All posts by kelli@kellihuff.com

Haiti has my heart

Getting to serve with Mission of Hope: Haiti myself in 2014 was life changing. Getting to be on mission with my entire family a year later in this country that is so dear to me, was an answer to prayer. For the first time, our full family including these precious kids we sponsor, was together. God moved and we’ve all been changed. If you hear God asking you to do something big, I’m hear to encourage you to listen.

It takes a village

I haven’t see my kids since Friday. I won’t make you do math – that’s six days. I dropped them off at my in-laws and didn’t look back. I haven’t talked to them. I haven’t texted, face-timed, emailed or written a letter. I pick them up today and I imagine my son having grown another inch (it’s entirely possible, people) and my baby girl now writing in cursive (or something). Something will have changed in them that I have not been a part of. And that’s ok. We survived this week apart, we all did. In fact, we flourished. The kids built forts and jumped off high dives (just because I didn’t hear from them does not mean I didn’t get in-law updates!). I cleaned out closets, hung out with dear friends and got in three dates with my husband. I truly believe the kids need to learn to function without us (within reason) and just as importantly, we need to make sure we can function without them. Now, it’s not like we’re dropping them off in the wilderness with a flashlight and a can of tuna. They’re at my in-laws where they are lavished with love and spoiled rotten. And they need that, too. They need to know  there are many, many people for them. That Team Huff is bigger than just the four of us. And we’re so blessed because we have family nearby that can support us like this. My parents are just three towns over and the in-laws are just a couple hours away. Y’all, Chad and I started sneaking in weekends away when the kids were infants. As they’ve gotten older the number of days have been able to increase. And it’s such a gift. For all of us! I can talk about the kids needing their grandparents, but y’all, the grandparents soak. it. up. And we get to practice empty-nesting. Because college is just a few short years away. And I want to send out well-loved, confident, independent children into this world.

For those of you living far from family, I get this is a challenge. But I encourage you to engage your community around you, find good friends that can give you and your kids the chance to have independent experiences. Heck, work out a trade and return the favor! And all my single people, one of the greatest gifts you can give your married with kids friends is time. Offer to watch the kiddos for an evening or a weekend and don’t take no for an answer. I think someone once said that it takes a village.

Now excuse me while I stare at the clock, counting down the minutes until I see my beauties again. I think they still look like this.

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Serve

Over the years Chad and I have served in various ways. Served. It’s such a strong and vague word. We’ve served one another. It’s why we say vows because you don’t always feel like it. We’ve taken care of each other when we’re sick, and cooked and cleaned and ran errands and moved and loved and just served each other. You know what it’s like. We’ve served our family and friends. We’ve babysat others’ kids and are listed emergency contacts. We’ve set up care calendars and taken chocolate – or beer – to friends after break ups and lay offs. We’ve sat in hospital rooms. We’ve cried and laughed and served others. We’ve served non-profits with our time, energy and efforts. We’re parents so that’s a lifetime of servitude. We’ve served our church. We each have gifts and abilities and we’ve been generous in sharing those and supporting one another in those endeavors. But you know what? We haven’t ever served our church together. We’ve served together. We’ve worked at events together. But it wasn’t until this year we committed to serving at our church together. We stand at the main doors to our auditorium and we pass out programs. We say hi. We smile. We answer questions when we can. It takes very little time and effort, but it’s important. We look over at one another, our eyes meet, and we know we’re in this together.

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We’re loving it! And what’s crazy, is that we get so many comments from folks noticing our togetherness. Is it so rare? I hope not. But again, it’s taken us 13 years to figure it out. So here’s my encouragement to you. Find something you and the main person in your life can do in service together. That’s it. But if my word’s not good enough for you, check out this message series on the impact serving can have, not on those you’re serving, but on yourself.

You Are Here: Do Something by John Burke

You Are Here: Say Yes by Kenny Conley

You Are Here: Make A Difference by Kenny Conley

Happy Birthday, Mamay!

Today is Mamay’s birthday. This adorable boy is nine years old and I’m so proud of who he is.

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He lives in a small village in Haiti where life expectancy is 49 years, annual income averages $400 (making it the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere), literacy rate hovers at 45% and unemployment is stagnant at 40%.

But this boy wakes up with purpose each day as he puts on his school uniform, sits in a classroom, is fed a meal, and learns. He is learning. He is receiving an education that will help pull him and his family out of the despair of impoverishment.

Jared Bernstein is an economist and senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and he says “economists may disagree a lot on policy, but we all agree on the ‘education premium’ — the earnings boost associated with more education.”

Education is a key to eradicating poverty. And we have the privilege of sending this precious child to school through sponsorship at Mission of Hope.
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One of my most holy moments was when I met Mamay for the first time.
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Sweet, shy, funny, creative Mamay. We were both a bit overwhelmed by the experience, but Jesus met us there and helped form a bond that stretches over an ocean. Every letter we get from him has a picture.
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(Note to self, send more drawing supplies!)

He’s quite the artist! Just like my husband, which is special. See, he’s become a part of our family.

We’re taking the kids to serve at Mission of Hope in October so that they and my husband will also have the awesome opportunity to get a Mamay hug, maybe kick the soccer ball around, sit in his classroom and just be with him for a bit. He’s a special kid.

If you want to make a difference in another special kid’s life, consider sponsorship. Pray about it. Please. And see what starts to happen.

When you want to say yes

I said no to something this week I really wanted to say yes to. Worse than that, it’s something I initially thought I could do then had to bow out. I hate that. I hate disappointing people. Ever been there?

If I’m not careful, I can start to believe my identity rests in what others think of me. I’m a people pleaser. And that’s ok. I like being nice. It’s how I’m made. But I need to remember that this quality comes from God and that my identity comes from him, as well. So as much as I regret disappointing a friend, she’d even agree that not following a prompting from the father would be an even greater disappointment.

That prompting is to breathe. To rest and wait. To let him pick the opportunity. That’s my word this year. Opportunity. And I’m a doer. So I just started saying yes to everything. That was my response. But if I’m not saying yes to the right things then I’m still in disobedience.

My verse I’m meditating on this year is 2 Corinthians 13:11.

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I think it’s the maturity part he’s working on right now. And I’m trying to be joyful about it. It’s not always easy.

Anyone else need to do the hard thing? Take a deep breath and say no to something?

I encourage you. We’re in this together.

Fear & Flying

My daughter loves to swing. Like, loves it. Doesn’t care about baby dolls or bicycles. She just wants to swing. Look at that joy!

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She’ll swing for as long as you’ll let her. And as high as she possibly can. Holy moly.

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And it terrifies me. I watch her go up, up, up, higher and higher, and an Oscar-caliber disaster film plays in my head. She loses her grip, tumbles backwards, and breaks her neck. That is, if she even survives. I imagine ambulances and lots of blood. I’m telling you, it’s scary stuff.

It takes all of my willpower to not tell her to slow down, stay lower. I avert my eyes each time I’m about to say “be careful”. I can’t even watch. I am filled with fear.

She’s not. She’s free and having fun. She’s not unaware. We’ve talked about safety and she understands the risk, but she doesn’t let it hold her back. How beautiful is that. She’s embraced the adventure. And that’s who I want her to be. I want her to take risks and chase dreams, be smart and use her brains to accomplish big things. Like touching the top of a tree. Like serving in a foreign land. Like being a good friend. But I also want her safe and protected and whole. She’s my child. There’s such tension there. Being a parent isn’t for sissies.

But I have to remember she’s God’s child more. If I’m going to witness her bloom into her amazing potential, then I need to trust in his mighty protection.

“He is my loving ally and my fortress, my tower of safety, my rescuer. He is my shield, and I take refuge in him.” ‭Psalms‬ ‭144‬:‭2‬ NLT

She won’t be the amazing woman she can be if I’m always telling her to play it safe. So for her sake, and mine, I have to get over my fear and let her fly.

If you want to fly high, my baby girl has a tip for you.

“Close your eyes!”

Sometimes you just have to close your eyes and jump.

First things first

Raise your hand if you love your smartphone. ME! ME! ME! I even wrote an ode to my phone once. Because it’s more than just a phone, right? In addition to using it as my camera, calculator, TV screen, internet searcher, grocery list keeper, calendar, and more, it’s also my alarm. So it is literally the first thing I reach for in the morning.  And it would be so easy to get sucked into email, Instagram, Facebook, Yahoo News Digest (you should download that if you don’t have it) , etc., first thing. To keep from going down that rabbit hole I’ve made a deal with myself. I’m not allowed to open any other app until I open the bible app. This is an unbreakable vow. So that is what I do first.

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The bible app has a verse of the day and that’s where I’ll begin. I do more, I study more, I read more, but first thing it’s that verse of the day. And oh, I can’t tell you how many times it’s spoken right to my heart. Like this morning.

It’s been a rough week with work stuff, family stuff, stuff stuff.  So I woke up dreading the day. Just feeling tired and worn and grumpy. But my alarm doesn’t know that so it goes off just like it’s any other day. Stupid alarm. I drag myself out of bed, just wishing I could crawl right back in. I know you’ve been there. But, responsibilities. More stuff. So I’m up and I have that deal with myself. I open the app and I read…

“Don’t copy the behavior and the customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2 NLT

And that gets me to thinking about my ladies. I lead a life group (small group, bible study, home group, whatever you want to call it) and right now we’re telling each other our stories. We’re laying it all out and getting raw and real. And it’s beautiful. I’m so grateful for the trust we have in each other to be confidently vulnerable. I see the unique way God has transformed their lives. They are his and wonderful and perfect. And so with a single verse, my thoughts went from dark and morose to grateful, honoring and joyful. And my whole perspective was changed. “Let God transform  you… by changing the way you think.” Thank you, Jesus. Thank you bible app. I love technology.

If you don’t have the bible app, get it now. It’s free! And it’s even better than Yahoo News.

Unmet Expectations

This is the step-by-step process my brain engages when an experience falls short of my expectations.

  1. Expectation
  2. Expectation not met
  3. Disappointment
  4. Deep breath
  5. Reminder to self that things don’t always go my way
  6. Forced perspective to be open to new possibilities
  7. Attitude adjustment
  8. Move on
I can have this silent conversation with myself in about 7.3 seconds. Except when it comes to my kids. With them I tend to get to step #3 and then chart a new course that involves loud voices and hurt feelings. Is there anyone in your life where you find it hard to adjust when things don’t go as planned? Why is that? Why are our expectations often so unrealistic of some? With my children, I think it’s because I know them so well and know what they are capable of accomplishing. When I feel they’re not living up to their potential, my instinct is to coach and instruct, not love and encourage. And this is can be damaging. To their self esteem, to their abilities and to our relationship.

I’m so very grateful God is a much better parent than I will ever be. How often could he use his loud voice with us? How often do we deserve a time out? But instead of disappointment God offers sacrifice.

My friend Kenny Green spoke on Palm Sunday about expectations. And it did not disappoint. As we prepare this week to celebrate Easter, I encourage you to spend some heart time listening and learning.

Palm Sunday: What Did You Expect? from Gateway Church on Vimeo.

And here is a related reading plan I hope you will enjoy!

Purpose

I’m a work in progress. I get that. I know that. I wrote a whole post on that. But I’m also a task-oriented, high-capacity achiever that isn’t too familiar with the virtue of patience. I like roller coasters and planning the next big thing. If I sit still too long I get twitchy. So after a career that’s spanned broadcast journalism, corporate communications, PR, advertising and human relations, I currently find myself in a ministry season. Woah. Slow your roll. That’s right, folks, I work at a church. The people are wonderful and I get to live out a passionate mission of helping people find Christ. And yet, I still wonder what my purpose is in life. Did I mention I also turn 40 this year? I’ve spent months telling everyone who asks that it’s not a big deal, it’s just a number, that I like birthdays, but I find myself searching for purpose everywhere in all the places. So perhaps I doth protest too much? Whatever the reason, new job, new stage of life, I’ve spent those same months turning to God asking if I’m fulling my purpose in life.

Purpose is a curious thing because it means so many different things to so many different people. Each of our purposes are unique and purpose can be fluid. What I’m called to today may not be what I’m called to tomorrow. But being who I am, it’s the today that I’m seeking answers.

Stick with me. Reflection is good. I’m not very good at it because it takes uninterrupted time and I’m like – squirrel! But our church gives each staff member time for reflection and solitude. In fact, it’s mandatory. I’m on solitude today and I’m so glad I’m forced to do this because as I’m reading through a bible plan on joy, in 3 John 1:4 I hear “I could have no greater joy than to hear that my children are following the truth.”

Talk about purpose. Thank you, Jesus. Being a mother is intentional. It’s rewarding and full of joy. It’s hard but it’s God’s work. It’s purposeful.

I may not have patience, but God does. Because these things I know. This is not a new discovery, but a gentle reminder. I’m a mom and that’s holy. I’m not only a mom. That is not the whole of my story. I’m also a wife and daughter and sister and friend and leader and co-worker and volunteer and wanna-be writer. But I’m also a mom. And there is purpose in that.

Just yesterday I asked the kids to pray for me as I would be telling that life story to our staff group. Out of the mouths of babes.

Taylor: Lord, help my mom not be nervous when she tells her story today.
Trey: And God, help it make sense and help her explain Jesus good. Amen.

AMEN. These are good kids. They are God’s kids. And Lord, please help me not screw them up.

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The wrong questions

What am I doing with my life?
Am I making a difference?
Do I have influence?
Should I have influence?
What is my purpose?

Am I doing enough?
Am I enough?

I have amazing friends. These friends are doing big things and helping change the world. They’re starting non-profits and sitting on boards and traveling to third world countries. I love them for it. I respect them, admire them and give God praise for their abilities. I support them and encourage them. But it’s too easy to also envy them. I want to make a difference. I want to do big things. God, what do you have for me? What’s your plan for my life? The list of questions goes on and on. But these are absolutely the wrong questions.

These questions that have been playing like a loop in my head for months. So destructive. So tedious. Such a waste of time. But God is good and gentle and patient. And spoke to me through my son. There’s nothing like getting schooled on the ways of Christ by a nine year old. He reminded me in a forceful voice that I’m enough and God’s got the rest.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. (‭Philippians‬ ‭1‬:‭6‬ NLT)

My work is not done because God is still working in me. So lately I’ve starting asking a different set questions.

God, what are you doing in my life?
How may I help make a difference in your kingdom?
How may I have influence to glorify you?
Lord, what is your purpose for my life?
God, please give me the strength and wisdom to do what you’ve called me to do.

This is hard. To step outside of the “me attitude” is hard. It’s not how we are conditioned in our current society. The internet is a wonderful tool and can be used for great good, but it’s also the thing that can bring on great despair. I’m convinced there are more frustrated people now than ever before. We live our lives publicly and compare ourselves to others constantly. And this helps no one. I like how Seth Godin puts it so plainly when he says “your status compared to other people isn’t how you’re doing.” Amen. I am enough. You are enough.

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May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen. (‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭13:21‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

God is incredibly easy to please. Love him, love others. Do that well. Lean into him and you’ll start to find your place. I’m starting to recognize and value mine.

Where are you struggling right now? What questions are you wrestling with? Where do you wonder if you are enough? Find me over on Twitter and we’ll continue the conversation!