Reason Not Ritual

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I used this phrase a couple of weeks ago when I was leading worship to describe WHY we should gather each week on Sundays together. As I think about this past week, Holy Week - a week I look forward to so much as a Christ-follower.. it was not the week I had hoped it would be. From our main water pipe busting outside of our home on Tuesday to me coming down AGAIN with some flu-like thing...yeah. But there is a REASON why this weekend is SO important. It's the moment in time we celebrate that death was defeated....we celebrate that Jesus conquered death to prove HE is the Savior of the world. 

No matter what kind of HOLY WEEK you have had...whether it looked like mine or it was fabulous - This weekend, there is REASON for our gathering together. Don't gather out of RITUAL this weekend just to check it off your list. Bring yourself fully wherever you attend services this weekend. Celebrate for a REASON...Jesus is alive. He is our advocate with God the Father. He is FOR US. He is WITH US. He has conquered death. No one has ever done that in history. He is the King of Kings and He loves you with a love that He was willing to give HIS life for you.

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.." - John 3:16-17

He is Risen INDEED! Happy Easter!


Freedom

Todd shared in his Message last week about the different types of faith that three of Jesus’ disciples had and how they came to know him. I shared a song that I wrote a couple years ago with some additional melody help from my good friend Andrea Miller. I wrote this song during a season of my life when I was really struggling and my faith was weak. For some reason, even though I’ve been a Christ follower most of my life, I somehow didn’t think that God could handle what was going on in my life and I really struggled to trust Him. This song was a declaration of freedom as I went through this process of recognizing how faithful God had always been to me in the past. Why did I think His faithfulness would not extend to my present or my future?  Once I recognized how much I was trying to control my life, I found such FREEDOM  when I was able to allow him to take control.Hope you enjoy it.

 


Consider IT

There is no coincidence that when I posted a couple of weeks ago about my desire to embrace pain that within days of that...

  • My sweet friend Kris lost her son to liver cancer on January 2. So glad Andrew is in no more physical pain living his new life with God.
  • My first full-time hire at HHICC in the Worship Arts Ministry resigned on January 3 after being here 5 months.

Let's just say that within the first few days of 2019, I was NOT feeling like this was gonna be the greatest year! But I have to say, writing that post and sharing about my commitment to run toward the hard stuff this year has really given me the strength to lean into what God has placed in front one me. He is NEVER surprised...we are.

We are studying the book of James this quarter in my women's group on Wednesdays and when James was writing this letter, these people were running for their lives because of their faith in Jesus. There are places in our world where this is happening right now, but here in the US, we are not facing that everyday. Here's how he starts it off...

2-4 Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. - James 1:2-4 (MSG)

As 2019 is now here, I ask you to consider IT. If you are a person of faith, it's only through hard things that we REALLY discover if our faith is TRULY grounded in the belief that God is for us and He has our best in mind.  I have been humbled by friends who do not share my faith that have questioned when I'm nervous or worried because they have said "Don't you Christians trust God in everything?" WOW. Let that sink in. Our response to difficulties is either an encouragement to others or it confuses people.

I want to encourage others with my responses. I want to consider IT a positive thing when the rug gets pulled out. I want to be someone that doesn't just TALK about my faith in God. 

Here we go.


Embrace IT

The age of microblogging has definitely pulled me away from cheval glass over the past few years. It is so much easier to share a thought or two and maybe a pic. However, I have felt over the last few months a sense of being drawn back to visit and share in this place more frequently with you as the new year - 2019- is upon us.

There is a freedom and a sense of true fulfillment that will never be achieved without experiencing pain and suffering to get there. This may not seem to be a profound statement at all. However, for someone like me who was raised with the mindset of " If you make all the right decisions, you will have a pain-free life" this is a complete departure from that thinking. I am no different than anyone else. I don't like pain. I don't like sadness. I don't like suffering. I want to run away from it. I want to hide from it. I want to ignore that it is happening. I want to believe if you work hard, you can avoid pain. I always thought if I strived to always do my best, somehow all these great strategic decisions would create a pain-free life for me. Yeah...

When God created us, we were perfect. The world was perfect.  No matter where you fall on the theological spectrum, we must recognize that we live in a broken world and we as humans need to take responsibility for our part in that brokenness. We can't live a part from the pain. It is all around us.

Sometimes pain finds us and we didn't do anything. We didn't cause it. We are hit with the shrapnel of other's choices and we are in pain. This has been the toughest one for me.

However, this is what I have noticed:

I look at my daughter's feet. A dancer's feet are not something to be viewed if you have a weak stomach. It's amazing to watch her perform with her talented dance family and create beautiful performances. But they don't happen without the sore muscles, injuries, blisters, the pain, the broken toe nails, etc... love you, Syd.

I watch my friend Kris. Her presence at her son's bedside the last few months as he struggles with cancer is more than any of us can imagine. I have seen the struggle on all sides with her faith in God literally growing right before my eyes and yet being challenged. The impact is unbelievable that it has had on so many people...including me. Love you, Kris.

I look at my mom. Being a widow now for 18 months and the new life she has embraced. She was the caregiver to my Dad who suffered with cancer for 3 years. She was with him every moment of every day during his cancer. Now, she's a children's book author, continues to teach piano, and share what she has with her church in a way that she has never been able to do over the past few years. Love you, Mom.

I think about my dad. I was with my Dad when he took his last breath. He died in his living room in a hospice bed. He suffered for three years with a rare form of kidney cancer. I know certain things would have never been said between me and my father if it had not been for cancer. We had time to talk and there was a lot of redemptive work that happened between us because of his cancer. Miss you Dad.

I look at the #metoo movement.  No verbal male chauvinism that I have experienced in the "church-world" can compare to what so many have physically endured. It has been painful for us to see and hear but I believe that this movement is bringing conversation and and a new reality that will ultimately lead to a better world for my daughter and especially the "church-world" (who needs this transparency more than ever.)

I look at our personal finances. Todd and I have made a lot of dumb decisions. We caused a lot of our pain but some of it, just happened. I don't think we would have the trust and dependence in God to provide for our family OR the contentment and gratitude with what we have without the pain.

I look at our church. There is no greater test to your own walk with God than being a church-planter or being on a church staff team. You can quote me on that. The greatest moments of seeing life-change in our church have been through the greatest moments of suffering, pain and loss. Whether death within our church family, cancer or prolonged sickness, moving forward on what God is calling you to do even when it's not popular, one family LEAVING your church for a reason that a new family starting COMING to your church (this really happens!) and even multiple hurricanes to your Island that actually unite you as a community much more than ever before the storms.

Jesus made a promise to us when He came to earth. " I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.” (John 16:33 MSG) As a Christ-follower, I know that my ultimate peace is found in my relationship with God through Jesus. That is where my inner peace truly lies when I see or experience pain. I cling to this truth. But I sometimes, I just want it all to stop. God knows and He listens.

So as 2019 is upon us, I ask the question to myself and to you... Will you embrace the pain this year? I want to embrace it. I don't want to try to hide from it. That desire will always be there I know, but I do truly want to embrace it. I do know what fulfillment comes from getting to the other side of it.

Thanks for making it this far in this post. I would like to share my verses for 2019 with you and I hope they encourage you to embrace IT as well.

Happy New Year...

"Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought." James 1:2-8 (MSG)


Hope

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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."


Grateful

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I am the type of person that when I'm in the weeds, I don't want to talk about it until I get a handle on it. Honestly, I just simply disconnected from cheval glass this year. However, I am coming into a clearing and it's time to break the silence.

I'm grateful on this Thanksgiving Day 2016 for so many things, but mainly one thing...I have not given up. I never thought in my twenties when I was ready to conquer the world that I would be so grateful in my forties for simply surviving. There are public and private circumstances that push all of us to the brink of wanting to give up many times. I am not special. We all have our own wars we face and as I told a friend recently, don't downplay your circumstances by comparing them to others. Only God knows what each of us are TRULY going through in our lives. But, this blog post is called grateful and so these are the things what I want to share with you.

  • I am grateful that my husband and I are still together. Why do I say that? We are both stubborn first-born. He is the Lead Pastor and I am his "right hand woman." What could go wrong? We are both selfish because we are in fact...human. We disagree, we argue, we apologize, we ask for forgiveness from each other (and our staff sometimes!) I am grateful we have not given up. I am grateful we are not just living under this roof together. We ARE together. He cooked Thanksgiving today because he is AMAZING at it. I am good at the centerpiece, not so good with the cooking. I love to plan, create menus, organize, clean out, clean up, and eat his fabulous cooking. I am grateful that we are at our best when we play to our strengths.
  • I am grateful that I am watching my two kids right now drink hot chocolate (with more cool whip than hot chocolate) as they watch their favorite Christmas movie, ELF. They are better people than Todd and I. They love passionately, have sincere beliefs, and live much more balanced work versus play lives than their parents. They get God's unconditional love and their faces reflect everyday to me that they know who they are and WHO goes before them.
  • I'm grateful that I talked with my Dad on the phone today...he's courageously fighting cancer.
  • I am thankful for my home. Even with all the Hurricane Matthew debris still piled up in my yard...it's still here. We had no damage at all. I am thankful for my sister and brother-in-law who welcomed us into their home for 8 days unannounced when we had to evacuate.
  • I am grateful for my Wednesday Lunch Women's Life Group. I may facilitate our discussion but they have taught me and loved me for who I am. You know who you are, ladies.
  • I am grateful for friends from far away who text me encouraging words, call me and leave me messages, and who make time for me whenever our paths get to cross.
  • I am grateful for my church family at HHICC. We have a great church and a great staff. We have real people with real life stuff happening all the time. I'm thankful they accept Todd and I as imperfect leaders who are on this journey with them. We don't get it right sometimes but we love our church and we love leading this church together as a couple.

I love how the Apostle Paul writes about his gratefulness in Romans 12:3. I love the Message version of this.  "I'm speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him."

As I reflect today on what I am grateful for, I am still learning how to be constantly aware of how much God has blessed me and not just blow by acknowledging His goodness. I want to be grateful for every breath...grateful for the people in my life...grateful for everything He has given me. Because honestly, I know I don't deserve it.


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.


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.


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."


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)