Friday Funny: Hamsters are like cigarettes

CCA Showcase Tweet Song with John Branyan, Clayburn Cox, Marty Simpson and Jonnie W.

Published on Jun 15, 2013

Follow these guys on Twitter
@JBranyanComedy | @ClayburnCox | @MartySimpson | @Jonnie_W

Oh Dear Heavens, I’m Naked! 2009 In Review

There is a near naked woman on my Christmas Cards and it’s me! I’m not totally naked, it’s just that my favorite blouse (the one I’m wearing in our Christmas Card photo) is see through and nobody told me. I want to shoot my family and my overly polite friends who simply thought — “She has to know.” NO I did not know! And I ordered over 50 cards with that photo thank you very much. They’ll tell me I have lipstick on my teeth – but a see through blouse goes unmentioned.


I know I said I wanted to be more transparent in 2009 but that is not what I meant. Hence, no cards were mailed this year. 2009 is the year my life turned inside out and upside down. Shaking out the cobwebs, dust and loose change I am not just on the precipice of change but smack center of it all. What an exhilarating ride. My oldest left for college. My youngest is learning how to drive. My husband’s band released their first musical CD and I made a rather drastic career change. I also made new friends, new enemies, and a fool of myself more than once. Good news is, I didn’t die.

Having spent the past 20 years as Jeff’s wife, and Charlie and Dillon’s Mom I began 2009 with very little clue about who Deana really is. I decided that I wanted to know her better and follow God’s path more than my own or anyone else‘s for that matter. Instead of my annual Christmas letter, I thought I’d answer Michael Hyatt’s Seven Questions for Last Year. If you’d like to do that same — see his original post for more information.


If the last year were a movie of your life, what would the genre be? Drama, romance, adventure, comedy, tragedy, or a combination?

  • Comedy and Adventure —

What were the two or three major themes that kept recurring? These can be single words or phrases. For me, they were:

  • Giving my family wings
  • Learning to use my own wings
  • Learning to get along with less and enjoying it more

What did you accomplish this past year that you are the most proud of? These can be in any area of your life—spiritual, relational, vocational physical, etc. Be as specific as possible.

  • Going to the Professional Communicator’s Summit as well as DCW with my husband
  • Coming out of the fear closet if you will and admitting I want to do stand up comedy and trying not to worry what people think about that.
  • Performing live comedy in front of some of my greatest heroes at CCA. I was terrified, but did not die.
  • Opening for Dan McGowan
  • Resigning from the Ablaze Church Mission Board – — It was time to move on. Ablaze is now established as a satellite location of our home congregation Our Savior Lutheran Church. I’m very proud of what we accomplished. By next year they will be looking at opening a pre-school and calling a full time pastor. Knowing I played a part in God’s overall plan for that congregation thrills me and humbles me all at once. It was an awesome three years.

 What do you feel you should have been acknowledged for but weren’t?

Leaving this one blank here — but it’s a good question to ask and think about.

What disappointments or regrets did you experience this past year? As leaders, we naturally have high expectations of ourselves and others. Where did you let yourself down? Where did you let others down?

  • Booking a retreat for my husband and I without checking out the leader’s qualifications: Turns out he only works with A-List performers and I feel like we probably wasted his time and as a result, ours. I was wanting to do something “really great” for my husband and overshot the runway in the process.
  • Losing focus on my exercise regimen and having to keep re-starting it
  • Picking a fight with someone I admire on his own blog (not the first time I’ve done that, but I kinda called him an overstuffed pig who plays with puppets and can’t keep a day job.. NOT NICE and not me )– when in reality he isn’t who I was mad at. I made an idiot out of myself.
  • Not being as present in the moment with my family as they want and need.
  • Not being as excited about Jeff’s new CD as Jeff was — All I saw was time spent away from home and forgot to cherish and celebrate his hard work and accomplishment with him like he deserved.

What was missing from last year as you look back? Again, look at each major area of your life. Don’t focus now on having to do anything about it. For now, just list each item. Here is my list:

  • More time doing what I feel called to do and less time worrying about what other think.
  • More time reading great literature and not just junk food
  • Time to really unplug and not think about work
  • More time with my husband

What were the major life-lessons you learned this past year? Boil this down to a few short, pithy statements.

  • A life without something to dream and pursue creates bitterness. It is better to pursue a dream and fall short than to hide your heart and fall asleep.
  • I can make a fool out of myself and actually live to tell about it.
  • It’s okay if I don’t like everyone I meet and it’s okay if everyone I meet does not like me.
  • Don’t over-think the outcome; just do the next right thing.


“This year is over. I declare it complete!”

What a Year it has been

Dear Heavens, I turned 44 this week and I still haven’t won an academy award. Not that I haven’t tried. Being a redhead and all – you’d think I would have. Sadly no academy’s for me. And I guess that’s a good thing really.

My life is not what I would have expected 20 years ago. I’m not an award winning novelist, or actress, or circus clown (Mom breathes a silent prayer of relief over that one.) for that matter I don’t have a career to speak of at all like I once thought I would. I’m a married mother of two really neat teenagers and my life consists of helping out with our Mission Start, teaching Sunday School for Women, going to my son’s soccer games, planting my gardens, cooking meals, cleaning my house, loving my husband and becoming a stand up comic. I think that is a good life.

I like to take an inventory every year on my birthday. Just an honest look and where I’ve been and where I want to be. I set new goals and strive for them each year.  Last year my goals included learning new things, being more brave, and walking closer with God.

Did you know that if you set the goal of “not being so afraid” it doesn’t mean the fear goes away, it means you get to feel the fear and do it anyway?

So what big scary things did I get to do this year? – I didn’t die by the way, which I’m sure you figured out because you are reading this post.

My scary things that turned out to be still scary but didn’t kill me.

  • Drove to the Children’s Medical Hospital in Fort Worth with Dillon for three days to find answers. – we did and he’s seizure free today.
  • Drove to Nashville with other Turbo Sisters to be there at Chonda Pierce’s new video taping.
  • Flew to Nashville to be in Ken Davis’s Professional Communicator’s Summit. — I shook to my bones, but did it anyway.
  • Drove to Nashville (Yes, I’m in love with Nashville this year) for the Christian Comedy Association Conference, found “home” and joined the association.
  • Performed a LIVE three minute comedy set in front of Kenn Kington, Nazareth, Thor Ramsey, Bone Hampton, LeLand and a bunch of other profession Christian comics – okay so I almost wet myself over that, but hey, I did it! And I made them laugh. Not bad.
  • Drove to Nashville with Jeff to spend 48 hours at the Cove with Randy and Chris Elrod for some retreat and mentoring time.
  • Did another live stand up set – this one about seven minutes at the Ablaze Fall Festival and did well enough that people told me I’ve found my right path. 😉 and I was nervous, but not scared.

While looking for God in the midst of fear, I found his path for me. Interesting. He picked the one thing that would seem to scare me most, being myself in front of other people.

Things I don’t do well

  • Taking care of myself.
  • Managing my time.
  • Speaking up without acting out – I still have my temper when I’m tired.

So I have some new goals for this coming year.

  1. Improve this new path by taking one new class, Dynamic Communicator’s Workshop, with Jeff.
  2. Walking two miles a day with my boarder collie Rocky. I tried to do three, but my ankle won’t tolerate it.
  3. Call my mom more than once every other month. I’m really bad at keeping in touch with her.
  4. Take some healthy cooking classes from Whole Foods.
  5. Learn how to say no to the things that get in the way of what God wants me to say yes to.

Simple stuff really. But worthy of noting. I’m a caretaker who needs to learn how to take better care of myself. So that is what I plan on focusing on this year. I want to celebrate more birthdays and set more goals for my life.

Do you set goals every year? Would you share on with me?

Hope that Overflows.

Three cool things happened to me this weekend.

1. After I had shared the details of my week with some friends, they told me that God (through the Holy Spirit) had impressed me on their hearts for prayer earlier in the week and did not know why. – He already had people praying for me before I knew I had a need.

2. God had a word for me, before I knew I needed it – Pastor went on vacation for the week and wrote his sermon before he left. He does not know about our week. His scripture verse for today:  Lamentations 3:21-25 (New International Version) Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning;  great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;

 3. I took a road trip to Van Buren Arkansas with my girlfriend Michele VanDusen last night and laughed myself stupid, both on the way and at the show. Girlfriends are great like that. We were even able to pop in during intermission and say hi to Chonda and crew. What a kick. I usually only get to see her when I’m working promotion. This was so much fun. Chonda also picked up two new to her, but not new to comedy gals to perform with her. Zan and Victoria are wonderful and the three of them, make an excellent combination. The show lasted three and a half hours!

prettyville Christian Comics, Zan, Chonda Pierce,(me), Victoria  Jackson(From SNL), and Michele VanDusen at Intermission.

During the show, Zan said that comics come from the land of misfit toys and I fell out of my chair laughing hysterically. Hanging with comics brings me incredible joy for many reasons. For one, I feel “normal” when I’m around comics. I don’t always say that outloud it sounds like I mean “wow, compared to your messed up self, I feel normal” and that’s not how I mean that. 

I have never really fit in anywhere. I kinda of stand out in an uncomfortable way.  I have spent my whole life feeling like there was this world I missed where people see through the same lenses I do.  The Land of Misfit Toys, that is so it!  When I’m with comics, there is a real me that comes out that feels whole and relaxed, and that’s a good thing. At Michele’s encouragement, I am learning a new craft right now.  I’m going from teaching and sharing and making people laugh on accident, to finding humor in my stories and in life and learning the timing needed to let people laugh on purpose. My stories are dead on, my set up, the punch lines, are all good and now I am working on delivery. Practice, practice, practice. Stage time is my hardest thing to find. The Looney Bin Open Mic night is a great place for me to learn and practice. All I need now is courage to ride the ride.

I have no idea what God is going to do with this desire and weird gifts that He planted in me, I just know that it will honor him or he wouldn’t have given them to me. I don’t know where it is going to take me.  I just know to trust Him and know that in all things (not some things or a few things, but ALL things), He works for the good of those who love him and have been called according to His purpose. – my life verse.

I don’t know how things are going to turn out with Jeff’s job, or Dillon’s school and friends. I just flat don’t know a lot of things. I do, however, know Jesus and that is enough.

Yes, God did really say we have hope that overflows. That is what the entire Bible is about. It’s a book full of hope. But even more so Christianity isn’t about religion, it’s about relationship. Being in a relationship with Jesus Christ, is being in a relationship of certainty, and not just wishful thinking.

(Heb. 11:1) 1Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

“May the God of hope fill you will all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

I still don’t understand all of the whys and who’s of what God is doing and has been doing in my life over the past few years. I am still learning how to enjoy the ride and trust that I have a Daddy who LOVES me. And in knowing that, and because of the Holy Spirit, He lavishes me with hope that overflows.

May he do the same for you today.

The Brain Cells You Are Trying to Reach Are No Longer In Service

I am convinced that menopause causes brain damage. It must, I mean why else do I spend hours looking for my glasses only to find them perched on top of my head or why if I run into someone I know at the grocery store I cannot remember their name. Things have gotten so bad that I’m not sure I’d even recognize my own mother unless I was in her home. It’s almost as if my Verizon Network of a brain has been replaced by T-Mobile. Most of the time there just aren’t any bars available. Nashville was one of those days.

Nashville is exciting and my brain got a little over stimulated by the new faces, names, places and sounds. So much so that after the concert I recognized someone I thought I should know and momentarily panicked. Why I thought I should know this person was beyond me. Truth is we’ve never met before, he is simply in a video I own. I sent a message to my brain asking for name recognition and received an all circuits busy please leave a message reply in return. I tried tilting my head and staring hoping to receive better brain wave reception, but it didn’t help. All it did was make me appear stalkerish. Not quite the effect I was going for.

Note: if you see me in public and I’m tilting my head while looking at you,I’m not being cute, or coy or flirtatious. I just have no stinkin clue what your name is at that moment and I’m doing my best cingular inpersonation – “Brain, can you hear me now?”

I let the issue drop for the rest of the evening and just enjoyed myself with my friends when suddenly my brain returned my call and put me on speaker phone. (The true story of my life.)

“I know you! You’re (insert name of recognized comic here).” and then it disconnected the call leaving me with nothing more than dial tone. My mouth is once again engaged with no service to the brain which really isn’t the best thing in the world for someone who wants to be a professional speaker and stand up comic, you know what I mean?

That would be when said person asks, “Yes I am and you would be…??”

I drew a blank. I knew this day would come and sure enough it had. I had momentarily forgotten my own name. I’m pretty sure that if it had not been printed on my shirt, we would have been toast for conversation right then and there. It’s really a good thing I didn’t have my name printed on my underwear like I did when I was a kid, or that would have been really awkward.

I did my best to explain who I was, but ya know… it really didn’t help. My circuits were once again busy and the best I could accomplish in return was a stuttering and stammering while I try to recover from yet another speaker phone experience.

“I’m in CCA, but I’m not really a comic, I’m a speaker and teacher, and uhm yeah… that’s who I am. “


I’m in CCA but I’m not a comic?


“Clean up Aisle One! – Neurotic comic about to vomit.”

– The whole reason I joined CCA was so that I could learn how to be a comic. So that I could learn what to do with the speakerphone moments in my life and make people laugh on purpose rather than accident.

The busy circuit days do tell me something – when faced with a legit – real, out there making money comic, I don’t feel I have earned the right to call myself a comic yet. It doesn’t matter that I’ve been at this for three years, I’m not there yet. I can call myself a speaker – been doing that for 20 years or more, or a teacher or a writer, but not a comic. What’s up with that?


Being part of a mission team and being married to a man who is studying for his entrance exam to seminary, I am struggling with my own images of “Godliness.” That’s what’s up with that. Can I be a missionary, a pastors wife, and still write and perform comedy? My speakerphone moments have made people laugh for years, why not keep that in my life?

Can I still be a speaker like I have been for the past two decades? Talking about the hard issues of special needs and family dysfunction. Talking about the hope that is in Christ when all feels lost?

Can I write the book that is really inside me. The one God wants me to write, and not the one I think I “Should” write because it has all the pretty words.

Can I still be me, in ministry or does my husband’s new career path change all of that? I hope I can still be me – but to do that? I have to put my eyes on Christ and keep them off of other people.

I’m learning that sharing Gospel of Christ in uplifting and postive ways IS Godly. I like to have fun in whatever I do. And today, more than ever, we need laughter, we need hope.

My joy in Christ is a gift I bring to the Mission Start – it’s a gift I bring to my own church. He placed it there – hiding it because someone might lable it “ungodly” would be a horrible mistake.

Don’t you think?

Keeping the Hopeful “Yet” in ADD.

(Awareness, Acceptance, Action)

When I saw my doctor the other day asking about ADD, her first reaction was one of disbelief and skepticism. That’s normal. Is ADD over diagnosed and over medicated? You bet. I see it in schools even – a high energy kid is labled a problem and teachers push parents to doctors offices all the time. When she asked if I had ADD as a kid, I told her they didn’t diagnose it then – I was just an avid talker and class clown.

I’m coming around to acceptance and have chosen to take right action and let my feelings follow later.

I want to thank everyone who has left comments or sent emails to me this week. I was truly afraid this was going to simply be a self indugent rant – and I found out, I’m in good company. I had no idea so many other adults deal with this. We joke about having ADD moments – but we hide the pain it can cause. So thank you for writing, and thank you for sharing. That was very encouraging.

– Day three and I am still alive, still not speeding, able to sleep, and I had a small impulse issue yesterday with another blogger – but it turned out well. We had a great converstation and I learned a lot about liturgical and high church worship.

I found an online survey very similar to the test Dillon’s doctor gave me. All of these questions were preceded with Do you have a lifetime struggle with (even if you can control it today) – issues.

If this is a new thing, or recent, or seasonal, it’s not ADD. More than likely it is depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder, or signs of an addiction of some kind. ADD is almost always diagnosed after ruling all of those out. Two years in counseling and three in group – pretty much ruled out everything else.

While I do have my addictions – praise junkie being one – I’m not chemically addicted to substances. Mine are more relationally based and I’m in treatment for those through a 12 step program.

ADD people aren’t lazy or stupid. True ADD’s have very high IQ’s. We think much more quickly than other people and more quickly than our mouths can keep up with. We are the right brained full blown technicolor 3 dimensional dreamers and thinkers of the world. We are the explorers, and inventors. We do a lot, we just seem to truly accomplish very little unless we find coping mechanisms.

I went to an E-Women’s Conference last year and scanned the book tables. Lisa Welchel has written more books than I have time to read – she’s home school mother of at least three high energy kids, a pastor’s wife and a national speaker – She even developed something called Mom Time Ministries and has her own business of sorts. I looked at that table, her skinny blonde body, and truly thought to myself – if that woman’s laundry is complete and her house clean, I may just hate her.

I don’t hate her by the way – she seems really nice – and gave a great talk about – over achieving and approval seeking. Okay – Lisa – you won me over. She’s multi-talented and very real.

I have dreams and for me, this ADD thing is really getting in the way. Multiple conversations overwhelm me and I cannot follow them. I would love nothing more than to speak and teach women about the Word of God. I get to in small groups and I love it. I love talking about God’s power and will in our lives. I love reaching out with the Gospel. I love watching thier eyes light up.

I even like the whole stand up comic thing – if I could remember my jokes, I’d like it even better.

I’m good at thosse things. I’ve rocked the mic enough times to know there is talent and potential there. And that’s my problem, I have a lifetime of “talent and potential” opportunites that I don’t seem to cross over into very well.

Until now.

My impulsive side is what caused me to join the Christian Comedy Association (CCA) three years ago at the insistance of a friend. I’m not actively rostered now as I’m not “sale ready” if you will. I don’t have a set long enough to open for anyone and I can’t travel. But I am on the boards, I’ve made new friends, and I am learning, writing humor and telling stories.My joining was impulsive and unplanned – and I’m glad I did it.

My impulsive side also led to – when CCA went Facebook – I was there – and yes I have truly conversed in one fashion or another with almost everyone on my facebook page. Where I found the courage to do that, I’ll never know. But I am learning to ask if I can learn from someone else. Sometimes they let me, sometimes they don’t – and I’m okay with that.

That’s where the social butterfly comes in. Some of them – I know on a deeper level. For some of them, I’m a hostess when they are in town, or I participate in classes with them (led by them). These are men and women I get to learn from – even if I don’t run with them. Yet.

Vikki Wells taught me how to add “yet” to my vocabulary last year. We were in the green room at E-Women talking about how I can teach a class of 30 or so, and really relate to those women and I love it, but cannot fathom speaking in front of 3,000 and being able to relate or keep my place, I just don’t know how. Vikki looked at me and said “yet”, you don’t know how “yet” but that will change.

She had no clue who I was – keep in mind this gal was speaking to her DRIVER! I was a runner for the weekend – a Chauffeur if you will – errand girl – gopher – water fetcher – a woman trying to discern between helpful and helicopter hovering (and over shot that runway a lot) – and Vikki spoke the word YET over me. So now I remember it – YET – is a word of hope and expectancy.

Keep “yet” in mind when it comes to ADD – there is hope even if the diagnosis comes late in life – Do not look back and wish for what was. It is a waste of time – look forward and be expectant of your own personal “yet.” For some people medication is not needed – some adults learn to surround themselves with super people who keep them organized – and they learn other mechinisms for getting by.

Maybe you are like me, I need the meds and denied having this even though I would joke about it to excuse impulsive behavior. Maybe you’ve thought or joked about it, but never really stepped out to do something about it – yet.

Maybe you are the mom who always runs late, loses field trip forms,etc, and get’s picked last for committees because people think you are a ditz. Maybe – like me – you try to get by being a cutsie, funny, social butterfly, but long to be taken seriously and get angry when you aren’t. I tend to hear a lot of “When I first met you , I thought you were a total flake, I had no idea there was so much depth.” adn stuff like that. It used to hurt me feelings, now I just say “yeah, I know.”

I have had leadership positions at school, church and NPO’s – it is possible, though I survived some of those postions by hyphenating anal-retentive and by controlling everything myself, simply because it was too hard to juggle people and me or communicate schedules. I use the excuse “I do my best work at 2 am.” when really I’m overwhelmed and don’t want anyone to know.

The following questions are not a diagnosis tool – but rather a thought tool. They could also be attributed to other issues, so be sure to speak to a doctor and cover all the bases.

So… do you have a lifetime issue with:

1. Getting distracted easily?
2. Having difficulty concentrating on one thing at a time?
3. Being disorganized?
4. Having a hard time focusing or paying attention during conversations, listening to others, or while reading?
5. Forgetting things like appointments or obligations?
6. Having trouble following directions that have multiple steps?
7. Having difficulty starting and finishing projects?
8. Procrastinating
9.Trouble prioritizing information?
10. Getting impatient easily?
11. Feeling restless and antsy?
12. Losing track of time and have trouble with time management?
13. Misplacing or have difficulty finding things at home or at work?
14. Acting before thinking through consequences?
15. Speaking or blurting out before thinking about the impact your words will have on others?
16. Tending to have lots of racing thoughts?
17. Getting bored easily?
18. Tending to make careless mistakes when you have to work on a tedious or difficult project?
19 Taking frequent risks.

There were 20 questions on my original survey – and I answered yes to 17. The “magic number” was 10.

As I said this is simply a tool – and not a diagnostic. If you answered yes to most of these, talk to your doctor and check out CHADD and find out more.