Monthly Archives: February 2015

Identity

{Dear God, thank you so much for this kid. Thank you for who she is and who you created her to be. Lord, thank you for gifting us with this precious child. Help us have the wisdom to parent her well, to direct her toward the path you have prepared for her. Lord, I pray these strong characteristics you have instilled in her are used for good. I pray, Father, that she only look to you for validation. That she always know her identity is found in you alone.}

Some version of this is prayed over my children every night. They hear this cry every day of their little lives. If they remember nothing else from me – brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day, deodorant is not optional, the Spurs are the greatest basketball team, pizza is better than chicken soup when sick – they’ll know this. That their identity is in Christ.

That’s it. That’s the ballgame. If your kids walk away from you with that in their back pocket? Winning.

Of course we’re proud of our kids when they reign supreme in the spelling bee or when they make the game-winning shot or when you see them serving in their community. Or sit still for five minutes! Not pick their nose! And you should be. Be their biggest fan! Be your own biggest fan! Celebrate that promotion. Make that engagement Facebook official. Take the new car out for a spin. But do not believe those things make you who you are. They’re things. They’re events. You’re a person. Your child is a person. God created each of us in his image and with specific and marvelous characteristics. And this is so important to remember. Because jobs can go away and tests are forgotten and flunked and relationships fall apart. But you don’t have to fall apart with it. Your identity is bigger than those things! Your identity is in Christ. Nothing is bigger than that.

Y’all, there’s such freedom in this. I am so glad I’m not the sum of my actions. Aren’t you? I’m not the sum of my sins. I mess up. And God’s grace covers me because I am his. So say that prayer right now. For your kid. For yourself. Your identity is in Christ.
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Living word

I feel God. I’ve experienced God. I live my life for God. But do I hear from God? I love this quotation from Justin Peters:

If you want to hear from God, read your bible.
If you want to hear him audibly,
read it out loud.

So I do. I study and I learn. But I don’t always view the bible as God’s voice.  It can be academic or routine at times. I know it’s life-giving, but I can be dense. So that’s why I love it when God is so unbelievably obvious that even I, in my busy, distracted life, can’t miss it.

Let me tell you a story.

Trey went to his first sleep away camp this winter with our church. He’s grown up in church, understands faith and has accepted Jesus as his savior. Big time moment for us, the best moment a parent can have, but that’s a different story. This story is about him being in third grade, old enough now to attend camp, but still only having the Jesus Storybook as a bible. A great bible, but not a big boy, going-away-to-camp-for-the-first-time bible. So we get him one. He picked out a backpack bible. It’s great, it has a camo cover. He loves it. He loves that Jesus’s words are in red. He loves how thin the pages are. He loves that it’s his. He wrote his name in it. I imagine him holding onto this bible the whole of his life.

But on the first day of getting this bible, he didn’t know what to do with it. So I start to teach him about the bible and its books and authors, explain the table of contents and how to look up scripture. Now let’s be real here. When I say “teach” I mean I’m talking to him about the bible, cooking dinner and helping his sister with homework all at the same time. I don’t want to inflate the moment. It was not a “holy” moment. It was a life moment. And that’s when it happens. He asks me to test him. Give him a scripture to look up. In the busy of that moment, I simply string a name and two numbers together without any conscious thought of what I might be sending him to, or even if that verse existed! I said ahhhhh, Matthew 3:17.

It takes him a minute or two but he finds it. It does exist and do you know what it says? I obviously didn’t, but God did, because I hear my precious boy read out loud:

And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

Y’all. Time stopped. It got quiet. My husband and I look at each other. My daughter puts her pencil down. I think I burn dinner. I hug my boy. In his first bible, in the very first verse he reads, he hears that he is God’s son and he is pleasing. Boom. God speaks. We hear him.

Sure, the verse in context is referring to God’s only Son, Jesus, and the heavens opening up after he emerges from his baptism. But God’s word is living and in that moment he spoke directly to my son. My kid who has been reading through all of Matthew since. My kid who knows, without a doubt, his identity is in Christ and Christ alone. Because he is loved and God is well pleased.

I cried that night. I’m crying now. Because I needed that reminder just as much as my boy. We all need that reminder. So I hope you’ll remember this. And that it will inspire you to open yourself up to all the ways God is speaking to you. His word is alive. And he is well pleased… with you.

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Words matter

Words have power. Words can build us up or tear us down. Words move us and inspire us. Words can hurt us but also heal us. Words educate us. And mislead us. With words, we can tell someone what they mean to us. I love words. Words matter.

“Articulate” is one of my favorite words. I appreciate the strong consonant sounds. I also use it a lot in conversation with my nine year old, as in, asking him to do it.

I love that my seven year old still says “lemolade”. I hope she never figures it out.

Words have an emotional connection.

Do you remember the first time someone said “I love you”? Just words, but oh, so much more.

I do not think there are bad words. Some parents may disagree, but please listen to my words on this. I think there are age appropriate words. I think there are words that more intelligently make a point. I think there are words that build us up and those are the important ones. I teach my children to choose their words carefully. To think of the point they want to make and take advantage of our vast vocabulary to best make it. I explain what words are and why they are used. Just recently we had a drive-to-school conversation about how a DAM creates a water reservoir but DAMN is a word that condemns or denounces something or someone. All because of Bruno Mars. I hear the afore mentioned seven year old singing along to Uptown Funk (because who doesn’t?) and thought it best she and her brother understand why singing “I’m too hot, hot damn” at school probably wasn’t the best choice for the day. By explaining why, instead of just saying don’t do it, I was respecting the word and them. Neither have said it since. But one day they might. One day “damn” might be the best word to use in a situation. I want them to know all the words so that they can choose wisely. I trust them. Trust is another great word.

My point is this, use words to teach your children how to use words. Take advantage of Bruno Mars moments. Because words matter.

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Purchasing Power

I like to shop. I like pretty things. I like to shop for pretty things. I wear the things and decorate my home with them and give the pretty things away as gifts. And I’m not alone. According to Experian, the typical U.S. household today “shells out $12,800 annually on discretionary expenditures.” We spend more money annually on things we don’t even need than the majority of people earn in a year. Statista research shows “69 percent of the world’s population have a net worth of under $10,000 – they account for a mere 3 percent of global wealth. Meanwhile, 23 percent fall into the $10,000-$100,000 bracket and they control 14 percent of worldwide wealth.” What that means is that “in order to be counted among the wealthiest half of the world’s citizens, a person requires a net worth of $3,650.” You only need to earn $10 a day to be considered rich. And more than a billion people actually live on less than $1 a day.

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Hear my heart, I do not think money is bad. I do not think spending is bad. Remember the pretty things? But I believe there is a responsibility we have to be good stewards of our resources.

We are one global economy and with our spending power, North Americans can make a vast and lasting impact around the world. It’s about the power of partial solutions. A line I stole from the documentary “Living on One Dollar“, which I highly encourage everyone to watch. It’s only an hour and it will do dramatic things to your perspective. It shows you that small incremental changes can have a profound effect.

So let me ask. Where do you buy your pretty things? Target is an acceptable response. 🙂 But what about making a small change with some of your spending power and adding these, as well? These goods are fair trade, handmade; they’re empowering women and bringing entire families out of poverty.

3 Cords: 3 Cords is a social enterprise founded in September 2010 to train, employ, and empower Haitian men and women.  The mission is to provide opportunities for physically handicapped  women and men, and to show them that they are both beautiful and valuable.  Products include hair cords, purses and bags and accessories.

Funky Fish Designs: Paper bead jewelry made in Uganda by the Women of Destiny. Funky Fish supports orphans, those that are HIV positive and uses profits to support adoptive families, as well. It’s not just jewelry, it’s a ministry.

Haiti’s Jewels: Another social enterprise in Haiti, they partner with Haitian artist to design, produce and sell beautiful jewelry using materials like recycled aluminum, hand-cut goat leather, natural Haitian sees, stones, coconut husk and recycled glass. As Haitians develop professional artisan skills the buy land, provide food and shelter and an education for their children, pay medical bills, start their own businesses, make positive change in their communities and support their local economy.

Karama: Karama believes in dignity for everyone and believes that much of that dignity comes through creative, purposeful work. So its mission is to provide a market for high quality handcrafted African products and to build relationships with African artisans and businesses. They partner with small local African businesses and assist them in financing, designing and marketing their products in the US, things such as apparel, handbags, jewelry, home accessories and more.

Noonday Collection: Noonday Collection’s mission is to create economic opportunity for the vulnerable. It partners with artisans in the developing world, empowering them to grow sustainable businesses and creating  dignified jobs at living wages. Noonday also donates a portion of sales from adoption trunk shows to place orphans in forever families. Check out their jewelry and accessories.

Raven + Lily: Raven + Lily currently helps employ marginalized women in India, Ethiopia, Kenya, Cambodia, Pakistan, Guatemala, and the USA at fair trade wages to give them access to a safe job, sustainable income, health care, education, and a real chance to to break the cycle of poverty for themselves and their families. Products include jewelry, gifts, accessories and apparel.

Slum Love Sweater Company: These sweaters are made in Nairobi, Kenya, by people living in one of the world’s largest slums called Kibera. The employees are treated with respect, paid fair wages and given the resources and opportunities they need to provide for themselves and their families.

The Root Collective: The Root Collective partners with small-scale artisan businesses in marginalized communities to promote change through dignified jobs. The artisans, most living in slum communities in Guatemala, own their own businesses and set their own pricing. You’ll find jewelry, accessories and shoes.

Toms: Speaking of shoes, Toms’ One for One program started with footwear and has now expanded to eyewear, apparel and accessories. This is one of the companies that started the trend and has now given away more than 35 millions pairs of shoes to those in need.

ViBella: ViBella is a jewelry company committed to much more than just jewelry. More importantly, they’re committed to providing employment, education, and opportunity to artisans in Haiti, Mexico, and right here in the United States.

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Just a couple of the beautiful women I met at ViBella in Simonette, Haiti.  
 

We all benefit from a flourishing global economy so let’s do our part to make a good and lasting impact.

This is not an exhaustive list, just a few makers of goods I have enjoyed. If you have a company or organization you’d like me to add, find me on Twitter at @kellichuff.

IF:Gathering

I don’t remember how I first heard about IF:Gathering. It was early 2014 and it may have been a friend. It was likely social media. But however it was, I found myself sitting, alone, in front of my computer watching the live stream. Anybody with me? The teaching was on point, the worship moving and the women were simply stunning. Their beauty radiated from within. From God. And still, when buzz started around the 2015 registration, I didn’t make plans to attend. I maybe had a passing “I’ll catch some of that online again if I have time” but it wasn’t real. And then I got an email from Deb.

“Registration for IF is about to open, you wanna go?”

And that’s all it took. Interest and an invitation from a friend and there we were: IF.

I’m so, so very grateful.

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Side note: girls, if you think of a friend, tell them. If you want to do something with a friend, ask them. It means the world.

What is IF? I keep getting that question. It’s really a question itself. IF we believe…? So there’s no one answer. I’m still processing all I experienced but the thoughts that come to mind are:

A gathering place
Honest teaching
A conversation
Worship
Women
Empowerment
Belief
Revival
Ethics
Unity
Inspirational
Too big
Too much
Not enough
A taste of God

Many of my take-aways can be found on Twitter. What can I say? I like to live tweet events. So check it out, but here are some of my favorites:

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So what now? What do we do with this? It’ll be different for each of us, but my prevailing thought is TAKE THIS TO MY PEOPLE. I’m on staff at a church and I want every. single. woman. at Gateway to experience God in this way. So I don’t think I’ll be at IF:Gathering next year. Instead, find me hosting an IF:Local for 2000 of my favorite church ladies.

In the meantime, let’s dig into God’s word. Let’s breathe it in. Live in it. IF was a weekend. A great weekend. But if it’s just that then we dishonor the women who taught us and the God that gave them the words. Let’s take this back to our homes and neighborhoods and churches and grocery stores and schools. Let’s be women of action.

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith…
Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works…
{Hebrews 10:22-24}

Hello again

This weekend I attended the IF: Gathering. It’s a beautiful movement that I will talk more about in the coming days, but first, I feel like I should tell everyone where I’ve been the past eight months. I honestly hadn’t realized it had been that long since my last post! For the love, what have I been doing? Well, IF helped me see that it’s time to put keystroke to WordPress once again. I have a voice and there are things I’d like to say. So let’s take it back to June of 2014, when I told you about my experience in Haiti.

One of the things I learned from my Haitian brothers and sisters was how to live completely in the moment and appreciate every. little. thing. I came back with a desire to be fully present in this life God gifted me and I didn’t know how to do that and also observe the moment at the same time. Observation is kind of important to writing and apparently I’m a very bad multi-tasker. So to answer the question what have I been doing? Well, that.

I’ve been living.

  • I started a women’s group where nine strangers are now starting to do life together.
  • I substituted at my kids’ school – and that will take a whole other blog, and maybe counseling , to fully digest.
  • I stepped into a volunteer role at my church where I’m able to use my ability to communicate and connect with others and share the values of our church – and also explain why we do things the way we do. Sometimes it’s takes a lot of explaining, in the best way.
  • I’ve stood in front of thousands and shared my story of meeting our sponsor child so in turn others picked up that call and lives are being changed.
  • I began serving at the food pantry.
  • I date my husband.
  • I have the neighbors over.
  • I’m planning a family trip to Haiti because everyone should find a place not like their own and go there.
  • I’ve walked with friends in the midst of devastation and despair and I’ve seen them come out on the other side.
  • I bought a foosball table.

I’VE LIVED. And now I want to tell you about it. Not because what I’m doing, have done or will do is anything. IT’S NOT. I am nothing. BUT GOD IS. And let’s glorify him together. Let’s live in his presence and then talk about it. Let’s share the good and the ridiculous and the sad and the beautiful and the real. It’s time. It’s time I learn how to multi-task. Thank you IF for shaking me awake. For reminding me there are seasons for everything and my Spring is here. I don’t know where God will lead me, or you, but I’m excited to find out.

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For anyone stopping by here today hoping to check out my professional credentials, you’re probably confused. #sorrynotsorry

This blog started out as a place for me to file my thoughts on culture, employee engagement, leadership and general human resource practices. And those things are still  here. But it’s so much more now and I hope you’ll stick around.