How to Really Give

Alternately titled : Crying in My Black Bean Soup

The last 4 (four) Saturdays, my kids have run rampant, watching too much TV, staying in pajamas all day, playing-fighting while Mom and Dad punched numbers, staring at computer screens.  (Grandparents were able to come to the rescue this past week!) But its been a hard month. It’s been tedious entering hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of $3, $10, $25 and $100+ donations into an accounting program for Mercy House and making it all balance.

Balance. We haven’t had it.

And can I just lay pretense aside and whisper hard words?  It’s the only time in this crazy, God-journey that I’ve wanted to walk away.

But instead, I’ve wiped away the tears of frustration and exhaustion and pressed in, thanking God for every dollar that has been given to Mercy House. Pushing the mom-guilt away, praying, while counting on God to give my kids grace to understand the road we are traveling.

Just before lunch last Saturday, we drug boxes into the living room from you. Childbirth kits, piles of umbilical cord clamps and stethoscopes. It’s a mountain of necessities that will save the lives of tiny African babies. My oldest asked a lot of questions as she fingered peri bottles and mesh underwear.

“What else do we need, Mom?” She asked as she pulled up the latest collection drive on the Internet. I don’t even remember my answer. Something I would regret.

Lunch time turned us to the table, black bean soup simmering, so we pushed boxes heavy laden with their live-saving resources into the garage. We broke away from the screens to eat together.

And that’s when my daughter pulled a folded bill from her pocket and laid it on the table.

I looked at her confused and she said, “I want to give this. I want to buy something needed for the maternity house. I can buy something with my money to help.” In an instant,  her questions made sense and I knew what this cost her. $10 dollars of her precious birthday money, counted and recounted, saving to furnish her doll house.

I started crying in my black bean soup.

My son, respect for his big sister in his eyes, “Mom, you know that $7 I have? I want to give it too. I want to help.”

Hot tears dripped.

The four year old taking in her siblings gifts and her Momma’s tears disappeared from the table

I blew my nose in my napkin. I marveled.

She returned and dumped her clenched fist of coins and lint in the center of the table.

“I want to help Mercy House too, Momma,” she said proudly.

My husband, holding back his own tears and laughter, said, “Thank you, honey. Where did you get that money?”

“From Momma’s purse.”

And we all laughed. Giggles and tears mixing.

I choked out “I love you” to the beautiful faces surrounding me. They get it. This isn’t my journey, it’s our journey. We are learning how to really give together.

It was a profound moment I will never forget it

I thought I knew something about giving. My kids know a lot more.

(And then they refused to try the black bean soup and had pb & j …. holy moment over, but sealed in my heart forever)

How to Really Give:

  • Don’t limit your giving or make it fit into your pre-conceived ideas  -give of yourself, your time, your money, your life. Give more than feels comfortable.
  • Involve your children-even let them lead you. There’s a reason God asks us to have child-like faith.
  • Trust God-giving is partner to trust. We often don’t give because we don’t trust. It’s hard to really give with open hands when we’ve clenched our fists over what we possess.
  • Don’t be surprised if you fall in love with giving! There’s something deeply spiritual and satisfying about letting it go and giving it away.

Opportunities to Give:

  • Today is the 3rd day of the month. For just $3, you can join more than a hundred others and give $3 on the third of every month to remember and pray for the 3 girls raped in Kenya every 45 minutes. Giving doesn’t always have to be big to make a difference. Would you consider joining the Power of 3?
  • February Collection Drive for Mercy House has begun!

And of course, there are countless other ways to give….sponsor a child through Compassion…giving locally to those in need. Look for opportunities and you will find them.

P.S. Tomorrow, I can’t wait to tell you about a family that has been instrumental in helping us with Mercy House. You may feel led to give to them. Can I encourage you to be open to God’s prodding? YOU will be blessed!


  1. 1


    You have some very special children. Well done Mom and Dad, well done. I can only pray that my kids have hearts like this one day. I hope one day when I get to be a mom, I can help my children grow to be selfless too. Thank you for being an inspiration to many.

  2. 4


    That is so awesome, Kristen! It is amazing how much our kiddos absorb when they look like they aren’t paying attention! Thanks for the great reminder.

  3. 5


    Another beautiful reminder of how important it truly is to lead by example, by doing, by being the change we want to see in the world… your children aren’t just learning from you, Kristen, they’re learning from Jesus through you. And… so are we.

    You are loved.

  4. 6


    I completely love “from mama’s purse”. LOL.

    My daughter is amazing and inspiring to ME. It’s so critical that we listen to these kids and allow them to give as we do!

  5. 7


    This made me Cry too…what a beautiful thing your children are learning. They will remember it as well. God planted a seed in my heart as a young child to care about what is going on in Africa and it has never left me. I can only explain it as a God-thing because it has been a desire and concern of mine since I was about 7 years old. I am now almost 37. I am following along , reading about your journey and praying that you are helped and blessed with provisions for every need. God Bless you!

  6. 8

    Kristy says

    A wonderful start to my day, I’m trying to to cry to much in my cubicle at work, your family touched my heart.
    God Bless you and I will pray for you all and Mercy House

  7. 9


    “Don’t be surprised if you fall in love with giving!” – I’ve been surprised! Giving has been one the greatest thrills we’ve experienced this past year, so I get this. I really do.

    Counting and balancing is what I do best; God just wired me for it. If only I lived closer to help with that! I would love to be your bookkeeper.

  8. 11


    I cried. Don’t be too hard on your self about the kids running around in jammies and watching tv. They see exactly what you are doing and that is a very powerful lesson. Our budget is super tight, but even we can do $3.

  9. 13


    Oh sweet glory! Make me cry on my lunch breat at work, would ya?

    I love how God ministers TO US through our children!
    What a blessing! What sweet lessons we learn.
    God bless you guys and Mercy House!

  10. 14

    Becky says

    this is a beautifully raw and honest post. Thank you for that.

    I do have a personal question — feel free not to answer! I’m struggling with giving. My husband and I tithe to our church, a church we don’t feel a real belonging in. I struggle with giving my money there to administration, building fees and a percentage of directly helping others. Do you tithe to a church as well as give to charities????

    Is tithe really for the church (the insitution) or is tithe for the church (the body)?

    I haven’t ever felt a straight answer on this biblically and I’m not sure pastors are able to give a straight answer on this. I’m just wondering what others think.

    • 14.1


      Good question-one that I don’t have an answer for 😉 We have always supported our local church and charities. We go with what we feel is right-even if it doesn’t match what others do. Hope that helps.

    • 14.2


      We have always felt led to support where we feel God is really moving. Often times in our lives it has NOT been at church (and a lot of times it means we aren’t in agreement with the churches stewardship with the money… we feel it’s not good stewardship on our part to reward this) We pray about it and we may monthly change where and who we give our tithe to, it’s actually MORE fun and rewarding for us to give this way. Needless to say, we believe in Mercy House and they get a good share of our gift each year. :)

  11. 15


    Thanks, Kristen, for making me cry at work. They break us down so much! This is why I love kids. This is why He loves them! He has ordained strength out of the mouths of babes and nursing infants. So much strength!

    I’m still learning SO much about “lending to the Lord” and recognizing that all I have is a loaner from Him.

    Blessing on you Sista! And my prayers for the Mercy House!

  12. 19


    amazing. sweet. honest. thank you for sharing your heart, for taking this amazing step of faith, for letting us all in on the journey. you are imparting so much to your kids. they get it. they see you. and more importantly .. they see His heart shining through you.

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