It was a privilege to be a part of Worship Team Training hosting a Hangout with Branon Dempsey, Rich Kirkpatrick and myself. I love being able to talk about what God is doing at HHICC through our musical artists and how we are able to share their gifts within our community. I look forward to joining then again on Wednesdat, Dec 23rd!
Watch the hangout below or click here.
I shared a couple of days ago on our HHICC blog about changes in my ministry life. Honestly, the last two years have been an intense time of soul-searching, frustration, reflection, and wondering, "What is up with me?"
I took a sabbatical in January 2013 fully expecting that at the end of that 5 weeks that God was going to release me from worship ministry. I was exhausted, depleted, felt old and tired, not effective...fill in the blank. To my surprise, he didn't release me. Instead, he "tweaked" my calling in a way that gave me a renewed passion. He showed me how much I love process. He showed me how much I love every aspect of the worship experience on Sundays from video to lighting to music to the high schooler playing guitar to the message to the temperature of our room to the social media and web presence that brought people there for the first time. I had no idea how passionate I was about all that until that time. I have always led that effort for our team out of necessity but I had no idea how much that was "my thing."
I had the privilege of coordinating the IF: LOCAL Gathering at our church in February and had scheduled a different team from our ministry to lead on Sunday since I knew I would be pretty exhausted. The IF: Gathering was a life-changing experience for me. That Sunday, as I worshipped NEXT to my husband (yeah, that never happens) in the congregation, I truly sensed the Holy Spirit saying, "You don't have to be up there every week anymore." I felt such a release from that part of my ministry immediately. Not because I initiated it. Because God said I was done.
I shared this with Todd and he has been so supportive about what God has been doing in my life in this area. For us personally, with the "unique" relationship we have as husband and wife and Lead Pastor and Worship Leader, he has seen how God has brought new people into our team to make this change a possibility. I'm not a clique person, but this has been so true. "God does not guide where He does not provide."
I am re-tooling. For many of our church family, they may not even notice a significant change. But for me, it is completely different in the way I am organizing my life, my time, my responsibilities, and my focus. I start in a couple of weeks leading a mentoring group of worship leaders in our church from age 16 to well...I will be sharing a lot of what we talk about here at cheval glass.
Philippians 1:6 says ,"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." (ESV) So here's to the "new" good work ahead and learning how to use these different tools in my toolbox.
Being a women in ministry for the past...oK...many years... twenty something...has been a privilege and yet a lonely experience. Granted, I have enjoyed being a part of the "early days" of women who were hired at the executive level of churches. Honestly. Had it not been for certain male leaders who were not afraid to let "a woman" lead, I would not be where I am today. You know who you are :-)
I've been praying for our church (and for me) to have an awakening to the importance of community among women around the principles of God's Word, our value to God as women, and living life with all the hats we wear. I have great expectation about the future and movements that are getting traction in our world for women like me and women who are in need of community (like me!)
There are two movements that I am excited to get connected and be a part of in 2015! I call them movements because they are driven by a COMMUNITY of women and not just one person (I love that!)
We are now an IF: Local chapter and will be partnering with ALL aspects of the IF movement at HHICC. We are a LOCAL gathering for the IF:Gathering event on Friday-Saturday, February 6-7. If you live in the HHI area, please join us! Register here.
This is launching TODAY at my Alma Mater with a week of activies. If you are a woman in leadership, get connected to this on Facebook, Twitter, and their magazine. Can't wait to see what happens with this! Excited to see how this will impact the NEXT generation of women (including my daughter).
It's time, women...let's go!
If I had one word to describe what my 30-day sabbatical was for me, that's the word. In every area of my life, I feel that I have a "inner button" switched from where I was before my time away and where I am now. I truly went into this time with no expectation. As a highly-driven person, I probably had more fear than anything heading into 30 days of no responsibilities. Everything I did for that time was from my heart - a true desire to do it. Whether it was sitting in a lounge chair somewhere in the Carribean or sitting with my son after school to help him read...I did what I enjoyed doing.
The interesting thing is that I wasn't sure what I enjoyed doing in ministry and in a lot of areas of my life before my sabbatical. I couldn't separate what I was responsble for from what I really loved doing. I found myself just bursting with new songs I wanted to share, some I had written, and others that I was worshipping with alone. I started to "feel" again. I think I had become numb to a lot of the day-to-day of my life. I didn't realize how far I had gone down that road.
As I mentioned in my previous blog, the power of sleep can never be underestimated. For the most part, I've been consistently going to bed around the same time and waking up around the same time. My new mantra my first week back has been,"Cynthia, that's enough for today." I feel like I'm treating myself like my own kids sometimes, but I have alot of unhealthy margins to correct.
Spiritually, I'm so thankful for the large amounts of time that I had alone with God. I filled the pages of my sabbatical journal and I practiced what Lance Witt refers to as "spiritual loitering." I spent alot of time wasting time with God and being quiet. I know that is why my songwriting was so rich and plentiful during my sabbatical.
Before my sabbatical, I had become disconnected to some of my life-long friends. I made plans with almost everyone of them either in person or phone during my 30-days. I am so thankful for the love, grace, and prayers they poured over me and the encouragement they were to me during this time. You know who you are...thank you for being fresh water to my soul.
I wasn't sure if I would be coming back to ministry after this time way. My exhaustion level was at my core. I laid everything on the line with God and told Him that if I needed to be done, I was fine with that. Twenty years is a long time and if my season was done, I was willing to be done. I was pleasantly suprised. Not only did God clearly reveal to me in my time with Him that I am NOT done, He renewed my heart and passion for His people in the local church. He refined my calling as I begin this next season of ministry. For the first time in a LONG time, I have a more clear understanding of how my days should be spent as a pastor's wife and a Worship Arts Director.
There were also some areas in my life that I realized were not as "jumbled" as I thought they were. Having a clear head helped me to see what was going well in my life and celebrate that! Our family vacation on a Disney Cruise just put a BIG exclamation point on my time away. Since we were not able to have a fmaily vacation in 2012 (it was scheduled for the week we moved into our new facility!), it was a wonderful treat to spend that time with them. Todd and I had great conversations during my sabbatical and we sense a true refreshment in our marriage and in our family.
I sensed anxiety and worry trying to creep in this week as I returned to normal life and then it as if the Holy Spirit just speaks to me and says, "No, we aren't going there." and it passes before it has a hold on me. I know there will be days when it wins. I'm celebrating it didn't this week!
I couldn't get this song out of my head during my time away. I think it became my heart's cry and how I want to move forward in my life...
"I need you more...more than yesterday / I need you more...more than words can say / I need you more...than ever before/ I need you more...I need you, Lord/ More than the air I breathe/ More than the song I sing/ More than the next heartbeat/ More than anything/ And Lord, as time goes by/I will be by Your side/ 'Cause I never want to go back to my old life." Written by Bruce Haynes and Lindell Cooley ©1996 CCLI #2061678
It's the last line of that song that I think has just stuck with me. That's what reset means. And that's what I'm leaning into each day.
My silence the last month here at cheval glass is not reflective of a boring summer...to say the least. The last couple of months have been filled with chapters closing, new ones opening, and great opportunities for the future.
Our Lead Pastor, Jeff Cranston, and our Elders came to a unanimous decision with Todd's support about the future of the Hilton Head Island Campus. After the growth of the last four years, our financial stability on our own since May 2010, and the amazing Miracle Offering that was given in May from our Campus toward our new facility, it was announced that the Island Campus where Todd and I have been serving the past four years will become its own independent church on Sunday, September 11, 2011. I have been serving as the Worship Arts Director over both of our campuses - Bluffton and Hilton Head Island - for the past 18 months. With this transition, I will be returning to the Island and overseeing Environments and serving as the Worship Leader for the new church, Hilton Head Island Community Church.
CLICK HERE to read the amazing letter from Pastor Jeff and to hear Todd's announcement. They did such an incredible job sharing this with our church!
This morning, Todd and I led the service at our Bluffton Campus and were able to share with our "mother" congregation about the transition and to express our gratitude for their prayers, support, encouragement, and generosity these past four years. I have loved getting to know our Bluffton Worship Arts Team over the past 18 months and they have been such a blessing to me this past year, especially in establishing our Worship Community - a.k.a. - Worship choir. Eric Abney, who I hired in March to work alongside me, has become the new Worship Arts Director at LCC and I know he will do an AMAZING job in this role. We will continue to share resources between our teams as sister churches and we have linked our PCO accounts so we can share volunteers and resources more easily. Eric and I will also rotate leading worship between our churches periodically.
I look forward to sharing here at cheval glass about our journey in this new chapter as we see what God has for us. We are going to change the tone of 9-11 this year...it's going to be about celebrating a new day and new opportunities for the Kingdom of God on Hilton Head Island...here we go!
We completed 40 days of prayer and fasting as a church on Easter Sunday. Todd and I decided to do the Daniel Fast for 21 days of that time. I had never done a structured fast like this before. I knew doing it together with Todd would help me with accountability, but I was so afraid I wouldn't be able to stick with it. Here's what I learned:
I never thought I had a food issue till I started fasting. I was shocked at how much I would think of eating or drinking something in response to a circumstance or as a diversion.
I've learned to view food as something I need and not as a hobby. I grew up in the Deep South. Food is a way of life. When you are eating lunch, you are talking about what you are having for dinner. It's just the way it is.
Our family ate more meals together and enjoyed grocery shopping like never before. Todd is an amazing cook. He loves to cook and experiment with recipes. I can cook, but it is not something that I enjoy like Todd does. It was fun to plan meals together and shop and really talk about what we were going to eat each week. My favorite thing was his sweet potato fries. The book has amazing recipes and Todd did some "tweaking" on his own!
I learned to replace my thoughts for food with prayer. When I would had those moments of really "wanting" something in the first week, I would turn my thoughts to God. After a week on the fast, my cravings for things not on the fast went away almost 90 percent. I began to not think about food in relation to my day and I had so much more "thought energy" to focus on God and my priorities.
It brought Todd and I closer to each other. We spent more time together and encouraged each other throughout the day. Doing this together gave us the opportunity to share what we were learning through it and prompted great converstation that I don't think would have happened without the fast.
We were able to teach our kids about fasting. We had the kids do the fast with us without some of the rigidness of no dairy. However, we did eliminate sweets and we cooked the same meal at night for them that we ate. It was a great learning experience for our family.
I'm going to make parts of it a lifestyle now. I made choices as best as I could on the fast in every environment. Not everything I had was "perfectly" in line with the fast, but I did the best I could. The Daniel Fast is not about legalism and following rules. It's about learning how to eat, making good choices, and focusing on God. I saw how I could live my life better, feel better, and have so much more of a focused lifestyle. I don't want to go back to my old way of eating and thinking about food. It changed my life and the way I think about food forever.
That's not to say I'm never going to have a cookie, candy, or dessert ever again. I just want to have the right perspective moving forward that I learned from this period of fasting.
This was a life-changing experience for me. I naturally lost some weight which was a nice bi-product, but it was never about weight loss for me. It was about surrender. It was about being willing to do something totally different in response to my desire to seek God. If you have never tried a fast, I would encourage you to do this one. Do it with a friend or a spouse. Be ready for your eyes to be opened to new things about yourself and new truths that God will be able to speak into your life. Spiritually, it was the best thing I have done to deepen my walk with God.
This was my third time attending Unleash and in my opinion, it was the best! I was able to take my WAM Staff with me and we had an unbelieveable 48 hours together - dreaming, sharing, and getting to know one another. Here were some highlights:
Five things to get our vision right - Perry Noble - from Matthew 25
1. We must make Jesus the END GOAL of all that we do.
2. We must be more concerned with the outsider than the insider.
My favorite statement of the day...
"We must not organize ourselves around the preferences of the already convinced."
3. We must help people establish a new identity.
4. We must be patient with people.
5. We must make it our mission to proclaim freedom in Jesus Christ.
1 Samuel 14 - Every leader faces fear - Perry Noble
I loved this story of Jonathan and his armor bearer from 1 Sam 14:1-23. Go read it here. Perry started with John 14:12 and Christ's promise that we would do "greater things." He gave three stages of a leader being able to do greater things:
1.Preparation - vv. 1-4 -God has not called us to play it safe.
2. "Perhaps" - v.6- Perry said that everytime he reads the Bible, he sees that it is perfectly normal to not know what happens next. As Jonathan said, "Perhaps the Lord will act on our behalf..."
3. Partnershp - v.7 -You can always submit to godly authority and trust God for the outcome. As Jonathan's armor bearer said "Do all that you have in mind,” his armor-bearer said. “Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul."
Shane Duffey - Creative Arts Pastor - In his breakout session, I love what he said about creativity...
"We must be committed to process and product but married to the vision."
The worship was terrific...Lee and the team led with such authenticity and energy. I was so encouraged! It is such a treat to be led in worship. I just took it all in!
Thanks to ALL the team at NewSpring for their fabulous volunteers and a great day of encouragement!
We don't have pews at either campus of LCC, but it was a catchy title...
I had the opportunity to attend worship services at both campuses of LCC this past Sunday. I sat in the service "like a normal person!" I was so encouraged by our Worship Leaders at both campuses. They brought such an authenticity to the worship experience. I'm one of those (like most of you Worship Leaders) that struggle with not hearing or seeing things that need to be "tweaked" while you are sitting. I was so grateful for their preparation and execution of the musical elements of the worship experience. The way they led us drew me right in so I was not distracted. Thank you, Johnny, Debbie, Brandon, and Kim for allowing me to worship so freely in corporate worship! Band guys - you brought such a musical tapestry to the worship experience. Thank you for sharing your amazing giftedness through worship.
This also means I heard two messages yesterday. My hubby Todd did a fabulous job of kicking off the New Year with a personal message for Islanders as we embark on a New Year as a campus. CLICK HERE to listen. I'm so excited about what God has laid on his heart for the future of the Island Campus. It' s a tall order, but as Nehemiah learned - God is faithful! It was also a privilege to receive commuion and pray with him during the Time of Response at the end of the service.
Pastor Jeff shared with us the importance of the time we have been given on earth and not waisting it. I was so convicted about the things I waste my time doing that have no eternal value. I want to do a better job making the most of my time in 2011 and making better choices every day.
I'm so thankful for my church. As I headed to lunch, my heart was so full with overwhelming gratitude that I have the privilege to lead musically, create artistically, and participate corporately at LCC. I encourage ALL worship leaders out there to spend the money and give yourself the opportunity to partcipate in corporate worship at the churches you are serving as worship leader. It is an experience that I need more often, but was definitely a spiritual highlight of my Christmas season.
This post is a part of the Worship Community Sunday Recaps!
As I reflect on this New Year's Eve on the past year, I have several things that I learned that I think are worth sharing here at cheval glass. I know that we all look at the beginning of a new year as the opportunity for a fresh start and new challenges. But I think there is a lot to be learned by reflecting on the past - good and bad - and taking those lessons into your future. As Socrates said, " The unexamined life is not worth living." So with that, here we go..
1. Time is the greatest healer...the more time that passes from hurtful circumstances and situations that have occured in my life, I truly feel healing and restoration growing in my heart and mind. The memory is there, the scar may always be visible, the wound closes as time passes. I am thankful for what I am forgetting now more than ever!
2. I control my time and priorities...I allow things to "take over" and consume me - no one else does this to me - it is my decision what I allow to be the priorities in my life everyday. It's my choice.
3. Who I am in Christ will always be the measurement of my worth. The longer I am in full-time ministry (16 years so far!), the more I find peace and affirmation in my heart from this and this alone. As a worship leader, people like the songs I choose or people don't like the songs I choose. They have strong feelings about which campus I lead worship each week ( it's very sweet when I am missed...thank you!) I change my hair and people like or don't like that I changed my hair. I gain weight, I lose weight...all of this is SO unpredictable - it never lands anywhere. I am SO thankful that my God never changes and my worth to Him is not wrapped up in song selections, hair color, weight gain or loss, or meeting expectations. I am HIS child and that's where I am safe and secure.
4. There is nothing better than a good night's sleep. I have struggled with panic anxiety disorder for years and sleeping through the night is a luxury in different seasons of my life. I have had four or five great nights of sleep this past week on vacation and I feel like a new person! I need to do less in the evenings so that I can wind down sooner...that definitely made a difference this week!
5. Treasure every moment with those that mean the most to you. I have watched my sister and her family battle cancer with my brother-in-law and she has done this to the best of her ability. I have watched her make the most of moments at cancer treatments in NYC with her children and with her husband. It has made me more grateful and appreciative of those I love.
6. Have fun even if you don't have time. I took a few trips with my sister, family and friends at different times this year and I am so glad that I did. It was difficult with my job and the responsibilities I have, but I am glad I didn't allow that to keep me from being with them and making some great memories.
7. I love to blog and I'm ready to jump back in this year. I started blogging in 2006 and I have had good years and not so good years. This was one of those years that I let it sit on the back burner for a number of reasons, but the bottom line is that I love doing it. I have truly missed sharing moments of my life here. Honestly, some of it was intentional because I truly needed a year to be unplugged. Some of it was just not making it a priority. However, I know that this is vital part of my journey and a discipline that I need to embrace again in 2011.
8. Watching my children grow up is the greatest gift to me as a mother. Sean was riding his brand new bike this afternoon and I can't believe he will be four in a few weeks. I am so thankful that I have the privilege to remember giving birth to him and now watch him ride a bike. Sydney has been journaling so much the past couple of months. I am so thankful I have the privilege of remembering when she couldn't write her name and now she is writing pages and pages of her thoughts. Some moms and dads do not have the privilege to see it happen. I am so thankful that I can.
9. It takes two, baby. Marvin Gaye was right. My life does not work without Todd. We are a team in every aspect of the word. For those of us parents that both work outside the home, it's the only way to survive. We each have our strengths and weaknesses that we bring to our relationship, but we are truly confident in what we bring to our marriage and to our family. It works for us and I am so thankful for the partner that God sent me 15 years ago. We are not the typical family with typical roles. We are different and I am so thankful that God chose the perfect man to live with me! One of my favorite memories this year is when I picked Sydney up from school on a Monday (as that is one of my days to pick up) and three cars behind me was Todd...to pick up Sydney...yeah, he thought he told me he was getting her that day "to help me out." But it all works out...I'm sure there will be a day that neither of us picks her up...thank goodnes for Amy Cunningham who helps us out!
Well that's about it. I don't want to ramble. I hope your 2010 has taught you some things that you can take with you into 2011. I leave with you a quote from one of my favorite authors as you leave this year behind and embrace the future.
"God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world”
- C.S. Lewis