Hope

HOPE1 

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 My word for 2016 was HOPE. Circumstances and age itself can sometimes rob us of HOPE. To be honest, this was the first time in my life that I can remember that I really struggled to sense that there was hope in some specific areas of my life. I truly claimed these verses:

Jeremiah 29:11 - "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."

Joel 2:25-26  I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you. 26 “You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you..."

As I reflect today on the past 12 months, I prayed for that word to be realized in some very specific areas of my life...and it did happen. I think I learned that I have to come to the end of myself so that I can truly see God work in areas I know I have exhausted what I CAN DO. That's where He wants to me camp out and pitch my tent. Some were very personal experiences for me,  but let me share a few "hope-filled" highlights from 2016 (in no particular order.)

  • Our family was able to take a "once-in-a-lifetime" vacation together to beautiful Turks and Caicos last May. We had an amazing and memory-filled experience that I will treasure forever. My Dad felt well the entire week and he and mom were finally able to go to the Caribbean together. Todd and I enjoyed an anniversary breakfast together overlooking the ocean and enjoyed some meaningful time with my sister Christie and her family as well.
  • My father is still courageously fighting cancer and survived a very dangerous surgery this month and is home at last. I am hopeful of his recovery and more days ahead with him.
  • We did a Facebook LIVE service in the midst of our Hurricane Matthew evacuation to ATL in October with Andrea and Geno Miller (who evacuated there as well) None of us new what we would be coming home to and doing that service from my sister's living room (Thank you Christie and Bruce!) was the most worshipful service I did this year. I can truly say I worshiped from a place of totally reliance that God was in control because none of us were at all! Click here to check it out.
  • Early pictures Post-Hurricane Matthew looked as if our home was completely underwater. We were blessed to return to no significant damage to our home at all. Just trees and debris everywhere. Survivor guilt is a real thing as we walk this journey with so many friends who experienced significant damage and still continue to recover. We are still hopeful that our beautiful Island will return to life before Matthew. We are #HHISTRONG.
  • I took on a new role at HHICC as Ministry Operations Director. My task this year was to streamline our efforts as a staff-team in the areas of finances, ministry, and member development and help remove as much from Todd's plate as possible so that he could truly PASTOR and LEAD our staff team and congregation. The "hope"moment is that Todd and are actually STILL married (LOL!) Seriously, I am so proud of Todd, our staff team, Elders, and Stewarship Team for their support and for their patience with me in this new role and as we continue to learn together how we can all be our best in our unique roles at HHICC.
  • Sydney saw her dream realized of having a lead role as Fritz in The Nutcracker. She was "hopeful" for this experience and danced it beautifully this year. It was such a great two weeks having family come to HHI to support her.  I loved being a part as a volunteer and being in "her world." She is embarking on this form of art being her life's devotion and God continues to open doors for her to use it for Him. Click here to see what she choreographed and danced in this year's "An Evening in December." She got braces this year and is not "a little girl" anymore - Dad is in denial. I am really enjoying our "talks" and observing her choices and choosing her friendships. I love this! (I know, enjoy it while I can!)
  • Sean grew up this year. Too quick for my taste. His love for math and science has developed into a passion. He asked his teacher for more math homework! (yeah, weird kid...) He got a drum set this year and started learning to play. I'm loving it! He continues to thrive with Tormenta Soccer and we have grown to love our team and parents this year. We prayed that God would put us together with great parents and kids and HE DID. We love our #07BlackHHI boys! I love verbally hearing how Sean processes life. He has this cute way of using big words in the wrong context? It's hilarious. Todd and Sean love flying their drones, wrestling in the living room (help me!) and playing golf together. I love seeing "my men" spend time together and have fun.
  • Todd and I are learning and growing a lot right now as we embark on almost 22 years of marriage. We both have learned a lot from the past few years about ourselves and what lies ahead for us. It is so different with the kids growing up and already being so independent (which I highly recommend raising kids to be that way!) Date nights and daily meaningful conversations are not luxuries...they are a lifelines to us staying connected and a being a vital part of each other's lives. You take vows for a reason, right? The good, the bad, the scarry, the frustrating, the win, the loss...it's the TOTALITY of it all that makes a marriage. We are learning that and expecting God to continue to shape us for His purpose as we grow together in Him.
  • We purchased our HHICC campus...Finally! This was a big one. We were hopeful that this contract would close before the end of 2016, saving us thousands of dollars and on the last business day of 2016, Todd signed the papers and we purchased our 2 buildings and 3 acres. Todd had the best night of sleep all year last night! We are so blessed to have such an amazing group of leaders at HHICC who led this effort to GET IT DONE.

As I wrap this blog up on New Year's Eve 2016, I can't help but think this: I'm here. My kids and my husband are here with me. Thank you, God. There was so much uncertainty this year in our personal lives, in our country, our world, and in our community. But for me, hope was realized in so many beautiful ways throughout this year and I am indeed, so thankful.

My New Year's Eve Prayer..."Father God, our Provider and Sustainer, thank you for your faithfulness in 2016 and that it never ends.  Even when I lose heart...even when I feel that I am without hope...you are constant. Thank you that you prove over and over again that YOU are Faithful and that You will provide HOPE in YOUR time, in YOUR way...You are God and I am not. I need to be reminded of that way too often, Father! In the Name of Your Son, Jesus, AMEN."


Worship Team Training Hangout Christmas Celebration

I was so  honored to join Branon Dempsey and Rich Kirkpatrick once again for a Hangout Christmas Celebration with our thoughts on 2015 and the year to come. I think we should have a practice session next time when we debut our instruments :-) That was fun! Enjoy!

 


Worship Team Hangout with Worship Team Training

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.

 


Re-tooling

Toolbox-primaryI 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.


Sunday Recap...with a twist

Here I am–247  This week, I had the privilege to share my story with our church in context with our 24/7 Series on Worship.  It was a great experience on the message preparation side of learning how to manuscript (thank you, @toddcullen!) and create an outline for our message notes.  Although  I serve on our Message Prep team here @hhichurch, it was definitely a twist to be playing and singing in the band and then communicate right after that! I think Todd enjoyed the tables being turned this week in our Thursday evaluation time...I'm usually the one DOING the evaluation!

The coolest thing for me as a Service Programming Director was to weave the songs I chose into the context of my outline. Todd and Cody do a great job connecting with that already, but it was cool to see how to pull the ENTIRE service together with what I said and what we sang.

Thank you SO much to my @hhichurch family for all your prayers before and your encouraging words after each service.  It was DEFINITELY something I was nervous about doing (mainly because I didn't want to say anything that Todd would have to clean up the next week!) Stephanie led worship SO well and the band just played AMAZINGLY! Here was our service order:

"Rise and Sing"

Welcome/Announcements

"Glory to God Forever"

Prayer

"Our God"

MESSAGE (You can listen on our podcast! "24/7:Here I am")

"Awakening"

My prayer was that as I shared my story that the concept of worship being an outward expression of an inward faith would really sink into people's minds. I struggled for SO many years with looking good on the outside but not really living it on the inside. I know I will always have the struggle, but I'm so thankful that I have "given up" on what I want in life in general and have decided to surrender to God's plan for my life.

Read more recaps here


Sunday Recap

I'm still just settling into this new routine with worship leading. My life is so different now because I only lead worship on my own once a month now.  I look so forward to it and I really feel that I lead so much more passionately because I am so much more prepared being " a part" of the worship leading team.  This has been a great transition and I'm so thankful for Steph, Christine, Daniel and Deb - our awesome Worship Leaders at HHICC!

Here was our setlist:

"Children of the Light"

Welcome

"Salvation is Here"

Worship Video 

"It's You"

Video Bumper

Message

"Your Love so High"

Clogging/Dismiss (that's for you, JVo!)

One of my favorite moments from yesterday was during our team prayer and devotions during the first service. Our newest guitar player, Sam, had this HUGE smile on his face. I was so curious and so I asked him, "Sam, why are you smiling?" He looked at me said, "That was SO much fun. I'm having so much fun!" My heart just skipped a beat having this high school student be so excited about being a part of this. He arrived at 6:45 am yesterday morning for a 7:15 downbeat. I was moved by his enthusiasm and also humbled by his servant's heart.

People really participated yesterday. I love choosing songs that allow them to sing out with all their hearts! It was a great day of worship together!

Check out more recaps here.


Sunday Recap

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There is nothing I enjoy more as a service programming director than preparing an entire service that focuses on the beauty of the Cross of Christ. This week, we had the opportunity to do this with a more "free-form" approach to our corporate worship experience.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE ENTIRE SERVICE ON OUR PODCAST.

One of my MANY favorite things about having a new facility is the ability for people to easily move around the Worship Center.  We provided three worship experience stations in our service: Commuion, Prayer, and Giving. After some corporate time of focused music and prayer, we gave the congregation the freedom to "create" their worship experience by choosing which stations to visit and in whatever order they chose. We sang, offered prayers, and Scripture during this time as people moved about the room.

From a musical standpoint, having just two vocals, keys, acoustic, and upright bass was very refreshing. It was twice the amount of music we normally prepare, but it was a nice change to be off click and just play together and worship.

Here was our setlist:

"I Stand Amazed (How Marvelous)"

Welcome/Announcements

"Desert Song"

"Mighty to Save"

Prayer

"Restless"

Video

Worship Station Set-up

Scripture Readings

"Breathe"

"The Wonderful Cross"

Scripture Readings

"Agnus Dei"

Video

"Bless the Lord (10,000 Reasons)"

Closing/Dismiss

We plan to do these types of services on a quarterly basis and I can't wait...

"The cross is God's truth about us, and therefore it is the only power that can make us truthful.  When we know the cross, we are no longer afraid of the truth."  - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

More setlists...


Sunday Recap

It's not often that I have the opportunity to be a participant in a worship service. For any worship leader, it is a rare and treasured experience. I planned the service, scheduled the team, created the video elements..no surprises here. In light of that, I was truly attending my church yesterday as a worshiper...and I truly worshiped.

I discovered several things that happened yesterday that I needed to truly connect with God, with others, and to leave the service ready for the day and week.

1. I needed Time to get comfortable. The first 20 minutes as we were singing, I needed that time to get settled in. The music and welcome time gave me the opportunity to speak with several people, to sing, to get my focus on the reason I was there.

2. I needed Time to be quiet. There was an opportunity between two songs and at the end of the song before the video transition to the message. I was able to quiet my thoughts before the message began.

3. I needed to hear Biblical teaching that encouraged me evaluate where I am with God. Todd's message was something I truly needed to hear. Although I may be married to the Pastor, I do not know everything about his sermons each week. This was one of those weeks I had the general idea, but the Holy Spirit definitely spoke through Him in a very real way to me.

4. It was long enough. The service was about 68 minutes. I didn't get distracted. I didn't feel that it was rushed. I was actually wanting more, which is exactly how I wanted to leave...wanting more of God.

It goes without saying that as the Worship Director I listened to the mix, evaluated the screens, the flow of the service...yeah, it was awesome. I do believe that because those things were so excellent and God-focused, it gave such an open door to the worship experience being free of distraction. Thank you, team, for doing just that!


Sunday Recap

The Sunday after Easter can be a tough Sunday to plan.  If you plan services, you probably put it "all out on the field" the week before which leaves a lot less energy and creativity left for "the Sunday after." I've realized this about myself and this year, I made a strategic effort to creatively plan together the series before AND after Easter at the same time. This allowed me to not lose any steam from one week to the next.

Our new series, "Highly Unlikely" started off great last week! It's a four-week series on the life of Moses and how God used him despite everything in his life.

Here was our setlist...

Glory To God Forever

WELCOME/ANNOUNCEMENTS

Marvelous Light

God Is Able

Message Bumper

Message -Todd - "Desperate Beginnings"

Give Me Faith

Closing - Todd

"Give Me Faith" is our theme chorus for this series on Moses. I truly believe it could have been his own personal worship song throughout his life! Christine did an amazing job on it!

I'm so proud of our team. We have gone away from a weekly Thursday rehearsal due to scheduling issues and availability of our team with work and family. We are a volunteer-driven ministry and it is ALWAYS my desire that ministry complement every other aspect of my team's life and not be a burden or obligation that fights the other areas.  This is the first community that I have lived in that work schedules are not the typical 8-5 deal. To have a "required Thursday rehearsal" would eliminate most of my amazing musicians and singers.

However, everybody is really coming in knowing the material and executing at such a high level. There's no doubt that having everything clearly laid out in Planning Center for the team is the ONLY way this could happen. Sure, we have some weeks that we are not as tight as others, but I truly believe the team is doing such a great job and making every effort on the personal preparation side before Sunday. My drummer last week said it's the fear of NOT having the weekly rehearsal before Sunday morning that drives him to know his stuff!

Check out other great recaps of services all over the world here.