God is real...now what?

If local HHI  I've waited a few days to process what I wanted to share about my experience attending the IF:Gathering last weekend at our IF:Local HHI.

I'm not an "event" person. Frankly, because I have been a part of the behind-the-scenes of putting on events for more years than I can count, I'm kind of a cynic.   There is so much work involved and a lot of people don't want to commit the time to do what it takes to do an event with excellence. Right out of the gate, the prep of doing the IF:Gathering was VERY enticing to me. Not too much prep...Graphics and slides pre-made...(great looking stuff!) Event materials...pre-done.

Our team went into the weekend with NO one worn out or over worked. We were able to all play to our strengths with not a lot on one person. The communication from IF:Gathering BEFORE the event was outstanding. The Tumblr page, the FB page...all of it. The forums to ask questions...awesome.

So for this cynic, I already started ahead of where I usually am with events. A lot of prayer went into the tech because of the internet thing - we did everything we could on our end, and thank God, it worked great. So then, I got to be a part of the event...

I showed up at this event very desperate. 2014 was not the greatest year for me personally or my family. I showed up very empty and really had no idea what to expect from this experience. I've been a Christ-follower for many years, but I was showing up pretty tired, hurt, hopeless about certain things in my life, wondering if I REALLY was going to be able to make it...seriously make it...

From the first sessions, I realized that this was NOT like any event I had ever been a part of before. It was not about personalties, it was well done but not slick, it was honest and transparent, and it was not pulling any punches. They didn't waste my time. They got right to it (thank you for that.)

As Friday night and Saturday unfolded, there was a peace that overwhelmed me in my spirit that I cannot explain other than "God is real, He loves me, and I can trust Him" being presented by women that actually believed that.  I appreciated the realness and the respect that each presenter had for us as women. We needed time to process, to worship God freely through music, to talk with each other, to confess, to just be...they gave us plenty of time for ALL of that. My soul needed that desperately.

There wasn't one thing about the IF:Gathering...one presenter...one element. It was the whole thing that filled me with a freshness and awakening that I needed in every area of my life. I left the weekend experience with specific things that I need to deal with in my life. I left with specific areas that I know I need to trust God. I left with new friendships that would never have happened without that experience. I left knowing and feeling God's love me and that he has not abandoned me. I am embarrassed to say I thought that in some areas of my life.

It wasn't an event...it was move of God through the best use of technology I have ever seen. To do something in one place and create it in such a way that a room of 25 women over 1100 miles away felt connected and a part of something greater? To still have the elements of what is happening in our room, in our church, and in our community as much a part of the experience? 

To give women the opportunity to face whether we believe God is real and if He is, can we trust Him? If we trust Him, what are we gonna do in our lives to life that out? A clear message yet so much room for God to work individually in the hearts and minds of women. That is next step. I CANNOT wait to see what God does in my life and the lives of HHICC women as a result of the movement of the IF:Gathering...get ready.


It's time, women

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!)

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IF:Gathering

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.

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Propel Women

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!


2014 rewind

RewindWow, it's been awhile since I have been here. It feels like walking into an old family cabin that's been closed up for awhile. But then, as you start looking around, all the memories start coming back about how much you enjoyed spending time here...

I'm not someone that enjoys looking back. I'm not really a "live in the past" person. However, I am a "what did I learn from that" kind of person so there can be great value in looking back. This year was not that great. I'll just put it out there. Todd and I faced alot of challenges personally and in ministry this year and truth be told, I'm ready for 2015! I'm ready for a fresh start and a new year. That is not to say that there were not some good moments (which I will share later) but it was one of those years that I see Todd and I looking back and saying, "Remember 2014? yeah..."

Rather than unpack all the "stuff" of the year, I want to share some things that I learned from this past year that have greatly influenced my life and future choices. I wanted to make sure I wrote these down, but I'm also wiling to share them with you if in anyway this will help you in 2015:

1. Never underestimate the power of small, daily choices in any area of your life. 

  • This is a season of lfe of "maintaining" and "routine." I'm not frustrated with that, but I do see the power of the daily choice in every area of life and how after time, it compounds into maybe a good or bad habit in your life. I've learned this year to be vigilant in daily choices in every area of my life and to not be dismissive of those choices as they will one day become a lifestyle - whether I like it or not.

2. Never dismiss the specific, God-given design of your life and the influence you have.

  • Todd and I experienced spiritual warfare more intensely this year than ANY YEAR we have been married. If you don't know what that is, read Ephesians 6:10-18 . At one point, I asked Todd, "Why are we worth this? Are our lives so important that it is worth the all-out assault on our marriage, family, and ministry that we have experienced this year?" I'm not afraid of a fight. I don't look for them, but if I need to gear up, I do. This year was different. I lost my will to do it. I lost sight of the value of my worth in God's eyes. I'm on the road back and I see the glimmer of hope once again in this...

3. Be aware that the passion and calling God has given you for your life can only be purified through trials and difficult circumstances.

  • Todd and I faced this year strong spiritual warfare that challenged what we know God called us to at HHICC. The process that we experienced this year has made us more vigilant, committed, and passionate about being the church that God wants us to be. I firmly believe that we could not have learned this about ourselves without the purfication of that calling this year in our lives. 

4. When you feel like everything is "out of control..."  This might be the first time that God has the opportunity to fully be "in control" of your life.

  • This was the most personal lesson for me this year. I experienced some amazing moments of feeling so "out of control" and watching how God put people and things into my life that confirmed HE'S GOT IT. I can honestly say that this one will be a lifelong struggle for me. However, this year, more than any other year, I saw God at work in my life, in my husband's life, in my kids, and in my church and I had nothing to do with "making it happen."

Here are some highlights from 2014...

  • I was honored to be featured in our local paper about being a mom...you can read it here.
  • Here is a video from Syd's performance at "An Evening in December" this month.

  • Here's a video I created from Sean's soccer games this year...

2015, here we come! I'm ready!

Isaiah 43:19 (MSG) "This is what God says, the God who builds a road right through the ocean, who carves a path through pounding waves, The God who summons horses and chariots and armies— they lie down and then can’t get up; they’re snuffed out like so many candles: “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands. Wild animals will say ‘Thank you!’ —the coyotes and the buzzards— Because I provided water in the desert, rivers through the sun-baked earth, Drinking water for the people I chose, the people I made especially for myself, a people custom-made to praise me."


Women Living Well challenges your priorities

I specifically chose this book to read and review as a part of the Booksneeze community because I thought it would be a great way to refocus for the new year. Courtney Joseph delivers an easy read and an encouragement to women to get back to the basics and to fill their lives with the priorities each of us are called to as women who are Christ-followers.
Because of her own tech-savy approach to life, I was encouraged by her words of wisdom about media and how it relates to our families. She quotes Proverbs 1:7 which says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Then adds, "The child who is loved and has a healthy fear of God will eventually be able to monitor his or her own media.” I enjoyed that section of her book the most. Although my family does not operate in many ways the way that her family does, there is sound information and words of wisdom in this book. Women Living Well will encourage women who desire to have a peaceful home, fulfilling marriage, and a purposeful approach to their everyday lives.


Why Homeschool?

IMG_8340  I have had a lot of questions as to why Todd and I decided to homeschool Sydney and Sean, especially with making the decision for Sean to come home in the middle of the year.  I thought is would be best to answer those questions here at cheval glass and allow for comments and discussion through this post.

I never saw myself as a homeschool mom. To be honest, the day I dropped Sydney AND Sean off at HHCA as a 5 yr old and 8 yr old was sad, but I did have that moment of "FREEDOM!" I enjoy my kids so much and I love being a working mom also.  It was a great year. I had time to myself and I had time to devote to some areas in my job that I really needed to give attention to that year. I took a sabbatical that year as well and got away. It was a lifechanging experience.

But I sensed in my heart in the first of 2013 that my daughter and I were drifting apart. Sydney is a female version of Todd. Sean is a male version of me. I don't think, respond, process, or in ANYWAY view life the way Sydney does.  It has been a wonderful and challenging experience to work at understanding her and how she views life.  She was having an amazing 3rd grade (Thank you, Mrs. Buck and Mrs. Atkins!) and was connecting in some ways academically that she had NEVER done before. But for me, our connection as mom and daughter was not something I was content with where it was and where my heart said it was headed.  Financially for our family, it was also a positive thing to only have Sean at HHCA.  I didn't talk to Sydney about this at all. Todd and I talked about it and prayed about it.

Then as Sydney and I were having dinner one night at Atlanta Bread Company after ballet, she says to me..."Mom, I would like to homeschoool. I would be ok with doing that."  What! I had NEVER told her that I was thinking about this!  That was the affirmation I needed from her (as only GOD can do!) that this was a good decision.  We started in August of 2013 and I was right. We needed to reconnect on SO many things and our Fall was the most AMAZING few months. There were tough days where I had to apologize and days she had to apologize. However, I cannot decribe what the gift of time with your child can do in your relationship with them.

I was actually suprised this was going so well this fall. My work schedule and spending time with her was actually working! However, things were not as great with "the boys." Sean was doing great at HHCA (thanks, Mrs. Boley!) and Todd was doing OK with taking him to school everyday and his own job and seminary. But as Todd and I talked about it, our days had changed to not really being the typical "9-5" routine. The ONLY thing that was like that was Sean being in school. Todd was doing seminary late at night and getting up to take Sean and I was seeing the toll it was taking on him.  We also saw some financial things in our future that concerned us about how "tight" we had been living to make everything work. Todd and I prayed about it and decided to go ahead and add Sean to the homeschool adventure as Todd finishes seminary and we accomplish some of our financial goals (Thanks, Dave Ramsey!)

One thing you have to understand about our family is that we make decisions that are based on what's best for the entire family.  We always keep in the individual in mind, but I have found after almost 20 years of marriage that this works best for us.  We all have to compromise and give so that the family as a unit can operate at its maximum potential. This is just the way we have decided to operate as a family.

We love HHCA. When God leads us, my kids will go back to school there.  We feel very strong about a God-view based eduaction.  What I discovered this year is HOW important is for me as the mother to be aware when the Holy Spirit leads me to do something.  It's not easy and it's scarry sometimes.  I'm learning more about trusting God than I ever have in my life. One day at a time.

We just completed our first week with both kids doing homeschool and it actually went better than expected. Sean misses his friends and I'm making a huge effort to give him opportunity to be with them as much as possible. In fact, they both have friends coming over this afternoon.  I don't homeschool them the same. I use different curriculum and different ways to motivate them. I will blog about that at another time. 

So there it is...why we made the choice. I ask for prayers as you think of us.  Feel free to comment here and ask questions.  I'm on this homeschool journey for as long as God leads my heart that this is what is best for everyone in our family. One day at a time...


"The Christmas Candle" shines bright

We all desire a glimpse of hope especially during the Christmas season.  Max Lucado shares a story of hope in "The Christmas Candle" that warms the heart and soul.  The legend of a candle that is touched by an angel every twenty five years is received with skepticism by the new minister, David Richmond, as he takes on his new congregation in the village of Gladstone. He meets a series of very interesting people in this village who are not very happy with his response to this important legend in the life of their village.

One of my favorite questions asked of Reverend Richmond by a parishioner is "The mystery of God unsettles us all, Reverend. But isn’t mystery where God works? If he does only what we understand, is he God?”  As the story unfolds, the new minister is confronted with his own crisis of faith in believing that God can do the miraculous as events of his past life intersect with events happening in the village of Gladstone. 

The Christmas Candle is a comforting read for anyone during the Christmas season. It encourages the person of faith to HAVE faith and never doubt or become callous to mystery of God in our lives. 

This book was reviewed as a part of Booksneeze with Thomas Nelson Publishing.

For Chesterton fans everywhere

I was introduced to this author, G.K. Chesterton, while living in NYC a few years ago and fell in love with his ability to say the profound in a few, well chosen words.  For me, this book is a great collection of some of his most famous sayings and pearls of wisdom.  

The Quotable Chesterton: The Wit and Wisdom of G.K. Chesterton is organized by subject and alphabetically. I liked this because as someone who is a part of a sermon writing team, this makes research of his quotes much easier to find.  Chesterton  blended his faith into all areas of his life. He did not segment his faith from all other areas.  This book helps you, the reader, to see that and if you are a person of faith, you find challenge and a little bit of "ouch" from so much of what he says. One of my favorite quotes is "It is the test of a good religion whether you can joke about it."

If you are not a fan of Chesterton and are not familiar with his work, this book may be a little hard to just pick and read through his quotes and sayings. However, if you are familiar with him as an author and find thought-provoking sayings very intriguing, this is a MUST for your library. Because as G. K. Chesterton says, " A room without books is like a body without a soul."  Add this to your library!

I enjoy being a part of the BookSneeze program and this was a great choice to read and share a review.


Thankful

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I'm thankful for...

  • a life partner who is willing to hold my hand through the ebb and flow of marriage.
  • my daughter's smile which changes my mood instantly.
  • my son's laugh because it's contagious.
  • my parents for all their prayers over my life & their role as grandparents for my kids.
  • my sisters for all the drama of "our lives" that continue to create memories I cherish.
  • my friends who "totally get me" and yet, still call me a friend.
  • my church and the spiritual family we have become.
  • the privilege of living on Hilton Head Island and enjoying God's creation in its natural form.
  • my Savior, my Friend, My Comforter, my Constant who never leaves me and reveals His love for me more each day.

Roots and Soil

Tree-roots  It's been strange for me to be away from cheval glass as much as I have been this past year. It's not that life has not been full of so many things I've learned and observed. I find myself microblogging now so much more through facebook and twitter...saying what I need to say in 140 characters and moving on.

Post-sabbatical, I find myself still refreshed from that time away last January. So much of what I learned about myself as well as my need for "spiritual loittering" still influence my decisions and my time.  This is the first "Pre-Christmas" season in a few years that I'm waking up NOW with excitement about our creative endeavors as a team and the musical offerings we will be sharing throughout the season. 

IMG_7333  I entered the world of homeschool this past August with my 4th grader. I did not expect to enjoy it as much as I am, truthfully.  I thought by now I would be thinking something very different! The time with Sydney has been magical.  The conversation, the learning experiences, the weekend "field trip" to Atlanta to visit the Fernbank Museum, etc... I have learned SO much about my daughter that I know I would never have learned without this experience. She told me her favorite part of homeschool is her piano and voice lessons we do together. The joy of sharing music with her is hard to put into words. There is just something as an artist about enjoying music with your kids.  Sean also is taking piano lessons and is growing up fast into a "little Cynthia" as Todd says. His passion for soccer has opened the door for him to become a part of STORM Soccer Academy this year. He is learning so much skill and is a great team player.  

I see this new season of life as one of watching our roots going into good soil.  I see it in my marriage, my kids, in our ministry at HHICC, and in our community as we get involved on a much more committed basis.  I realized the other day that we have lived in the house we live in now longer than any other home in our 18 years of marriage! This is different and new - not boring or predictable. It is rich with experiences that come from roots gaining nutrients and good soil.

When I think of this season, I'm drawn to Paul's words to the church at Ephesus...

"When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth.  I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.  Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.  And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.  May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God."  - Ephesians 3:14-19 (NLT)