Tuesday, November 30, 2010

True Church Stories - #19

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...

Monday, November 29, 2010

True Church Stories - #18

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!!!!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Happy birthday, babe


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 -- one who is a good father and cares about things like pink lights and being there for his family.  I've also said over the years how thankful I am that he's such an even keeled spiritual man..."stable" for lack of a better word.  I've never had to worry about his faith.  He's rock solid in his devotion to the Lord, and his commitment to the Word of God and truth.  That is no small thing to me.  I've seen a lot in my time and the more time that goes on I'm thankful for a husband who is not a flake.

I love you, babe!  My prayers are with you, everyday, that all your dreams and more might come true.  xoxo  ~Sassy

Saturday, November 27, 2010

My weekend so far

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 in the wee hours of the morning, "Momma, it's time to get up and get ready to go to the store..."   I truthfully had nothing in mind to buy, I just wanted a bit of mother-daughter time.  We went to our two favorite stores:  Bealls Outlet and the Salvation Army.  We got some good deals on a few small items.

We had breakfast out at First Watch  and were back home by 9:30 am.  They had pumpkin pancakes as their special and those are some of my favorite things in the whole wide world!  

Yesterday I posted on facebook that I was putting my six trees up yesterday. Actually the total was seven.  I forgot about the tree in my room.   One is broken, (permanently), so right now we have one less and are probably going to go without the patio tree this year since last year it got knocked over almost every day and I'd have to go re-do the whole thing .   Although they are all set up and lit, they are not decorated.  It will take some time to complete them.  I'm giving myself at least a week to get the trees up and Larry will help me. I have had some challenges physically lately.  Although in years past I pushed myself to do most anything I needed or wanted to do, at this point in my life I can't.   I push myself when it comes to church services or completing my work for Celebration or NextJob, or being fully present for special family gatherings, but I have to cut back on some "extras" even much as I love trees my health has to come first and I can't get them up in a day like I used to.  I also use my paper plates as much as my china right  now, and ask for help with a lot of things.  Thanks for your prayers as I come to mind.  

We've got a full weekend with Larry's birthday on Sunday, and church and leadership meeting and another decorating day on Monday. Friends will be happy to know I've asked for lots of help.  :)

Friday, November 26, 2010

True Church Stories -#17

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 exaggeration.  She walked out with it and held it out like she was presenting it at Buckingham Palace or something.  Grinning from ear to ear and said, "Pastor, I sure do hope you enjoy it.  I created it just for you..."

Then she turned to me and said, "And would you like some dessert too?"

I said, "yes, please."

And she answered, "Get it yourself, it's in on the kitchen counter."

Yes. I. Am. Serious.

And so was she.  This was not a joke.  I went in, fixed my own dessert and the boys desserts,  and came back out.  My husband found this quite amusing and I wanted to hit him upside the head.   To give a disclaimer here for those of you who don't know me as well, do not go to our church, or have never been in my home --.I don't have a sense of entitlement.  I don't "expect" to be served.  I am a servant, and one of my dearly held values is servant leadership.  At the same time I am a passionate about hospitality and have even taught many classes or workshops about it.  In my own home if I am serving one guest, I serve them all.

This was a learning illustration for me, for sure.  It furthered my passion for true  hospitality and being a real servant to all who walk through the doors of my home and our church.  I try to make things special even for the children who come over.  How many times do people leave out the kids?  What does that say to them?  It speaks, "we're not important."  (Our former children's pastor's wife Misty used to always say to me, "PD, it's so nice that you have all this china set out even for the kids, but do you have a plastic cup for Nate and Celeena to use?  I'm so afraid they are going to break your beautiful things."  I would always provide them what they asked for, but at the same time always wanted to make them feel special and told them even if they broke them, they were just "things".  And people in our house - even "little people" -  are more important than things.)

I do have to admit, after this evening at the Matthews, I had to resist the temptation during communion to call out over the microphone to Betty and tell her the communion was on the altar, to come get it herself.  Ha ha!!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Maxie says, "O my!  It's Thanksgiving!"

Kayte and Max say, "share the love this Thanksgiving!"
Maddie's stands up and says, "mmmm...I smell me some turkey..."
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! 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

True Church Stories - #16

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 Janet is on the phone for you."  I said, "what does she want?"  And he said, "I don't think it's an emergency, but you know she tends to think everything is urgent..."

My heart sunk because it was already 11 pm and I was absolutely exhausted.  I took a deep breath, picked up the phone anyway and began listening.  Here's the truth -- no matter what other education pastor's wives have, I'm here to tell you they should ALL have a degree in listening!   Most if not all have earned it.

As Janet talked, I cradled the phone to my ear and made my cup of tea, and then went and got comfortable  on the sofa.    As I sat there and listened for about an hour the clock soon struck midnight and as Janet talked on, I had laid down on the sofa and gotten really relaxed and before long I was asleep.  The phone was still cradled at my ear while I laid there asleep...for another hour!  As my eyes fluttered open  I glanced over at the clock and realized what had happened and I was even more shocked to realize that Janet was STILL TALKING for two hours straight, and never noticed that I was asleep!!!

Never doubt that some people CAN have a conversation all by themselves.  The other day someone said to me, "you know, it takes two to have a conversation" and I wanted to say, "you're not in the ministry, are you?"  Ministers know what it is to have "conversations" where only one person is doing the talking.

Now, something that could have been the most embarrassing thing in the world is that about a minute after I woke up, Janet said to me, "So, Pastor Deanna, what are your thoughts on all this?"  Please keep in mind that I hadn't been listening for the second hour while she talked...I was sound asleep.  And now she finally wanted me to actually SAY something and give her advice.

Fortunately for me I had the perfect answer.  I said, "Janet, my thought is that you should give this entire thing over to God." 

"Really?" she said.  "Just give it to God?"

"Yep," I responded, "just give it to God.  That's what you need to do."

And when I said that it was as if I'd given her a million dollars.  I mean, she was elated!  

Truthfully, I didn't know what the heck she had said for the past hour but whatever it was I knew it was safe to tell her to give it all over to God because truthfully He IS the person with the solution.

"Thank you SO much for being there tonight, PD.  Your advice to give it all over to God was just what I needed."

Mmm hhhmmm.

Finally at the 1:15 am mark we hung up and I went in  my room to put my nightie on and go to sleep and my husband says, "what in the world did Janet want this late at night?" and I said, "you know Larry she just needed to be reminded to give it all over to God."

"Really?"

"Yep."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

True Church Stories - #15

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 for Bo.  Her husband was just heartbroken over saying goodbye to his pet and up until that point had refused to do so.  So...

She called to inform me that her husband was angry about  my message, and she also wanted to thank me for the message as well as receive further advice on what to do.  Apparently after I taught the session about being set free from co-dependency, she decided to just leave the pee-pee and the doo-doo on the floor whenever Bo would have an accident. If Bo had six accidents during the day, her husband would come home after work to all of these messes.  She instructed her children to hop over or around these messes all over the house.  Her husband was so upset about this (he felt it was her job to clean it up since she was home during the day), he left the messes there.  This had gone on for A WEEK!!!  At the point when she called me, there were dozens of piles of dog mess all throughout the house.  She said, "Pastor Deanna, I've opened all the windows in our home, and I've been spraying air freshener on all the little piles hoping it will make it better.  We can hardly sleep, the smell is so bad."

Then she followed up by saying, "Um......... is THIS what you were referring to in your message about co-dependency???"

Well, not exactly...[sigh]

**  If you were the lady in this story, what would YOU have done if faced with that situation with your husband?  I am going to wait until people reply in the comment thread before I tell  you what I suggested to her.  I think it will be interesting to see people's suggestions to this dilemma and compare notes with what I offered as a suggestion to her.

Monday, November 22, 2010

True Church Stories - #14

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 weeks I get a color job or at least my roots done and people at the church often joke, "if you've only seen one shade of Pastor Deanna's hair, you're a newcomer!"  That's true.  Just last week I changed from blonde to a chestnut color with red highlights. I figure if I've got to color my hair, I might as well have fun and experiment.  :)  THINK POSITIVE!   Well, all that to say this... (yes, there is a true church story coming out of this...)

There are some church people that I really believe don't mean any harm but the words they say have potential to cause great harm.  Being a "church mama"  I've worried more over the years about how their words will affect newcomers or others in the church more than me.  One such person who has the gift of saying all the wrong things is a woman we'll call "Martha."  I had the privilege (?) of meeting Martha the first week we were here in Tampa.  She walked up to me that Sunday, and (without me asking her to!)  turned all of her responsibilities in the church over to me and said, "here it is!  It's a mess and I've just been waiting for you to get here!"  [sigh]  What a glorious introduction.   

When we first accepted the pastorate here in Tampa I had been busy packing up a house in Maryland and saying goodbyes there, moving here, setting up a house here, getting started in pastoring the church, enrolling my kids in school, yada yada yada.  Something that fell by the wayside for a week or two was my color/root job on my hair.  I simply couldn't keep up with everything and my roots were showing.  There was a little white stripe down my scalp and I tried to mask it by the way I styled it, but you know, that doesn't totally work.  I just did the best I knew how to do at the time.  I hadn't even found a hairdresser in Florida yet but slowly but surely I was getting there.

My second run-in encounter with Martha came when she walked up to me in the sanctuary  the second week here in Tampa and said,  "What are we going to do with you?  You are our new pastor's wife, and you look like a skunk!!!"

Lovely.  Nothing like having one of the church ladies refer to you as a stinky mammal.   LOL

Martha was great at dropping one liners like this (and more that one liners on occasion) at the most inopportune time, like right before service on Sunday morning, or at a wedding or funeral.  One time she severely hurt one of the other ladies in the church by giving her a bar of soap and telling her she needed to use it.   Oh my.  Another time a dear lady at the church was in line for a second time at one of our covered dish dinners and she walked up to her and said, "Sadie, what are you doing back in line?  You're already as big as a barn!"  God gives pastors and spouses special grace to deal with stuff like that when it's said to us, but most people don't have that special grace.  That's why it's "special".  As Sadie ran from the fellowship hall and out the doors of the church, I was right behind her.  I stood out by her car, arms around Sadie as she sobbed into my shoulder, comforting her and talking her through that horrible moment.  If it wasn't for our little talk she was headed home -- for good...never to come back to the church again.  She was so hurt. Martha is the type of person that when confronted with how she hurts people in this regard she'll twist a scripture like, "you shall know the truth and the truth will set you free",  She'll say something like, "Look, the sister is overweight, I spoke the truth, and it's up to her as to whether she wants to be free."  [sigh]  
 
I wish I could say things got better with Martha but truth be told that was just an introduction for me with all things Martha.  Larry and I tried our very best to lovingly pastor Martha and her family but alas years later another pastor is so "blessed" by her "ministry".  Quite honestly, the culture of our church had evolved in such a way that it was so counter to what Martha is all about, she couldn't co-exist with us anymore.  It was difficult for her to survive in at atmosphere of extravagant love, because she refused to be loving.  

I've been writing these stories to provide people a real and humorous glimpse into ministry life and from time to time I'll also add a life lesson learned.  This situation with Martha and people like her has been one of my biggest challenges in the ministry.  I will be honest with you that I don't totally know the answer.  Just when I think I have it mastered another person comes along and shows me how far I have to go.  We must be "soft" in the sense of loving lavishly, while also developing a "hard" enough skin to let things like this not bother us.  That can be a difficult mix.  Being soft enough to love Martha and hard enough to let whatever she said roll off of me was one of my greatest learning curves and right when I felt like I was mastering it, she moved on.

In some ways I felt her moving on was God's reward to me for passing the test of loving her.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

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


"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 out" to me until this week.  All of this is to be done with thanksgiving.  He's saying, "even while you are going through trials and asking me for peace, maintain gratefulness."  

God knows it's easy in the midst of trials and tribulations (as we are dealing with anxiety and needing to present our requests and receive His peace) it's easy to become ungrateful - even to complain a lot about the situation we are dealing with, instead of realizing all the blessings we have.   

I used to really complain about cleaning my bathrooms...until I went to Africa and developed friendships with people who live in the Mathare Valley slum and  have never had the privilege of taking a bath or a shower.  

We go through things at our job...it's easy to lose a grateful heart that we actually have a job.

Stuff happens with our kids...it's easy to lose a grateful heart that we have our precious children.  I've met A LOT of people who asked me to pray that they could have kids in the first place and once they had them, they did nothing but complain about them!  (Pet peeve of mine...)

Things happen in our marriage...it's easy to lose a grateful heart that we have a partner.  (Again, I've prayed for a lot of ladies who wanted to be married -- prayed that man into their life. Now all they do it talk about how sucky their husband is.)  Please tell me why I waste my prayers on this?

As we go through things in our lives we have to be so careful to preserve an attitude of Thanksgiving.   The very thing we went before God about yesterday and begged him for we can become ungrateful about today.  Lord help us not to do that.  

I want to live a life of Thanksgiving.

Today among many other things I'm thankful that:
  • Larry and the kids had a great time at the convention. Stuff happened for eternity!
  • I'm thankful for amazingly faithful leaders in our church.
  • I'm thankful for Paul Fryfogle (a member of our worship ministries) who emails me every week about how excited he is about the worship set. 
  • Today is the Celebration Church Thanksgiving dinner.  I can't wait! We do a huge traditional Thanksgiving meal followed by praise & worship led by the band, frontline, choir, and then testimonies of what God has done for us in 2010.  Powerful stuff.
  • Larry just fixed my cruiser bike!  It has been broken the past few months.  I've been borrowing Savanna's bike.  I much prefer my cruiser, it's more comfortable, less strain on my back.  So thankful!
  • It's Thanksgiving week!  I have full days of work leading up to it, real full -- but hey, I'm blessed to be employed!  So blessed!  And Thursday is going to be amazing.  
  • I'm thankful that I'm having Martha Stewart's recipe for Pumpkin Pancakes this morning for breakfast before church, and Starbucks coffee with pumpkin spice creamer!
 Life is never "perfect" but we can be thankful even when we go through stuff and we have the choice to look for the blessings all along life's way.  
 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Three Dog Night


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 have some special posts for Thanksgiving.  I'll probably return to more church stories again after that.  I've got so many, they are pretty much inexhaustible.  There's 23 years more waiting in the queue, so just sit tight because more are on the way.  You'll laugh,  you'll cry, it will become a part of you.  :)

While the rest of the family is gone I've been enjoying QUIET.   I've been getting a cabinet or drawer here or there organized.  I've been getting some food dishes prepared for the weekend for the Celebration Church Thanksgiving Dinner this weekend and also for our work day on Monday.  I love to cook, especially when I can do it at my own pace and have a quiet house to do so.

I have a lot to be grateful for...and as I close today I thought I'd share five things:

1)  Iced tea.  I think  God put it on earth just for me.  I drink several glasses (of unsweeted) a day, usually with lime.
2)   Oil of Oregano .  Thank you to my friend Rhonda Flint for recommending essential oils to me.  I've just had a spot on my foot heal up that has been hurting for 6 months that never got better until I put Oil of Oregano on it!  Amazing.
3)  Being under the covers on a cold morning.  Each day it's going to get colder now and I am just loving it!  Soon it will be smores weather.
4)  Turkey burgers.  I really love them.  (Really!  I'm not just talking myself into it.)
5)  This stuff called Barlean's Essential Woman.  It seems to be helping me with my peri-menopausal symptoms.  Just thought I'd pass that along.  (I take the softgels, not the liquid.)

Friday, November 19, 2010

True Church Stories - #13

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, "Pastor Deanna, this is important!  I need to talk to you!"  And I said, "okay...what's going on?" and with that she came up close, stuck her head right up to mine so our heads were literally touching and said, "Um, I'm pretty sure I have lice right now.  What should I do?"

YES, I'M SERIOUS!!!!!

And she was too.  She was honestly asking my advice about what to do about lice and she touched her head with mine.  Oh my stars!!!    And by the way, she DID have lice, not just this time, but three more times after that.

After jumping back and taking my head off of hers (no I never got lice, THANK GOD) I said, "you should go around the corner to CVS right now, buy a kit to get rid of lice and GO HOME to follow all the directions on that kit!!!"

"Really?  I shouldn't stay for service?"

"No Jill, you should  not stay for service.  You might give someone else lice or get them on the chairs or whatever..."

"Oh...wow.  Okay, I didn't know that.  Thanks for telling me."

So I had to explain this to her not just ONCE but several times.

Brings new meaning to the term "spiritual mother."  Honestly one reason Jill needed (and sometimes still needs) my help on things like this is -- she hasn't had a real strong Mom to guide her or teach her these things.  While the above story is funny now, there's a part of it that isn't funny, and that is -- some people lack common sense because they missed some guidance growing up and need it from others as adults.

As a pastor/pastor's wife we do more than dispense spiritual care or wisdom to people.  In addition to helping someone understand why they shouldn't put their head on somebody else's when they think they have lice, pastors and their spouses help people with a plethora of other issues.  Last night I helped a woman in our church prepare for breastfeeding her child.  She had a few questions for me about nursing, knowing I've raised three kids.  You never know what you're going to face in the pastorate.

That night after Jill talked to me I did go to worship rehearsal but I'll admit just thinking about this ordeal in the breezeway left me literally scratching my head all evening.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

True Church Stories - #12

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 thing about Larry that I will have to say is, with rare exceptions he has a very good sense of discerning who is safe (or not) to make a comment like this to.  (Who can take a joke, and who can't.)  Me on the other hand...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

True Church Stories - #11

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 would ask her to leave and a few years later when a new pastor would come, she would return to the church assuming that she could start all over again since the new pastor didn't know her.  She tended to do these things to men in leadership and had made a move on every pastor and most of the deacons.  

Tory would do crazy things.  She often called the previous pastor at late hours and would ask him to come over to the house to minister to an "emergency need."  She would start crying and say she was sick and needed prayer.   He would say that his wife would join him and be right over and she would actually say, "no, please don't bring your wife."  This woman had serious issues!!!

We were warned when we assumed the pastorate of this church and shortly after we got there her obsession with my husband started.  One of the deacons quipped, "I'm glad the new pastor is here because now Tory's leaving ME alone!"  My husband didn't find that funny.  She would call our house at 11:00 pm and say, "Is the pastor there?"  I would say, "who's calling?"  And she'd say, "a friend."  I would say, "does the friend have a name?"  And she'd say, "no."  I told her, "he doesn't talk to friends without names" and hang up.

She would call the church to talk to Larry and when he got on the phone she'd whisper in breathy tones, "are you alone where we can talk?" and he'd say, "Tory, I don't need to be alone to talk to you."  She would get upset and hang up when  he would keep the conversation  professional.


Several times she called the church and asked for him and he wasn't there and when the secretary said, "he's not here but his wife is, would you like to speak with her?" she would quickly say no and hang up and take the chance that he was home without me and ride over to the house and knock on the door.  He never let her inside,  just went to the door, and asked her to leave.

Finally one Sunday came when he getting ready to walk in his office during Sunday School (he studied while I taught a women's class) and as he was walking in his office, Tory walked up behind him, followed him into his office and tried to shut off the light and shut the door.  He stopped her and ordered her out.  Then as soon as I was done with  my class he told me what she tried to do.  I was livid.  I said, "Enough is enough.  I'll take care of it."  I'm a very compassionate person, if you know anything about me you know that my heart is big as all outdoors but the fact of the matter is if you mess with my husband or children I will draw a line in the sand.

Tory had crossed my boundaries that morning and gone to the point of no return.  I walked out in the sanctuary that morning.  The musicians were on stage playing and the people sat waiting for church to start.  Tory was sitting in the sanctuary on the right hand side about five pews back.  This was after Larry kicked her out of his office.  How could she just sit there with her bible on her lap waiting for church to start?  The nerve of that woman.  I went right over to the fifth pew where she sat and said, "Tory, if you need anything here at the church in the future, come to me or one of the other ladies.  Don't go near the pastor again or I'll break both your legs.  Do you understand me?"    


She looked at me with her eyes as big as saucers, trying to take in what I was saying, just stunned.  Then I smiled and said, "Good.  Enjoy the rest of the service," spun around and walked away.  I went back to the office and told Larry that I took care of it.

He asked me how I handled it and I told him.  He had an absolute cow about it when he found out and and started pacing back and forth in his office saying, "Honey, we can't keep pastoring if you tell people you're going to break their legs...it's just not appropriate!" I said, "Sorry Larry, but you're just going to have to deal with it. She crossed a line with me that you do not cross, and before you're anyone's pastor you're my husband."

Today when he tells that story he says, "you know that situation with Tory was back at the beginning of our ministry and my wife was younger and not as mature..." and to that I say, "Shoot! I'd do the same thing now!" So call me immature. If somebody is going to openly make a pass at my husband, they need to make sure they have a good plastic surgeon who specializes in reconstruction  not to mention good insurance.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

True Church Stories - #10

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 minister's daughter were both about five years old at the time and they were down in the sanctuary watching the rehearsal.   Suddenly the two girls ran from the sanctuary and came through the fellowship hall doors crying, "We're scared!!!  We're scared!!!"  They became afraid watching the play rehearsal, and came to us for comfort, crying about the demons in the play.  Both girls sat on their daddies laps and we all comforted them saying, "girls, it's okay, it's just a play.  It's not real."

The girls sat there a few minutes and we dried their tears and gave hugs and once sufficiently comforted I took them down to the nursery  told them that we had more work to finish up before we could leave but they could stay there and play with some toys. 

I went back down to the kitchen to work and the men were sitting there talking and a few minutes later two ladies came walking into the foyer, who were not a part of our church.  They were looking for a pastor, and fortunately for them they found three.  My husband said, "Ladies, can we help you with something?"  And one of them pointing to her friend said, "yes, we need help.  She's demon possessed."  

We definitely believe in demon possession, but at the same time don't just accept it at face value when someone refers to someone else as possessed, without investigating more.  While they may indeed be,on the other hand, they may just be irritating,  have personality quirks, a mental challenge, or just a total  lack all of the fruit of the spirit.  But this lady was convinced, her friend was possessed and she said, "Pastor, she's possessed, and she doesn't want to be possessed anymore.  She wants this thing out of her!  Can you all please pray for her to be set free?"

We invited them to come from the foyer into the fellowship hall and said we'd be glad to pray for her.  No sooner had started praying for her than she flew across the room and spun around.  She was actually thrown across the room with such a force that her shoe came flying off and sailed across the room. (They were Nike's...I'll never forget it!)  We knew we were, in fact, dealing with demons.  As they manifested and began speaking through her we cast them out and she accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior and after a while of praying with her, she was completely set free.

However unbeknownst to us during all this, our girls had wandered down from the nursery and peeked into the room where we were praying with this lady.  With eyes wide as saucers they witnessed the whole thing!!!  Once it was over they once again began crying and said, "You said it wasn't real!  You said it wasn't real!!!"  Oh my!!!  Can you say, "huge parenting mistake"???  I realized at that moment that the very reason churches put these productions on is to warn people of spiritual realities.  While it's drama...it's SO REAL!!!

We really screwed up the first time when we had told them it wasn't real -- we should have taken a bit more time the first time to explain that while the play was not real, it was a depiction of things that truly ARE real and most importantly --  because of the power of Jesus we don't have to be afraid.  After explaining all this to them properly the second time, we shared that while the lady was possessed by a demon, we had nothing to fear because Jesus was with us, they were okay.  They could see the outcome right in front of them -- the demons lost and Jesus won!

Something HUGE that I learned from this true life situation was that as I comfort my children from their fears, I do need to speak reality but let them know that through the power of God we are victorious.  This was a huge learning lesson for me as a parent and as a pastor.

Monday, November 15, 2010

True Church Stories - #9


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, looked really uncomfortable and said, "ohhhhh...I, ahhhh...didn't know...I mean, I just didn't realize...um...I just didn't think pastors......................"

It began to dawn on me where she was headed and I couldn't believe it...

She finally spit it out in language she was comfortable with..."I didn't think pastors had...you know...relations..."

SERIOUSLY???

So, being the bold person that I am I said, "So why on earth would we marry someone that we weren't going to be intimate with?  Why not just have a bunch of  best friends?"

She said, "I thought you guys were basically the same as priests but that protestants were allowed to marry just for companionship."

Yeah....we're had a LOT of companionship over these years.  :)  LOL

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Weekend Wrap Up

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're gonna do if we have to miss... "  I just smiled and thought, "m'am, you are every pastor's dream..."  and stood there praying for God to bless their lives and church beyond measure.

This morning I'm teaching on the subject, "Changing Your Mind"...anticipating what God will do in His people at Celebration and all over the world!    Stay tuned tomorrow as I pick up the true church stories again... yay!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

True Church Stories - #8

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 began with, "I hate you" and digressed into something worse than  you can imagine.

I am experienced in spiritual warfare and have cast out demons on quite a number of occasions.  I don't have any fear in this regard.  However, I have always been able to "see" exactly what I'm dealing with if that makes sense.  In other words, a person is in front of me that manifests as demon possessed and...we deal with it.  Such was not the case this time.  I was in the pitch dark, in the presence of God only knew what.  (Since then God has dealt with me about trusting Him even in the dark!)

At first I thought, "maybe I'm going crazy and hearing things," but just that quick the voice spoke again.  The hair on the back of my neck stood up.  I was frozen with fear wondering where the voice was coming from.  I didn't want to face this alone.  When it got down to it, I had a fear of the unknown because I was unclear about what I was dealing with.  I slowly backed out of the kitchen, ran through the dark fellowship hall, through the foyer, into the light outside and up to my office as fast as my legs could carry me.  I burst through the office door and yelled to the staff members, "You guys!  I need your help!  There's a demon in the kitchen.  I swear, I'm not crazy...you need to come with me...please believe me..." and our secretary at the time just very nonchalontly kept typing and said, "Oh yeah...I know.  There's is a demon.  I encountered it the other day but just didn't mention it."

"WHAT!!??"  I was incredulous.  Pacing back and forth in the outer office, I tried to wrap my head around this.   "There's a flippin' demon in the kitchen and you said nothing to me about this?  Are you serious?!  This isn't like, 'hey we're low on copier paper', or 'you got a call from the district office,' I mean...this is a freakin' DEMON, for cryin' out loud!!!"    

Calmy she said, "Oops, sorry.  I just forgot to tell you, but actually it's coming from a person who is living underneath the window.  I'll show you...come on..."

We walked down to the building this time staying outside and we snuck around the corner to peek and listen and sure enough there was a person who had taken up residence living underneath the kitchen window.  Their sleeping bag was underneath the window and there they sat...all kinds of voices coming out, spewing out this bitter venom.

Going back inside to the kitchen and listening again it was interesting how with the way this person was sitting under the window and how loud they were talking it indeed sounded just like they were in the kitchen.

I teased the secretary for a long time about forgetting to tell me this, just like I tease my husband about forgetting to tell me about the blind man.  :)  Ha ha!

Many people have asked upon hearing about this story about the final outcome of this story.  Is the person still living under the window?  No.  We can't let people live on our property in this manner, although we do feed and clothe 100+ people a week through our recovery ministry, we unfortunately don't have housing facilities at this time.  Some try to "camp out" at the church but for safety reasons we cannot allow this.   Did we cast the demon out?  This time, unfortunately, no.  I am avoiding preaching and teaching as a part of these stories but since everyone asks about this outcome, I will just say for those who may not know that you have to be very careful when casting out demons, to make sure the person actually wants to be free.   You should never cast demons out without a person surrendering to Jesus and they were not willing .  If the person does not want to be free the Bible says the demons will not only come back, but they come back seven times worse. As hard as it is to see a person in this torment, demons should not be cast out the person is ready to renounce false gods, and fully surrender to Jesus, accepting Him as their Lord and Savior.

Since I'm on the subject of demons, I'll share another story Monday about them...funny, and with a more positive ending!  I am taking a break for tomorrow from church stories and will blog about something else but will be back Monday full force with a whole new group of new church stories!  Stay tuned!

Friday, November 12, 2010

True Church Stories - #7


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 THING YOU KNOW, MY GIRLFRIEND WAS PREGNANT!!!"

What you need to know is that this man was sincerely trying to make my husband believe that this conception had happened with no sex involved.  Ha ha!  

My husband looked at him in all seriousness and said, "Sir, there's something I need to warn you about.  What you have just told me is terrible news!!!!!  For the last time this happened...the child was crucified."

(The guy did look horrified!)

Bah ha ha ha ha ha!  My husband is so hysterical sometimes.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

True Church Stories - #6

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 "losers" he worked with and the boss was so much better than the last "tyrant" he worked for.  But in a matter of months, or sometimes just a few weeks, the new people would suddenly turn into monsters and he couldn't wait to get out of that job and go somewhere else.

Each week Jake came to choir armed with several prayer requests.  He always blamed the devil for what was happening in his life.  He would go on and on about how the devil just wouldn't leave him alone, never thinking that perhaps God was trying to get his attention.  His weekly prayer request rant would go something like this:

"I need you folks to really pray for me.  The devil's on the prowl in my life in a serious way.  I've been under attack like never before all week.  Satan's out to get me big time.  If you guys only knew what I've been going through at work, well, you just wouldn't believe it!  Satan's got ahold of these people and he's using them to get to me, and I'm just miserable and I don't know how much more I can take.  I need to you to rebuke the enemy and pray that Satan would be defeated in my life and all the situations he's using to come against me."

I listened to this spiel every week in choir practice (during prayer request time) for over two years.  Yep, two years.  And then finally I got sick of it.

At the end of his prayer request rant that week I said, "You know Jake,  you and God would get along a lot better if you just quit calling him Satan!"

[The whole choir thought it was hysterical and bursted out laughing.  I said out loud what all of them had been thinking for years.  Probably shouldn't have said it, though.  That was pretty much the beginning of the end between Jake and me, although it felt good to say it, like most pastors who say something like this I paid a price for it.  Jake and his family, and his extended family left the church.]

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

True Church Stories - #5

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 looking out in the congregation as I would be leading on the platform each week.

One Sunday after church our family went to Applebee's to eat with some other church families.  When we got there we saw that several other families from church were already there eating.  Ron was there with two friends, also from the church.  While we were waiting for seating I walked around to the different tables where our church people were sitting and started greeting them and making small talk.  I came to the table where Ron and his friends were sitting.  I said, "Good afternoon!  So glad to see you folks in service today...what a great day in the Lord..."

"Oh, yes, yes," they said, "God is doing mighty things."  We continued to make conversation about the way the Lord had really shown up in the service and how grateful we were for all of His blessings.  Suddenly Ron exclaimed, "Oh, Pastor Deanna!!!  It's YOU!!!"

I was very puzzled by this.  The man had been sitting in our church every Sunday morning for months.  I am on the platform leading every single week, many times the one actually preaching, as we co-pastor.  I couldn't figure out how Ron would not know who I was immediately since he had listened to me preach many times or been  present when I was leading worship, communion, prayer, or a bazillion other things.  I thought this must be a joke.  So, I busted out laughing and said, "Wow!!!!  Are you having a brain warp, or what?!  I'm your pastor and you forgot who I was once we weren't at the church building anymore!  Ha ha ha!!!  That is so funny!!!!"

With a totally straight face, he said..........................................

"Well Pastor Deanna...I am blind."

Oh. My. Gosh.

I was horrified!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This man "looked" completely normal.  He did not look blind.  I had just made a complete buffoon of myself, and possibly hurt his feelings beyond repair.

Worst of all my husband KNEW the guy was 100% blind and just "forgot" to tell me!!!!  So much for communication between spouses.  (I now use this illustration in our marriage seminars that we do on why it's vitally important that you communicate important things to your spouse.)

Back to the story...

I immediately began profusely apologizing to Ron.  Fortunately he had a great sense of humor and laughed with us over this huge faux pas.

After each service now I ask Larry, "Is there anything special I should know about our new people that I didn't meet today?"

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

True church stories - #4

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, but AT LEAST FIVE TIMES.  No kidding, this lady said vagina at least that many times in the first MINUTE of her "testimony.

"Something was wrong with my vagina..."
"And I was so upset about this problem with my vagina..."
"And I was praying for God to do something to heal my vagina..."
"And my doctor couldn't solve this problem with my vagina..."
"And my vagina was getting worse by the day..."

Meanwhile we could see the shock on the faces of those in the congregation and my husband was elbowing me whispering, "Deanna, get up there and do something!"

I said, "what do you want me to do?"

He said, "I don't know, play a song!!!"

And I said, "Larry, I really don't know any songs that go with this..."

Finally he didn't just elbow me -- he pushed me and I got out of my seat and went up and stood alongside this lady at the pulpit and just tried to bring some closure that was half way making sense.  I still to this day don't remember how I closed out the service.  It was kind of surreal.  I was just mumbling a bunch of stuff like, "well praise the Lord, isn't God good to solve this problem of a modern day woman with the issue of blood who pressed through the crowd???" and prayed a closing prayer.

Anytime we talk about doing a series on evangelism or teaching people how to share their faith my husband says, "and let's not give anybody the microphone this time to give their testimonies, ok?"  He is scared to pieces that the "V" word will take over the service again.

Monday, November 08, 2010

True Church Stories - #3

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 office.  I tentatively stepped outside with her and said, "What's the issue?"

She said, "Satan is in my van."  [you can't make this stuff up...]

I said, "really?"

She said, "yes, and I want him out!"

I could feel the eyes of the children's pastor and youth pastor upon me.  They were peering out the office window, snickering at the sight of us out there.  They knew what I was facing...yeah...I coulda wrung their necks!!!

So I'm out there pondering this situation and I said, "M'am, am I to understand you that you have come here for prayer because Satan is in your van and you want him out?"

"Yes" she said, "get him out.  I'm tired of riding around with him in there."

I realized I had nothing to lose by just telling this lady like it was so I just said, "no, I really don't want to do that."

"Why not?!" she said.

"Well, you're actually doing the world a favor..." I said.

"How's that?" she asked.

"I'm not really sure how much of the bible you've read, or what your pastor teaches, but let me inform you that Satan is not omnipresent.  Meaning that unlike God, he can only be in one place at a time.  Therefore, if you have Satan trapped in a 1993 Dodge van in Tampa, you have just done the world a great service because if he's sequestered in your van, he's not picking on somebody else.  Therefore I think it's best to just leave him in there."

"No!  No!  No!  She shrieked!  You can't do that.  I'm sick of living this way.  You've got to command him to come out.  I need a man or woman of God to take care of this for me!"

Why, why, why couldn't Rodney Howard Browne have the honor of dealing with this?   It's always pastors like me and my friends that get these type of cases.

She told me she wasn't leaving until I got the devil out of the van.

I could have stood there and argued the point.  But I had a lot of work to do in my office.  I was so over it.  I took a look at the youth and children's pastors through the window and shot them a look like, "I'm gonna kill you guys later..." and said, "okay M'am, let's get this over with..." and although I knew very well there was absolutely NOTHING in her van, I started praying.


She quickly interrupted..."Stop, stop..."

"What's wrong?" I said.

"You're doing it with the door closed.  You have to open it up and let him out."

"Seriously?" I said.

"Yes, seriously."

Taking a deep breath (of exasperation, not fear) I opened the door.

She said, "tell him to come out."

The only thing I was secretly afraid of was that I was being taped for a hidden camera show and was going to look like a buffoon on national TV or something.  But I opened the door and said...."come out."

Of course nothing came out, but she breathed a sigh of relief as I said "come out" and started praying.
I prayed a quick prayer for about 30 seconds to a minute, mostly asking God to give the lady peace.

When the amen was said she thanked me and I said, "good to go?"  She said, "Oh yes, thank you so much!!!"


And she got in her van and drove away.

For some reason the children and youth pastors were hiding from me the rest of the day.


Sunday, November 07, 2010

Just love "fallin' back"!

"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 night and saw "For Colored Girls" by Tyler Perry.  Wow.  Wow.  Wow.  I really don't know what to say after that.  I'm still digesting the movie, quite frankly.  It's one of the most intense I've ever seen.

Yesterday after life coaching I had some things to do at the house, and then Bernie and Lisa had us over for dinner - she made some Uh-May-zing clam chowder.  Always a great time at the Currie's.

I could eat soup every day of my life and be happy.  I'm sure everyone really wants to know that.

Happy Sunday!!!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

True Church Stories #2

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 do this...you need to do that..." she ranted into the phone.  I took her verbal beating without defense, then hung up and proceeded to go about trying to find someone to take her some meals or find time to do it myself admist the 3,759 other things I was already doing in the church.

About an hour later -- yes, only ONE hour later on the same day, I went to the grocery store and as I rounded the aisle to the dairy section, right between the cheese and the butter, who did I see but THIS LADY!!!!   She was walking around, doing her shopping, smiling and moving around just fine.  She was even all dressed up in a smart looking pantsuit, make up fully on, hair done up.  Wow!!!  So much for the "Pastor Deanna, right now I can't even stand up..."  She never expected to see me in the store, that was for sure.

So I did what any good pastor would do.  I rejoiced with her in her healing!   I immediately ran over to her  and started jumping up and down shouting, "YOU'VE BEEN HEALED!  YOU'VE BEEN HEALED!!!   OH THANK YOU JESUS!  HALLELUIAH!  PRAISE YOUR NAME, JESUS!  GLORY!!!  THANK YOU LORD FOR THIS MIRACLE!!!!"

You can imagine the look on her face.

I know, they would never teach you to do this in Bible College.  But I couldn't help myself.  So much for the fruit of self control...lol

Friday, November 05, 2010

True Church Stories - #1

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 sang the song that morning.

El Shaddai, El Shaddai,
El-Elyon na Adonai,
Age to age You're still the same,
By the power of the name.
El Shaddai, El Shaddai,
Erkamka na Adonai,
We will praise and lift You high,
El Shaddai. 


Upon finishing the song, the senior pastor came back to the pulpit and (completely 100% serious) nodded his head in affirmation and appreciation and said, "How beautiful.  Thank you Sister, for that lovely song.  Church, don't you  just love those Spanish songs?"

It was all I could do to hold my composure throughout the rest of the service.