5 years

IMG_5096 IMG_3441 It was a very cold day on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. I had been looking forward to this day for about 3 weeks once the doctor told me. "Sean is coming on February 5." It wasn't the greatest pregnancy and I spent the last four weeks on bedrest. February 5...I couldn't wait!

My baby boy turns five today. It has gone so fast and I know...it just gets faster. Happy Birthday, Bubby. I love your competitive spirit (where did he get that from?) and your desire to learn new things all the time. I love your sweet smile, how you twist your hair, and the way you still like me to give you a "squishy hug." You'll always be my baby boy...I love you...


Family Fridays...SAY YES!

Today, I'm kicking off a new series here at Cheval Glass. There are so many challenges facing ministry leaders and none greater than raising children. Family Fridays will discuss our personal struggles, victories, and best practices. Please dialogue here with me and share your insights on family issues as it relates to being ministry leaders.

I feel like I say "NO" a lot as a parent. It really bugs me. I provide the structure and schedule for our family as a lot of moms do and the creative in me gets REALLY tired of having to always be the margin and boundary policeman for the Cullens!

Todd and I have Fridays off since our Sundays are so long.  We try to keep this day as free from routine and a schedule as possible so that we can just take a breath and truly have a Sabaath experience. So with my issues with saying "No" so much, I started a thing called "Say Yes Fridays." I make a conscious attempt to "say yes" to as much as I can on Fridays.  Being that my kids are seven and a half and almost five, they have not quite "caught-on" to this.  I don't make a big deal that it's "Say Yes Friday." I just have made a mental decision to do this on specific Fridays.

For example, I am headed to pick Sydney up from school very soon. It she gets in the car and asks me," Mom, can we get a Starbucks hot chocolcate?." My answer wil be YES! If Sean asks me for another cookie after he has already had two, I'm going to say YES!  This has made me feel so much more effective as parent to give myself permission to do this.

What is something that you do to give yourself permission to say yes? What is something you do to create "yes" moments as a parent?


38

IMG_2646  That's the number today, friends. I'm celebrating today surrounded by my family including my parents, sisters and their families.

I've said it before - my 30's have been the best. I spent my twenties working my tail off, learning life and  discovering who I really am. My thirties have been settling into that and making choices from that knowledge. I know what makes me tick and I know how I want to spend my life. When I see that sense of who I am starting to fade, I have to make changes. I want to savor every moment. I don't want to spend it trying to be something I'm not or being afraid to do something different.

I know that the fourties are knocking, but I'm ready. I've have the privilege to be a part of SO many amazing things so far. I can't imagine was God has in store for my days ahead.

My birthday prayer...I thank you, Heavenly Father, for parents who brought me into this world and introduced me to You. Thank you for the family you have given me to do life with each day. I dedicate the year ahead to making choices that honor You, spending my time wisely on things that truly matter, and not waisting a moment being someone that I am not. Thank you for trusting me with the years you have given me. I pray my days ahead bring honor to You, My Creator and My God...


What I learned from 2010

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


So Thankful

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My absence over the last few months from cheval glass is not a reflection that there is nothing to share with you. My days have been busy and filled with family and ministry that have required me to be less engaged in the contemplative life. I've missed being here. So tonight, while my son is playing chicken shoot with my Dad, my daughter is playing dress up in the "rainbow room", and Todd is...well, I don't know what Todd is doing.  I thought I would take a few minutes and share why I am so thankful.

  • I have a loving husband who has been a part of my life for 18 years...15 of that as my soul mate. I am so thankful for his friendship, loyalty, kindness, and patient love for me.  I understand more every day how "two become one."
  • I have a beautiful 6 year old daughter who made it through tonsil and adenoid surgery last week like a champ! She accepted Jesus as her Savior over this past year, loves to dance, writes stories, read books, and create beauty wherever she is.
  • I have a tenacious 3 year old son who loves life, loves people, and has the early signs of being a very talented drummer. He is confident and strong, but loving and sensitive. I'm enjoying every moment as I watch him grow.
  •  I am blessed with a wonderful mother and father who love me and my family with not just words, but deeds. I have two crazy sisters who I love with all my heart. I can't imagine how boring my life would be without their frienship and drama ( you heard me :)...I love you guys!)
  • I have an amazing church that I have the privilege to serve as a staff member. I am overwhelmed at their generosity, their love for each other, and their servant hearts toward those who are in need and who do not yet know Jesus.
  • I serve everyday with an amazing group of artists - musicians, tech stewards, singers, graphic artists, producers - that inspire me to find the  most creative expression that celebrates who God is and what He has done for us.
  • I am so thankful for a God who loves me enough to send His Only Son to die for me - to reconcile the debt of my sin -  so that I could be restored to Him in this life and in the life to come. I want my life to be a testimony of the thankful heart that I have for what He has given me.  His unconditional love and mercy continues to overwhelm me. I love what Paul the Apostle told the Colossians...

"My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you've been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You're deeply rooted in him. You're well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you've been taught. School's out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving." - Colossians 2:6-7  (THE MESSAGE)


Memories

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I had the privilege of spending a few days this past week in San Antonio, TX with some of my extended family, my parents, my sister Christie, and her daughter, Sierra.  I grew up spending two weeks every summer  and almost every Thanksgiving and Christmas in San Antonio with my grandparents, aunts, and uncles. We took sometime to visit the grave sites of my grandparents who are all at home in Heaven now. Sydney was with me and it was very emotional being with her and talking about them. She never got to meet them. But, it was wonderful to be able to tell her that they are in Heaven and that she will meet them one day.

I'm discovering lately that memories have a way of really captivating your emotions at times in ways that range from shear joy to heartfelt grief. I experienced that this week. As I rode past my Me Maw and Paw Paw Henefield's 70 acres in Lytle (south of San Antonio) and Ma Ma and Pa Pa Slack's home on the southside of San Antonio, I remembered summers there and I was swept up in sadness that they weren't there anymore. Later that day, as we took Sydney on the riverboats in downtown San Antonio and ate at Casa Rio, I remember how I dreamed as a child about bringing my own kids here one day to do this with me and I was so overwhelmed with happiness.  As I sat with just my sister that night at a restaurant on the river and talked with her, I was at peace in that moment and so enjoyed just talking about our lives and sharing our hearts with each other. These wide swings of emotions are frankly exhausting! But, I'm coming to the realization that looking back is so important to looking forward. Where I have been and what I have experienced should greatly impact the direction I am headed. It should make me course correct or is should encourage me to stay steady.

We all have family. We all have memories that we would like to forget and some that we wish we could live over again. No family is without those experiences.  For me, this visit with my Aunt Joyce, Uncle Jack, and Uncle Ronnie and remembering the sweet and sorrowful of the past has made me stop and think of my future and where I want to be and what memories I want to create with my family. Thanks for the memories, San Antonio...sad and happy. I treasure them all.


A true story

Sydney and I were watching one of her favorite movies recently and she asked me if it was a true story. I told her it was not - it was just pretend. She started asking me about other videos that she watches and I told her they were all pretend. She said," We don't have a lot of true stories, mommy. Can we get some movies that are true?"

As a parent, I choose movies and videos that teach good values - being kind, sharing, obeying authority, and making good choices. We mix it up with VeggieTales and Boz the Bear as well as Barbie, Thomas the Train, and Dora/Diego. But my five year old is desiring true stories, not just truth in story form.

I find a lot of joy in reading a great novel or watching a great movie that tells a story, and as an adult, I am able to separate the truth from the fiction.  However, Sydney brings up a great point. We fill our minds with a lot of stories that may contain elements of truth, but the story itself is not true. 

John F. Kennedy said ,"The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie -- deliberate, contrived and dishonest -- but the myth -- persistent, persuasive and unrealistic."

Is the fact that the story is fictional maybe communicating that the truths it is teaching are fictional as well? I am not suggesting a ban of ALL movies that are not true in our home, but it is making me think about what we watch and what I buy.

We bought Dave and the Giant Pickle the other night which is the story of David and Goliath from the Bible as told by VeggieTales. I explained that Goliath was not a pickle but a person, she was like, "Mom, I know..." But I told her, THIS was a true story of what a small boy did because He believed that God was able to do anything. She has wore out that DVD.

It has made me think and we will engage a lot more now about this rather than me just assuming that because there are elements of truth in the story, it is communicating truth to her.

Talk to me here. What do you think?


I can't win sometimes

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There are some things as a parent that I have found are non-negotiable when it comes to my kids. Granted, I have only been a parent for 5 years, but I have learned to listen to what my kids ask me to be a part of in their lives. On Tuesday of this week, Sydney mentioned that one of the moms of one of her classmates had lunch with them. Todd and I have done this once before. But Sydney doesn't usually ask us to come to stuff. But this time, she said, "Mom, will you come have lunch with me at school?" I was thrilled. So, I planned to pick up McDonald's and bring it to her during her VERY early lunch time from 10:30 - 11:00.  Sydney is a child that has to prepared for the schedule to change. So, I told her that I would be a little late, but that I would be there.

Now, we ALL know that McDonald's starts serving lunch at 10:30. They have done this since I was child. So I was sitting in the parking lot at 10:25...waiting. At 10:30 on the nose, I pulled into the drive thru and began ordering my Happy Meals. The lady replied, "I'm sorry, Ma'am...we don't serve lunch till 11." OK...now I panic. Syd has no lunch and we do not have a wide variety of fast food on the Island. I whip over to Burger King...order the meals...and they proceed to tell me that the fries are going to be awhile. They were still pealing potatoes :) 10:40 now...

I finally get there at 10:45. Sydney is in tears. She says ," I thought you forgot and were sitting at home." We try to eat, but she is so stressed out because she knows that lunch is almost over (again, she is VERY conscious of time!) We woof down our food and the bell rings. I walk her back to class. I ask her, "Are you mad at mommy?" She says,"No...it's alright." with a very disappointed look.

I know...the reward is in the trying, but man, I felt like a loser! Note to self...PACK A LUNCH to have at school with your child. Second note to self...call the Corporate offices of McDonalds and tell them they have a rogue restaurant that is messing up people's lives!

Anybody else feel like they can't win sometimes?


Sean turns 3

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It's hard for me to believe. It goes a lot faster with the 2nd one, I think. This has been our year together at home, just the two of us. With Sydney starting school this year, I have treasured my time with Sean and getting to know and understand the way God made him. Be careful what you pray for...you just might get it. I prayed for a daughter like Todd and a son like me. Yeah, it happened. I look in his eyes and I know what he is thinking. I see how he learns quick and adapts. I see his quick temper when something doesn't work right the first time. He loves music. He pats the rhythm or just bobs his head when he listens to music. He leads his sister even though he is almost 3 years younger and he doesn't care if the is the smallest kid in the jumpy houses - he is not going to miss out on anything that his big sister is doing. He is so independent and yet loves to cuddle with his mom. I can always count on him for some good snuggle time!

Sydney loved to read with me at an early age. Sean has not cared for it all. But in the past two weeks, he is bringing me books to read to him. We have been sitting for 20-30 minutes at a time (unheard of for him!) and reading together. He is counting to 10. He thinks everything is either orange or blue (still working on colors). Lately, he enters a room and says 'Mom, whacha doing?" I tell him. Then he says "That's silly." He has started praying by himself at night. I love the Boz the Bear prayer. Sydney learned it at his age as well.

As I write this blog, he is out with his dad hitting balls with his first "real" set of golf clubs. They have a program where you upgrade the clubs as they get older so we started that this year. Todd has been waiting for this day for a LONG time! Sean is a lefty, but he plays sports with his right hand so Dad can handle that.

I feel very blessed today. I am so thankful for his health and development. I am so thankful for God giving us the privilege of parenting this precious little boy. Happy Birthday, bubby!I love you so much!


Thankful

We took some time off last week for the holidays and I took some time off from my computer. I've fully recognized the fact that I do not truly rest if I do not literally "unplug" from the virtual world!

I had some time to reflect on what I am most thankful for this year and here is what I came up with in no particular order. I am most thankful this year for...

  • the man I married almost 15 years ago - our struggles have refined not defined our love for each other.
  • the two children that God blessed me with to be their mother - they reveal to me everyday the divine and perfect design of God the Creator.
  • a church family that truly exhibits the love of Christ to me - encouragement, love, and support are their traits - not criticism and negativity.
  • friends that stay connected regardless of the miles (you know who you are!)
  • family that shares what they have with each other - not out of obligation, but out of genuine love and support.
  • a God and Friend who has been right there with me through all my immature tantrums, pride, selfish ways and general times of discouragement - not with a heavy hand, but with arms of love and security.