I can't believe another "An Evening in December" Christmas concerts (and desserts!) has come and gone! What an amazing day of performances and being in community with great musical artists here on Hilton Head Island.
As our world around us is ever changing, I believe now more than ever, there is such a longing for something in life to be consistent, a desire to surround yourself with people you enjoy, and the passion to experience beautiful moments together. I believe that "An Evening in December" is a catalyst for those things to happen on Hilton Head Island.
There are not enough words to thanks the countless volunteers, musical artists, and attendees for making this year's concerts so enjoyable and memorable. Thank you all so much!
Here's couple of board mixes from the show. Enjoy and Merry Christmas!
I never imagined when I decided in the Fall of 2009 to do a Christmas concert with some desserts that it would become an annual event on Hilton Head Island. I had only lived here for a couple of years and had just started to meet some musicians and thought, "Hey, this could be fun! Let's perform some great Christmas classics and have some dessert for an hour!" The response the first year was overwhelming and has been every year. Every show has been different but the core of the team of artists that began together to do this show has remained unchanged. That blows we away!
We sold out of both shows a week before the event this year. First time ever. The work it takes for this team of artists to gather together each year to make this happen is amazing. None of us have time to do this show. We try to fit rehearsals in as best we can but really don't have enough time to work everything out...yet, somehow, we pull it together at the show! Everyone does what they have to do to make this a part of their year each year. I am so grateful for the artists who give so much, who enjoy the process almost more than the product, and for the relationships that have developed and been brought back together again...because of a little, simple, Christmas concert.
Now in its 7th year, we have an entire team of event directors, dessert coordinators, cookie and dessert bakers, and an ARMY of adult and student volunteers who serve at the concerts each year. I am so thankful for this team and how they come together once a year to create such a magical night for our Islanders and their families.
We have had Buddy the Elf (really!), ballet, "Grandma Getting Run over by Reindeer", and "Carol of the Bells "(like no other) to name a few elements. I am so excited about Sunday night because of what it has represented through the years AND the new artists that have joined this event this year...some of our school music teachers and professionals singers on the Island.
Never underestimate the power of a musical community coming together to be a part of something greater than anything they could ever do on their own. I know I never will. Here's an audio sample of some great performances through the years...
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.
Being a women in ministry for the past...oK...many years... twenty something...has been a privilege and yet a lonely experience. Granted, I have enjoyed being a part of the "early days" of women who were hired at the executive level of churches. Honestly. Had it not been for certain male leaders who were not afraid to let "a woman" lead, I would not be where I am today. You know who you are :-)
I've been praying for our church (and for me) to have an awakening to the importance of community among women around the principles of God's Word, our value to God as women, and living life with all the hats we wear. I have great expectation about the future and movements that are getting traction in our world for women like me and women who are in need of community (like me!)
There are two movements that I am excited to get connected and be a part of in 2015! I call them movements because they are driven by a COMMUNITY of women and not just one person (I love that!)
We are now an IF: Local chapter and will be partnering with ALL aspects of the IF movement at HHICC. We are a LOCAL gathering for the IF:Gathering event on Friday-Saturday, February 6-7. If you live in the HHI area, please join us! Register here.
This is launching TODAY at my Alma Mater with a week of activies. If you are a woman in leadership, get connected to this on Facebook, Twitter, and their magazine. Can't wait to see what happens with this! Excited to see how this will impact the NEXT generation of women (including my daughter).
Sunday night, we had the opportunity to sponsor a Global Missions Benefit Concert for our four missions partners at HHICC. All the bands performed for free, the food was provided by Harold's Diner, and we accepted donations for all our partners throughout the night.
I've been giddy since Sunday night for so many reasons. I was so thrilled with the turnout for the event. Because we have never done anything like this before, we had NO idea what the turnout would be for this. It was the first time we have hosted a concert in our new facility since we moved in last July. We invited the "Voted Best Band of 2012" on the Island, Cranford and Sons (who Randy, one of our drummers, is a founding member), and a singer-songwriter friend of Cranford, Angel Snow to join our HHICC artists (who opened the night's concert). Brandon and Kim Smith also performed and shared about their ministry, No Hungry Children.
I have a sincere passion to create avenues for artists to engage with the church. I feel very strongly that the "Church at Large" needs to do a better job of this. Last night was a first step for us at HHICC. Doing events like this allows the walls to come down in every way. We find what we can do together and create opportunitues for partnership and new relationships are formed. Oh..and it was like a giant party!
I am so thankful for our team who served, most of them since 7am that morning for services. It was an amazing expereience to see people from all over our Island community, not just our church community, come and support these artists as well as projects to build schools in Belize, feed kids in Africa, and send Islanders on mission trips.
Sometimes as a church, we don't do a very good job bringing the community together. I recognize that. Last night, we DID! It was such a privilege to host it, to participate in the concert with other artists, and share our music together. All of it...to benefit people all over the world who need our help...and we made new friends in the process.
This is not the end...I can't wait to do this again! I look forward to MORE opportunities for us to create avenues for artists and the community to come together here on the Island.
My silence the last month here at cheval glass is not reflective of a boring summer...to say the least. The last couple of months have been filled with chapters closing, new ones opening, and great opportunities for the future.
Our Lead Pastor, Jeff Cranston, and our Elders came to a unanimous decision with Todd'ssupport about the future of the Hilton Head Island Campus. After the growth of the last four years, our financial stability on our own since May 2010, and the amazing Miracle Offering that was given in May from our Campus toward our new facility, it was announced that the Island Campus where Todd and I have been serving the past four years will become its own independent church on Sunday, September 11, 2011. I have been serving as the Worship Arts Director over both of our campuses - Bluffton and Hilton Head Island - for the past 18 months. With this transition, I will be returning to the Island and overseeing Environments and serving as the Worship Leader for the new church, Hilton Head Island Community Church.
CLICK HERE to read the amazing letter from Pastor Jeff and to hear Todd's announcement. They did such an incredible job sharing this with our church!
This morning, Todd and I led the service at our Bluffton Campus and were able to share with our "mother" congregation about the transition and to express our gratitude for their prayers, support, encouragement, and generosity these past four years. I have loved getting to know our Bluffton Worship Arts Team over the past 18 months and they have been such a blessing to me this past year, especially in establishing our Worship Community - a.k.a. - Worship choir. Eric Abney, who I hired in March to work alongside me, has become the new Worship Arts Director at LCC and I know he will do an AMAZING job in this role. We will continue to share resources between our teams as sister churches and we have linked our PCOaccounts so we can share volunteers and resources more easily. Eric and I will also rotate leading worship between our churches periodically.
I look forward to sharing here at cheval glass about our journey in this new chapter as we see what God has for us. We are going to change the tone of 9-11 this year...it's going to be about celebrating a new day and new opportunities for the Kingdom of God on Hilton Head Island...here we go!
Holiday Sundays can be a challenge to creatively offer something different every year. However, they are great opportunities to do something different and to connect with people that might not normally attend a worship service. On the Island, holiday weekends can be some of our largest attended services because family and friends are visiting and we do get vacationers who are looking for a worship experience on their vacation. Today was no different. We had one of our largest attendance Sundays at the Island Campus - 239 people.
Todd's message was entitled "Roots of Freedom." He shared about the spiritual roots of many (specifically three) statements in the Declaration of Independence. He talked about the civil freedom as well as the spiritual freedom that our forefathers were seeking through the Great Awakening which led to the American Revolution. On a personal note, it was cool to see my husband's Pre-Law undergrad degree come out in a Sermon!
I love doing familiar songs on holiday weekends. I don't know the background of everyone in the room, but for a vacationer or someone bringing a family member or friend to "their church", I want the experience to have moments where we can sing out! I also love to do something brand new as well as something familiar but with a twist. Ok...it sounds like mixing drinks. Let's move on - here was the setlist...
"Praise the Father, Praise the Son" - (The final point of Todd's message is the we should worship the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost as FREE people - no holding back. We have the freedom to worship - let's do it!)
"Chosen Generation" - (This worked great as a closer - I had never thought of using this in regard to our freedom as Americans and as Christ-followers. It was awesome!)
I have been programming pads, organ, and some keys in Ableton the last few months and playing acoustic or electric live. This has been working REALLY well in our services. I only had three musicians this week (including me) and three singers and it was a great sound! Deb and Daniel Cort sang with me and they ALWAYS bring such beatiful artistry to our worship.
It's good to be back with the Sunday Setlist Carnival. Check out more recaps here.
There is something inside of that desires to break out of the predictable, mundane, and planned part of our existence. We long for an unexpected windfall, a suprise, even a miracle. Francis Chan, in his book Forgotten God, says this about miracles...
"Miracles are never an end in themselves;they are always a means to point to and accomplish something greater."
That is what we want...to be a part of something amazing...to say we were there when"it" happened...to play a part in something greater than ourselves and our time...to leave a legacy.
Church planting is miracle territory. As think back over the last four years that Todd and I have been on Hilton Head Island, there have been a lot of miracles...experiences and situations that fit all of those things I mentioned. However, this Sunday at the Island Campus, we are stepping into some major miracle territory. I do not want to diminish any of the amazing things that God has done over the last four years - they are all miracles! From locating our first temporary facility to finding our first permanent facility to where we are today...embarking on purchasing our first permanent facility. These are just examples in one category!
There are the people miracles...changed lives...people who were far from God who are now in a daily relationship with Him...these are miracles.
There are personal miracles in the life of my family... a brother-in-law who is cancer free, the ability to purchase a home for our family on the Island, and financial recovery from some tough days in our past.
I long for the miraculous. I desire to see the unpredictable and the unplanned happen. I am an organized person in my job and with my family life because it is out of necessity (trust me!). However, I feel the most alive when the unexplained becomes reality -when common sense says, "That's impossible."
Mothers are required to be realists (I think it's in a handbook somewhere.) It's my job in our home to be "the dose of reality" when it comes to our family schedule, chores, budget...you get the picture. I think it is because of that role that I play in our family, that I long for any opportunity to dream and say "Wouldn't it be great if..." That is what I love about church planting. Yes, you have to have a dose of reality in the mix, but for the most part, this is ALL unchartered territory! You can't put a formula to every part and in fact, I think God probably gets a chuckle at all our stats, strategies, and formulas for church planting!
Maybe this whole idea of wanting something amazing paralyzes you as a person. You are ok without being a part of miracles. Maybe you have never seen one and so you don't understand what all the buzz is all about. Maybe you have seen a miracle, but you have forgotten what it felt like to experience it. Are you afraid to dream because "God might not come through?" Read this quote from Forgotten God...
"I think the fear of God failing us leads us to "cover for God." This means we ask for less, expect less, and are satisfied with less because we are afraid to ask for or expect more. We even convince ourselves that we don't want more - that we have all the "God" we need or could want." - Francis Chan, Forgotten God, pg. 47
I want to see more, be a part of more, experience more, and be blown away by the Creator God who by very definition is creative...unpredictable, original...and wants to do something amazing in me and through me.
"I don't think the way you think. The way you work isn't the way I work." God's Decree."For as the sky soars high above earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work, and the way I think is beyond the way you think . Just as rain and snow descend from the skies and don't go back until they've watered the earth, doing their work of making things grow and blossom, producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry, So will the words that come out of my mouth not come back empty-handed.They'll do the work I sent them to do, they'll complete the assignment I gave them. "So you'll go out in joy, you'll be led into a whole and complete life. The mountains and hills will lead the parade, bursting with song. All the trees of the forest will join the procession, exuberant with applause. No more thistles, but giant sequoias, no more thornbushes, but stately pines—Monuments to me, to God, living and lasting evidence of God." - Isaiah 55:8-13 (MSG)
One of my friends asked me a couple of weeks ago if I still lived on the Island (lol, Cassie!) Yes, I have been away from cheval glass and everyday life quite a bit the past few weeks. I have embarked on a new adventure...working on both sides of the bridge. Yes, I spend part of my working week in Bluffton and the other part on the Island. I'm serving at both campuses of LCC now working with Programming for services and communication. It's been a great experience to meet so many wonderful LCC people at the Bluffton Campus that I have never met since I have been serving exclusively at the Hilton Head Island Campus the past two and a half years. As a family, we are adjusting to mom being at both campuses. My only fear is that I will end up at the wrong one on a Sunday. As Sydney says ,"Are we going to the big church or the little church?" You figure it out :)
While there is more than normal on my plate for the moment as I transition, I am so excited about the new musicians, tech people, and creatives I have most recently met that want to jump in and get involved. As I talk with Pastor Jeff and Pastor Todd about Easter and upcoming Message Series', I cannot help but get SO PUMPED about the direction that we are headed as a church and what God is doing in the lives of our staff and our LCC family. I see God revealing Himself to me and working in my life in new and fresh ways...this is the answer to one of my most earnest prayers during this Lent Season. So even though I've been a little silent here, I have been learning, growing, and connecting with God in a huge way in these past few weeks. Yeah, I'm tired, but it's a GOOD tired and it feels really good to be back here at cheval glass. I'm ready...