I can't win sometimes

There are some things as a parent that I have found are non-negotiable when it comes to my kids. Granted, I have only been a parent for 5 years, but I have learned to listen to what my kids ask me to be a part of in their lives. On Tuesday of this week, Sydney mentioned that one of the moms of one of her classmates had lunch with them. Todd and I have done this once before. But Sydney doesn't usually ask us to come to stuff. But this time, she said, "Mom, will you come have lunch with me at school?" I was thrilled. So, I planned to pick up McDonald's and bring it to her during her VERY early lunch time from 10:30 - 11:00.  Sydney is a child that has to prepared for the schedule to change. So, I told her that I would be a little late, but that I would be there.

Now, we ALL know that McDonald's starts serving lunch at 10:30. They have done this since I was child. So I was sitting in the parking lot at 10:25...waiting. At 10:30 on the nose, I pulled into the drive thru and began ordering my Happy Meals. The lady replied, "I'm sorry, Ma'am...we don't serve lunch till 11." OK...now I panic. Syd has no lunch and we do not have a wide variety of fast food on the Island. I whip over to Burger King...order the meals...and they proceed to tell me that the fries are going to be awhile. They were still pealing potatoes :) 10:40 now...

I finally get there at 10:45. Sydney is in tears. She says ," I thought you forgot and were sitting at home." We try to eat, but she is so stressed out because she knows that lunch is almost over (again, she is VERY conscious of time!) We woof down our food and the bell rings. I walk her back to class. I ask her, "Are you mad at mommy?" She says,"No...it's alright." with a very disappointed look.

I know...the reward is in the trying, but man, I felt like a loser! Note to self...PACK A LUNCH to have at school with your child. Second note to self...call the Corporate offices of McDonalds and tell them they have a rogue restaurant that is messing up people's lives!

Anybody else feel like they can't win sometimes?

Sean turns 3

IMG_0378  IMG_0939 IMG_8848

It's hard for me to believe. It goes a lot faster with the 2nd one, I think. This has been our year together at home, just the two of us. With Sydney starting school this year, I have treasured my time with Sean and getting to know and understand the way God made him. Be careful what you pray for...you just might get it. I prayed for a daughter like Todd and a son like me. Yeah, it happened. I look in his eyes and I know what he is thinking. I see how he learns quick and adapts. I see his quick temper when something doesn't work right the first time. He loves music. He pats the rhythm or just bobs his head when he listens to music. He leads his sister even though he is almost 3 years younger and he doesn't care if the is the smallest kid in the jumpy houses - he is not going to miss out on anything that his big sister is doing. He is so independent and yet loves to cuddle with his mom. I can always count on him for some good snuggle time!

Sydney loved to read with me at an early age. Sean has not cared for it all. But in the past two weeks, he is bringing me books to read to him. We have been sitting for 20-30 minutes at a time (unheard of for him!) and reading together. He is counting to 10. He thinks everything is either orange or blue (still working on colors). Lately, he enters a room and says 'Mom, whacha doing?" I tell him. Then he says "That's silly." He has started praying by himself at night. I love the Boz the Bear prayer. Sydney learned it at his age as well.

As I write this blog, he is out with his dad hitting balls with his first "real" set of golf clubs. They have a program where you upgrade the clubs as they get older so we started that this year. Todd has been waiting for this day for a LONG time! Sean is a lefty, but he plays sports with his right hand so Dad can handle that.

I feel very blessed today. I am so thankful for his health and development. I am so thankful for God giving us the privilege of parenting this precious little boy. Happy Birthday, bubby!I love you so much!

two weeks

I have been in somewhat of a "fog" the last 2 weeks as we spent one week packing and this past week moving. I looked at Todd at some point this week and said, "Honestly, if there was a gun to my head right now, I could not tell you what day it is." We are SO happy to be in our new home..pics to come! So , here is what happened around the Cullen house the last two weeks...

  • DSCF7673 Sydney finished preschool...she is officially a Kindergartener...say that 30 times really fast! She is headed to HHCA in August.
  • IMG_8715 Todd and I celebrated our 14th Anniversary on June 3rd. For those who know us REALLY well, we can all say that Todd deserved a big kudos for that!
  • IMG_0431 My Worship Arts Intern, Emily Wolffe, from my Alma Mater, Liberty University, started this week. Her 1st task? Painting Sean's bedroom last Friday night! She is an awesome woman, gifted musician, and a REAL servant to put up with our move being right smack in the middle of her 1st week on Hilton Head! We are going to have an awesome summer!
  • IMG_0447 Ellie Lancaster was in Hilton Head this week and we had the chance to reconnect. We have known each other for about 9 years from NorthStar and most recently we were original staff members of The Gallery Church in NYC. We love you, Elle!
  • IMG_0458  IMG_0453IMG_0461 Sydney turned 5 years old today. She is such a big girl and just a joy to our lives. I would think after 5 years of being a parent I would have more of a clue? NOT! We celebrated with some of Sydney's close friends and our friends as well at the Yacht Club (My b-day is tomorrow.) Yes, it was a much deserved treat...sitting around the pool and they fixed the food!
  • We love our new home. We feel SO blessed that God has given this to us. Our friends, the Krupas, from ATL were able to move into our rental house. God just worked the whole thing out! Now the fun begins...painting, pictures, and giving this place "our touch."

Hope you had a great two weeks...looking forward to being back in the blogosphere this week!

Being a mom means...


1. That my personal priorities are always filtered through what I desire for my children.
2. That I have to be ok with house work not getting done because sometimes they just want me to sit with them and watch a movie.
3.  That my kids "need" a new outfit before I really ever think about the fact that I have been wearing the same pair of pants for 4 years.
4. My heart breaks anytime I hear about a child being hurt.
5. That I have 4 eyes watching my every move.
6. That I can have one day that I feel like "Mom of the Year" and the next day feel like an unfit parent.
7.  That I truly believe my mom was crazy to have 3 kids.
8.  That my kids give me the greatest joys in life and the deepest sorrow - sometimes in the same hour.
9.  That I will always feel guilty that I am not doing enough to raise them right.
10. That I will never grow tired of bedtime prayers and songs.
11.  That I will never grow tired of mealtimes together.
12. That I will never grow tired of their hugs and kisses.
13. That I maybe understand now that my Heavenly Father truly only wants what is best for me.
14. That I cannot fathom God's love for me to give up His only Son's life for someone like me.
15. That I am able to give my kids the legacy of faith that my mom gave to me. I love you, mom!

To all mothers out there, enjoy your day. You deserve it.

Teaching children about God

Sydney looked at me the other day while we were having lunch and asked me "Mommy, what is sin?" She's been hearing the Easter story at preschool and at church and she had a big question. My greatest struggle as a worship leader/church leader/mom is balancing how much I tell them about God and giving them the opportunity to ask and discover on their own. This post by Piper really helped me to understand what I am feeling about how I want my kids to learn about God (and if you know his story with his kids, you DEFINITELY know that He gets it). This one as well really hits on what kids need to understand first.  I have spent most of Sydney's preschool years discussing Creation and God's design for it and for her as an individual.  This has sparked great conversation about God and how the universe works.  Certain concepts make her afraid right now like Heaven - she doesn't want to go up in the clouds because it is too high! So, we are sticking to creation right now :)

What are some things you do to teach the basics about God to your kids?


Food-Pyramid Preparing dinner for our family is tough. First of all, cooking is not a pleasure for me.  I do not like to cook and I'm not really good at it. My husband is the chef in the family...a little of this and a little of that and he has a masterpiece! However, we cannot afford to eat his meals a lot of times (I meant it, he is REALLY a good cook!) We both work and during the week, we are running just like everyone else. Todd gets to prepare a gourmet meal every now and then (when I can budget one) and he helps with most meals during the week (aren't you jealous, girls?) I do not believe in the "fix everyone what they want" mentality.  We also eat out WAY to much and since we are  Dave Ramseyites, that is out of the question. With all of that said, I have been looking for 10 meals that EVERYONE likes to prepare on a regular basis. These are meals we have on hand that are easy to prepare with just a little bit of thought.  Why 10? Our budget and our schedule dictates that we can eat dinner at home no more than 5 times a week...thus 10 meals per pay check. Well, folks, I have found them!  Click here to see the meal plan.

Is Green your thing?

Cisco-Recycled-160x90 Raising children has given me such perspective on the issue of our taking care of the world around me. I have made great strides with Sydney as a preschooler to teach her that God made the world and everything in it (Acts 17:24a.) and that He has asked us to take care of it (Gen 1:26.) This is why we conserve water by brushing our teeth and not letting the water run. This is why we take our plastic bags back to Publix to recycle. This is why we color on both sides of our paper. I admit, I have a long way to go in certain areas of doing more for the environment (I love water bottles!) But, it has become a spiritual issue for me. I cannot walk around in defiance and ignorance. I CAN contribute to taking better care of the world around me.  I need to learn to do it better and I want my kids to grow up understanding that this is important. So whether  "green is your thing" or not, you can't ignore it that you can make a contribution to taking better care of God's world.

One of my favorite hymns was written by Maltbie D. Babcock in 1901.

While a pas­tor in Lock­port, New York, Bab­cock liked to hike in an ar­ea called “the es­carp­ment,” an an­cient up­thrust ledge near Lock­port. It had a mar­vel­ous view of farms, or­chards, and Lake On­tar­io, about 15 miles dis­tant. It is said those walks in the woods in­spired these lyr­ics. The ti­tle re­calls an ex­press­ion Bab­cock used when start­ing a walk: “I’m go­ing out to see my Fa­ther’s world.”

This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father’s world, the birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world: He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass;
He speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world: why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King; let the heavens ring!
God reigns; let the earth be glad!

This is my Father’s world, dreaming, I see His face.
I open my eyes, and in glad surprise cry, “The Lord is in this place.”
This is my Father’s world, from the shining courts above,
The Beloved One, His Only Son,
Came—a pledge of deathless love.

This is my Father’s world, should my heart be ever sad?
The lord is King—let the heavens ring. God reigns—let the earth be glad.
This is my Father’s world. Now closer to Heaven bound,
For dear to God is the earth Christ trod.
No place but is holy ground.

This is my Father’s world. I walk a desert lone.
In a bush ablaze to my wondering gaze God makes His glory known.
This is my Father’s world, a wanderer I may roam
Whate’er my lot, it matters not,
My heart is still at home.

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 staff...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.

Speaking truth

The greatest thing about being a part of the blogging community is connecting with people...people that are just like me, totally different than me, smarter than me, crazier than me...you fill in the blank. The biggest blessing to me has been how God uses blogs of friends and leaders I respect to speak truth into my life...at just the right moment and just the right time.  Today, I received 2 blogs from 2 people I read a lot...Perry Noble and Seth Godin. These guys are on opposite ends of the spectrum of what they do and why they blog. However, today, they both had a word for me.  Perry's blog is pretty self-explanatory for why I loved it today.   #11 and #13 were a needed reminder. However, Seth's blog may be a little strange to you. He hit on something that I have experienced, watched happen to others, and that I want to help my children with one day when they face it. You're just dying to know what they said, huh?

Click here to read Perry's post
Click here to read Seth's post

I got the message

Hi, I'm Cynthia...I'm a workaholic. I made a commitment to God, myself, and my family that in 2009, I am going to work less. I have been very convicted about it the last few months.  I LOVE to work...I love my job...I have been working since I was 14.   I admit, being a mother and a part-time staff member is difficult to manage. I want to be with my kids and I want to work - it's tough. I am very fulfilled by contributing to an organization in some way - part-time or full-time - I really like being a part of team. I love spending time with my kids and being mom.  It brings me the greatest joy in life...Yeah, I'm a mess. Anyway, Monday is the day I have set aside to not work. I allow myself to respond to e-mail (thanks to my wonderful new iphone!), but I cannot generate an e-mail to anyone about anything work related on Mondays...and I did it this week. Boy, it was hard.  I had so many ideas and things about worship arts that I wanted to get started and I didn't do it. I had a great day with the kids - playing outside, reading books - it was awesome! Tuesdays are my long days and yesterday was one of those days. I was a little irritated that I didn't have enough time to do all I wanted, but I let it go. Wednesdays, I have morning stuff, pick the kids up from school and then work from home. Do you know what happened today?  Both of my kids fell asleep in the car on the way home from school so I transferred them to their beds...Sean is STILL sleeping 3 hours later!  Sydney woke up about an hour later and then a friend called and picked her up for a play date!  I got back every minute I would have worked on Monday and MORE because I have had 3 hours of no interruptions! I got the message, God, LOUD AND CLEAR!