Thursday, March 31, 2011

I know the peace speaker

 "Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”  When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm.   Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”  ~ Mark 4:38-40 (NLT)

This morning we awoke early to a text from our friend and church member, Doug Rice, letting us know that a tornado warning was in effect for our county, and that school buses had been pulled off the roads.  We immediately went in to tell Savanna, who was getting ready for school.  She was disappointed.  This girl LOVES school.  

My husband moved a few things out of the way on the patio so they wouldn't come crashing through our sliding glass doors and for the next few hours we kept an eye on things by utilizing our cell phones and talking to our friend Lisa Currie.   (The TV went out due to the weather.)  

Storms come in and out of our lives, but we are not powerless, even when our TV's go out!  The fact of the matter is we would not even be powerless if our cell phones were not working and we could not speak to friends.  We know the "peace speaker" and His power never goes out no matter how strong the storm gets!

I called upon the peace speaker this morning.  He has calmed the storm.  We still have a thunderstorm outside however it appears the tornado warning has lifted and we are just dealing with heavy rain.

I think I might even go biking later.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I am pro-choice!!!

I HAVE A CHOICE speak words of life, or not. 
(Proverbs 18:21) bring people closer to Jesus, or not.
(II Corinthians 2:15) take control of my toxic thoughts, or not.
(II Corinthians 10:5) do something about my unholy behavior or not.
(I Peter 1:16) receive God's empowering grace that goes beyond my natural ability, or not.
(II Corinthians 12:9) use all the time I'm given to make a difference for Him, or not.
(Ephesians 5:16) actually do something about people dying and going to hell, or not. 
(Jude 1:23) take these choices seriously, or not. 
(Deuteronomy 30) 

I have a choice ~ to obey...or not.

"Live as children of obedience to God; do not conform yourselves to the evil desires that governed you in your former ignorance when you did not know the requirements of the gospel."  
I Peter 1:14 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Keep doing what's'll catch up with you!

If there's one thing I've learned about weight loss it's that there are so many variables as to why the scale might be up or down on any given day.

For instance, I might not have eaten as many calories on one day but if I've had too much salt, the scale can be up a pound or two.  This happened a few weeks ago when I stayed totally on program but also had a few pieces of bacon that day and the scale reflected it for a short time.  "That time of the month" can also reflect on the scale.  And sometimes it's not anything particular that I could ever figure out or narrow down, it just is what it is, at least for a day or two. 

But here's something I know to be truth and have come to believe and now DO..and that is, if you keep doing what's right, it will catch up with you!  This is true in weight loss or anything else in life.

Last week could have been a very frustrating week for me.  Although I was biking 1 hour a day every single day, and weeding another 2-3 hours a day on top of that, and following my Weight Watcher program exactly, I was amazingly UP 1.8 lbs!!  So I could have gotten off the scale at WW and said, "What?!  Are you serious?!  I'm done!"  But I didn't.  The receptionist who weighed me in even said, "Were you expecting that outcome?" and I said, "No, but that's perfectly alright."  She probably thought I was crazy.  

I was up 1.8, and I was not depressed, nor shaken, nor thinking of giving up.

The truth is that I could have been up for any number of reasons, including the fact that anybody who is biking one hour a day might just be getting some muscle?  I am not sure but one thing I do know is that I'm committed to do what is right regardless of what things look like momentarily.  I've got to look at the bigger picture.

This morning I got on the scale and I'm at my lowest point yet since starting my journey back to wellness.  It doesn't make sense either.  Last night I was craving carbs and while I didn't "go off of my program" I used a bunch of extra bonus points (I get 49 a week on my plan) and ate an english muffin with real butter and 8 cornbread crackers, right before bed.  Then my darling husband came in later and brought me some fresh fruit and hot fudge as a little surprise treat.  (He had no idea about my carb craving that I fulfilled earlier.)  Yes, I just ate all that right up and then went to sleep.  I had all the points for it in my program but the point is, I don't normally indulge in all those extra points especially before bedtime.  You would think I would have gotten on the scale this morning and had a spike up, but no, I'm actually down today...did I mention at my lowest point yet??!!  lol 

What's the point of this?  Well simply that you can't just go by what happens in the moment, you have to look at the big picture AND, stay the course even in moments where it looks like you're not moving forward.

Whether you're trying to stay the course in your personal walk with God, living a holy life, taking care of the body God's given you, raising Godly children, living out the dream God has given you...I believe in you and I'm cheering you on today!  More important, He believes in you and He's cheering you on.  Keep going even in moments where it looks like nothing is happening, or where it might actually seem like you are regressing.   

Monday, March 28, 2011

"You remind me of..."
and social media's impact on eternal destinies...

Something happened  yesterday that made me giggle and also blessed my heart, incredibly!!!

We had a first time visitor who is here for baseball camp -- he is trying to get into major league baseball and currently here for that purpose.  He is from Charlotte, NC and after the service he met me in the hospitality room where we greet visitors and share refreshments and conversation.

He loved the service and was very eager to talk to me.  Several Celebrators were also there with me to hear this conversation and they found it a blessing as well.  He said...

"You know Pastor Deanna, this was an amazing service and it reminds me so much of my church back home in Charlotte, only on a smaller scale but I'm telling you, you guys remind me SO much of my church it's uncanny."

I said, "what's the name of your church?" 

And he said, "Elevation Church."  

He said, "You guys are Celebration, and we're Elevation.  You call your people, "Celebrators" and our pastor calls us "Elevators."  The direction of your service - the videos, the energy and vibe of the place, the way you communicate things, the passion for people to come to Jesus,,and be honest you actually sang songs that our worship leader has written...I mean that pretty much put the icing on the cake..."

I said, "well all this should come of no surprise to you when I tell you that I read your pastor's blog daily, his wife's blog daily, listen to every sermon he preaches, read his books, and devour every worship song your church puts out there.  That might have something to do with why our church feels just a little bit like Elevation although we are much smaller in congregational size.  I haven't met  your pastor personally nor ever walked into the doors of your church but I have learned a lot through them from afar simply by taking in everything they put out there in media."

He was really blessed by that.  And I was blessed by his comments.

Elevation Church isn't just a 'church' -- it's a move of God.  In five years they have gone from zero attenders (Pastor Steven and Holly started the church) to 11,000 attenders!  They have so many people coming to Jesus there it is mind blowing. They aren't just gathering a big crowd they are bringing a passionate uncompromising message and are producing hard core disciples.

We aren't trying to copy Elevation church by any means, but we have learned from them.  For that matter they aren't the only folks we're learning from. We are uniquely us at Celebration, however I'm a firm believer in gleaning from others all the positive things we can.  As Rick Warren says, "All of us are smarter than one of us!"  I believe that to a degree, you can be mentored from someone and not even meet them personally.  You can grow through reading others books and  blogs and listening to their podcasts and so forth.  You can even be mentored by someone who is...dead!  Look at all the people who are impacted by the writings of Oswald Chambers, myself included.

In the past year we've been so blessed at Celebration to have people who have contacted us and told us they have come to Jesus through listening to our podcasts.  I have personally had three people who became my friends on facebook who came to Christ through reading my status updates and then contacting me and asking for more information.  This blows my mind!!  Is God amazing or what?  These new believers are friends from long ago that I've become re-aquainted with on facebook.    They ended up coming to Jesus from what started as just STATUS UPDATES!!!  Who'da thunk it?   Two are now attending church in their cities, and the third is a "shut in" who can't leave their house (due to illness) but they consider CC their church and "attend" every week through listening to our podcast and devouring everything we are putting out there online in blogs, facebook, etc..  I am humbled that we have this opportunity to disciple someone who doesn't even live here.  I never imagined.  We will soon be livestreaming, not just podcasting, to better serve these friends.   (We are encouraging these folks to find churches in their cities and working to introduce them to pastors and churches, however in the case of the one who is shut in, she doesn't have that choice.)  This is one reason we should be really thoughtful about what we put out there in media, even on our status updates.  People are learning, listening, and quite possibly making a life/death/heaven/hell decision based upon what we post!  Wow.  Sobering to think about.

To learn from others in this way doesn't mean that you become a carbon copy but you receive what good things they have to impart.  It's the principle of  I Corinthians 11:1.

I have learned so much through the ministries of Pastor Steven Furtick, Holly Furtick, and Elevation Church and just want to give them kudos for what they have invested into my life through their media.    Everything except Pastor Steven's books are put out there for FREE.  What a blessing!  Even their chord charts are all FREE!  Seriously.  You can just download them off of the church website. 

I also just want to remind fellow believers that what we put out there either draws people closer to Jesus and the truth of His Word, pushes them further away, or just causes them to not care one way or the other.  The last two options are ones I'm not personally comfortable with.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

What you WANT might drive you to WORRY!
(The case for the simple life!)

Did you know that the more possessions or promotions we have in life, the more we also have opportunity to worry?  That doesn't mean we HAVE to worry, simply that there is greater occasion to.

This might just be the case for "the simple life"! 

Today at Celebration I am teaching the final message in the "Dealing with Anxiety God's Way" series and one thing I'm going to point out is that many times people worry over their stuff that they  have been blessed with.

Ecclesiastes 5:12 says, “The sleep of the laborer is sweet, but the abundance of a rich man provides him no rest.” (emphasis mine)

We think that the more we have, the more secure we will feel, but the opposite is often true.

My husband and I were listening to one of our heroes, Pastor Tommy Barnett, as he was teaching a session for pastors.  He mentioned something about people thinking it must be easy to be Tommy Barnett. After all he pastors Phoenix First AG, an amazing mega church with a huge staff, amazing facilities and much more.  He also has a ton of pressure!  He said something to effect that most pastors weren't going to feel sorry for him when he shared this.  But, to give them some perspective of the pressure he is under daily, he shared that before he goes to bed at night, he knows he has to personally raise something like $60,000 A DAY just to keep the church going!  Now, that's PRESSURE!    How many of us can fathom being personally responsible for raising that much money a DAY??!

Every blessing we receive also has the ability to bring pressure.

Yesterday I was thinking about the pressure of being a homeowner.  When my husband and I lived in an apartment we didn't so much as worry about having to cut the grass or even pay the water bill!  It was all included.  I told Dustin a few days ago that if I had it to do over again I wouldn't own a home.  At times the pressure is just unbelievable although I try very hard not to complain and to look for every blessing possible.  It is not impossible to see blessings in this regard but I will say it is much harder since the housing market crash.  For all that the responsibility of ownership we used to be able to look to the blessing of the equity in our home which is now non-existent, like millions of others in the same boat. Why do I bring this up?  Well, I think of all the people who think, "If I could just own a home..."  I don't think a lot of them realize the pressure involved.

While I was riding my bike yesterday my thoughts wandered to what was once something very special to me.  If you look in the top drawer of my jewelry box where I actually keep what few "real" pieces of jewelry I have, there's also one other little keepsake there.  It's the key ring and remote car lock for my Mustang.   I blogged extensively about this in the past but basically my dream car, "Joy Gratefulness Shrodes" was totaled on June 3, 2007.   We have  yet to replace her, so I do not personally own a car.  If you want to know why the Stang meant so much, here you go.  She's the only car I've ever personally had, and was a reward from my husband for 18 years of sacrifice.  She was more than a car to me -- she symbolized something special, sort of like a wedding ring.  I still miss that particular car so much, however, I am not sure if I want it to be replaced.  First of all  I don't think the car can be truly replaced.  I still can't go by Master Collision without wincing.  Second, I might worry about losing a Joy II if I had one.  Losing Joy I was so bad I never want to experience a repeat.  It's probably a good thing I am still car-less.  I look at the blessings of being without a the fact that I don't need to worry about a car payment or the price of gas.  I do have to concern myself with getting rides to places but I was used to that for 18 years and just quickly went back to doing that as soon as the Mustang was gone.  

Whatever you are craving so badly (or think you are craving) just keep in mind that blessings also bring pressure whether you are talking about a promotion at work, a new house, a new car, or even more money! 

A good prayer to pray is, "Lord, give me strength and wisdom to handle the increase you bring my way."  Only with God's direction and empowerment are men and women truly able to handle the  responsibility and blessing that God gives them.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Are you dread locked?

Two things in life that I really don't enjoy doing are cleaning the house, and weeding the yard.  If I suddenly came into money, aside from tithing and missions giving, I would start making plans to pay someone to do those two things.

I used to not just do those two things...I would moan and groan before, during and after doing them.  And then I learned that laying on my coach saying, "Ughhhhhhhhhh I dread getting up to do this..." didn't help anything.  It just made things even worse once I verbalized it.

So I stopped doing that. 

Dreading something doesn't help matters at all.  It just locks us into a cycle of complaining and bellyaching that makes the mundane things we have to do seem all the more overwhelming.

Right now we are in a busy season of trying to get our yard in shape by March 31.  Most of the yards in our neighborhood were really affected by the temperatures this winter and ours was also affected by some of our sprinkler heads not working.  (In Florida this is essential, to water your yard, to fertilize it, also to protect it from bugs.  I learned when I moved here that there is nothing quite like trying to keep a Florida yard alive and well.  It's almost like caring for a pet or something.  It's quite the ordeal.)  Living in a deed restricted community with very strict HOA rules, we have expectations that must be followed.  Now, if I had to do it over again I would never buy a house in a community with these rules, live and learn and I'm not going to get sucked into the vortex of complaining over that either.  The bottom line is this -- along with all of our other neighbors, we have to have our yard in shape by 3/31, or we'll get a letter from HOA about it and they can also fine a homeowner $1,000 or more and put a lien against your house.  Yeah, these folks are straight up serious about you having everything from a perfectly green lawn, to your house and driveway power washed, your mailbox bleached on a regular basis (Yes. I. Am. Serious.) to whatever else they want to ask you to do short of giving them your firstborn child.  So we have been working on this DAILY.  It pretty much takes daily work to get something of this magnitude done in a few weeks time.

Larry and Eddie re-sodded half the yard yesterday.  Jordan trimmed the palm trees and helped his Daddy edge.  Todd came and seeded a lot of it weeks ago and while it worked quite well for the back yard the front was just going to need sod, at least if it was going to be in shape by 3/31.  Todd and Larry fixed the sprinklers, and I have been diligently weeding, at least 2 hours or more a day except for Wednesdays and Sundays.  Our beds are absolutely huge and we live on the corner house (another thing I'd change if I were to purchase another home!  But again, not complaining, just an observation...)

I write all this to say that I understand what it's like to have mundane and monumental tasks to do and be oh so tempted to dread, and moan and complain.  But dreading gets you nowhere, just like complaining.  It just saps you of energy.

Instead of dreading, here's what I do now:

  • Find ways to make mundane tasks more interesting and worthwhile.  Get creative!  I do different playlists of music on my Zune, and also download a lot of podcasts.  The other day while I weeded for 3-4 hours I listened to Joyce Meyer's entire series on "Power Thoughts".  It was just as the title says:  POWERFUL!  When I was done weeding, more than just half of one of my beds had been accomplished -- I had fed my spirit.
  • When I clean house I play messages on TV from some of my favorite preachers that I have recorded on DVR.  I crank it up and listen while I'm working.
  • Sometimes I don't listen to anything at all and I take the time to pray while I'm doing house or yard work.
  • I have a headset that goes with my phone.  (We use these for work at NextJob all the time and they have really changed my everyday life/phone habits at home.)  You can get one of these at Walmart or Target or anyplace like that in electronics or wherever the phone accessories are.  I never talk on the phone for even 10 minutes without my headset on, because my hands are always busy doing something else.  When it comes to work at NJ, I'm on my computer typing about whatever the person is talking to me about, taking notes.  But when I'm working around the house inside, I put on my headset and return phone calls while I clean out a drawer, or sort the clothes, or  put a load in to wash, unload the dishwasher, etc.  If I am on a longer call I might even dust the entire house while I talk!  When the phone rings and it's for me I automatically put on my headset and do other things while the person is talking to me, unless it's a work call that I am getting paid for that demands my full attention.  Now that's redeeming the time!!  :)
  • My back and knees tend to really start hurting when I'm doing this much yardwork.  In addition to being very thankful for Excedrin Back & Body, I always look forward to  a soak in my tub with Moonlight Path.  I put on some spa music, light the candles, and soak away.  Use what you have -- improvise!  Have your own little routine of something that you can have to look forward to when the work is done.
Colossians 3:17 says, "And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him."  (emphasis mine)

Whatever you do = this means dishes! weeding! diaper changes! cleaning up spills!

Do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus = if I'm doing it in the name of the Lord Jesus that means I'm not moaning and groaning about it.

Giving thanks = Be thankful in all that we say and do !  Be grateful!  Even for the mundane!

Friday, March 25, 2011

It really IS your choice!

Stop blaming other people for your bad attitude and your choices!   They are yours, and the first step to moving forward is to own them.

All of us have encountered problems in our past and all of us have problems currently.  It is our choice as to how we respond.  Some people allow their obstacles to swallow them up.  They complain (which is the equivalent of giving praise to the devil) or use their past or present circumstance as an excuse to refuse to move forward. 

No one us can make the decision for us to move forward.  It's all on us to do that.    The other day I encountered someone who is blaming their ancestors for their alcohol problems.  The truth is, their ancestors have nothing to do with their current alcohol problem.  They have a choice when they wake up everyday to move forward but it is easier to say, "My great grandfather started all this, and my grandfather took up where he left off, and then my Dad and here I am..."   It's so much easier to shift all the blame to these other three men rather than for this individual to simply say, "I HAVE A PROBLEM AND IT IS UP TO ME TO ACT ON A DECISION TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT."

What about things that happen that we have no control over?  Well, we can still control ourselves,and that is where the biggest battle lies.  I do know that the greatest testimonies I have in my own life are because of things like this.  I've even started to say, "Wow, thanks!  That will make a great sermon illustration!" when something crazy happens that I can't control that is hurtful.  I literally giggle inside thinking about how I'm going to get revenge on the enemy (satan) by turning that circumstance around -- responding to it properly and then sharing it with others one on one and in messages, and seeing their lives changed in a positive way for the glory of God.

When difficulties come it's critical for those whose goal is to be mature in Christ to:

1)  Stop and think before you respond.
2)  Refuse to blame your past and circumstances when you choose to respond poorly.
3)  Not only make a decision to respond rightly, but act on it.
4) Thank God in advance for how He is going to use your testimony.
5)  Dream of all the ways your testimony can be used for His glory...think creatively...get the word out about what God has done in  your life, past and present!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Did you ever notice?

  • Your kids never approach you when you are refreshed and in your right state of mind to ask you for things you haven't seen in years, like birth certificates, old photos, and other important papers.  Requests like this seem to be reserved for times when you feel so exhausted and tapped out you can hardly function, like midnight the night before they need this for a school project...
  • A dog gets excited every time you walk into a room least mine do.  If I ever want to just feel great about myself all I have to do is walk out the front door, shut it, then walk back in a few minutes later.  Max acts like I just got home all over again.
  • Just the day you have to sleep in for once you will get a call from one of those political surveys or somebody like that. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I am shocked by the results of this litte experiment...

Napkins for last night's event -- I thought they were cute! 
So for years now I've led women's events. I've not only announced the events but basically "babysat" women in the days leading up to the event...reminding them, calling them, e-mailing them, and holding registration while my team of leaders also market the daylights out of the event, trying to get as much participation as possible.  There's nothing wrong with any of that -- nothing at all.  In fact I advise people to do it!  But I'm really excited about what happened last night at Celebration Church.

We're in a new season at CC and I did a little experiment.  (Years ago I would have never done this, convinced that it would have been me and two or three friends sitting in the sanctuary by ourselves on the night of the event.)  I wondered, "just how much of a new season ARE we in?"  I made a personal decision with this event (didn't tell anybody) that I was going to just announce the event but not follow up and call, e-mail, or do a registration.  I was just going to see how many women showed up after I simply said, "Hey, come and join me as I share my heart with you about what God is saying for us as a group in this season."  I did throw in some chocolate and coffee and tell them the worship team would be there too.  But we've done all those things before and much more and it was nothing new.

I was really blown away at last night's result.  I shouldn't be. I even apologized to them at the altar and said, "Oh me of little faith!!!"  First of all, they rocked it on the attendance and a majority of them were there without me tracking them down and cajoling them to get there.  They just showed up!  Second, they were primed to hear the message.  Last night I preached a pretty hard hitting word.  I was wondering how they were going to take it.   I'm not going to re-preach my message here by I will just tell you I preached from Isaiah 32:9-15.  This is not exactly the most exciting passage of scripture but it was what God gave me.  I gave a strong call to the altar and was hoping a few of them would join me there in this invitation to go totally hard core for God.  I told them I was going to pray for every woman responding to this call.  (I said that thinking I'd just pray for a few while the rest stood at their seats in the sanctuary offering prayer support thinking, "oh isn't that nice that those ladies are receiving such a touch from God...???")  Imagine my shock when EVERY WOMAN IN THE BUILDING IMMEDIATELY CAME TO THE ALTAR.  Seriously.

I said,  "Okaaaayyyyyyyyy...well, I am totally overwhelmed by this response..."  I knew all of them probably wouldn't want to stay  all night for me to pray for each and every one of them -- they would never get to go home and sleep.  I said, "I'm praying a prayer of blessing over you as a group and then I will stay for anyone who is willing to continue to stay.  I didn't just pray some little token prayer -- we had us a time there as a group and God really moved.  Then probably half of them did migrate on home, but the other half of them did stay and finally at 11:00 PM (service started at 7 pm) we were done in the altars and I was headed home.  I was just overwhelmed at the goodness of God and the maturity of our women.  IT'S A NEW DAY AT CELEBRATION CHURCH.  It's been that way since the last week of June 2010.  I know, I've said it before but I'll say it again, there's a surprise -- a new level around every corner at CC. as of late.  God is sooooo up to something!!!

Trust me my friends we are truly in a new level when I don't have to babysit and people just come, we have great attendance and they are hungry to receive and every single person comes to the altar. Yeah, I'd call that the next level.  If this is a dream please don't wake me up.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Chocolate and coffee and soooooooo much more!

Tonight I get to do one of my favorite things EV-er!  I'm going to spend time with our Celebration Women.  Tonight's event is called, "Heart to Heart" because I'm going to be sharing my heart with our ladies among other things that are on the agenda.  The night is starting with LOTS of chocolate and coffee and the Celebration worship team will be on hand to lead us into the presence of God and then  I can't wait to unleash the word that's in my spirit for us at this time. 

I don't ever take for granted the honor of leading a person or a group of people.  It doesn't matter how many years I do this, the significance and the responsibility isn't lost on me, and I seek God with all my heart for His message for the hour.

We've gone to a whole new level in general at CC lately and I believe it's time for the next level as well for the ladies of Celebration.

My life is made up of so many great people and things, but NOTHING compares to spending time with my CC peeps and the ladies are my greatest treasure.  Can't wait to be with these gals tonight!  Everyday I wake up and say, "what did I do to deserve these amazing women in my life?"  (Nothing!  Favor's not fair!  lol) 

Monday, March 21, 2011

The reward of anxiety

Yesterday I taught a class on anxiety at Celebration.  Actually all month I'm teaching, "Dealing with anxiety God's way."   Today I'm going to share just a few things I said in the teaching  yesterday.

What is the reward that we get for anxiety?


That's right, we get zero payoff for anxiety.

The bible indicates that worry only makes matters worse and anxiety is worthless.

 "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?"    Luke 12:25

Worry and anxiety don't add to our life, they subtract from it!!
This is the reality of anxiety:
An average person’s anxiety is focused on :
40% -- things that will never happen
30% -- things about the past that can’t be changed
12% -- things about criticism by others, mostly untrue
10% -- about health, which gets worse with stress
8% -- about real problems that will be faced

Even when dealing with the 8% of REAL problems, anxiety doesn't help you -- it hinders you and weakens  you in dealing with  your problem.

God wants us to turn ALL of our anxieties over to Him.  So many times we blame our upbringing, our heritage, or our gender...

"I can't help it -- I was raised by a mother who was always high strung and now I am too..."

"Hey, I'm spanish...what do you expect?"

"I'm a Mom.  All moms freak out and get worried about their kids...right?"

What does God say?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Weekend Potpourri

I got so busy with my new writing project (my book) that I almost forgot to blog today.  Now you KNOW that's taking some serious focus!  I never forget to blog.  Someone recently asked me, "how do you find time to blog everyday?  You're so faithful."   I told them, "The question is not how do I find time to blog but how do I tear myself away from writing to get anything else done?"  Writing is my greatest passion and I never tire of it, nor have to work myself up to do it, or really have to "discipline" myself.  If I could only do one thing in life, it would be to write.

And write I am!  I'm not giving up the blog nor my other normal writing pursuits but I am carving out time every day for this book, no matter what.

While I don't have to discipline myself to write I do have to train myself to make the right decisions for my health day after day.  It doesn't come easily to me and is a never ending journey of right choice making over and over and over.  I thought I'd give a brief update here...

Inside my walk in closet door in my room is my name tag from the first Weight Watchers meeting I went back to on December 9, 2010.  I say "back to" because as many of my friends know I did WW five years ago very successfully.  Then I had a relapse.  :/  So here I am five years later going back...for good.  When I got home after my first class and took my clothes off that night, I pulled the name tag off and instead of throwing it away I pasted it on the closet door frame and every day when I wake up and get dressed just that name tag reminds me of why I'm on this journey.   It gets me in the right mindset to start my day and also to end it when I get undressed at night and put my shoes back in the closet.

I am almost to my 10% goal ~ which means that almost 10% of my body weight is GONE.  My goal is to get to 10% by April 14.  That's only about 4 more weeks.  I believe I can do it!  I decided to add two sessions of working out to my day rather than just one to try to get to this goal.  So now I work out in the morning and at night for the next four weeks, or just double the time in the evening. I do have more to lose after that, but this is a very significant start.  There are A LOT of benefits to losing 10% of your weight, in fact there are a lot of benefits to losing just 5%, which I personally experienced weeks ago when I reached that goal.

Every time I experience a new blessing from weight loss I write it down in a journal and refer back to it any time I am tempted to go totally off the wagon and make a stupid decision.  I read those blessings and think, "No,  it's not worth it."   (In case you are wondering there have been a few times I've made some unwise decisions, however the "blessing journal" helps me stay on track most of the time.)  And the important thing when it comes to health is that we make the right decisions the majority of the time.  It's not about what we do "once in a while" but what we do the "majority of the time" that counts.

By the way, my husband has lost 33 pounds!  Isn't that awesome?!  He is doing "My Fitness Pal".  We basically eat the same things but he logs his on "My Fitness Pal" and I do mine on WW and go to meetings.  I have the best WW leader EV-er!  Her name is Leslie Wolf and she rocks! 

Speaking of rocking, today is going to ROCK at Celebration Church!!!!!!!!!!!!  I'm teaching a class this morning on "Dealing with Anxiety God's Way" and then at the 10:30 service Larry will continue his series, "In Pursuit"!  I think I have my voice back to a strong degree today which will mean that I will actually lead the church in worship for the first time in FIVE weeks.  I can't believe it's been that long.  My voice has been on the fritz for the past five weeks since I was struck with the flu on February 19th. People have done a great job in my absence - they might not even have missed me.  :)  

Don't ever take your voice for granted!  Lift your voice and praise God!  I missed so many things about not having my voice.  I missed singing to Max every night, "You are my Max, my only Max..." (my special song I wrote him.  Last night I sang it and his ears perked right up, like, "Oh my gosh, she's singing the song again after five weeks!"  But the best thing by far is PRAISING GOD!!!"  Praising God is the key to our breakthrough and how sorely I have missed singing with all my heart.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Everything has changed

I usually don't blog anything big on a Saturday.  The reason being, most of my readers aren't here.  They are out weeding their yards, like I often am on Saturdays.  They are doing laundry, attending ball games, baby showers, shopping, or watching TLC.  Rarely are they just sitting around reading blogs on Saturdays.   My stats tell me loud and clear each week that the majority of my readers depart by Friday afternoons and come back in droves Monday morning.

For a season I started just posting a photo I took or a video of a song that was meaningful to me on Saturdays and saved the "important stuff" for later when people were actually around to read it.  But today I don't care.  Here I am.  With something least to me.

I've been disobedient to God on something.  Some of you might think I chose Saturday to bring out the fact that I've been a naughty Christian , since fewer readers are here...ha ha!  No, not really, the timing just fell this way.

God directed me to write my next book on a certain subject years ago. 
I didn't.

First, because every time I write or speak about this I go through hell.
And who likes to go through hell?  Not me.  I avoid hell wherever possible. 

Second, it's not really marketable.
None of the experts would advise me to do this.  

But God hasn't lifted that call and I've come to realize sadly enough that maybe some of the problems I have gone through have been due to my disobedience.

This past week has been the best of times and the worst of times for me.  I know I sound like I'm running around in circles here, giving details and no details at the same time.  (Keep in mind I have none of this copyrighted yet so I'm  not throwing the details of this book out there.)  I'm saying just what I feel God wants me to say at this time.  The bottom line is this...I'm fully on board for the first time in a long time with what God started in me long ago and desires to complete.

Last night I was very stressed through some circumstances.  This is no surprise since I was so close to a breakthrough on this.  Very pressured and sorely needing to just get by myself, I went to my bath tub.   God speaks to me everywhere through everything but one place that He so clearly and loudly speaks is in the tub.  As I'm soaking - in the quiet, alone, He speaks.  Last night while I was melting my stress away with hot water and Moonlight Path, He so clearly broke through and gave me my marching orders. I could hardly wait to get out of the tub and to my computer.  I promptly wrote to three of my best friends to say, "Here's what He said!" expecting them to hold me accountable to stay true.

Everything has changed because I've changed.

Thanks for your prayers ~ I'm gonna need 'em!  The devil is none too I came to this revelation in the tub I could just envision him saying, "OH CRAP!  SHE'S BACK IN THE GAME..."

Friday, March 18, 2011

Spiritual and natural easy job, but oh the rewards...

Larry and I performed the wedding ceremony for this sweet couple last night ~ Brad and Amber Richards.  We are so proud of them for how far they have come!   We have watched them grow so much...coming to Celebration this past summer and giving their lives to Jesus, and maturing so much during this time.  My husband commented yesterday about how Brad and Amber are both like 'sponges' ~ taking every word that comes out of our mouths, just soaking it up.  They never miss church unless it's a true emergency.  They are there, on the edge of their seats - fully participating and ready for change.  Their growth is a reflection of their passionate pursuit of God.  Brad and Amber, we are so proud of you, and we love you so much.

What a responsibility it is to be a spiritual parent!   Leaders, take note!!   There ARE people taking in each and every word we say, so let's be real careful what we put out there!  

In other news, Jordan turns 20 today.  How is this possible?  It was just yesterday that I was pulling him down from the countertops and his Daddy was getting him off of the roof of McDonalds!  Time flies.  I'm saddened at how fast.   We don't really get to celebrate as a family today because he is headed to PK retreat with his sister ~ he as a counselor, she as an attender.  They will have a blast but we'll be separated on his special day and will have a family dinner and celebrate upon his return.

What a responsibility it is to be a natural parent.  I've learned so much ~ the hard way.  Jordan has also taken in the words I've said and things I've done.   I've had many victories, also mistakes.  God's grace has been there to make up for my shortcomings.    I love Jordan so much and I'm proud to call him my son.

Please keep Jordan in prayer.  He may be 20 years old now but no less in need of prayer.  God has a special assignment for his life and the enemy would love to destroy it.  The most important thing I commit to do for Jordan's birthday is uphold him in prayer ~ to stand in the gap for him, and believe for God's favor in his life ~ all the rest of the days of his life.  Please join me in prayer as it comes to mind, for my precious baby boy.  He'll always be that to me no matter how old he gets. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

True Church Stories - #35

Okay, this may just be the most BIZARRE church story EVER!  I told you it was coming!  This one happened to me on the Cayman Islands trip.  Thank God there was a witness to this, otherwise nobody would believe it.  My husband even said, "Only YOU Deanna, only YOU!!!"

At the end of the last service in the Caymans our team was ministering around the altars.  I was with a lady at the altar who I would guesstimate was in her late seventies.  We were standing there at the altar and my friend Wendy who also ministered on the speaker team was with us.  This lady was going on and on saying, "Thank God for these messages this weekend from you all! This is what the church today around the world needs!  Not milk!  They need meat!  I have been so blessed!"  

After a while, we were saying our goodbyes and she turned to Wendy and said, "God bless you sister, you've been such a blessing!" and she hugged her.  Then she turned to me, and said, "God bless you sister" and I thought she was going to hug me but imagine my shock when she grabbed me by the arms and leaned down, way down,  and purposely kissed me right on my breast!!

No, not an accident!

No, not near my breast...or around my breast, but right ON my breast!!!

Like, in the very center of my bra cup!!

Yes. I. Am. Serious.  Yeeeckkkk!!!

Oh my stars!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   Talk about C-R-A-Z-Y!!!!!! 

So I know you are wondering what happened next.

Well, I was in shock.  Total, paralyzing shock.   This was disgusting.  I stood there with my mouth hanging open, eyes wide as saucers,totally freaked out.  As soon as the lady kissed me she stood up (from crouching down there at my breast) and she turned on her heel, and strode out of the sanctuary and left before I could do anything or respond.  Wendy and I were both standing there, mouths hanging open in shock and then Wendy said, "Oh my gosh, she just kissed your breast!!!"  And I slowly answered, "Yeaaaaaahhhhhhh."

We then laughed ourselves silly right there and told the rest of the team and the missionary, Sondra Bocchieri, what happened.  Sondra said, "wait til' you hear what else happened!" and told us that she had seen this same lady coming out of  the sanctuary earlier in the day right after I had brought a teaching called, "The Irresistible Woman".  She said the woman was dancing down the hall singing, "I am an irresistible woman!!"

Did I create a monster?   Evidently I was irresistible too.  I wish she would have resisted me.  Truly.

In case you are wondering kissing women's breasts in church is NOT part of Cayman culture.  

My fellow team members on the tour have teased me in every way imaginable about this.  Some of the jokes I cannot repeat here but they are very creative.  I'm hearing lots of jokes that ended up on a facebook comment thread with my team members yesterday including these:

"Deanna's got the ministry of milk vs. meat!"

"Deanna really does mother the nations...she feeds the nations like literally, and she is good to the last drop!" 

"Got milk?" 

"She's got a mango anointing!"

"Deanna, you are my bosom buddy!"

"Lo-Fat, 2% or Whole MILK???" Anyone? Anyone? Bueller???"

"That's just milky way funny!!!"

"This just in:  If Deanna jumps up and down we might get BUTTERMILK!" 

 I told this story last night in the Fusion service (yes, we have such a "real" church I could tell this story without anyone being offended) and one person commented, "Well, Pastor Deanna, you always DO stay abreast of things."  

I've learned when someone kisses your breast in church the jokes are endless.

Not that I want it to happen again or anything. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

More Cayman Memories...

Our host pastor ~ Pastor Torrance Bobb, First Assembly of God, Cayman Islands ~ seen here with his grandchildren.  Pastor and Mrs. Bobb were just amazing hosts.  At the end of the conference, Mrs. Bobb gave each of the women on our speaker team a Cayman beach tote bag as a special gift from her.  HOW SWEET!!!
Marsha Woolley, our Pen-FL Women's Director  prays over those who came to the altar for salvation.  The anointing flowed so strongly through Marsha, and all of our team...we had some incredibly powerful times.
Woo hoo!  Caymans Hope Tour!!!  (Me, Tammy, Marsha standing in back of sanctuary...another session was about to start -- waiting for rest of ladies to come in.  There was a fantastic attendance at this conference, which was the first one of it's kind in the Caymans. )
Cayman Ladies at many breakthroughs, and victories were received at the altars during all of the sessions and services!!!  We have already had miracle breakthrough testimonies come in!!
Upon Tammy's suggestion I brought this "brain" home from the Caymans - it was on the beach. It's on my counter top now. :)  It is reminding me to keep positive thoughts in my brain -- not toxic ones.  Just introduced to the book, "Who Switched Off My Brain" by Dr. Caroline Leaf and read it on the trip.  Excellent!!!  
We filled up an entire van with our luggage!  And had a second van to actually get around in.  I think Marsha brought one suitcase of just shoes...ha ha ha! 
Tammy tries to "baptize" me...she grabbed me and screamed, "I baptize you in the name of the goose, when we get to the bottom I'll turn you loose!"  No I am not kidding.    I fought back and she DID NOT get away with baptizing me. 
Traveling home on Cayman are Rebecca, me, Sandy, Marsha and Jennifer.  We were delayed for quite a while with our plane having mechanical problems but we passed the time easily, as these ladies are all such wonderful friends and we talk to our heart's content.  I was glad to see my family on Monday when I returned but I really miss my sisters on the Hope Tour team.  They are among my dearest friends.
Tammy and I all cozy in our seats on the plane...reading and waiting to take off.  So grateful for my dear friend, not just on this Cayman trip but all the time.   I am so blessed.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Cayman Memories

I tried to get on line last night and the internet was out at the hotel.  I'm home tonight safe and sound.  Here are some photos that I took on my cell phone.  I am so tired and in need of rest -- blogging these and going to bed - preparing for a full work load tomorrow and LOTS of catching up to do.

So glad to be in my own bed, with  my  husband and home with my family although my time with the friends on our speaker team and enjoying what God did in these precious women in the Caymans was truly amazing!!!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

It's a beautiful morning...

Well, I set my cell phone alarm to wake up this morning here in the Caymans and didn't realize that while their clocks stayed the same here, my cell phone is still back on Tampa time and so therefore I'm up WAY before I actually need to be.  However it's all for the best because once I was out of the shower and dressed I realized it and was giddy with excitement that I was going to get to watch the sunrise.  I went outside with my cell phone and walked the beach (in my dress for church with sandals) and watched the sunrise and took pictures.  No one else was out there --- not a soul -- it was just me and God and the absolutely gorgeous Cayman sunrise.  What a blessing.  Actually it was so amazing I'm going to set my alarm accordingly and do it again tomorrow before we have to leave!  With the way I love to sleep friends will know how amazing this really must be for me to do this!  God's handiwork is just astounding.  This is actually all part of me "maximizing the moment" and enjoying every second here, as we really aren't here for very long (Only Friday night through Monday morning) and of course the majority of the time is ministry since that's what we came here to do.

We had a glorious day yesterday. The place was PACKED with women who were hungry for God.  All did not know Him -- and quite a number were brought to Jesus and made Him their Savior and Lord!  Halleluiah!!!  What a time.  MANY women came to the altars for healing (there was such an anointing there yesterday for healing...) and many more had bondages broken off of their lives.  One woman that we really spent time with in prayer yesterday for a long time came forward and confessed she was in an affair with a married man -- wanted to repent and lay everything down and start a new life in Christ.  Praise God!!!  God has flowed through each member of our team in a mighty way and there have been breakthroughs in people's lives during each person's time of ministry -- God just showed up and showed off in a great way.  We are so grateful for all He is doing.

The funniest thing EVER happened to me yesterday.  I really want to write about it here however it is a "True Church Story" and deserves it's own post here on the blog in the True Church Stories series.  It is one of those things that nobody would EVER believe had you not had witnesses there to vouch for it. In this case it happened to me personally and I am so glad my team members were there to witness this personally when I come back to the states and tell this because I am serious when I say it's so outlandish nobody would EVER believe this really happened.  My teammates tell me this is the funniest thing they have ever heard in church and not to mention "these things always seem to happen to Deanna!!!"  Why is that?  Honestly I was just ministering to a lady at the altar and BAM!  So, I simply cannot wait to share this story and I promise it'll be top priority blogging when I return.

Yesterday after all the ministry time was done we were absolutely drained to the dregs and needed nourishment for body and soul...Marsha took us to a phenomenal place to of those places where I will ALWAYS remember what I ate there, I mean...AMAZING.  This place was called "Copper Falls" and OH MY.  So then we came back to the hotel and Tammy and I did our thing which was immediately get in our swimsuits and head for the jacuzzi.  It was already late and dark outside but we enjoy it out there by the beautifully lighted trees.  This time our two "Bud Lite" admirers were not there and we had it all to ourselves.  We talked while we soaked and turned to prunes and then came inside and had tea and shared our hearts as we always do for hours when we are together and reminded each other, "Um, let's not wait so long to do this next time..." That's the hard thing about church ministry leaders...we are so often caught up in our own locations and happenings we don't prioritize time to get together and share with others like we's good nourishment for our souls.  After Copper Falls last night's soaking time and tea time was just what my soul needed.  I feel so refreshed this morning!!

It's now time for me to head inside and leave these palm trees and breeze and do my makeup and hair and head to our morning breakfast meeting and on to church...SO excited about what God is going to do at First AG Cayman Islands this morning!!   I sorely miss my Celebrators and know they are going to have a fantastic service today!!!  I am right where Jesus wants me this morning and I also know my church family back home is well taken care of and blessed.  We are all going to have victories to report today when it's all over.

Please pray for us as we journey back tomorrow morning...not sure I'll have time to blog in between getting up for the sunrise and getting packed and to the airport, but tomorrow night when I get home I'll blog, for sure!

I am sure some might wonder why I didn't post any photos yet -- Tammy and I have not been able to transfer them successfully from our phones without a problem here.  I wish I would have brought my regular camera and not just my iphone but hindsight is 100%.  Lots of pics upon my return.

Love to all and thanks for your support and prayers...