Best of 2011

2011 has been an amazing year! I’m so thankful for new readers, but especially the ones who have stuck with me as my blog and life have changed so much.

Did you know that readers of this blog, turned supporters-of-Mercy-House have given in donations, purchased from the Mercy Shop, more than $120,000 in just 2011!! We’ve been able to do so much in a short time and have begun saving for a permanent future home.

Thank you for being a part of something so much bigger that this little blog! 2012 is going to be astonishing!

I thought it would be fun to highlight my most popular posts over the last year:

January: I Hate Your Blog
February: In a Shocking Turn of Events, I’ve Become the Older Mom
March: My Book: Don’t Make Me Come Up There!
April: You Are My Community
May: The Most Amazing Gift, You Won’t Believe It!
June: 100 Ways to Make a Difference As A Family
July: When Changing a Life Changes Yours
August: The Last Day of Summer
September: How to Make A Burlap Wreath
October: Be A Courageous Parent
November: The Best Idea I’ve Ever Had (This post received more than 115,000 views and keeps growing!)
December: Fifty Parenting Ideas You Won’t Regret

Happy New Year, friends!

WFMW: Laundry Brilliance

I have a tiny laundry room.

But it’s cute, that should count for something, right?

Although if you stop by, it won’t look like that. [hint: piles]

My big kids are in charge of their own laundry (which is a fancy way of me saying, once a week, I ask them to bring down their basket, put it in the washer, oversee their soap-usage, remind them how to start the washer, tell them when it’s time to move to the dryer, add in the dryer sheet they forgot and tell them to now fold and hang up. It’s a work-in-progess).

I’m always trying to look for ways to tidy up the laundry room (since I’m only caught up about 45 seconds a week-FREEZE, everything is clean. Ok, moment over).

I love this idea:

Source: via Erin on Pinterest


What’s your best laundry tip for the New Year?

edited repost

Pantry Pizazz

The Pantry


I wanted to spice up my pantry a bit. I’ve heard about screen doors being used as a pantry door and that’s what we decided to try. We bought a plain $18 screen door at a local hardware store and cut it down to fit the smaller width of our pantry.

I bought some fancy scrolls to embellish the plain door. I decided to spray paint the unfinished wood. Red, of course!
My hubby nailed the scrolls onto the painted door.

And then my sweet guy took off the old plain white door and gave me the country kitchen I’ve always wanted!!
My hubby did an AMAZING job!
My favorite touch? The fork door pull. He just used pliers to give it a bend and then screwed it into the wood:

Pin It

And it cost less than $50!
a favorite project from the archives

The Day After Christmas {Sale}

Anyone else in recovery mode? We had an awesome day: it was simple and good. So good.


[listening]: to Jesus Bible Storybook Audio (Jesus’ birth) on Christmas Eve

[playing games]: my favorite moment by far

[food]:We had a traditional New Mexican Christmas lunch with Posole. Have you ever had it? It’s one of our favorites and easy to make!

[birthday party for Jesus]: hooray!

[annual visit]: to the hospital NICU to drop off goodies to the nurses that saved our preemie six Christmas’ ago (she was born Dec. 16, but nearly died Christmas Eve).

[the wonder]: love

My kids got money from grandparents for Christmas, which can only mean one thing: After-Christmas shopping. Hold me.

I’ve scheduled some posts for the rest of the week, so I can focus on my family and do a lot of nothing.

I did want to share:

[Dayspring]: Sale: there’s a fantastic after-Christmas sale going on at my favorite store. These are items are 75% off! I’ve stocked up on teacher, neighbor and friend gifts for next year.

Christmas Carol Tree $49.99 $12.49

Beautiful Wooden Tray $34.99 $9.99

Metal TableTop or Outdoor Sign (I love mine on the my front porch bench) $29.99 $9.99

Mugs (in white and red) $9.99 $2.49

Star Trivet $9.99 $2.49

Get an additional 15% off your total with code: 15offgifts


What God Wants For Christmas

I’ve scratched the last gift off my list. I’ve tried to get what everyone wants. {Except my youngest asked for makeup and my oldest a laptop. And someone mentioned a puppy. I laughed hysterically.}

The gifts are waiting under the tree. The expectation is palpable.

But there’s One on my list that I haven’t shopped for.

Because He doesn’t want the hottest Christmas gift from the mall.

He won’t be disappointed if it’s not perfectly wrapped.

He isn’t wanting me to spend a dime on Him.

Because what God really wants doesn’t include pressure or tradition. It doesn’t involve spending more than I have or perfection or guilt. It isn’t about pleasing the hard-to-please or the letdown that sometimes comes when the wrappings outweigh the gifting.

He wants something so profound and simple, I long to give it to Him.

Close your eyes, step in front and look into this:

He wants what’s in this mirror for Christmas:


The hope and peace we seek is found in the simplicity of giving ourselves to Him. I challenge you to find a place during the hectic and busy days ahead to do just that: offer yourself to Christ on His birthday.

It’s what God really wants for Christmas. 

Merry Christmas from our house to yours.


This year our family did the 7 day devotional for children What God Wants for Christmas by Family Life. I highly recommend it.

On Losing Control

I shut down my computer, but I couldn’t turn off the chaos.

So many things out of my control in my heart and on the other side of the globe.

I’m a Type A fixer of things. I scratch it out on my to do list and I attack, I problem-solve.

I grabbed the vacuum and violently battled the dirt while I started barking orders at my family. How did this house get so dirty? Who made this mess? On and on…

My best friend stopped me, rubbed my shoulders and bravely stood against my torrent of commands: “Can I make an observation?” he asked quietly. I stilled. “When things are out of your control over there,” he said pointing to my computer, to Africa, “You try and control things here. Let it go, Kristen. Give this to God.”

He read me like a book. Every word true.

I don’t know why God asked me to help start a maternity home in Kenya, something so big, so out of my control.

But that’s probably exactly why He asked.

He knew I couldn’t fix broken people. He knew I couldn’t restore hope. He knew I would desperately need to seek Him.

God knew I would need to lose control.

We are in a good place: Girls are slowly healing. Staff developing. A house full of precious babies. Plans for more pregnant girls in the Spring. Big plans for 2012. Dozens of volunteers and interviewing interns stateside.

But it’s not easy, this giving birth. I never set out to be the founder of a non-profit, filling my days with tasks I don’t know how to do.  I’m just a mom.

A writer telling the story of my life…

But God is teaching me that I never had control in the first place. He is showing me what trust looks like. He is expecting faith.

He’s is showing me that when I feel like I’m losing control, I’m actually winning.

P.S. Our girls and staff in Africa want to wish you a very Merry Christmas!

This House Still Believes

Jesus is the gift.

We believe it and work hard to not let the childhood fantasy of Santa overshadow Jesus on His birthday. I’m talking about how it changed for our family a few years ago over at (in)courage. I’d love to share it with you…