Sunday, February 28, 2010

He not only likes you, He loves you...

Larry and I are preaching another tag team message this morning ~ the finale of the 4-week "In Sync" series...and our message today is centered on the the fact that God not only loves us, He likes us.

 During the message I'm actually showing this t-shirt pictured above along with three others I found actually FOR SALE on line...(yeah, some people are actually marketing this stuff...)
My point?  These shirts are all lies, by the way.  Horrible lies.  But many people actually believe them, and some have, "been there, done that and bought the t-shirt to prove it." 

This morning we're talking about the bottom line about the nature of God's love for us, and how our love should be extended to others, especially those in our lives who might present more of a challenge to love. 

The conclusion of the message will be a video of this song, and an invitation to love more deeply and unreservedly.  It's going to be a great day at Celebration Church, filled with the extravagant love of God and increased love for others.



Saturday, February 27, 2010

Max & Maddie out and about...

Max taking driving lessons

Maddie and Magoo Torres taking a snooze together, during her time with them while we were in Gatlinburg.  We are so grateful for Cathy and David Torres and the Heather and Troy Mayercak who took Maddie and Max and treated them as their very own during our time away.  They even did facebook photo albums while we were gone so we could see what our "babies" were up to! 

 
Max with Ashley Mayercak

I knew Max would be a bit of a challenge for them -- he is so sweet and loving, and snuggles and sleeps until the cows come home, BUT.........he makes such a mess when you're not looking!  Every day I clean up dirt from plants, shredded paper, trash cans he has gotten into or knocked over, and...he is still very much getting the hang of potty training.  :)   So, Max keeps us on our toes, but he is so sweet, I don't know what we ever did without him, except have a lot more time that we were not cleaning up messes. 

Maddie with Sugar Ray Torres - they just love to play together...aren't they just ADORABLE?!


My little Maxie is the most cuddly dog EVER.  He's perfect to take naps with...seriously, if you ever want the most wonderful napping companion ever, we will lend you Max for an afternoon rainy day.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Look out, Rachel Ray!

Last night Savanna wanted to cook dinner for us, which I was thrilled about.  Mondays and Thursdays are my most tiring nights.  Monday because it follows Sunday, and Thursday because it's the last day before my one "day off" a week and by that time I am just so wiped out I can't think straight.  The last thing I want to do is cook dinner on those nights.  Savanna wanted to make us dinner and all on her own she put out the linens, china and stemware and set quite a lovely scene.

She made us salad and homemade personal pizzas just like each of us like them individually. ~ mine had olives and bacon, Larry's was pepperoni and Savanna's was plain cheese.   For dessert we had strawberries and bananas dipped in chocolate sauce.  Mmmm  mmmm!!! 

So much for watching my calories tonight, (I'm trying to stay on track) however if you knew what I had for lunch yesterday (long story) you would also  know that I could basically eat anything for dinner last night and be perfectly alright.  

Great job, Savvy!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Is anyone hearing from God anymore?

"I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint. The Lord's Answer:  Then the LORD replied:  "Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald  may run with it.  For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay."   Habakkuk 2:1-3

Habakukk knew well when God was speaking to Him. He had practiced hearing from God and took time to wait and get God's mind about what he should do.  Whatever happened to us getting on our face and begging God to speak to us, and then when we get an answer, implementing it and sticking to it?    I've found that God is so willing and ready to speak to me, and most times I don't have to get on my face and beg.  But when I need to, I absolutely do.  Whatever it takes, we've got to hear from God!

Does God really change his mind every day or every few days or even every few months?

When I take a look at how some leaders live I have to say it's no wonder people won't follow them.  How can you follow someone who changes their mind every other day on what they are supposed to do?  Or when they are a pastor and change their mind constantly about what the church is called to do or be?

For example, I love conferences as much as the next leader but I see them as something to build upon the vision God has already given me, not something designed to give me the vision in the first place.  Is it any wonder why some churches are in state of confusion when their pastor goes away to several conferences a year and every time they come home they get a "new vision" for the church that they want to impart?  In some ways it usually directly conflicts with whatever the previous "vision" was and they find some way to spin doctor it to make it sound like the "new vision" goes with the old one.    Truth be told it is usually someone else's vision they are receiving and try to make it work for their own life or place.

God's voice to us often comes as a thought, an idea, a phrase, or a flow of spontaneous thoughts.  We can't hear His voice unless we become still, and are patient enough to wait for it.  Habakkuk said, "I will stand at my watch..." (Habakkuk 2:1) which means that he waited there until God spoke.   Then he was told to write it down.  Why do we write a vision down?  Because if we don't it's too easy to forget it or move on to something else when we get tired of waiting instead of sticking to what God told us to do.  We are creatures who don't like to wait and get impatient to even wait for a baked potato or popcorn to cook in the microwave let alone waiting in silence for hours, days or weeks until God speaks.

Getting ideas from others is good. But there is nothing like hearing from the Lord yourself, and walking in step with the spirit.  And when you have heard from God if you are true to Him you are true to what He has told you.  And you do not change your mind every two seconds or even every two days on what you will do and jerk yourself, your family and the body of Christ around any longer on your little ride through the land of spiritual immaturity.  Larry and I know someone who has pastored five churches in less than three years.  With each change he told the church, "God has led me to the city and church I'm going to give the rest of my life to."  I guess God was wrong, at least the last four times.  Time will tell with the fifth.  

What helps you to hear clearly from God, and more important, to follow through? 

Disclaimer:  By the way, I normally wouldn't clarify what I'm saying in this manner but being that our friends the Mackleys mean so much to us and I wouldn't want anyone to take this post the wrong way, I am letting everyone know up front to not read into this blog that I am somehow referring to them!  I know they've heard from God in this move they have made.  I had this subject on my heart to share and realize it may look pointed for me to print something like this after their recent resignation, however please know that this post in NO WAY refers to them. Now, other people, yeah, I'm definitely referring to you.   :)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I like to discover what made people famous

Recently when Larry and I were traveling through the mountains of Georgia and Tennessee we stopped at a Schlotzsky’s Deli to eat lunch. I have never eaten at a Schlotzsky’s except for once in high school and I can’t remember what I ate as that has been a few years ago.

Larry ordered a chicken sandwich but I knew immediately what I would be having – their “original” sandwich. When I go to a place to eat for the first time, I like to do that to get a feel for what made the person or business successful in the first place.

Larry was surprised that I didn’t add mayonnaise to the sandwich. I explained to him I always order the item “as is” to get the true experience of what made them famous and not dilute it by my own preferences.

He would rather just order what he wants the first time and doesn’t care about what made people famous.

But I’m curious about what catapults people or businesses to success, so this is what I do. It’s also how I’ve come to like a few sandwiches I would have never tried otherwise. For instance, a Cuban sandwich sounded bad to me when someone first explained it’s ingredients to me. But I ate it “as is” and fell in love with it and now I don’t know what I’d do if we moved to a place without Cuban sandwiches available. (If the call of God doesn’t keep us in Tampa, Cuban sandwiches will!)

Are you intrigued by what ignites the popularity of a person or business like I am?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Lessons from Kathryn:
The power of powerful questions

The majority of my years in leading people have been done in the style of mentoring, not coaching.  Mentoring is sharing with a mentee your experiences, and the most effective way I've found of doing that is to let them experience life with me, up close so they can shadow me and learn. Mentoring involves giving the person you are helping actual advice or in some cases very strong direction. 

Obviously I haven't been coaching as long as I have been mentoring.  I started a life coaching program for the women of our church four years ago however I did that flying by the seat of my pants, creating the program as I went along .  Amazingly, it worked well.  I've been career coaching for a little over a year now and I love it.  The company took a risk in hiring me as I had no career coaching experience prior to that.  I took it as my mission to make sure they didn't regret bringing me on board and in fact would one day consider me a valuable part of the team. 

A great majority of what I know a year later comes through the woman who became my boss in July of last year.  Her name is Kathryn Kemp and if you have read my blog for very long, you've seen my "lessons from Kathryn" that I post from time to time.   (Just go in the sidebar and click "Lessons from Kathryn" or type Kathryn in the search bar and you can read them all.)

I'm the type of person that likes to solve problems and present solutions as quickly as possible.  Coaching has been a challenge for me in one regard because it requires you asking more questions than producing answers.  A few weeks ago Kathryn gave me the assignment of coming up with twenty powerful questions to ask my job seekers.  She's always talking about powerful questions and the reason for that is because they are...well, POWERFUL.  "Let the client do the work," is one of her mantras.  That used to feel so irresponsible to me.  A job seeker has a problem, I'm sitting there with the solution in my head, but I just need to sit there, ask a question, be quiet, and hope they discover it for themselves...yeah...ohhh-kay.  That was a challenge for me but now I see through Kathryn's leadership that it's absolutely essential for them to own the outcome.  She's great at asking blockbuster questions and then quietly waiting for answers.  She does it with me all the time and it really works! Her favorite question is, "What's the gift in this?"

Those of you who have known me for any length of time know I've been to counseling a few times.  Yeah, I'm one of those leaders not afraid to admit that I've been totally broken a few times.   Looking back on all the times I sat in the counselee's chair, I am cognizant of the fact that most of what really helped me move ahead were the times the counselor would ask me powerful questions I just hadn't thought of before or just didn't dare to ask because it was too painful. 

When you change because someone has asked you a powerful question and you thereafter come to a new revelation it has sticking power that just isn't there when somebody hands you a pre-fabricated solution.  Two things Kathryn always says:  meet the client where they are and, let them come up with their own answers.

Monday, February 22, 2010

I hate goodbyes

“Love from the center of who you are. Don’t fake it.”
Romans 12  ~ The Message

One of the hardest things about loving from the center of who you are is that sometimes that love hurts like you-know-what when you have to say goodbye. Last week while we were  in Tennessee we had the sad task of informing our congregation that our children’s pastors have resigned and will be moving.
 
Pastor Trinity and Misty are more than staff members or employees. They are  family. To say we will miss them doesn’t begin to describe the feeling of loss in our hearts.   They will always be an important part of our lives, but I will miss the "up closeness" -- the many heart to heart talks we've had over countless times of holidays and restaurant hopping and whatever else we've done in five years in between serving God's people together.

It’s easier to find a needle in a haystack than find a staff member who is 100% loyal. In Trinity and Misty, we had this to the ‘nth degree. For this and many other things we are eternally grateful.

In return for their loyalty to us they will not only have our life long friendship but our help for a lifetime in assisting them with whatever they may need.

I thought some of my blog readers might be curious as to what we said to the church and how we handled the transition.   To read our letter to the church followed by the Mackley's, simply click on the photos and they will open full size.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Farewell from Celebration, Mackleys, but never farewell from our hearts…

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Up and coming preacher...

While we were away this week, Dustin preached on Wednesday night in Refuge and Pastor T taped it.  We're so proud of him!   He is sensing the call to preach and with his tender heart for God and people, (not to mention he's in the top three most outstanding kids in the universe!) I think he'll do just amazing.  You can watch/listen here...



Note:  If you are reading this on facebook, the videos do not transfer when it publishes there, so please just go to the original post at http://www.deannashrodes.com/ .

 By the way, it's going to be an amazing day today at Celebration Church!  So excited to be back.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

The way back home

We got up yesterday morning to leave A Bear Encounter and start the journey back.  We took our time on the road, stopping along the way, whether it be for photos on a scenic hill, or to sightsee. We went to Ruby Falls, which is the nation's largest underground waterfall. Located over 1120 feet beneath the surface, Ruby Falls is the deepest waterfall open to the public. Hundreds of gallons of water rush over it by the minute.  They have no idea where the water comes from. They do know where it ends up, but don’t know where it originates. Just another one of the wonderful mysteries of God. His creation is spectacular.  This was especially meaningful for me after reading the book, Crazy Love while I was away this week.  Anyone who has read chapter one knows what I'm talking about.

 I might have gone to Ruby Falls as a kid, since I went through Tennessee so many times growing up.  I do know if I did see it back then I didn’t appreciate it, because I don’t remember it like I will now after seeing it and understanding the magnitude of it. I got lots of photos inside the cave as well as on top of the mountain. I’m going to include a few of them throughout this post,  We were 1200 feet underground and the stalagmites were just amazing. It was breathtaking below the surface but  I was really glad to come out and see land again. There’s something about being that far underground and bending down to go through teeny portals of rock that makes you want to be out in the open air, at least it does me that way.  Larry knew I'd have a blast photographing this, which is probably why he decided to pull off at the exit and go there, wonderful man that he is.  By the way, we had such fun on the journey yesterday that I laughed my make up off...seriously.  That's a good thing.  It's a whole other post in itself but suffice it to say I programmed the GPS the wrong way and it caused such an issue I laughed uncontrollably for about 15 minutes.  Ahhhhhhhh.....good times.


By the time we got out of Ruby Falls we were so hungry. We went to Cracker Barrel for a combination lunch/dinner and got back on the road.  We stopped in Tifton, GA about four hours from home, to stay overnight.  Late this morning we'll get back on the road to make the rest of the journey.

I have been doing tons of reading and writing on the road as I normally do. Reading several books researching for an upcoming message I’ll be delivering at a conference on the subject of partnership marriage when you are married to someone who is your complete OPPOSITE. (Hmmmm…wonder why they asked me to speak on THAT?! Lol)

I’m glad we chose to stay overnight last night and not drive straight through. Just needed one more uninterrupted night together. Sometimes people think because your kids grow up that it’s easy to get time together but we have to fight just as hard for it. Many nights just when we finally drop into bed and settle into each others arms, a knock comes at the door and we hear, “Mom…Dad…can I talk to you?” I’ve got amazing kids. They WANT to talk to us, and we LOVE THAT. And we love THEM! We listen, and we’re there always. But at the same time we need our time. And I’m so glad we had that time this past week because the uninterrupted time without fighting for every last second of it was long overdue! Now…back to life as we know it -- and LIFE IS GOOD. 

Friday, February 19, 2010

One last look back...


Larry and I last night at Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Miracle Theater.  It was awesome!   We had dinner at the Applewood Restaurant and yum, was it ever good!  Then we had some time before the show so we went to a book outlet nearby where they had amazing sales.  We were having the time of our lives in there...bestselling (recent) titles for $3 and $5 each.  No kidding!  We ran out of time so I want to stop there on the way out today.   I get so engrossed in what I'm doing in a bookstore it's like I'm in a trance.   I have a love affair with books...just can't have enough of them.


The cabin we stayed in ~ A Bear Encounter.  I would highly recommend it ~ it's an absolutely beautiful cabin, and rated "5 stars" online.  I would definitely want to return.  In fact, sometime we'd like to come back and bring any of our kids who are able to come.  We may bring a shovel and some salt next time if we're coming in the wintertime!   :) 

 

The infamous "hill"!  When we arrived there were no tire tracks and it was just one big sheet of ice.  On the other side of this is a HUGE drop.   It's beautiful but could be dangerous.

 
A view from the bottom of the hill

The cabin from a little further away. 


  I like to take photos like this up close ~ certain things just get my attention and this was one .  

 
I got outside alongside the road on our way to downtown Gatlinburg to take this photo.  

Downtown Gatlinburg ~ we like walking along the street and shopping at the many places here.  I go in stores I'm not even particularly interested in sometimes, just to get warm for a minute or two.  Larry reminds me of just how much I've gotten used to Florida life.  My blood has thinned like everyone's does when they move there, and I just can't take standing out in the cold for any length of time anymore.

We say farewell to Gatlinburg and "A Bear Encounter" this morning to head back to Tampa.  We will stay overnight somewhere and take our time.  We are savoring each moment.   It has been a wonderful  time away.  Thank you, Celebration Church for making it possible! 


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Fixin' it and Forgettin' it in Gatlinburg

I was hoping that there would be a crock pot in the kitchen at the cabin.  I really wanted to cook with one while we were here but  not bad enough to lug one of mine from Tampa.  I just didn't have a desire to pack "everything but the kitchen sink" and planned to improvise.  Imagine my delight when I got here and saw that there was a little crock pot -- big enough to make food for just about 2 people...which is all I need because that's all I'm cooking for this week.

Crock pot meals are some of my favorite and always have been since we've been married.  I love it because you can make the food the night before or early that morning, turn it on and then forget about it until you're ready to eat.  When we're home in Tampa going about our regular schedule it's nice to walk in the door from work, or from church on Sunday and have our meal already waiting for us.

If you are really wanting to get into crock pot cooking you really need the book, Fix it and Forget It by Phyllis Pellman Good.  This is the bible of crock pot cooking.  There are several individual books or you can get the Big Cookbook , pictured above that contains everything.  I don't have the Big Cookbook yet, I just have the one that is "Recipes for Entertaining", pictured at right, and just that one is  full of every kind of crock pot recipe you can imagine from appetizers to main dishes, and even beverages and desserts!    I could cook from that book every day for a year and never make the same thing twice.

Once I saw the little crock pot here I decided to make a crock pot version of chicken and dressing (stuffing) for yesterday's dinner as Larry is absolutely crazy about chicken or turkey with dressing.  I had to improvise and scale the recipe down to go in the little crock pot, but this is what I did for yesterday's meal, cutting the recipe in half since it's just the two of us, and even then it was much more than we needed, so we have leftovers.   I believe this little crock pot pictured here was 2 quarts and that's what the recipe looks like when finished.  I took the photo right before I served it.

Crock Pot Chicken and Dressing
4 skinless boneless chicken breasts - boiled in salted water
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup butter
13 cups white bread cubes, toasted and then cut into small squares
1 cup chopped celery
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
Salt to taste
Sage to taste
Pepper to taste
Reserved cooking liquid from cooking chicken (use to wet dressing to desired consistency)
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup

Boil chicken breasts in salted water until cooked through.  Place in crock pot.  Take rest of ingredients and mix together to desired consistency.  (Some people like dressing/stuffing more wet, some like it drier or firmer.)  Layer chicken with dressing in the crock pot and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.

Fix it, forget it, when you're ready, enjoy it!

By the way, I'm fixing breakfast and lunch today (another crock pot recipe) but tonight we're going out!  Yay!  We're headed to our favorite place to eat here in Gatlinburg , The Applewood Farmhouse, and to see  Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.  It's at the Miracle Theater in Pigeon Forge, and although we were ready to pay full price for tickets, we discovered they do tickets for pastors at half price.    What a blessing!   Joseph and David are my two favorite people in the Old Testament.  I'm gonna love this!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Come and see this place through my eyes...

I am enjoying "Moonlight Path" baths by candlelight...
The view from the top of the stairs as you step out of our bedroom...
I enjoy looking out all the many large windows of the cabin, sitting in front of one of the fireplaces, drinking my tea and just listening to the sound of...NOTHING.  I've needed this so much.

The view from the front porch...
In between looking out windows, I've been reading books that I've had on my list to read.  I just finished Francis Chan's Crazy Love.  It pretty much rocked my world. 


Larry trying to make it up the hill...as he finally successfully did late yesterday afternoon.  (Thanks to all of you who prayed...)  The problem is, it's a steep hill and we were informed yesterday -- a private drive.   It never got plowed, because it's a private road.  The maintenance man just salted it.  It is very hard to go up an unplowed hill, obviously. 

Very kind man (see him between the trees) who finally came and shoveled ice off of the hill so that Larry could make it all the way up the hill.  It's still snowing. 
First thing I made when he came back with groceries...homemade vegetable soup.  Mmm mmm good.  Perfect for a snowy day and freezing temperatures.