunday night when he would be preaching.  I was excited...for him to preach, and for him to wear the suit I was so excited about.

I was leading worship and decided to slip in a special little announcement that morning.  However I didn't think about the double meaning before I did.  I said, "Okay folks, make sure you come out tonight to church because Pastor Larry's going to be preaching in his birthday suit!"

Ba ha ha ha ha ha!!!!

Happy birthday, babe

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Today is my beloved's birthday.

I was really blessed yesterday wondering if it was my birthday instead.  He helped me with the Christmas trees, (all SIX of them) and even fixed the broken one and went out and surprised me by getting pink lights for it and putting it in our bedroom.  Then he cooked dinner.   Jordan got him a cast iron dutch oven from Cracker Barrel and using his new cookware (yes, it's his although I'm sure he'll let me use it)  he made beef stew and biscuits.  It was so good.  He's a great cook.

I have a small gift for him today and then we'll go shopping and have him pick something he really wants, from me later this week.  He's a hard person to buy for and most times I have him select whatever it is that he wants to make sure it's what he really likes.  I've gotten him a lot of gifts that have really bombed so I like to err on the safe side. 

I'm very thankful for him...it's such a blessing to be married to a man of God …

My weekend so far

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This is me with  my daughter on Thanksgiving day.  In a recent comment thread a reader asked me to post a photo with my new hair color.  This change is just for the fall/wintertime...my hair dresser believes you should go darker or lighter depending on the season.  I'm not sure how I feel about it yet -- it's an experiment!  When I go in a few weeks she said she'll throw some more highlights in, which I'm glad about.  I miss them.  There are some red ones there now, but not enough, for my taste.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day shared with family and close friends and scrumptious food and a ton of gratefulness all around the table.  Doesn't get better than that.

Savanna wanted to go shopping on black Friday. I normally don't venture out to shop on that day but she realllllly wanted to so I got up with her early and went.  That girl is a morning person and she can get up at 5 am with NO PROBLEM whatsoever.  She amazes me.  Sure enough she was by my bedside i…

True Church Stories -#17

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We're back with true church stories!  I know, I know, you were just waiting for THIS on black Friday!   Waking up to check out the sales?  No, you were on the edge of your seat for TRUE CHURCH STORIES.  Ha ha!

This story is a about a couple we'll call Ralph and Betty Matthews, from our first little church that we pastored out in rural Ohio.  They invited us over for dinner one night.  We gladly accepted and went over and Betty had prepared a wonderful meal.  We shared pleasant conversation and then she said, "would you like dessert?"  We said, "sure."

She went into the kitchen and started creating quite a masterpiece.  She asked my  husband a few questions about exactly how he wanted his dessert.  She said she wanted it to be "just perfect" for the pastor.  After topping it off with homemade whipped cream and some other special touches, she brought it out on fine china and presented it to him like she was presenting it to a king.  This is no exagg…

Happy Thanksgiving

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We are very grateful for all the Lord's blessings in our house and wish everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving.

 I love today for so many reasons...it's not just the food. I love what it means, first of all. Love the fact that we are focused on gratefulness for all that we have. Is life perfect? No, that's not the point.

The point is focusing on what we DO have rather than what we don't have.

Focusing on what we CAN do rather than what we CAN'T do.

Focused on what God IS doing, not what we perceive Him as not doing.

Mike Murdock once said, "the reason most people fail is broken focus." Is your focus broken?

Get your focus on Thanksgiving and true gratefulness it won't be broken any more.

We are so blessed, and that's not a cliche!

True Church Stories - #16

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Some people have no understanding of the fact that those in the ministry are just human with the same limitations as everyone else.

Fortunately for me, my weakness went undetected in this situation.  Until now when I'm telling everyone on the internet.  Again this is one of those things I'm not going to win any "pastor of the year" awards over, but since I'm lettin' it all hang out here goes...

Years ago there was a lady in the church we'll call Janet (not her real name) who would call me and talk almost without coming up for air - for the longest time.  Sometimes hours.  It was never an emergency -- just the  normal ups and downs of life.

Late one night I got out of the shower and had just put on my robe and put  my hair up in a towel.  I was sleepy, and all warm and cozy and getting ready to have some herbal tea, get in my nightgown and go to sleep.  My husband came in and told me, "Um, babe...I know you're getting ready to go to sleep but Jane…

True Church Stories - #15

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Back when we were pastoring our church in Maryland I was teaching a series on what God says about mental and emotional health and I did a particular message on co-dependency and how God can set us free, if we are in a co-dependent relationship.  I encouraged the people about getting totally free, spiritually, and emotionally and pushing forward for total freedom in their lives.

I never imagined the phone call I would get later in the week, from a stay-at-home Mom in our church.  Her husband was the breadwinner working outside the home full time and she was busy at home caring for the children and the household duties.  Her husband had an old dog, "Bo",  that had been so sick with arthritis among a myriad of other things, that the poor thing could hardly walk anymore, nor could he control where/when he would have an accident.  She was frustrated and had been asking him to please take the dog to the vet, and have him put to sleep, as it was time and nothing more could be done …

True Church Stories - #14

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Anyone who has been in the ministry for any significant amount of time knows that you have to allow things to roll off your back so to speak, in order to last.  People will make sure you have no shortage of practice with this!  (smile)

I'm really open here on my blog and in life in general and I'll just tell you that for a loonnnng time (since I was 13 to be exact) I've been fighting off pre-mature gray.  At this point now that I'm 44 it's not "premature" of course.  But for most of the years of my life it was.  Most people don't walk around at 13 with a gray head of hair.  Well, suffice it to say I've been coloring my hair out of necessity since the age of 13 and I have to be honest with you, I really don't enjoy it but I make the best of it.   My daughter can't wait to color her hair and I keep trying to get her to hold off since she's got such beautiful blonde hair naturally without doing anything to it.  All that to say, every four…

Why it's important to keep a grateful heart
even while we go through stuff

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"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6,7 NIV
The other day I was praying while some worship music played on my Zune and God spoke to  me and said, "turn that off and go play for me."  So I did.  And He gave me a beautiful (original) song based on this scripture above.  This verse is one of my favorites and it's in my heart all the time and just came naturally flowing out as I was at the piano.   
I tend to focus on the "do not be anxious" part of this verse and the "present your requests to God" part, and the "peace of God transcending understanding" part but this week as I read it once more I noticed the word "thanksgiving" there.  I've always known it was there but it didn't really "pop …

Three Dog Night

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Larry and all of the kids are at youth convention.  I'm not lonely -- I'm home with the three dogs, playing, working, resting, sleeping...in fact here we were watching TV last night.  They all make themselves right at home on our king size bed.  Usually it's just Max and Maddie on there but since Dustin is gone this weekend I have Kayte, or as I call her:  Kayte-kins, Kayte-koo, Kayte-koo-koo...doesn't take me long to create nicknames for people and pets that I love.

The dogs keep me company and also keep me safe.  A man came to the door the other day trying to sell me a new home alarm system.  When the three dogs bounded up to the door he looked scared to death.  I told him we already had  a great alarm system.   :)  He agreed. 

Lots of people have been giving me feedback on the True Church Stories series I've been sharing here on the blog.  I'm going to be back with more on Monday!  Stay tuned as I share three more Monday - Wednesday and then I'll…

True Church Stories - #13

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Sometimes the most frustrating things in life happen due to people having a lack of good ol' fashioned common sense.  This is true in the church too, and as pastors we deal with a myriad of people and "special" issues that can be taxing for sure.  If not for the grace of God...


There is a young woman who has sporadically attended our church in Tampa, and she  lacks common sense, bless her heart.  (You know what they say "bless your heart" means in the south!  ha ha!)  I love this young lady, and at the same time, she has done her share of building the fruit of the spirit of patience in my life.

"Jill" as we'll call her ran up to me one Wednesday night as I was sprinting through the Christian Education building and down the breezeway into the sanctuary.  I was rushing because I needed to get to worship rehearsal and was running a few moments behind.  I was just waving and saying hi to her as I was running by and she begged me to stop and said, &quo…

True Church Stories - #12

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Years ago my husband was wanting to make some changes in the Sunday School department in the church we pastored in Maryland.  The Sunday School Superintendent had been doing the job a long time and was pretty set on what should happen, and was reluctant at first to go in the new direction he was proposing.  They went back and forth over it for quite a while and finally, exasperated and wanting to point out her experience  she said, "Pastor, I'll have you know that I was doing Sunday School when you were still in diapers!!!"  He immediately shot back, "Yes, and I'll still be doing Sunday School when you're back in diapers.  Let's make the change..."

Ha ha ha ha!  My husband can be SO funny.

Thankfully this lady was a tremendous sport and laughed over this and  continued to be one of the most loyal, supportive people we've ever had the privilege of pastoring.  This is probably why he felt it was safe to make such a joke in the first place.  One th…

True Church Stories - #11

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At the first church where we were senior pastors in a little town in Ohio, there was a woman who was a middle aged divorcee named Tory.  Yep, I'm just gonna come out and tell you her real name and all, because in this case I don't care.

Tory had been a problem in the church and community for a long time.  She went after  married men all the time, trying to seduce them.  Several previous pastors had actually asked her to leave because she had propositioned them, and even worse.  In the case of one former pastor, she went into his office during Sunday School and while his wife was in the adjacent office making some copies she walked over to the pastor's desk, plopped down on his lap and planted a kiss right on his lips!  None of this was wanted by him.  He was a true man of God and  was furious.  He screamed for his wife, told her what happened, and that day asked Tory to leave the church.   Her pattern was to do something outlandish like this to each pastor, the pastor woul…

True Church Stories - #10

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Woops!  I realized that Friday I promised  to do a church story about demons on Monday and yesterday I blogged with a true church story about Dustin.  Oops!  Sorry, I was having a brain warp.  My son and demons have nothing in common.  Here we go with the next church story about demons as promised.  This one has to do with Savanna, but she's not a demon either, she just witnessed an encounter with one!  :) 

Shortly after we came to Tampa almost nine years ago (has it really been that long?) our church was doing the popular production, "Heavens Gates Hells Flames."  The cast was rehearsing for the show and although I was not in the production, I took care of  preparing and serving a meal for the cast and crew during rehearsal.  I was in the kitchen and fellowship hall area cleaning things up after and my husband and the music minister at the time took a break from rehearsal down in the sanctuary and came up for a moment to talk to me.  Our daughter Savanna and the music …

True Church Stories - #9

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Good morning on this fine Monday...we're back again with true church stories!  I've gotten a lot of great feedback on these.  Thanks to those who have let me know how much you're enjoying them.  I'll share some more this week and then re-visit the topic now and again as I think of ones to share.  There are so many in my storehouse of memories of 23 years, it really could be it's own blog.  But I need a new blog like I need a hole in the head so I'll just keep posting them here once in a while.  :)  

Back when Dustin was born we were youth pastoring in New Jersey.  A few months after he was born a new family became part of the church.  I was standing in the foyer of the church holding Dustin and the wife approached me and said, "Oh he's so precious...when did you adopt him?"

I was really puzzled by her question, as he's not adopted.  I said, "Um...he's not adopted.  He's our natural child.  Why do you ask?"

She blushed, look…

Weekend Wrap Up

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I've been away a few days on business...just got home last night, after a flight re-booking only to get on the final flight and have a mechanical malfunction that required us to change planes after having boarded already.  Honestly, I never complained once.  What good would it have done?  It was time to look for the gift in it all.  I enjoyed reading a lot, and meeting people and savored the time.  

I'm home now and enjoyed dinner last night with Larry and Savanna, unpacked and began shifting gears mentally to get ready for church this morning, followed by choir rehearsal.  Speaking of choir, yesterday I was standing in line at the ticket counter to re-book after my first flight was cancelled and there was a lady who was also re-booking and EXTREMELY concerned that she and her husband get home because (in her words), "we have choir practice and you have to understand,  it's very, very, very important that we be there!!!  We just won't know what in the world we…

True Church Stories - #8

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Our Christian Education building here in Tampa has windows that are covered, making the inside of the building rather dark and lit artificially.  The only light that comes in is from the main doors.  (I don't like that, maybe someday it'll change, but for now it's the way it is.)  One day about two years ago I had something to return from the office building to the kitchen (which is located in that building).  I was in a hurry and decided I wouldn't turn any lights on, I would just quickly go, put the item on the counter in the kitchen and leave.  Since I know the building like the back of my hand, I can find my way in the dark.  So, I did.

I walked in the foyer through the dark fellowship hall, into the dark kitchen, and laid the item on the counter and as soon as my hand touched the counter I heard a horrible, guttural voice in the dark, spewing vulgar language.  I won't repeat everything that was said here, of course, but suffice it to say, it was awful.  It beg…

True Church Stories - #7

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One night we were having prayer meeting at our church and as usual it was really powerful.

On this particular night there was a first time visitor in our midst.  He was down at the altar praying with right along with the rest of us.  At the conclusion of the meeting he came to my husband and said, "Pastor I need to talk to you."  He proceeded to tell Larry that God was moving in a mighty way over at a local Church of God church, and that in a prayer meeting there that week somebody prophesied and said, "Thus saith the Lord, God is giving out babies!!"  (I believe this may have been a prophetic word about couples dealing with infertility or something of that nature and this gentleman took it the wrong way.  The church he referred to is actually a wonderful, God-honoring, balanced church.)  Anyway...

He said, "Pastor, I know you might not believe this but that prophetic word was given and, WE DON'T KNOW HOW IT HAPPENED...IT WAS A TRUE MIRACLE, BUT THE NEXT …

True Church Stories - #6

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This one wouldn't win me any pastor of the year awards either, but I'm gonna admit it anyway.

I've directed the choir in most churches we have pastored, at least at one point or another.  Years ago there was a man we pastored, we'll call him "Jake" for the sake of anonymity.  Jake was a choir member, always faithful, and sometimes also a thorn in my side.  I wasn't the only one who had this issue. I've heard the statistic that one in 13 people in our churches has a "severe" problem with authority.  Jake would qualify.  It wasn't just me he had a problem with.  Over the time we pastored him, Jake had more jobs than you could imagine.  He was always walking off the job and quitting in anger, or getting fired.  Turmoil always surrounded Jake because he didn't like to be told what to do, by anybody.  He would go to a new job and it would be just wonderful, and he would brag about how these people were much better than the previous "…

True Church Stories - #5

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When the service concludes at our church on Sunday, my husband goes to the back door to greet people and I go to the hospitality room every week to meet and greet our first time guests.  We've had this custom for years.

Sometimes guests don't come to the hospitality room, they just leave right away and in that case, he is the first to meet them.  Even if they become a regular attender on Sunday mornings, being that this is our pattern every week for me to go to the hospitality room, unless they come on a Wednesday night or to fellowship times,or our Newcomer's Night, I may not meet them for quite a while if at all.  So...

Such was the case with one certain man we'll call Ron .  He began coming to the church weekly every Sunday morning but he never came to the hospitality room, newcomer's night or anything but Sunday morning service.  My husband knew this man from talking to him at the door but I never knew him or anything about him, I just recognized his face from …

True church stories - #4

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Back when we were pastoring our church in Maryland my husband and I were teaching a Sunday night series on sharing our faith.  As part of the series, we taught the people how to condense their stories of coming to faith to about five minutes, so they could be confident in concisely sharing their testimony with those they came into contact with on a daily basis.

Giving people an opportunity to try this out, we had everyone  who had faithfully attended the series write out their testimony and prepare to share it with the congregation.  For the remaining weeks, in addition to our teaching time, we would give opportunity for three or four people to come to the pulpit and share for five minutes a piece. 

All was going along just fine until one night when an older woman in the church got up to give her "testimony", and said the following:

"It all started back in 1975 when I began profusely bleeding from my vagina..."

Oh my gosh.  Did she REALLY say that?!  Yes.  Not once…

True Church Stories - #3

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A few years ago I was working in my office here in Tampa and two staff members, the children and youth pastors at the time, alerted me that there was a lady I needed to meet who was waiting for me in the office foyer.  Little did I know they set me up!  They had already given this lady a few moments of their time, discerned that she was a total flake and decided to pass her off to me.  [sigh]

I went out to the foyer and introduced myself.  She told me she was a member of Rodney Howard Browne's church (here in Tampa) but that she lived right around the corner from our church.

She said, "I need prayer, so I came here."  I said, "Okay, that's fine, but I am curious as to why you didn't just go to your own church where you are a member."  She said, "It's too far away. This was quicker."  

I said, "M'am, what can I help you with?"

She asked me to step outside with her, to her vehicle.  It was a van, parked right outside our offic…

Just love "fallin' back"!

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"Fall back, spring ahead!"  That's how you remember what to do on daylight savings time days, at least it's how I remember.  I love it in the fall when we get extra sleep.  Sunday is always a little sweeter with extra sleep time since my day starts WAY before the sun comes up, usually.  It's going to be an amazing day at Celebration!  Today among whatever amazing things God decides to do, the church is having pastor appreciation.  They've been cooking up something secretly for well over a month and I'm assuming we'll find out today.  Even my kids haven't told me what it is.  They are good that way.

This week guess what I'm going to post...TRUE CHURCH STORIES ALL WEEK!!!  Yes, get ready for some great laughs and check back every day to see what hilarity I'm going to share.

My weekend so far was really awesome.  I took Friday as a sacred day.  Much needed.  Soaked in moonlight path, got my nails done, went out with some girlfriends that nigh…

True Church Stories #2

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I wouldn't win any "pastor of the year" awards for this one but it's one of my fondest memories of poetic justice.

A lady who was a member of our church in Maryland called me demanding that meals be brought to her home because she was unable to get out of bed.  She had been in a fender bender car accident and claimed that she could barely move.  She said, "Pastor Deanna, right now I can't even stand up!  I don't know when I might be able to get out of bed again."  Right at that moment I didn't have someone who could run a meal over nor could I do it myself but I said I would work on it as best I could and get back to her.  She wasn't happy that I wasn't rushing right over to her house or having someone else do it, so she basically went on this long rant, telling me how displeased she was with my answer, how I was not meeting her expectations, and how unhappy she was with our church.  "The church needs to be doing more...you need to…

True Church Stories - #1

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Today begins a new series of posts here on the blog called, "True Church Stories."  Many people tell me I should share funny things that have happened over the years in church or associated with ministry.  These are stories I've shared in circles of friends that have provided some of the greatest laughs.  Here's my first and I hope you find it as funny as I do!

The year was 1984.  I was still in Bible College at VFCC and I was traveling for the school, ministering in churches.  At the time, the song, "El Shaddai" by Amy Grant was all the rage.  It was on the top ten of the Billboard (Christian) charts, and was actually "Song of the Year" in 1983 at the Dove Awards.   Suffice it to say there was no shortage of this song as a "special" at churches all across the land.  I was no exception, singing this song often back then as I traveled and ministered.

This particularly Sunday  I was ministering in an AG church in Allentown, PA and san…