Saturday, December 29, 2012

When God is Silent


Did you ever wonder if God was fully aware of your circumstance or was really busy doing anything about it?

In addition to being a pastor full time and a writer/speaker, I am also a certified career coach and give about ten hours a week in fulfilling this important role. This week I was working with a job seeker on a resume.

When I help a client construct a resume from the ground up it's pretty intense. I ask a lot of questions and type as we go. Although they are on the phone with me the entire time (while I work at my computer with a headset), I am sometimes quiet during the process. Throughout our time together I tell them, "If I'm quiet at points during this process, I just want to let you know, I'm still here. The reason I'm quiet is that writing is intense work and when I'm thinking of just the right word, you may not hear anything for about 30 seconds, maybe even a little longer..."

Most clients fully understand and they are absolutely amazed when a minute or two later, I share a new sentence or paragraph I've constructed on their behalf.

So I was working with this client on a resume and the most hilarious thing happened. Although I warned him that I would get quiet at times, he thought we were disconnected. So when I was quiet, he hung up on me! I called him back and said, "Are you okay? Why did you hang up?" He said, "I don't know, I just thought you were gone..."

Well, that's not the funniest part. He did it two more times after that! Each time I'd get quiet, he'd hang up. By the time we were done with his resume, the guy hung up on me THREE times! No kidding. Each time I called him back and said, "I told you I was still here, I am just taking a few moments to re-construct this sentence and find just the right word."  

"Oh. Sorry..." he would say.

I could barely contain myself, it was so funny.

When we were done he was overwhelmed by the results and said, "this is incredible. You really were coming up with some great stuff during that time you were quiet."

Yep.

What's the point here?

This is just like our trials in life. We are often in the waiting room wondering what in the world God is doing or wondering if He's not just there, but active on our behalf.

Remember this, my friend...when God is quiet He is always actively working on your behalf. Trust Him to do His work. You will be astounded with the great stuff He comes up with during the time He's silent!

 

 *photo credit: creative commons

Friday, December 28, 2012

I'm still here.

Hi.

It's me. Deanna.

I feel as if I need to re-introduce myself. :)

Sorry I didn't show up yesterday.   Amidst making sure all the bases are covered at church and NextJob,  I'm taking a few days off here and there for family time during Christmas/New Years, and to accomplish some projects.

Lost Daughters just got a book deal! That's right, Lost Daughters, "the book" is coming! An anthology of our work is being published, in book form, for the whole world to read.  Yeahhhhhhhhhh...super excited about that, and the LD sisterhood is in full swing preparing for this monumental endeavor. To say I'm excited to be a contributing writer on this project doesn't even begin to describe my feelings.

I'm on deadline for a few articles that are due the first week of the year. Not complaining! Writing is what puts the wind in my sails. And, gives me a little money for hairspray.

Most pressing on my mind right now is finalizing my personal adoption blog. It's about 3/4 of the way there, almost ready to publish. I set a deadline for myself but I'm not gonna tell you what it is, just in case I don't burn the midnight oil enough to get there on time. It's not for lack of effort. I have made huge strides this week.  Many nights I have been bouyed by my friend, Gayle. She has believed in this from the very beginning.  And Amanda Woolston, founder and editor of Lost Daughters, has been an endless wellspring of insight and support.

Would you also pray for me? (Thank you!)

I am on the verge of something I can't accurately express to anyone, but it's the most amazing thing ever. And, if you would have told me a year ago that I'd be headed in this direction I would have told you to get your head examined. But here I am.

So many twists and turns and unexplained side streets to get here, but I have ended up at a destination never imagined yet one I know beyond a shadow of a doubt is right.

Sometimes, he is Jehovah Sneaky. :)

Thank you, God, for sneaking up on me and giving me an unforgettable season of surprises.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Are You Exhausted With Christmas As It Is?
Tell Me How You'd Do It Different or Better


Lest anyone think I needed the spirit of "Bah Humbug!" cast out of me, I've waited to say this. Now that it's December 26, here goes.

Was anybody else but me totally exhausted this season? Do you wonder why you continue year after year on the treadmill of holiday seasonal stress disorder?

A few years ago I read this article, Let's Fast Christmas, by an acquaintance in the ministry, Dr. Carolyn Tennant. I've met and talked with Dr. T several times and highly respect her. When I read this article back in 2008, it resonated with me. In fact, my heart leaped within me to do just as she suggested. I felt as if she had given me a personal altar call.


But I feel powerless to respond. At a loss to do anything different than what I've always done. And four years later I'm still there.

I'm just being real here. Please hear me out before thinking Scrooge might need to be my new nickname.

What would it be like to "fast" Christmas as we currently know it, simplify down to the bare bones, and  focus instead on worshipping Christ?

Is this such a crazy idea?

Dr. Tennant is a college professor and perhaps that makes her decision to "fast" Christmas  a bit more possible. She can do all that she suggests in the article, and I'm sure she's right that probably no one cared or even noticed when she did it. But, for a pastor or a pastor's wife it is virtually impossible to do as she suggests. At least I think so.

I'm not saying I desire to fast Christmas forever. But this year, I hit a wall. I begged God so many times to just give me strength for one more moment. Time and again I said, "if you just get me through this year Lord...I'll make different choices next year."

But I don't know how.

Our kids still live at home. All the traditions of Christmas are fiercely important to them.

Quite frankly, it's all important to my husband, too.

We pastor a church. Christmas is one of the busiest time of the year for churches and ministers and expectations are there. You can't just say to the church, "hey church, we're fasting Christmas." 

Well, I guess you could. But you might show up to church next time and there would be no one there but you. They might all be down at another church that is doing the over-the-top Christmas extravaganza with live camels and donkeys and giving a free baby Jesus bobblehead to everyone on the way out.


This year I spent a lot of time observing what was going on around me. The pressure many people felt to spend money they didn't have and still don't have. The stress of finding "just the right gift" for people who won't even remember what the gift was a few years from now. Last week someone said to me, "I dread Christmas because it's a day for me to fake that I'm happy with the gifts I open that I never asked for or wanted, nor will I use." I found myself thinking, "Is this really what God had in mind when sending His Son, Jesus?"

We are immersed in busyness that quite frankly in many cases has very little to do with the actual meaning of Christmas. And I found myself doing some serious introspection as well as asking, "why"? Is it all really for Jesus, or is it more so for us? Rituals can be so comforting.

I always believe there's hope. There's hope for anyone and anything. 

I want to believe there's hope for Christmas without pressure.

I write two advice columns for Tampa newspapers, but right now I need my reader's advice. There are times the one giving advice needs advice. So, teach me. Give me wisdom. I'm all ears. I want 2013 to be different, and I'd love the input of my readers about how that might be possible. There are eleven months to help plan operation simplification.

Have you successfully simplified Christmas? If so, how did it go?  What would you do different or better concerning the holidays? How would you go about it?

 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas


My prayer is that all of my friends today know the joy that faith, family and fun brings.

I love you.

 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Twas The Night Before Christmas...

 
Lately we've been watching old home movies at our house and turning them from VHS to DVD. The kids have been watching them and just loving it! So much that Jordan has requested that we record Christmas day, at our house this year. Seriously! It looks like we're actually going to do that.  

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.  Afterwards we go out for Chinese food.  (Usually a Chinese buffet.) 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 the last thing I want to do is MORE cooking. 

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

When we wake up we enjoy 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.  While we enjoy sweet rolls, we begin opening gifts.

We take our time and enjoy gift opening and then relaxing around the house and putting the finishing touches on our Christmas meal.

We 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 Christmas and the kids are kinda particular about having it "just like it always is".

The menu includes:

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
 
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.

Have a beautiful day today, celebrating the reason for it all. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Weekend Potpourri, Part Deux



Yesterday was an overwhelming day. I didn't blog. Yeah, I know...that makes two days in a week. People might actually think the apocalypse is coming since I haven't blogged two days this week.

It's a sign of the times, friends.

Get your cans or pork and beans ready, and prepare to flee to the mountains. 


Seriously, I'm blogging today at Lost Daughters, writing at my spiritual column on the site, so check me out there today. I'm talking about why adoptees don't let go of the past. The answer may be a little different than you expect. For those who are adoptees or are those who care about them, it's important information to know.

One more day til' Christmas Eve!!  Help us, all Lord! Something tells me the world shouldn't be this stressed out on Your birthday. Oh for an opportunity to just get quiet and focus on You!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Weekend Potpourri


Already? And it's only Friday. I know, I know...I usually save a weekend wrap up and my little "potpourri" posts for the end of the weekend. But my feet already feel like it's Sunday night. Ha! I've been on them working, preparing for Christmas at both home and the church.

Any pastor or pastor's wife can tell you there's always a looooooot to get ready at any church for Christmas. Right now we're getting ready for a Christmas Eve/Christmas Day outreach that we're doing as well as our usual Christmas Eve Communion, not to mention the weekend service. And most pastors (me included) are doing it with a shoestring crew of those who are still in town. Every year at this time I'm longing for the day after Christmas when I can just sleep in, stay in my jammies all day and zone out. Some years I get away with that and other years, Savanna says, "come on Mom, let's go out and look for after Christmas sales!" :) 

Speaking of Savanna, her dance recital was tonight at the high school. It was my delight to take a break from baking pumpkin butterscotch cookies, peanut butter cookies and sugar cookies all day for the church outreach, to go to her show.

Hopefully she won't read my blog tonight. She will give me a sharp, "oh motherrrrrrrrrrrrrrr"if she sees these photos and what I've done to them. What can I say? If I didn't do something to point her out, how else would you know who she is in these pictures if I didn't tell you? I mean really. If you are a reader from Singapore or Peoria, you would have no idea. But now, you know...


All the kids did a great job! We're so proud.  Don't don't tell Savanna you saw these photos. She used to have this as her Facebook cover photo:


She's in that phase where everything I do is embarrassing.  I take it in stride.

After the recital Larry and I had some more Christmas items to pick up, and I'm back to making peanut butter cookies, at almost midnight. Our family is keeping a small plate but the majority are being made for trays for people in our city who have to work on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

This was a nice blog break, but it's back to cookie making for me...g'night. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Peace in the Midst


"Peace does not dwell in outward things, but within the soul; we may preserve it in the midst of bitterest pain, if our will remains firm and submissive. Peace in this life springs from acquiescence to, not in exemption from, suffering."

 ~ Francois Fenelon

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

"You And Your Stupid Dogs..."

Yes, I've actually heard that.

From time to time I talk with individuals who seem to think people's affection and dedication to their dogs is an over-the-top, unwarranted response. After all...they are, "just" dogs.

And to this, I think, "hold me back, Jesus..."

This is my favorite inspirational story that has come out from the Newtown tragedy. It's about "comfort dogs" that have been brought in to help the surviving children and their families. One little boy who lived through the tragedy was not able to speak of what happened all this time but when they brought in the comfort dog, he began to talk to the dog and explain to the dog what he had been through. The dog therapy accomplished what humans had not been able to do.

Dogs are not "just dogs" and I have little patience for human beings who poo-poo their worth.


Max and Maddie listen to me for hours on end. (Larry is grateful for their ministry...lol.)


While I have poured my heart out to Max on many occasions, I have learned to try to cry privately. The reason is because Max goes so bonkers when I cry, it's hard to calm him down. What I want him to do is just sit there and comfort me, but he can't. He becomes so upset when I cry because it pains him. He runs around the room, around the house, to anyone who is there. He becomes absolutely frantic as if to say, "She's crying people! And we have to do something! Now!!! This is an emergency!!!" And he doesn't stop until every tear is dried and I have a smile on my face. Only then does he calm down and snuggle up to me.


If someone playfully slaps me or wrestles with me, Max gets very upset. He lets them know: UNACCEPTABLE!!!

Dogs are not "just" dogs.  They have an amazing capacity to comfort, to listen, to protect.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

You Can Do Anything For One More Day


There are some of you reading this blog right now who feel like you can't take another step.

You're wondering what people in your life are going to do when you simply stop doing whatever it is you do. 

Checking yourself into a hospital just to have an excuse to rest seems appealing right now. (I actually have a friend in ministry who used to do that all the time. It sounds crazy but I understand it.)

You ministers out there know all that doo-doo about the world ending on Friday is NOT true and you are busy with plans for 2013. You are also praying that a lot of church people read this.

Please hold on for at least one more second before you pop. Listen to what I say today. Please.

I didn't blog yesterday. Anyone who knows me personally knows that's really rare to almost non-existent.

I just wasn't ready to say what's on my mind.


Sunday I started to hit the wall. I was directing our Christmas Show on Sunday night.

People sometimes wonder if leaders ever encounter the same kind of intense struggles they do. In fact, just this past weekend, a few people contacted me to ask my advice about this. I know I'm not alone.

Here's what my Sunday looked like...

After church Sunday, my husband and I drove home in silence. We weren't mad at each other, at all. No disagreement.

I was just overwhelmed and processing challenges.


When we got home, I went into my room to lay down with Max. After 30 minutes rest I got up and attempted to do my makeup and hair. I ended up washing my face and doing my makeup three times. It had to be done because the first two times I cried it all off.

I tried my best to hold myself together but I just kept leaking. 

I proceeded to look into the mirror and preach to myself.

The sermon I preached is familiar.  It's called, "You Can Do Anything For One More Day."


I wrote this sermon years ago and  I pull it out in times like this.

After concluding the message and responding to my own personal altar call, I reapplied the makeup, and we headed to the church.



I got to the building. Put a smile on my face. Ran a 1 and 1/2 hour last minute tune up on the show. Joined a pack of greeters dressed in Santa, Mrs. Claus and Elf costumes out front, leaping around and smiling and welcoming people.

The show went amazing.


 Many people experienced a powerful touch from God and lives were changed.


I started breathing emotionally again on the ride home.
My husband and I had a conversation.
I felt a load lifting.

So what's my point of this whole post?

It's simply this. I don't care what you're going through...whether it's as a husband or a wife, a mother or a father, a pastor, a teacher, a CEO, an entrepreneur, a business owner, or whatever you are -- you can do anything for one more day.



Resist putting tomorrow on your plate while today's still here.

You've got to focus on today.

Anything more than that can so quickly swallow you up.
God didn't assign you tomorrow to worry about.

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34

When Larry and I got married, we got a lot of cards and well wishes and we treasured every one of them. One dear friend wrote a message in our card that simply said, "Take married life one day at a time. No more than that. Just today. Life is a cinch by the inch, but it's hard by the yard."

I've found that to be true.
It's true in marriage, in ministry, in parenting, in business, in whatever.

When I dwell on this day and only this day, I can do it.

Is today hard for you? Then please my friend, just do today.  Don't start on tomorrow yet, even in that amazing brain of yours.

I can do anything for one more day.

You can too.

Take a deep breath. Put your make up on again if needed.
Now, take a step. Just one.

I promise, God will give you strength for the next step when it's time.

I'm praying for you. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Please, Don't Give the Shooter What He Wanted!

I'm so grateful for  friends who have posted blogs or other social media updates about something other than the Sandy Hook tragedy. I don't mind those who have posted about it. (I've done that myself.) But, I'm glad some are sharing about other things in the midst of it all.

Several people posted things that were unrelated throughout the day yesterday and I noticed some vague-like "rebukes" from people who felt it was their job to gently remind them of what they were allowed to post about yesterday. (Apparently there were guidelines I was unaware of.) Yesterday was not the day to post  about anything else but the shooting. Did you get the memo? It was not the day to share about the grilled cheese you ate for lunch or the price of gas coming down slightly.  Anyone who posted about that was gently redirected back to the shooting, and reminded to just pray.

Others shared updates about feeling guilt for enjoying their child's Christmas concert realizing another parent in Connecticut won't have that opportunity.

News reports reveal that some families are in the process of taking Christmas decorations down.

While I'm all for mourning with those who mourn and showing compassion and love, I believe removing any speck of pleasure or peace from our everyday lives is exactly what the shooter would want.

The goal of those who do evil, those who terrorize, is to not only kill but to prevent others who remain from truly living.

Take for instance, the 9/11 attackers and the masterminds behind them wanted us to be afraid. More than anything they wanted to instill fear. They wanted us to stop flying. Stop building skyscrapers. Stop living although we're technically still alive.

I am deeply grieved in my spirit for the victims of yesterday's tragedy. We do mourn with the families. We cry, we pray, we do what we can to reach out.

At the same time, I will not stop enjoying my family, savoring the Christmas holidays, even having grateful appreciation for the two chocolate chip cookies I enjoyed this evening. Doing so in no way diminishes respect or compassion for the Connecticut victims and their families.

LOSS -- reverberating as far as possible and affecting millions is exactly what the shooter wanted before he shot his final person -- himself.  Inflicting pain, and snuffing out life and any enjoyment of life for those left behind was his only goal. (Sound familiar? The enemy comes only to "steal kill and destroy..." John 10:10)

I for one, do not intend to give the shooter one more thing he wants, even from the grave. Which is why I don't even dignify him by mentioning his name in this post. 

My friends, in our grief, let us also continue to gratefully appreciate and enjoy even the small things the day brings. And let's share those things! It's part of the healing process too.

Please, if you have good news...share it!  
 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Where I'm At Today...
(Pretty much in awe...)


Recently, Amanda Woolston who founded and leads Lost Daughters, asked me if I would serve as the spiritual columnist for Lost Daughters. I will have the privilege of unpacking the issues of adoption from a spiritual perspective and sharing about the hope and healing that is available. How amazing is that? If you would have told me even seven months ago that any of this would be taking place I would have thought you were crazy!

It's been just six months since I started writing about adoption. I first shared here about my leap of faith in applying to be a writer at Lost Daughters.  And then I shared here about my first post when I was accepted to join the writing team.  So much has happened in just a few months time. I stand in awe of what has happened and how God has grown me and healed me in the process of writing there. I can't even fathom not being a part of this community. And I'm overwhelmed at the opportunities God has opened for me to somehow be a blessing to others.

I'm also honored to be the first podcast ever featured on Lost Daughters but more than that I'm blessed to be part of a group of women who are changing the world.

And with all that said, today I'm posting at Lost Daughters. :)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Why I Want 31 Days to Great Sex

Actual conversation with my husband last night:

Him: So, what do you want for Christmas?
Me: I want 31 Days to Great Sex
Him: Can we get that on Amazon?
Me: Yes.

Him: Is that it?
Me: Yeah....but then you have to actually do it, with your wife...
Him: Well, you've got a problem then.
Me: Why?
Him: Because you don't have a wife.
Me: Ughhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!

Seriously now...why do I want the book, 31 Days to Great Sex, for Christmas?

I know because Sheila wrote it, it's gonna be good. She's written this book specifically for married couples who are interested in taking love, friendship and fun to the next level. I'm all about that.

Second, I want it because reading about marriage from Godly sources and constantly working on things is part of mine and Larry's ongoing strategy for keeping our marriage strong.

Is our sex life terrible? No, actually it's pretty smokin' hot. And there's a reason for that.  We keep working on it. 

I know I'm going to be getting this book for Christmas, and hopefully 31 amazing days along with it. :)   For those of you who are blog readers who don't know my husband real well, or at all...the conversation shared above is a joke. He'll be glad to participate in this 31 day journey.

Author Sheila Wray Gregoire says:

Who will benefit from this book?


Newlyweds who want to start off well!


Couples for whom life has become blah and too routine


Couples who have almost given up hope that sex can become great


Couples in conflict because one spouse wants sex more frequently than the other


In other words--just about every married couple. It doesn't matter where you are in your marriage, the 31 Days to Great Sex will help you talk about sex more, think about intimacy more, and feel much closer together.

So here's my thought. Even if your sex life is fantastic, you know the old saying... "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." I'm making an investment in my marriage this Christmas. You might want to put 31 Days to Great Sex on your Christmas list too.

 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The One Question I'm So Sick Of (And a prayer...for us)


"What do you want?"

This is a very popular question people are often asked in business, in counseling, in coaching.


I've never had a problem knowing and describing exactly what I want.

Ever.

My entire life I have been able to define and articulate what I want, how I want it, when I want it, and who I want it from right down to the exact details.

For all of that realization, I am often frustrated. Because I've found that defining what you want doesn't solve your problems. Even knowing what you want and going after it wholeheartedly doesn't solve all your problems. Because sometimes no matter how hard you try, it doesn't go the way you want it to go. Sometimes it also takes more than one person to make it work. Like the song says, "It takes two to make a thing go right...it takes two to make it outta sight..."

It's been my experience that anything I want that is possible to achieve by myself, is no problem. When I desire something and all it takes is me to achieve it, it usually happens pretty quick.

But sometimes, things don't happen, at least for a while, because it takes someone else to collaborate  to make it go.

And it's in those moments that I have found the greatest ache in my heart.

Sometimes other people live in confusion and don't know what they want and that messes up what you want. Because although you're on a certain track, they're running around in circles with no direction. And you can provide direction and even do that very well, but it doesn't mean they will take it.


Sometimes they do know what they want and it's the opposite of what you want.

Sometimes they don't care one way or another, and that also affects whether you receive what you want too.

And I've learned no matter how hard working you are, or even how nice or spiritual you are, sometimes you're just not going to get what you want. And it's in that place that a lot of soul searching happens. At least with me. I often wonder about other people's experience of processing disappointment.

What's the purpose of this post today? I'm just being brutally honest here about my own struggle as well as taking an opportunity to pray for you. Because chances are, you are grieving something.

And I know you hurt too. And if you're a Christian, you also try to come to terms with your feelings when people say, "it's not all about you", or  you get Psalm 37:4 quoted to you til' you're blue in the face.

I understand.

So that's the purpose of this post.

Father God, please help my friends who read this today. Help them come to terms with significant losses in their lives. Wrap your loving arms around them and soothe them in only the way you can, when heart longings aren't met and dreams die, at least temporarily. Shed light on the darkness in their lives and bring comfort in a way that only You can bring it. Shield my friend from irritating cliches, and worn out pat answers. Cocoon them from this, I pray. Give them refuge in time spent with you and renewed perspective for the next step. There's always a next step. Show my friend what it is. When they don't see any way out, over or under -- please grant them hope. And, direction for the future. Most of all grant them a constant awareness of Your presence.

Thank you, Jesus.

Amen.




*Photo courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.net

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

What Should An Unhappy Small Business Owner Do?

This marks the sixth month that I've been writing the advice column I was asked to write for the Tampa Bay newspaper, Insight. Things are going super well! So well in fact, that yesterday, their Editor-in-Chief, Alisha Perella, asked me if I would consider doing an advice column for their sister-paper, Epoch. So now I will have not one, but two advice columns running in Tampa area newspapers! So cool, huh? And, on top of that, I've been asked to contribute some feature articles aside from the advice columns. It just keeps gettin' better and better. I love writing, if you couldn't tell...

Once they publish the paper, I have been posting a copy of my columns here for blog readers who don't live in the Tampa area. If you are interested in reading previous columns, click here. This month in Insight, I tackled the the problems of an unhappy small-business owner.



Dear Deanna:

I own a small business and to say I’m feeling strained right now is an understatement. I feel it on so many levels and could go a lot of different directions in asking your advice. But the main factor is a group of the employees that have not been happy about many of my decisions the past year. They continue to work and give a fair performance but at the same time they give off constant vibes that they are not pleased with the decisions I’ve had to make. I am feeling so much tension, it’s wearing on me. The business that used to be my dream is looking more like a nightmare. Sales are decent but morale of a small group within the larger group is low and affects me on a daily basis. I’m at a loss as to how to change them, or have personal peace.

     T.R.

Dear T.R.,

First of all, you can’t change anyone but yourself. Trying to change others is an exercise in futility. A few questions  --

Are you confident that you have made the right decisions, as the owner of this business? Do you have peace that you have done the right thing? Are you happy with you decisions?

If so, you’ve got to stand firm. Leadership is not easy. If it was, everyone would be doing it!  

You long for peace, yet it will always be elusive if you base it on what these few employees do or don’t do. A mentor in business once informed me that at any given time, 20% of the people who are listening to a speaker are not “for them”. They shared this with me after I had told them that I had made a decision I was very confident about, that a few others weren’t happy about. I was concerned about people’s reaction to my decision. They asked, “what do you want?” I said, “I just want everyone to be okay with it.” And they said, “What’s wrong with that statement?”

Suddenly I realized I had a completely unrealistic expectation. 

Everyone will never be okay with what I decide. After hearing the 20% statistic I began to feel blessed in my situation, because not even 20% of the people in my scenario were even aware of or affected by my decision. Yet, I had based so much of my mood around whether EVERYONE was happy.  

 It is doubtful that every single one of your employees will be happy with what you decide. And furthermore it isn’t your job to make them happy. I’m guessing you probably didn’t create the business with the central goal of making your employees happy.  You developed your business to meet a need in the world. You brought employees alongside you to fulfill that goal.  You do want them to be happy but cannot take responsibility for their personal happiness.

If they are not happy and it continues to manifest in attitudes and actions, perhaps you both need to evaluate whether their continuing to serve on the team is a good idea. Sometimes the answer is just a difficult decision waiting to be made.

 Figure out what you want to do, and once you have a peace with it, move forward confidently.

 Mail your questions for future columns to deannashrodes@gmail.com. Due to space and time every question will not appear in the monthly column, however Deanna welcomes you to interact with her where she blogs daily at  www.deannashrodes.net. 

Deanna is an author, speaker and certified coach who loves living in the Tampa Bay area with her husband of 25 years and their three children.

 

 *Photo courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.net

Monday, December 10, 2012

On The Road Again...

I'm headed to Bradenton tonight to preach at a Christmas event at Harvest Chapel. The lead pastors of this church are Brian and Paula Royer.Wonderful people! Just love 'em!

I've preached at this beautiful church once before, for a sectional women's event. It was a great time. Can't wait to be back there with them tonight.  If you're in the Bradenton area, why don't you come over and join us? (7 pm)

Before I head to Bradenton, I've been attacking the stack of work that's on my agenda upon my return from our trip.  

We're gearing up for a lot more at Celebration Church that's happening this season, particularly our Christmas Show which is this Sunday night.




This year our team has written the Christmas Show -- we've all contributed, but it's me at the helm of this project and it's been quite the ride! It's going to be a powerful night. Can't wait to see what God does. The show is more than just beautiful Christmas songs. Most every church does a Christmas cantata or play or some kind of presentation and usually the music is pretty predictable when it comes to Christmas. We've decided to really shake it up. We're doing something totally different, not just out of the box...we threw the box away...

Each church possesses aspects that make them unique. The idea of this Christmas show is to showcase what makes us unique. At Celebration, our core values are what set us apart.  In preparation for the launch of the church, the Celebration leadership team established the core values of the church. These values are non-negotiable at CC and represent our guiding principles for how we lead, make decisions and do life together as a church. Our entire worship ministries team (band, frontline, choir, media and sound) have worked together in unity to create this show, Christmas style and Celebration style. Specifically we desire to show our city the difference Jesus can make in their life, and the value of a church family. 

Between pastoring at Celebration full time, job coaching part time, traveling and speaking and writing...I hope to get some Christmas shopping done (I have absolutely nothing done yet!).

And clean my house.  

And sleep.


Sunday, December 09, 2012

Weekend Potpourri

I tried to ease back into life in Tampa on Saturday, after the cruise. Well, there was no easing in today.  It was a busy day but an excellent one.  Hearts were healed and lives were changed.

I preached today at Celebration. The message was entitled, "Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!" God did awesome things around the altars. There were people who were so touched, particularly one young lady. Wowwwweeee, God reallllly got ahold of her! I just wept   -- even an hour after service I was still wiping the tears before heading to Christmas show rehearsals. She was so overcome by the power of God, our young adult leaders, Mike and Sunshine, had to physically help her out as she was leaving the service.


It was a day of miracles in more ways than one.

Still I can think back and savor my memories of a week spent in such tranquil peace.



Saturday, December 08, 2012

It's Back to the Real World

Slowly easing into reality from the luxury of seven days of...


Where my vantage point above me was...


And the view ahead of me was...


And this amazing person beside me was...


The kids seem real happy to have us home, and a certain two bulldogs didn't quit leaping for about fifteen minutes after we walked in the door. It was a such a nice welcome home.

Jordan had a particularly sweet surprise. While we were gone, he put lights up outside on the house - icicle lights to frame the house, as well as red and green lights on the palm trees. I called him for a few moments when we had phone service in the U.S. Virgin Islands and he said, "Mom, I've got a surprise for you when you come home. You're gonna love it!"

He was right.

Little touches of love and care make easing back into work a lot easier.

I don't even want to look at my initiative list for this week. Can't I put my head in the sand along with where my toes were all week? LOL

Being surrounded by more Christmas lights and beauty at home makes for a joy-filled transition. Well, that and the fact that I choose joy!

Now to attack the list...