This is 50.


I know it's just a number but WOW! Here we are. No filter on that pic. That's all me - lifelines and all! I just couldn't let a big one like this go by without sharing here on Cheval Glass. I've been gone from here for awhile (yeah,  I gotta work on that) but here are some of my reflections at ...whew...I've never typed it 50! Here we go.

So much of my 20's through 40's was exploration - Nine moves and five different cities. My 20's felt like a patch-work quilt. Todd and I found "our people" all along the way and I'm so thankful for those friendships through church small groups, our work lives, and community connections. Many of those people are still a part of our lives. You know who you are. I love you.

People would say to us that we "waited" to start our family in our 30's, but Todd and I became a family THE DAY we were married. We grew up together in our 20's. I was diagnosed with panic anxiety disorder in my late 20's & got professional help. I changed a lot of my lifestyle and my eating habits. It was a challenging time, but I am so glad I hit it head on. We traveled quite a bit internationally on missions trips and personally in our 20's. I spent a lot of time songwriting and producing/playing in the studio. Most importantly, I had a massive crisis of faith most of my 20's which means I was questioning EVERYTHING about God, faith and the church and worked through quite a bit of that in my 20's.

We thought we would live in Atlanta forever when we moved there in 1997, but God had different plans. We sold our cars, our beautiful new home and most everything in it and moved with our 15 month old daughter to the Upper West Side of NYC in 2005 to help our friends, Carmen and Aaron Coe plant The Gallery Church. We used to laugh that we lived a pretty stationary life for 8 years and then all the sudden we started having children and started moving all the time. God truly has a sense of humor.

We had a miscarriage in NYC between our children and that was a dark time for me as it is for any woman who goes through it. I know there is another Cullen I will meet in Heaven one day. NYC took us to HHI in 2007 with now our almost 3 year old and 6 week old son to plant Hilton Head Island Community Church.  Now, 16 years later, I would never have dreamed that this is where I would be at 50. 

I never imagined that sorrow and joy could co-exist. I look back on my life at this point and realize how much they have both been there all along the journey... hand in hand. Leaving our extended family, our home church, and my best friend in ATL to meeting new friends in NYC that have become life-long friends as well. Leaving NYC to move to HHI (Yeah I didn't want to move here!) to "returning" there now with our college girl now in the city. Losing my dad to cancer at 67, but now seeing my mom thrive in her 2nd act. Watching our kids grow up too fast and yet so happy about who they have become.

I never thought I would enjoy living on HHI like I do. I thought this was the place that musicians, artists, & an artistic community go to die! I was SO wrong. My first friends were great musicians... Andy Pitts, Dean St. Hillaire, Randy Looman, & Dave Masteller...still are great musicians and good friends. Since then, I have gotten involved in our arts community with ISCA, HHDT,  The Junior Jazz Foundation, and the community theater world when I can. I'm so thankful for my "artsy" friends and our artistic community. Now, I have a dancer daughter and son who is an aspiring jazz drummer because of the incredible artistic community here. Words do not adequately express my thankfulness for this community and their mentors in their lives.

I never thought it would be so hard to be married and raise kids. I shared a few weeks ago in our services on Mother's Day about spiritual warfare and how it is real and how if I didn't know it existed, Todd and I might not still be married. I meant that. We just celebrated 28 years by God's grace. Life is hard, being pastors is 24/7, and raising kids is not for the faint of heart as many of you know. I am so thankful today for Todd, our church family, and Sydney and Sean.

I have never breathed "thank you, God" as much as I do now. Every day is a gift. Every moment with my kids and with Todd. I slow down a lot more now. I say " I'll do that tomorrow" a lot more. I pray more throughout the day, constantly praying for my friends, our community, our world, and whatever God brings to my mind. I wake up and begin thanking God for rest, the home I live in, and the people He has blessed me, friends, and our faith community. I am so thankful for the friends that God has blessed with me to do life with here on the Island. I'm thankful for the extended friends through social media I have made and the ability to stay connected to my extended family.

So I celebrate life itself today. All the parts of the journey and yea, this feels weird to think I'm 50, but I am so thankful. I will keep saying that to God in my breath prayers and whatever the next 50 hold, I will always say God is good. He is faithful when I am not. He always provides even when I don't manage what we have well. He knows what's best even when I get frustrated with circumstances. His mercy and grace are there each morning for me to receive. He's got it and He always has had it and He always will.

"For the Lord is always good. He is always loving and kind, and his faithfulness goes on and on to each succeeding generation." - Psalm 100:5

What's up?

My posts have been rare lately. Blogging will always take a BIG backseat to my family, my ministry, and my music and all 3 of those have been SMOKIN' BUSY lately! Here's a few things I want to share.

  • My acoustic skills have taken a HUGE upswing. It's been a year now that I have been leading worship with the acoustic and I am FINALLY not nervous about it.
  • I love my band...we are rocking it out at the Core Campus in Bluffton this weekend.  We are songwriting together now and I AM LOVING IT!
  • My 2 year-old son now sings "Sing Sing Sing" at the top of his lungs in the car.
  • My almost 5 year-old daughter now prays "A Big Girl Prayer" and thanks God for her toys all the way up to her mommy and daddy.
  • This is first March in 3 years I am not having to move!
  • We are working on our first Art show at our campus that will premier on Easter Weekend. I am submitting a few photographs of the Island.
  • I have been LOVING our 40 Days of Prayer journey that we have been doing via our campus blog. It has been a spiritual highlight for me during this Easter season.

Sunday Recap - SERVE DAY Stories

This video will speak for itself, but it was an amazing day of worship and celebration of what God did in us and through us on both campuses last Sunday. I chose songs of worship that we were very familiar with and that people could REALLY sing!  Here was our service:

"Come Now is the Time to Worship" - Vineyard
"There's No One Like Our God: - Vineyard
SERVE DAY Highlight video (both campuses)
SERVE DAY Panel - testimonies (see video)
"Sing to the King" - Passion
"Everlasting God" - Brenton Brown
Scripture Reading - Matthew 5 :1-16
Time of Response (communion, giving, and  prayer station)
"Amazing Grace/My Chains are Gone"
"God of this City" - Passion ( I did a video loop of pics from our Island projects under the lyrics)

We had 100 percent of our regular attendance on a Sunday participate in Serve Day. This was a defining moment in the life of our new church campus...God be praised.  (BTW - the terrible filming of the panel is all me...Can we say NOT a steady cam?)

Check out Fred's for more setlists!

Sunday Recap - SERVE DAY!

Serve day Yesterday, we got outside our church walls and served our Island community. Here was our service:

"Sing, Sing. Sing" - Tomlin
Welcome/Get into teams/Greet
Scripture Reading - Romans 12
Prayer of Dedication over Serve Day
"Happy Day" - Hughes

After our "Pep Rally", we did the following: visited nursing homes and assisted care facilities, visited patients in the hospital, cleaned up trash on our roads, painted the gym of our boys and girls club, did repair projects on our campus, prepared 18,500 plastic Easter eggs for our BIG Community hunt in a month.

The weather was AWFUL, so we canceled a couple of outside projects, but that did not keep almost 100 percent of our active attending congregation from participating!!! The consensus after today was that we should do this as a church campus once a quarter on Saturdays.  Everyone's projects went well and NEXT WEEK are are going to share the stories live, through video, and with pictures in our services. I CAN"T WAIT!!!

Join me at Fred's for more Sunday setlists.

Good questions

My husband Todd and I know that we are a little different. Most people would say planting a church with your husband could be a really, really dumb idea...especially if you are both staff members.  I don't care how many years you have been doing ministry on a church planting is a different ball game.  I'm not going deny that this experience has not had some really tough days. We are constantly learning how to keep margins in our life with ministry, people,and our family. BUT, as only God can do, we are surrounded with the most loving people in our church, leaders who are so willing to give, and a Lead Pastor who is the real deal. Our family is thriving here on the Island. We are "finding our groove" with our 2  preschoolers and having a blast in the process. With Sean and Sydney playing around us, Todd and I spent the afternoon identifying new leaders in our church for new levels of ministry. Here are some questions we asked ourselves...

  1. What are we doing that someone else would be willing and more able to do?
  2. What is our "TO BE" list look like - not our "TO DO" List?
  3. Who are we robbing of the opportunity to lead by being too "hands on?"
  4. Why is Sean covered in a sticky substance? (Just seeing if you were playing attention - he found the treasure box filled with candy in Promiseland - sorry, Barb!)

What are you asking about your job, family, or ministry? Share some of it here.

Theater and kids

544257KatarinaWeb   I attended Sydney's field trip yesterday to the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina  to attend the play, Katerina the Clever as presented by the Lexington Children's Theater. This is a Russian folktale about a clever young peasant girl who outwits her ruler. With the help of a goat - her best friend and loyal sidekick - she answers four riddles posed by the Tsar, earning his respect and the position of chief advisor. It was such a treat to see live theater presented for a young age in such a delightful and energetic way. I was watching the play and just thanking God that I have the opportunity to expose my child to the arts at her young age. We saw the Little Mermaid over the Thanksgiving holidays in NYC and it was amazing (I blogged more about our trip here our our family blog.) Yes- I admit it... I am living a little through my daughter right now - I make no apologies!  I cannot express in words the joy of seeing Sydney's face light up as she saw and heard "Ariel" sing on stage. The arts will always be a HUGE part of our lives and I contribute so much of her creativity and imaginative play to the early exposure of live theater and the arts in her life.

Have you attended anything great this holiday season with your kids?

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!

God at work

Img_8078 2 of my band guys got baptized on Sunday night at our Beach Baptism.  I nearly lost my life trying to film them and take pictures in the waves! Words cannot express how excited I am to see what God is doing in the hearts of our not just be doing the "music thing", but to really see authentic community with God and each other. This has just been a big week of answered prayers in my life on a personal level as well as in ministry...I'm just taking it all in.

What is God up to in your life?

I love my rental

In light of the financial news of today, I love my rental house.  I always thought I was a person of great faith until we had to sell our home in Atlanta and move to NYC. It took us 2 years (2005-2007) to sell our home.  The interesting thing is that our house sold at exactly the specific time in our lives when we absolutely 100 percent HAD to sell.  God brought just the right family and it sold. I learned more about praying with persistence and with endurance through those 2 years than any other time in my life.  I learned that God's timing is NEVER my timing and that I don't have a clue what He has in store for me - I just have to trust Him. He gave our family the most beautiful rental house last Spring on the Island, complete with a swing set in the backyard and a separated living room for my piano and music stuff. Today has been a really tough day for so many people and my heart breaks for them. For me, today has been a reminder of God's lavish blessings that I really don't deserve.