“When In Doubt, Choose Change” -Lily Leung

Back in May, we made a big family decision.

Putting our house on the market seemed really spur of the moment to practically everyone in our lives. And it was, kind of. We wanted to move, but were resigned to stay because sometimes easy wins. We just couldn’t imagine packing up the house we’d lived in for nearly nine years (and our garage that housed Mercy House) on the heels of our trip to Kenya. Our reasons for moving might not have made sense to some, but when our kids asked to attend school in a district with less (monetary and academic) pressure, we knew it was now or never.

Our house sold in 10 days and we did just what we thought we couldn’t. We moved our stuff and transferred to another school district completely jet lagged. It was a short/long summer and it was exhausting and scary.

But I believe this:

“By changing nothing, nothing changes.” -Tony Robbins

And change is hard. Nothing has been perfect, but everything has been good. Better than I dared hope. My son and new Kindergartener love their school. It is a perfect fit, I couldn’t have hand-picked better teachers (thank you, God!) for them. My son gets the extra year of Elementary that we thought he needed (we were right, I love it when that happens) and he gets to be big brother. And someone forgot to tell the Principal he can’t pray in school. Yep, it’s good.

Our 7th grader had a good first week. We quickly learned that junior high is a WHOLE NOTHER THING. (And I uncovered a lot of unresolved middle school angst.) But she really likes her teachers, has made a handful of sweet friends and I picked her up early on Friday and took her shopping because I sensed she needed it (again, on the being right thing, I’m on a roll). It was exactly what we needed. Later she called me up to her room and pulled out a notebook from Youth Group. She told me how their leader asked them to write down the one person that is there for them and understands them. Inside the pages, were the words: My Mom.

I cried.

And then we had chocolate and she tried on clothes for me.

Our house is about 98% unpacked and I’m thinking about just throwing out the other 2%. I want to paint the beige walls, but with our Mercy House building finally up, I’m not going to push my luck with my beyond-exhausted husband. (The roll, it continues).

I love the (very) quiet, mature neighborhood (I do miss my neighbors, but we are being intentional about staying in contact) and we feel very blessed.

“The best thing you can do is the right thing; the next best thing you can do is the wrong thing; the worst thing you can do is nothing.” -Theodore Roosevelt

We spent a lot of years wondering what the “right thing” to do was regarding where we live. Sometimes we do nothing because it’s just the easiest thing to do. But we’ll never know unless we try. This time we got it right.


  1. 5


    So happy for your family. It’s looking like we did the right thing too by moving across the country and putting the boys in school. Now I just need to find some new friends. Bible study starts next week-I’m sure I’ll find some there! Love you!

  2. 8

    Sylvia says

    Yea! So happy everything is working out. The most surprising thing in was your sentence that the somebody forgot to tell the principal your son can’t pray in school. Big misconception. Children may pray, even in groups, during non instruction time as long as the group doesn’t impede traffic (block the hallway). Prayer can’t be lead by the teacher or any other adult. Children may also read the Bible when given free reading time and allowed to choose their own reading material.

  3. 9

    Gretchen says

    My family lives in the same community you moved from (I figured it out one day from a picture on your blog). My husband and I are struggling with the idea of moving to a less competitive community, like you have done. Now that my oldest son is a 7th grader, and the school process is actually so ridiculous I would laugh if I wasn’t about to cry, the thought of leaving is looking more attractive. My big question is: How did you know where to move TO? We have to stay in the general area for my husband’s job, and there are many options, but I don’t know where to GO.

    • 9.1

      kristen says

      We didn’t either and this was my biggest hang up. But we started with what we knew we wanted: smaller school district, still close to our church, a house we could afford with a lot big enough for a Mercy House storage building. Start with what you know you want. When it came down to it, the house we got was the only one that fit the bill :) so God!

  4. 10

    Brittany says

    I love what you did with your daughter. I pray to know my own children that well. That is a day she will remember forever! Way to be sensitive to what she truly needs!

  5. 11


    I love this! My family has been stuck in a sort of limbo for the last few years.
    My hubby left the church he was pastoring in this community in 2008 but we stayed (our kids were HS age). Now our youngest is graduating early (Christmas) and the whole family wants to move. My hubby (the dude who has the weight of a family & world on his shoulders) doesn’t know where to begin.

    I want the courage to make it happen….and I’m sure I have it.
    All of it is keeping us in some sort of paralyzed state.

    Praying for “THE ROLL” to hit us too!

  6. 13

    Megan W. says

    I totally get you on the “monetary pressure” thing…but not sure what you mean by wanting to take your kids away from too much “academic pressure?” Too much homework? Too many extracurriculars? Just curious!

    • 13.1

      kristen says

      By “academic pressure” I mean hours and hours of homework, not to mention projects, pressure for perfect test scores in exemplary schools, making 7th grade the pressure pot for which classes you take that will get you in the best college, etc. It’s crazy.

  7. 14


    “Nothing has been perfect, but everything has been good.”
    That says it all doesn’t it…
    It’s my first time here and I also just bought something from Mercy House.
    Your story touches me, thanks :)

  8. 16


    I cannot even begin to tell you how much I needed this right this minute! Today I gave a one week notice at a job that I’ve been in for six years. I don’t know what I’m going to be doing on the following Monday. I don’t have money in the bank to pay my bills if something else doesn’t come up. Oh yeah, and I’m a single mom with no other income to fall back on. The unknown is so very scary but staying here was even scarier and I couldn’t do it.

    On an entirely different note, since I work just a few blocks from where you were, but don’t really know you personally, I’m dying to know where you are now. I have kids that will be starting school next year and your schools sound amazing.

  9. 18



    I LOVE this post! I decided to make a move over the summer that was difficult to make for so many reasons. But I prayed a lot and followed God’s lead (thankfully He didn’t let me get the over priced house I thought I wanted!) and we ended up in a townhouse that is perfect for us.

    I was worried about the new school because the school my son was attending was a brand new school in a district with better finances and a better reputation. School started on Tues and he absolutely LOVES it. He’s already made some new friends and has been excited for school, something that NEVER happened in his old school.

    I was worried about having a house payment, God blessed me with a mortgage payment only $30 more than my rent.

    After having spent the summer in our new house we are so blessed and thank God everyday for our change!

  10. 19

    Melissa says

    I love this post. We are. In the midst of big change here, and, God-willing, the peace means we’re right, too. Love. Your. Blog.

    Thanks for the encouragement! :)

  11. 20

    Robyn says

    We just did the same! After 14 yrs we were ready for a slower pace and where “keeping up with the Jones’s” competetiveness didn’t exist. ( Yes, there is such a place )! You know it’s bad when your 14 yr old is begging to move to a smaller and less competitive school (Usually, their the ones going kicking and screaming!). She had never moved and had to start over socially. I was sooo worried if I was doing the right thing as a Mom. We were leaving our comfort zone and secure environment for something totally different…TOTALLY! Now, as I look back on the last couple of years, I know that this was God’s plan all along. He has been clearing paths and building bridges so we could get here! My only regret? That we didn’t do it sooner! So glad that things worked out for your family! Give John Avery a hug from Ms. Robyn!

  12. 21


    Wow. This post really spoke to me. We have considered moving to a smaller house in a less affluent neighborhood off and on for a few years, but it just doesn’t seem financially possible. But I think the real thing holding us back is all the effort it takes to change. I fear change! Thanks for the great quote by T.R. Such wise words.

  13. 22


    So glad things are going well for all of you in this transition! I’m right on your heels, moving in just 19 days from our house of 9 years. All my kids are at the same school and we’ll be just 2 miles from it in the new place and while I’ll miss a bunch of things (storage, extra bathrooms and other grand luxuries), I’m looking forward to all God has for us in this new space.

  14. 23

    Lisa says

    Great post!
    I love your decor…do you mind sharing where you picked up the map? I’ve been on the search for a world map for our living room and love the colors in yours!

    • 23.1

      kristen says

      I actually found the map over Labor Day weekend with my family. We went to a thrift store…I believe it’s an old school wall map.

  15. 24

    Amy says

    I am so there….wanting to downsize and reduce stress…..praying dh & I can come together to agree on how to accomplish that. Thanks for the encouragement.

  16. 25


    I really like that! It makes perfect sense to me that someone would make a move like that, but I think it’s really hard for alot of people to see. I live in a kind of “low pressure” neighborhood, surrounded by a lot of really “high pressure” neighborhoods, and I think in general, we are so much happier than people who have to compete so hard–and hence, make their children compete to burnish their images.

  17. 26


    Oh girl, this encouragement is so needed right now. I think we are about to pack up our house and move cross country. If God’s in it we will go.

    • 26.1

      Wendy says

      We are also thinking of this Tracey! It is only hard because the comfort of what we know wins the wrestling match with the fear of the unknown. A wise man told me “You can pray all you want but I think God has already revealed the plan to you.” This I think I agree with. So…with a ton of nervousness, we are going for it! Good luck!
      Thanks for the inspriation Kristen! This is what I needed to read today!

  18. 27


    “My Mom”

    If that ever happens in this house, I’m pretty sure I will die of gratitude and humility right in that moment of awe as I soak in God’s goodness, mercy, and grace. I’m serious.

    So glad the move is treating you well. :)

  19. 28


    Thanks for this post. We live right next to a high school that is expanding & wants to buy our dearly loved charming 100 yr. old home and tear it down (along with other homes) to enlarge its campus. The thought of moving is daunting with four little ones (7 and under) and we homeschool, so it’s definitely something I don’t have time for (moving). But this is a good reminder that if it looks like we have to move, change will be ok.

  20. 29


    Due to the nature of this {very inspiring} post, this may sound a bit… superficial, but I totally just pinned that photo of your living room. It looks like such a welcoming place for a family. Especially loving the “REDEEMED” above your fireplace. May have to recreate that in my home somewhere…

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