Living in between

This week marked one month of being in quarantine for COVID-19 for our family. I asked myself at least 5 times today, "What is today?" and I'm sure I'm not alone in that confusion. I find myself living in between. There is the joy of having time to enjoy my family, my home, my Island. We are so blessed to live on Hilton Head Island. And then at the same time knowing all the suffering of those dying from this virus, those who have lost loved ones with no funeral allowed, those who are unemployed, and all those that are working so hard in our health care system to fight this thing.

I'm asking myself a lot these days, "How do I live in between?"

I love having this time with my almost 16 year old daughter to talk, laugh, look at my old yearbooks (she wanted to!), and eat ice cream. But my heart just breaks about her 5 week summer dance intensive being canceled because she worked so hard for it. I love it and I hate it.

I love "overhearing" my 13 year old son on ZOOM with his friends in what I call the "ZOOM After Party" when the online class is over. Precious moments I treasure but he lost his soccer season for both of the teams he plays for each year. I miss the soccer field so much and so does he.

I miss seeing our church family. It's so hard to sing and lead worship to a camera. I want to feel worship with our community together so desperately. 

And then "Seriously, Cynthia? People are dying, people are homeless, people are going without food - stop whining! Be thankful you do have the ability to sing and lead worship because of technology!" Then the guilt sets in and I hate it.

My heart is breaking for my friends in NYC that their street has refrigerated box trucks that serve as temporary morgues. I just weep. I sat on my back porch one Friday morning and just cried for a few hours. I know I'm not alone in that as well.  But then I look at my precious family and I'm so thankful for the laughter, the new "inside" jokes, the bickering between the kids (at times!), the family meals, the beautiful bike rides, the long walks and then I'm filled with gratitude and thankfulness...I'm so happy.

Now we are faced with when to start leaving our homes. Just because we can, should we? Am I being held back by fear or caution?

This is living in between.

I find myself in the book of Ecclesiastes which was written by Solomon toward the end of his life. It was said that he was the wisest man who ever lived so being that he wrote this at that point in his life, he had seen and experienced quite a bit. The first few lines really grab you..."Everything is meaningless." Yeah, I'm sure we all feel that right now in many ways! Interesting he would say that at the end of his life, right? But it is chapter 3 that I truly find great words for living in between.

A Time for Everything

   "There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate,, a time for war and a time for peace." - Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 

This is a time to live in between and I am starting to lean into that. I am going to have days that I cry a lot and days that are super joyful. I'm going to have days when I feel very productive cleaning out closets and organizing and then others, I just want to watch movies. It's ok. There is a time for everything.

Shared experience is so important and none of us are alone in living in between. Please share your comments below. I'd love to hear how you are facing the in between.

Leave it to Pixar

Image They can't make a bad movie. Even if you don't love them all, none of them come close to even being a bad movie. Toy Story came out the year I was married.  I remember seeing it with my family in Florida where we lived at the time. I've seen everyone of them, but nothing was as special as seeing Toy Story 3 with BOTH of my kids. Sean is finally old enough to sit through a two-hour movie and actually stay with it (as long as there is plenty of popcorn, candy, and drink flowing!) We watched Toy Story 1 & 2 all week in anticipation for going to see it today, As they clung to their Buzz Lightyear and Jessie Cowgirl action figures (recent purchases from Walmart), they watched with wide eyes and laughed all the way through.

SPOILER ALERT!  Mom and Dad, on the other hand, were not always laughing (although "Ken"-voiced by Michael Keaton-was my favorite character-he was awesome!) I could have done without the ending. As Todd and I quietly sniffled through Andy's mom looking at his boxed up room and as Andy said goodbye to his toys, they got us. They made the grownups cry like babies.

We were not home five minutes and Sydney and Sean had assembled baby dolls, stuffed animals, trains, and other of their toys in the living room. They started acting out their own stories with them. I just sat and watched.

I read EW and I hardly ever agree with the reviews they do on movies. However, Owen Gleiberman did a great piece on Toy Story 3 about how HE cried during the movie. I loved the last paragraph of his article...

"...the spirit of imagination hasn't gone out of our world - it's there every time a child picks up an inanimate object of fun and sees, feels, experiences the hidden life in it...It says that they-and we-are going to be okay. As long as we remember that our inner child isn't what we're told, but what we invent."   - Owen Gleiberman, EW, 7.2.10 - pg. 24

I hate picking up toys...I really do. But Owen is right. The ability to play and invent is a priceless value. So, I'm going to be a little less frustrated when I see the towns and cities my kids have built all over the house and enjoy the invention of their creativity and imaginations a whole lot more than I do.

My review of Sex, Lies & Religion by Randy Elrod


Sex, Lies & Religion is a must read for those who are wiling to embrace a fresh perspective on the role of sex and how it connects with our spiritual lives. Randy challenges a lot of what you may have perceived as the role sex plays in our lives, especially as spiritual beings.

The first eight chapters give you an overview of some very specific thoughts from Randy on the role of sex, our bodies, and a brief history of how art has portrayed the male and female body as a celebration of God's design. Randy states very plainly how he sees that the church and religion have bound us to the truth of what God designed for the role of sex to be in our lives. He believes this constriction to God's plan for us has contributed to the moral failures that we see so often in our church leaders and in Christians.

Chapter nine really brought some perspective for me that I have experienced in my own life. This paragraph in particular from chapter nine really brought it altogether for me.

"Making love becomes a way of life. It is the spiritual essence of each day. And in this sense every day is foreplay. The soft brush of a fleeting kiss as you awaken,a brief time of thoughtful conversation over a cup of coffee, a warm and close embrace at hello and goodbye, showing affection to unruly children, expressing exuberance about life, practicing serenity in turbulent times, and displaying a sense of compassion to others, are all as much “making love” as when actual sexual intercourse takes place." - from Sex, Lies & Religion by Randy Elrod.

This book is not for the faint of heart. You will be challenged on your personal views on these matters. If you want to engage in a different perspective and are open to those views being challenged, you need to read this book.  To purchase your copy, click here - Sex, Lies & Religion.

Facebook or being with faces


No one can argue the culture-changing effect of social networking because of facebook. Company stats reveal that there are 350 million users and that 50 percent of them log in on any given day. My multi-class high school reunion in October would never had occurred without facebook. Needless to say, there was less "surprise" since most of us saw everybody' profile pic before we arrived. I have re-connected with so many people in the last 2 years since I joined facebook. I have been able to pray for some of my friends who have been going through some serious stuff that I would have never known without facebook. I have seen people engage with other people spiritually that I don't think would have happened without the tool of facebook. But, as I expressed in a previous blog, the more connection I have in the virtual world, the more I sense the need to unplug from it.

I spent most of yesterday communicating to two groups of people that I am doing life with on the small group that meets each week and my womens' mentoring group that will meet once a month for 2010. I was so energized by the expectancy of connecting with them this year.  I woke up this morning with such a deep sense of connection to those around me, to my community, and to God. I love blogging, texting, reading blogs, and technology. I have connected with some amazing people in Worship Arts because of twitter and being a blogger.  People I would have never met without it.  But I think I was really surprised to see the emotional difference that I felt about these people - flesh and blood that I interact with on a regular basis -  versus connecting with my friends on facebook, twitter, and through blogging.

 Stats tell us that my age group ( comments,please...I'm on the low-end of this bracket!)) represents 30 percent of the user database of facebook. We are the largest demographic on facebook (4 percent higher than 18-24). So, I'm processing my demographic replacing flesh and blood relationships with facebook friends? Are we doing both?

So where are you? Are you energized by connecting on facebook more than being with faces? Are you like me and are more energized about interacting with flesh and blood? Do neither have any impact on you? I would LOVE to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment below.

I have better things to do on Sundays

I read this recent article in Parade. Here is the main paragraph that stuck out to me...

"As a concrete measure of religious commitment, nothing beats counting how many bodies show up to worship every week. So how often do Americans attend religious services? Thirty percent said they attend once or more in a given week. But keep in mind that academic researchers who actually count the number of participants believe that only up to one-half of those who claim to be in their houses of worship are actually there.

Twenty percent of respondents said they go to services anywhere from once a month to a few times a year. Combine them with the 50% who rarely or never attend, and an interesting contrast appears. Although 45% of respondents considered themselves religious, 70% of them said they participate in organized religion sporadically or not at all. That means one-third of the people who identified themselves as religious were only minimally connected to traditional worship. "

Let me get this straight...70 percent attend church at maybe Easter, Christmas, or not at all. Let me catch my breath.

Here are some questions for you to ponder.  Do I invite my friends to church? Do I feel my church offers something for my unchurched friends that would be worth their time?  Do I consider regular church attendance (2-4 times per month) a vital part of my spiritual journey? If I knew that NO ONE would ever ask or care if I went to church, would I keep going? What keeps me from going to church every week? 

I would love to hear your comments. As a church leader, if I am creating a worship experience that is not engaging, not relevant to unchurched people, not encouraging you in your spiritual journey, and frankly just a waste of your time, please tell me.  I would really like to know.

I'm just sick

Not physically...although, I have a rotten feeling in the pit of my stomach. In the last 3 weeks, I have seen 4 Christian marriages fall a part. Yeah, it happened before that, but I just found out about it. We have become callous as a society, even in the church, to hearing the stories..."So-and-so did this and now this...and the kids are ..." It stinks BIG TIME. I walked this journey as a young adult within my own family...I'm one of the blessed ones that got to witness God's grace and restoration in our family. Not everyone gets that ending to their story. People ask, "What happened?" No offense, but honestly folks, do you not know? Does your own marriage not give you the perspective that if it were not for God's grace, we would ALL be in the same boat? I guess other people have their act together better than I do. Todd and I are flawed people. We have produced 2 flawed children. We are all sinful people and one stupid mistake away from totally wrecking our lives and our children's lives. My heart is breaking for my friends.  I called Todd today and just confessed to him that I take him for granted and I apologized. I thanked him for being a great husband and a great Father. I told him that I respected him and that I was so thankful for God's grace is our lives. So if you are married, stop and tell your spouse how much you appreciate them. Yes, they are flawed and not perfect...neither are you.

Is Green your thing?

Cisco-Recycled-160x90 Raising children has given me such perspective on the issue of our taking care of the world around me. I have made great strides with Sydney as a preschooler to teach her that God made the world and everything in it (Acts 17:24a.) and that He has asked us to take care of it (Gen 1:26.) This is why we conserve water by brushing our teeth and not letting the water run. This is why we take our plastic bags back to Publix to recycle. This is why we color on both sides of our paper. I admit, I have a long way to go in certain areas of doing more for the environment (I love water bottles!) But, it has become a spiritual issue for me. I cannot walk around in defiance and ignorance. I CAN contribute to taking better care of the world around me.  I need to learn to do it better and I want my kids to grow up understanding that this is important. So whether  "green is your thing" or not, you can't ignore it that you can make a contribution to taking better care of God's world.

One of my favorite hymns was written by Maltbie D. Babcock in 1901.

While a pas­tor in Lock­port, New York, Bab­cock liked to hike in an ar­ea called “the es­carp­ment,” an an­cient up­thrust ledge near Lock­port. It had a mar­vel­ous view of farms, or­chards, and Lake On­tar­io, about 15 miles dis­tant. It is said those walks in the woods in­spired these lyr­ics. The ti­tle re­calls an ex­press­ion Bab­cock used when start­ing a walk: “I’m go­ing out to see my Fa­ther’s world.”

This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father’s world, the birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world: He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass;
He speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world: why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King; let the heavens ring!
God reigns; let the earth be glad!

This is my Father’s world, dreaming, I see His face.
I open my eyes, and in glad surprise cry, “The Lord is in this place.”
This is my Father’s world, from the shining courts above,
The Beloved One, His Only Son,
Came—a pledge of deathless love.

This is my Father’s world, should my heart be ever sad?
The lord is King—let the heavens ring. God reigns—let the earth be glad.
This is my Father’s world. Now closer to Heaven bound,
For dear to God is the earth Christ trod.
No place but is holy ground.

This is my Father’s world. I walk a desert lone.
In a bush ablaze to my wondering gaze God makes His glory known.
This is my Father’s world, a wanderer I may roam
Whate’er my lot, it matters not,
My heart is still at home.

Top 5 Ways Your Gigs are improving

I give credit to my friend and fellow musician here on the Island, Andy Pitts, for this blog post today based on a recent conversation.

#5  You have so many gigs that your day job is suffering.

People actually know you from the 1 or 2 bands you play in... not from the 5 -8 restaurants you used to make your money from playing "mood music."
#3 You bring one instrument to your gigs. You don't have to drive around with a 5-piece rhythm section in your car because...WHO KNOWS what instrument will be needed because, well... WHO KNOWS who is actually showing up for the gig.

#2  The Restaurant owner pays you and then lets you go home after you've played for 30 minutes because it is 40 degrees outside and you are trying to create a mood on your acoustic while dealing with frostbite.
#1  You are not asked to play every Irish drinking song you know in the St. Patty's Day Parade on a float for 3 hours!

Recreate - Day 3 & 4

IMG_8464 IMG_8466 Attending this conference is like drinking from a fire hydrant for your brain. I come away overwhelmed with new ideas, encouraged by old and new friends, refreshed in my spirit, and charged up to face the world at home that awaits me.  No matter who you are and where you are from, this is a safe week in your life because you are among people who get you.  We all have unique personalities as artists and it's OK to be "quirky" here. The draw of the week is the coming away from everyday life and being in community with like-minded people.
Randy Elrod (conference leader) led a session for the 1st time at Recreate. Here are some thoughts I gleaned from that session...

  • We need real people who are physically present in our lives. Technology is great (social networking), but we need to be where we are. 
  • A person of influence is someone who makes you feel better when you leave their presence.
  • "It not just about life and art. It's about the ripple effect."
  • We view suffering in our culture as if we have done something wrong.

Ian Cron led a beautiful communion service for all of us. It was so refreshing to be a part of this and not have to plan it or play for it. He incorporated liturgy and as well as songs of response written at his was one of the most beautiful experiences I have had in worship. I attached some pics of the table.

Anne Jackson led our last session on Thursday. She recently published a book entitled Mad Church Disease that discusses burnout in our churches today (it's on my list to read!) Here are some thoughts I gleaned from her...

  • Is serving in my current church role interfering with my communion with Christ?
  • The only way to fulfill our purpose with people is with a sincere relationship with God. Apart from God, we can do nothing.
  • Am I living with integrity in my conscience?
  • it is not my job to be my provision - it is God's job!

I need some time to process alot of what I heard and experienced and I look forward to sharing that over the next few weeks.

Dirty Little Rascals 3

Dirty_3_web One of our video guys, Joel, was one of the editors on this movie produced by Fuel Clothing.  It was a collage of extreme sports from skateboarding, BMX, motorbikes, surfing, snowboarding, etc...I was SO proud of the editing job that Joel did  - he's a freshman in high school!!! Kudos, Joel and thanks for signing my copy of the movie!