It's a little more than halfway through my sabbatical. This time has been more refreshment than I imagined it would be. I've spent time with friends, time alone, time with my family, and most importantly, a great deal of time with God. Here are some things I've realized halfway through this time of rest:
1. Never underestimate the power of solid and extended times of sleep at night. I have not rested like this since before we had children. I have definitely fallen into some bad habits of random sleep habits in the past few years. I have been consistently going to bed around the same time and I'm waking up so much more refreshed.
2. Never take for granted the lifelong friendships you have in your life. I am so blessed with some tremendous friends that have taken the time to connect with me during my sabbatical. You know who you are. Thank you for pouring into me in a way that nothing else in the world can!
3. I had no idea how overextended I was before my sabbatical began. I knew that I had been working a lot the past 18 months, but I was astonished at how much I was trying to squeeze into each day.
4. Powerful creativity is directly connected to having space everyday in life to be creative. I finished a song I began five years ago last weekend. I tweaked a song that needed it so I can finally introduce it to our church. I wrote a brand new song-music and lyrics-based on things God revealed to me during this time and finished it yesterday. As any songwriter will tell you, writing can sometimes be like giving birth. We labor over every line, every word. I cannot believe how easily these came together. My mind and my heart were so clear. I'm still in shock about it.
5. My body, mind, and soul have all been reconnected. I feel as if I have hit a "reset button" in the innermost part of my soul. I definitely have not been living a life where all three were in harmony. It's a little hard to explain, but I was starting to feel numb in certain areas of my life. The numbness is gone. I have a refreshment that is deeper than just physical.
6. God and I had a lot to talk about. He had a lot to say to me and in true "Cynthia" form, I had a lot to say to Him. As in any relationship, there has to be time to just get everything out there and be as gut-level honest as you can. I feel that I've had that time and that God has shown me grace, mercy, conviction of sin, and restoration. I've been doing a prayer book journal called "Thirty Days with Wesley." It's been a wonderful guide during this time for me to record everything God is saying and what I'm learning during this sabbatical. I'm reading a lot of books and doing some "Spiritual Loitering" as Lance Witt calls it.
I know it will difficult to actually rejoin the human race and put into action the "reset" habits I know must happen. That's my greatest prayer request right now. I look forward to sharing some things at the end that I'm still in process about right now.
I'm so thankful for my team and my church for their prayers and their leadership in my absence. You know who you are and I love you all. See you soon!
Until then, back to some loitering...
I am celebrating 20 years this year of being a part of Worship Arts Ministry through the local church. No, I'm not that old...ok maybe.
As a gift for me, our HHICC Elders have given me a 3o-day sabbatical that begins Friday, January 11. It will be spent on rest, vacation, connecting with close family and friends, and visiting a few churches and being a part of their worship experiences.
I dont' feel like I have been doing this for 20 years, but when I think back to what was going on in the church 2o years ago with regard to music, it hits me. We have come A LONG WAY, baby!
I grew up as a Pastor's kid, playing and singing in church, but I "techinically" start counting when I became a part of the Sounds of Liberty at LU and Thomas Road Baptist Church. As one of the keyboard players at the time, I had weekly responsibilities to prepare for services - rehearsals, serving planning - all of those things. We didn't have email, we didn't have Planning Center, and we kept LARGE NOTEBOOKS with all our music and charts that I made endless copies for the players (legally, of course!)
I was a part of the transition in churches where we gave people every option you could imagine in the span of seven days. At one of my first churches, I played piano for a traditional service with an organist - hymns only. The 2nd service was a mix of hymns and some worship choruses. The 3rd service was contemporary which meant all worship choruses. I had three Sunday services to help rehearse the team, write charts, and prepare musicians. We had a Wednesday night service that was a mixture and we did a college service on Thursday nights that was totally Christian rock. I'm exhausted just typing all of that!
I was "a keyboard player who sang" for most of the first 7 years of my ministry life. Then one of my Worship Pastors asked me to lead a song in our services that he wanted to introduce..."Shout to the Lord." This was the first song I led as a worship leader. I was so nervous and not very confident about my voice. I had been around some amazing singers my WHOLE life and I knew my skill level. I'm so thankful for different amazing women artists - Jen Carrozza, Trace Balin, Paula Dunn and Lisa Jones - who came alongside me and encouraged me to use what God had given me. They helped me to recognize I WAS a singer and to lead as God provided opportunities. I became the Worship Leader at NorthStar Church in 2000 and God has continued to open doors for me to lead Woship and invest in other worship artists within every church I have served.
About five years ago, I realized I was not going to be able to conect with the musical landscape that was taking shape in churches if I did not learn how to play the guitar as a worship leader. I had been given a beautiful parlor size acoustic years ago by an amazing guitar player who challlenged me to learn to play. I started watching videos and connecting with all my Worship Leader friends to learn their "cheat chords" (Thank you Daniel, Will and Eric!) I was totally suprised by my team at LCC in March 2011 when they gave me a Telecaster and an amp. I'm happy to say that our Guitar Section Leader (BP) says I'm now the best Electric 3 player we have at our church! This just means I do 8th notes really well and in time :-)
It has been a privilege to watch the Modern Worship movement be birthed and develop to what it is today. As I watched the Live Stream of Passion 2013 last week, I recognized clearly that I was witnessing the next generation of Worship Leaders. Not on stage...in the crowd. They will be our future leaders in the local church.
I think about my future and what God has for me and who I will be investing in to come alongside me in my local church in this next season of ministry. I look forward to seeing the 13 and 15 year olds we have been blessed with in our team and what God is going to do with them in the future.
I know I've not been the perfect leader. I've made some poor choices along the way in so many areas. I'm going to blog during my sabbatical about the lessons I have learned through my journey. But today, as my sabbatical is within three days of starting, I am reflecting on the journey and the blessings of it. I'm thinking of the many people that I have had the privilege to create with and do life with every day and I am blessed...truly blessed.