When Registration Makes You Want to Pull Your Hair Out!

Out of breath and wheeling my suitcase to the front desk at the hotel, I pulled the confirmation papers out of my purse to prepare to check in. It was the Pen Florida Women’s Fall Breakaway a few years ago and as our group leader, I was preparing to get the room keys for the 40 or so ladies that I had brought with me from our church.

Standing next to me in line was a leader from another church and we talked for a few moments about how excited we were about the conference. “I’m so glad you’re here!” I said. “I know it takes a lot to get your ladies registered, but here you are!”

“Oh, no…it actually took me absolutely nothing to register them,” she said. “I didn’t do registration this year. We’re all adults. I told them registration was on their own. I decided not to go through the frustration of  organizing a group from the church anymore. If anybody from our church wants to come, they can handle it on their own.”

“Oh…okay…” I said haltingly. “And how many are here with you?”

“Well, just two of us. It’s just myself and one other lady from the church…” she said. “But that’s okay. God has here who he wants here this year.”

Okaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay. [Face palm.]

Let’s talk, gals.

Let me say right up front that for those of you who are pastors’ wives or women’s ministries leaders, I know the road you walk. I’ve been doing this for 27 years and I’m STILL doing it. (I’m still a pastor’s wife and leader in the local church.) I realize how much effort it takes to be the one handling registration.

A few days ago I asked for a response on Facebook from pastors’ wives and women’s ministries leaders about what their frustrations are regarding registering women for conferences in general.

The responses

  • “They complain about money.”
  • “They say they have so many things going on…”
  • “They don’t get back to to me by the deadline.”
  • “They have ‘Goldilocks Syndrome'”…
  • “Some complain that they don’t want to drive too far.”
  • “Others say they’d rather travel further away.”
  • “Some say there are too many activities on the conference agenda.”
  • “Others say there aren’t enough.”
  • “Everyone has different perspectives!”
  • “You can’t please them all…”
  • “They sign up, then back out at the last minute.”
  • “They sign up, back out, and expect you to find them a replacement.”

The registration person often “catches” all of these complaints and frustrations.

I get it!

I really do.

So, what do I want you to know?

First, I want you to know that we’re here for you. We in the PF Women’s office as well as our experienced team of reps stand ready to give you encouragement and wisdom on this. (As well as a safe place to rant, if needed. LOL) Just reach out. We’re here. And we’ll give you practical help to get your group here.

Email us at women@penflorida.org and we will help you as well as connect you with your rep.

What is the value in making THRIVE a priority?

  • When the time for service comes and I see my ladies gathered at the altar, tears streaming down, crying out to God – IT’S WORTH IT ALL!!
  • When a woman or girl is saved, filled, healed and changed, it’s worth ANYTHING I had to go through as a leader.
  • You can’t put a price tag on a changed life, nor is any investment of time and effort not worthwhile.
  • When a marriage is restored because of something life-changing a woman heard or experienced at the conference, it’s worth it.
  • When our group gathers around at the close of the conference and prays together in unity with strongholds broken — it’s worth it!
  • When they can’t stop talking about what happened at the conference for months or years afterwards IT’S WORTH IT.

I can identify with the leader who, when in the midst of handling the registration says, “I’m just not going to do registration again next year. I don’t need the frustration of having to organize.” I know, I really do.  I’m an organized person and sometimes the way people respond (or their lack of response) gets on my last nerve too.


This is exactly how the enemy wants us to respond. Because he knows people’s very lives and destinies are at stake.

And yes, we can do “our own” church conference or retreat, but there’s something unique – something divine about going beyond ourselves…beyond “just us” and reaching out to other sisters in the body of Christ.  There’s something to be said for gathering with sister-churches and worshipping together.

Unless a leader in the local church cares enough to handle the group registration for a conference, not many from that church are going to come. And it’s possible nobody from your church will attend.

Will someone press beyond the challenges so that God-ordained breakthrough will happen in hearts and lives?

What miracles may not take place in a woman or girl’s life unless somebody takes responsibility to get them there?

Will someone miss out on what would have been the most critical moment of their life?

Will connections in their life take place that God has ordained for them?

It’s about LEADERSHIP.

John Maxwell says, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.”

It’s really true.

Your ladies are dependent upon your leadership.

Can a group of them go to THRIVE without your help?

Technically yes.

But is it likely? No.

It’s as simple as that.

Pastors’ wife, women’s ministries leader — your leadership is valued and critical.

Please know, we are praying for you.

We honor you.

In fact, we’re going to honor you personally right at the outset of THRIVE. Count on it.

And it WILL be worth it all, at the altars of THRIVE.


I Laughed. I Cried. I Changed.

July 5, 2014

by PF Women’s Director,

Deanna Shrodes

If I cry, there’s a really good reason.

Some women cry and don’t know why.

Not me.

I always know why.

It means something realllllly good is happening.

Or, something bad.

Or, the Holy Spirit is touching me in a profound way.

The latter happened over ten years ago at an Assemblies of God Women in Ministry Conference. Susanne Cox was one of the speakers. As she shared her life story which has now been chronicled in the book, Call it Incredible, I wept. And wept. And wept some more.

I also laughed.

A lot!

And most of all, I changed.

Coming home changed from a Christian women’s conference is exactly what should happen. And this was definitely one of those times. I called my husband from the conference and said, ‘”Babe, we need to bring Susanne to our church in Tampa!” We did, that same year. And what a weekend we had!

Over the weekend, Susanne and I became dear friends, and our heart connection has blossomed over the past decade. This seems to be the case with so many of the pastors, pastors’ wives and women’s leaders that she meets.  Susanne will move powerfully in the altars and then stop you in hallway to give a hug, or chat over a cup of coffee. She’s as real as can be!  I marvel at the way she reaches people.

Week after week I notice the reports on her Facebook status updates of lives changed all over the world — women saved, filled with the spirit, and healed!

We are so blessed to have Susanne Cox with us for the entire THRIVE (Breakaway) weekend!!!

One thing I feel strongly about is that our teen girls be in services with us at the conference. We will have breakout sessions and separate activities for them, but I believe they need to experience ALL of the main services with us. Girls and women of every generation experiencing Pentecostal power together is going to be UNFORGETTABLE!

We are in for more than a “treat” or some light inspiration. We are in for a transformation!

Do everything you have to do to get there — and bring your daughters! Everything you need to register is right here at this link! If you have any problems downloading the information, or have a question please don’t hesitate to email at women@penflorida.org or call us at (863) 683-5726, ext 232. We’re here to help!

I love you and can’t wait to share the weekend with you. The best is yet to come!

Much love,


An Interview with PenFlorida’s First Lady, Athena Raburn

Today at the PFWomen’s blog, it’s my privilege to ask some questions of our First Lady, Athena Raburn. She was glad to share here in this space today and says she does so, “in His service” and “with an open heart to all.” Let’s get to know our First Lady a little better today.  ~ Deanna

Deanna: It is such a privilege to have you share with us today. Let’s start at the beginning…where were you born?

 Athena: I was born in Lake Wales, Florida.

Deanna: And where did you grow up?

 Athena: All over the state of Florida, including the projects of Lakeland.

Deanna: Can you tell us anything you’d like to share about your family growing up?

 Athena: I am the oldest of many children. (My parents were married a number of times.)

Deanna: How did you come to know Jesus?

Athena: I came to know the Lord at a small wooden Baptist church in Chiefland, Florida, during  a missions convention.

Deanna: Did you always feel that you would be a minister’s wife?

Athena: Yes.

Deanna: How did you meet your husband?

 Athena: We met at the end of summer at a youth water ski party in Winter Haven.

Deanna: Can you share with us a bit about your dating and engagement?

 Athena: We dated long distance for almost five years. I worked for a Judge in the Juvenile Division. I think it helped me learn what to do in youth camp when we became youth directors.

Deanna: And where did you and Superintendent Raburn get married?

Athena: We married at Mt Zion church in Plant City, Florida.

Deanna: What was your first ministry assignment together?

Athena: We were missionaries, itinerating and returning to Beirut Lebanon.

Deanna: What was the most surprising thing for you, about being a minister’s wife?

Athena: The expectations!

Deanna: And what about as Superintendent’s wife? What was the most surprising thing about this role?

Athena: So many life issues and the incredible needs of the ministry.

Deanna: If you could give just one piece of advice to a brand new minister’s wife, what would it be?

Athena: Make sure to have a solid relationship with the Lord, and don’t be afraid of whom the Lord has created you to be.

Deanna: What do you like to do for fun?

Athena: I love history and finding out about the times and circumstances that have created what we have become. You know the southern question is always, “And who are your people?” Loaded question but full of information!

Deanna: What is your favorite color?

Athena: I love all colors, but purple would be the primary.

Deanna: What is your favorite food?

Athena: I love all types of food and love to experience the flavors, spices, history and culture through food.

Deanna: What is your favorite TV show?

Athena: Right now it’s Call the Midwife and Law and Order. (What does that say about me?)

Deanna: Is there anything else you’d like to share with us today?

Athena: I am so excited to see the women of PenFlorida taking steps toward ordination. Many years ago I asked the Lord to grant an opportunity for the women to have a place within our fellowship to minister and work together.

We now have so  many outstanding qualified women within the district. Our district has put into place PenFlorida Women’s Director, Deanna Shrodes, the PFWomen Reps – so many are ordained and serve in many capacities within their sections. PF Widow, Freda Kramer; PF Woman Presbyter, Susan Pippin; PFKids Director Sydney Morrow; Natalie Barnoske with PF Youth Alive – ministering to middle and high school public ministries; Linda Adkins, Senior Pastor of Words of Light; Christina Knotts of Christian Life Community Church in Jacksonville area and Maria Khaleel of Pembroke Pines who is an original church planter. Well, I could go on and on forever about the incredible ministry available to Peninsular Florida and the women of this district. It is my prayer that everyone finds a place of ministry and is able to find value in their calling.

Deanna: Thank you so much for sharing  all of us today. I speak for so many in saying that we are absolutely delighted to get to know you better. We love you.

A Note From Our New Pen Florida Women’s Ministries Director

I’m humbled, honored, excited [insert a plethora of other adjectives here] to serve as the new Women’s Ministries Director for Pen-Florida. I can’t wait to see what God will do as we journey forward, together.  I believe the only reason a person is ever given a position of leadership is to help people. That’s what ministry has always been about for me, and answering God’s call to lead PFWomen is no exception.

What’s coming for the women of PenFlorida?  More than you could ever imagine, all year long! We’ll be hosting life-changing sectional and regional events, providing many publications from our leaders that will be a great encouragement to you, offering ministry online in various forms that will bless and increase you, and so much more.

Our entire team is here for you.  I am so blessed to serve with amazing  leaders across our district who are eager to help you. If you’re not sure who “the team” is, just click, “The Team” at the top of the website, and you will have all the information you need to contact your sectional representative. All you have to do is reach out. We are here for every PenFlorida woman, and church. We can help you in ways you might not even be aware of! I invite you to call or email me anytime, to ask about how we can assist you.

This blog page will feature news, notes, updates, thoughts from my heart, guest posts, interviews and feature stories with women of God across our district. Check back here often to see what God is doing across PenFlorida and how we are impacting our world.

Our department has been in a transition phase since the beginning of the year, with my appointment to this office taking place in mid-May. For this reason, we are just finalizing the details for the Fall Breakaway Conference, our biggest (but not our only!) event of the year. We anticipate record numbers of salvations, Holy Spirit baptisms, healings and much more at this year’s conference. Because of the transition taking place, all of the details for registration information are not ironed out yet, but soon will be. We appreciate your patience and giving us grace this year as we navigate this transition. What you can do right now is SAVE THE DATE and determine to be with us October 16-18 for the conference. Let nothing stop you from being a part of this move of God!  Our guest speaker, Susanne Cox, is confirmed. She is one of the greatest Pentecostal preachers of our time. You absolutely do not want to miss what God will do.

Like our Facebook page to receive up to the minute updates from our ministry. We’ll be communicating with you daily, there. That’s right, DAILY!

You can also follow us on Twitter and Instagram!

The best is yet to come! I am so excited about walking out the future of PF Women’s Ministries, with you. Know that you are loved.