I swing back and forth between wondering if I’m optimistic or just out of my mind! We’re about to graduate our 100th graduate of the Strong Families Institute and will graduate over 40 just in 2017, we have eight off-site Mother’s Clubs humming along, we have finished the HUGE publishing project of our SFI curriculum, we have a strong and active SFI Alumni Group, we have a volunteer corps that now does enough to be equivalent to THREE full time employees, we have a wonderful staff that is truly a “dream team” for getting things done and creating a great place to work, we have more “buzz” around town than ever and we have made amazing progress in all the infrastructure work that will ensure our organizational sustainability, That all deserves a big WOW! We have come so far! How could I not be optimistic?
And then I look a little into the future and realize how much we have yet to do just to stay where we are. Right now, I’m the only full-time employee. All other staff are only here 24 hours a week and we will burn them out soon if that doesn’t improve. We are proud of how much we accomplish – and what a bang we get for our buck – but I’m hoping we don’t collapse under the increasing weight of the work. Finances are a constant concern. Individual donors and receipts are up, but we remain stagnant in partnering with other churches, organizations or service groups. The bad news is that we need to find the funds to take the staff to full-time and underwrite our programs more fully. The good news is that, relatively speaking, we don’t need that much! I keep thinking that what we’re doing is so successful and so obviously worthy of support that it should fund itself…okay, be easier than it is. Am I out of my mind?
This is the time of year full of the visions of the payoff: two SFI Award Banquets – listening to their stories as they share their Reflection Papers never gets old, Graduation, a Self Esteem Banquet signaling the end of a SFI cohort 2nd quarter, the start of a new SFI cohort, Mother’s Clubs thriving and planning end-of-the-school-year parties and plans for summer, SFI Alumni retreat…it’s thrilling and exhilarating…and expensive and exhausting… and makes me wonder, “Can we sustain this?!”
My answers: “Yes, No and We have to!” What we’re doing is too important and we’ve done it long enough now to see that it is effective. We are truly part of transforming lives: mothers, families, neighborhoods. I need to remind myself and I’m hoping to nudge you to remember that neither being optimistic nor worrying about being out of my mind will get us anywhere. It’s going back to what prompted the start of MSH in the first place: being obedient. Ten years ago now, we really opened our eyes and hearts and determined that it would be impossible to look at the challenges in our neighborhood and walk away unwilling to be part of the solution. If we are who we say we are, it was not an option. We believed integrity required us to roll up our sleeves and get busy – it still does. Yes, we need more people, more resources, more connections. But we have God on our side and He has all the resources we could ever need. I leave you with a scripture favorite – a prayer from the Apostle Paul – as much because I need it as because I want to share it with you:
Ephesians 3:14-20 “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.