What Three Years of Chasing a God-Sized Dream Has Taught Me

“I cried every day last week.”

That was the answer I gave when someone asked me how I was doing the other day.

Awkward, I know.

But it was the truth and sometimes you just have to let people in your mess. I’m pretty sure my friend was sorry she asked because then I was all LET ME TELL YOU HOW I’M DOING.

The details aren’t super important, but they do involve me running a non-profit and BEING COMPLETELY INADEQUATE.

Random stress facts might also include: the first week of school, strategic longterm planning of Mercy House and restructuring both organizations in Kenya and the USA, my son locking my keys in my car as I was heading out to carline, which left my first grader stranded, some hard parenting stuff, me yelling, having company for the long weekend and not a clean towel in the house, oh and being accused of money laundering by Western Union at 4pm on a Friday, JUST TO NAME A FEW.

During one of my many crying stints, I whined to my husband, “I never wanted any of this–the piles of paperwork, the uncomfortable stretching, the hard hard work of being inadequate and trying to learn something so foreign to me. I just wanted to help girls in Kenya.” He just patted my back reassuringly and ordered me a margarita.

I often keep the day-to-day struggles of this God-sized dream to myself. It’s easy to when struggle is your normal. I’m an introvert and it’s not easy for me to ask for help. But God is continually using this journey to change me. Part of the growing is being desperate in the wilderness moments. We all have those seasons of being overwhelmed and lost, struggling, wandering, the days when no one asks how are you doing? And you are dying for them to. So, today I’m saying it out loud.

My family just completed year 3 of chasing our God-sized dream and here’s what I’ve learned so far:

1. We desperately need Jesus, every hour, I need Him.  I constantly find myself questioning the next steps to take as we pioneer and fund the first-of-its-kind maternity home in a developing country across the ocean. I need divine wisdom at every turn. I don’t have the education or background for any of this and it drives me to my knees.

2. We need community. Isolation breeds doubt and pride. I cannot live this life alone. I cannot achieve my goals or chase this dream without help. And part of accepting help is being honest about needing it. I’m constantly looking to surround myself with people who can dream with me.

3. It gets easier. I gave up control around year one (since I never really had it). I can’t always predict or prepare for what will happen next, so I stopped trying and worrying so much. God has never lost control and He has a plan. Plus, I can almost talk about Mercy House without crying and I only weave it into every other conversation. And I can have a pedicure without guilt. It’s called progress, people.

4. It gets harder. At the start of year 4, you’d think I’d be used to the stretching and pulling. It’s a lot like my husband doing Crossfit workouts faithfully three times a week for the last two years. Just when his body is adjusting to the constant strain, he comes home sore, from being pushed harder and further. The thing about God-sized dreams is they are always bigger than we are, stretching and pulling us further than we think we can go. I don’t think at some point, I’ll wave God off and say, “I’ve got this. Thanks for your help.” And if I do, it will become my thing, not His. I’m growing into the dream, but the dream keeps growing. And some days I feel lost and overwhelmed and very tired.

5. It’s good to look back. As intimidating and overwhelming at the future seems, it’s encouraging to look behind me. A specialist in Kenya who is helping us structure the organization for growth (and making Maureen and I work harder than ever) said to me in a particularly emotional moment recently, “Kristen, you have already achieved your goal. You set out to help girls and you have done that. Very few organizations achieve their one main goal. This growth is uncomfortable, but it is good.” I cried. Again. Because yes. This face and eleven others like it are a constant reminder of what God has done.

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6. It’s good to look ahead. For the last 36 months I feel like I’ve been treading water and not only in the bigger-than-me dream, in life too. As a mom and wife, I’ve had to learn to shut down my computer and close down the constant barrage of “I need to’s” and just live because life keeps on going, kids keep growing and needing you. As we enter this new season of dreaming, I’m looking ahead and expecting God to do great things.

7. We would still say yes. Even though I want to quit my volunteer job about once a week, I wouldn’t change the past three years for all the ease and comfort in the world. I’ll give you 24 reasons why (12 moms, 12 babies). I’m sort of glad I didn’t know everything thing I was saying yes to because even in the oh-so I’ve learned that my inadequacy is the perfect place for God’s glory. And watching Him be glorified in a broken place, through an unlikely group of people, makes me want to say yes all over again.

I don’t know what your God-sized dream looks like. I don’t know if it’s in your rearview mirror or if looms large and scary ahead. But don’t doubt for a minute, He has one for you.

Don’t be afraid to chase it.

 

[Something BIG:: Coming Soon]MHK-inMercy-BlogTease

Photo by Bess Brownlee

WFWM: A Different Kind of Piano Lesson

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My kids love music, which might be a nice way of saying they are noisy people {wink}.

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We have a flutist and percussionist in the school band and they both love playing on the piano with their little sister.

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We stopped piano lessons once they started focusing on their school instruments (because momma only has so much music money).

[side note: Want to know how to get your children to practice the piano for their lessons? Take them out of lessons. I can’t keep my kids off the piano now!] They can each play a couple of songs and by a couple I MEAN CHOPSTICKS.

My son begs every week to take piano lessons again. Lord, have mercy.

When I was asked if I wanted to review the QuNexus by Keith McMillen Instruments, a portable keyboard that is re-infusing life into what has been known as the dreaded piano lesson, I jumped at the chance. Because apparently, I LIKE NOISE.

But really, I love the music my kids make and how it’s made them better students and given them an identity in school and made them feel great about their musical gifts.

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It’s so cool! With  25 pressure-sensitive silicone keys and LED illumination, it makes the QuNexus uniquely interactive and fun to play. (System requirements)

We are still figuring it out, but my kids are excited to try their hand at composing music and I really love that it’s more than a high tech toy. It’s interactive with educational music apps and it’s improving my kids keyboard ability and they have been making (more) music.

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There are some great online tutorials for installing and playing the keyboard.

User tip: If you’re an Apple computer or iPad-user like me, you will need to use music software such as: Reason, Kontakt, Ableton Live, Logic, Arturia software synths, AudioMulch, Animoog, and GarageBand. While it plugs right into our mac and works with GarageBand, you’ll need the camera cord set from Apple to make it work on an iPad.

Disclaimer: We were sent the QueNexus for free to review. All the opinions expressed in this post are mine.

Music works for us!

5 Things We Must Not Say to Our Daughters

5 Things We Must Not Say to Our Daughters

The moment her new teacher handed my eager 6 year old daughter a poem with a bag of colorful confetti attached to it at Meet the Teacher, and said, “Read this the night before school starts,” I knew we were both going to love the first grade.

We read the poem the night before school and then we sprinkled the confetti under her pillow so she would sleep well and wake up ready. Because when you’re going into the first grade, from new pencils to the school bus, everything is magical.

I gently shook her awake the next morning and she popped up, bright eyed and said, “the magic worked, Momma! I slept so good and I’m ready for the first grade!”

I smiled at her words, her innocence and her simple belief that the paper confetti scattered under her pillow worked it’s magic. She believed it because I believed it with her.

It struck me again how powerful my words are over her, how she simply believes what I say because she trusts me.  I believed the words on the poem would help her sleep well and calm her back-to-school anxiety, she believed it too.

Her first impression of God comes from me. She believes what I say and what I do until the world influences her otherwise and then she has a choice to make.

From the earliest age, we use our parental influence over our children by our words. We tell our toddlers the stove is hot. It only takes one touch to understand the truth of our words. We earn trust with our kids because we speak truth.

Words are like magic, when cast over someone they have the extraordinary power of influence. They can  speak life or death; they can encourage or destroy.

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When I tell my daughters they look beautiful, they believe me. With just a look, I can affirm what they are wearing or make them question their choice. Just as powerful as our positive words are, our negative ones can have the same devastating result and leaving lasting marks.

With that power and influence, we as mothers carry a heavy burden to choose our words well. Often we learn the truth of our words once they’ve been spoken in anger or reproach. I know I have cast ugly words like arrows I cannot retrieve. I am constantly readjusting my  aim, so my words are used more carefully:

5 Things We Must Not Say to Our Daughters:

1. “Why can’t you be more like ______?” We must not compare them to other girls. Our daughters need to have the freedom to be the unique person God created them to be.

2. “You should wear this. It will make you look pretty. Or if you lost a little weight…” We must not make their worth about their appearance. True beauty comes from the inside and it deserves equal  praise.

3. “I hate my fat hips, lips, fill in the  ____.” [Mothers] We must not talk ugly about our own bodies. Our girls are taking cues from how we discuss our own body image.

4. “Everyone has a ____, or is doing ______,so you must too.” We must not look to cultural norms as a model for our daughters. Just because the world is doing it, doesn’t make it right. Our daughters live under enormous pressure to fit into our society. They don’t have to.

5. “Sure, you can have a (Facebook account, wear whatever you want, have a boyfriend, etc)  ______.” Giving them too much freedom too soon puts them in a precarious, often dangerous place. It encourages them to grow up too quickly. It happens soon enough without us pushing them.

I choose to use my words to speak love and grace over my daughters because they have the power to influence who they are and who they will become.