Monday, October 31, 2011

Book giveaway starts TODAY!

Today begins a book giveaway here on the blog!  The more times you comment, the greater chance you have to win!

A friend at Charisma House asked if I'd like to review some books and give some away.  What a delightful idea!  We will be giving away several books over the next few weeks.  I do need to let you know that these books have been provided to me free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

So here's how it's gonna work...for every time a reader leaves a comment on any of this week's blog posts today through Thursday, November 3 at midnight, or on the facebook comment thread when the same post publishes there, I will enter your name in the drawing one time.  You can comment more than once a day!  You get your name entered every single time you post.  So, comment away!  Let your voice be heard!    We will draw the winner's name at midnight on Thursday and announce it Friday morning.  The book will be mailed to you.. 
The first book we are giving away is A Cry for Justice by Shelley Hundley.

The daughter of American missionaries, Shelley Hundley was born in Colombia, and grew up on the campus of a seminary that trained leaders to serve in what was one of the most violent nations in the world. After suffering abuse at the hands of a minister in the community, she turns from God—angry and confused that He could allow this to happen.

In A Cry for Justice, Hundley uses her story as a backdrop to show how she found healing from the pain, guilt, and shame of the abuse she endured as a child and how she came to know Jesus in a new way—as a righteous judge who fights for His people and takes upon Himself the burden of our injustices and pain.

The story of Shelley Hundley’s journey from bitter atheist to wholehearted lover of God is unique. Yet what she learned on this journey is relevant to every person who has ever been hurt and has silently wondered, “Who will fight for me? Who can make the wrong things right?”

Shelley Hundley is one of the original interns who helped launch the International House of Prayer under Mike Bickle’s leadership and has been on the senior leadership of IHOP-KC since its inception in 1999. She currently serves as vice president of training at International House of Prayer University in Kansas City, Missouri. Fluent in four languages, Shelley is passionate to see the nations of the earth prepared for the return of Christ and to see 24/7 prayers for justice combined with 24/7 works of justice.

To check out more of what Charisma has to offer go to

Okay, go ahead, start commenting away!  Not sure what to say?  How about, "Hey, I'm here!"  Or, "I wanna win!"  If you are posting anonymously and want credit towards the drawing you do need to leave your name, of course. 

Happy commenting!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Weekend Potpourri

Thursday was Dustin's birthday...after work we went to dinner as a family and I had made him a MRSA cake as he requested...

Then on Friday it was our day off.  I love my Fridays!  I live for them, mostly to rest.  Most of the day I stayed in my PJ's I was so exhausted.  Larry and Max stayed there with me for the most part...that's always fun.  We watched movies in bed.

Max lays between Larry and I and has to have one of us petting him constantly.  We don't mind.

Friday night Larry and the kids went to the Celebration Church softball game where Larry and Jordan played.  The team won. :)   After that they came home and I had rolled out of bed and gotten showered and dressed and the five of us went to a late night showing of "In Time."  The boys' friend Stephen went too.  Stephen has been like a family member for the past ten years and has practically lived here at times.

On Saturday morning I went and got my first pedi since the burn.  There is finally a new layer of skin and no open wounds so I could do that.  It's been almost a month.  Of course Mai took one took at it and said, "Deeeennnnaaaaa...whah happpeeened?  Yoo o-tay?"  So sweet.  I am putting vitamin E and Aloe on it daily and really hope the scar fades.

Once my pedi dryed I put on my running shoes and completed day 3 of "couch to 5K".  Amazingly I have done this three days this week and am still alive. 

Aside from cooking a big pot of beef vegetable soup for dinner Saturday and then getting my world famous pot roast prepared to go in the crock pot for today, Saturday evening was mostly spent house cleaning.  Thankfully everything for church was complete earlier in the week.  Usually I'm tying up a lot of loose ends on Saturday but this was a week was different.

Today's going to be a great day at Celebration!  I can't wait to see what God will do!  We've been having some amazing services and I know God is ready to download something great today!   

Saturday, October 29, 2011


"The moment you can visualize being free from the things that hold you back, you have indeed begun to set yourself free."---Unknown

Friday, October 28, 2011

Are you a dynamically dangerous or disastrously dangerous leader?

There's a difference.

These days, a lot of speakers and writers encourage people to be dangerous -- to the status quo, to the enemy, to hell, etc.  That's a good thing.

There's another kind of dangerous we can become if we're not careful.  Even our gifts have a dark side that must be carefully watched to make sure we don't become more disastrous than dynamic.

In an article on the dark side of leadership, Dr. Tuvia Melamed says:
 "Think about those high hitters who leave carnage behind them. It is very difficult to challenge or argue against them; let alone stop them...organizations try to learn to live with their shortfalls and justify it by saying that the business depends on them for its success. This is probably true, but only up to a certain point. In the long-term they can cause unacceptable collateral damage, and might bring the organization to ‘its knees’." 
 Dr. Melamed is not referring to bringing the organization on it's knees in prayer.   

There are many angles of our dark side that we must be aware of to avoid bringing a group to it's knees in all the wrong ways.  There are hundreds of these that I could share, but just a few that jump out at me today are:

Dynamically dangerous leaders invite conversation.
Disastrously dangerous leaders avoid conversation and particularly disastrous ones forbid it.

Dynamically dangerous leaders elevate others and hope they go even further than they go.
Disastrously dangerous leaders squash others and are threatened by them.

Dynamically dangerous leaders know that all of us are smarter than one of us.
Disastrously dangerous leaders have to be right all the time.

Dynamically dangerous leaders welcome ideas from others.
Disastrously dangerous leaders are bent on their own ideas and will spiritualize it by saying it's their God-given vision that everyone needs to follow without question.

Dynamically dangerous leaders give credit to their team members who come up with ideas.
Disastrously dangerous leaders take the credit for most everything. They do throw the occasional but extremely rare bone of credit to a pet or two just to be able to give example that they don't always take the credit.

Dynamically dangerous leaders earn the respect of their followers.
Disastrously dangerous leaders demand respect and have an almost cult-like view of it.

Dynamically dangerous leaders want others to follow them as they follow Christ.
Disastrously dangerous leaders want others to follow them despite their unChristlike actions and tragically some begin to act like they ARE God.  (Messiah complex)

Dynamically dangerous leaders create a culture of love and acceptance.
Disastrously dangerous leaders create a culture of fear and shame.

Dynamically dangerous leaders lead from a place of true humility and servanthood.
Disastrously dangerous leaders slip into false humility, eventually arrogance.

Dynamically dangerous leaders celebrate diversity and don't need their team to be their clones.
Disastrously dangerous leaders surround themselves only with people who are like them or agree with them 100% of the time.

Dynamically dangerous leaders cultivate a healthy environment for growth.
Disastrously dangerous leaders cultivate a place where spiritual abuse thrives.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

He's different

This past weekend I was at a women's conference at the Rosen Shingle Creek hotel in Orlando and as I was rushing through the lobby to take the elevator to meet friends downstairs for dinner someone stopped me.  They just wanted to take a moment to tell me how amazing our son is.  I already knew it but really never tire of hearing it from anyone else.  (What mother does?  We love hearing great things about our kids!)

It was a pastor's wife who stopped me to talk and she said, "That Dustin...he's one amazing young man.  So many young adults these days are just so self's all about them...but he's not like that...he's just so..............different."

"I know," I said.  "We're so blessed."  Dustin really does live a consistent Christian life that centers around serving others."

It's Dustin's birthday today.  It's hard to believe 22 years has gone by already.   An amazing 22 years with an amazing boy.  I know, I know, I say amazing a lot.  But it fits.  So I use it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I dare you to speak up

What you have to contribute to the world is important.  We need your thoughts, your voice, your ideas.

Don't ever let anyone talk you into suppression no matter how wise or even anointed they sound.  They may even use spiritual lingo like, "in God's timing you can share what is in your heart, but that time is not now."  Wow.  Since when did God die and leave them in charge of who can express their heart?  Imagine if the world waited twenty more years to hear from Mattie Stepanek.

God didn't create you to suppress you!  The enemy is all about containment and God is all about freedom.  This theme actually runs throughout the whole Bible.

It's both dismaying to me as well as amusing to see people bristle at the unprecedented opportunity that abounds for people to share their thoughts today.  I wrote about this in another blog post recently when I turned on the TV just in time to see a well known speaker at a Christian university blasting young church planters who were blogging and developed an influence on others they deemed inappropriate.  They felt that these students and young pastors should be looking to those in official posts at the University.

Social media has revolutionized the world in that it gives all of us a voice.  Well, let's be clear that God has already given all of us a voice --  but social media, which technically comes from God because nothing ever surprises Him or happens without Him giving someone the idea -- has elevated it to a whole new level.  

Somebody people consider a "nobody" can start blogging and if they write consistently and are good at it, people will listen.

This makes two kinds of people uncomfortable:

1)  Those who are in authority who aren't good at social media, don't know how to use it, or can't keep up with those who know how to use it -- and are threatened when those who do become an influence through it.  People tend to criticize what they don't know how to do or don't understand.

2)  People who are already influencers on a great scale (authors, speakers, etc.) and want to be an exclusive voice or at least put their stamp of approval on those who do become a voice.

When these two types of people are uncomfortable they start talking about how only certain people have a voice and try to silence those who aren't in the group they deem to be the blessed ones who get to share.

What's the problem with this?  It's completely unbiblical.

Again, God didn't create you to contain you.  What you think, what you have to share not only matters, but it matters a lot.  

Martin Luther once said, "if you want to change the world, pick up your pen."

Plenty of people have.  Previously unknown people.  People some people would love to see stay unknown.  Fortunately they don't get to decide that -- God does.

If Martin Luther were alive today he might say, "If you want to change the world, start a blog."

I beg you, speak up.

There are people who desperately need to hear what you have to say.  

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Move with the movers

Recently my husband asked a missionary, "what's the difference between church services in the country where you serve and America?"  The missionary responded that in their country they concern themselves with who showed up to church, not who's missing.  To clarify, they weren't referring to a lack of passion for the unchurched.  They were exclusively talking about Christians who don't show up.

There were years of our ministry that I foolishly made the church members who showed up feel beat up on behalf of those who didn't.  Then I realized that was really stupid and served no purpose.  I would ramble about people who didn't show up to the faithful ones who sat in front of me.  How much sense did that make?  None.  Totally counter-productive.  I'm sorry I ever did that and made changes to remedy that.

One thing the Lord told me years ago was, "move with the movers."   My goal is to pour into those who have made themselves available and not get in the throes of depression  over those who haven't.

Some days I do better with that goal than others.  :P

Monday, October 24, 2011

Why do pastors feel like they've been run over by a truck on Monday mornings?

It's not your imagination!

There's a real reason for this and no, you are NOT crazy.

This is one of the best blog posts I've ever read about this.  Every pastor and pastor's wife need to be  aware of this great writing from Clayton King about what happens inside a pastor's body!

Incidentally, I was feeling like this today as I usually do on Mondays.  Even though I took a four hour nap after choir rehearsal yesterday I still got up today and felt like I had been beaten to a pulp and it was so hard to get going.  I was reminded of this article and want to share it.

Clayton King is also a great blogger to follow and you can do so by going here.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The prize is home

Thank you, Lord, for home.

The more I journey through life, the more I treasure home.

I love to travel. 
But I love home more. 

Home keeps me grounded.

Last night I came home from Orlando to a clean house and dinner made.  It was so peaceful.  

I become easily frazzled and flip and a lot of other not-so-nice adjectives if I go very long without being home.  Home and all that it entails is a wonderful refresher for me.

There's nothing that does that like coming home to my husband, children, and dogs, not to mention the bed and bathtub.

Not least of all is our church.  Can I just say there is no greater joy than being a spiritual father and mother of a group of believers?   I feel like a grand prize winner every time I walk in the doors of our church.   I love being a church mama.  Sure I have to change some poopy spiritual diapers at times and clean up spiritual spit up.  That's part of it.  (Don't accept this call if you're not willing to do that!) But when one is called there's no greater joy than to see those entrusted to you grow and move forward.

Speaking of moving forward, Larry is preaching on that today.  I can hardly wait!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

3 things pastors wish people knew about Sunday mornings

1) We have so many things on our mind in getting ready for the service.  We're probably not going to remember details that aren't related to the service that you come and ask us about or inform us of.   It's best to let us know during the week and having a written reminder is even better!  Contrary to some people's popular belief, pastors do work more than one day a week.  :)

2) If you tell us something before the service and it's of a heavy nature, it's not only going to affect us, it's probably going to affect the entire church.  It's hard to focus after a verbal bomb is dropped on you, and while most pastors can hold it together and do relatively well, the point is that the effectiveness of the overall service is at stake. Don't seek us out before service to tell us you are moving across the country or leaving the church or getting divorced.  Don't tell us that you are disgruntled or know someone who is, moments before we get up to lead.  (This is why most pastors hide out right before church!)

3)  We want nothing more than to see you experience the fullness of God in your life.  We've been praying all week about this day.  We have such high hopes.  We have come expecting.  It means the world to us when you do too.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Are any of these things killing your leadership?

As leaders we have to be so careful to know our weaknesses and potential blind spots.  They can end up killing our leadership effectiveness.  On Tuesday I recommended this article on my facebook page and I think it bears repeating again here.  It's one of those articles every leader needs to read again and again to give themselves a check up.

I'm passionate about honing my gifts, but also about keeping a strong check on my weaknesses.  I've had a lot of friends whose liabilities have been their eventual undoing.

Check these and see where you might need some work.  This week I'm working on rigidity.  How about you?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Is your pastor being MOBBED?

Maybe you've never heard of this term before.

On Monday when I published this blog  post on why some pastors are literally killing themselves I got a tremendous amount of feedback.  I got so many private e-mails about this,it was overwhelming.  I try to answer all of my mail in 24 hours time and this time I got behind and it took me a few days.

One person who wrote to me privately was a Presbyterian pastor.  I never met this pastor before but someone had forwarded him the link to the post.  I am not going to share his name, keeping in mind that when people write me a private e-mail about a post versus leaving a public comment there is a reason for it.  He thanked me for bringing attention to this issue and said this:
"Deanna, one of my church members forwarded your column on clergy depression.  It is very true.  Thanks for your work in this area.   Your call for members to be invested is a critical one.  I really appreciate your naming of high expectations with low investment as well as differing expectations. Another thing I have come across and experienced is a phenomenon described by a blogger named Steve Vensel as "mobbing."  When I read it, I thought Steve had been living in my study.  I think some of the things you speak about can lead to mobbing.  It is devastating and many people leave ministry after experiencing it." 
 He forwarded an article to me on the subject of mobbing by Steve Vensel and I looked it up on line and found his blog and the article here.  His blog is aptly named, "Pooped Pastors."   In retrospect I thought someone might start a blog called, "Pooped on pastors"...LOL.  That is what it really amounts to when it comes to mobbing.
What IS mobbing?  I know, I know, you're waiting to find out, so without further delay here is Steve Vensel's definition:
"Mobbing is related to workplace bullying, organizational power factions, forced resignations, and forced terminations. Mobbing is defined as the prolonged malicious harassment of a coworker by a group of other members of an organization to secure the removal from the organization of the one who is targeted. Mobbing involves a small group of people and results in the humiliation, devaluation, discrediting, degradation, loss of reputation and the removal of the target through termination, extended medical leave or quitting. It is a traumatizing experience that often results in significant financial, career, health, emotional and social loss. Mobbing is unjust, unfair and undeserved...pastors are often told not to talk to anyone or they will split the church and that would not honor Christ. Spiritual, emotional, relational and financial ploys are all available to the mob as weapons, tactics, and strategies employed in the removal of the target."  ~ Steve Vensel

I knew immediately recognized this scenario, as Larry and I were the victims of mobbing when we first began lead pastoring at an abusive church.  And amazingly that exact verbiage was used by the powers that be, after the situation blew up!  We were told: "don't share openly what has taken place or it will split the church and that would not honor Christ."  We honored that request and can I just say we're sorry we did?  We were a lot younger when it happened to us, and not as experienced.  Quite honestly we were scared out of our minds. 

It is very hard to make a comeback after you've been mobbed.  Take it from one who has been there it's one of the hardest things in the world.  Larry and I needed to pursue healing after our experience and I would say it took me personally about two years afterward for me to be whole again.  It's possible and if you are a pastor or pastor's wife reading this I encourage you -- don't be silent.  There's so much I have to say on this subject  but in a nutshell I offer these things that were key for me:

  • The mob DOES NOT define you! 
  • You don't have to stay where the mob left you!
  • Make a choice to connect.  DON'T SHUT YOURSELF OFF!  This is the worst thing you can do!
  • Pursue healing.  Don't be afraid to go to counseling.  Best. Decision. Ever.
  • Remember you are not alone.

If your pastor is being mobbed, for heaven's sake -- literally for heaven's sake, will you please do something about it?

"All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."  ~ Edmund Burke

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Want to do something life changing for your wife?
Read this and act on it.

Earlier this year I was speaking on a Saturday at a women's tea at another church and the pastor's wife made an announcement prior to my message.  She said, "Ladies, please make sure you are faithful to church service tomorrow morning.  Pastor says we have to stop scheduling events on Saturdays if it affects Sunday church attendance."  I could hardly believe my ears!  Why?  Because I've dealt with the SAME exact thing.

Every time we go away to a women's conference with our women I come home and tell my husband how they were touched by God.  I share with him many testimonies of the great things that happened while we were away.  Then Sunday comes and a lot of them don't show up to church.  It never fails on the way home from service, my husband says, "So, where were all these women who were so radically touched by God?  Wouldn't it stand to reason that they would come to church if God has done such amazing things in their life?"  I have to admit, this disappearing act usually leaves me wondering if God really DID do something all that significant since they didn't bother to show up to church. 

Recently while preaching in North Carolina I heard a pastor's wife mention she was hoping her ladies would show up for church on Sunday after the conference.  She was concerned.  Once again I realized, this is evidently a common problem.  I mentioned it to the ladies I was having lunch with that day at the conference, among them my friend Sherrill Keller Ellis, a pastor's wife.  Everyone agreed the same exact thing happens in their church and we were discussing the "why" of the situation.   I believe Sherill hit the nail on the head.  She said, "I think it's what most of them face when they go home."

Suddenly a light bulb went off.

Yes.  Her theory makes perfect sense.

Most women come home to a mess.  They know it's going to happen but they push forward to go to the conference anyway.  They are so hungry and thirsty for a break, and for God to do something.  When they get there, they are usually encouraged by conference leaders to, "mentally leave behind what they left to come to the conference, and forget about what they'll face when they go home and walk in the door -- and just receive."  Every single lady there understands that terminology.  There are knowing glances, nodding heads, and some tears.  Some of them know they are going home to houses that look like cyclones hit them.  With their absence for a few days, things will be messed up, piled up and dirty, with kids bouncing off the walls.  Their kids will probably be safe -- that's a good thing -- but no other guarantees. When they get home and all this hits them, it's overwhelming.  Most walk into their home and are greeted with dishes piled in the kitchen sink and the kitchen counters a mess.  Loads of laundry are stacked up.  More messes are found in the bathroom and other areas of the home.  Survival mode kicks in and thoughts of church and what the Lord did start fading out.  They don't even have their minds on Sunday -- instead they are focused on getting all this chaos cleaned up by Monday so they aren't going into the week with this mess.

Can you imagine what would happen if women went away on these retreats and actually came home to a peaceful home?  I know for some it's a fantasy world beyond imagination but just try to envision it with me.  Not only would their time away TRULY be a refreshing all the way around, but they would actually be able to go to church with their families on Sunday and share with the church body what the Lord did in their life over the retreat weekend.

My mind is on this because tomorrow I will be with our Celebration Church women at the Pen-Florida District Women's Breakaway.  I am praying that all of them come home to peaceful homes.  My prayer is that whatever God does in their life Thursday - Saturday is not shoved aside by the disappointment of cleaning up mounds of rubble on Saturday night and Sunday, like Nehemiah trying to rebuild the wall, totally discouraged and overwhelmed.  Miracles can happen!

If you are a man who reads my blog and your wife goes away on retreats, this is one way you can really be a tremendous blessing to your wife. It's not just about her going away to a conference to be refreshed and hear from God -- it's about what she comes home to as well.  When she comes home to a house that is a disaster it is very depressing to her.  She can pray through it and work through it but imagine what life might be like if she didn't have to?  Trust me that you will also reap many blessings of your wife coming home to peace instead of chaos. 

I know I'm going to get some letters in response to this blog post from single moms saying, "hey, what about me?" I know.  I know.  Ladies, I don't know how you do it.  You have my admiration more than you will ever know.

By the way, the majority of the time I come home to a peaceful home.  My husband works really hard to make it that way.   Just to throw some hope out there to those of you ladies who can't imagine this happening for you, things weren't always that way.  Prayer, patience, perseverance and maturity CAN change things! We've grown a lot in our relationship.  Over the years my husband has realized what a difference this makes and he has stepped up to the plate and made a LOT of changes.  He has come to realize that serving me and our family in this way also affects him in a great way, for the better.  I will share about this in an upcoming post.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

"Unbelievable! There you go, finding something to praise God for...!"

This was said to me on Sunday morning when someone approached me at church to ask about my foot.  I believe even in challenging circumstances -- especially in difficulties - we are to PRAISE GOD.  There is ALWAYS something to praise God for.   Yes, ALWAYS!  If it weren't possible the Bible wouldn't tell us to bless the Lord at all times, to have His praise continually in our mouth.   Psalm 34:1 is possible!  Otherwise it wouldn't be there! 

In case you missed all the excitement, I burned myself while making sweet tea.  A pitcher of boiling water exploded.  I backed my face and hands away quick enough but when it exploded it did so on my thigh and foot.  The thigh burn is not as bad as the foot.

I've been researching how to heal as quickly as possible after a burn.  When something happens to me, I'm a person who reads everything I can about it, to try to learn and apply whatever wisdom I can.  I've discovered the unique difficulties people go through when certain parts of the body get burned.  For instance, those whose feet burn on the bottom have an especially difficult time, much harder than people whose feet get burned on the top.  The worst areas to deal with are the hands, feet and face as well as large areas in general.  When reviewing the research I really began to feel blessed!!  I started giving glory to God that I have a burn on the top of my foot rather than the bottom.  And, I've always been so thankful that it wasn't my hands.  For many reasons, that would have been the worst for me to deal with.

Before you start reading further let me just give a disclaimer that if you are eating or have a weak stomach you might not want to keep reading today's post.   

When asked by people on Sunday about how I am doing, I told them about how blessed I am.  No, I'm not thanking God that I got burned.  I'm haven't checked my brain at the door.  I'm thanking Him after the fact that things aren't worse and blessing Him for what I do have going for me.

A lot of caring people ask about the state of the burn from day to day.  It's kind of hard to describe even for a wordsmith and a photo is worth a thousand words, so here you go...a photo of my foot today:

If you've seen my facebook page and the photo posted there, you realize today is an improvement!

Here is the foot just a few days ago:
And here it is below, when it was at it's worst:

You can see the redness is much less on the most recent photo and the skin is starting to grow back.  It's a slow process.  So much slower than I'd like!    I don't like waiting in line at the store for 10 minutes let alone waiting for skin to grow back.  [sigh] 

I know there are those of you who are curious and  you can't live for a second longer without seeing my thigh, here it is:
As you can see it's not as bad...piece of cake compared to the foot.  For this, I just coat it a few times a day in Vitamin E and Aloe Vera.  Just say it..."Deanna Shrodes is the most REAL blogger out there...or at least wins the award for the grossest one, posting pictures of a burned thigh.

My foot was much easier to deal with when it first happened before the skin came off.  Once it did, nurse Sheila (a critical care nurse) from church told me the nerves became exposed and that's why it hurt so terribly and I started limping a bit because moving it hurt so much to put ay pressure on at all.  From that point on it became really painful to just get out of bed or take a shower, etc.  I do shower of course (everyone's thanking God for that!) but not in hot water and I keep my foot out of the spray of water and gently clean my foot separately while sitting on the edge of the tub when I'm done.  It's quite the different "getting ready" process in the mornings and in the evenings before bed.   I miss my hot showers and warm baths so much and can't wait to get healed up and get back to them!  I will have a whole new level of gratefulness.

My walking partner Liz has really missed me.  I met Liz earlier this year while I was walking in the  neighborhood.  We have been walking together for many months and then last month she and her husband David came to our Celebration Church Fall Connection.  They loved it and have made us their church home.  (Isn't that wonderful??!!)  So Liz has seen me at church limping on the platform with no shoes on.  I've been preaching while sitting on a stool.  However she and David haven't seen me up close because after church I'm with the visitors in hospitality for a while and "regulars" to CC sometimes don't see me unless they stay after that or unless they talk to me before church starts .  So she was wondering about the state of my foot up close.  I want her to know I'm not just becoming lazy or giving up on fitness goals.  I emailed her these pictures (she doesn't have Facebook) and she was like, "Um, Deanna....thank you so much for those gross pictures..."  Ha ha ha!   Little does she know I've posted them online.  :)  After that she followed up by asking how she could help me.  She's so kind like that.  She's really taking it hard that we can't walk right now.  David bought her two huge bags of chocolate and she said she's been sitting there eating them, until we can walk again.   I told her I'm hoping for Monday.  I miss walking and biking SO much!  And I miss our talks.  I also miss riding in the well fields with Hector and Sandy.  My friends Hector and Sandy are my friends I met at Weight Watchers and bike with but they now also come to Celebration too and have made us their home.  (Yes, isn't that wonderful??!!!  So many blessings.  My heart is FULL!)

Anyway, to continue on the theme of blessings and praising's important to find the blessing in everything.  My boss Kathryn talks about finding the "gift" in everything.  I love the way she puts that and in addition I see it as an opportunity to find reasons to thank the Lord.

This burn could have been much worse!
I praise God that other areas of my body I need so much are unaffected!
I praise God for helping me heal.
I praise Him for so many friends who care and pray for me.
I praise God that I can still do my work.
I praise Him in all things. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Why some pastors are literally killing themselves

Three weeks ago one of our board members, Bernie Currie,  came to the pulpit to share with our church about Pastor Appreciation.  He is great at doing this.  (We are so blessed!!)  He shared some alarming statistics he has found in his research, including that a recent survey reported that when it came to suicide, clergy ranked #3 as far as professions with the highest suicide rates.  

That doesn’t surprise me.  I talk to people in ministry most every week who are on the brink of leaving their spouse, leaving ministry, or checking out on life altogether.  It’s why I started a ministry for them in 1998, because God has given me special compassion for those in vocational ministry.  
Some other related statistics:

70% of pastors don't have a close friend.
1700 pastors leave the ministry for good, every month.
70% of pastors constantly fight depression.
90% of pastors work between 55-75 hours a week.
70% say they have a lower self worth now than when they entered the ministry.
40% of pastors report having a serious conflict with a church member at least once a month.
50% of all ministers starting out will not last five years.
Only one out of every ten ministers will actually retire as a minister in some form.
94% of pastors' families feel the pressures of the pastor's ministry.
80% of pastors' spouses wish their spouse would choose a different profession.

Wow is right.

I have witnessed the shocked looks on people's faces when statistics like this are shared.  Last Sunday night my husband  and I went to another church to minister at a close friend's pastor appreciation banquet.  Larry shared all of these statistics with their church.  The looks on their faces were of shock and amazement.  I realize most people are stunned to hear these statistics, but have no idea of all the "why" behind it.  There are many reasons, but I believe one of the most critical is that your average church member does not understand the role of the pastor.  When expectations and roles are not clearly spelled out, relationships have problems.  

We spell it out all the time at Celebration Church.  In fact, when Bernie brought this up a few Sundays ago I thought to myself, "it's a great time for another reminder."  Last Wednesday night I brought a message about this called, "WHAT'S THE DEAL?" and talked very openly to the church about what the deal is behind all these statistics.  They eagerly received what I had to say which was not a surprise to me.  We have been on the same page for a long time now.  We are absolutely committed to pastoral and church health, as a team.

An article by Greg Warner on Religion News Service gives greater insight to the growing problem many pastors and churches are facing.  In addition to much more valuable insight on the subject, Warner says:

"Those who counsel pastors say Christian culture, especially Southern evangelicalism, creates the perfect environment for depression. Pastors suffer in silence, unwilling or unable to seek help or even talk about it. Sometimes they leave the ministry. Occasionally the result is the unthinkable. ...Being a pastor—a high-profile, high-stress job with nearly impossible expectations for success—can send one down the road to depression, according to pastoral counselors. “We set the bar so high that most pastors can’t achieve that,” said H.B. London, vice president for pastoral ministries at Focus on the Family, based in Colorado Springs, Colo. “And because most pastors are people-pleasers, they get frustrated and feel they can’t live up to that.” When pastors fail to live up to demands imposed by themselves or others they often “turn their frustration back on themselves,” leading to self-doubt and to feelings of failure and hopelessness, said Fred Smoot, executive director of Emory Clergy Care in Duluth, Ga., which provides pastoral care to 1,200 United Methodist ministers in Georgia."
 Speaking of demands that are imposed, most pastors don't realize the unspoken demands until they get there, despite having very thorough interviews.  Later on after accepting a pastorate they may realize they are just not on the same page with leadership. When we pastored our first abusive church, we were in a severe clash over the issue of roles and expectations.  One of the board members told my husband (and I quote) “Pastor, your job is to babysit the unique needs of this congregation.”  My husband said, “God didn’t call me to be a babysitter.”  We were clearly not on the same page as to what we were called to accomplish together.   

Where do we get the job description for a pastor?  Thankfully the Bible spells it out clearly:

Ephesians 4:11-13.

Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers.  Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.  This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. [Emphasis mine]

The crux of so much of the problem comes in when the people don’t understand that the role of the pastor is not to DO the work of the ministry but to EQUIP GOD’S PEOPLE TO DO HIS WORK.

Only churches that understand and do this will grow to their potential.

Not fully grasping and acting upon this is not only why many pastors have burnouts and breakdowns, but it's also why many churches surge up in attendance and then shrink right back down.  A church that is limited by how much one or two people can do will only grow to the point of what those one or two people can handle no matter how talented they may be.   

There was a board member at a church who meant well but was misguided.  He stood before the congregation one Sunday and said, “Church, it’s time for us to rally together!  We must help our pastor to do HIS WORK.”  The man had the right spirit but the wrong idea.

It's not the pastor's church, nor the pastor's work.
It's God's church and it's God's work.
Also we must face the issue of who "the church" really is.
People throw this term around…they will say, “what’s the church doing about this?”
They may say, “Mary Jones is sick.  What is the church doing?” or “there’s some trash piling up outside.  What is the church doing?”

My response when people ask things like this in our church is always, “I don’t know, what ARE you doing?”

When they say, "the church" usually what they are really referring to (in my experience) is the pastoral staff or the "church office"  (as if the office is some kind of entity in itself). The staff is not the church, and the office is not the church.  The people collectively are the church.  We are the church...all of us who are members of the body of Christ.

Another reason pastors are so stressed nowadays is because many people have very high expectations and low investment. In today's consumer culture, people shop around  and want the best of the best, especially for their kids. There’s nothing wrong with that, as we all want what is best for our children.  The question is, are we willing to be part of the solution in providing the best of the best?  Or do we expect the pastor or “the church” (there's the ambiguous "the church" again!) to simply provide it?   People will say, “it’s not my season to be involved in helping.”  But if we took all the programs of the church away because we had no one to lead them they would be the first people to move on and say, “we have to leave...we can’t go somewhere that has nothing for our kids…”  

Do you see the interesting “catch 22” pastors are in?  

This is not their only challenge, but it's one of the biggest.

Most of the same people who say it’s not their season  for involvement seem to find lots of time for TV, movies, and other recreational pursuits.  Just read their Facebook and Twitter statuses and you will see they seem to have ample time for lots of things.

Perhaps you can understand why some pastors are so stressed to the max and even considering suicide.  They are expected to provide not just excellent but AMAZING ministry all the time that competes with the mega church down the street or the ministry on TV. And they are expected to do all this with a sometimes finicky and unstable all volunteer work force.   Understand, no where in the Bible will you find the program ministries of today's church.  That doesn't make these programs wrong.  Programs are valuable because they provide a structure for ministry and are a great means to an end.  But they are modern inventions, not biblical mandates.

Churches that are healthy with healthy pastors and healthy church members and a healthy church as a whole are those who have realized the true responsibility of the pastor which is to equip and train the people to rise up and fulfill the work of the ministry.  Healthy churches are those where every member is a minister.

 Some people say, “well, I can't really be focused on that right now.  I have to focus on what I get paid to do.” Really?  How did chasing the dollar become the most important thing in our world?  Isn’t that what’s sort of gotten our country in a whole lot of trouble in the first place? Perhaps we wouldn't be in this awful mess our nation is in had people not prioritized chasing money over everything else.  
There are times I hear people talk about their priority being what they are or are not compensated to do.  For 12 years of full time ministry I didn’t earn a dime for what I did in the church but accomplished some of the most important ministry I have ever accomplished and have many sons and daughters in the Lord to show for it today.

There is much more to say about this (and I did say much more last Wednesday night) but I'll just close this post by saying this:  
We're all ministers!
It's my season!
It's your season!
Let's do this thing, better yet let's LIVE this thing together AND do it in a healthy way!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Feelings, ohhhhhh feelings...

Can feelings be turned on and off?

Absolutely.  They change often with most people.  That's why we have to stand on what we KNOW to be TRUTH, not our feelings.

There were good parts of today.  We had two fantastic choir practices (adult & youth) and God is up to good things.   At the same time some stressful things happened today.  More challenges happened than amazing things.  I like amazing more than I like challenging.  I'm sure most people would be in sync with me on that.

My feelings today are a potpourri.

I read a quote by Pastor Steven Furtick today that said, "You don't get to choose whether things in your life get shaken.  You just get to choose what you stand on." 

I am reminded that my feelings may change based upon what is happening around me but I can't be led by my feelings.  Emotions are terrible leaders.

Feelings are important. They can be fun and amazing or they can be painful.  I wouldn't want to live without feelings.  But they must never be my guide.  My guide is what I'm standing on -- TRUTH.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Five ways to keep someone who is making an investment in your life

If someone is investing into you in any way, guard that as a sacred gift.  They have a choice as to where they invest.  If you aren't faithful to their investment -- if you don't take it seriously and respond with faithfulness to that deposit, they will not keep investing.  Before you know it somebody else will be reaping the blessing you once had.

Many people don't realize the value of an investor in their lives until they aren't pouring into them any more.  As one of my mentors, Sis. June Coker, says:  "they won't miss the water til' the well runs dry."

Here are five ways to make sure an investor keeps investing, not to mention making sure you don't burn a bridge altogether with an investor:

1)  Show up - on time.  When you're expected to meet with them, be faithful.  When people don't respect my time that's a signal to me that they don't respect my wisdom either.
2)  Take notes.  Not just in meetings but during informal times, to let them know you really care about what they are saying and want to remember it.  When I am spending time with those who invest in my life, I have a little note pad, computer, or  iPhone out to take notes on what they are saying.  When someone invests in you, treat their words like gold.  When it gets down to it, what they give you is actually more valuable than gold.
3)  Act on the wisdom they impart to you.  Do something to move forward - don't just use them as a sounding board.  Use your dog as a sounding board, not your investor.
4) Maximize your time together.  Be intentional. Think about what you want to ask them in advance.  Once in a while I give those I'm investing in an opportunity to have a few hour Q & A.  I invite them to prepare their question(s) in advance.  When they don't prepare anything it basically indicates two things to me.  First, they think they know it all.  Such a person is not going to receive much and that's why.  Second, they don't care about maximizing our time or moving forward.  Either way they are usually stuck and it's not a surprise.
5)  View their investment as a big deal.  Because it is.

Friday, October 14, 2011

What do do when you have a terrible, horrible,
no good, very bad day

Have you heard of the book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day?  It's a popular children's book, but I recommend it whether you have kids or not.  It may be in the fiction section of the library but I am firmly convinced it should be in non-fiction.  :)

Maybe today you are having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.  Fortunately when this happens we are not hopeless or helpless.
Isaiah 61: 3 says, "Provide for those who grieve…a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor." 

God provides for those who are having terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days.  We do have to put ourselves in position to receive what He has provided.  It doesn't just fall on us.  For me that means immersing myself in praise, worship and prayer.  Completely immersing.  Getting off by myself, and getting under the tap of God's presence and not moving until the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad time is past.

Did you ever burn yourself?  Recently I did.  I'm still healing from second degree burns on my foot and thigh.  I learned one of the first things you do for a burn is immerse it in cool water.  I noticed my thigh and foot felt relief when I sat in the cool tub but when I would lift up out of there they starting hurting again, throbbing terribly. So I sat there, for a long time.  I didn't remove myself from the tub until I could handle the pain level without being immersed.  

Some days you need a soaking in God's presence for an extended time, otherwise the heaviness is too great to move on with the rest of your day.     The problem in many people's case is that they try to limp along without the presence of God.  There's no victory in that, just perpetual heaviness.  Soaking brings a lifting that doesn't come any other way.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Open Pandora's box...I dare you!

Healthy relationships and organizations are ones where nothing is off limits to talk about.

Last night I spoke about this in our Fusion service.  We want to be a healthy church so there's nothing off limits for discussion at Celebration.

Many believe that some things are better left unsaid, and that less communication is better.  Healthy people are aware of the destructive nature of secrets or a lack of communication.  Those walking in wholeness get the fact that environments where honest conversation is taboo or avoided are sick places and those who perpetuate such behavior are sick people.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Do what you CAN do

So many people get frustrated by all the needs they see around them and think, "I can't do this.  I can't handle all this -- I can't make a real dent in the needs in this world.  I give up."

Here's an important truth.  God never asked you to do what you can't do.  He asks you to do what you CAN do.  His power is there to handle everything you can't do, and it will kick in at just the right me.  Better yet, trust Him!

I can't help everyone.  But I can help someone.  So I reach out to help that someone.  And you know what?  God enables me to do more than I thought I could do.  And before I know it I've usually helped a few people, not just that one.

When I started out I may have thought I couldn't really do anything at all of significance.  Looking back I see God helped me do exponentially more than I ever thought possible.

We are unlimited, really because God is unlimited.

God never asks you to do what you can't do.  One quick story...

About 15 years ago I went to a women's retreat that I had paid about $100 bucks to register for.  Once I got there they took a bunch of offerings.  In some services they took multiple offerings.  The need was great, but  I have to tell you, I wasn't too happy.  We had paid to be there and in every single service we were pressed to keep giving and giving more.  On top of that before I left for retreat, my husband said, "don't write any checks or shop or do anything while you're gone -- we're tight."  I was going to have to figure out how to buy groceries and fix school lunches for the kids and everything else when I got home, things were so tight.  All I had with me was money I was going to use to eat.

So I'm at this retreat and they keep pummeling us with offerings.  I was kind of angry because I had already paid to be there and I had so little in my purse with me, even to eat while I was there.  (Meals were "on your own" - not included.)  As I was in the service, God spoke to me during an offering and said, "give all you have in your purse."  Now I was fit to be tied.  I said, "God, what I have in my purse is all I have."  He said, "I know, that's why I only asked you for that.  Because it's all you have."


I have to confess I wasn't exactly a cheerful giver.  I had two more days on this retreat to figure out how I was going to eat.  I'm also not a person who asks people for money - ever.  And I don't let people know I'm in need even in "subtle" ways.  So I was thinking, "how in the world am I going to eat for two days if I do this?  I guess I'm fasting."

The offering came around and I took every single cent I had out of my purse and put it in.  Then I resigned myself to be by myself most of the retreat.  I had brought a large group of ladies.  They would all be going out to eat three times a day for the next two days. I'd have to make an excuse because I wasn't going to sit there at a restaurant with a glass of water or share someone's food or have anyone feel sorry for me. That is soooo not my style.

That night after the service I went to bed while the ladies went out to eat.  It was an easy thing to do, as the service was really long and the altar service intense.  I told them I was drained, and needed rest.  I went to the room and went to sleep.  Later on after midnight there was a knock at my door.  It was a lady from the church.  She said some of our ladies were down the hall in one of the rooms, needing my help if I could come.  I got my robe on and came down and there were most of the church women sitting in this room.They had a lot of questions about the service and some things that had taken place that didn't make sense to them.  I opened the Bible and spent about an hour helping them with their questions, then prayed with them and went back to my room.

I woke up the next morning and as I went to go into the bathroom, I noticed an envelope had been shoved underneath the hotel room door.  At first I thought it was a copy of the bill but when I picked it up it was a big fat envelope.  I don't know how they ever got it under there.  It had my name on it and I opened it and there was money.............a LOT of money.  We are talking WEEKS worth of grocery money.  More money than I had seen in a long time.  There was a note accompanying it that said something like this:

"Pastor Deanna, you're always willing to help us.  We know you were really tired last night but still you came down to help us.  We so appreciate your faithfulness and your care for us.  Last night once you left the room we were sitting among ourselves talking and the Holy Spirit spoke to one of the ladies and said, 'It's been a long time since you've done something for her to show her how much you appreciate her.  Collect a generous offering and give it to her.'  We received this offering last night to show you our love.  Please receive it and know how much your ladies love you."

Wow.  I was amazed.  I not only had the money to continue to go to meals with my ladies on that retreat but it paid for groceries for the next few weeks AND some school supplies!

God never asks you for what you DON'T have -- He only asks you for what you DO have.

Whether it be your time, your talent, your treasure -- step out and do what you CAN and He will make up for the rest, beyond your wildest dreams!