For When You Need the Son

The world changed while I was in Kenya last week.

I spent about 20 hours a day focusing closely on the work of Mercy House. I counted miracles and I asked for more. I returned to breaking news of a more broken world, my children talking about bombers and explosions. My heart splintered by a global reality and sadness in our own country.

They are different kinds of pain, but both hide the sun.

And cast shadows.

I am catching up on muddied laundry from Africa, searching the abyss for lost socks and scratching notes on random slips of paper, trying in vain to catch up. I wipe blue marker mustache from my little girl’s mouth, listen to my daughter play her new flute piece and watch my son hit the bulls eye with his bow. Dinner is in the crockpot. Stacked suitcases by the door. Unspoken sorrow mingles with the joy of home.

I am the same mom. I will never be the same.

And I’m tired.

Not just because jet lag nips at my heels and I pry my eyes wide open through carline, I’m tired of seeing so much pain in this world.

I’m exhausted from reality. And I long to unsee images of frightened runners and a burning school in a sleepy small town. I want to stop seeing the bewildered faces of teen boys high on glue and the violent, drunk father we dodged on our home visit to the slum.

My husband asked me last night if I was depressed. I shrugged my answer, a sure sign that I don’t know what to do with all this seeing. 

I had panic attacks nearly every night I was in Kenya, mostly induced by blinding fear. I huddled in bed and cried and I prayed for the Light of morning. It always came.

Some moments so glorious and divine, I longed to take off my shoes.

I look towards the Son, the blinding, bright Father who is Light.

I’ve been a mother and on this journey long enough to know there are shadows that do not lift, pain that doesn’t fade, sorrows you can’t escape. It’s not so much about unseeing or overcoming, it’s about letting His Light lead you through the dark places.

We are not alone. His Light will lead us home.


  1. 3


    Keep praying, talking and seeking help if needed. I returned from Ethiopia on March 29th and I naively thought since I had been there before, was working to make a difference, the poverty wouldn’t impact me and guess what, I was wrong. It took me a couple week to process the trip & I feel into that ugly, nasty hole of depression. After some prayer, a couple long talks and vitamins, I am feeling better but still wrecked (for the better) :-) Praying for you today!

  2. 6


    Beautiful as always! You have such a lovely way with words. I will be praying for peace as you adjust to life back on this side of the world while continuing to improve it on the other side.

  3. 8

    Carol D says

    Kristen, I too wrestle with this. There are SO many things I want to un-see, to un-hear, to un-know. We exist in information overload and it’s just too much. I crave quiet times with no 24-hour news, no graphic images, no pain, no sorrow, no hurt…and if I’ll set aside that time, He’ll meet me there. He’ll shut down the images and the noise and touch the hurts and then I am restored and refreshed because of His touch.

  4. 9

    AmberK says

    I know the struggle must be…well, just that-a struggle. I know that I don’t know what I should/can do with the things I’ve seen…JUST ON TV. My eyes haven’t seen it in REAL life, LIVE. So I can’t imagine if I smelled it, heard it, dodged it, feared it in person what I would be feeling. I’m tired of feeling scared and seeing the scared and the broken and all the hate and lost.
    We do just keep praying and looking for the SON. We know He’s here…we know He is a promise keeper and His love never fails. So we just rely on Him. Lean on Him. He is weak when we are strong.
    He loves you, Kristen. He loves you so much. And He obviously thinks very highly of you 😉 seeing as you were His yes to Mercy House.
    He’s got your back…:)
    Praying you forward, sister friend.
    Amber K

  5. 11

    Karen says

    Psalm 18:1 NLT has been my anchor for a while now. It is TRUTH and so easy to remember. Praying it over you right now!

  6. 12

    Sharyl says

    Oh how I feel the same. This past week I have been to the doctor twice..only to find out it is stress. I am the strong my family. But know that without HIM I am nothing. I think of your girls at mercy house so often…you are their light. Thank you for sharing.

  7. 13


    Some people do a good job of putting their thoughts into words. You do a wonderful job of putting your HEART into words. Praying for you right now.

  8. 14

    Tara says

    That was so beautiful and so exactly how I feel. We went to watch the marathon last week for the first time with my kids. It was such a glorious day- amazing weather, amazing athletes, amazing people doing amazing things and then it all changed. I just downloaded the pictures today from my camera and I was taken aback when I saw them – the pictures are from a different time that will never be again.
    Thank you for this beautiful post.

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