When Things Don’t Add Up

[I’m still finding words for my next How to Really Live post. It’s been one of those days. This is what I need to say today.]

I punched the numbers into the calculator again.

Tension from hours of accounting were taking their toll.

I pushed back my computer, put my head on the desk

And I cried.

No matter how hard I manipulate or speculate, I can’t make it work on paper. I can’t figure out how we will sustain nearly $4000 a month of donations to run the Mercy House in Kenya, Africa. We’ve had great success with fundraisers in the last four months, but sustaining $50,000 a year and more, year after year, seems impossible, not to mention exhausting.

Things just don’t add up.

I’m not going to lie: I didn’t want any of this. And the burden, the responsibility, literally drives me to my knees on a regular basis. When I feel the room close in and my breath comes in short panicky gasps, I realize I’m trying to figure this great big God-idea out on my own.

I left the piles of papers on my desk, turned out the lamp and closed the bathroom door behind me. As hot water filled the tub, silent tears fell. I crumbled.

And then He spoke: “If things added up, you wouldn’t need Me. Leave room for me, Kristen. Let me do the work.”

So. Here’s the picture: You have me-weak mortal, carpooling Mom, blogger-turned-crazy-dreamer, trying to add up numbers that don’t exist and feeling responsible for creating something out of nothing.

And then you have God, creator of all and in all, building a house of mercy in Africa, known for turning nothing into something. He has a plan, a purpose, a path.

He asks us to be the hands of His work so our faith will grow. And when things do not seem possible, He is glorified when they become possible.

In jumping into the unknown, I am being stretched beyond my comfort. When people try to commend us for obeying God, I want to say, He knew we needed this journey. He knew we needed to dive into something that lacks our complete control. He knew it would grow us. He knew we couldn’t do it on our own. He knew we would have to leave room for Him.

When things don’t add up.


And so I ask, what isn’t adding up in your life?

  • What are you desperately trying to control?
  • Do you wonder how your marriage will survive it’s current crisis?
  • How will you pay the bills?
  • When will your wayward child come home?
  • How will you survive this cancer?

I urge you and remind myself as I type the words–

Leave. Room. For. God.

Because He will be glorified in our inability to figure it all out.

**I’d love for you to read an update on Maureen’s amazing training at the Ethiopian maternity home!


  1. 3

    Robin says

    Thank you for this beautiful reminder. I think I’m going to print this out. I’m sure I’ll need to read it and be reminded again when we finally get a foster/adopt placement. We can’t do it. It will be too hard. For us. But not for God.

  2. 6


    Oh, Kristen… if we could do it all, we never would reach for Him – thank you for that reminder. And we will continue to be praying – He definitely has the Mercy House in His hands!!!

  3. 8


    Think how BIG God is and take comfort knowing this is HIS plan for Mercy House-not yours. You are just blessed by Him to be a part of it. I will keep praying for you and Mercy-and in the meantime, stay “utterly dependent” on HIM!

  4. 9


    Leaving room for God is wonderful and just plain required. I’m a professional fundraiser for a Christian ministry/school, and if you want to email me, I’ll give you a bit of a quick pointer lesson on how to till the soil in preparation for God to work. Leaving Him room is great, preparing to receive His blessings remains necessary. Lets talk (email) – a j s b 2 at l i t t l e a p p l e t e c h dot c o m

  5. 11


    Trying again to post here. You are on to something. I’m a professional fundraiser for a Christian ministry/school. contact me through my blog, and we’ll see if we can’t get a conversation going that might encourage you relative to your efforts, and help you to be prepared for when God acts – He will act, but usually it is easier on everyone involved if you are purposeful about preparing for that. I’ve got a few ideas for you.

  6. 12


    Your post is the 3rd thing I’ve come across reading today that is fallen along the same lines. I know in our lives there are mountains that I can’t move, I can’t climb over or under. Today started as one of those days where I too was overwhelmed by my reality, but once again God is reminding me (through you) that he is in the miracle business. So I am choosing to trust and watch and wait for the miraculous hand of God.

  7. 13


    Love your math. I’ve got gaps in my gaps and realizing that I have not been letting God fill them, but trying to do it on my own. Thanks for sharing. Once again He used you and your blog to get to me. Here is to us both trying to remember the lesson in this.

  8. 14


    I’ve been exactly there so many times Kristen. When we started The Charis Project the amount we needed was overwhelming. I would stare at the budget and ask, “Do 40 kids really go through $100 worth of soap and shampoo every month? We can’t afford that.”

    The numbers still don’t add up, we’ve never made budget for a month, but we’ve kept those kids alive and safe and in school for 2 years now, we purchased a truck and a month ago we bought land. I still don’t know how we’re going to get through this year with building costs and starting a school and a hostel or anything else but I’m getting better at learning to trust and work my butt off at the same time..

  9. 17


    Hi Kristen,

    I have only commented here on a couple of occasions, but am a regular reader. I have been very convicted and encouraged by the life of George Mueller lately, and this came to mind for you:

    β€˜the provision comes by prayer and faith without anyone being asked, whereby it might be seen that God is faithful and hears prayer still.’
    ~ George Mueller

    Standing with you in prayer and trusting that God will be glorified.


  10. 19


    Whoa. That was so good. I had a conversation with my roommate yesterday about “God giving us more than we can handle.” Absolutely, he does! Because if he didn’t, we wouldn’t have to rely on him. What great truth, Kristen!

  11. 20


    what a sweet reminder. we are facing big decisions that feel too big to make. knowing where God wants us next and what He wants us doing has seemed like a wild goose chase- always chasing, never arriving.

    but, like you’ve said, if it was easy, we wouldn’t depend on Him for guidance. :)

  12. 21


    You are doing AMAZING things through HIM! Just the other day I shared a story from your blog with some of my fellow congregation. It was about the boy who had nothing, but reminded you how much he truly had because he has God.
    I have come to a point in my life that I know HE is in control of things. I may not like them, I may wonder why, but HE knows what I need. I have left all my stress behind at the alter. I refuse to take any of it back. When we pray believing and with faith He will be with us and answer our needs.
    Thank you for an amazing post today.

  13. 22


    Thanks for the reminder & encouragement. I know how you feel…my family is on a journey right now where we DESPERATELY need God. We CANNOT do this on our own. But I’ve realized something recently…even though we have less money & “stuff”, we have more peace. And even though our finances have been drastically changed, we’re miraculously making it…better, it seems, than we were before. I love God-math! He is truly amazing! Can’t wait to hear how He’s going to work all of this out for The Mercy House!

  14. 23

    karen says

    What an awesome….though sometimes scary journey. You and your family have front row seats in this God Event. You WILL be forever changed!

  15. 24


    I LOVE your post today!! Believe me sister… I understand. God breaks us to do His passion and the work can be sooo stressful!! I’m still recovering from my missions project:) Here is the verse I cling to when I feel like its just too big for me-
    “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” (Phil. 6-7msg)

  16. 26


    I needed this too! I’m feeling so helpless lately, watching my sweet hubby do whatever he can to help us make ends meet. Thank you for reminding me that it’s times like this that remind me that we NEED him. We will NEVER be self-sufficient – and I shouldn’t want to be. I want to rely on Him!

  17. 27


    Easy to say, very hard to do… this whole trust God thing…
    I can speak it, I can understand it, but it is so hard for me to let Him take over where I am failing miserably. How do you do that? How do you say, ‘Here God, take the reins.’?
    Yet, in my heart, as I read your words, I have no doubt God will provide and fill in the blanks for The Mercy House. Maybe I should smash my calculator, and every time a doubt creeps in, pray. Just simply pray.
    Why is it when I feel completely strapped, God requires me to give? When my mind says I have to put this money away. God says give it away.
    It is so hard to let go of the control and truly trust. I will pray for you Kristen and remember you when I am having trouble letting God step in. He can’t step in, unless we step out of the way.

  18. 28


    thanks for this encouraging post! We just got back from Ethiopia last week after meeting our son… we had to come home without him because of new adoption rules. We will get to bring him home next month, but this in between time is killing me. That, with the culture shock of being back in America when we fell so completely in love with Africa makes the days tough. Thank you for the reminder to turn to God in all things…

  19. 29

    Lisha says

    So true…and something I think we all need to hear everyday. We are not the all-powerful one…He is:)

    Praying for you and your ministry. Be blessed!

  20. 30


    Leave room for God…. I needed. 2011 is hitting hard for me. Us.

    Mercy is my word.

    Yes. Words needed.

    My ALyssa & her friend Hannah made and are selling hairbows for the MH.

    Praying for you! I love the update on Maureen!

    Love you

  21. 31


    Kristen {hugs} .. I went to Via de Cristo this last weekend and letting go of control was the message I heard all weekend long (everyone gets a different message from their experience, but letting go of control was mine).

    I fought and I fought and I fought God, trying to negotiate with him for a couple of years that my was GOOD JUST LIKE IT WAS. I was not interested in change. He just wasn’t listening to me, which was exhausting cuz I am like a dog with a bone and I kept reminding Him of what I wasn’t.. (Well we both know truth is I was just being disobedient to Him). Finally God won and we’re doing it His way (which we know is the perfect way). I need a vomit close by my side daily now…. (cuz that’s how classy I am about obeying God’s word).

    I also learned about the power of prayer in ways I had never known before. And honey, it’s time to let us bless you and your Mercy House with prayer. Don’t be the prayer leader, let God be the prayer leader. He will lay it on people’s hearts to pray for exactly what you need.

    By the way… 50k is NOTHING in God’s eyes. πŸ˜‰ I think maybe we’re not dreaming big enough. Not expecting enough. Not wanting to “burden” God too much…. We serve a BIG God. Don’t ask Him for something He could give you in one second. He’s worth more than that.

  22. 32

    Mickey Wherritt says

    Thank you! I like many others, forget who to put in the driver’s seat. Since March of 2010, I have been in a whirl-wind, with both parents, my niece that lives with me, my sister and my new nephew all being in the hospital. and me being the care person for them and working at the same time. I catch glimpses of myself coming and going and finally the end of December, my body said enough I was severly sick and as I was laying on the couch in agony, I remembered that I felt empty and it was because I had pushed and pushed to keep going, but I had pushed Him out! thanks for the reminder.

  23. 34

    AmberK says

    Oh, Kristen…I got teary-eyed right along with you…I feel your struggle because I share it. I know so many do! You’re ahead of me in this game of ‘Jesus Says’ :) and I’m just trying to figure out WHAT He wills my husband and I to do. It’s a very hard thing to do…my heart and my prayers are with you completely. Maureen’s update left me smiling from ear to ear and feeling very grateful. I looked in her face and saw God’s grace and peace and happiness…I’m so hapy for her.

    Hugs & Prayers

  24. 36

    Emily Johnson says

    Oh how I love this! What beautiful words you’ve written as you try to figure this all out. Thank you for encouraging us all on your journey! You and your family are prayed for!

  25. 37


    In 2007, I was used to being in charge of things that affected me or that were important to me. I was in the middle of my 5th pregnancy in 5 years and had no babies to show for it. I had gotten used to taking charge of my own care and being pushy enough with doctors to really be heard. …then Maddie was born 3 months early weighing in at just over 2 1/2 pounds. I quickly fell into the ‘informed and interactive NICU mom’ role. We were at the hospital (which was an hour away from where we lived) every single morning by 7am so that we could be there while the doctors did their rounds. We would listen to whatever progress Maddie was making, learn about what things she wasn’t progressing in, listened as they developed plans for her care, and then were given a chance to ask any questions and to give any input or suggestions (read: thoughts or ideas or concerns) for other ways of doing things. Things were going well…then on a Saturday morning as we were getting ready for my brother in law’s wedding, my husband called the NICU to get an update on Maddie. Instead of being transferred to Maddie’s nurse, the receptionist said “let me go get the neo for you”. We knew something was wrong. Not 10 minutes before our call, Maddie had had what we now know was an incredibly vicious apnea attack that spiraled out of control soo quickly that by the time the nurse got to her, her O-2 saturation in her body was at 9%. But at first glance, the nurse thought she was having a seizure and procedures were put into place. We dropped everything, packed an overnight bag, and rushed to the hospital. We arrived just in time to go with Maddie for an MRI of her brain to see what was going on. They had given her seizure medicine and she wasn’t moving at all, wasn’t awake, and looked horrible. That day, in the room with the big, huge MRI machine that had a little teeny tiny baby in it, I learned to let go. It was a hard lesson….painful for me. From that day on, I was still the ‘informed and interactive NICU mom’, but I was careful to ask God for guidance in any suggestions or thoughts that we voiced to the doctors. I know that God had His hand on Maddie and that there were angels all around her issolette.

    I always tell people, if God cares enough for the little sparrows to make sure they have food, then He will surely take care of us and our needs. Little needs, ginormous needs, and even the in-between sized needs. He knows exactly what the plan is and how everything will work out. And when we finally learn to put our faith in Him, oh my how He works and does big things!

  26. 38


    “Leave room for God” – that would look great on your wall!

    Kristen – I’m thinking right now that these girls you are to helping are thinking the same thing. Nothing adds up for them either. And God is given you this dream for a reason. Without Him it just doesn’t work. But He is moving.


  27. 39


    Nothing has added up in our life this past year and a half. After my grandson was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor at the age of 11 months, everything I do is just one day at a time. One MRI at a time, I constantly worry about the tumor growing back, his health, how to pay our bills, how to help my daughter with her bills. How will we finance the next trip for his follow up visit in Indiana? It’s overwhelming. I hate cancer, I hate seeing my grandson struggle because of the after effects. I’m just tired.

  28. 40

    Chrissy Grisham says

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for this reminder today. I’ve been trying to fool myself today into thinking that I’m big enough to carry my current burdens and I know I’M NOT! Only God is big enough to get me through. Thanks for the reminder!

  29. 41

    richael says

    “Be still…and know that I am God” We’ve started Dave’s program, our debt is embarrassingly sky high. We can’t make ends meet each month, BUT God can and He does. I’m praying AND working on something that I hope can help the Mercy house, even if in a small way. My heart longs to do something, as my heart breaks for these women. Keep praying, God can…and the miracles are amazing to behold. Be still…and watch!

  30. 42


    Sitting here, crunching numbers myself… trying to figure how to make the rest of these adoption expenses work out, and be able to visit our boys in Haiti before a year goes by. “Do I need to work harder at fundraising? What else should I be doing!?” This post wrenched my heart… think I’ve got some praying to do during my hot bath tonight- thank you!

  31. 44

    Kim B. says

    Thank You! I needed to hear this & be reminded that what I see as impossible God tells me to see as IMpossible. Amen!

  32. 45


    We are in the midst of this. My hubby is finishing a post-doc and applying for jobs, but our life is still in limbo. I HATE change, and I think God is trying to remind me that this is not under my control. Easier for me to say than always put into practice. Thanks for the reminder!

  33. 48


    I could feel this, feel your heart, know my own, as I read this, Kristen. I cry with you. So many tears the last two weeks. And these words from the Jesus Storybook Bible for my faith that needs to be like a little child: “The people God uses don’t have to know a lot of things, or have a lot of things–they just have to need Him a lot.”

    You and me both, sister… you and me both.

    Loving you so much…

  34. 49


    You just squeeze my heart…because I *know*!! I’m learning so much about trust these days and I. Don’t. Like. It!! It’s uncomfortable and scary. It makes me feel vulnerable, irresponsible, and not in control, three things I do not enjoy.

    But I’m learning, oh so slowly, that it’s not just about Him rocking my world with His miraculous provision like a cosmic suga-daddy. It’s not just about me building my trust in Him like the same way I’d do my Jillian Michaels or eat my carrots (haHA! As if I’d ever eat my carrots!)

    No, He wants me constantly in balanced in His hand, not because its good for me, but because He WANTS me there! He wants to be part of my life, my constant provider, my life support, and if He made the way easy. If he brought that windfall that would erase our financial/physical/emotional need for Him, would we really save a place for Him? I know I wouldn’t.

    I shared some thoughts on this earlier this year (God bless YOU for mastering brevity…)


  35. 50


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