An Evening in December turns 7

An evening in december-2015 design
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...

Evening in December Sampler

 

DSCF8625 Our first year - 2009

 
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 2013 

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 2014  

 


Finding the words

IMG_3846 It seems I have been in a season of life that finding the words to express here on a traditional blog has been very difficult. When I began blogging in 2006, it was such new art form and the microblogging that we all do now had not taken off. Saying what I need to say in 140 characters has become a lifestyle, but at times, the real conversation needs more words.

I have more to say and more questions to ask you all but finding the words...so much pain in our world...so much suffering. In losing Todd's mom to cancer last year and walking the cancer journey now with my Dad...these things have made me speechless in some ways to express my heart and mind...I don't really know how to say it (nice run-on sentence!)

But as Thanksgiving is upon us, I have found these words...thank you, Father God.

Thank you for the suffering...because it made me turn to You. Thank you for the pain...because it made me recognize more personally what you actually did for us in sending Your Son, Jesus, to this painful place.

Thank you for the sweet moments with my daughter, watching her dance and seeing the joy it brings her (and You!)

Thank you for my playful son, who randomly hands me a "make believe" sword and says "En garde!"

Thank you for my husband who continues to be by my side even though this season is not a lot of fun for either of us.

Thank you for another day to say thank you.

What are you thankful for? 


My report card

Report_card_for_mom-e1307729536282I began to pick up on signals with Sydney toward the end of 3rd grade that made me nervous about how she viewed the learning experience. Our 1st year of homeschool - her 4th grade year - was a lot of me "untangling" what was a mess in her head about learning. She was honest with me about how she would "hide' with "I don't know" when asked a question in class so she didn't have to figure it out. Everything was exposed in our one-on-one environment. I realized how much she had missed with vowels and consonants in K-1st (due to ENT issues later solved). I could tell how much she struggled in our daily reading time and her vocabulary and listening skills were below level. I chose a curriculum for 5th grade for Language Arts that targeted working on these skills. It paid off.

IMG_2455 2  IMG_2368 This year, she has turned a huge corner in her listening skills and ability to process information. She gained confidence in her ability to assess information and communicate it verbally. Her math scores were high and her overall confidence this year has grown by leaps and bounds!  She has had more time to devote to art, ballet and music and I strongly believe allowing her time to explore in the areas that come easier to her has helped her gain confidence in EVERY area of her life. 

Sydney wants to return to an in-school environment next year and we are allowing her to do that. I see that she has really grown in her ability to view learning in a positive way and I feel so much more connected to how she learns and what she needs in order to be successful. We will take it one year at a time, but I am so thankful for the two years we have had to "right the ship" of learning in her life.

I'm giving myself a hard-earned B+ (I missed the A because of disrupting class sometimes with my poor attitude and lack of patience..:-)


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.


It's time, women

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!)

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IF:Gathering

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.

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Propel Women

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).

It's time, women...let's go!


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."


Women Living Well challenges your priorities

I specifically chose this book to read and review as a part of the Booksneeze community because I thought it would be a great way to refocus for the new year. Courtney Joseph delivers an easy read and an encouragement to women to get back to the basics and to fill their lives with the priorities each of us are called to as women who are Christ-followers.
Because of her own tech-savy approach to life, I was encouraged by her words of wisdom about media and how it relates to our families. She quotes Proverbs 1:7 which says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Then adds, "The child who is loved and has a healthy fear of God will eventually be able to monitor his or her own media.” I enjoyed that section of her book the most. Although my family does not operate in many ways the way that her family does, there is sound information and words of wisdom in this book. Women Living Well will encourage women who desire to have a peaceful home, fulfilling marriage, and a purposeful approach to their everyday lives.


Why Homeschool?

IMG_8340  I have had a lot of questions as to why Todd and I decided to homeschool Sydney and Sean, especially with making the decision for Sean to come home in the middle of the year.  I thought is would be best to answer those questions here at cheval glass and allow for comments and discussion through this post.

I never saw myself as a homeschool mom. To be honest, the day I dropped Sydney AND Sean off at HHCA as a 5 yr old and 8 yr old was sad, but I did have that moment of "FREEDOM!" I enjoy my kids so much and I love being a working mom also.  It was a great year. I had time to myself and I had time to devote to some areas in my job that I really needed to give attention to that year. I took a sabbatical that year as well and got away. It was a lifechanging experience.

But I sensed in my heart in the first of 2013 that my daughter and I were drifting apart. Sydney is a female version of Todd. Sean is a male version of me. I don't think, respond, process, or in ANYWAY view life the way Sydney does.  It has been a wonderful and challenging experience to work at understanding her and how she views life.  She was having an amazing 3rd grade (Thank you, Mrs. Buck and Mrs. Atkins!) and was connecting in some ways academically that she had NEVER done before. But for me, our connection as mom and daughter was not something I was content with where it was and where my heart said it was headed.  Financially for our family, it was also a positive thing to only have Sean at HHCA.  I didn't talk to Sydney about this at all. Todd and I talked about it and prayed about it.

Then as Sydney and I were having dinner one night at Atlanta Bread Company after ballet, she says to me..."Mom, I would like to homeschoool. I would be ok with doing that."  What! I had NEVER told her that I was thinking about this!  That was the affirmation I needed from her (as only GOD can do!) that this was a good decision.  We started in August of 2013 and I was right. We needed to reconnect on SO many things and our Fall was the most AMAZING few months. There were tough days where I had to apologize and days she had to apologize. However, I cannot decribe what the gift of time with your child can do in your relationship with them.

I was actually suprised this was going so well this fall. My work schedule and spending time with her was actually working! However, things were not as great with "the boys." Sean was doing great at HHCA (thanks, Mrs. Boley!) and Todd was doing OK with taking him to school everyday and his own job and seminary. But as Todd and I talked about it, our days had changed to not really being the typical "9-5" routine. The ONLY thing that was like that was Sean being in school. Todd was doing seminary late at night and getting up to take Sean and I was seeing the toll it was taking on him.  We also saw some financial things in our future that concerned us about how "tight" we had been living to make everything work. Todd and I prayed about it and decided to go ahead and add Sean to the homeschool adventure as Todd finishes seminary and we accomplish some of our financial goals (Thanks, Dave Ramsey!)

One thing you have to understand about our family is that we make decisions that are based on what's best for the entire family.  We always keep in the individual in mind, but I have found after almost 20 years of marriage that this works best for us.  We all have to compromise and give so that the family as a unit can operate at its maximum potential. This is just the way we have decided to operate as a family.

We love HHCA. When God leads us, my kids will go back to school there.  We feel very strong about a God-view based eduaction.  What I discovered this year is HOW important is for me as the mother to be aware when the Holy Spirit leads me to do something.  It's not easy and it's scarry sometimes.  I'm learning more about trusting God than I ever have in my life. One day at a time.

We just completed our first week with both kids doing homeschool and it actually went better than expected. Sean misses his friends and I'm making a huge effort to give him opportunity to be with them as much as possible. In fact, they both have friends coming over this afternoon.  I don't homeschool them the same. I use different curriculum and different ways to motivate them. I will blog about that at another time. 

So there it is...why we made the choice. I ask for prayers as you think of us.  Feel free to comment here and ask questions.  I'm on this homeschool journey for as long as God leads my heart that this is what is best for everyone in our family. One day at a time...