Thursday, June 30, 2011

The tradition lives on!

One of the most important things we can do is make memories with our family. One of our kid's favorite memories are of going to Kennywood Park in Pittsburgh. All three of them like it more than Disney! When we lived in Maryland we went every summer and now that we're in Florida we don't make it every summer but we try to make it back as much as possible. The Memories at Kennywood go back to my husband's childhood and then when we dated and were engaged he took me there and I fell in love with it. (Shhhh don't tell anybody but we used to kiss going through The Old Mill in the dark!) ::smile::

Today we'll spend our day at this very special place that holds so many memories. Our kids have told us that when they get married and have kids someday they'll be carrying on the tradition.

I love days like today, riding the coasters with my kids (Kennywood was named Rollercoaster Capital of the World) and eating cotton candy and stuff! Thank you Lord for Your blessings on me.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Quiet times and emotional health

My oldest son and I are so much alike. Late last night our family was in New York City and decided to get some pizza. We went to a stand and got some slices and were eating them at some stand up tables. Dustin looked up at the skyscrapers then looked at me and says, "Mom, I could never live here." "Oh, me neither," I said. We both agreed that while we enjoy a short visit now and again we were ever so glad to get to our hotel last night and have peace and quiet. Driving out of Times Square Dustin said he felt like he fell into a giant pop up ad! Ha! I could so relate.

Mine and Dustin's idea of vacation is sleeping lots, reading, quiet times, etc. We are both people whose emotional health requires lots of solitude. Jesus did too. Scripture records He often went to the mountains and such to get away from the crowds. We're driving thru some areas today that I find quite beautiful. We will have some quiet time in the car and catch up on reading. I loved yesterday but I'll love today even more! Thank you, Lord for quiet times.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Leaders and emotional health

Blogging from my phone today. Believe it or not, I didn't bring my computer on vaca! Larry did bring his and I'll blog from it on some days but others like today will be a short thought from my phone.

I purposely didn't bring my computer because it has too much work that could distract me and quite honestly I seriously need a break from it. Larry's computer holds none of my files so it's not an issue if I get on to blog for a few minutes or what not. Blogging's not work, by the's nothing but pleasure. Otherwise I wouldn't be doing it from a device I love to hate...the!

Since I'm blogging from this invention that has such a love/hate relationship with me I'll just put one quick thought in this post today. The other day I listened to someone talk about the emotional health of a leader. It's so important that leaders be in optimal emotional health. One difficult part of our role is that we are helping sick people all the time. It's rewarding yet dangerous if we don't prioritize our own health. What do you need to do to invest in your health?

For me things like strong boundaries, rest, reading and periodic assessments are very important.

That's my only thought today...back on the road with the fam now...

Monday, June 27, 2011

24 years of HOLY matrimony!

Today!  Count 'em, 24!

Matrimony is not only holy, it's still hot!

"That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh." Genesis 2:24

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Breaking news...

 If anyone really knew what I've faced just to get to today which, after church today will be the start of a family vacation they would probably be quite amazed.

To say I've felt some intense pressure is an understatement.

I need to breathe...really breathe.  I intend to do that once I am in the car today, as well as let go of the angst I feel over things that went undone that will be there for me to come back to.

Breathe Deanna...let repeat...

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Bringing HOPE to Jacksonville...

So today the most amazing gal pals on the planet are bringing HOPE to the women of the Jacksonville area.  Very excited to see what's going to unfold today.  It has been such a busy week for me, getting ready to go on vaca and literally tripling up on my work load to get it all done in time for departure plus preparing for a tag team message with my husband in the morning.  But...even with the insane schedule and my fatigue I couldn't be more excited about what's going to happen today because LIVES ARE CHANGED BY THIS TOUR AND WHAT GOD DOES IN EACH PLACE WE GO TO.

Today my teaching is on the subject, "Running on Empty."  I found it ironic that I was assigned that topic to speak on.  :)  The Lord spoke to me greatly as I was preparing that teaching and I have made some changes as of late in my own life.  Really! It's true. 

Keep our team in prayer today for great sessions and lives transformed!

Friday, June 24, 2011


"You ought to be glad for the troubles on your job because they provide about half your income. If it were not for the things that go wrong, the difficult people with whom you deal, and the problems of your working day, someone could be found to handle your job for half of what you are being paid. So start looking for more troubles. Learn to handle them cheerfully and with good judgment, as opportunities rather than irritations, and you will find yourself getting ahead at a surprising rate. For there are plenty of big jobs waiting for people who are not afraid of troubles."

Robert Updegraff as quoted by Max Lucado
Every Day Deserves a Chance: Wake Up to the Gift of 24 Hours

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The time in between

"There are very few things you can be sure of in life, and anything could happen even if you're not expecting it.  For instance, I could go out of here today and be hit by a truck.   Let's not become wrapped up in worry about these results because anything COULD happen in life but we aren't going to focus on that, instead we are going to believe for the best."

Those are the words my doctor said to me yesterday before letting me know that we're officially in a time of "not knowing."  While I got many good results yesterday, in fact things to do a "jumping up and down praise report" about,  the test result we were most concerned about was not completely normal.  But it wasn't conclusive either and is the kind of thing that needs to be tested over time to know for sure.  So, I need to be tested again in six months.  Until then she's given me orders to get in the best shape of my life, being that I need to do that no matter what the results might be in six months because being in shape can only help the situation, not hurt. 

I was disappointed in the results being that I'm a black and white person ~ don't deal with gray very well, and wanted to leave her office with something definitive.

After hashing it all out with God and a few of my closest friends I have now come to something conclusive to hang my hat on and that is that for whatever reason God wants me in this gray area for six months because it's where He's put me.  WHAT can I learn from this?  We're about to find out.

This is my anthem as I walk this journey, trusting completely in my Father:

Those of you who are regular readers...thanks for your continued prayers as I come to mind.  I find it very easy to pray for others, for miracles, and receive them.  I have prayed for the lame to walk and they have walked.  I have prayed for instantaneous deliverance for others and it has happened.  Yet in praying for myself, this is where my faith is weakest.  Perhaps that is the area God wants to take care of in all of this -- I don't know.  But I'm being obedient.  I'm building my faith, believing for me just like I've believed for thousands of others.  I'm learning a new level of trust.  More victories will be won as I continue to work hard on getting my body in the shape God wants it in.  I've already lost 15 pounds and I need to lose at least 15 more by the time I get re-tested.   His grace will empower me where I am weak and think I really can't do this.  I also have the best friends and family in the world, and a church family that is absolutely indescribable on whose prayers I do soar and will continue to soar.

So much of this is a battlefield of the mind.  I will overcome...even in this "time in between."  Eventually it will be settled.  Right now, God has something for me to learn.  I will obey. I will learn.  I will grow.  I will soar!!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Rock solid faith in an ever changing world

The biggest thing we have to fear in the midst of or as a result of our adversity is not our actual trial, but a shifting of beliefs that so many seem to develop as a result.

What a tragic thing to allow problems, weaknesses or sin to dictate one's theology.  I thank God that my doctrine isn't based on what I can or can't do but on what HE HAS DONE.  Do I live my life like He's actually DONE IT? 

If you've read my blog for a while you already know I'm no stranger to adversity.  In fact, if you are a personal friend or just a lurker here, do me a favor and pray for Larry and I all day today.  Today is a crucial day for both of us, one that will determine so much for us.  We covet your prayers.  I don't know what I'd do without all my friends who are praying!  Now, with that said, I am believing God's report but no matter the outcome, my faith remains rock solid.  Whatever happens or doesn't happen won't change a thing except for the fact that I plan on developing an ever deepening and growing faith.

Too many times we change our theology to accommodate hardships in our lives, or sensitive issues that come up that may not have considered before or had touch our lives.  Regardless of how culture changes, our faith is designed to be something that doesn't shift with the changing times. The times they may be a changin', but Jesus...not so much.

I'll stick with Jesus.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I choose to respond as a BELIEVER.

So yesterday morning my husband and I were getting ready to go to the church office and a call came from our bank asking us to come in.  Evidently we were the victims of something called skimming, and upon checking our personal account we saw that someone had stolen money from our personal checking account.  Neither of us has been to New York in quite some time so we were absolutely sure that all the withdrawals from our account in the middle of the night from New York were not 

My husband and I didn't panic, no heart racing, anger or anything really.  Either we're both just numb or we're at a whole new level of faith in our lives...not sure which and maybe a combo of both!!  We've been through too much else for this to even phase us, quite honestly.  Larry just patiently talked to the people at the bank, went through all the paperwork and got things straightened out.  He's good that way.  :)  By the end of business today things should be back to normal.  We will not lose anything.

This is exactly what happened to us, when we bought gas at a gas station and swiped our debit card through the machine to pay for it and unbeknownst to us someone stole the card number and our pin.

It's not just that we've been through so much in our lives especially the past year, but that we're at a whole new level of relying on the Lord for EVERYTHING. I'm at a new level of trust, of "leaning on the everlasting arms."  I know what it is to trust my Father at a level I never imagined I'd have to.  I am learning what it really means to be a believing believer. 

Speaking of trust, I am trusting with all my heart for some good test results tomorrow.  I meet with my doctor at 9 am, for her to talk with me and give me the results of recent tests.  I so desire for this to be a good meeting.  I know God can do anything, even if I don't hear what I want to hear -- God is still on the throne and He is a miracle working God.  But I'd sooooooooooooooooooo like for God to have an easier problem to solve that a harder one. (Wouldn't we all?)  I've stopped asking God "why" when bad things happen and instead ask him, "what".  But still.  Who enjoys bad things?  Not me.  Will you please join me in praying for a good report - God's report, tomorrow morning at 9 am?  My friend Candy is going with me to the appointment.  (Thank you, Candy.)  For all of you praying for me...if you were here in person I'd make you something delightfully scrumptious (chocolate?) and have coffee with you to thank you, but most of you are miles and miles away from Seattle to Singapore.  So please accept this ((((((cyber hug))))))) and join me in prayer for good results at 9 am.

Let's count it all joy and look on the bright that I will have the money back in my bank account by the end of today I can pay my co-pay at the doctors in the morning!

I choose to look on the bright side!
I choose to walk in the light!
I choose to respond and not react!
I choose to ask Him how I can glorify Him when going through inconveniences and irritations!
I choose to ask Him how to respond when people do stupid things or evil things!
I choose to be angry sometimes, BUT not sin!
I choose to trust my Father even when some things don't go like I wanted them to!
I choose to believe Him for brighter days ahead, for ANSWERED PRAYER!
I CHOOSE TO BELIEVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, June 20, 2011

When you wanna "let them have it," let God have it!

Do you have one last nerve and someone's on it?

Yesterday I brought a teaching at Celebration about what to do when you just wanna "let someone have it"!  Since I announce my message titles on facebook for our Celebrators, I had some requests there for my teaching notes or a recording of the teaching and thought I'd post a condensed version of my notes here for anyone who would like them.

Ephesians 4:26 & 27 says, "Be angry, and sin not; let not the sun go down upon your wrath.  Neither give place to the devil."

Anger is not sinful, if we handle it correctly.  Jesus got angry, God gets angry, Paul got angry, and we could give a lot of other examples of Godly people who got or get angry.   The key to being angry and not sinning is learning keys to godly anger management.

The Lord tells us to cast our cares upon Him for He cares for us, but how many of us really do that with all the things that have us so fed up we have envisioned revenge in our minds?

Things we need to be aware of:

1)  An awareness of ourselves - Get real with yourself and with God.  Are you carrying resentments?  hurts?  hatred?  God already knows, but He's waiting for you to admit your true feelings. 

2)  An awareness of Jesus - just knowing He's there is incredibly liberating.  Get an awareness of God in your everyday life.  He's not just the God of your "devotions".  He wants to be with you every moment, entering into every single space of your life.  Welcome Him.  Giving God all of your feelings brings rest for your weary soul.  Make a choice not to take another breath without God, to not have a conversation without Him, not make a decision without Him.  Stop doing things on your own.  We try to live our lives without God -- some of us even try to have church without God.  Frankly, God is sick of that.  He's grieved when relegated to this little box we try to keep Him in.  My husband always says, "Jesus doesn't want to be a PART of your life.  He wants to BE your life." 

3)  An awareness of the time factor - life is too short and the plan of God for your life too precious to hold on to these feelings.  Make the decision to deal with them before the sun goes down - TODAY!!!  Realize, if you stuff it down, IT WILL NOT GO AWAY.  Anger stuffed down turns into depression.  Depression is not fun!!!

4)  An awareness of where we are placing our energy - Ephesians 4 says "neither give place to the devil".  Are you giving someone or something else more energy than you are the Lord?  What about playing over and over again in your mind how mad you are at the person or what you will say to them if you get the chance or the courage?  All of this is energy you could be giving to positive things.  When rehearsing the wrongs and fantasizing about revenge you are giving the enemy place, and setting aside what God wants to do in and through you.  Be aware of where you are spending time and energy!!!

5)  Awareness of where our communication is directed - are you fantasizing about telling the person off, or are you actually taking opportunity to give them a piece of your mind?  Is this a large focus of your day and time?  Do you spend more time reading what this person writes on their facebook or Twitter than you do your Bible?  That might be the first clue that this whole thing has become an idol to you and needs to be dethroned.  Time to give it to the Lord and stop dreaming about how we can blast the other person.  God can solve this a lot quicker than all your human efforts. Realize too, He is keeping the score.  No one gets away with anything.  When it comes to things like bitterness or anger, it takes a stronger, wiser person to let go than it does to hold on.  God can handle your rants and ramblings, just direct it to the proper place.  Don't give it to them, give it to Him!  David was a man after his own heart and look at how he ranted and rambled.  All that "stuff" that's swirling in your head about that person who is driving you crazy can be directed to Father God right now and He'll start healing your heart if you just pour your feelings out to Him and let Him sort them out and heal you, correct you, comfort you, etc.

6)  Awareness of where the power is - some of you are facing what you consider to be impossible people and impossible situations.  You see nothing but brick walls before you when certain names and faces come to mind.  Realize God is God all by Himself and needs no help from you except for your decision to release all things to Him and praise and pray your way to an answer.  Release the situation to Him, and trust Him to work.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Real daddies

Many men can conceive children, but it takes a real man to be a invest time, to be there, to be a spiritual leader for those who God has entrusted into their care.

I'm glad Larry Shrodes is not just my baby daddy...he is the true father to my three children on earth and one waiting for us in heaven, and to our spiritual children at Celebration Church.  (Plus all those we have spiritually parented over the years who are in other locations.)

I realize everyone does not have the privilege of having a real dad and there's nothing more important for a Mom than knowing that their children are taken care of.  I thank God for His grace over my life in selecting Larry as the father to my children.

I'm setting this post to publish after our service at Celebration has already started so as to not ruin any surprises.  This morning Larry has a special treat for all of the Dads at CC.  It's super hot here in Florida right now as it is in most parts of the country.  An iced cold drink is most welcome anytime!  This morning as their pastor brings the Word of God, the dads of Celebration will all be personally served an iced cold "Dad's" root beer (their choice - regular of diet) that they can drink right there in service as he brings the message.  A bunch of coolers were prepared early this morning with loads of ice  in a room adjacent to the sanctuary to ensure they are ready and waiting for just the right moment.

Here's to all the dads out there who live their lives with integrity and serve as awesome examples for the generation they are raising.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Weekend potpourri

So last night I went with two gal pals to our favorite place to meet.  It's a little hole in the wall up north from us about 30 minutes.  We love it there because first of all the food is fab, the ambiance is so cool, and it's more private for us if we happen to be discussing sensitive matters.   

One of my friends loathes having her picture taken. When I got out my phone to snap a pic I said, "don't flinch, I'm not taking your pic (at least not your face)...knowing how much she hates photos I just turned the camera downward and got a shot of all of our feet while we were sitting outside the place waiting to go in.

They really wanted to go to this particular place last night because it's a favorite even though it's not on my program as far as Weight Watchers.  My solution is to order what I really want and box half of it up.  I did so, and stayed right on track.  Then I brought the rest home and threw away the sour cream from the restaurant and used my own light sour cream when I ate the other half for lunch today.  Delish! 

Again I'm really glad my walking partner Liz doesn't read blogs or facebook because she'd really be upset that I went to this place without her since chile rellenos are her favorite food and they happen to have amazing ones at this place. :)  Someday I will go there with Liz.  My problem is I mark things like that down on the agenda in my head and get to them about 6 months later...

I always look forward to Saturdays when they are slower paced.  Today I have more to do than I would like but of course I still make time for blogging.  I had an appointment for some medical tests this morning -- glad that's behind me.  Never fun!  Then I had some coaching calls to make for my job at NextJob, and now I am handling lots of things around the house today that are must-do's.  I will be glad when Sunday comes. It's not really a "day of rest" for us being that we are pastors, however once tomorrow late afternoon comes, I plan to get a very good Sunday afternoon nap.

It's thunderstorming here today - raining real hard.  We need it.  I'm so grateful for the natural rain, and believing for a great move of God's spirit tomorrow.  Someone gave me a word from the Lord that they felt in their spirit as they prayed for me and for CC this was about rain. Interesting that it's raining today for the first time in a  long time outside.  I can't wait to see what will unfold spiritually.  I am so ready.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Fun (?) Friday

I have actually had people say to me, "so are you pumped all the time?  By your blog and facebook it appears you have a perfect life and you are always happy."  Well, yes,  People get a little skeptical sometimes around people who are always pumped about stuff.  Well let me just say first of all that I am always pumped and hyped about SOMETHING because I have stuff to genuinely be pumped and hyped about.  That's is reality.  Second, even when I have things to be upset about, I choose joy and make a decision to respond in faith.  

I always do have things to look forward to.  I'm very stoked about the weekend, excited about what's going to happen at Celebration, thrilled beyond words for what God is doing and I have the most incredible people in my life.  At the same time this wasn't the most exciting "Fun Friday".  It's the kind of Friday I normally hate.  My reality was that I spent the majority of my day at the doctor's office.  Not the most fun place to be on a day off, but a place I was grateful to be in, to get some issues taken care of.  

I am feeling kind of blah because one of my issues that needed to be addressed is that I have two pink eyes.  I love pink, but not on my eyes.  I can't wear contacts, makeup or anything like that and need to let this heal the next day or two.  Hopefully I can look normal whatever normal is again for Sunday but if not oh well, our people will love me anyway and quite truthfully I don't think any of them care if I have glasses or make up on.  Thanks for praying for me for this and other things that I am still getting worked out that I would rather not post here -- they are kinda personal and not blog material but I covet your prayers.
Even though I am looking and feeling not myself I am going to have dinner with some friends.  I canceled with my walking partner, Liz, tonight and told her I was at the doctor's most of the day but didn't have the heart to tell her I was going to dinner later on.  That's because last night when we walked she said to me, "um, Deanna, the next time you cancel our walk because you're going out to dinner with friends, David (her husband) said you have to take us with you!"  It's not that I wouldn't want to go to dinner with Liz and David but this is a different kind of night, a girls night out.  So I kept that part a secret.  Liz doesn't read my blog or any blogs, nor is she on facebook so fortunately this will be our little secret.   I will walk with her tomorrow God willing although I have to go to another Dr.'s appointment tomorrow to follow up on some things from today.  See I told you my life wasn't perfect.

Hopefully this dinner out with some girlfriends will be the "pump" and the "hype" of my day.  :)  So there ya go...GIRLS NIGHT OUT.....A-May-Zing!!!  Incredible!!!  Nothin' like it!!!  Shout now everybody in the house!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

If you are a person who prays, please read this!

I really don't know where I'd be without the power of prayer and fasting.  I also don't know where I'd be without people in my life who are actively doing the same on behalf of me, and others.  History belongs to those who pray!!

Right now I'm praying for a lot of people in very serious situations that need a miracle or else.  My heart is very heavy for a few people who have contacted me this week.  One of them that is on my heart most are Pastor Mike and Judy Cayson from right here in Tampa.  They pastor at The Connection AG.  Last evening their daughter Bethany went into cardiac arrest and is in a medically induced coma right now.  We have activated our prayer team at Celebration on behalf of Bethany and her parents and I am asking everybody who reads my blog to pray.  We need to stand in the gap for these folks and not stop til' the breakthrough comes.  I ask you to put them on your prayer list whether you know them or not.  Thank you so much!!

So many people have contacted me with heavy needs this week, but at the same time I'm feeling a bit heavy myself and not just the fact that I need to lose some weight.  (LOL)  Being as transparent as I can be, there are some big personal prayer needs in my own life where I need a divine intervention from God.  At the same time I'm believing for others, I'm needing others to believe for me.

I wish I would have gotten this up on the blog this morning but it's been a busy day with so many things going on.  I believe just the right people who know how to reach the throne of God.

The circumstances are great, but we serve a God who is greater!!  Right now my focus is in looking to how big my God is and not how big the issues seem.  Join me in faith believing.  Love you all...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Take time to grieve, or be sick - it's that simple

One reason we don't emotionally heal properly is that sometimes we don't take time to grieve loss.  Many are familiar with the five stages of grief and if you aren't I highly recommend you learn about them.  Grieving properly actually saves you time in healing because if you skip grieving you just backtrack later to go back and do it right in order to heal properly.  You either grieve or become mentally ill - take your pick.

A friend of mine recently shared on Twitter that she believes all churches should teach their people about grieving properly.  It kind of made me happy to read that tweet because it's exactly what I'm teaching on the past week or two in my Sunday morning class. I'm feeling like I must be sharing something relevant and helpful to  lots of people.  I hate that so many have so much to grieve but I'm glad to share something that will eventually bring hope and healing if they just apply it.

I tend to teach things as I'm going through them at times.  I share what's burning down inside me.  Right now it's forgiveness.  Half the time I get up there and talk about it I'm just preaching to myself, convincing myself of why I need to keep going and actually go through with this all the way.   Preaching to myself gets me through many a week.  This week has been really hard, quite honestly, and it's only Wednesday.  Just being honest that it's one of those weeks where I've wanted to say phooey on the whole forgiveness process and if it wasn't for the selfishness of caring about my own future and destiny maybe I would.  Some days it's the selfishness of wanting to be forgiven myself, or not wanting to go to hell that pushes me to forgive.  If for no other reason than the fact that I don't want the other person to come between me and I am.  Still on this path.  Not giving up.  But still grieving some things I said goodbye to.

In Jesus name, I'll get them all back.  it's just a matter of time.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

This is how they thank people for cleaning the church??!

I had the best first time visitor conversation on Sunday morning.  A guy named Alex came to Celebration for the first time. He has a Catholic background and CC was a whole new learning curve for him, but one he enjoyed.  In fact, he came to the altar to surrender his life to Jesus on Sunday.  Now, that NEVER gets old!   In the guest room afterwards he told me what first excited him about CC.

Saturday we had a work day all day.  People worked hard...I mean really hard, to get the place in shape for the next season.  Men, women, teens and little children all served -- I was so proud of everybody.  I'm a leader that strongly believes in showing appreciation, "catching people doing things right," and rewarding what you want to see repeated.  I don't EVER get up and talk about people who don't show up, who don't do stuff, who aren't doing whatever -- I just talk up the daylights out of anybody who IS showing up, and is doing stuff.   Did you ever sit in a service or a meeting where the leader/preacher did nothing but talk to the people who WERE there about the people who WEREN'T THERE?  I did that when I first started out in the ministry and discovered it was a HUGE mistake.  I've sat in services where preachers did nothing but rail out for 30-45 minutes in a sermon about everybody who wasn't there!  Hello.  Jesus didn't die on the cross for the sins of the world so we can get up and waste whole sermon opportunities blasting away about people who don't show up or do anything.   It just frustrates the people who are there because they think, "why is he/she complaining about people who aren't here?  I'm here, so let's get this party started!"  I've always said, "move with the movers!"  Don't concern yourself with who's not there -- maximize the moment with those who are.

In addition to personally thanking everybody who served by leaving them facebook comments on their pages over the weekend, we had a time set aside on Sunday morning to recognize those who served.  Right before my husband preached, we had the theme from "Rocky" ("Gonna Fly Now") ready to roll and right on cue the sound person started playing it  nice and loud and it was rockin' the house.  I shouted to the church, "get on your feet, it's time to honor the heroes of the weekend!!!"  Leaping around the stage and shouting,  I called those who served over the weekend  to come running up to the stage while we clapped and generally went bonkers until the last person's name was called.   We had to play the song twice just to get through all the names and thank everybody. It was awesome!

Afterwards in the guest room Alex said, "let me tell you the first thing that got me excited about this was the way you thanked people!"  He said,  "When you started that theme from Rocky I got on my feet and started acting like I was boxing - I was bouncing around punching my fists as all those people were running up to the stage and I was shouting along with the rest of the church and my friend who brought me was surprised.  She was like, "Wow, you're really getting into this!" and I said, "THIS IS AWESOME!  THIS IS HOW THEY THANK THE PEOPLE WHO CLEAN THE CHURCH!  HOW DIFFERENT IS THAT?!  I WANT TO BE PART OF THIS!"

Naomi, one of the leaders in our worship ministries was standing nearby in the guest room and said, "that's what I tell everybody about this church when I invite them...we do everything differently and you've just got to come see it for yourself..."

Different is good.
I'm so glad I'm a part of something different.
Wouldn't have it any other way.
I love our Celebrators and what God is doing through them.  I love their passion and their commitment even when it comes to cleaning.  I cherish the family God has placed me in.  Although my heart is full and I think I couldn't love them any more than I do, I grow to love our people more.

*p.s.  special thanks to Bonnie Stewart who was meticulous about writing down each person's name who served over the weekend, making it possible to thank each and every person without missing even one.  You rock, Bonnie Boo!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Time for a change of address!!!

"We all find ourselves in situations that at times seem hopeless.  And, we all have the choice to do nothing or take action."  ~ Catherine Pulsifer 

Are you tired of your living conditions?  So many people tell me they are.  If you've been reading my blog for any amount of time you know I've been through some mountains and valleys.  The key is to trust God through the journey and never just accept that your situation is what it is.  Nothing just "is what it is" with God.  You don't have to stay where the devil left you.

On the other hand some people blame the devil for things he had nothing to do with and claim they are being attacked when in reality it's their own lack of wisdom.  Some people aren't somewhere because the devil left them there, they got there by their own  mistakes.  Even so, you don't have to stay there.  No matter how you arrived at the situation you're in today, you don't have to accept it and you don't have to stay there.  I know what I'm talking about.  I've made my own share of mistakes in life, and chose to obey God once I realized I made them.  He helped me, taught me, and restored me when I've made mistakes.  I've also gone through some things in more recent days that I had absolutely nothing to do with -- things totally out of my control.  I am choosing even now not to allow those circumstances to define or control me.  I've been in the pain of BOTH situations and I refuse to be a wilderness dweller.  I am a promised land person.  I will not allow the devil or circumstances to decide my address.   The Lord is my dwelling place!!!     "If you make the most High your dwelling, even the Lord, who is my refuge..."  Psalm 91:9      

Make a step toward change today.  There IS something you can do to bring change, because you CAN exercise self control and that alone brings change.

Today is the day to stop complaining about what you permit!

Today is the day to make the hard decision that you've been putting off!

Today is the day to stop procrastinating about what you know you need to get started, or finish!

Today is the day to resolve to stop complaining on social media and actually DO SOMETHING positive to bring change to your situation.

Today is the day that you realize you KNOW better, so you will now DO better.

Today is the day to decide that no longer are you going to call family/friends to vent about things you are frustrated with but are unwilling to work for change about.  Letting it out does no good unless you are willing to follow your vent with steps of action.

Some of you today aren't in either of these situations -- you are not suffering from mistakes made, nor are unfair circumstances happening to you that have you in a tight spot. Life is going really well for you. You are the person taking phone calls from people who have either put themselves into bad situations, or been unfairly placed there.  People are crying out to you.  Some of them listen and are changed.  Others overwhelm you because you realize when you get off the phone with them or walk away all they wanted to do was vent but they didn't care about changing.  They call you and say, "what in the world am I supposed to do?" and you tell them and it falls on deaf ears.

Here's what to do...give them a few minutes to vent but then say, "Get out your piece of paper.  Let's develop your action plan..."  If they are really serious about getting help they will follow through with acting on what you've worked on together.  If not, realize they are just looking for a trash can to empty out the toxic things in their life.   They can go to the dollar store for a trash can.  Prayerfully ask God what your response should be to this.  It is not my role to tell you what yours should be, however I know what mine is. 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Heroes: Meet Kaylyn Rice

Meet one of my heroes ~ Kaylyn Rice. 

Kaylyn is an amazing girl who is a part of our Celebration family.  She's there every time the doors are open and sometimes even when scheduled services or events aren't even happening.  Her Dad and Mom are always working around the church, serving in some capacity so I see her a lot.

Kaylyn is a smart cookie - she might be only 12 but she talks like she's 41 or something.  The conversations she carries on are so insightful. At the same time she's one of the most innocent young ladies I've ever met.  I always know when I see Kaylyn coming there will be no shortage of things to talk about.   Sometimes I am literally shocked (in a good way) by what comes out of her mouth.  She has a way of expressing herself that is wise beyond her years. 

Kaylyn was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis a few months ago.  She has gone through a real struggle, yet she is one of the happiest children I have ever met.  Ever since I heard about her diagnosis I have not let go in prayer for her.  I believe with all my heart she is going to be healed.  Just since the church started praying she has gained 6 pounds, which is a major victory!!

Even with her physical struggle, Kaylyn came yesterday to the all day work day at Celebration.  It was only scheduled from 9-3, however quite a number of people stayed and worked until 5:30 or so.  Kaylyn was one of them.   I know how hard she worked.  She was beside me the whole day long.  Kaylyn specifically asked to work with me when she came yesterday morning and she was literally my sidekick all day, pulling weeds, digging, planting, raking, and more.  She even taught me a thing or two.  This girl knows something about everything, I'm tellin' ya!   I had to run to the store to get a few extra plants we needed and left her in charge of a flower box and she said, "I'll get it prepared, PD and I promise I'll be right here when you get back.  I'm not goin' anywhere!"  True to her word she was right there when I got back and the flower box was all prepared and ready for planting.  She stayed by my side from 9-5, working tirelessly even when dirt blew in her eyes and a homeless person's dog nipped at her calf.  (Explanation:  we feed about 100 homeless people every weekend at CC.  Some people's dogs tag along.)  She even took care of two other children's "boo boo's" that they had.  She was nothing short of amazing.  Concerned about the maintenance of all the work we did yesterday, she promised to personally look after the plants and water them each time she comes to church, to make sure they flourish.  As we were tending to some mulch in a flower box, she was giving me a little talk about the importance of  first impressions and how important she believes they are for our first time guests and we need to do this, and we need to do that, and yada yada yada and I wasn't quite sure if I was talking to a 12 year old or a church consultant. Ha ha!  Seriously, she was talking to me about first impressions like it was a brand new thing to me and I'd never heard about it and she was imparting this wisdom to me.  It was refreshing. I was just taking it all in, enjoying listening to somebody else beat the drum that I've so often beat. It was nice to listen to a 12 year old who evidently understands it.

Last night I wrote on her facebook:
"Kaylyn Rice, I can't even tell you what joy you bring to my heart. You always do, but today having you work right alongside me literally all day long as my partner, pulling weeds and planting stuff and watching out for vines, and having long talks while doing so...priceless. You are an amazing girl. I love you." 
She wrote back:

"I feel the same way pd! I love you too!♥
The church looks beautiful!!! Everyone is going to love it! Also, I am very sure we are going to have a God filled church and Jesus filled prayers, praise and worship, leading up to an awesome God-filled sermon!!!! I am sure of it!!!!!!!"

If Kaylyn Rice can do all this with the struggles she faces in life, what is possible for others?

May we all be inspired and learn from this young hero.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Is there something down in there?

"I've had a few setbacks in my life, but I never gave up."  Harry S. Truman

Nine weeks ago I got a splinter or some foreign object underneath the skin of my index finger.  I thought I worked on it successfully and got it out, but I didn't.  I even had Larry work on it for me one night, but days later it still bothered me.  I was getting a nail fill one day and asked my manicurist, Lisa, about it.  I said, "just take one of your power tools and sand it down as far as you have to until it comes out!  I'm tired of it!"  She actually obliged me on that and tried it but after a few seconds stopped and said she didn't want to hurt me, but knew there was something down in there.

I went home, took a needle and thought I got the particle of whatever was in there out, cleaned it out and put antibiotic ointment on it and thought it would heal up.  It just kept hurting.  This isn't good for someone who is always playing the piano or typing, I assure you. It really affected me every time I touched something with that finger although I never complained to anyone but Larry.

I have been through four of these little "at home surgeries" where I thought the problem was resolved only to have it hurt again.  Finally yesterday I think I've gone deep enough to solve the problem.  I was soaking in the tub for a long time on my day off and when I was done I noticed a teeny tiny spot of brown something had come to just under the surface of my finger.  I got out of the tub and went through another "surgery", and this time, I'm happy to report,  something does feel different.  I'm truly sensing that it's out, and yesterday when I went to get a nail fill  Lisa looked at it and she said, "yep, I think you got it out this time."  

Emotional pain is sort of like that too.  We can think we have it all resolved - convinced that we got it all, and then something comes to the surface and starts hurting like the dickens.  We really do have to make sure we've gone deep enough to get it all.

This weekend at Celebration I'm talking about the ups and downs of our forgiveness process.  Sometimes we think we have the issue resolved and then something comes up, perhaps a new consequence of our offender's actions and we are suddenly face to face with the pain again of what was done, fresh and anew.  When that happens, we're not a failure, we just need to get it out and move forward.  Set backs don't have to keep us back -- set backs can be set ups for our next level.

A few weeks ago I thought I was moving forward on my journey to forgiveness.  Then, "wham!" and "wham!" two new revelations of things I'm going to have to walk through as a result of my offender's sinful actions came, without warning.  Driving home by myself on the day these things came to light,  I was overwhelmed in a moment of disappointment and exhaustion and anger all rolled into one.  It suddenly hit me and I began to melt down into tears.  Not wanting to continue driving in this state, I had the presence of mind to pull off the side of the road.  I dialed a friend's number who has walked through this with me.  At first all she did was listen to me bawl my eyes out without saying anything.  Then she said, "Give it to me, as hard as you can for five minutes."  

"What?" I said.  What do you mean?" 

"Don't censor it, don't worry about how it comes out, just pretend I'm them, and tell me as transparently as you can what  you've lost as a result of their actions." 

"Really?  Can you really handle me blasting you that way?  I don't think you know the depth of what's in here."

"Yes, I can.  Fire away."

I did so and felt like I was completely emotionally wrung out afterwards.  "Wow, that was pretty good!" she said.  Apparently I'm pretty good at blasting people to smithereens when I have permission to do so. I was so grateful for the safe place my friend gave me that day and the emotional surgery they accompanied me on.

After I got all the gunk out we talked about practical steps to move forward with the new information that was my reality at the time.

I wasn't a failure. 
I had a momentary set back.
We turned it into a set up.

Sometimes it takes multiple times of working on something to get all the gunk out.  Just as I worked for the past nine weeks on my finger, I've worked a lot longer on this forgiveness thing.  I'm still pulling gunk out, still putting spiritual ointment on, still allowing Father God and trusted friends to bind up my wounds. 

There might be something still down inside you emotionally that's surfacing and causing you pain, especially every time something touches your life and makes it uncomfortable.  Trust God and some Godly friends to help you get it out. It will feel so much better when you do.

I think this week might be the first time in nine weeks that I've played the piano at Celebration and it hasn't hurt.  ::happy dance::

Friday, June 10, 2011

Wanna move forward faster? Join with others on the journey.

By flying in a "V" formation, birds fly 71% faster than if they would have been flying on their own.

I looked up the aerodynamics of birds and statistics on what happens when they fly together last night because I was thinking about how being on a forgiveness journey with others is affecting me.

Two kids in our church have basically rocked my world this week!  Both of them have experienced severe hurts in their past and revealed that they have  forgiven their offenders in the past week.   One of those children did not go to their class and was actually sitting with their parent, sleeping in my Sunday morning class, because they weren't feeling well.  They woke up for a few moments just as I was sharing something about the forgiveness journey I'm on, and giving the illustration of how this other child had forgiven the people in their past who hurt them.  When the child woke up and heard that, God spoke to them to forgive their offender.  During praise and worship time in the service, they began weeping and told their parents afterwards that God did a work in their heart about forgiveness.

Many more people have e-mailed or facebooked me and said, "I'm on the same journey, Deanna!  I'm doing it and you're encouraging me!"

Yesterday I said that at times on this journey I've felt like I'm being carried on wings of grace.  I realized last night that something in addition is that I'm being carried on the wings of others who are on the same journey.  As we all fly toward forgiveness, there's a synergy that happens.  Through the mutual encouragement, the flight to wholeness is not only more bearable, it's faster.  We are not standing still - we are very much moving forward.

Last night on Twitter, Madea said, "Life is like a taxi.  The meter just keeps-a-ticking whether you are getting somewhere or standing still."  Indeed life is too short to stay stuck in the quagmire of unforgiveness while life goes by.  There is a real need for us to get unstuck and move forward.  Moving forward is easier when you're doing it with a group who are all committed to the same thing.

"Bear ye one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ."  Galatians 6:2

Thursday, June 09, 2011

How do you even begin when it hurts so much?

"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."  I Corinthians 12:9

Do you know how many people have asked me advice lately on how to forgive?  A LOT!!  Many people in my life both in person and through social media have talked to me about it, not really so much using me as an example, but just reaching out to a fellow struggler.  If anyone has listened to me preach lately or read my blogs or ezines or just had a cup of coffee with me they've heard that this is what's on my mind lately.  Knowing that I'm going through a particular journey has prompted others who are hurting to reach out, even if  just to have a hand to hold.  I don't mind -- it's just been one more thing to add to my list of things that make the emotional trek worth it.

When people ask me, "how are you doing it?" my first response is grace.  I haven't had the self discipline or the natural aptitude to move forward on this myself.  It has taken a power much greater than myself giving me what I need to press forward.  That's really what grace is all about, you know.  God doesn't give us grace to live however we want.  The purpose of grace isn't so we can be spiritually sloppy.  Grace also isn't a cover all for whatever we decide to do or not do.  GRACE IS EMPOWERMENT TO DO WHAT WE ARE UNABLE TO DO WITHOUT IT.  

I can't really list here what I wanted to do to the person who hurt me.  It would be a very bad thing for me to verbalize it.  God knows but honestly most humans probably couldn't handle it especially from a pastor.  Suffice it to say I started this journey not wanting anything good for my offender.  The only thing that has made possible the turning of my bitter wishes toward them into prayers of blessing is the grace of God.

Throughout this journey there have been days where I have literally felt as if I am being carried on wings of grace.  The interesting thing is, when I was not working on forgiveness at all -- when I was stuck in my grief and anger, bitterness and all that it entailed, I was paralyzed and it appeared the situation was stuck as well.  Now that I have been making major strides through God's empowering grace and I have let go and continued to release and surrender, it's amazing how the situation has moved forward.  I am not reconciled to that person nor do I expect it with some extenuating circumstances however the consequences did not really start improving in the major strides I prayed for so long until I surrendered.  Not until I died to my flesh and my desire to avenge the consequences did a break in them come.  

I'm just a fellow struggler and by no means a forgiveness guru but one thing I would advise anybody to do is start working on things sooner rather than later.  I know some of you can't imagine it because the pain is so great right now but through being in the grip of His grace the start of your journey will be possible.  Take a step.  I know it's scary because your anger has become so comfortable and letting go of it will take you out of your comfort zone but His hand is there to steady you and His grace will keep you.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

The next big thing

Monday night while I was soaking in my garden tub I had a thought that I'm always looking to the next big thing and experienced a revelation that I need to stop doing that!

While I ride my bike or soak in the tub or have any time to quietly think, my thoughts are immediately drawn to the next big thing that I'm looking forward to.  I'm honestly not bragging, but with me, there is always a next big thing.  I'm sincerely humbled and grateful that God gives me "next big things".  I am often drawn to think about the next big church event, next vacation with my family, next ministry trip to Africa, next Hope Tour, next holiday with my family and church, yada yada yada.  When I get into reflective time, I am always drawn to these things.   The next big thing comes, and it's awesome -- sometimes even more than I ever imagined!  As soon as it's over I wish it wasn't.  I used to look forward to milestones with my children but I don't anymore because I wish two of them didn't have a childhood that was over, and I wish we had more time, just "the five of us".  The time is whizzing by.  I know one day we'll probably "gain two daughters and a son" when they all three marry.  Yes, it's a gain, it's also a loss of the era of "the five of us."  Change is wonderful, and change is hard.  So, where am I going with all this?

I really felt like I've been looking to the next big thing with anticipation way too much and missing the joy of a lot of little things along the way.  I do enjoy everyday things, but I haven't placed the same significance on them as I do these big things that come along.  And let's face it there are a whole lot more little things than big things.  So, here's to little things, that in time we discover were really big things all along.

As I thought about this I started making a mental list of all the little things that were such blessings...

The two cups of coffee I started the day with that were absolutely marvelous.
The snuggle time with Max and Maddie in the early morning hours.
The job seeker I engaged so easily and the pleasant conversation we had.
The walk I had right after it rained and was so cool and sweet smelling outside.
How good mine and Larry's dinner collaboration was Monday night.  BBQ chicken, potatoes and beans...yum!
How sweeter our time alone last night was.
How great it felt to soak in a bath using Avon Bubble Bath. (Love that stuff, used it as a kid!)
How amazing God is to answer several of my private prayers this past week that I considered huge but were easy for Him.  This is actually a really big thing...oops!  I just have to give Him credit.  He's an amazing God and it's only Him that makes all this possible.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

You bet I'm a proud church momma!

Really...I live for this!  What could be greater? It's pretty AWE-some!  Mothering can be challenging in the natural or the spiritual, but it's so worth it.  Just like I love special times with my husband and three children (and Max & Maddie) so I love special times with my Celebration Family.  Sunday we spent the day at Ft. DeSoto and baptized a bunch of people and hung out together until the sunset.  There are hundreds of photos from the day but I selected just a few of my favorites to post.  These were taken by Rachael Rice.  If you look at these and go, "hmmm...from these pictures this looks like an amazing church family..." you're right. :)