I’m Still Not Brave

I have lists for my lists, a stocked pantry, a few meals in the freezer and a detailed schedule to help my hubby juggle the kids, home and school in-between working, while I’m in Kenya working at Mercy House.

I’ve had a lump in my throat for days.

This morning before I head to the airport, I’m hiding love notes for my family.


We just added 3 new pregnant girls in the house, so that makes 11 girls, 8 babies and 3 on the way (one of the girls is 38 weeks pregnant!) It’s rainy season and traffic is at an all-time high and there hasn’t been power at the maternity home in 3 days. I have a layover in Turkey (the country) and will be missing 2 nights of sleep.

This is the 4th time I’ve traveled across the ocean to Africa and I still don’t feel brave.

[I’m about to get vulnerable. I hope that’s okay.]

As I went over a list with my husband yesterday morning, I stopped and I gave a voice to the struggle, “Will this ever get easier? In 5 years, will it still be this hard to go there, to stay here and do this work? Will my heart always be half-as-willing to follow God?”

Because y’all. I’m still just that little mom who said yes to a big dream.

Then he said something I didn’t expect, “Last night, I felt the same way.” He’s in the middle of gathering tax info for our accountant, being stretched paper thin, frustrated with computer issues, overwhelmed. “I want to help rescue girls, I want babies to be born, I want that good part, but the rest…”

His words, although raw, were comforting, because I want that part, too. But we both know as we’ve counted the cost these past 3 years, the good part doesn’t happen without the hard.

I carry anxiety pills in my pocket for traveling and I feel unqualified and overwhelmed at the task. I miss my family with every breath and sometimes I’m so scared I can’t stop shaking inside.

I’m good at organizing my family, carline pickup, making dinner (well, sort of). I’m good at mothering and helping moms, but running Mercy House continually stretches me further than I’ve ever been. As my husband held me, I whispered, “I just wish I was more brave.”

He said, “Maybe that’s why God called you, us. Because we’re not. But he is everything we’re not and everything we need.”

If I have learned anything in this journey, it’s this: the good  makes the hard worth it.

Meet our three newest girls at Mercy House:

Primary school and new girls 2013 139

I’m thankful I’m not alone. Neither are you.

“What’s more, I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. One day I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you.” Gen. 28:15

I’m taking you with me. I pray you’re brave enough to go.


  1. 3

    Tara says

    What a good and faithful servant you are, even despite the fears that come from such a long trip and faraway travel and heartache at leaving a family you are so devoted to behind. Your family in Kenya is so lucky. What an example you are setting for both families. God’s love radiates from you. What better gift could you give someone? You continue to inspire me. I have prayed that God will give you all that you need and more. I know He will continue to do that. I know God is so proud of you and I can’t wait to hear what He does through you on this trip. Thank you for all you are doing for these women.

  2. 4


    Do you think God chose you – the “unbrave” – because those who are brave and those who are confident rely on their own power, their own strength, their own confidence rather than leaning on the true power, the true strength, and the true giver of confidence? Bravery may make it easier but perhaps it also makes it easier to go without God. Praying that you never feel so brave you forget WHO you are doing what you are doing all this for! Many prayers for a safe and fruitful trip!

  3. 5


    Those are some beautiful bellies! I love it so much I want to cry. Luckily, it is in our weaknesses that He is shown strong and in our failings He is shown faithful. I’ll be praying for you. (and I’m kinda jealous! I wanna go, too!)

  4. 6

    Victoria says

    “I’m thankful I’m not alone. Neither are you.”

    And now, neither are those beautiful girls and their wee ones!

  5. 11


    Love your sweet spirit and willingness to be brave even when you don’t feel brave. :) Covering you in prayers for the journey, protection and peace for your whole family, and new hope for these precious mama’s.

    with love,

  6. 12

    kelly says

    You are going places that I dont think i can even dream..your courage to STILL go inspires me to maybe step just a bit farther outside of MY box…THANK YOU, from another scared to death MOM

  7. 15


    Oh Kristen, this speaks to me to much today! I know it’s not the same thing at all, but we are feeling this way in our adoption journey. My husband especially right now. He knows the good, he wants the good, but he’s fearful of the hard. He knows the good only comes with the hard. I hope and wish he could know just want your husband said…that maybe THAT is why God called us.

  8. 18

    Nancy says

    You were brave enough to step out when God called. Many of us put our fingers in our ears and say, “lalalalala I can’t hear you.” Your family’s obedience is admired.

  9. 20


    I think someone might need to define brave for you and your husband.

    brave – adj. possessing or exhibiting courage or courageous endurance. (websters.com)

    Pretty sure the wearethatfamily folks meet that criteria.

    Safe travels.

    Kind regards,

    • 20.1


      Now…I completely agree with the “does it ever get easier question.” And it’s probably like exercise…meaning…no…it never does get easier, but you will consistently get better and do more so it always “feels” the same BUT you are doing so much more at a higher caliber than when you started. Make sense?

      Good luck to you and thanks for sharing.

  10. 21

    Kristi says

    A Christian’s definition of brave and the worldly definition of brave are not the same.
    Our definition of brave=willingness to answer God’s call and leaning on HIM to equip us. Now THAT’s brave! And that’s what you are!

  11. 22

    Mindy says

    In 2008 my two young daughters and I were home alone when a tornado hit and damaged our home. The three of us were fine despite the damage to our house. My uncle later told me something that will never leave me. He said, “Courage isn’t the absence of fear. Courage is the ability to do what has to be done even in the presence of fear.”

    It sounds to me like you are doing what needs to be done even in the presence of fear!

  12. 23


    I love this post and I love you! I’ll be praying for you on this trip. Thank you for helping all of us recognize when it’s worth it to be uncomfortable and reminding me that HE is more than enough.

  13. 24

    Carol D says

    “But he is everything we’re not and everything we need.” THAT is what you dwell on. Praying for you, thinking about you and walking in spirit with you….

  14. 26

    Mari says

    Oh yes. Where would we be if He weren’t everything that we are not. I’ll be praying for you all the way. Please give those sweet girls a huge hug from all of us, who wish we could be with you. Thank you for listening and obeying. Even when it’s hard. <3

  15. 27


    This arrived in my inbox at the EXACT moment I needed it, and would really let it touch me. God is using your words even as you write about fear. I am confident He will use your obedience in ways you cannot begin to imagine.

    I’ll be praying for you as you take this journey.

  16. 29

    Melissa McIntyre says

    Prayers for you Kristen!! 😉 My family and I (8 of us!) will be praying for you every night at our bible/family time!

  17. 31

    Wendi says

    Sending you many hugs and prayers as you make this journey. You are brave, not many are willing to even say yes. So proud of every fellow brother and sister who says yes to God. May your anxiety be washed away as you arrive at Mercy House and love on those beautiful girls there, their babies, and all of the staff. God has you right where He wants you to be, and He will help you be brave. Hugs Kristen, and know you have so many back here praying over you and your family. :)

  18. 33

    Darcie says

    Thanks for your vulnerability in sharing the real side of giving up your life to serve God. I am taking my first trip to Kenya in July with my 72-year old father and my 10-year old son. We are going to be a part of a small medical team setting up clinics to care for the people there. I, too, am SCARED! I don’t want to leave my husband and 3 other sweet babies behind (7, 5, and 3). But I am convinced that the Lord will go before both you and me and that His heart is blessed when we step out in faith! I will pray Deut. 31 for you this week. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

  19. 34

    Jenn says

    I have Pandora on while I was reading this post….and this song came on. “Whom Shall I Fear (God of Angel Armies) by Chris Tomlin

    You hear me when I call
    You are my morning song
    Though darkness fills the night
    It cannot hide the light

    Whom shall I fear

    You crush the enemy
    Underneath my feet
    You are my sword and shield
    Though troubles still linger

    Whom shall I fear

    I know who goes before me
    I know who stands behind

    The God of angel armies
    Is always by my side

    The one who reigns forever
    He is a friend of mine

    The God of angel armies
    Is always on my side

    My strength is in your name
    For you alone can save
    You will deliver me
    Yours is the victory

    Whom shall I fear
    Whom shall I fear

    I know who goes before me
    I know who stands behind

    The God of angel armies
    Is always on my side

    The one who reigns forever
    He is a friend of mine

    The God of angel armies
    Is always by my side

    And nothing formed against me shall stand
    You hold the whole world in your hands
    I’m holding on to your promises

    You are faithful
    You are faithful

  20. 35

    Ashley says

    Thank you so much for your post and your vulnerability! Perfect timing for me. My husband and I are in China adopting our daughter-first adoption, third daughter. I miss my other two at home. Our new daughter is not attaching to me-only to my husband. It is hard. I felt brave during the whole process leading up: paperwork, finances, preparing. I don’t feel brave now-just scared and tired and frustrated. Constantly trying to remember that he who began a good work in us will be faithful to bring it to completion! Thanks for your post.

  21. 36


    I ‘stumbled upon’ your blog today through a link on another blog, that I found through a link from another blog ‘linky party’. I must say, I feel that God wanted me to see this and find out about Mercy House, because I had decided to stop looking at links on the linky party since I wasn’t finding anything that was drawing me in . I decided to check out one more link, and even though I didn’t find that blog one that I was interested in, it led me to your blog, and Mercy House. I immediately knew I needed to share the amazing work your doing with all of my friends! God WILL give you the strength to accomplish the tasks he has set forth for you!

  22. 38


    This really spoke to me…. we adopted our son from foster care 2 years ago… so much love and grace and so much pain… I homeschool and have 3 older bio kids. Sometimes I think he needs someone stronger, tougher, someone who doesn’t feel so much.. but God is showing me I am exactly the mom mom he needs. In my weakness, He is strong.

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