Saturday, June 30, 2012

What Can The Church Learn From Club Med?

I love my kids and  I love other people's kids. I believe children are a heritage of the Lord - a blessing to be highly valued.

Although our children are precious treasures, there are times that everyone needs to be away from kids -- their own, or other people's.

This week was one of those times for Larry and me. One of the reasons our marriage has lasted for 25 years is, we prioritize time for the two of us, without our children. We need this for the health of our relationship. My favorite part of this week were the "adults only areas" of Club Med. They were really strict about it -- no exceptions. The church could learn a lot from this! 

When you go away with your husband or wife, private time in your hotel room is a given. But what about the other times? Sometimes you want public-private time with your spouse, as much of an oxymoron as that seems.  And sometimes it's about being in a setting where when you engage in conversation or activities, it's fully adult-centered. Adult meals. Adult conversation. Adult entertainment. Not that kind, but you know what I mean.

Club Med has adults only areas they are serious as a heart attack about, and I love that.

Love it, love it, love it.

One of my favorite public spots was the adults only "calm pool". It's on the opposite side of the property from the other pools, and I understand why.  Larry and I enjoyed our own little spot right next to the pool.  It was peace on steroids!

We rested here, while servers brought us chilled slices of fresh fruit, and endless cold sodas. We sat in the quiet...and said nothing at times. We read in silence. We talked in soft tones and held hands. Heaven - that's what it was. We heard no clanging spoons and no request to re-fill sippy cups. We heard no crying. No one was running around. There was no pushing or jumping or splashing or squealing. It was serene.

In reviews online, some parents complained about the distance from the family pool to the adult pool, but I totally get why Club Med set it up this way. If both pools were right next to each other, kids would run from the family pool to the adult pool and yell over the fence to their parents. Thus the calm would quickly cease. 

Club Med also has an adults only dining room. Not even nursing babies are allowed in this area. My beloved and I spend every single meal -- breakfast, lunch and dinner --  at a table for two, looking into each others eyes and having in depth conversations.  It was heaven! Then we went outside each night to our own little private outdoor bed and watched the sunset.

It was so quiet we could hear the birds chirping, and fish jumping and I could even hear my husband's heartbeat as I lay my head on his chest.

I know this will be controversial to some that I say this, but I'm never one to shy away from a speaking truth. The church can learn something from Club Med.

I love kids. And one of the best things for kids is when healthy adults lead them.

I've been a pastor/pastor's wife for 25 years. It has been almost impossible for me to plan an event for the last 25 years where someone didn't ask me to break the rules regarding bringing kids to adult- only events. This holds true  whether they be "girls nights out" for ladies, or couples events, or adults only  dinners/ministry. My husband has even faced this problem with men's events!

People tend to get bent out of shape when you hold to the adults-only expectation. I'm not saying we should have an overkill of adult only events, in fact I've tried to plan just a few per year, but always, without exception, had issues. 

I wondered if I was alone.

Recently I sent a private Facebook message to about 10 of my pastor/pastor's wife friends. I asked them if they faced the same thing and wanted some ideas about how to respond. Every single one of them said they face this problem.

Some church folks would say, "well, that's why there needs to be child care for events."

I understand.

For many of our events years ago I actually hired professional licensed child care workers from outside the church to come in and do child care for events so all of our people could come, and no one would be working at an event. One time I hired registered nurses to come in. You can't get better top of the line care than that!  And each time I still had people wanting to break the rules.

I've found there will be someone who will want an exception no matter what you provide.  

Some people want to bring their child into the event saying that they don't do well with people they don't know (even nurses and other such qualified people) and are were more comfortable keeping them with them. Sometimes the excuse will be, "I'm breastfeeding." (I nursed too but that was what a pump was for - when I went to "adults only" occasions, pumped bottles really came in handy!) Some say their kids are so well behaved and other adults in attendance don't mind helping to care for them at the event.  Some bring their older (pre-school or elementary age) kids for whatever reason even when asked not to and this really puts a leader in a very  uncomfortable spot. 

When a church leader/event organizer holds firm to the "no children at the event" rule they are perceived as having no grace. Sometimes it really causes a conflict. 

What do I think the church can learn from Club Med?

Kids are a priority at Club Med. There are all special events and areas for them, and for them to experience with or without their parents. They are not left out or uncared for. They are valued.

Adults are a priority at Club Med. There are special events and areas for them. And, on the things that are "adults only" Club Med does not budge one iota that it will remain adults only. And they really don't care if somebody gets mad. It just is what it is.

This week I had some of the most peaceful times I have ever had. It was such wonderful time with the one I love - a time that helped us to move forward in our ever growing relationship. 

I realize the church is not a hotel or resort nor are we supposed to be. I'm just saying when we have specialized ministry for married couples, or for men and women to grow as individuals and couples, would it not behoove us to create and hold fast to an atmosphere that is conducive to that?

I can't help but wonder...why can't we have this in our churches just once in a while?

Is it really too much to ask?

Friday, June 29, 2012

What's So Unique About Husband and Wife?

"Celebrate in the way that only a husband and wife can..."

These words were written in a card that we received on Sunday at our anniversary reception from long-time friends, Andy and Joy Morey.

Written words get my attention. More than the spoken word, they jump out at me and marinate in my brain for hours or days. Sometimes longer. The words Joy wrote (I could tell it was her handwriting, not Andy's) stuck with me.

"Celebrate in the way that only a husband and wife can..."

That is a really super-charged statement because lots of people in other relationships believe their celebrations are really, really good.

What takes place between husband and wife though, is not just good. God called it good, yes. And He also calls it a mystery. And mystery makes all the difference.

It will forever transcend other alternatives.

No matter how culture or law or anything else changes. Worldly vicissitude can't touch what is holy. What God has joined together.

People can get mad. They can be angry, protest or do whatever they want to do to challenge it. They can hate what God has blessed and still that will never take away His blessing.

It is what it is!

To further add to the blessing of a Godly marriage, the meaning and the depth becomes stronger as the years go by. Those who are celebrating five years experience something deeper than they do at fifteen or twenty five or fifty. Shared history is very powerful. Shared Godly history even more so.

What God originated He also blessed. It didn't start with the government, it started with God.

I share this not to be mystical or funny although some might take it that way. I'm risking countless double entendres and jokes not to mention backlash from those who don't agree. And still I speak the truth because it compels me.

The love of a husband and wife and the meaning of what and how they celebrate will always carry an unexplainable and all surpassing measure of intimacy than any other relationship because it is both natural and supernatural. It is the only earthly relationship that has this intrinsic quality.

What is blessed by God can't fully be understood by man. Those who experience it don't even fully grasp it!

And it definitely isn't understood by carnal man. To many it seems unfair. Why would He limit this unfathomable intimacy to husbands and wives? The Bible itself refers to it as a mystery. Ephesians 5:31-32 says, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery..."

I was reminded of this as my husband and I were celebrating last night. Yes, as only a husband and wife can.

I was moved to tears.

Not sad ones.

Grateful ones. Of course I explained that. :)

The awesomeness of the mystery was and is overwhelming to me.

I don't cry over a lot of things in life and when I do there's always a significant reason.

Earlier in the afternoon Larry posted, "Exactly 25 years ago at this time I kissed my bride. I still call her my bride..." on his Facebook status.

Throughout the day we were reminded of what we were doing 25 years earlier and we talked about it. Later in the evening without even really planning it, we ended up going to go to bed at about the same time that we did on our wedding night.

We talked about what the first time was like.

And what it's like now.

Me: So are you gonna update your Facebook status? You could say, "Exactly 25 years ago I made love with my bride for the first time. I still make love with her today..."



Holding each other in the quietness.

Him: This is just one more thing I love about you... [referring to my grateful tears...]

Me: Thanks.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

10 Ideas to Have More (Legal) Fun With Your Spouse

Okay, so Deanna and Larry are here to help you pump up the volume of FUN in your marriage today if you need some fresh ideas...

1) Go camping. Just pitch a tent in your backyard if you don't have time to actually go to a campsite. Sleep in the same sleeping bag. (Naked.)

2)  Stop at a photo booth in the mall and take some pictures together. (Clothed)

3)  Do something together recreationally that you've never done before. (Hint: no, not smoking pot. Remember, we said this was legal. Just good clean fun.) By recreationally we mean  something like zip lining or kayaking. Larry and I went zip lining in Cozumel this past year.  

4) Are you a woman? You might want to try some Zestra. I did, and wrote about it here.

5) Do karaoke together. Sing a popular love song duet like "I Got You Babe," "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing, Baby" or "Endless Love." If one of you has absolutely no singing talent, this makes it a lot more fun. If you are with a group of friends this takes it to a whole 'notha level!  

6) Pack a bag and leave overnight (together) having no idea where you're headed. Just start driving and spontaneously do stuff as you go along. On one of these trips, Larry and I found what has now become one of my all time favorite places to eat, and my latest and greatest food craving.

7) Get Playstation 3 Dance Party, or borrow it from a friend. Larry and I got it for Christmas and then played it at our New Year's Eve Party with a bunch of friends. So much fun we should have been arrested!

8) Pick a brand new TV show that's going to be "your show" that you watch every week together. Right now our show that we never miss together is, "Dogs in the City." (Max and Maddie like watching it with us too.) Pop some popcorn. Snuggle up.

9) Get a massage kit and learn some basic body massage techniques to try on your partner. Larry and I get a lot our stuff  from here.  Turn your bedroom at home into a spa... burning the yummy smelling oils all that good stuff. Just be careful when you use candles, or anything with fire. Larry and I have had so much fun, we lit a place on fire once. Well, actually more than once, but who's counting? Our friends are still laughing. Especially Lisa Alexander who reminds me of the Miami fire incident all the time. 

10) Before you try to spice up your marriage, put the spice back in YOU. Invest in areas you've been neglecting. Groom yourself like you're going on your honeymoon again for the first time. It's time to bring sexy & fun back if they've left the building.
Last time I wrote a post of this nature, a lady said she was going to call our district superintendent to report me, but couldn't find the number. Just in anyone feels the need to report me for writing about the amazing blessings of marital love and fun, let me save you the trouble of having to look up the information:

Rev. Terry Raburn, Pen-Florida District Council
(863) 683-5726


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Marriage, Marriage and MORE Marriage!!!

Today's the day! Twenty five years of marriage with my man. We've been together now more years than we lived without each other. I am so thankful for him.

In honor of this occasion, I'm going to reach back into the archives and find ten of my favorite marriage-related posts. I've written a lot on the blog about marriage, because it's one of my passions.  For those of you who have been reading for a while but may have missed these little you go. 

 Are You Married to Your Opposite?
The Funniest Question I Ever Got at a Marriage Seminar
Two Words of Knowledge and One Husband Later
Make Your Husband Happy This Weekend (and longer if you dare!)
Who's That With Dad?
Change Up the Playlist!
You Thought I Was Kidding? (My review of Zestra)
Why You Should Have Sex As Much as Possible
My Husband Is Going To Be Married To Four or Five Women Before It's All Over
How to Wake Up and Change Lives Each Day Before You Even Get out of Bed

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

When Your Spouse Needs to Grow Up

I've heard it said that marriage is not so much about finding the right person but becoming the right person. I believe there's a lot of truth to that statement.

When Larry and I met, we were just teenagers.

We had a lot of growing up to do.

We still do.

Still growing up in our 40's? With two of our kids already grown? And a third almost grown?

Yes. We are more committed than ever to learning and growing. It never stops.

I've changed so much since we've been married, I recently blogged about how my husband will be "married to four or five women by the time it's over...".  By this I'm not referring to sister wives. :)

I've just gone though so many inner changes, not to mention I change my hair color every month. People at church lovingly tease that "if you've only seen one shade of Pastor Deanna's're probably a newcomer..." Ha!

Larry has changed a lot too. I loved him as he was when I married him, and at the same time I'm so grateful God has worked on him.

 We still laugh about being married just a few months and having no money -- wondering how we were going to buy groceries or gas, and he got a Nintendo. A Nintendo!!!

I remember him walking in the door with it and I screamed at him, "oh my God, what are we going to do? Smash it up and eat it?!!"

Yeah, that didn't win me any wife of the year awards. [sigh]

He thought I was having a nervous breakdown or something. Actually I think I was...

He was just 19, and well...that's very typical teenage behavior even for a married guy. Heck, he still likes video games today although he would never, ever choose to buy one now over taking care of the basic needs of our household.

I've talked to a lot of women who complain that their husband needs to grow up. One thing I learned really quickly was that Larry rarely changed or matured based upon anything I nagged him into doing. In fact, that usually made things worse. He did, however, change a lot as I prayed for him, and as I spent the majority of the time working on myself.

So if you're reading this today and your spouse needs to grow up...PRAY.

Then pray some more.

Along with praying, examine all the things in your life that need to change. Focus diligently your own shortcomings, and developing the fruit of the spirit in your life. Watch God do something amazing.

Larry often tells people, "I'm so blessed because my wife is such a woman of prayer..."

Well duh. It all started when I was faced with the prospect of putting some salt and pepper on a Nintendo and trying to eat it, or praying for a miracle.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Please Don't Lie About Marriage

Larry & I, lighting the unity candle at our wedding

Let's stop telling young people the difficult parts of marriage and parenting, so they won't be so reluctant to do both, and sooner..."

After reading this on a popular Christian blog earlier this week, I promptly unsubscribed.

I've been a reader for a while now, and the majority of what's published there is solid.  But I was so disgusted by this latest mandate, particularly directed at the thousands of wives and mothers who read the blog, I left a comment saying so, and unsubscribed.

I hate lies, and anything that even slightly smacks of deception. Even when it supposedly for a good reason.

It's unfortunately not the only time I've heard this suggestion. Some say we should keep quiet about the difficulties of marriage and keep the positive elements at the forefront so young adults will be enticed to make a commitment to marriage. The blogger I reference here is very concerned about young adults waiting so long these days to make a marriage commitment, and even longer in many cases to have children. She speaks of the physical dangers of women having children later and by virtue of this choice, grandparents of the future being much older when their children become parents. Last time I checked, it was okay for grandparents to be old. But whatever.

Being positive is a good thing in general. But acting as if marriage is easy or always pleasant and  hiding the challenges one will inevitably face renders our young people unprepared. The first time they have an obstacle in their marriage they'll believe they are odd. Or alone. Or that they've married the wrong person and need to start all over.

Marriage is wonderful. Marriage is also challenging. That's why I'm reveling in the fact that I've been married 25 years this Wednesday. It's a huge accomplishment, one that at least half of everyone who does it never achieves. So yeah, I'm pretty excited about it. 

Being honest brings healing. Cover-ups bring confusion and hurt. One of the greatest gifts anyone ever gave me in marriage was transparency about their own. Many years ago when Larry and I first began lead pastoring, we had a conflict in our marriage. I felt very alone. Pastors and their spouses opening up about fights or difficulties was kind of rare back then. Actually it's still not popular today...

I asked a pastor's wife if I could meet with her and ask some questions, to learn from her. She happily obliged. I'm so grateful to this day for all this dear woman imparted to me. When sharing with her about the conflict we were going through, she blessed me with pure honesty. She vulnerably shared  the nitty gritty of a specific conflict she and her husband had when they first started out. It was along the same lines that I was dealing with. She  was honest with me that it took years to resolve. It was actually refreshing to me to hear somebody speak in such realistic terms! I left there knowing I wasn't alone. I would say that it took Larry and I about five years to resolve that particular conflict.

Five. Whole. Years.

That doesn't sound exciting or pretty, but it's the truth.

Some things don't resolve quickly. Even if you haven't "let the sun go down on your wrath" there are still issues that come up in marriage that might take significant time to fully resolve. And that doesn't mean you're a failure...or that you should give up. So please, don't. If you are struggling...give it more time.

Larry and I teach marriage seminars together now and if you would have told me years ago that we'd be doing that I would have laughed you out of the room. But here we are. :) And one thing we always share in our teachings is the statistics show that 85% of people get divorced for "non-severe reasons." Surveys have shown the divorce does not make people happy and that a majority of people who were going to get a divorce but stuck it out were happy years later.  

There are seasons of marriage.

Sometimes a season can last for years. Our young people need to know that seasons are normal. Lying about this is on the front end before they commit is not a good thing because once they are in, they just might think a season is a sign they need to give up!  

Today you might be reading this and feel very alone, or believe things are beyond hope in your marriage. Perhaps the thought has crossed your mind, "Our conflicts aren't resolving and we've been at odds for two might be time for us to part ways..." Can I just implore you not to do that? 

No marriage is perfect because people aren't perfect.

Perhaps what you may need right now is to talk to some married people who are honest enough to admit they've been there too.

People who are willing to admit they've been to counseling.

People who are willing to admit it's not all wine and roses. (Especially if you're in the AG, it's just roses, no wine.)

People who are willing to admit that many times your marriage is a lot more about your holiness than your happiness.

There are days marriage is easier and days it is harder, but every day God gives grace come what may.

God created marriage. There's no need to lie about it to get more people involved in it. Just live it honestly. I've found people aren't so much looking to follow perfect people, but they are attracted to perfectly honest people.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

God's Blessings Raining Down...

So tropical storm Debby hit the Tampa Bay area last night and is still going strong today and this is an actual photo from a news report of some people with canoes in the streets! Talk about crazy!

Everybody's talking about the rain but my day hasn't really been focused on the storm, but on the blessings in the storm. I heard of at least two churches this morning who sang,"Let it Rain" and were sorry they did. LOL!  At Celebration Church we didn't sing Let it Rain, but God's blessings rained down.

We had a great service and they celebrated our 25th Anniversary of marriage and ministry.

 The actual day is June 27...this Wednesday, and a reception was held at church today.

Here's one of my favorite photos-- Dinah Velazquez (church member and owner of Dinah-mite Photos) has a flair for capturing special moments. She and Gary Boggess (of Boggess Video & Sound) also created this special video of wedding and family photos that was shown during the service and reception. It made the day super special!

Blessings just kept raining down as our dear friends Andy and Joy Morey and their daughter Miranda walked in the doors of our reception.

 They are friends from bible college who were at our wedding 25 years ago!  And they came to celebrate with us today. Joy spoke of her memories of the day -- what a hot day it was (the hottest temp all summer that year!) and what joy was on our faces as we came back down the aisle...

 We did have joy on our faces and still say "I do" today, through the good and bad...

 The greatest blessing God has rained down on me is my family...serving the Lord together -- faith and fun have kept us strong...

This week the church has given us a great blessing -- in addition to the reception today they made arrangements to send us to Club Med Sandpiper Bay.  We will have a romantic getaway this week. Can't wait!

Some are saying..."the storms are supposed to continue all week...what a bummer..."

I'm sure we'll find something to do. :)

Thanks Celebration Church board, church family, all of the ladies who decorated and prepared food (I'm afraid to mention someone for fear of leaving someone out), but a few I know who had a tremendous lot to do with the day are Candy Rivera, Becky Faux, and Michele Danielson. Christine Cabrera, thanks for an amazing cake! The most amazing EV-er!

Is this a spectacular cake or what? It speaks of my love for animal prints, (pink, red & black) and Larry's love for zebra cakes. :)

Thank you Dinah Velazquez and Rachael Rice for capturing all the moments of our day so beautifully. I can't wait to see all of the photos once they're up. I'm sure some of them will make their way to the blog this week. 

It rained today in Tampa Bay in more ways than one.

I'm grateful for the rain.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

What should happen to Dottie Sandusky?

Although twelve people in Bellfonte, Pennsylvania know how they feel about sexual abuse, many other people still haven’t figured it out yet.
Watching the footage on the news last night, after a jury convicted Jerry Sandusky of 45 out of 48 charges of sexual abuse, I had to restrain myself from throwing something at the TV when his wife Dottie came out of the courthouse. The cameras focused on her as some friends consoled and embraced her.

Quite frankly, it makes me sick.

How many little boys’ would have been spared had Dottie Sandusky simply walked out of la-la land down to the basement? 

How many young adult men would not be in need of therapy had she made the decision to refuse to look the other way?  

While Dottie Sandusky busied herself doing God knows what in other areas of the house, little boys were living out the most horrifying experiences of their lives.     

It is preposterous for anyone to believe that she didn't know something was wrong. Women by nature are very intuitive. Either she didn't want to know, or she's mentally challenged. I haven't heard any reports that she is learning disabled.

So, women -- I ask you,  if your husband started bringing young boys home literally hundreds of times and going into the basement with them each time at night, would you not think something was amiss and investigate?  If Dottie Sandusky saw nothing it was because she chose to see nothing. She made a decision to stay upstairs with her head in the proverbial sand.  She kept the illusion of her perfect marriage and Christian family intact, and held on to her house and bank least temporarily.

Countless little boys paid the price for her self-preservation.  I use the word countless simply because at this point, that’s reality. How many other young men have yet to come forward?  

Do we really want to do whatever it takes to stop sexual abusers?   We speak about how horrendous sexual abuse is and what should happen to offenders. Everything comes up from vigilante justice to torture to prison to the death penalty.  It’s easy for most to spout off these things until somebody they know has been found guilty of sexual abuse. When your loved one is exposed, it’s easy to soften…to think the punishment a little too severe.

Mrs. Sandusky was observed winking at her husband in the courtroom while she was testifying on the stand. Instead of admitting her colossal failure to investigate her husband's bizarre behavior she took the opportunity instead to call the accusers "clingy" and "conniving."
Talk about a double victimization.

 Many women like Dottie Sandusky have a greater in interest in self-preservation than doing what is right for their children.  When they reap the consequence of that choice, why do so many sympathize? We still don’t have our minds made up about abuse in America, or we would side with the victim every time.

Every. Single. Time. 

I'm already seeing some status updates and comments on Facebook from some bleeding heart Christians, praying for Jerry Sandusky's soul, that God would spare him and help him.  Christians often ask the question: “What would Jesus would do?”

Okay, let’s go there…

Jesus clearly told everybody to never hinder the children. (Hindering would include rape, by the way.)

Jesus was really clear on what happens to anybody who harms children. It's serious business. He said the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to the children. He said if anyone leads the children astray, it would be better a millstone hung around their neck and that they be thrown into the sea. It doesn't sound like Jesus is just making sure they are not within 1,200 feet of a school or sending them to a program.  Jesus extends some rather tough love on people who harm kids. People  are often wishy-washy about what should happen to people who hurt kids, but Jesus isn’t confused.  

Thankfully 12 jurors got it right last night. We cannot take the chance that one of these people might be able to be rehabilitated. Might is not good enough when it comes to our kids welfare. Even if someone could be rehabilitated, that doesn't mean they should not have to be removed from society for their crime.  Thank you, Bellfonte jurors, for doing the right thing.

A personal friend who lives in State College says, "Our city has been through so much already...once this trial is over it's time to put it to rest now and heal."

Really? Seriously?

[Deep breath here...]

I don't think so. Not quite yet.  There are a few more people to call to account.

Dottie Sandusky is at the top of the list.

 A lot of people are going after Penn State and Mike McQuery, but please, let’s not forget the woman who could have blown the whistle on this whole thing a long time ago and spared a lot of lives but didn’t.

Do wives and mothers just get a free pass when they cover up crimes?  If Dottie Sandusky isn’t called to account as an individual, it appears so.  

Some say, “God will set things right some day…”

Oh please. This is jut another excuse.

Why wait for eternity when God has given us the power to set things right, now?

Still others will say, "She's lost her husband who will go to prison for the rest of his that not punishment enough? She must be in such pain."  Last time I checked it wasn't punishment to have a monster removed from your midst. But I know, one person's monster is another person's husband...or something like that...

Wives and mothers, I implore you to realize that a marriage is not worth covering for a monster. If your husband is abusing kids, you are living a sham, not a marriage. If your live-in boyfriend is abusing kids, why on earth are you still with him? The time to dump him and report him is NOW.  Whatever material possessions you lose are small in comparison to what the child is losing and can never get back. Don’t wait another second.

Fear of what we might lose personally in stopping crimes against children needs to stop.

It’s time to move beyond the lousy excuses of self-preservation and fear and do the right thing.

Friday, June 22, 2012

So it's not fair. Now what?

My husband walked into our bedroom late one night in the year 2000, and handed me a book as I was lying in bed. The book was entitled, Who Moved My Cheese...An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and In Your Life, by Spencer Johnson and Kenneth Blanchard. I read about two chapters of the book and got so angry, I threw the book across the room.

It slammed against the wall and fell behind my husband's dresser where it stayed for the next year.

I was mad. So mad.

Angry at unwanted and unwelcome change in my life.  Railing out about unfair circumstances.

Larry let the book stay behind the dresser without saying anything. He quietly prayed for me for the next year, waiting patiently for me to come around.  He's always known who had the power to get through to me when he couldn't. Larry says, "When I can't get through to my wife about something, I've always had reassurance that it's going to be okay because I married a woman of God who prays. And when my words aren't breaking through, I ask God to speak to her and He always does."

For those of you who haven't read the book, it's about two mice, Sniff and Scurry, and two "little people" --  miniature humans named Hem and Haw. The four of them live in a maze and hunt for cheese. They travel the corridors and end up finding their fill of cheese at "Station C" each time. They become used to the routine and are really comfortable . Then everything gets turned upside down in their world when somebody moves the cheese. Instead of heading in a different direction to find more cheese they get angry at how unfair the situation is, and they go home hungry. They keep returning to Station C, only to go hungry again. Hem and Haw keep up this behavior and keep flipping out that the cheese is gone while Sniff and Scurry decide to check out Station N and find new cheese. The rest of the book details what the four go through in adjusting to change. Hem and Haw are afraid to venture beyond Station C but they are literally starving. They spend a lot of time lamenting the unfairness of it all while Sniff and Scurry are receiving nourishment at their new cheese station.

I was there.

And I'm still there. I get mad about change just like you do. But I've learned a few things since 2000.

Twelve years ago I let the book fall behind the dresser and refused to look at it again for 12 months. I lashed out about how unfair things were. I didn't want to talk about new cheese. I just wanted old cheese to be fixed. I didn't want to discuss new cheese much less try to find it. Eventually I realized that like Hem and Haw, I would starve if I didn't. I had to change.

I still get really mad about change sometimes. What's different now is that it's a flash of anger and almost in the next breath I think about what's next and start prayerfully planning a response. The old me took months, maybe even a year to vent about the unfairness of something before I did anything. The new me allows myself a very brief time (maybe a few hours) but pretty quickly I start searching for new cheese.

An awesome technique I learned in career coaching from my former boss and friend, is to let a job seeker vent as hard as they can for about five minutes. This means letting them go for about five minutes, no holds barred. Then after getting all that gunk out of their system, we can move forward to talk about their options for the future. 

Most of us spend way too much time venting about old cheese and we wonder why we're so hungry.

If you find yourself in this category, I invite you to set a timer and take about five minutes to go as hard as you can and get it out of your system. Phone a trustworthy friend, or write in your private journal. Then, start looking for new cheese.

Wonderful new flavors await you!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

3 Things You Have to Face to (Successfully) Get Through Change

Are you throwing away your choices?  You do have to go through change whether you like it or not, but you have a choice as to how you're going to respond. 

If you listen to a word I'm saying today here on post please listen to this:

You. Are. Not. Powerless.

Okay, that was four words.

But they were powerful words.

There are three reasons I believe change is harder for some people:

1) They are afraid of what people might think.
2) They are afraid of what people might say.
3) They are afraid of what people might do.

So they just let change relentlessly beat them up, with no counter-response to the change that has been thrust upon them.
So, are you ready to move through change and do more than just survive? Then you're going to have to stop being paralyzed by those three things and take whatever counter-steps you need to make for your emotional health. You've got to manage your health in the midst of whatever change you're going through.  No one else can do this for you.

When change comes, you always have choices. Here's the hard truth, my friend...sometimes your answer is just a hard but healthy counter-choice, waiting to be made.

You are not powerless but exercising your power does entail overcoming the three fears.

I believe in you. You can do this. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

One Thing That Will Keep You From Losing Your Mind In a Change

This may be the key that has helped me through difficult change more than anything else. 

Everyone needs a private life with God and one great way to express yourself in this relationship is to write letters to Him, and then let Him write back to you. How does he "write back to you"? This happens by getting quiet, listening for Him to speak to your heart, and then writing down whatever He says. I differentiate Him speaking in my journal by giving a different heading to His communication with me such as this...

June 20, 2012 Today the Lord says...

Then underneath this heading I write whatever I hear Him saying.
After this I give a new heading to my communication before I begin writing my thoughts again.

Doing this gives you a place to express your thoughts and receive from Him as well as keep a record of where you've come from. Having a record of things makes some people nervous, which is why I highly advise an online journal that is password protected. My advice is, don't share the password with anyone, not even your spouse. 

I was mentoring a woman who followed through on this advice and her husband got very upset that she wasn't going to share the password. He wanted to read it and felt it was unwise to have a secret password from your spouse. I disagree wholeheartedly. While there may be wisdom in that for other things, even most things you do online, I believe everyone has not only the right but an absolute necessity to have a private personal relationship with God. This would include private thoughts, prayers and writings.

I have kept handwritten journals, and still have one that I periodically write in. However, I've noticed that I greatly hold back when it comes to these. By contrast, the online ones are raw, uncut, and quite honestly - real. This is because I'm not afraid of who's going to read it. Having a diary under lock and key doesn't really bring this kind of freedom because I've often heard people say that they don't write  transparently because they are afraid of who might find the journal, including their children, after they die.

Again, for this reason I recommend online journaling for this kind of intimate writing. When you perish, so does it.

A few key rules of the road that make this type of writing work for me:
  • No holding back - ever. Not on language, not on emotions, not on anything. God already knows I'm thinking it anyway. If it's a thought, it goes there. 
  • No word count, no limit - tapping away on the keys for 2 hours about one irritating issue is perfectly permissible in this world of private journaling. 
  • No editing - no spell check, no going back to make something sound more eloquent. This isn't about eloquence - it's about honesty.
  • No guilt. This is a prayer. A plea. This is conversation with my Daddy God who already knows my good and bad. He's delighted that I've shown up to talk even though I might not be happy.  He loves spending time with me when I'm not happy. He wants to make it better and the awesome thing is, I'm actually talking to the person who has the power to.  
If you're going through a hard time with a change, open up an online journal and start sharing your feelings with Him. You might want to start at There are plenty of others you can use too, I'm just suggesting that one for those who may have no clue where to begin. I like that one - just be sure to set each post to private!

Have you tried journaling through changes, and if so what was your experience?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What Choice Do You Have Regarding Change?
(Besides a Nervous Breakdown)

The biggest choice people throw away is the choice to manage themselves.

How often do other people make a choice that affects you, and you respond by drowning yourself in all the wrong things? I've done it too many times to count. 

Every person has the right to manage their own health. This is about making the best decision for yourself. This might include (but is not limited to) eating right, sleeping adequately, solitude, taking vitamins, seeking natural treatments, taking medication, being under doctor's care, and of course spiritual disciplines.

Regardless of what other people do, don't throw away your choices.

Decisions come all the time that I don't particularly like or enjoy. Sometimes ones come that rock my world. And to that I say...

Time for a bike ride.
Time to take a day and go off by myself.
Time to be quiet and meditate on the Word.
Time to sleep a little more.
Time to go to the health food/vitamin store and look at what's available.
Time to take the Visa gift card someone just gave me and use it for a massage.

I used to get so upset about unwanted changes thrust upon me that I did nothing but emotionally thrash around. I was too upset to notice other options that were still mine.

No more.

Okay, so you don't have a Visa gift card. Sometimes I don't either. Walking is free. Do it. Get out there.

A few years ago an idiot rammed into the back of my car when I was sitting at a red light. It was a  Mustang convertible my husband bought me for my birthday. My very first car after 38 years. A lot of sacrifice led up to that car. Too much to tell you about here. I will just say that my husband told me that due to us co-pastoring for all the years we did together from the beginning of our marriage, we could never afford two cars. He said when he could eventually get me one, it would be worth it all. It was. Oh how I cherished that car for all it represented. Just a year before getting that car, when our family would go to McDonalds we would get one large drink and five straws, and share. When an increase came in our finances we could finally stop doing that, and get a car for me too.

So back to the idiot...

He asked me to pull over into the gas station across the street since we were blocking traffic with the accident. I believed the best in his intentions to stop blocking traffic at a busy intersection and agreed and when we got back into our cars, he sped away. I only got half his license plate and cops can't find someone on information from half a license plate.

We were stuck with the bill. I sat and cried profusely in the lot of the gas station.

The police thought I was badly injured I was sobbing so hard. I reassured them I wasn't physically hurt, just really suffering emotionally.  They said there was nothing they could do and little hope of finding the driver. I went home with the desire of eating ten hot fudge sundaes although I recollect only eating two. 

The truth was I knew it would be a long time until we could afford to fix the car.  Unfortunately it took a year and a half. I had to drive around with a smashed in rear end all that time. It kind of takes the zing out of driving a Mustang when people see the beautiful front end of your car and as you drive away they see a jacked up rear end. I didn't have much time left to really enjoy the car in all it's fullness because shortly after it was finally fixed, it was totaled in another accident, not of my choosing or decision.

This is what ultimately became of the car I had named Joy Gratefulness Shrodes:

I can't even describe to you the emotions I went through. I'm a writer but still it defies adequate explanation. As for the first hit-and-run driver, I used to call him, "Mr. RFK" since those were the first three letters of his license plate. I used to say if I ever saw him in public we'd not only have a hit and run to deal with, but a murder or at least a really severe assault and battery. LOL

To this day I haven't been able to get another car. It's been five years. In case you are interested here is my car's obituary.

So what did I do with all this rage? Well, I decided to go to the gym. Every day. I did an hour on an elliptical machine every single day for many months. I pedaled as hard as I could to a song list I made that was specifically designed to help me get all my anger out. 

It worked. In a matter of months my rage was gone and I had the best legs I've ever had.  I'm sure people at the gym thought I was crazy at times, pedaling like I was fixin' to kill somebody. It was what I needed at the time. I'd pedal out my rage and talk to Jesus. 

Choices. They are so important.

Someone else's choices don't take away all of your choices. Maybe you just needed a reminder that you still have control of you. 

You can still do something positive. What will that something be?

Even Jesus gave you that control. If you don't believe it, read Galatians 5:22-23.  Self control. There it is. Now go do something with it!

How can you exercise self-control to bring a better outcome in some way, for you?

Whether you pedal on a bike every day for the next year to get it all out, or start a new bible study, or you take St. John's Wort, or you do aromatherapy, or you get a massage, or you make an appointment with your doctor...just do it. Do something.

 Now is not the time to thrash around emotionally. It's time to focus on something positive at your disposal. It's time to counteract the choice someone else has made with your own choice - one that's good for you.

The ball is in your court.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Who Are You Leading First?

Where you choose to focus when you're going through change will greatly determine your outcome.  

People fail at lots of things because of broken focus. In the case of journeying through change, we often focus most on the change. It begs our time and we all too often  give it all we've got in mental, spiritual, emotional and even financial energy.

When you get on a plane and prepare to take off, the flight attendant always gives a spiel about what to do in case of an emergency. Among the things covered is what to do if the cabin loses pressure. They remind you that oxygen masks will fall, and in the event that you are holding an infant or child they ask you to make sure you put your mask on before assisting with theirs. Most people will drawn to help their child first, however this may prove a dreadful choice.

If you are involved in ministry or any type of public service, you are probably real good at running around and putting other people's masks on before doing anything for yourself. I understand. We have to change that if we want to thrive. This isn't selfishness. As you practice self-care through a change, you will be prepared to give others your best.

Dee Hock, an expert on leadership says that we should spend 50% of our time leading ourselves. Often the last thing we do when faced with a big change is lead ourselves. We stop leading ourselves in order to have meltdowns about the change, or to try to come to grips with the change. This is the exact opposite of what we should do if we care about a healthy outcome.

Have you "lost yourself" through a change? It's time to come to grips with exactly where you stand with self-leadership.  Bill Hybels says, "The best gift you can give the people you lead is a healthy, energized, fully surrendered, focused self. And, no one else can do that for you." 

Did you hear that? No one else can do this for you.

I can encourage you. But you have to do this.


Sunday, June 17, 2012

When It Feels Like Change Will Kill You

Can I just be brutally honest that I hate change unless I'm the one making it?

There are days change is so hard for me I stand in the shower and cry, or ride my bike with the tears streaming down my face.  This has nothing to do with menopause, by the way. Although I know all about that. Okay, so I said I was going to be brutally honest. There ya go.

Change is hard. So hard. Unless you are the one who initiates it.
Everybody's going through some kind of change. How much at one time is the question.

Change used to totally kick my butt in that I felt I had no recourse, no counteraction to it. I used to  weather it as opposed to living victorious through it.

There are tears, and amidst them are a few things I definitely know now, after 40-plus years of experience that help me thrive and not just survive.

I'm having to employ some of those strategies right now and so this is really on my mind to share with some of you who are struggling, how to win in the midst of change that's not of your making. This coming week I'm going to write a series of posts about personal health in the midst of change.

Together we will thrive. Take my hand, let's walk together.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

This Is What Rich Looks Like...

In money?


In stuff?


It's the most amazing kind of wealth there is -- having an entire family that serves God. 

Not a lot of time to blog today ~ we're enjoying a wedding celebration -- the joining of two very special lives...our children's pastor's son, Chris, who has grown up with our family, and his bride, Emilyann. Dustin is in the wedding and he looks so sharp in his suit it was all I could do not to burst into tears when I saw him.

We're gearing up for Father's Day too.

I'm so blessed to have a Godly father to partner with me in raising our three children for God.

I am surrounded by blessings that money can't buy. I know that when I get to heaven someday, the four people in this photo will all join me there at some point. That's the most important thing, ever. Being happy about that never gets old. 

There's nothing greater on my wishlist.
There's no new latest and greatest that can trump that.

Friday, June 15, 2012

What Are You Missing on Facebook? (You Might Be Surprised!)

I got a total shockeroo earlier this week. Today I'm going to share something I believe is valuable for some of you who, like me, never knew this existed up to now.  

Earlier this week, someone made me aware of "Other Messages" on Facebook. I never knew there were anything other than just plain ol' Messages. Did you? I read mine and was absolutely stunned by what I found.

"Other Messages"are ones people who are not your friends on Facebook may send you, in an effort to get in touch with you about something. Or people you have deleted. Or people who have deleted you. And I'm not sure who else, but in any case, there are probably "other messages" out there waiting for you. Now, I know you might not care about people who have deleted you or who you have deleted, but there are some other folks that you really might want to hear from.

Once I was made aware of my "Other Messages" I promptly went there and could hardly believe my eyes.

There were five different strange men unknown to me who wrote letters asking me out. One outright begging me to have an affair on my husband. No, I'm not kidding. Although I promptly deleted them without responding it was, well...rather interesting for this mid-forties momma who is always battling too much junk in the trunk and wishing my stretch marks would fade. :/ 

Lord have mercy!!! What were these men thinking?

After deleting the trash, I found a pile up of correspondence that I really did need to be aware of!

Included in the pile was a letter from an acquaintance asking for help with their missions trip which was...a year ago. (Sorry I missed it. I had no idea.)

There was a long heartfelt letter from a woman in a far off state where I preached last year. She was pouring out her heart her life situation and went on to say how God radically changed her at the altar. She just wanted me to know the back story of what God did in her life during my time of ministry there. I was so sad that I never saw this letter at the time she wrote it, to respond. I can respond now but she probably wondered why I was so cold-hearted at the time, to never say anything back to her in response. I feel terrible about that.

And then...among the messages was a letter that really gripped my heart. A stranger, but someone I immediately understood. The letter was from a young lady searching for her birth family. She's using Facebook to search. And somewhere she found a connection between me and some of her birth family. And, guess what...I do know them! We are friends! And she found me on Facebook, and was asking if I could put her in contact with them. Um, wow.  Just wow. I'm so glad I can help this young lady "put together the missing puzzle pieces of her life" as she phrased it in her letter. All I can say is that it made me sad that she wrote this letter in April and I hadn't seen it til' June, but now that I see it I can help her.

My friends, I am not sure what's waiting for you in your "Other Messages" box, but this is what was there for me. I implore you, delete any messages from men or women wanting you to have affairs on your spouse. But enjoy the other letters that may be waiting there from people who want to tell you something good, or people you may be able to help.

To get to your "Other Messages":

Go to "Messages" on Facebook.
Once you are at "Messages" click on "See All Messages."
Then look at your left hand sidebar where it says "Messages."
Under Messages it says "Other".
Click "Other."
There you go...your "Other Messages."