Saturday, December 31, 2011

Lesson learned in 2011

Yesterday my good friend Pastor Lisa Alexander posted her lessons learned in 2011. I get a lot of great ideas from her, and this was one so here goes.

I learned a plethora of lessons in the past year but I'm only going to share one today.

Don't make a spiritual excuse for what's not working.

I get so sick of excuses in other people but I was making this one myself!!  So often we say, "if just one person was touched, it was worth it." We say that whenever something's bringing a low amount of fruit in but we don't know what else to do.  While the, "if just one person is changed/touched/grows" theory is true in some cases, in other situations it's just an excuse to put off the necessary. What is necessary? Often it's making a wise change.

In the business world nobody would keep doing the same thing over and over again year after year without some serious return on investment. So why do we do it in Christianity or the church?

Because people tell you constantly that you may "never see results this side of heaven."
Sometimes we keep on because we don't know what else to do.
We think it's important to just stay busy and do something versus doing nothing.
Making a change is painful for some - it will always affect least one or two people.
We are afraid we will upset people.
We are creatures of habit.
We don't like change.

Many times we are poor stewards of time, or of the gifts God has given us. We believe if we're just doing something good versus bad, we're okay. God has more available than just good/bad. There's wise in the mix there somewhere. We all have something to plant, but we have to put it in good soil. 

This has been a big lesson for me in 2011. It's important to hear the voice of the Lord and then act. With His leading and my husband's full agreement and blessing I'm making some changes.

Friday, December 30, 2011

2012 Goals...here's what I'm reaching for

Here you have it, my list of personal goals for 2012.  Just posting this for anyone who might be curious or need an idea to springboard off of to establish your own goals. If this ** is next to a goal, it means I'm already working toward it at the present time and have a head start.

Spiritual Goals
Participate in First Forty with Celebration Church

Organize my weekly personal prayer list  

Keep a prayer journal.

Make a miracles list for the year. 

Lead twice the amount of people to the Lord outside the church this year as I did last year. (People I do not meet at the church, or through the church but totally on my own.) **

Write down each thing the Lord gives me the moment it comes. (No waiting til’ later – I lose some of my best thoughts.) **

Physical Goals
Get blood pressure down to normal on a daily basis.

Bring my weight  10 pounds below where my doctor says it needs to be at minimum.  (The minimum she asked for is just a starting point -- she made it clear it’s just the minimum that needs to happen, that’s why I want to exceed her request.)

Exercise daily with the exception of Sunday. **

Actually use the free weights that have been sitting on my bedroom floor for the past 5 years. 

Drink two 16 oz. bottles of water a day.  

Get the food plan in place and groceries in the house by Sunday night every week.

Keep a very transparent daily blog of my wellness journey, to be password protected and read by approved subscribers only. **  

Home & Family Goals
Eat dinner together when everybody’s home.  

Have a conversation with my husband each and every day that doesn’t revolve around work.

Let “Good Morning” be the first thing I say to my husband each day. (This is a personal endeavor we’re both making. We’ve slidden into a bad habit of letting the first thing we say be about our schedule or something like that.) **

Go on a date once a week. **

Take my daughter on a trip by ourselves. (Girls only trip)

Take two short overnight trips with my husband, six months apart.  **

Record a song with all of my kids

Watch Schindler’s List with my kids

Clean one room a night at the house, so it’s not so overwhelming on my day off.

Keep up with doing one load of laundry a day.

Be even more intentional about my day off. Automatically schedule another sacred day if something mandatory comes up where I have to work AT ALL on a Friday. **

Plant a crepe myrtle tree in my yard, preferably more than one.

NextJob Work Goals 
Answer every email at the same time that I open it. **

Stop working by 7 pm.

Increase my pre-engagement and engagement rates significantly.  **

Have a near perfect record on quality surveys. ** (My boss tells me nobody's perfect.)

Think of one powerful question to ask my boss each week, beyond the general things we have to fit into our weekly meeting.

Get promoted from Senior Coach to Mentor Coach  **

Pastoral/Ministry Goals
Answer e-mail at the same time that I open it unless it’s something that requires prayer and consideration. Touch e-mail once unless it’s one of these “seek the Lord” type of things. **

Write 5 handwritten notes a week and send them through U.S. Mail.

Keep up with the birthdays on facebook and not miss anyone. **

Make a list of everything that has given minimal or no ROI and stop doing them. 

Identify 12 people who have shown the most potential to change, and pour into them.

Develop/train 25% more workers than we currently have in place.

Reach out to five other pastors or pastors’ wives each week who have not contacted me that week and see how they are doing.  **

Constantly identify what I have the personal power to change. Then, make the hard decisions and follow through. No procrastination.

Get together with my closest pastor/pw friends at least every other month and stop making excuses and settling for emails and phone calls.  

Move beyond the mandatory things on my initiative list each week to at least one extra goal a week.

Writing/Influence Goals
Give my book proposal one hour of each day until I get a contract on it.

Work on my Twitter – post at least 3 posts a day that are not automatic postings from my blog.

Update my Linked In at least once a week.

Comment on 5 of my favorite blogs a day instead of just read and move on. Be the kind of reader I want for my own blog, on the blogs I frequent.

 Send at least one query a week for something unrelated to my proposal. 

Do an overhaul on my weekly e-zine

Attend a writer’s conference.

Reading Goals
Read 3 Fiction books this year. **

Read 40 non-fiction books **

Read 3 blogs specifically focused on the subject of writing each day.

Fun Goals
Plan and do a flash mob in Tampa

Go to the beach at once on my day off

Go to the opening night of the Hunger Games

Go Kayaking with my friend that I’ve been planning to do that with for two years now.

Finally go to Webster's Flea Market with my friend like I've promised her I'd do for almost the past...um...decade.

Go camping

Sleep at least one more hour a night than I do now. (Yes, sleep IS fun.)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

How do you set goals for the year?

Irene Porto, Founder and President at Career Integrity Recruitment and Coaching published the following on her Facebook status yesterday:
How to set goals for 2012~ 
Step 1: Take stock of what went well and what didn't go well in 2011.
What successes did you have in 2011? Why do you think you succeeded?
What didn't you accomplish in 2011? Honesty will get you closer to putting these goals back on the list for 2012. Don't give up, recommit. Why do you think you fell short? What did you learn from the experience and how can you do better in 2012?
I'm sure she'll share more as the week unfolds, but this first post gave me a lot to think about. Actually I was already considering what my goals for the year are going to be. There are years I have dispensed with "New Year's Resolutions" altogether, believing they are mainly unrealistic goals people aspire to that never quite get off the ground. They sort of limp year to year with the same old goals that never get anywhere. Being addicted to progress and checking things off of a list, having a list of resolutions like that doesn't appeal to me.
I've decided that this year I'm making a list of realistic yet faith filled endeavors. I believe both are possible. Some I've already started working on. Others will be totally new.
The year 2012 will be an intense year of focus for me. The Lord has spoken to me that it's time to make a "stop doing" list of things within my control - things I actually have the power to change -- to focus on some things that will make a greater difference. I recently realized I've been a good steward with many things, and with others, a poor one.  Sometimes I have been a terrible steward of myself. It's time to change that.  At the top of my list is: steward Deanna properly. 
I'm thinking about sharing my goals here on the blog. Still undecided because that's a pretty transparent thing to do, but who knows -- you may see that list here tomorrow. 
Do you make New Year's resolutions or goals for the coming year? Why or why not?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

How to communicate for the best result possible:
Lessons from Kathryn

This is another one post where I share with you another great insight I learned from Kathryn Kemp, my boss and one of my mentors. We are up to 21 posts now of things I've learned from her although it's actually been a lot more than that.

Kathryn loves text messaging and does it often, even for business purposes. Years ago when we were first starting to work together she texted me about something important she wanted to ask me about for work - something above and beyond my normal course of duties.  I am often blessed to do special projects for work, and never lose sight of the honor it is to be asked and entrusted.

When we got on the phone to confer about things she quickly apologized for texting me and said she was reminded never to do it again when it is something important she wants to ask me about. I never complained about her texting me but she knew from previous personal conversations we've had about our lives in general that it's my least preferable form of communication and sometimes downright gets on my nerves.

I told her that being that she's my boss and had something important to ask me, I have no problem with the fact that she texted me. She replied once again that she would not be doing that again, as she wanted to communicate with me in the style I'm most comfortable with whenever we are discussing something important. She has never again texted me about something important, for the last three years. Most times she e-mails me as she knows it's my preferred method and even when she's going to call she e-mails first to see what the best time to call would be.

There's pretty much almost nothing I wouldn't do for my boss. If it's within my power, I'll do it. If it's not, I'll pray that God would help me do it anyway.

On the flip side, I know that Kathryn LOVES texting so I don't hesitate to send her one if I need something important. I know she powers down her computer on certain days off and doesn't turn it back on nor does she want to be asked to. (She would keep her boundaries and not turn it back on, which I respect.) She prefers a text. So I do that. I know that if I want a good relationship with my boss, this is important.

There are others who report to Kathryn who prefer a text, or a call. She knows who prefers what and acts accordingly to bring the best work out of that person.

It pays for you to know the people's preferences who work with and for you, and those in your larger network that you rely on.  Particularly if you want or need something from people, results tend to be more favorable if you ask in the manner that they best receive information.

And since I'm on this subject - for those who do text me, it would be good for you to know that I tend to check my text messages twice a day - in the morning when I wake up and at night before bed. I know that it's important that I check them daily, and I do. However, I enjoy texting about as much as flossing. Which might explain why you can go a whole day before getting a reply.  

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Do you wonder about pain?

People often try to comfort you by saying, "don't worry, it will all work out for the best."

I know that. But I also know that getting to the best is sometimes hell.

CS Lewis said, “We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.

Someone once asked me why God doesn't reveal more -- why we have to live without knowing so many things and learn so many things through hindsight. I told them I truly believe God doesn't reveal it because if He did we couldn't handle it. What if you saw your ultimate outcome and it was a wonderful, glorious thing but you took a wild and sometimes treacherous rollercoaster ride to get there? Well, for the believer it's exactly what happens to all of us!  Heaven is going to be absolutely grand. But you have to die to get there.

Accomplishing important things brings greater depth and meaning to our lives but the road to get there is never easy. There will be hardships along the way, but once you reach the moment you've been waiting for, it's worth it. Revel in it.

My goal is to revel as long as I can because the time between reveling and journeying again is short.

And, I try to not think too hard about how painful the best might be, because wondering about pain has never turned out to be an asset for me in the long run. What about you?

Monday, December 26, 2011

What does your favorite Christmas gift say about you?

Time goes on in our lives and we progress from screaming with glee over opening an Easy Bake Oven Set, a Barbie, a toy gun or a video game, to other things. Decades beyond childhood, the Keurig and a Tempur-Pedic pillow are my two favorite Christmas gifts. 

I got to thinking about what this says about me.

At this stage of my life I value comfort over play.

I'm not sure if this is a good thing or not but it's just reality at this moment. I read a blog post by Michael Hyatt this week that really challenged me to embrace discomfort.  It's the last thing I wanted to hear. I've been in an uncomfortable place for quite some time trying desperately to grab on to any bit of comfort that I could find and still retain ministerial credentials. ;P I'm only half kidding there.  I have hope for 2012. Even if just a little bit on some days, I still have hope and on the days it's low, a few friends give me some that they have to spare. Lucky for me, I have some friends who are quite literally hope dealers.

I'm digressing.  Sorry.

What does your favorite Christmas gift that you received say about you?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Are we having service on Christmas day? DUH.

A lot of churches are closed today.

How crazy!

Not us.  We're anticipating celebrating the birthday of the King today!

I know some people want to go to church today but can't go to their own church where they are a member because the leadership of the church made a choice to close today. I feel sorry for those people and have encouraged them to go visit another church in their area that's open today.

It's interesting, that some Christians and even pastors fight the whole "happy holidays" versus "Merry Christmas" yet many of those same people stay home from church today or even made a decision to close.  That's really where the rubber meets the road for me.  How strong IS your faith? Just strong enough to complain about "Christmas" being misaligned by some store clerk telling you happy holidays?  That's pretty weak.  By the way, the word holiday derives from the term "holy day" which is exactly what we are celebrating -- a holy day.  Christ-mass.  A service, for Christ - a holy day.

I don't shy away from telling anybody Merry Christmas. I tell co-workers, job seekers, store clerks, and passers by.  Whether they celebrate it or not, if they are not mature enough to have their big boy or girl panties on and hear it without a meltdown, it's probably time to get them a gift certificate for some therapy instead of a Starbucks card.  This is Christmas time -- we've always celebrated Christmas in America and it doesn't seem to have affected anybody's sensitivities until recent years when all of a sudden it seemed to matter to some people who got loud about it. As Buddy said in Elf, the best way to spread Christmas cheer is to sing nice and loud for all to hear.  So just get louder than these super-sensitives.  I keep saying Christmas tree no matter how many times I hear the words holiday tree.  I keep saying Christmas Concert no matter how many times teachers call it a  Winter Concert.  This is Christmas time. If that bothers you, put a little mistletoe in your pipe and smoke it. ;P



Last Saturday someone called me and said, "I'll only take a moment of your time, I know you're probably busy getting ready for your Christmas program tomorrow."

"Nope," I said, "it's not tomorrow."

"Oh really? So it was last week?"

"Nope. Wrong again."

"So you're not having one?"

"Yes we are...on Christmas day."

"Okkkaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyy," was their response.  Then a moment of silence. They couldn't believe it.  They were shocked. Yes, not only are we having church but today is our Christmas program!  We're featuring special music by the kids choir, teen ensemble, adult choir, solos, duets, and a special message from my husband.

Are we open today at Celebration?  You better believe it. 

Merry Christmas everybody!

*Photos in this post from the Christmas Eve Communion at Celebration Church.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

Our Max ~ he's loving Christmas!
We love traditions at our home especially during the holidays.  Tonight we have Christmas Eve Candlelight Communion at the church.  It's one of our most special times of the year.  Everyone loves it!   Afterwards we go out for Chinese food.  We've done that for 25 years now, since the very first year Larry and I were married. We started it because after all the preparation I do in cooking and cleaning for christmas, we've already got a full refrigerator, and I'm tired.  The last thing I want to do is MORE cooking. So, we go for Christmas Eve and invite anyone who wants to join us to come.  The past few years we've gone with at least 20-30 people.  It's a lot of fun.

Today I'm putting the finishing touches on all the home festivities for tomorrow.

When we wake up we're going to have what the kids call  "sweet rolls".  They loooooooove these and we always have them on holidays. I make them with a butterscotch topping and they are served warm and gooey right out of the oven. After sweet rolls and coffee, tea, hot chocolate we'll head to church at Celebration.  Then we'll come home and have Christmas dinner.

I developed our Christmas menu over the years. It has evolved as we had children and they requested their favorites.  In our house we have a very specific menu that we have for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Eve.  So, for tomorrow it is:

7-layer salad
Homemade yeast rolls
Ham with Cherry glaze (Larry's special recipe - it's amazing)
Hash Brown Potato Casserole
Sweet Potato Casserole
Broccoli with Cheese Sauce
Creamed Corn
Pumpkin Pie with Whipped Cream
Iced Tea, Coca Cola & Coffee

If you're interested in any of my recipes I will make them available to you in the comments. Just ask.

To make my yeast roll recipe, loved not only by my family but all my neighbors -- simply go to this video that I recorded and posted on YouTube.  

Back to cooking and cleaning...hope you all are having a magnificent weekend so far.

Friday, December 23, 2011

What should your role be?

Many people ask me this who are new to leadership or ministry, or those who are headed to a new location and with it a change in responsibilities or opportunities.

My advice is always the same.  I would encourage you to not seek a role. Just focus on making a difference.  In doing so the role takes care of itself.

Have I ever cared about roles?  Yes. It was a waste of time. Hindsight is 20/20. 

Today I could care less about roles and quite frankly sometimes I'm sick of them.  I'm terrible at role playing, but never tire of making a difference.

I believe it's the same for most people whether they know it or not.  Roles tend to be prescribed and since God has made us all so uniquely, rare is the person who fits the prescription exactly.

Just something to think about.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Why I stopped responding to vague statuses entirely

"That's it, I'm done!" was the vague Facebook status that caught my eye a few years ago.  My heart immediately went out and I  messaged the person who posted this and said, "what's up? How can I help?"

What followed were long private messages back and forth as I tried to help her. It didn't matter what I suggested, there was an excuse as to why it wouldn't work or wasn't true. If I said, "You're not alone." She would say, "Yes I am." If I said, "People care." She would say, "No, they don't." If I said, "God cares," she'd say, "I don't feel it." If I said, "Well, I care" she'd say, "You don't really count. You're different." If I said, "change is possible," she'd say, "nothing about this can ever change."  You get the picture.

I soon discovered, she didn't really want my help, or anyone's help.  She just wanted attention.

Let me cut right to the point.  Vaguebooking is a game.

When you respond to what is a game, why would you believe it would suddenly cease to be a game just because you chose to respond?  The vaguebooker may throw different plays in the game, but it's still a game.

Vague statuses are a cat and mouse game designed by the vaguebooker to take you through the maze of figuring out what's wrong with them. What appears to be a very complicated situation is actually very simple in most cases.  Unfortunately for the vaguebooker the simple solution requires them to make a decision or take an action they just don't want to do or have put off doing for far too long.

Vaguebooking screams, "give me attention!" The issue is,most people who want attention just want attention, not change.

That is the reason I don't respond to vague statuses -- because I have yet to meet a vaguebooker who wants to change.  I challenge you to find one! They are as rare as Jew at a pig roast.

I'm someone who helps a lot of people.  I don't say that to brag, simply as a statement of fact in proving my point in this post. A lot of you who read this blog help a lot of people too.  And if you're interested in maximizing your potential in helping even more people, I've got some words of wisdom for you today that could help you.  Here are the facts:
  • People need your help.  They desperately need your help. 
  • You are an emotional life jacket to some people who are drowning.  
  • There are millions of people in the world who need the support you have to offer.
  • You can't help them all, but you can help some.
  • No matter how talented you are or how great a time manager, your time is limited.
  • It's important to be a good steward of what God has entrusted you with.
  • Invest your time in people who want help and are interested in a solution, not just a discussion.

Everyone has problems.  Vaguebookers have information on how to solve problems.   Different people have encouraged or advised them throughout their lives and social media takes this to a whole new level.  Now they have not only the people in close proximity to them, but their Aunt Carlotta from Long Island and their long lost friend from kindergarten have both jumped in on the act to give them a virtual pat on the back. But information without application brings no transformation.

In the past year I have had the privilege of leading three new friends to Christ, through Facebook. I have helped countless others through their journey of growth utilizing the same tool, and even stopped a few suicides.  I've connected people with local pastors in their area, referred them to counseling centers in their town where they could get further help and personally taken on a some as virtual coaching clients.  Prayer is very important to me and each week I pray for many people by finding out about their needs online. I use social media constantly throughout the day to stay in touch with the people of of our church.  In all of this, I've come to a realize that no matter who it concerns, social media is a tool to be utilized in a focused manner to reach it's full potential.   Therefore these are some of the personal boundaries that I've established that help me to fulfill my purpose:

1)  Say no to drama. 

Drama has no return on investment. It just distracts and sidetracks.  So, as far as it depends on me, I want to steer clear of it whether it be family, church, Facebook, etc.  The only drama I want is the kind I pay for!  (Movies, plays, etc.) Avoid it - don't harmonize with it.  You don't have to show up to every conversation you're invited to.  Nor do you have to strike up one with everyone you pass by who appears to be in need but might just want to hear themselves talk.

2)  Respond only to specific needs 

Know the difference between attention seeking behavior and a true desire for help. Why did Jesus ask the man at the pool in John 5 if he wanted to get well?  Because some people don't want to get well, they just want to talk about how miserable they are.  Some people don't really want to get well because they would have nothing left to talk about. At first the man at the pool started giving Jesus a bunch of excuses, but what did He do?  He cut right to the chase and said, "Pick up your mat and walk!"  Just as Jesus got to the heart of the matter, so must we.  We need to discern - are people seriously wanting help or are they just wanting a sounding board?  If they want to have a sounding board, go buy them a digital voice recorder and be done with it.


3)  After initial investment, continue to throw attention toward what changes, not what stays the same.

Once offering help, I invest myself in those who are picking up their mat and walking, not those who are still standing by the pool giving excuses.

Yesterday I gave examples of humorous comments I might make in response to a vague status. I don't do this unless it's a good friend I know is just being silly with their status updates. In such cases I'll enjoy bantering back and forth but for serious vaguebookers I avoid it entirely.  I've found that even an off-beat response like that is precious attention the vaguebooker latches onto and  typically views as an invite to send a L-O-N-G private message, spewing out everything they're unhappy about but have no intention to change.

And that, my friends, is why I avoid responses to vague statuses entirely.

What boundaries do you need to draw to be more effective in helping people?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My failed attempt at responding to vaguebooking

So yesterday's post received a lot of feedback about people who try to use guilt and manipulation in their facebook status posts.

Concerning vaguebooking my friend Jennifer Tatum has a strategy she calls "counter-vague".  When anyone posts a vague status she comments with something equally vague.  For instance if they post, "Just not sure anymore..." she might post, "so much to think about..." in response.  She gave me this counter-vague idea so I tried it out.  I started posting equally vague comments just like that to people's vague statuses.  One friend posted, "Weird!" so I countered by posting, "Unbelievably!" Another friend posted, "Just not sure anymore...."  I countered by posting, "Come what may..."  Most people responded with "what?" or just ignored me and kept up their vaguebooking.

Then I had an idea that when people posted manipulating or guilt-tripping vague statuses, I would use my unique brand of humor to counter it.  Here are some examples:

Vaguebook tripper:  "Really wish I could spend Christmas with certain people..."
Me:  "Please don't call the personal escort service again.  You know it ended badly the last time and it's almost time to get your ankle bracelet removed." 

Vaguebook tripper:  "Wishing..."
Me:  "I'm sorry the push up from Victoria's Secret didn't bring the results hoped for. Kleenex works in a pinch but please don't reveal the source of this wisdom."

Vaguebook tripper:  "So hurt."
Me:  "I understand.  Preparation H only does so much to help me too."  

Vaguebook tripper: "Why?  I just don't understand."
Me:  "I know.  A lot of people are confused about whether Lady Gaga is a man or a woman.  Just give your confusion over to the Lord and be at peace."

Vaguebook tripper:  "Why do some people thrive on hurting others?"
Me: "My husband asked me this just the other day when we got in an argument and I locked him in the closet.  Thanks for the reminder, I need to go check on him..."

Vaguebook tripper:  "What's a family for anyway?"
Me: "It makes for great tax breaks.  At least that's why I kept having kids...others have their own reasons I'm sure."

Vaguebook tripper: "Please somebody just wake me up when Christmas is over..."
Me: "Will the guy you've been sleeping with not be available that day to wake you up?  I'll try to remember to set a reminder on my phone to call you and wake you up."

Vaguebook tripper:  "Might just be done with it all..."
Me:  "I know. I left MySpace a long time ago too. So lame." 

Vaguebook tripper: "Can't handle this, I'm checking out..."
Me: "Can I have first dibs on your shoe collection?"

Vaguebook tripper: "Heaven can't wait any longer."
Me:  "Thanks for the idea...this is going to make for a great Southern Gospel song lyric..."

This tactic didn't go over too well.  :)

So seriously...what DID happen when I have responded to people's vague statuses in a specific, straight-to-the-point way in an effort to understand?  I'll tell  you tomorrow once you've stopped cry-laughing.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What to do about facebook status guilt trips

A man once said, "My mother in law should be a travel agent because she specializes in guilt trips."

The truth about guilt trips is, you don't have to take them! You can say no.  I realize it's easier said than done and today I'm going to give you a few tools to actually say no.

What is a guilt trip? It's a manipulative tool some people use to try to influence the actions of others.

Now that inventions like facebook have come on the scene it's unfortunately even easier to try to guilt trip someone.  How?  Through status updates, particularly through vaguebooking.

Vaguebooking is an intentionally vague Facebook status update that prompts someone else to ask what's going on.  Or, it is a manipulative cry for help.

This can happen at any time of the year but holidays are times when it seems these things can really flare up. Let's say you have decided to have Christmas this year with your spouse's side of your family, or with friends unrelated, or maybe with no one at all.  Maybe you've booked a Christmas vacation to the Bahamas! Good for you.  So your plans have been made but a family member (hereafter known as "the tripper") is angry and is trying to guilt you into complying with their wishes. 

A tripper's bold facebook guilt trip status might look like this:

"Wish I could spend Christmas with certain people..."

The tripper writes this little manipulative bomb, launches it and then sits there waiting for the explosion.  The worst thing that can happen in their mind is:  nothing.  That's right.  More than anything they want to get a response out of you.  And ideally they want you to apologize or change your plans.

Let's talk about an option that's not as bold.  The tripper might just write one word: "Wishing..."

What do they hope to accomplish by this one word?  It's bait.  They are desperately hoping someone will be curious enough to comment with, "what are you wishing for?" To which they might respond, "Oh, just for someone to spend Christmas with."

Or the tripper might expand their guilt trip to two words: "So hurt..."

They are waiting with baited breath for someone to respond with: "Hurt?  What's wrong? Are you okay?  I'm here for you...you're in my prayers, blah blah blah..."   (The more people who comment, the more the guilt tripper is loving it. Their greatest nightmare is that no one will comment. That will throw them into a worse fit. And the are hoping beyond hope that you are reading the comments from others affirming their status.)

Comments are the trippers greatest asset because they give them an open door to say, "oh....I'm just hurting because I'm thinking about how Christmas is going to be soooo awful this year."

When you hold fast to your boundaries and stand up to them, the tripper will probably continue with a status update something like this:

"Why?  I just don't understand...."

or  "Why do some people thrive on hurting others?"

or... "What's a family for anyway?"

or... "Please somebody just wake me up when Christmas is over..."

If the tripper has further mental and spiritual instability they may go a step further to post a threat like:

"...might just be done with it all..."

or

"can't handle this.  I'm checking out..."

or they might even cloak it in a bit of religious jargon:

"heaven can't wait any longer..."

So what do you do about this?  I know it's hard when you are dealing with this kind of witchcraft.  That's actually what it is.  Manipulation of this kind of absolutely witchcraft, but if you tried to tell someone that they would be appalled.  They would cry out, "Witchcraft!??  Are you crazy?  It's love! I do this because I love you!!"  (Then they'd tell everyone in the family you called them a witch. This would also be an action designed to get you to move in their direction.)

Some people have a warped sense of love. Manipulation, guilt trips and jealousy are not love.  So what do you do?

1)  Do not respond at all to any of these statuses publicly or privately. That's exactly what the tripper wants more than anything: your response!  
2)  Ignore whatever behavior you do not want to see continue.
3) Respond back only when spoken to with respect and devoid of manipulation.
4) Pray blessing over them, and release them and the situation to God for Him to deal with.
5) Hide them from your facebook wall, at least for now. (It's not healthy for you.)
6)  Find like-minded healthy friends who understand and will help you to stay strong and encourage you in keeping your boundaries.
7)  Speaking of boundaries, read Boundaries by John Townsend and Henry Cloud.  I read it a few times a year and it helps me. I can't say it enough: this book should be in everyone's personal library and read at least once. I encourage everyone in our church to read it.
8)  Go on with your life and enjoy it.

I hope this helps all of you out there who deal with trippers.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Having ourselves a merry little Christmas...

Last night's leadership Christmas party at our home...the last guest didn't leave til' after 1:30 am, and a great time was had by all.  I wish I could sleep all day today.  I'm exhausted!  But, I have so much to do for Christmas so I've got a full day today. It was all worth it! Love spending time with our leaders.  Here are some photo highlights of the festivities last night.




Sunday, December 18, 2011

Hot crab dip that will leave your guests screaming for more

We'll serve this dish tonight -- another popular one at our leadership Christmas party and many other functions. Being that I'm from Baltimore, I love seafood and anything that contains crabmeat.  Old Bay Seasoning makes it into many things we eat in our house all year round.  I use it to season everything from my chicken salad (yes, that's the extra "yum" ingredient that everyone wonders about that gives the chicken salad it's extra special flavor), to soups to many other things. If you take this to a party be prepared for people to ask you for the recipe!

Hot Crab Dip

2 cans crab meat (I always use white, not claw.  And, I use fresh crab meat if it's available.  If it's fresh I use 1 cup.)
2 packages of cream cheese softened to room temperature
1 cup sour cream
¼ cup mayonnaise
¼ tsp onion salt
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp Old Bay Seasoning and extra to sprinkle on top

Mix cream cheese, sour cream, mayo, onion salt, dry mustard, and Worcestershire sauce.  Add crab meat and mix.  Spray small casserole dish with cooking spray.  Place mixture in casserole dish and sprinkle lightly with Old Bay.  Cover with lid or foil.  Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.  Serve with crackers or corn chips.  My favorite thing to eat with this dip are Fritos "Scoops."  Out of this world!    

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Artichoke Dip so great your guests will moan while they eat it...

Things are super busy today getting ready for our leadership Christmas open house.  I have a lot on my mind to write about but not a lot of time to do that adequately. So, I'm going simple and posting a recipe  -- one of the favorites that we serve at the party.  People love, love, love this and it's so easy to put together.  Enjoy.


Artichoke Dip

8 ounces softened cream cheese
12 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup parmesan cheese
2 small jars or 1 larger jar marinated artichoke hearts

Drain artichokes well.  Tear apart with fingers and put in mixing bowl.  Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl, well.  Bake in greased casserole dish 30 minutes at 350.  Serve hot with Ritz crackers. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Hospitality Hints from the Hostess with the Mostest!


Forget calling, responsibility and all that stuff..............I'm convinced some people might stay on our leadership team simply because they want to come to our Christmas party!  ::giggles:: 


Every Christmas my husband and I host a party at our home to show our love and appreciation to our Celebration Church leaders.  Between 70-80 people usually come as our leaders are invited to bring their spouse and kids.



Everyone loves this party from the youngest to oldest!  We do everything from eat (of course!) to play games, and sit around the fire, and sing carols around the piano, and dance, and talk, talk, and talk some more.  


We start at 6:00 PM and usually the last person leaves by about 2:00 AM.  I did mention that our name is Celebration Church?  Emphasis on the CELEBRATION.


Being a person that loves fresh culinary ideas, I'm always wanting to try something new but every time I dare mention changing the menu there is an outcry...."Nooooooooooooo! Don't change it!"  These folks go postal if I suggest omitting any menu items. So, I don't. One year I omitted the artichoke dip and someone almost had a cow.  So back on it went.


As a general rule Larry and I provide everything for this as a special appreciation to our people but there are those extra helpful folks who always say, "PD, I really want to help by bringing something, so pleassssssssssssssssse let me."  I never turn down help.  So a few of them will bring dishes to contribute and those are the items on the menu that may be different from year to year.  If they bring something I let them decide what it is, but ask that it be along the lines of appetizer or dessert.


 This weekend we are not getting much rest on our day off because I'm getting all of this ready -- both the food and the house.  The big party is Sunday night but it takes me a few days to get everything in order.

People often ask me for ideas along the lines of hospitality and I'm happy to help. In case you're looking for some menu ideas, here's our tried and true one that we've done for the past 10 years straight.


  If you'd like any of the recipes just comment and I'll be glad to post a recipe.  


 

Leadership Christmas Party Menu

Hot Crab Puff Appetizers (people go bonkers over these and I do mean bonnnnnnnkers!!)
 
PD's famous chicken salad sandwiches (I serve them on a variety of breads ~ croissants, King's Hawaiian Bread, 12 Grain Bread, Martin's Potato Rolls among them - we go through several large trays of these.)

Cream Cheese & Pepper Jelly with Crackers
Mexican Layered Dip with Tortilla Chips
Hot Crab Dip with Scoops
Hot Artichoke Dip with Assorted Crackers
Cheese and Olive Tray
Vegetable and Dip Tray
Cocktail Smokies wrapped in croissant
Cocktail Meatballs
Chocolate Eclairs
Cream Puffs

Mini Cheesecakes

New addition this year: Chocolate, Vanilla and Red Velvet Cake Balls (My husband is making them - new recipe he fell in love with from our friend Kirstyn Visconti.)
Grape Punch
Iced Tea
Coffee


All of the photos in this blog post are from last year's event.  I'll post some from this year once it's over Sunday night!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

5 ways to get something done when you don't feel like it

People who are most effective in life have in common that they get things done regardless of what comes up.  Dependability is one of the most important soft skills a person can possess.

Right now you may not feel like you're at your optimal best with hustle and bustle and holiday stress. I know the feeling. The other night it was all I could do to get through a rehearsal, I was so physically and emotionally exhausted from the extra holiday load.  Then a few days ago a cold sore showed up on my lip -- always one of the telltale signs that I'm stressed.

But I know that my success depends on me pushing through the more challenging days and doing what needs to be done in spite of the way I may feel. Your success depends on that too.

Here are five things that help me to press on when I feel like stopping or procrastinating:

1) Start the day with a bit more self care

For me this means extra time to get ready in the morning.  I like to start my day quietly with just the natural light coming through the window (or on the days I get up before the sun comes up, with just the shower light on) in the bathtub.  I sink down in the warm water and lay there just soaking or talking to God.  This really helps me get centered for the busy day ahead.

2)  Build rewards in the middle of your day

Rewards needn't be expensive or complicated.  Mine aren't, for sure.  My rewards are things like a cup of coffee or tea each afternoon while I take a few minutes to put aside my work and read something for pleasure.  I only allow myself to do this once I've finished at least half to three quarters of my initiatives.

3)  Make a playlist that inspires you as you work

I use everything from my Zune to Spotify to Pandora.  I have playlists for all kinds of things, even an "I don't feel like doing anything, so kick me in the pants" playlist.  It works!

4)  Make a checklist  

I'm a huge list fan.  My "Initiative List" is on my Outlook each day and I refer to it to check off each thing as I do it.  Break it down into smaller steps and take joy in checking off each thing as you do it.  If you're an accomplishment junkie like I am this will bring you exceedingly great joy. 

5)  Set up something in advance to look forward to at the end of the day


Again it needn't be elaborate or expensive.  My something to look forward to is often knowing that I'm going to watch a certain TV show at night when I'm done with work, or having a plan to make a cup of coffee and call a friend.  Other times my plan is to go out with friends.

Whatever the case, don't procrastinate!  It just makes things worse and leads to a case of the overwhelmings when a due date is upon you and you have nothing done.  Or, it brings great stress when your boss calls you on the carpet for not doing what you're supposed to do.  Fortunately for me that has never happened because I do the things listed above and get it done.  Come to think of it I don't recall one time any boss I've ever had has had to reprimand me for not getting things done. My current boss as well as most if not all of my previous ones read my blog, so they are welcome to correct me here in the comments if they want to if I'm wrong about this.  

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Is this really true?

Yesterday I found this saying on Pinterest and re-pinned it to my "I so agree!" board that I made. (Yes, Pinterest is fast becoming my new favorite thing...)

I find myself getting very philosophical about things like this and meditating on it for days.  Is it really true that very little is needed to make a happy life?

I'm convinced that it's true, especially for Christians.

I remember the first time I worshipped in Mathare Valley, in Kenya, Africa with some of the most poverty stricken people in the world.  They don't have running water (other than sewage running with rainwater in the alleyways of the slum) and they don't have electricity or toilets or all the things we have.  Dogs are loose wild animals and not pets, and they don't have healthcare or coffee bars on every corner, but they do have happiness.

I saw it.

When we worshipped in the church that November morning, it was amazing to see so many fall to the ground worshipping, crying out with a loud voice, "THANK YOU, FATHER! THANK YOU FOR ALL THAT WE HAVE!"  Yes, I felt like an idiot, and yes, I wept.

I thought, "what do they have, Lord?"  They quickly taught me about what it really means to be blessed. 

I believe it does take very little to make for a happy life.  I've been different since coming home that November back in 2007.  My husband thought I needed counseling at first.  He thought someone stole his wife and wanted her back.  I sat in the tub and cried every time I took a bath. I ran around shutting off the water and the lights.  I went postal about wasted food.  And I cried a lot.  Finally a missionary told my husband I was not in need of therapy. He said, "Pastor, your wife is not upside down, she's finally right side up.  Everyone else is upside down -- they are the ones who need the counseling."  (Thank God for missionary friends!)

This week I have been really happy.  Ironically things are a little tight in our household this week.  Not by African standards, but by American ones...we have paid our bills but don't have extra money left over.  I haven't been buying Starbucks or even going Christmas shopping or anything extra.  We've done things like stay home and make soup and clean the house.

And I'm happy.

Really happy!