Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Have we not learned anything from Job?!

Does what you believe change according to the circumstances in your life or that of someone close to you?  The foundation of our faith is designed to be developed to the point where it will hold up regardless of the atmosphere. 

I have been in vocational ministry now for 23 years now and here is something I have observed.  All it takes for many ministers to change what they believe is for them to experience a failure.  If their church would have exploded  they would possess a completely different outlook than they do now.  When their ministry venture doesn't turn out as they dreamed, they get angry, critical and cynical and find every fault possible with the church world.  On the other hand, if their ministry would have exploded...more than likely they'd still be in the same location doing, believing and being all the same things they were before!   At some point we all experience  failure, and it's then that our our doctrine is either stronger and more resolute or we start to morph into an armchair psychologist on all that's wrong with Christendom.  I could point out quite a few blogs of folks who have taken this route, but I'll abstain since they are doing  a good enough job of leading lots of teeter tottering folks (those in the balance) down the wrong path and I don't want to help them out by giving out their address.  A few of them used to be on my blog roll and aren't anymore for obvious reasons.  

For some it's not ministry failure, it's family.  All it takes for some people to have a belief tweak is for their kids to make sinful decisions.  I'm talking about things that are clearly spelled out in the Word, not matters of preference or culture.  And when their children take those unfortunate paths in life, they begin to alter their values because their heart is so torn up.  Sometimes the response to pain is a belief tweak instead of just getting on their  faces before God to intercede for the souls of their children because they know the reality of scripture.

Emotions are terrible leaders.

Doctrine is designed to be environmentally clueless.  It could care less about the atmosphere and that's the way it's supposed to be.

What is the whole book of Job about?  The crux of it basically is that Job stayed true and never changed his tune no matter what happened to him He didn't start re-examining everything because his last gig didn't work out.  His friends, even his wife egged him on to curse God and die.  But he would have none of it.  What was happening to him had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH WHAT HE WAS GOING TO BELIEVE OR NOT BELIEVE.   The dude was like a broken record in all the right ways.  We can learn so much from him.

How much do you have to lose for you to start changing everything you believe?  What's your limit?

When we go through stuff, people in the world should be lining up to say, "HOW IN THE WORLD ARE YOU GOING THROUGH THIS AND MAINTAINING YOUR FAITH??!!"  It should be puzzling to them.  This is part of what is attractive about true Christ followers -- they are rock solid through the storms because of the power of God at work within them.  Not that storms aren't difficult, not that they don't feel them, but they cling to the solid rock and maintain stability. Mature believers who are solid in their faith develop a faith that is victorious and even shines in adversity.

Do you know how easily this compromise can  happen?  Spiritual giants fall every day.  None of us are perfect and all of us are susceptible!!!   There but the grace of God go any of us.  We are all just one failure away from compromise, excepting the Holy Spirit's power to stand.   What is my limit?  What will it take for my faith to be shaken?  What  tragedy will have to occur for me to change my theology to accomodate it?  How much do I have to lose before I start to compromise? What do my kids have to go out and do before I start tweaking the word to bring me peace to sleep at night?

I have come to the point in the past few months where I've prayed a scary prayer...and that is, letting the Lord know that I could lose everything and still resolutely stand for what I believe and not water it down.  Not that I've attained all that, but whatever meager things I have attained - if I lost them all, I would still stand for the same things I stand for now.

I don't want to be Job.  Not at all.  Dear God just thinking about it makes me tremble.  I don't want hardship, I don't want tragedy.  I've had my share of failures and I sure don't want any more to have to deal with.  But we all must pray through and ask ourselves, just how much disappointment or failure would it take for us to start changing our tune?

Does the foundation of our faith and the Word of God stand in every atmosphere and environment possible?   How much does the devil have to throw at us before we start negotiating values?


Monday, August 30, 2010

What happened yesterday...and notes from leadership mtg.

Yesterday was a great day at Celebration.  We had several who came to Jesus at our altars, including a friend I invited named Eric.  Candy and I have been ministering through facebook to Eric for about four months now.  We met him when he sold me a bed.  Candy was with me when I purchased it and Eric was the salesman.  We have kept up with him all this time and shared with him on facebook and yesterday he came to Celebration Church, walked down the aisle and accepted Jesus and then went to lunch with us afterwards at Acropolis.  What a lovely day!

Last night was our leaders meeting.  Along with a fantastic time of sharing dinner together, and our insights and praise reports of what God is doing at CC, I shared some thoughts with our leaders and we had a time of prayer together.  I thought I'd take time to share here some major points from my talk last night that those who are leaders might find interesting...here we go...

Leadership talk ~ August 29, 2010

It's said that leadership is influence.  I would submit to you that it's influence in the right manner if we are talking about Godly leadership.  Keep in mind, Hitler was a leader. 

What is Jesus looking for from us in leadership?  
Sometimes we learn how but we forget why.  Why do we lead?  As Christians leaders it's because we love.  Or at least, it should be for that reason. Leadership is lovingly influencing others.  It's influencing others when you are irritated, when you have issues, when your patience is tried.

People have issues and they are going to come in here with even more issues and as leaders we are called to lovingly lead.  Some of you are scared to lead and you think, "me??  I've got issues myself and I'm gonna lovingly lead these people?"  Well, let's talk about that.   I wake up most days wondering when everybody's gonna figure out that I don't know what I'm doing.  

First, just love people.  (Love covers a multitude of sins!)  And as far as us as leaders discipling and training them, remember, to teach people you only have to be one lesson ahead of them!

What about when you "go through stuff?"  Should leaders lead even when they are going through stuff?  Absolutely.  Who isn't going through stuff?  I'm going through stuff every single day and I'm still leading.  So call me crazy.  I went through stuff yesterday,  I went through stuff today, I'll go through stuff tomorrow.  And I'm still standing, still leading.  In my weakness, He is strong.

Having issues isn't a reason to quit leading.  Being emotional isn't a reason to quit.  Listen, EMOTIONS ARE TERRIBLE LEADERS!    
  
STABILIZE in the midst of your trial – lean on the rock, call friends to intercede.  I intercede my way through my life.  Sometimes I have to call on my friends to intercede with me when I am too weak to do it by myself.

Now let’s get back to how to lovingly lead others…

Leaders care about others…somebody lacking in foundational character for leadership for such shows up at an event and says, “what are THEY going to serve me at this event?  What’s in it for ME?

A leader thinks, “okay, let’s get to work – what’s the first thing we’re going to do to  help these people?  Will this take a supernatural miracle or has God has asked me to do something in the natural?”

A follower thinks, “what’s happening for me?”
A leader thinks, “what’s in this that I can use to impact others?”

The  world thinks we're crazy and surely some Christians even think we're crazy for how much we give in leadership.  People without a leadership mentality (or calling) would never understand it.  Why do we come here not once but several times a week?   Why do we show up so early to set up?  Stay late to clean up?  Make phone calls?  Pick people up?  Serve, serve and serve some more?   Your family or friends may say, "why do you do that?  The church is 'using you'!"  Hmmm...that's a natural perspective for someone not possessing a leadership calling.  For us this isn't like a bowling league or the PTA.  We are in the business of life changes...we are doing Kingdom work that will outlast us and affect all eternity.  "You're too good for that..." they say.  Really?  Well, that's interesting considering aside from the grace and mercy of God we all deserve hell and damnation and our righteousness is as filthy rags...are we really "too good for this?"  None of us are too good to serve in any capacity.  We have eternity in our hearts which is why we do what we do.  This is about our core values but goes far beyond that.   We serve because we have a passion for what God has a passion for.  Working together we achieve the dream God has for this place.  Back to leaders vs. followers...

A follower just sits where they want to and doesn’t concern themselves with anything else around them. 

A leader gets the pulse of the room…looks for the one that isn’t connected yet…

Let’s look to Jesus for leadership --
Zaccheus – nobody wanted to eat lunch with…Jesus did.

Leaders go the second mile to connect.
(There are no traffic jams on the second mile!)

People respond to different personalities so it’s important that we all reach out. 

Today Candy and I had the privilege along with our families of taking our friend out to lunch who came to Jesus this morning.  He thanked me over and over again this afternoon – can’t wait to come back Wednesday night.  People are looking for an approachable leader.  Being approachable is actually approaching others.  People are waiting for us to come to them. 

YOU ARE A LEADER EVERYWHERE YOU GO.  

In Wal-mart – you are a leader.

At the post office – you are a leader.

At your job you are a leader even if you are not the boss at your work.
You are on the scene as God's agent and you can walk in the mantle He has placed upon your life and declare, "God has sent me to help you."  Then, DO IT.  Walk in the anointing and fulfill your purpose.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Shout outs...

I wanted to point out some great recent posts by some blogger friends. It's been a while since I've done a shout out like this and it's long overdue...

Has God sold you?  It can happen, you know!  Really.  Read this excellent post here by my friend, Ruth Kaup.

My friend Pastor Leanne Weber will give you a lot to think about in her current series she's writing, "My Story:  Beginnings" which is a chronicle of the spiritual abuse she and her husband went through years ago, and her healing process.  I've known her for years and loved her writing, and known the situation she's sharing about, in fact I prayed for her while she was going through it.   But, reading it now is a whole new experience that has me on the edge of my seat each day as I'm reading!  Start here at the beginning and catch up...

"I think they're in the Hoover..."  Only you, Pastor Lisa, only you....lol    I love it!!!  By the way, I have never worn faux eyelashes.  Am I missing out?  Next time I come to Houston I won't just leave with a wig, I have a feeling...

This past few days I've been re-reading the entire blog of my friend who has gone on to heaven, being blessed all over again by what she has shared.  If you'd like to read and get to know what she was all about, go here. 

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The case against keeping things to yourself

If you are in a difficult situation and wondering for the sake of all concerned if it would be easier to keep things to yourself...the answer is NO.   Now, before I go further, please go read this.

I'll wait.  I'm absolutely begging you to go read it.  Seriously, if you're going to understand this post you have to go read this link and then come back to me.  

Okay, now that you've done that, let me just rest my case that it's a bad idea for you to keep some details to yourself.  Open up to a few trusted friends about what you are really going through.  We are designed by our creator for at least a few close, accountable relationships.  My friend reached out...but not far enough.  As you can see by the comment stream below her post...we reached back, but didn't push hard enough.   Sometimes we are just a "listening ear" for our friends or we respect what they say without a challenge when one is needed.  There's a time to listen, also a time to speak up.  I wish I had another chance to make this right.    

I made a facebook page for my friend to honor her memory.  Here's the link.    It's under, "A tribute to Deborah Hosmer Meyer" if the link doesn't work for you just do a search on facebook.  I know many of you blog readers do not know her.  However it would make me very happy if you join the group on facebook just to honor her memory.  I am not sure why but a previous page set up by a family member to honor her memory was deleted.  The silence is unacceptable. We who are friends are raising our voices, for her memory must be honored.  She leaves a legacy of encouragement and love for women all around the world, and we will not forget her nor will we be silent.  The last 24 hours I've been going back and reading all her blog posts and re-posting some of them on the memorial page, being blessed all over again by her insights.

Thank you for joining this group, even if you didn't know her.  I want you to know she affected me and so many others and so in that way, she affects you because our lives were changed.   A few months ago on her blog she was speaking about leaving a legacy and she wrote this:  "An act of love and kindness may not change the course of history but if it changes the course of someone’s life it’s worth it." 

She did change the course of my life and many others.  Thanks for honoring her for it.  And thanks for making a decision to not be a recluse, to not hide when you're in private pain, but to tell someone before it's too late.  You aren't alone...really.

Friday, August 27, 2010

I declare WAR on "special unspokens"!!!!!!!!!

I'll never let a friend get away with asking for a "special unspoken" prayer request again.  Some life lessons are much harder to learn than others.

Years ago, through Pastoring Partners Network, I became friends with a wonderful pastor's wife named Deborah.   She hails from South Africa and we quickly became kindred spirits, loving many of the same things including high heels, leopard prints, the color pink and most of all, a love for Jesus and serving His people.  This past February I came home from the church office one day to find a package in the mailbox and seeing that it was from South Africa, could hardly wait to tear it open!  Inside were earrings, a necklace, some african tea, and an animal print scarf she said, "had my name all over it".  I blogged about that day here.

She planned on meeting up with me on my preaching trip to East Africa in June.  When I declared on facebook that I had my final sermon ready for the Kenya conference, she facebooked me in her usual style saying, "Africa is ready for you, dolla..."  (Dolla was her special name she called all of us who were in relationship with her -- Pastor Lisa, Pastor Tara, Pastor Debbie, Pastor Melissa -- these are the ladies in my circle of friends who also had a special place in Deborah's heart and vice versa.)  Always ready with a word of encouragement, even her blog was called, "Deborah's Encouragement."  She was always ready with a word of life, a word of wisdom, and had a heart as big as all outdoors.  She declared her vision to be the following:  "My heart is to see women restored to the beauty God intended them to be, taking them from Cinderella to the queen of their home."  

She was planning on coming to the Unstoppable Conference (that I host here in Tampa) this upcoming year.  She had also had just asked Pastor Lisa if she could come and spend some time with her in Houston.  

Over the years I (along with others) prayed for Deborah for needs in her life that were like that of any of the rest of us.  We prayed about our children, our church situations, and stuff like that.   But several times in the past year she gave me some "special unspoken's"... "Deanna, just pray.  I'm desperate.  I can't get into it...can't share the details, just please lift me up for a breakthrough."  I always respected that like I have any other friend who has told me the same thing. 

A friend delivered the horrifying news that Deborah had passed on to heaven...it was a murder/suicide at the hands of her husband.  She leaves behind three beautiful children, a son in law, and a grandchild who are reeling from the shock and trying to understand something that quite truthfully none of us will ever understand.

I just wonder...what were those "special unspoken's" about?  When she pleaded for prayer but gave no details, should I have prodded a little further to make sure my friend was okay?  I had no reason to think she was not.  She often referred to her "handsome prince" (her husband) who had stolen her heart.   None of us had a reason to believe it wasn't as she said.  Just goes to show, we never really know the private anguish some people are in.  Yes, even MINISTERS.

Sometimes people put one liners on social media that can be a bigger cry for help than we realize.  A while back one of Deborah's statuses on facebook was, "They say when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.  But it still stings."  I sat and read through every one of her statuses last night, and tried to make sense of them.  I know...sin doesn't make sense.  (When a person is dealing with sinful actions of others it will never make sense because Satan is the author of confusion and nothing people do in sin ever makes sense.)

Going through and reading all of her old blog posts again last night I noticed a recent one where she spoke of her marriage and said, "We have been through some tough times together and this year has pushed so many boundaries..."   I sat there asking, "okay, what exactly did she mean by that?"   Again, there I went trying to make sense of the senseless.  I never saw that as a cry for help or anything different than what the rest of us have faced, but now I wish I would have asked.  She spoke often of honoring him as her "head and priest."   The more I read the sicker I got.  The further back I went the more questions I had, and no answers were in sight.  Those who have talked to Deborah's family have said that no explanation or further details have been given so we are left to read what she left behind to try to make sense of it all though it's not working.

While the last thing I want to do is harm a friend or make them uncomfortable, no longer am I going to be content to let a "special unspoken" go by unquestioned when it's a one on one scenario.  My friend Sue Flint who heads up our Aprile's Hope ministry at Celebration Church told me last night, she doesn't let an unspoken request slide by without question when it's one one one and always asks further questions to clarify and make sure the person is safe .  I know better now.

My friend  Kathryn has taught me to "look for the gift" in every situation.  This is a horrific situation that I struggle to find any good in except the fact that I do know where Deborah is right now.  And, upon reflection here are some things I've learned from this that I trust will become a gift to my life and others:

  • Friends in ministry will be even more of a priority.  They are already a priority, but now become even more so. I was under the dryer at the hairdressers when Pastor Lisa called me to ask what happened to Deborah.  I saw it was her on the caller ID and picked up while under the dryer because it was that important.  I'll never forget the scream that came out of Lisa when I told her the details.  It was surreal.  Dear Jesus, this is such a painful thing for all of us.  We have cried a pile of tears since we received the news.  I needed to be there for my friend.  My hair could wait a few more minutes.
  • The minutia of ministry keeps us apart too much. I'll make more time for all those lunches and coffees we keep talking about no matter how many  hours a week I'm working.  
  • I'll tell people I love them more.  I tell them all the time but somehow I realized, it's still not enough.
  • "Special Unspokens" could be a cover for something in a friend's life that we should be involved in helping them work through.  Then again, they might not be, but let's not take a chance!  Better safe than sorry.   No matter what a friend's life looks like on the outside and how many deep talks we've had on other matters, if they give me a "special unspoken" I will say, "Are you SURE you're okay?"  "Does this involve ANY possible danger?"  or "Do you think you could just give me a one or two word topic this request concerns so I can pray more specifically?"  And, "No matter WHAT this request might concern, please know I will not divulge it, but I want to assure your safety...I must ensure that you are not in danger, because I love you."
  • I will get involved if I sense a friend needs me to do that.  I won't shy away because it's a "private family matter."  How many times have you known people who won't get involved because they are friends with both a husband/wife?  Well, what if their LIFE depends on it??!   Our discomfort in "going there" should be outweighed by the value of a friend's life.  GO THERE!  And if you are a pastor of a church, please GO THERE! Who cares if it's someone in leadership, someone influential, someone you "can't imagine would ever do anything dangerous..."  GO THERE!  Don't downplay it.  Get involved.  Early.  While you still can! Even if you don't live near them you can get involved -- the world is a smaller place than ever through the power of technology.        
Dolla, you will never be forgotten. Though you are in heaven, your mission is continued on earth as your sisters in ministry carry on in "seeing every woman restored to the beauty God intended, taking them from Cinderella to the queen of their home."   We love you, sweet friend, and that will NEVER change, and no one can take that away from you or from us.

 Deborah
1969-2010
From Cinderella...to Queen of her Heavenly Home!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

You don't have to stay there

Perhaps you've had your blood pressure or sugar or cholesterol checked recently,  but do you monitor your emotional or spiritual health as closely as you would your cholesterol?  All those things are important but many people give little regard to their mental, emotional or spiritual health and what it takes to stay at their optimal best.  We tend to downplay this. 


Nobody is standing in line to watch your overall health.  You have to be your own advocate on this one.  Why do we so often think we HAVE to remain exposed to things that aren't spiritually or emotionally good for us?  Sometimes for our own health we have to position ourselves differently.  You can't control others, however you can control yourself, in fact it's one of the fruits of the spirit - self control.  You can decide exactly what YOU'RE going to do. 

You are the primary caretaker of your emotional health.  So, how's it going?   What have you decided to do?  How have you decided to re-position yourself for your next level or your desired breakthrough?

If you went to dinner and for some reason the person hosting it placed a dish of rancid food in front of you, you wouldn't eat it down just so you wouldn't hurt their feelings.  If a toxic unhealthy plate of food was sitting in front of you undoubtedly smelling, my guess is also that you probably wouldn't keep it sitting there.  However, when things are emotionally rancid we tend to put up with it.   We're sort of like the wife who is being verbally abused and instead of doing something we say, "well, it's not like he hits me or anything..."  Emotional rancidity is just as bad as physical.   Try applying the same things to your emotional health that you would or should apply to your physical health.  Control yourself and make a move in whatever direction you need to move to get to health.

Joyce Meyer says:  "new level/new devil".  Something God spoke into my life recently is that in going to new levels it requires such a focus and elimination of distractions.  A friend of mine had a great status on his facebook today:  "Know your emotional quota."   With every new level there might be a new devil but we don't have to give him rent free space, that's for sure.  And just a tip...if he doesn't move where you want him to, you get up and move.  You can do that, you know.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

When your faith goes off a cliff

There were two truck drivers who were interviewing for the same driving job and the boss took each of them for a test drive.  The test was conducted on a winding mountain road and while they were riding along the boss asked the first trucker, "how close can you go to the edge without driving over?"  The guy said, "oh, I can get right on the edge of it -- I can get within an inch or so without going over...no problem!"  The boss took note.  Then he took the second driver out for a test and asked him the same question.  The second driver said, "I don't know how close I can get to the edge.  I've never tried it.  When driving on a road like this my goal is to stay as far away from the edge as I can."  The second driver got the job.

For those of us who profess to be Christians, we can make a decision to stay as far away from the edge of the cliff as possible or we can try to live on the edge, believing whatever our flesh longs to do must certainly be more important than Jesus.  (Of course the edge I speak of is not the edge of creativity, or adventure, etc.  I am speaking strictly of sin or compromise clearly spelled out in the Word.)  It amazes me what some people think they've "given  up" to follow Jesus.  Seriously!  Is that a joke or what?  None of us really know what it is to sacrifice, or we wouldn't be here.  We'd be dead.  

Ever notice how some Christians spend all their time looking for loopholes?  That is just as exhausting as the supposed freedom they talk about having as a result.  The greatest freedom comes not in looking for loopholes, or dwelling on the edge, but in obedience.

Trust and obey, for there's no other way, to be happy in Jesus...than to trust and obey.

In John 14:21, Jesus says, "Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him." 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

It's coming together...

God has a way of working things out when His will is involved.  Many thanks to all who have prayed for Jordan in this time of transitioning from home to home.  It really IS a transition because we all thought he was leaving but God had another plan.  Jordan starts working today at Cracker Barrell.  It's pretty awesome that he got a job this quick in this economy.  We give God the glory...and I don't think his charm or the fact that I did some interview coaching with him for his two interviews hurt anything.  :)  So he has a job, starts bible schooling September 11, and is looking to the future.  Praise God!

I've got a whole lot going on this week in addition to my regular responsibilities, which I mentioned had really increased due to a few things..  In addition to all that we're doing a night at Fusion this week called, "How Sweet It Is"  (I'll blog with details once the event is over -- some of it is a surprise)  I also have a leadership luncheon for the women of Tampa/Metro for the AG, that I oversee as rep.  So I've been putting that together, trying to keep the house clean,  running Jordan around as he's been looking for jobs, the many various odds and ends that come up and by the end of the day I'm pretty much exhausted.    

Guess what though...I've put myself back "on the list"!  I've been walking a few miles a night.  Watching what I eat again, and doing what I need to do to take care of me so I can be strong for the days ahead.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sunday messy Sunday...


Yesterday was a great day at Celebration.  We had new visiting families/individuals, the children's ministries broke their attendance record, (thereafter making our children's director into a human pizza!  Ecccckkkk!!!  It was incredibly messy) and most of all God was present to work in hearts and lives which  he truly did in worship and at at the altar.  Larry and I brought a tag team message yesterday, which we always enjoy.  We also had "bring a friend to choir day" and after a choir luncheon invited people to sit in on our rehearsal and check out what it's like to be part of the choir, to see if they'd like to consider being a part of the team.  So far most of the people who visited have committed to be a part and it looks like we're getting LOTS of new choir members, which is exciting.  I know I'm partial, but really these folks are an amazing team that truly bring it, week in and week out!

Realizing how the enemy had tried to distract me with some stuff Saturday, I became burdened for pastors everywhere who go through it.  Sunday morning our team specifically prayed for full gospel pastors and churches everywhere who were preparing to go into their services.  We prayed against distractions of ANY kind and believed for God to protect the anointing upon their lives and show up and show off in their services.  We need to remember to do this for each other all the time for truly A LOT is at stake!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Don't expose yourself


Protecting the anointing upon your life is a very important thing.  This is not just for pastors but for all believers.  The enemy goes after pastors and leaders in even greater measure.  Sometimes it's not so much an all out "attack" -- just a distraction.  Enough distractions piled up can become fatal to your spiritual walk.   Leaders have such an effect on other believers, that's why he really tries to affect us, so that it will create a domino effect on the body of Christ.  Some pastors don't really have to be knocked out of the race completely, just a simple distraction unchecked, will do.  I tell you, it's not good enough for me just to finish the race without falling into some immoral trap!  I don't want a distraction to mar my effectiveness either.  It's not just what some might consider "big things" that can render us ineffective...like the Bible says,  it's the small foxes that ruin the vineyard.  (Song of Solomon 2:15)

Protecting my heart and the anointing upon my life has to go to a whole new level if I want God to flow through me especially on days like today.  It's not even a question that there will be people at our service today who need the Lord, healing, deliverance, and a plethora of other things.  The leader sets the pace for what's going to happen in that service.  We have to show up READY.  Yes, it's Jesus who accomplishes the work and He is counting on leaders who will be there, "game on" to be sensitive to His spirit.

Showing up ready with our game on means that our  mind or our spirit isn't sullied by things that aren't good for us.  It takes fortitude to safeguard what God has entrusted to us.

All that to say, I've guarded what's entrusted to me and I'm ready.  Whatever God chooses to do at Celebration Church today, I'm in position -- body, soul, mind and spirit.

Romans 8:6 says, "the mind controlled by the spirit is life and peace."  Something one of my mentors, Sis. June Coker, taught me is that many believers wonder why they have no peace even after much bible reading and prayer and the answer is, if you let your mind run wild or allow just anything to be exposed to it, even if you're reading and praying -- no wonder you aren't at peace.  You  have to take authority over what you allow in, for a spirit controlled life to be possible.

Someone once said, "Don't put in front of you, what you don't want inside you."  That can go for ANYTHING in life that's not good for you.  If things are a hindrance to you, don't expose yourself to them.   Especially for those who are begging God to show up and do something and use you in any part of it, it's a great word to the wise.


Proverbs 4:18-27

"The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.  But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness;  they do not know what makes them stumble.  My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words.   Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart;  for they are life to those who find them and health to a man's whole body.  Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.   Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips.  Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you.   Make level paths for your feet     and take only ways that are firm.  Do not swerve to the right or the left;  keep your foot from evil.


On guard, Jesus!   Ready, ready, ready for what you want to do today, in me and in Your church!!!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Bible said it, not me!

" People ruin their lives by their own stupidity, so why does God always get blamed?"
Proverbs 19:3  (MSG)

God gets blamed for a whole lot of things He never had anything to do with.

What an interesting turn of events there would be in our world if people simply owned their stuff.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Ten things that really help me grow spiritually

1)  I read the Word, not just devotionals.  

Something I've noticed about a lot of today's Christians is that a lot of them don't read the Bible anymore.  If they read the Word in any form, it's in devotionals that contain short excerpts from the Bible.  I'm a fan of devotionals as they definitely bring greater clarity on the Bible, but we have to be careful to not use them as a substitute for the Bible.

2)  I read the Word in different versions.  

I am a fan of bible gateway, and love going there to read passages in different versions.  This expands my thought process on the various scriptures I'm studying and gives me a greater perspective -- the full counsel of God's Word.

3)  I write my prayers.

I'm an intercessor and pray in many different ways but writing is a favorite tool when I'm distracted easily, which is a lot.  Many times I'll write my prayers in a password protected format -- they are totally confidential between God and myself, just pouring my heart out, and doing it in this fashion helps me stay focused when other things are clamoring for my attention.

4)  I walk and pray.

Huge fan of this...I do it whether alone at home or at intercessory meetings at church.  Helps me to stay focused and quite literally move forward.

5)  I attend church services a lot.  

I know I "am" the church (the church is people, not a building) and I do make it a priority to attend services where the people are,  not just because I'm a pastor...because I'm a Christian.  (Hebrews 10:25)  Those who are growing most in the church are 99.9% of the time those who are faithful to be there not just on Sundays but during other worship opportunities whether they be mid-week services or small groups.  I don't say that because I'm a pastor, I say it because it's true.  Back when I was in Weight Watchers those who succeeded the most were those who were at meetings all the time.  They would say, "the meetings are the magic!"  There's truth to that for Christians too.

6)  I don't just "attend" services - I'm in close accountable relationships with others.

Yep, even me -- a pastor.  Nobody is exempt from accountable close relationships if you want to go somewhere in God.  This helps me to grow - to be encouraged, and to encourage others.  Moving forward is a process only navigated well in the company of others.    

7)  I spiritually eat at home more than I do at church.

While church is essential and cannot be underestimated, I don't expect it to fulfill all my spiritual dietary needs.  I'm required to eat at home for spiritual health.  Some people eat nothing spiritually all week long and show up to church weak and sick spiritually and expect their preacher to do a miracle.  The truth is that God expects you to lift the spoon to your mouth during the week.  Most folks show up needing a spiritual I.V. by Sunday Morning.  And we wonder why many church services across the land are anemic?  They are filled with anemic people -- we ARE the church, so if we are anemic as individuals, the church is too.

8)  I go to services expecting, not hesitating.

I don't come in with a reserved, cynical attitude that wonders if anything is really going to happen.  I show up each time expecting the extraordinary.  That's easy to do when God is in charge.  It isn't dependent upon the preacher, the musicians, whether it's cold or  hot inside or out, or how many other people showed up.  If God's on the scene anything is possible.  When I show up to church I'm a thermostat.  A thermometer only measures the temp in the room but a thermostat sets it.

9)  I keep an open communication going with God all day long.

Praying without ceasing isn't  mystery.  You simply keep an ongoing talk going on about your entire day with your best friend who is right with you all the time.  I talk to God in my head when I'm walking the aisles of Sam's Club shopping for stuff for church, or when I'm sitting at my desk wondering wht in the world to say to the person who just called.  He talks to me all day too.  If He didn't I really wouldn't know what to say or do most of the time so it's good we have this dialogue going.  Otherwise I'd probably advise some people to do some really dumb things.

10)  I am intentional about listening for God.

I love to talk to Him and pour out my heart but what is equally important is getting quiet and hearing Him.  I make a point to put on some worship music, stretch out on the floor, get quiet and just LISTEN for what He's saying.  No preconceived agenda, just listening in the quietness.

Works for me!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Dear Pastor Deanna...

The following is a letter (names/locations changed)  from a young adult pastor's son that came to my inbox  in response to Tuesday's blog post.  I'm sharing it with his permission, taking identifying details out.  This note is one of many that arrived, from PK's, PW's, and Pastors, all sharing their experiences and just wanting somebody to listen.  I got letters from pastor's kids who had been physically and emotionally abused by church members, PW's sharing about their emotionally scarred PK's who want nothing to do with the church and are currently prodigals, others who just wanted somebody to pray who has been in their shoes.  My heart goes out...

Dear Pastor Deanna:

I just read your PK post, and then the one you linked with your son Dustin's essay. I started getting really emotional.  It was like everything came flooding back from the church my parents pastored when we lived in Detroit, and some of the (much rarer) psychotic experiences in Columbus. This is an issue that needs a LOT more exposure.

It's just crazy to think about some of the experiences I have sort of blocked out like Dustin described, I thank God that my siblings haven't gone through it as bad, (although, my next oldest brother probably got a pretty good dose). You know, when you're a young kid, your parents are kind of like God to you, they know EVERYTHING, right from wrong, never make mistakes, and are your whole source of life, then to have people in church, (where kids are supposed to feel safe) just be verbally assaulted and hear their parents be slandered, it's incredibly traumatic. I remember my best friend's Dad coming up to me in the foyer after church when I was 16, he started screaming at me, "you're dad is a f'ing liar and spewing lies from f'ing satan, your mom is practicing witchcraft!...." and so forth.   Who else deals with that level of chaos except maybe the President's kids?!

I would never put my kids in a Christian school.   I grew up thinking I was a horrible kid from around the ages of 10-15 because of that school in Detroit. I used to beg my dad every single year to let me go to public school, I would DREAM about being able to go to public, school. I remember when I first came to that school the principal, had me and some of the other kids in his office and had a paddle in their for corporal punishment.   I was 11! I asked him "what's that for?" He said, "turn around and put your hands on that chair." I nervously did so thinking we were joking around, and he then hit me with it HARD. I mean, I've been spanked a lot growing up and this was not a light joke of a tap, it was extremely hard. Then he just laughed at me! I was humiliated in front of all these other kids and it actually hurt REALLY bad, I remember running out to the back of the building and crying on the swing set! I got detention and demerits non-stop in that school, and I think it really contributed to me having a very rebellious attitude during those years.

Okay, I just wanted to vent for a second. thanks for writing this blog.

Love,
Josh

Let's lift up ministry families everywhere, for peace, healing and God's power.  They serve on the frontlines and need our support, never our criticism.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I love it that my husband surprises me...

Yesterday I was working from home and had a phone appointment until 5:45 pm, and my husband planned a special surprise.  He could hardly wait for me to come out and see what he had planned...an amazing feast of steamed crabs and corn!     


I'm from Baltimore and steamed crabs to me are no other way than the B'more way.  We've never been able to find them here in Florida but yesterday Larry was driving home from work and saw a sign that advertised blue crabs.  He stopped and ask the man if he could steam them our way.  The man had no clue what he was talking about and Larry had to explain to him how to do it with the Old Bay Seasoning.  The guy thought it was a little odd (he was a man from the middle east - had never seen anything like it) but he did as Larry asked him to.  The result:  amazing!  I came out of my room and saw everything set up on the table and FREAKED!

  I have the most amazing man..  Thanks babe.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

No grace for the PK

Something I never thought about before is that although PK's (pastor's kids) are immersed in ministry by virtue of their parents being in it, they don't receive the same grace to deal with issues as their parents do.  PK's don't ask to be in a pastor's home, they just land in it by virtue of birth.  They don't sign up to make the sacrifices, they just live them because they have no choice.  They don't surrender to the call, they just wake up and have to live the pastoral lifestyle that has been dictated for them already due to their parents surrender to the call.  Their parents on the other hand, having been called by God to pastor, and responding to the call, receive a special grace from God to deal with the difficulties of the ministry.  (Otherwise they would never make it.)  There are some perks to being a PK but the sacrifices usually far outweigh it, even in a good church setting like my kids have here at Celebration.  (And we are VERY thankful for Celebration Church, believe me!)

Like all PK's, my kids have witnessed things behind the scenes that are unique to ministry.  Because of some of those realities, my children never grew up aspiring to ministry.  Both Dustin and Jordan said many times  that they would never choose vocational ministry.  We accepted that fully and in some respects I even breathed a sigh of relief!  (I have to be honest, I didn't want my children to face some of the same stresses I have over the years  I'm not complaining, I'm just stating reality that it's a unique life and many can't handle it, that's why 1500 pastors resign each month and leave ministry permanently.)  This isn't my opinion, it's a well documented fact - just do a simple google search and you'll find all the sobering stats there.

My kids experienced some crazy things growing up that they needed to be emotionally healed from.  Dustin shared in one of his college essays about being healed at youth camp, from emotional abuse he suffered from being a PK.  Jordan was thrown across a room by an angry children's worker at one church.   I shared about both those things extensively in this blog post, which includes Dustin's essay.   Both boys remember one night at a previous church, when I had to grab them from the sanctuary put them in the car and take them home by myself while their Daddy stayed at the church because a business meeting (an illegally called one, to boot!) had blown up.  I can still remember plain as day driving home in the pouring rain with them in the back seat scared to death, saying things to me like, "Mom, why were those ladies acting so crazy?  What did they mean by all that stuff they were saying?"  I knew that night was indelibly imprinted upon their fragile minds forever.    And I hated it.  It wasn't so much at that point that I thought, "this will scar them from wanting to go in the ministry."  Forget ministry...I just wanted them to grow up wanting to serve God, period!  You can get pretty disillusioned about Christianity as a pastor or a PK, when you see so many so-called Christians who act like the devil.

Then there were other things like the first 15 years of our ministry when we went to McDonalds, got one drink and five straws.  Every time.    Now the kids laugh about it, but along with that laughter for many years they had said, "we'll NEVER go through that with our families."   When we moved to Florida the first question they asked when we were on the road with the moving truck was, "Can we all have our own drink now?"    Both boys always wanted to do something financially lucrative, and quite frankly I think most young people do want to choose a career where their family can be comfortable and won't have to have their kids on reduced school lunch tickets, relying on their grandparents to buy them school supplies or waiting another month to buy tennis shoes when current ones have holes.

Neither of my boys came to peace about the ministry until this past year -- I would guesstimate that Dustin arrived at the acceptance of his call last fall, and Jordan a few weeks ago.  One of the best thing that happened in Jordan's case was Tom Benigas coming and spending time with him last week.  Tom is the former district youth director here in Pen-Florida, having just retired this past year.  He's always  had an incredible heart for all of the youth but especially PK's, being one himself.   For our first eight years here he provided leadership for the wonderful youth and PK camps the kids were a part of that brought so much healing to their lives. When Tom first heard about Jordan's situation and his initial reluctance about ministry, he wrote me a note saying the following:
 
"Deanna, I have a similar story. I didn't want to go into ministry for the very same reasons. You and Larry get God's grace to deal with all the stuff. As PK's, if we get an attitude about it, there is no grace available. I experienced that first hand. I might be able to encourage him... I believe the hand of God is all over this."

Encourage him, he did!  He spent time with him last week and not only encouraged but just poured himself out, at times through tears, imparting to Jordan what God told him to tell him.  What a blessing.

Tom brings up a great point I just realized through his insight...while all Christians receive God's grace, there is a special grace God gives for specific calls or tasks.   PK's don't receive the same exact kind of grace their parents do.  You aren't given the grace to pastor a church unless you are actually pastoring it. And therein lies their ambivalence about following a call.  However if they are called and they do respond they will have that same grace as we received imparted to them to shepherd people and go through unique hardships.  That doesn't mean the road will be easy!  Grace just makes it possible.

I know most people who cause issues in their church don't really care about the PK's much less anything of real importance.  All they care about is themselves, which is why they act like they do.  But I wish people realized what their actions cause others to go through, even little children!  Especially little children!  Did those women at that business meeting ever consider that their actions would one day affect a young man forcing himself to go into the military, running from a call, because he wanted to do anything he could to avoid leading people like THEM or exposing his future family to them???      

The children are watching...

what are we showing them?

Monday, August 16, 2010

What attitude?

I've been teaching a class on "Attitudes" at Celebration, and yesterday I asked my class, "do you remember when you were a kid and your parents would say, "hey, watch your attitude"?  You probably rolled your eyes and said, "WHAT ATTITUDE?!  I DON'T HAVE AN ATTITUDE!"

If the response of my class is any indication, the majority of us did this.

We didn't even realize how bad our attitudes were back then, did we?

Kids aren't the only ones with this problem.  This week I talked with two adults who had really bad attitudes.  Quite honestly they are clueless about the fact that they have issues (and aren't open to correction) and really don't want to change.  

There was once a grandfather who decided to take a nap.  His grandson decided to play a little prank and took a small dab of limberger cheese and put it on his mustache as he was sleeping.  The grandfather woke up with a snort and staggered out of his room and yelled, "Something stinks!"  He began going room to room and as he ran through the house he said, "This whole house stinks!"  A few moments later he ran out onto the front porch and he said, "The whole world stinks!"  All the while he never realized the problem was right under his nose.

To start changing your attitude, change what you think.  Our thoughts have everything to do with our attitude Proverbs 23:7 says, "For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he..."

Elevate your thinking and you elevate your life.   Find the source of what stinks in your life and deal with it.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The real kind you can believe in...


 Yesterday I spoke at life coaching about being women who bring change.

Are you content to just accept whatever life throws your way without believing the God can do something about it?   We can make change in two ways:
  • Prayer
  • The way we choose to walk the path.  (Sometimes the path in life is chosen for us at least for a while, but we have a choice as to how we will walk it.)
This week I talked with a few people who are stuck at whatever place they have been in for a while whether it be hurts from the past, sickness, joblessness, under-employment, etc.  We all go through times like this, but to believe that there is nothing you can do is a lie.  The truth is, there's no telling what will happen when you passionately seek the Lord about your challenge.

Lately at Celebration we've had breakthroughs of all kinds - healings, people getting free operations (God works in different ways), new jobs, and much more.  All of this has come through intercessory prayer.  God is still showing up today with miraculous acts of power on behalf of His people.

God is looking for people who will show up and be faithful to pray His will into the earth.  

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Poopy purses and other things much more pleasant to think about...

Last night Larry and Savanna and I went with Eddie and Candy to Sarasota for the evening.  While there we were in a store that had lovely things ~ clothes, purses, housewares, all in a very elegant environment.  However, I think some child or perhaps a very immature adult had gone in amongst a lovely display of monogrammed purses and did a little "creative rearranging."  All of a sudden amidst our shopping, Savanna loudly declares, "Oh my gosh, does that say POOP??!!"  We looked over and burst out laughing to the point of tears and couldn't stop for a while.  Candy and I had been looking around the displays and had not even noticed the word the purses had spelled out but Savanna noticed it the first second she laid eyes on it.   She's not only prophetic, she's observant!  :)  Candy and I were laughing too hard to do anything about it but Savanna pulled out her phone to take a picture.

In other news, today is life coaching!  Yay!  I know God is going to do something awesome today, I just know it in my knower, and maybe I'll share some of my teaching or what results later on this week here on the blog.  We always start with brunch. This morning I've made a breakfast casserole that I'm trying for the first time from the "Taste of Home Best Church Supper Recipes" book.  It looks absolutely delicious as you can see below from this photo I took right off of the Taste of Home site.  Thought I'd share the recipe here.  Bonnie is also making quiche and we're having fruit and juices and coffee and tea.  It's worth coming to life coaching for the food alone.  :)

Sausage Hash Brown Bake

2 pounds bulk pork sausage
2 cups (8 oz) shredded cheddar cheese - divided
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup (8 oz) sour cream
1 cup of french onion dip (usually comes in the smaller cartons)
1 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped green pepper
1/4 cup chopped sweet red pepper
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 package (30 oz) frozen shredded hash browns, thawed

In a large skillet, cook sausage over medium heat until no longer pink; drain; In a large bowl mix 1 and 3/4 cups cheese and the next seven ingredients; fold in potatoes; Spread half of potato mixture into a greased 9 x 13 casserole dish.  Top with all of the sausage, and then top that with remaining potato mixture.  Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.  Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  Uncover; bake 10 minutes longer or until all the way heated through.  Enjoy!

Can you believe I've talked about poop and shared a recipe in the same blog post?  I know, that's why you come here.  You never know what you're going to get...life is like a box of chocolates...

Friday, August 13, 2010

My three treasures

These are all recent photos of my children.  Just wanted to share the beauty that colors my world.

Dustin Michael

 Jordan Andrew


Savanna Rose

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Baby dedications are the new weddings

I said something in my class a few Sundays ago that generated an overwhelming response of applause.  It sorta surprised me how passionately people agreed with me on this.  

I want to start sending people DVD's of their baby's dedication at random times when I think they need a reminder of the vows they made in front of God and the church.   I said, "baby dedications have become the new weddings."

Weddings got out of control in America with lavish amounts of money and creativity the likes of which our parents and grandparents could have never envisioned in their wildest dreams.  This photo is from a recent wedding that boasts the "longest train in bridal history."  I have to be honest with you I think it looks like a giant roll of toilet paper and isn't the least bit attractive.  But seriously.  I'm not against celebrating marriage. I don't regret one cent we spent for our wedding.   What I take issue with is investing more in a wedding than a marriage.  The divorce rate out there is appalling.  With many of these couples, working on the dynamics of a marriage often takes a back seat to ordering invitations, dress fittings, and reception menus.  They were in love with the idea of love, but not committed to the day to day working on a marriage. 

Baby dedications have become an opportunity for celebration with little thought to true dedication thereafter which is the whole point of the dedication.  One lady we performed a dedication for years ago requested the use of the fellowship hall afterwards and had a full sit down dinner reception after their baby's dedication for friends and family.  So, what's the problem with that?   She never personally brought her children back to our church or any church.  The grandparents brought the child most of the time when they came.  There are some parents who come back on special occasions but that's about it.

The purpose of a baby dedication is not just to show off your child and have a big family sha-bang and then go home and revert to being a casual Christian or church attender.  A baby dedication is performed for the purpose of dedicating your child to God's purposes and agreeing to do your part to to training them for His purpose.   Perhaps one should consider whether they are going to be dedicated before they request a dedication be performed .  A dedication is more for the parents than the children because at the dedication parents promise to raise their children in the ways of the Lord and be faithful in bringing them for Christian instruction.

Spend a million dollars  on your wedding if you want to - but when the reception is over, FULFILL YOUR VOWS that you made.  Likewise with your baby dedication.  Pull out all the stops and do it up big time.  Invite the world.  Then FULFILL YOUR VOWS.  Be a Christian parent. 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Signs that a youth leader is immature

For those of you who work with youth, this is an excellent article you need to be aware of that speaks to the maturity (or lack thereof) of youth leaders.  It lists the signs that a youth leader is lacking maturity and healthy adult relationships.

Every met a youth leader who shares their personal "issues" with the kids?  (Even older ones in the youth group, seniors, etc.- still not right!)     

Chimes in with negativity or worldliness and acts more like one of the kids than a spiritual leader?

Cops attitudes and encourage youth to chime in?

Sides with a teen against other leaders, even the senior pastors?

Ultimately leads people away from the Lord, or the church...not closer to?  (They don't really help to build people, nor the church and are basically the pastor's worst nightmare not their answer to prayer.)

If you work with youth you need to be aware of falling into these pitfalls yourself.  If you oversee those who work with the youth of your church this is something you want to be aware of to watch out for with your leaders.

The bottom line is, youth are looking for someone to be like, not someone to be like them.   

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The main thing learned from this latest situation

Do you feel out of control when it comes to the decisions your kids are making?  I'm here to tell you that even if your "kids" are 32 years old, you are not helpless.  The main thing I've learned through this latest situation with Jordan is that the person who prays has the power...period.

We've never pushed our children toward the ministry - EVER.  Instilling a passion for God and faithfulness to the house of God has always been top priority, but to full time vocational ministry, absolutely not. I've always said if you can do anything else and you don't really have a divine call - don't do it!  It's too hard and you won't have the grace to do it and to say your days will be a challenge is an understatement.  But if you are called to it, there won't be anything else that satisfies. 

My role as a mother has simply been to pray that God's will would be made clear to our children, with whatever they are supposed to do.  Along with that it's my call to pray that nothing would hinder their God-given purpose being fulfilled.  

Why do I talk about prayer so much?  Because IT WORKS. 

Intercession has always been our greatest tool in parenting.  Prayer is not an afterthought - it's our main tool in the box.  We've always been blessed that our children have served God.  They all accepted Jesus at an early age.   However, there are times that they have gotten involved in situations particularly in relationships that have threatened to pull them away from a passion for Jesus and the destiny for their lives.   The enemy hates it in general when young people sell out to God with a passion and He will put people and situations in their lives to distract them from their purpose.  Just as God can and does put people in our lives to move us toward our destiny, so the enemy does the opposite.   I believe it is even greater with PK's because spiritual warfare is much worse in a pastor's home.

Seeing your adult children set free from situations and relationships that negatively affect destiny has to be handled very delicately or you will push them even further away into the arms of the enemy.   When the boys were younger we laid down rules that kept them away from such things as much as possible.  When they were under 18 and I saw things that were a danger to them, I just said no.  Once they turned of age and made these decisions for themselves we had to pray and fast things or even people out or into their lives.  Both Dustin and Jordan faced situations that were a pull away from the call from God they were sensing.  We prayed constantly for their release from any situation that would affect their destiny in a negative way.  God has been faithful and the victory won through intercession.  

I attribute all that has transpired with Jordan to the power of prayer.  Turning to God is the only answer for our children.   I have tried my best to be a good parent, but despite that I have made a lot of mistakes.  It's this way with most parents - we are only  human.  But prayer covers a multitude of mistakes.(Tons of love doesn't hurt either, as the Bible says love covers a multitude of sins, but that's another post for another day.)

If you are reading this today and you are a parent I beg you to get the book, The Power of a Praying Parent, by Stormie Omartian.  This book has been an invaluable resource to me in parenting and makes a perfect guide to praying for your kids if you don't know where to start.  If your children are adults and you think it's too late because you are beyond their formative years and think  you  have no control, think again!  You can see great change through prayer and I highly recommend Stormie's book, The Power of Praying for Your Adult Children. 

Speaking of prayer and our children, Savanna is becoming quite the prophetic intercessor.  She doesn't understand it all and wouldn't even put that label on herself and would probably be mortified that I'm doing it!   A while back I became concerned about something with one of the boys and Savanna could sense it.  She came to me and said, "Mom, don't worry about it.  God already told me it's over."   Just a few weeks after she told me that, the word she received came to pass!!  It's been about a year now that she has come to us repeatedly telling us God has told her certain things.  I must admit although a believer in all the gifts some of the things she told us seemed impossible.   However she was right each time!  Interestingly enough, Monday night she set her alarm to get up with us at to see Jordan off  at MEPS.  Once I knew he wasn't going on Tuesday morning I went to tell her that he wasn't going and she could just continue to sleep.  She said, "Oh I already know, Mom.  I shut my alarm off a while ago."  I said, "how did you know, honey?"  She said, "I was crying last night when I was laying in my bed, realizing that Jordan was leaving in the morning and would never be living with us at home again.  It hit me that he was going to be gone.  Then Jesus spoke to me and said, "Savanna, don't cry.  It's alright, because he's not leaving."  So I shut my alarm off and stopped crying and went to sleep. 

Whatever the situation your kids are in, it is NOT hopeless because of PRAYER.  Proverbs 21:1 tells us that He has turned the heart of kings.  He can certainly turn the heart of your child.  He can change a situation that previously looked like a done deal.  He can change the situation even if they are an adult.  He can change the situation even if they have signed papers.  He can change the situation even if a ring is on their finger.  He can change the situation even if the police came to your door.   He can change the situation even if you don't know where they are right now.  

If a Mom decides to pray her kid might as well give up right now, and if Mom and grandma both decide to pray, it's all over but the shouting!