♥La Bella Jewels {Giveaway}♥

*Congrats to Julie of Blessed Jewels and Stacie of Beautiful Things!

Hand-stamped silver.

Just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?

It’s so personal. Meaningful.

The initials of two lovers given a second chance, the name of your miracle baby, the letters written on your heart, worn around your neck.

By the way, your mom called and she told me really liked these from La Bella Jewels:

Today, I’m giving away TWO $50 gift certificates.

Please visit this lovely shop (and long-time sponsor) and leave a comment telling me your favorite piece of silver.

Also, LaBella Jewels is offering a 10% discount and free shipping for WATF readers, with code: MOM2011

(Deadline for to receive by Mother’s Day is April 27th)

This giveaway ends on Thursday.

Honor Your Mother in the Name of Mercy {Fundraiser}

I tucked a wisp of hair behind my firstborn daughter’s ear. I gazed at her freckled nose, her long lashes and the fire in her eyes to be first and best. I prayed an unspoken prayer over her, one that asked for guidance for me and a servant’s heart for her and ended with gratitude for this child that I so wanted.

And I thanked God for making me her mother.

I wrapped my arms around my son’s gangly frame, breathed in his little boy scent and returned his jab with my elbow. I laughed at his noisy giggle and dirt that stained his hands. I swallowed the lump in my throat when I thought of his sensitivity, both a gift and a flaw. I quietly prayed that God would protect his heart, bless his meek spirit and grant him courage for this child that I needed.

And I thanked God for making me his mother.

I gathered up my boisterous preschooler and held her for as long as she’d allow, tracing my finger along the outline of her round face. I rejoiced at her request for Butterfly Kisses and peppered her chubby cheek with my lashes, eyes closed.  I praised God for her life and her strong will, a mixed blessing. I asked for patience for me and a yielded will for this child for whom I had prayed.

And I thanked God for making me her mother.

Three times, I have been given a child to mother and hold, and one waits for me in Heaven. But when I hear the word Mother, I don’t think of myself.

I think of my own mom who is still teaching me. I hear her words in my voice, her warnings in my tone, and her love in my embrace.

And I thank God for giving me my mother.

[this excerpt was taken from my book, Don’t Make Me Come Up There!]

In honor of your mother (or a special woman in your life) would you consider loving mercy in their name this Mother’s Day?

For a $25 donation to Mercy House, the special lady in your life will receive one of these beautiful handmade cards. You can honor her by helping another mother across the globe with this gift… What better way to say YOU INSPIRE ME!


Sample outside of card (your mom’s may vary slightly)::: SCRAPBOOK VERSION:::

Inside (message will be personalized with their name/your name):

Sample outside of card (your mom’s may vary slightly)::: ARTIST VERSION:::

[Inside will contain the same wording as above]

Please add the recipient’s address in the Paypal Memo

Deadline to order: May 2, 2011

The beautiful handmade cards will be received by Mother’s Day, May 8, 2011.

*Money raised will go into Mercy House’s general fund which we are growing for emergency c-sections and medical expenses

“What I do you cannot do; but what you do, I cannot do. The needs are great, and none of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful.” —Mother Teresa

*special thanks to Suzanne Box and Maegan Keaton who are behind this project.

When Poverty is More Than a Statistic

I hate poverty.

More than 30,000 children will die today, most of preventable diseases, most living in extreme poverty.

THIRTY THOUSAND. It’s unfathomable.

And today, it’s more than a number.

It’s someone I know.

My beautiful Maureen, who has worked so hard to rescue her immediate family from the clutches of extreme poverty, first using her small University allowance from Compassion and more recently her salary from Mercy House, has suffered a devastating loss.

Her family unit: her mom, her sister, her two brothers and her 7 year old nephew. She’s lived with them her entire life. Loving and guiding, looked to as the leader of her family.

I’ve spent time talking to her mom, brothers and nephew. A few weeks ago, I offered to bring “snickers” in June (the chocolate candy) and the whole house cheered. It turns out it’s the same word for tennis shoes.

Our family had a blast shopping for shoes.

Dimmy, Maureen’s sweet seven year old nephew has been sick. I’ve prayed with Maureen, talked at length, watched her watch him suffer.

Yesterday, Dimmy died of a preventable disease.

And while I want to shake my fist and ask why, and ask the world to stop, so we can mourn that beautiful boy, I know he is with Jesus. And to be absent from the body, is to be present with our Lord.

Poverty is more than a statistic. It’s someone’s son, daughter, a nephew.

29,999 other children died, too.

It won’t make the news.

Your friends won’t mention it.

Your church probably won’t either.

And I can bet, you won’t read about it on a blog.

PLEASE PRAY FOR MAUREEN AND HER FAMILY. They are struggling and are facing the unthinkable.

“You and I, we are the Church, no? We have to share with our people. Suffering today is because people are hoarding, not giving, not sharing. Jesus made it very clear. Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do it to me. Give a glass of water, you give it to me. Receive a little child, you receive me.” -Mother Teresa

Poverty is more than a statistic. And that’s why I cannot keep quiet.

So That You May Sing With Us

I love making music with these people.

They talk in rhythm, whine in crescendo and love in melody.

A little more than a year ago, they waved their mom/wife off to Africa.

They welcomed a stranger at the airport with small gifts she asked them to return.

They quietly watched her, never pressing, silently grieving along side her, sharing her pain of knowing.

They stepped into her new normal without complaint, never missing a beat. The rhythm becoming their own.

They sacrifice for a country they’ve never seen. They long for a people they do not know.  They prepare for a life-changing journey they cannot imagine.

It will be hard, uncomfortable, foreign.

They sing with me.

And youmy friends stretching across the globe with wireless cords connecting usyou trusted my song.

Can you hear it?

It is not a single note with a lone soloist, it is a mighty chorus of a mercy-loving choir.

I am preparing to return to Africa. This time, they are coming with me.

I hope you will too…..

ili nasi mwimbe

…so that you may sing with us….

*picture from the Houston Zoo’s African Exhibit

Three week Itinerary in Kenya: Unpack and organize 800 pounds of donations, Dedication ceremony of home, board meeting, staff development, implementing the sustainable skills program, setting up online accounting program/training, creating homeschool station (explaining it) and partnerships with other local organizations (maternity clinic in heart of the slum, Crisis Pregnancy of Kenya, Mattaw Children’s Village, Made in the Streets (potential)), as well as visit with the local church, hospital and Compassion International of Kenya. Plus, my hubby will be preaching in a village church and we’ll be purchasing a vehicle for the maternity home!

Help us prepare:

  • Please pray for endurance: We have a lot to accomplish before our trip (while both working other jobs).
  • Please pray for safety and health for us, our children and my mom (who will be teaching skills and helping with the kids) while in Africa.
  • Please pray for wisdom and guidance- (um, we’ve never done this before!)
  • Please pray that our 18+ bags of supplies will go unnoticed through customs.
  • Please mark the dates on your calendar: June 10-July 3, 2011, so you can follow the journey via periodic updates here.

Mercy House April Collection Drive

You Are My Community

“So. Let me get this straight: you and your blog readers–people you’ve never met in real life–are funding a maternity home in Kenya, Africa?” –asked the TV reporter, sitting in my house, bright lights, microphone and all.

That just about sums it up.

I showed her the pile of letters, notes and cards on my desk. I walked her into my garage, filled with 25 unopened boxes, suitcases and dozens of packed plastic totes. I showed her the enormous bookkeeping file with every donation, printed, filed and accounting for thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars.

I told her: This story is not about me and my family. It’s about them (YOU) and Maureen. We are just the family in the middle connecting the two heroes in this journey.

I spent 2.5 hours telling the story to the local news. Two minutes of it will air in April. I don’t know what will make the cut, but I know what the real story is.

When Maureen asked us to help her, we knew this would be beyond our family’s capability. (I’m so glad God doesn’t reveal the entire picture to us all at once, or we would have RUN the other way).

I knew my local (real life) community wouldn’t be the answer (but special thanks to my parents and a couple of close friends who have been EPIC). We are so thankful God has begun building a support system who can help us chase this God-sized dream and sort donations (hello, WP community group!) I’m just sayin’.

I knew it was a risky blog move (like having nearly 30% of my readers stop visiting in the last 7 months-but who cares about numbers, right?). I knew some readers wouldn’t go with us, but the readers that have stayed, and come along since the journey are here for the right reason.

But I hoped and I prayed: I knew we would need Moms who could carry the burden with us. Kids who collected first aid items and Dads who designed brochures. Families who would join our family and give hard-earned money and do something big, together.

It cost you something to read this blog. I know that. I know it’s not always feel good and fluff.

I reached out to find community in you.

And you didn’t let me down.

Thank you.