Not a number

MMC tag We recently finished our first college search, admissions, auditions, and final acceptance process with our eldest, Sydney (Whew!) There is SO much more to share about the red line of God's guidance in her final choice, but I want to process that more before I share that here.

Something struck me about what Sydney shared with me about her final choice. She said to me, " Mom, I wasn't a number. They used my name." I just thought about that. All these years of auditions for summer dance programs and for college auditions, she was always given a number. For her, it was one of the major deciding factors for her in choosing where to be in her first season of life living on her own. It was vital for her to be somewhere that from the beginning, she is a name, not a number.

Our name is the most personal thing we have. Whether we "like" the name we were given at birth or have adopted a nickname we like, what we go by is deeply personal. I am Cynthia, not Cindy. I don't like being called Cindy, It doesn't even feel remotely close to Cynthia to me! And for those of my lovely friends who think it will be funny to call me that after reading this, I don't answer to Cindy! However, I have a very good friend whose name is Cindy. She is NOT Cynthia!

For many of us, it may be hard to accept that God would consider us by our name. How could the God of the universe REALLY have the time or the bandwidth to handle all of us? By name?

Isaiah 43 (MSG) says “Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine.When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end—Because I am God, your personal God..." 

Psalm 139:15 says ,"You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made..." (MSG) This is a verse that I have always loved as an artist.  It speaks to me of my originality... my uniqueness... that God sees me as as Cynthia.  The whole chapter really speaks to God truly knowing us.

I just wanted to share this because I am so encouraged and thankful that God knows me by name. When I pray, God knows Cynthia and knows my innermost thoughts. He knows ALL of it - good and bad. Yes, I am His and He is mine. I am not a number. I have a name and God knows it.

As we begin our 40-day preparation for Easter Sunday, begin this journey with that truth and say this affirmation to yourself daily as needed.

(Insert your name here,) God knows your name. You are His. He is always with you.

Share your comments below and P.S. - Thank you, Sydney, for letting me share this here.

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.

Christmas in NYC

IMG_8282 IMG_8285IMG_8251 It was SO cool to watch "Christmas in Rockefeller Center"  tonight with the family. This had to be one of my favorite years in a LONG while...Jamie, Harry, Tony, Faith, Beyonce...artists who can REALLY sing! Beyonce on the roof with St.Patrick's Cathedral behind her? Yeah,THE money shot. Lighting is everything, but I digress. NYC is so enchanting this time of year. I don't care how many times you visit or if you live there, the holidays are magical. Even being there last week, the city was already coming alive for the holidays. We never attended the Rockefeller Tree Lighting in person when we lived there (we chose to do the Lincoln Center Tree Lighting) but I never needed an excuse during December to take the 1 train to 50th Street and walk the few blocks to see "THE TREE." We did the parade and made it to Macy's to see Santa last week (20 minute wait - Todd was very happy!) Sydney and I went ice skating in Bryant Park....Magical...the only way to describe it. If you haven't been, go...if you have, you know what I'm talking about.

Faith and Fiber

"The American people may have "Iraq fatigue," but that doesn't mean they've stopped paying attention. A few days ago, the Gallup/USA Today poll reported that, over the past four weeks, belief that the extra troops in Iraq were "making the situation better" rose to 31% from 22%. The percentage who say the new troops don't matter dropped to 41% from 51%. Somehow people have found their way to reports that Gen. Petraeus's counterinsurgency strategy is toting up gains on the ground.

Here in the U.S., any such news a half-world away from the troops in Iraq will be processed immediately into the chopped meat of our politics. Example: If the Iraq commitment turns steadily positive, the Democratic leadership's domestic antiwar strategy may leave the party's candidates on thin ice as they slip and slide toward the primary season. This ensures that the war, the one in the U.S., will be fought with recrimination and accusation.

Imagine the surprise, then, when the most cathartic experience I've had recently in matters of war or peace was seeing a stage play about . . . war.

The play is "Beyond Glory," written and performed by Stephen Lang at the Roundabout Theater in New York. In barest outline, Mr. Lang, who originated the role of the accused Marine colonel in the Broadway production of "A Few Good Men," brings to life eight recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor from World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Without interruption for 80 minutes, Mr. Lang recreates eight different men, who relate the hellish events that earned them the Medal of Honor. As described recently by Journal theater critic Terry Teachout, this is "acting of the highest imaginable quality, a performance that will sear its way into your mind and linger there forever after." An understatement..."

- An excerpt from BY DANIEL HENNINGER
Thursday, August 9, 2007

To read this entire article, click here

Reflections on NYC life

So we pull out of the city in less than 40 hours - no, we are NOT done packing!  But, we will get it done!  The movers come on Thursday the 22nd and we close this chapter of our lives in Manhattan.  It has been a week of goodbyes, tears, frustrations, fatigue, and absolute gratefulness in my heart.  So many emotions - don't really know what to do with them all.  I am so thankful for the friendships that I have made this year - new friends that have become a part of my life.  I am overwhelmed at how I feel this city has changed me as a person and I can't wait to see as I integrate back into non-urban life just how it has really has done that.  I am so grateful for the new little boy in our lives and that he is doing so well at 6 weeks.  I am still on the mend fighting another case of mastitis, but I really feel God carrying me right now and whispering to me every moment, "It's gonna be OK."  Todd has done the impossible over the last 3 months - selling our house this past week in the middle of trying to do most of the packing as I am spent on the kids and my own health.  He is amazing and I celebrate being able to do this journey with him.  We leave here with sad hearts at those we love and will miss, but eager to see the beginning of this new life in Hilton Head and the new ministry that awaits us.  No blogs for awhile as we move so I will see you on the flipside...

An afternoon in NYC

Img_strand_bassI went out yesterday by myself for about 4 hours in the city.  It was refreshing to be outdoors even if it was 30 degrees!  There are just a couple of places I have wanted to visit before we move in 2 weeks and one was the The Strand BookStore.  It was really cool.  I picked up a copy of E.B. White's essay called Here is New York.  I was overwhelmed with sadness at leaving this city that has become a part of my DNA.  So many people many people who have not discovered why God created them and why they are here on this planet.  I look at people differently after living here.  I see more clearly how God made each person so unique and so special.  The diversity He created among us - it is truly remarkable!  I leave here 2 weeks from today with even more of a passion to serve others, to love others, and to give of myself more than I ever to love people.  This city has given me a great gift - the ability to see others maybe for the first time truly how God sees each one of us with our gifts, abilities, flaws, and personalities.  The whole  package is what makes us who we are.  I am so glad we have a creative God!

Dizzy's Club Coca Cola



Todd gave me a pre-Valentines treat the week before Sean was born and we went to Dizzy's Club Coca Cola at the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle to hear the NYU Jazz Orchestra with guest artist, Lenny Pickett.  You may know Lenny as he is the musical director and sax player for Saturday Night Live.  If you have a chance to check out this venue, it is awesome!  Probably in the top 3 of the coolest things we have done in the city in the last year! The food was excellent and the atmosphere was perfect for listening to great music.

Christmas date night



Some of the greatest advice we have ever been given is the importance of continuing to date each other as a married couple.  This has been such an incredible thing to us especially now with a toddler.  We had 9 years of just the 2 of us, so going out and having fun is something that we have made a priority at least every other Saturday night. Every December. Todd and I always try to do one special date night where we have a great meal and then go to something very "Christmasy".  This year, we went to Lincoln Center and saw the New York Ballet Company present The Nutcracker.  This was the original dance company that performed this for the first time in the 1950's.  It was magical!  Todd chose the restaurant - Pair of 8's. It is a very intimate place here on the Upper West Side that he read great reviews on this year - it is fairly new and it was incredible!  They have a new menu everyday.  Todd and I have this thing where when we try a new place, we see who can order the better meal.  Todd won hands down...roasted venison.  I had salmon that was amazing, but his venison was the clear winner!

Christmas at Lincoln Center



One of the traditions in NYC is the lighting of the tree in Lincoln Center.  This happens right in our neighborhood and truly is an event that brings out New Yorkers.  Vendors set up all down Broadway between 66th and Columbus Circle with food, music, and carolers.  We attended with a few friends and it was great!  They had short Img_9160performances from the Nutcraker, Alvin Slaughter and a great choir, and the Magic Flute. It was beautiful! Sydney got a Christmas Dora balloon - that was the highlight for her...

Fall in New York





Yesterday was one of those enchanting days living in the rained really hard all morning, but then the sun came out and revealed more beautiful colors than were there before.  After attending a Fall festival in the morning with Sydney and her friends, we made our way across the city through Central Park.   Not all the leaves have changed colors yet, but in Central Park it has really started happening!  A lady saw Todd taking pictures and asked if we wanted her to take our picture - she was a photographer, so we got a couple of great shots of the family.  Enjoy these photos of the city!