Monday, January 31, 2011

Why I woke up yesterday at the crack of dawn to go to church...

My alarm goes off each Sunday well before the sun comes up, and I head to church.

It's not  because I'm a pastor. 

It's not because I'm "religious".

I'm not religious.  Doing something "religiously" just means you do it over and over again.  I used to eat brownies over and over again but it never brought me a miracle - it only made me fatter.

It's not because I have a lack of other things to do.  I have a plethora of other things to do.

I don't go because I have to, I go because I get to! (Psalm 84)

I don't go hesitating...I go EXPECTING.   That's right, pregnant with anticipation!!!

My Jesus saves!
My Jesus heals!
My Jesus baptizes in the Holy Spirit!
My Jesus restores lives!
My Jesus breaks addictions!
My Jesus turns the hearts of the children back to the fathers and mothers!
My Jesus is the cure for what doctors say can't be cured!
My Jesus does the impossible!  The unthinkable!  The unimaginable!
My Jesus is still working, doing miracles in the earth today!
My Jesus has never stopped doing miracles -- on the contrary He's just WAITING FOR BELIEVERS TO ASK HIM TO DO THEM.  (Matthew 18:19, John 14:13, Luke 11:9-13 among many others)

And we ask some more! 
And still, we ask again!!!!!


When my alarm goes off I have SOMETHING WORTH WAKING UP FOR.

 I go EXPECTING MIRACLES.  Not because I'm there, but because Jesus is.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Lord, I my unbelief

I'm going to church today fully believing for a miracle for someone.  For a lot of people, actually. I have no problem at all doing that.  My faith is high and many times I do see miracles.  I've got faith that the blind will see, the lame will walk, provision will be granted, people will be employed, promotions and favor will be given, destiny will unfold... heck...I have no problem praying to raise the dead!  Bring it on!

There's only one thing or person it's hard for me to believe for and that'  Maybe because it's my life, not somebody else's.  When it comes to believing for other people and their situations, I just know a slice of their life as compared to the whole pie.  And then when I look at my circumstances, they seem insurmountable.  My friend Cassandra Stafford told me the other day when I told her this that it's very common problem, this whole having a hard-time-believing-for-your-own-breakthrough thing.   I know I'm not alone,'s still hard.

I know it's the SAME JESUS!!!  The same spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells in me...that's what the Word says.   He's my miracle worker too.  He can do anything.  Lord, I my unbelief.

Listening to this for the umpteenth bazillionth time.  I will have it on repeat for God knows how long.  Well...until I feel faith rising, actually...

Maybe somebody else needs to hear this today and I'm preaching to myself as much as you -- put on a song like this and put it on repeat until you sense faith rising for your breakthrough.  It takes a while sometimes.  Don't give up.  We only need faith as small as a mustard seed and some days that's all we've got but He can work with it!!!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Her church wouldn't pray for her healing...

This week I was reading Matthew 4 and came to verse 23 where it says, "Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people" and was fired up once again (as I am on a habitual basis!) that every means every, and all means all, and that Jesus HASN'T STOPPED!!!

No where in the Bible have we been given a memo that the miracles of Jesus are over.  How sad for some who have limited exposure to the miracles of Jesus, not just the ones He did in scripture but the ones He is STILL DOING TODAY. 

There was a woman I'll call "Mrs. K" who along with her husband and two children, attended Celebration for a while.  For the record, I deeply love the "K" family.

Mr. and Mrs. K. are both strong pentecostal believers and in fact have been for most of their lives.    However, their children's best friends from school go to another church and are very active in this other church's youth group.  A while back, Mr. and Mrs. K felt it best, because their kids were begging to be with their best friends, to make a change to this other church. Their rationale was that although this church did not subscribe to the same beliefs they espouse, it was worth the change if their kids were happy. (Can I just say...since when did God command us to keep our kids happy?  Sometimes our kids aren't going to be thrilled with us if we're effectively parenting.)

Mr. and Mrs. K's decision was not a knock on our youth group, in fact they thought we had a great youth group.  If their kids met our kids FIRST, things would have been different.  But they didn't.  They already had very strong established relationships with the kids in their school who were already a part of this other church.  And they thought, "if the kids are happy and really involved there they will grow spiritually."  They were also afraid of their kids rebelling or resenting them for not giving them major input into this church decision.  In reality, the kids made the decision.  The K's thought that in the long run, the few doctrinal differences were not really that big a deal.  After all, we're all in the same body of Christ, serving the same Lord.  This other church preaches salvation, in fact they are major soul winners, (this is not some small obscure church in fact it's a part of one of the largest denominations in America, known for their evangelistic outreach) so that was really all that mattered.   I do appreciate them for how they are reaching the lost.

Back to the K's. We were disappointed, of course, because we really love the "K" family.

We heard nothing from them for about a year and then about six months ago we got a shocking phone call.  Mrs. K was diagnosed with cancer and was given just a few months to live.  Doctors said it was inoperable and gave no hope for a cure or remission.  They called my husband and I because... [drumroll please] their church does not believe in divine healing.  

Yes,  I'm serious.

Their church didn't pray for her divine healing because they don't believe in it.   They believe it is not always God's will, and is not necessarily made possible by Christ's sacrifice on the cross, etc.  They pray for people to be comforted through their sickness.  They pray that they be at peace when dying.  But, they do not believe in supernatural divine healing for all as we do.  So much for doctrine not being all that important.

So although the "K" kids are just happy as larks in this youth group they go to, they had no one to call upon in their church when Mrs. K was on death's door, unless of course it's just to pray that she passes over peacefully.  And quite truthfully they know there's more available than that.   

The day the "K" family received the tragic news about Mrs. K's cancer, they called Larry and I.  They said they needed to talk to someone that they knew would get ahold of God for their need. They asked us to ask Celebration Church to touch God on their behalf.  Of course we agreed and our hearts went out to them with compassion.  For that matter, we take all requests that come to us very seriously and consider it an honor to be a part of making history through prayer.  We believe Jesus heals today.  Our understanding of scripture is that salvation and healing were joined together upon the cross of Calvary and just as we trust Jesus to save us we also trust Him to heal us.  And we've seen that happen countless times. 

This time was no exception.  It's been six months and guess what -- Mrs. K's "inoperable, terminal cancer" is no more! There's been a miraculous turnaround!!   Doctors can't explain it and don't understand it, but she's getting her health back!!!!!!!!!!!!!  PRAISE JESUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It was/is a privilege to continue to stand with her in prayer.  We'll continue to do so.  When we talk to Mr. and Mrs. K. they seem to indicate that "one day when the kids are grown" they'll be back at Celebration.  They're certainly welcome anytime.

I have a few thoughts on this as you can imagine but some at the forefront of my mind are...

Who does the Bible say should lead a home...parents, or kids?

What does it communicate to kids when their parents go to a church where they can't ask them to believe with them for their Mom's  healing?

Should core beliefs ever be put aside for the sake of relationships?  

These are just some thoughts I have.

And finally, please join us in lifting up Mrs. K. for continued divine health and wellness.  I'm so glad we serve a miracle working God.  His miracles certainly DID NOT end with the days of the Bible.   An unchurched  friend of mine recently asked me, "Deanna, are there two Jesus's?"  I said, "No.  Where would you hear that or why would you possibly believe it?"  And they said, "Well, it's just that what you believe and what your Jesus has the ability to do is so different from what another of my Christian friends says their Jesus is able to do or is still doing in the world today."  No, I'm not kidding.  That was a real conversation!!!   Seriously!!!

We are serving the SAME JESUS who healed the lame and caused the blind to see.  He saves, AND does SO MUCH MORE!!!!  Oh that the world may see that.  He is not just our Savior, He is also our deliverer, healer, baptizer, and much more.   May we never try to "dumb our Jesus down" to some weak lethargic God who stopped doing stuff, for ANY reason including our family or friends.  Let's proclaim His greatness and teach our children that His power is available for any need we may have!     

Friday, January 28, 2011

MochiBerri and Savanna's new hair

Today will not be the same "Fun Friday" as it normally is today due to some things on the agenda so thankfully Larry and I were able to break away for a short date last night.

While out and about we went to frozen yogurt shop in Wiregrass Shops called MochiBerri.  They specialize in traditional flavors as well as some unique new ones.   They make them with fresh, all natural ingredients.    Their fresh fruit toppings are cut throughout the day and include various nuts, candies, mochi and liquid syrups.  I had an opportunity to try real MochiBerri for the first time!  I had never heard of it before.  It's like a marshmallow, only healthier.  Everything at MochiBerri is "create your own" and you have opportunity to make your own masterpiece and then they weigh  it and this determines the cost.  It was very reasonable and they also serve smoothies and coffee.  Best of all, Larry and I had opportunity to meet and talk to the owner, Scott, for a long time.  He's a great guy who, along with his wife, Neysa, originally created MochiBerri and are currently developing franchises across the country.  Larry and I highly recommend MochiBerri for both the taste AND the health benefits.  If you live in Tampa or the surrounding area, you simply must stop by and get some!

While we were out at MochiBerri, Savanna was back at the house getting her hair highlighted -- purple!  She got a cut and style earlier in the day after school. Then Kate Russell from church came over and highlighted it.  I think it turned out B-E-A-utiful!  Purple is her favorite color, by the way.  Hair is one thing I don't mind my kids experimenting with.  It's something that changes all the time.  It's not permanent, therefore I think it's a cool thing to experiment with.   As some may recall I had a hot pink streak in my own hair a while back.   I'd get a lot wilder with mine if it weren't for a certain other person I live with.  :)  Anyway, I  think it looks quite adorable on her.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

My version of "post it notes"

The following is an excerpt from my message last night at Fusion...just thought I'd cut and paste a portion of my notes here...thought it might bless somebody here today who needs to hear it.  I usually don't just cut and paste a section of my message notes for a blog post but for some reason felt led to do it today and besides that, I'm exhausted from pouring out last night and just don't have a fresh blog post in me.  :)  Here goes...

Last night's message was, "Winning the Battle"

We read in Judges the fourth chapter about Deborah, a prophetess and a judge.  She held court under a palm tree during the time that Israel was under bitter oppression due to the rule of Jabin, a Caananite king.  Even his name means “cunning.”  

Now I want you to note, Deborah was discouraged about what was happening in the nation.  She was getting daily reports of Jabin’s craziness.  If this would have been in this day and age,   Deborah would be getting 24/7 Fox News Updates.   

We need modern day Deborahs who will feel that same indignation and say, “enough is enough!!!”

People can talk about us, they can think we are the crazy ones, they can reject our values, our ideas, our views, but let me tell you something they are absolutely 100% DEFENSELESS against our prayers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


No matter WHAT situation I’m in, I can pray!

I can pray laying down!  I can pray standing up! I can pray when I’m trapped!  I can pray when I have money and I can pray when I don't!   I can pray when I’m in chains!  I can pray when I’m under pressure!  I can pray when I'm hot!  I can pray when I'm cold!  I can pray when  you talk about me!  I can  pray when you ignore me!   

I can pray!  If I can't pray out loud, I can pray in my head!  I'm unstopppable!!!!!!!!!!!!  You can’t stop me from praying all I want!

If you are a believer, there will come a time that you have to come out of what you may feel is your little peaceful cocoon and do spiritual warfare.  Some people say, “you know, I don’t want to get involved in all that interceding stuff, battling the devil…I just want to go to work, go to church, be a nice normal Christian and love Jesus.”  All that is fine until your kid gets into some trouble.  Let me tell you, you will have to rise up and do battle.  In our children's lives we have to pray things out and pray other things in.

There is time when you must take authority in the name of Jesus on behalf of your family, your church, your world --  and hold on like a bulldog.  Let me tell you something I have two bulldogs and they can hold on.  It’s said that the nose of the bulldog is slanted backwards so they can still breathe while holding on!  I believe it!  

You can hold on in prayer while still going about your life.   The Bible says pray continually…this is not something mysterious.  It's simply praying continually through all of your conversations and situations.  

We learn from Deborah how to deal with spiritual enemies.  After suffering 20 long years of Jabin’s craziness, the people of Israel started to cry out to God for deliverance.  

Are you dealing with some crazy people?  Some crazy situations?  [Keep in mind, our battle is not against flesh and blood...Ephesians 6:12]

Some of you have been dealing with it 2 weeks, others two months and others 2 year or twenty years but I don’t care how long – the fact is PRAYER makes a difference and they can’t stop you.

Is your unbelieving ex husband or wife driving you to a point in your mind where you are under unbelievable pressure?

Is the IRS breathing down your back and you’ve done nothing to cause it?

Are things pressured in your work place and you have been a faithful, loyal, hardworking employee?

Let me tell you, nobody is a match for a righteous, praying person!!!

Let's look at one example of this:

Judges 4:6 & 7
6 She sent for Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali and said to him, "The LORD, the God of Israel, commands you: 'Go, take with you ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead the way to Mount Tabor. 7 I will lure Sisera, the commander of Jabin's army, with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon River and give him into your hands.' "   

Barak was fearful and had a reason to be.  He had a weak volunteer army with no chariots and just a few weapons and was no match for Sisera’s well trained army of a hundred thousand men.

But he was coming strictly from a logistical point of view.  You see, facts and truth are not always the same!
The facts are what you see in front of you.  It looks like something bad is happening and the fact is, maybe it is, but the TRUTH IS WHAT GOD DECLARES ABOUT YOUR SITUATION!

You say, “PD, I’m like Barak…you don’t understand.  I’m broke and my ex has the most high powered attorney you can imagine.”  Let me tell you, that attorney is no match for the Holy Ghost!!!

The truth was that God promised a victory if they would only obey.

Deborah was called “a mother in Israel.”  In fact in Judges 5;7 it says, “village life in Israel ceased until Deborah, a mother in Israel, arose.”

This means that everything was out of control,  -- chaos -- until a mother rose up and started to do something. If you want to get something done, ask a mother.  Moms come unglued -- especially when you mess with their kids and they will take care of business.

Deborah acted on God’s truth, not the facts or the logistics.  Barak wanted Deborah to go with him.  She assumed the role of military commander to lead the troops into battle.  It wasn’t a pleasant job but it was necessary.  Listen, I know there will always be something else more exciting for you than pacing the floor in prayer.  You would rather be watching a football game or watching NCIS.  But there is a cost to making history.  Deborah received specific instructions from God about the placement of the troops.  As they reached the River, Sisera had received intelligence reports about Israel’s tactics.  He gathered up his army and went out against them.  This was the greatest display of Sisera’s army that Barak and Deborah had ever seen.  It looked hopeless.

I want you to know something…it’s always like that.  It always looks darkest before the dawn.  Right before something’s about to break, the enemy gives it one last huge push.  He puts on a freak show that threatens to scare you out of your wits.  But don’t fall for it.  In Sisera’s case it was quite a show but it was his last.

Most people, if they just  hold on a little while longer, will see the breakthrough.  The majority of people give up right on the cusp of something great!  As they came to the Kishon River, God caused such a freak rainstorm that it blinded the soldiers and caused the river to flood, sweeping the iron chariots downstream.
Deborah shouted, “Go!  This is the day the Lord has given Sisera into your hands!” Barak went ahead and they defeated the enemy, in fact Sisera abandoned his chariot and ran on foot and the Bible says all of the troops of Sisera fell by the sword, not a man was left.”

One version of the text, in Judges 4;15-16 says this:  “Then the Lord threw the enemy into a panic…not one man was left alive.”  (TLB)

Sisera had escaped however and ran into the tent of Jael, a Caananite woman he thought he could trust.  But Jael was a woman of God.  And she wasn’t content to be a bystander.  She was in the battle.  
Using a household tool, she killed Sisera.  

A household tool!  You don’t need anything fancy.  You don’t need a seminary degree.  In fact please don’t get one.  You will probably come out of there dry as a corn shuck with the Holy Ghost beaten out of you.
You don’t need anything fancy, you just need to know how to talk to Jesus and you’ll change your world.  God doesn’t ask you for what you don’t have, He only asks you for what you DO have.  

Jael did, and the battle was over after that!  God enabled a weak army that was outnumbered 10 to 1, to have an amazing victory over the enemy.  Seven amazing words end this story in Judges 5:31:  “Then the land had peace for forty years.”

Final success is guaranteed but we have to do battle God’s way.
Today you may think some of your personal situations are hopeless.
Things may look bleak with your marriage, your children, your grandchildren.
You may feel like the state of our nation is in a hopeless mess.
But I’m here to tell you…people are defenseless against our prayers!!!
I always say, “don’t you dare mess with a person who fasts and prays!”  

It's all over but the shouting!!!  

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What does a leader look for in a friend?

Did you ever wonder what leaders are looking for in a friend?  

There are several qualities that are not optional for the close friend of a leader to possess. Two of the most important are a pure heart (right motivation) and someone who always speaks well of them. I got this from the greatest leadership book every written, by the way.  I'm about to quote from it.  The truth is that leaders are so consumed with a plethora of details, they don't have time to worry all the time about whether the folks close to them are there for the right reasons, or have their back.

Proverbs 22:11 says, God loves the pure-hearted and well-spoken; good leaders also delight in their friendship."  Proverbs 22:11 (MSG)

What does well spoken mean?  It speaks of positive, loyal conversation.  

The NLT puts it this way:  "Whoever loves a pure heart and gracious speech will have the king as a friend."  A person that Proverbs 22 speaks of will not only HAVE the king (leader) as a friend, but a person who is faithful with these qualities also KEEPS the king (leader) as a  friend.

If you are a person God has chosen to be a close friend to a leader, these qualities are not optional if you want to have a lasting relationship.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Everybody needs a soft place to land

A few months ago during the holidays I was working one Monday at the church office and was completely and utterly exhausted by day's end.  It wasn't all from the workday -- it was a carry over from Sunday.  In addition to early morning rehearsals, teaching my class, and leading in the worship service, we also had a late night of ministry in a leadership meeting where I also taught.  Then on Monday I got up early and had a full day at the office that was really busy with a lot of standing up and working on a Christmas project all day.  I told Larry, "I'm so beat, I'm just aching all over and my feet are the worst.  I'm going straight from work to get a pedicure."  I was miserable.  Couldn't wait to just sink in the chair, feel the massage (the place I go has AMAZING chairs that are such a treat in and of themselves) and go to the special place in my head that I go to when Mai (the lady who does my feet) works on me.

I got there and she said, "Deee-na...yoo he-yah at dif-frent time than yoo always be he-yah.  Some-ting wong?"  I said, "Yes Mai.  I am just exhausted and my feet are killing me.  I decided to stop by after work instead of coming when I normally do."  (Which is in the morning on fun Fridays.)  She said, "Seet dahn bee bee."  (Sit down baby.)   I did and when she rolled up my pant leg I was horrified.  I hadn't shaved in a few days.  No time.  Honestly I know that's gross but I'm just being transparent here, that my life was so busy at the time not only did I not have time to shave both legs in one day, I had no time to shave even one.  And I'm the type of person who has to shave every day and usually do.  I hate when my life gets out of control busy, but living at the intersection of marriage, parenting, ministry, career coaching, keeping the house work done, writing, speaking, yada yada yada can sometimes result in not shaving for a few days or having a huge basket of dirty laundry.  Something has to give.  This time it was my legs that went by the wayside.

I said, "Oh Mai...ughhh.....I am so sorry.  I haven't shaved.  I didn't even think about it when I came over here has been so crazy and oh my, this is rather gross..." and she interrupted me and said, "shhhhhh...hush...just seet bach and wewax, bee bee...dun't worreee about any-ting, yoo are he-yah now."

I relaxed with her gentle and encouraging words and forgot about my hairy legs...sat there and went to my happy place in my head while she worked on me.  Life was a lot better that night leaving there as my feet weren't hurting so much anymore and I was energized.  My whole attitude was changed because someone didn't care how I showed up, they just took care of my need.  Mai was my "soft place to land" that day in an overwhelmed world.  

I did go home that night and shave, by the way.  

People in our lives need a soft place to land.

Right now I'm ministering to a  young lady who is pregnant and the father of the baby abandoned her.  She needs a soft place to land.

I have a few pastor/pw friends who are especially in need of a soft place to land.

Another close friend has experienced a significant loss in their life and needs a soft place to land.

A family member feels like all hope for change is gone in a situation and needs a soft place to land.

I want to be a person who says, "shhhhh...hush...just sit back and relax, baby.  Don't worry about anything.  You are here now."

Monday, January 24, 2011

True Church Stories - #33

The reality show, "My Strange Addiction" on TLC jarred my memory for this true church story, when my daughter Savanna told me about a lady who was on the show that was addicted to eating couches.  Crazy!  You just ask yourself how someone even gets past the first bite without hurling! 

One time we were having a church dinner and the lady who decorated for the event had set out bowls of colorful potpourri in the center of the tables as a centerpiece.

Imagine our shock to notice that another lady at the church had sat down at one of the tables and eaten almost an entire bowl of potpourri waiting for the event to start, thinking it was the appetizer for the evening.  

Yes, I am serious.

The only thing that stopped her was a man who came and sat down at the table, noticed what she was doing and astonished, asked her why in the world she was eating potpourri.   She told him she didn't realize what it was and thought it was a food item to get started on before we opened up the buffet line.  Oh my stars!!!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Can old dogs learn new tricks? Yes. And people can too!!

First, let me establish that science has proven that conventional wisdom was wrong about both dogs and humans.  For years, psychiatrists thought that you could not teach an old dog new tricks but recently science has proven that theory wrong.  Dogs have the capability to learn new things and so do humans.  We do have the capacity to change, even later in life, and how much more is this possible when the Holy Spirit is involved?

Today was a fantastic day at Celebration and one of the things that made my day was watching a lady named Sharon.

I would guesstimate that Sharon is in her mid 70's or so.  Back in November Sharon visited Celebration for the first time.  I thought we'd never see her again a second time.  I follow up on our guests and I didn't think her feedback was real positive although it didn't upset me.  She didn't seem to like anything about us.  She said the music was too contemporary and much too loud.  She also said, "if I saw this on TV, I'd snap it right off!!!"  You can see why I thought she would NEVER be back.  I was very kind and  told her, "Ma'm, I am not upset about your feedback.  Everyone has their likes and dislikes -- to each his own, and this is why there are hundreds of churches in the Tampa Bay area, with different styles and options for everyone.  We will be praying with you that you discover God's will in where you should attend."   I went in  my husband's office to update him on how all the follow up calls went and told him that we'd never see Sharon again.  I wasn't angry about that -- I simply believed she would be an asset to some other church where she enjoyed the worship service more. 

Imagine my shock when she was back the next week!  She didn't really say or do anything - just sat there with the same blank look on her face taking it all in.  But by mid December, something had changed.  Unbelievably Sharon was STILL coming to Celebration!  She not only came to all of our services  -- she brought her unchurched family to our Christmas program.  It was still contemporary but a lot more traditional than what we normally do.  She later told me that her adult daughter said, "Mom...I don't know about this church...I think I might need something a little more 'reverent'."  Sharon responded back, "Honey, you haven't seen anything yet!  This is a mild day at our church!  Wait til I bring you back for a regular service!"  (Notice the language Sharon used = 'our church'.  It had become her church too -- her verbiage showed me she had made the decision to stay and become a part our CC family. )  She came with her daughter to Christmas Eve Communion.  Her daughter felt the presence of God and fell into my arms crying as I prayed for her.  A few weeks later Sharon showed up on the workday we had to take down all the Christmas decor and put it away.  We were working side by side on one of the trees in the sanctuary  and talked about her decision to come to Celebration.  I asked what brought her back and she said, "The presence of God.  I realized, He's moving in this church.  God is doing things here.  That's why I'm here."  

Sharon no longer sits and just takes it all in on Sundays.  When the worship team, frontline and choir come out and strike up the first note, the youth group comes running to the altar and worships down at the front.  They stand in the altar area, hopping up and down, arms waving, praising God with all out abandonment.  Last week when the youth came rushing down on the right hand side, I saw someone running down the aisle on the left hand side of the church.   I looked closer and saw it was Sharon.  She had come to the front on the opposite side and began jumping up and down, praising God.  Today she took it a step further.  As the teens were praising  God, she wasn't confined to her spot on the left hand side -- she was running back and forth in the front of the church, worshipping right along with the teenagers.  Then when the  more intimate worship songs came and we were singing this song, "Give Me Faith" I looked down and there was Sharon, face down in the altar area, just crying out to God with tears streaming down.

People's lives CAN be changed by God -- if they give Him control.

It's amazing that we can actually begin to ENJOY what we used to dislike when we follow after the presence of God and determine to participate instead of hesitate.  Although there are many styles and options available the truth of the matter is that nothing replaces GOD DOING SOMETHING.  Nothing replaces people coming to Jesus -- receiving Him as Savior, experiencing the healing of their bodies, mind, emotions, finances, marriages and families, being filled with the Holy Ghost, and the list goes on.  Nothing replaces signs, wonders, miracles.  Nothing takes the place of the real deal! 

Sharon has become one of the most positive and involved Celebrators that we have!  Go figure!  I never would have imagined in a million years. But God can do anything He wants, and He did.

**For anyone interested in what our typical "worship set" is at CC, today's was:
Say So (Israel Houghton)
I Am Free (Jon Egan)
We Are the Church (Elevation Church, Charlotte, NC)
Give Me Faith (Elevation Church, Charlotte, NC)
Wrap Me In Your Arms (Michael Gungor)
The choir sang, "You Are" by Mark Condon for the offering. 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

My love/hate relationship with the phone and other ramblings

Yesterday on Fun Friday I had lunch with a friend and then I almost had my husband all to myself for a few precious hours of time.  Except for the constant interruptions of my husband's phone it was the PERFECT day. 

We were involved in deep, amazing, intimate conversation and within the first fifteen minutes, his cell phone rang FOUR times, with four DIFFERENT individuals calling.  And it continued several times through the night.  This is not uncommon, in fact it happens every time we spend any time together.  Every single time!!!  If they had cell phones back before we had kids, it's doubtful we would have ended up with any children. The phone would have interrupted us from conceiving every time.  I might have had to get artificial insemination if I ever wanted to become a mother, due to my husband's cell phonus interruptus.   You think I'm kidding?  I really am not exaggerating that every time we have a conversation or go anywhere or do anything for an hour or two, (unless it's after midnight)  his cell phone is going to ring at least twice, probably three times, and it has rang as many as 10 times.  For Christmas next year I'm contemplating asking him for a coupon book  for "Ten Uninterrupted Conversations".

He always answers when it's the kids and I understand that - I do too.  But for anyone else I believe it should wait.  I think he picks up because he doesn't like returning calls.  In fact he hates returning calls and he dislikes making a call  (initiating it himself) just as much.  Answering his phone every time when we're doing something special makes for choppy, disjointed conversation between him and I.   There are times I want to take it and smash it to smithereens. [The phone, not him.]  

Disclaimer here -- I do realize part of ministry life is a ringing phone.  I accept that.  It  does come with the territory of pastoring however I also think there's a time and place for it to be shut off for brief periods of time for a respite, especially on one's day off -- which yesterday was our day off.  

I'm really looking forward to the cruise we're going on [that our church gave us for pastor appreciation] coming up in a few months because we won't have cell phone service there.  Some people have asked me if I'm excited about the the excursions, the buffets, the entertainment.  Well  yes, but quite honestly I'm most excited about the fact that there won't be phones.  I'm leaving mine at home.  I was hoping he would too but he's taking it because he said someone might be trying to reach him on his way there or on his way home.  [sigh]  But while we are on the ship the individuals who normally call my husband will have to find someone else to call.  By the way, none of these calls I refer to are emergencies.  They are all just everyday church related business and stuff like that.

The title of this post is "my love/hate relationship with the phone."  You're not feeling the love.  I can sense it.

I do love my new [6 month old] iphone  for everything but talking on the phone.  Larry asked me back in the summertime if I wanted an iphone for my birthday.  I'm pretty conservative when it comes to spending and just didn't think it was justified.  I also am not crazy about talking on the phone so why would I have wanted him to make this investment?   I told him, "please don't spend all that money on a phone..."  And he listened to me and didn't.  However he told his mother what I said and being that my mother in law adores me more than  fat kid loves chocolate cake, she thought I deserved an iphone.  She ordered  a phone and had it sent to me direct as a gift for my birthday in August.  She thinks I'm a Pentecostal Mother Teresa or something and wants me to have this and much, much more. I know, I know, 24 years of marriage to her son and she's still snowed.  She thinks I'm perfect, at least perfect for her son and as the mother of her grandchildren.  And no she does not have dementia, amnesia,alzheimers or any signs of mental instability or anything like that  She is just clueless about all my flaws.

Now that I have the iphone, I love it.  I can check my mail, track my weight watcher points, read my kindle, blog, read blogs, check the weather report in all my favorite places in the world, (every day I look at Tampa, Nairobi, Baltimore and Pittsburgh) take pictures and a host of other things - when I'm not sharing special time with my man.  He topped my new phone off with a case for it for Christmas - it's perfect for me because it's pink and black in zebra rhinestones.  So yes, I'm smitten with this phone when I look at it's shiny bling and I see that it's 68 degrees in Nairobi right now and it tells me that Smuckers Sugar Free Hot Fudge is 1 point per tablespoon.  But when it rings and somebody is on the other end it makes me want to cover my head with a pillow and scream or eat a whole bag of Cheetos.

In related news, my mother in law also shocked me beyond belief by giving me a Coach handbag for Christmas.  That's another thing I would have never bought for myself.   I shop at Ross and Bealls Outlet, and thrift stores...not Coach.  I don't think I've ever had a purse worth more than $30.  But she thinks I should have this extravagant purse.  At least to me it's extravagant.  I am very humbled by this.   I really thought of selling it and using the money for a missions trip but I know she'd be hurt.  She would still think I deserve this purse for some odd reason and probably go out and buy me another Coach purse or something else that you might need to dip into your 401K or get a loan for, so I just didn't.  My MIL is not wealthy, by the way...on the contrary she just sacrifices and does things like this for those she loves which is, well...really amazing and as I said before, humbling.

It's been a long time since I've written a rambling blog post like this so maybe it was overdue, or maybe it was really stupid.  Don't worry, I rarely post things like this.  I won't again for a long time.  Some of you are so grateful because you don't really want to hear about my husband's phone answering issues or the fact that my mother in law worships me.  You want me to go back to blogging about thermostats and thermometers or give a recipe for hash browned casseroles.  I sense it. 

If there is a really bad response to this I can blame it on taking Tylenol PM before bed while I was blogging.  Or I could blame it on peri-menopause.  Or seasonal affective disorder.  Oh yeah, we live in Florida...that won't work.  Or mid-life crisis.  Or PWSS (pastor's wives stress syndrome) Or PWADD (pastor's wife attention deficit disorder) or PTSD (phone traumatic stress disorder).  There's got to be something else to blame this on other than my reckless posting at 3:16 am.  Oh wait...I'm posting at 3:16 AM!  There's the excuse.  LSPD (Lack of sleep posting disorder).  Now that the proper excuse has been located in case the comment thread goes amok...

 I'm thinking about designing a phone app that will disable another person's phone while you're talking to them so you can have their undivided attention.  I'm the type of person who likes to have people's undivided attention and look right into their eyes while we talk.   Especially my husband.  I love the man so much...nothing pleases me more than looking into his eyes and having good conversation.  Well, almost

I'm so excited for this upcoming cruise.  I'm going to have Larry to myself for a week straight, with no phone.   This is going to be so fun!!!

I'm glad some of you will get to read this before Larry says, "goodness gracious Deanna, that was really a bit over the top !  Delete it, for heaven's sake!"  Maybe if he does I should say, "have your people call my people, and we'll talk about it..."  Bahahahahahahahaha  [laughing now while I can...]


Friday, January 21, 2011

True Church Stories - #32

This is a more recent true church occurred a few months ago during one of our Sunday morning worship rehearsals with the band, frontline singers and choir.  

We were in the midst of a rehearsal and my oldest son Dustin was leading a song on his guitar.  Suddenly I noticed that his zipper was all the way down.  So I discreetly went over and whispered, "Son, your zipper is down."  And instead of him responding in kind and discreetly pulling it up, with a completely straight face he proceeded to announce over the microphone,   "Mother, I planned it that way.  I like to wear my zipper down."  (You have to understand my son is a total comedian.  He does NOT like to wear his zipper down nor did he intend to, he was just being funny.  It worked.  The whole worship ministries team busted out laughing when he said this.)

I had the last word, however.  When he said what he did, I turned around and announced, "Well son, I suggest you pull it back up especially since the song you're leading is, "I Give Myself Away."

Everyone lost it.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thermostats vs. Thermometers

Last night I brought a message in our Fusion service called, "We've Been Chosen to Change the Atmosphere."  In this message I gave the illustration of the difference between a thermostat and a thermometer.  A thermometer simply measures the temperature in the room, but a thermostat sets it.  We have been called to set the temp, not measure it.  The atmosphere should change for the better simply because we walk into a room.  There's no telling what will happen when a Holy Spirit anointed, prayed up, activated Christian walks in on the scene.  

Last night one of our Celebrators, Minerva Sanabria brought up an excellent point.  She said that when we first come to Jesus we are basically all thermometers but when we get involved and begin serving that's when we begin to move from thermometer to thermostat.  Involvement and investment of ourselves makes all the difference.  I agreed and added that it's interesting to note the pattern of your typical criticizer in Christiandom.  They typically resign everything, have little to no place of ministry service, and begin to measure everything around them to a large degree.  Opinions are such easy things to throw around.  (They are so lightweight, after all -- they don't necessarily have to contain anything with biblical weight.)  Thermometers have quite a lot to say about churches, preachers, the quality of what is provided, and have high expectations ad nauseum, but little to no investment. 

Suffice it to say I love hanging with thermostats, but then again probably most people do.  We all love being with people who are a SOLUTION.  They are not only atmosphere changers, but also world changers and history makers.   Anyone can sit back and talk about all that's wrong with something, (or what they think is wrong)  but it takes a person of character and perseverance to actually BE a solution.  (That always takes involvement, which, by the way, is more than sitting in a man cave writing blogs in your underwear.)  Did I just say that?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Although it never gets any easier, these things do help me personally

Yesterday I shared about  my long time struggle with weight management and wellness and the fact that it really never gets easier, but that it's not an excuse to give up.

Even though it doesn't get easier I've found that some things are helpful to me on the journey.  I've found it's key to share with others about this because those who struggle learn so much from each other.  (That's one of the reasons I'm committed to Weight Watcher meetings -- as they say, "the meetings are the magic.")
I thought I'd share a few things that are helpful to me since this is a topic that seems to resonate with so many, and quite frankly I've learned that wellness has so much to do with how I'm doing as a woman, wife, mother, minister, employee, friend, etc.  It affects EVERYTHING.

Here we go...
  • Accountability WW meetings, plus a few friends I'm accountable to who ask me the hard questions.
  • With a full house of others who are not all on the same journey, I can't really purge my cupboards completely of everything I shouldn't have, but I do stock them full of what I should have.  The choices are there - it's up to me to make them.  
  • On the new WW plan, all fruits and most veggies are "0" points.  I get my favorite things washed and cut up when I bring them home from the store and put them in ziploc bags to have on hand whenever I want them.
  • Laughing cow cheese - LOVE it. 
  • I keep favorite snacks with me all the time so I'm never without good choices.  I always have at least one of those choices in my purse so I never have to resort to a vending machine or 7-11.  I used to be a Slurpee addict and let's face it there's nothing nutritional about a 7-11 except  maybe the pile of bananas by the register and those you might have to re-mortgage your house to buy. No thanks.
  • My friend and fellow blogger Cassandra Stafford told me that she freezes bananas and then drizzles 1 TBSP of chocolate syrup over them for a yummy treat.  I tried that and liked it but my new fav thing that I came up with is 1 TBSP of Smuckers Fat Free Hot Fudge...I warm that up for 15 sec in the microwave and then dip fresh fruit in it.  My favorite things to dip are bananas and fresh cherries.
  • Truvia!  I use a lot of it.  Iced Tea has always been my drink of choice and I have a few glasses a day with Truvia sweetener.
  • Soup - I make at least one pot of soup a week - a different kind each week - and I eat it for lunch for at least a few days.  Along with having it that week I freeze a one quart container for later, for weeks that I don't have time to make a homemade soup.  Soup is very filling and a "comfort food" of sorts for me and I make low fat ones that are good for you with lots of fresh veggies and beans, etc. 
  • I use ham boullion seasoninng and olive oil for dishes that are good with a smoky flavor such as beans, etc.  I use this as a substitute for bacon or lard, etc. and it's the same great taste and almost no calories and no bad fats.
  • I don't do things I won't keep doing once I get back in total shape.  The other day a friend was sharing with me how they take special drinks everywhere (never order them in restaurants) and they carry 1 point cupcakes around for desserts when they go out to eat, etc. and wanted to know if I would do that.  I said absolutely not.  That would drive me crazy and it's not a "lifestyle" to me --- it's more like desperation.  My friend does lose weight a lot quicker than I do by doing this, however I know me...if I do that kind of stuff I won't keep it up, it won't last, and I can't maintain it.  When I'm in optimal shape I am not going to keep dragging special drinks and 1 point cupcakes around with me the rest of my life so I'm not doing it now.  I just make better choices when I go out to eat.  
  •  I order unconventional things as long as they are better choices and they make me happy.  Recently I ate breakfast out with a few friends and we were all ordering off of the breakfast menu and the choice was hash browns or breakfast potatoes.  The hash browns were cooked on the grill sitting in a pile of bad oils.  The breakfast potatoes were deep fried.  I chose neither but being that potatoes are my favorite food I didn't want to miss them altogether.  I ordered a healthier choice.  On my breakfast plate was 1/2 cup of mashed potatoes.  Maybe not the "perfect choice" but a much healthier one than the other two.  I really don't care that my friends laugh that I'm eating a poached egg alongside a mound of mashed potatoes.  They won't be laughing anymore when I'm rocking a bikini again this summer.  Yes, I said again.  Did you miss my bikini post?  LOL  Too bad, I'm not linking to it.  Knock yourself out if you want to search.  :)
  • I don't LOVE exercise besides biking, skating or dancing.   The only one I do "on my own" is biking.  I skate or dance with friends, so it's not all the time, just special occasions.  As far as biking I do it a few times a week.  Other exercises  like going to the community gym, getting on my elliptical at home or doing a video are not things I get excited about, but I remind myself about how great I feel after I'm done.  Without fail I feel great when it's over, so I try to keep the end in mind and reward myself afterwards with a non-food item like a Bath and Body Works moonlight path bubble bath, a movie I want to see on TV,  spending a good book or spending time with the dogs.
  • When dealing with weight loss break it down into small increments (every 5 lb lost) and reward myself after every 5 lb with a non-food treat.
  • Take a break from work and call my friends more.   One reason I overeat is emotional stress and anger. I can easily get mad at somebody in the church and instead of giving it to them both barrells like I want to, (but can't because you can't do that to people and keep pastoring or really hold down any job for long) I abuse myself and eat a whole bag of potato chips.  Not cool.  I realized a while back through a very difficult conversation I had with the Lord that this needed to stop.  I was confronted with ministering to a situation with a young person who was cutting themselves. Lots of kids do that nowadays, you know.  It's like they are trying to respond and let out the pain that's inside but in reality they are just abusing themselves.  Thinking of this precious teenager's actions I said to myself, "she's so beautiful and talented and smart and has everything going for her...why is she doing this stupid thing?" and the Lord spoke to me and said, "how is it really different from what you do?  You've got lots of things going for you too but when people mistreat you, instead of responding right you eat a bag of chips thinking you're letting the pain out and all you're doing is abusing your get yourself straight before you call her crazy."  Ouch.  That day I stopped doing that.  Really.  No more binging because I'm angry.  I'm happy to say through God's help, it's been a significant amount of time since I've done that and by His grace I'll continue to be binge free.  Instead of eating the bag of chips I call a friend and get my feelings out.  
I could share a lot more but I'll stop here for today.  That last point was a hard one to admit publicly.  But I think somebody might need to hear it and come to the same realization I did.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Does it ever get any easier?

I have been back on the journey to wellness for a while now. This is not a new year's resolution.  I knew way before the new year that I needed to make some big changes to not only get back to where I need to be, but beyond where I used to be.  One reason I committed to this before the holidays ever came was because I knew Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year would pack at least another 10 lbs onto me and take me even further down a spiral I didn't need to be going on.  I needed to get a grip on things before then.  So, I did.

How's it going?  Very slow, but steady.  I'm learning that once you hit 40, it's harder than it was before.  It's like the weight goes off of you kicking and screaming, pulling to stay on you like a toddler in the candy aisle.  It's so frustrating at times but I'm just determined to not let it keep it's monstrous hold on me.  

I don't really talk about it a lot (and really haven't blogged about it at all) even to my husband, but he just sees day to day the steady plodding I do in this regard.  And I'm sure he knows how much of a struggle it is, because he knows me.  One night a few weeks ago we were going to sleep and as I laid there in the dark closing my eyes to go to sleep I felt his hand laying across my back and he just gently said, "does it ever get any easier for you?"

"Not really," I said.

He pressed me a little further to see what I meant by that and I just explained that I realize from past experience, this doesn't get any easier even when I've reached my goals.  This is one of my weaknesses and I've accepted it probably always will be unless God does a miracle.

We all have weaknesses -- this happens to be one of mine.  A weakness isn't an excuse to accept bad behavior.  It's simply an opportunity for growth.  

I refuse to rationalize my weaknesses.  We have the Holy Spirit to help us and are never alone in our weaknesses.  I will not give up.  The fact that it never gets any easier isn't an acceptable reason to give in.

"But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."  II Corinthians 12:9-11

Monday, January 17, 2011

True Church Stories - #31

This story is from...YESTERDAY!

Back in November my friend Candy asked me why I was still wearing my boots all the time when they were obviously on their last legs, pardon the pun. (They were in very poor shape.  Max has even chewed on them, bless his heart.  However I had not gotten around to replacing them and in wintertime I wear my high heeled black boots with almost everything on a daily basis.)  I was delighted on Christmas Eve to have friends Candy and Sue corner me after communion and say, "we have a gift for you..." and when I opened it among other things there were a new pair of high heeled black boots from Charlotte Russe.  Only one thing...although my size, these particular boots were a little bit too tight.  Being that I want to wear them all the time during this time of the year I knew if they weren't really comfortable -- I wouldn't.  So, I said, "can we check for one size bigger?"  Candy said she'd be glad to and took them back to exchange.

So, I've been waiting for them.  And, I've continued to wear my old boots while I've been waiting.  Saturday night Candy called me and said, "I got your boots exchanged and I'm bringing them to church tomorrow!"  So I was all excited and said, "Okay, here's the plan -- I'm wearing the old ones to church but when I get there we'll trade them out for the new ones."

She brought the boots yesterday morning and I took off my old ones and put the new ones on.  She was in the back room with me as I was putting them on and helped me take the tissue paper out of them.  There was a buckle on the outside on the bottom with tissue paper wrapped around it and she reached down and ripped those off and said, "they look great!" and I wore them to teach my class at 9:30.  After class as I was standing in the side room getting ready to go up on the platform to lead worship she says to me, "Hey, I think you can roll those boot cuffs up and wear them up even higher on your knee.  Try it."  So I did and she goes, "Oh my gosh, that looks awesome...wear them that way!!!"  So I did.  But we only glanced at the front of the boots and we never noticed that up high on each side was another buckle, also with tissue paper wrapped around.  I was wearing a dress that was shorter and you could see the entire boot.  Service started and I went up on the stage for worship.

Fast forward to the altar call.  The tissue paper is still on there unbeknownst to me. I go over to the keyboard and the rest of the band comes up.  My son Dustin is standing beside me and glances over to me to find out what we're playing for altar time.  He momentarily glances down and sees my boots and he whispers, "'ve got a napkin or toilet paper stuck to your boot."  He comes over and tears the tissue off of the boots.  Then he glances over and says, "Oh my gosh, it's on the other boot too..."  So at this point the whole band notices it and I am not sure whether they think I have toilet tissue stuck to my boots or that I was just nerdy enough to leave the tissue wrap from the factory on my boots when wearing them the first time.  But whatever -- they were all laughing so hard, so much so that I was scolding them saying, "Guys, stop laughing, we need to get serious and play this altar call..." and Dustin was looking at me totally embarrassed like, "Oh my gosh Mom, you look like a total nerd... get that stuff off your boots" and I shot him a stern glance and said, "Don't worry about it, it's not going to kill anybody, just start playing the song and we'll get it off after the service..."

As soon as I stepped off the stage before greeting the visitors I ripped the tissue paper off and thought, "ugh, I really did look like a nerd, but who cares."

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Thought on my mind this weekend...ex-ministers who seem to eat sour grapes for breakfast

Did you ever notice how many people leave full time ministry or even their denomination and then want to criticize everything that's wrong with it?  It's like some believe they've been given some grand insight now that they aren't on the inside anymore, as to what's broken.  Evidently they have found they key as to why things will or don't work and ruminate about why things should or shouldn't be.  They have no shortage of comments on what's wrong with pastors today, church people today, worship trends today, bible colleges today, denominations today, and the list goes on.  Boy they are just great at commenting on a world they aren't a part of.  How easy it is to criticize where you don't contribute.  What do these guys and gals eat for breakfast?  Sour grapes?

It reminds me of that old saying, "Those who can't do, teach."  I love this version I heard from a blogger:

Those who can, do.
Those who can't, teach.
Those who can't teach, write about those that do and teach.

There are a lot of examples I personally know of this but these are two...

I  know a blogger who is an ex-pastor, and doesn't  attend church anymore.  To be fair, he had a lot of stress at the most recent church he pastored for many years.  But what pastor doesn't face adversity? And truth be told some of that stress was due to his departure from the doctrines of his denomination.  So now he has left the "institutional church" but doesn't miss it a bit due to the "revelations" that he's been receiving and can't wait to share with his readers.  He calls himself a "pastor at large" because he writes a blog and gets a decent amount of comments.  Well, so what?  So does Perez Hilton!  When did blog traffic translate to ministerial credentials?  I'm a little nervous as any day now Rosie O'Donnell may announce her ordination!  Anyway, this blogger believes he is ministering to hurting souls on his blog who would never step foot in a church.  This wouldn't be altogether bad if he was actually pointing them to Jesus but the majority of his writings simply provoke his readers to doubt everything they ever believed in , not spur them on to faith.  I don't subscribe to the blog anymore because it was too much of a train wreck and only brought me down, not closer to God or His people.  If high traffic and response qualify you to be a pastor, then this guy needs to move over because a ton of atheist blogs have more traffic than he does.  His blog shows an uncanny resemblance to those anytime I have checked in on it.  Sometimes I do that just to see if he's come to his senses's fast going from universalism to only God knows what. 

Another guy whose blog I used to read was a mega church pastor who had an affair and was put on discipline by his denominational officials.  Instead of submitting to the process of restoration he started his own church down the road from his previous one.   This was after he left his wife and kids and is now married to the lady he had the affair with.  He's still blogging away, dispensing a ton of his own rhetoric on all that's wrong with his previous denomination and group of former pastor friends.  He encourages his current readers and commenters  (I'm not among them anymore) to see him as no different from David in the develop a fuller understanding of grace.  Evidently no one  understands grace quite like he does.  He rails out against the "institutional church" that he was once a part of, having now been "set free" to truly follow this new path God has him on with Sis. Bathsheba.  Delete, delete, delete.  (FYI - Pastor Perry Noble addresses the issue of pastors comparing themselves to David and how to avoid a meltdown in this regard better than anyone else I've ever heard.) 

Isn't it interesting the amazing epiphany some folks have about the church world when things don't work out for them?  I'm sure they would chalk it up to "hindsight being 100%" but reality is they are blind spiritually and don't realize how foolish it makes them look to give a dissertation on what's wrong with a world where they no longer serve.

I absolutely love and respect teachers so part of me hates the "those who can't do teach" quote, and I'd love to re-write it...

Those who can do.
Those who can't criticize.

What about those who could do but simply chose not to?   Do they have a platform?  That's an interesting thought.  I have a lot of ideas about that but will just say, no one will ever know if they could, because they didn't. Henry Ford once said that you can't build a reputation on what you're GOING to do.  I would say that you also can't be a voice of influence by telling people what you could do if you wanted to.

Friday, January 14, 2011

True Church Stories - #30

Today I'm telling a true church story in honor of a sweet young woman at our church, Julie Lechner.  Her grandmother died yesterday and she's very down about this loss, as can be expected.  Yesterday I consoled her and prayed with her -- and today I'm going to try and say something to brighten her day.  Being that she absolutely loves the "True Church Stories" and reads all of them I thought I'd write one today in her honor.   Julie, this one's for you.  

Sometimes people call into the church office and ask strange questions.  Anybody who's ever worked at a church can tell you, you never know what you're going to get on the other end of that phone.  I can't even repeat some of the questions people have asked me -- quite honestly they'd be inappropriate to repeat.  But this was a particularly interesting exchange with a surprise ending -- one that had me real embarrassed.

Three things you should know to set up this story:
  • There are a lot of spanish people in Tampa, and at Celebration Church.  (And we're real happy about that!)
  • Our youth perform"human videos" a lot, particularly for the fine arts ministries within the church and for local, regional and national competitions.
  • Sometimes people will call into a church office to see who is preaching on any given Sunday, or to find out what special events are coming up.
So a while back a call came in to the office and here's how it went:

Me:   It's a great day at Celebration Church, can I help you?

Caller:  Yes, I have a few questions about the church...particularly about your service this Sunday.

Me:  "Sure, what would you like to know?

Caller:  Well, I'm wondering if you're going to have a human speaker on Sunday...

[I momentarily wondered if this was a joke but the caller was so serious, I thought that maybe she was talking about a live speaker vs. video conferencing which some churches do for satellites.)

Me:  Yes m'am, we have a human speaker every single Sunday.

Caller:  REALLY??!

[I wondered why she seemed so excited.  Was this truly THAT rare?  Something must be going on in the church world I'm unaware of.]

Me:  Yes, we have a human speaker every Sunday and in addition to that our teens even do human videos!  We are...well, HUMAN!  It's awesome.

I figure if somebody's going to ask me what seems like a unique/interesting/off beat question, I'm gunna answer back in my own unique way.

Caller:  Fantastic!  We'll definitely be there Sunday.  This is something we've been looking for.

Me:  [puzzled]  Okaaaaaaay.  We'll look forward to seeing you here.

Caller:  Great.  Bye now.

Me:  Bye

After hanging up I go into Larry's office and tell him...we're getting a visiting family on Sunday who are simply looking for live humans to minister to them.  Wow...are churches really becoming THAT untouchable?  Well, if Celebration is anything, it's REAL!

Fast forward to Sunday.

A visiting family shows up...they are spanish.   

The wife is the one who was the caller in the above conversation.

They seem to like the service well enough but are confused.

They tell someone they called the church and asked about the speaker and were told we would be having a CUBAN speaker.  My husband preached.  He's obviously not Cuban!

With their accent, I didn't understand them.  I thought they said HUMAN, but they were saying CUBAN.

Oh my stars.
Was my face red!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

There was a man sent from God...whose name was John.

John 1:6

The man from Hartselle, Alabama came to church again last night.  Really!

His name is John.

After stopping me in the Wiregrass Shops and giving me that word from God for my husband and I and our church he went back to Alabama, but this week he's back for a special family event in Tampa.  He decided to come to Celebration last night and I was so glad to see him.  It's our annual week of prayer.  I asked him to come up and open the service with a prayer of freedom/victory/blessing over the church, and I told him about this past Sunday.  I shared that already the word was coming to fruition -- new freedom in the house, obstacles removed, etc.  He came up to the front to begin to pray the prayer and he just let loose.  I mean, he let out a shout of victory that if the people weren't already awake...well, they were then.  :)   It was awesome.

We had a dynamic prayer service and our friend from Alabama was thoroughly a part of it.  We also got a chance to talk for a few minutes afterward and I thanked him again for being faithful to give the word.  He was so blessed to know what a difference it's made.

Last night we went out after church with a few friends and just marveled at the goodness of God.  Love it when Daddy God shows me, "I got your back, girl..."

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Is this E-Harmony or job coaching?

Yesterday I was having a talk with one of our assistant regional managers, Angela, and marveling at how God personally selects my job seekers.  Mine could go to ANY coach at NextJob, but in God's divine plan, they are assigned to ME!  We are a perfect match!  How do I know it's a divine connection and not just something random?  Well, in many different ways and one of the calls I had recently typifies this. Angela totally agreed with me and said it's happened to her many times.  
Job seekers don't always talk to you about career advice. They also talk to you about everything from what they are making for dinner to what made them mad about that day, what they are looking forward to, or what made them laugh that morning when they woke up. They ask my advice on what to buy their kids for Christmas or how to get gum out of the carpet.  NextJob trains us to meet them where they're at, and I really try my best to do that.  So when they say, "did you ever toilet train a kid?" I say, "Yep," and give 'em my best advice including why they should probably not try Pull-ups, (they never worked for us with any of the 3 kids and only delayed their training) before we go on to talk about marketing, or whatever.

So I was on the phone with a job seeker and out of the blue he says to me, "Hey, who's that group that sings the song, "Yahweh?"  And I said, "Ummm...are you referring to the Hoppers?"  "Yeah!  Yeah!  The Hoppers."  He says, "do you know that song Yahweh?"  And I said, "Oh yes, did it at our church on Easter two years ago.  I have several people who are asking us to do it again -- powerful song." He says, "Why do they sing, mmmmmmmmmmmm Yahweh?  Is there any significance to that "mmmmmmmmmmm" in the song, and do you know what Yahweh means anyway?"  I say, "Well I don't really believe the mmmmmmmmm has any spiritual significance, it's just to give a certain intonation at the beginning of each new verse of the song, just the way the orchestration goes.  And as far as the meaning of Yahweh, I believe it has several meanings...God told Moses that He is Yahweh, the Lord...and it also means "He is."

"Oh okay.  Thanks for telling me that.  I didn't know what it means, I just like the song."
"Sure, no problem."

So a few minutes later we're back to talking career advice and he says to me, "Hey, what's the name of that quartet with the four guys...they have absolutely amazing harmonies and they really jump around a lot...most of 'em are real young...they dress real spiffy.." and I interrupt and say, "Ernie Haase and Signature Sound." 

"Yes! Yes!" he says.  "I LOVE 'em."  

"Me too," I say, "and as a matter of fact they are one of my son's favorite groups and we love the song, "Get Away, Jordan!", partially because it has my son's name it although the song isn't about that, it's just funny and we love how they do that song live in concert....they are just so funny."  "Yep," he says, "that they are."

So we go on to talk again about job stuff and he says to me, "Hey, do you know that group where the husband has short darker hair that's kinda thinnin' out and the lady has shorter blond hair and they sing with a younger looking girl with long hair? Ahhhh....can't think of their names right quick, but I know 'em...." and I said, "That would be Jeff and Sheri Easter and Charlotte Richie's the one who sang with them but I think she just went solo and now their daughter Morgan took her place."

"Yeah, yeah...they are awesome, don't you think?"
"Yes, yes, I do.  Have most of their albums.  Their latest one is my favorite, for sure.  Love the song, "Expecting Good Things.'"

So you see this is why I know my people are selected not just by my regional manager but by GOD ALMIGHTY. (Yahweh, lol!)  Because what other coach in the company could tell them who sings Yahweh, who Ernie Haase and Signature Sound, The Easters,  or Charlotte Richie are?  Yes, I can not only help these people get back to work...I can advise on their southern gospel music needs and God knows what else.   Angela said, "Yes, Deanna...that has to be God, because I sure couldn't tell 'em anything about southern gospel!!"  (And Angela's a strong believer too, by the way.  But you know southern gospel fans, well, we're a unique breed.  Not everybody is a Southern Gospel buff like me who was raised with this stuff, fantasizing to be Vestal Goodman from the time I was a little kid, singing "I Wouldn't Take Nothin' for My Journey Now".)  

Angela mentioned how this same thing happens with those she is assigned.   It's amazing how we are  not only able to help them with job coaching but each coach has some kind of unique rapport with them.

I will not be surprised if I pick up the phone tomorrow and get assigned a job seeker who is originally from Baltimore, has two bulldogs, loves riding their bicycle and has a husband who is addicted to watching Steelers games.  Bring it on!