On Giving Up

I don’t ever want to relive yesterday.

I woke very early in the morning to learn that Maureen’s dear mother, Jennifer, passed away.  I stumbled around my dark house numb for an hour. Lost. I have so many questions and emotions and my heart is broken for Maureen and her young brothers, for this devastating loss of a beautiful mother.

A few minutes later, I learned the new Mercy House home we purchased in Kenya (but haven’t moved our residents into yet) was broken into by thieves who stole from us and beat our caretaker.

And we have two c-sections scheduled for two of our pregnant girls tomorrow.

My house was quiet, kids sleeping, husband away on a business trip and I lay prostrate on my closet floor and I sobbed. I simply couldn’t stand under the burden a second longer.

I gave up.

All week I’ve been told that we are in a spiritual battle as Jennifer fought for her life and there’s been an onslaught of trials here and there. People have reminded me how much the enemy hates the work of rescuing girls and saving babies. I believe it, but I have to say, some news makes you feel like you’re losing the battle.

I know God is in control, but things feel out of control. And I have no control. And I want to close my eyes to the sorrow in this world. Some days I long to go back to when I was an oblivious mom who’s biggest worry was home decor.

A dear friend sent this email:

“You are not going to lose the battle because it was already WON on the cross. I don’t believe in losing or getting the victories because Jesus already did.

It is never going to be easy. It is only the beginning of the hardship. But if you choose to endure with Him, you choose to reign with Him. If you choose to suffer, you will be glorified.
If you think there is no more energy in you, it is excellent because now you will experience a supernatural power of Christ working in you and through you.  Before you could do on your own and sometimes switching to His power, but now only by Him, through Him, and with Him can you accomplish things for Him.”
I want to give up– and so I am. I’m choosing to lay my burden at the feet of Jesus. He’s all we really have in this world. Would you please pray for Maureen, her young brothers, our home in Kenya, the new babies due tomorrow, for me?

WFMW: Act of Parental Brilliance


Sometimes I see simple parental acts of brilliance and I think, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

You know, life-changing things like this:


Image Source: Juggling with Kids



Image Source: Juggling with Kids

Because seriously, some life hacks make your life a lot easier.

Click here for 19 more ideas to simplify your life.

They work for me!

Union 28: Father’s Day Giveaway

My kids are finally getting to the age where they understand the meaning behind Father’s Day.

When I asked them what they wanted to get him this year, one of them responded: a boat.

So, maybe it’s money they really don’t get.

One easy way to encourage the dad in your house, is by the letting the world know how much he means to you. Marriages and the family aren’t valued in our culture like they used to be and when you wear your declaration on a shirt, the world notices.

Every. Time. I wear a “My Husband Rocks” shirt, someone comments on it. It’s a great way to show love!

Bless the socks off the dad in your family, with these new awesome varsity-style family shirts:

Shirts for the kiddos


For Mom (It’s the gift for you that’s really for him):


For Dad:


I love these “My Parent’s Rock” shirts, too!


There’s a variety of sizes, styles and colors available in these fun shirts. Check them out here.

Today, I’m giving away TWO $25 gift certificates so two of you can show off your love this Father’s Day!

Now through Father’s Day (June 16, 2013) – use code U28family15 at checkout to receive 15% OFF any regular-priced TEES! You must order today using PRIORIY shipping in order to receive in time for Father’s Day

Leave a comment and tell me something special about your father or the husband of your kids.

Your Prayers are Needed

Hi friends, you’ve been with me in the highs and lows these last 5.5 years. You’ve gone to Africa with me multiple times, laughed and cried in amazing and tough parenting times, believed for the impossible with me and helped save many lives by your generous giving and faithful prayers through the work of Mercy House. You are my tribe. And today, I need you again.

A couple of weeks ago, you helped raise $15,000 quickly for Maureen’s mom to have surgery to remove a life threatening brain tumor. Jennifer had brain surgery on Friday. While the surgeon was able to remove the tumor, she hasn’t regained consciousness and is in a critical coma. Doctors can do no more and Jennifer needs a miracle.

I don’t always understand God’s ways. I have questions and doubts and a lot of fear. I struggle with my faith and I feel inadequate on a daily basis. But I know God is good and He is Sovereign and I know I’m desperate for Him. Would you join me and pray for a miracle? Many all over the world are joining together to fast and pray and ask God to do the impossible in the next 24 hours.

Because He’s really good at that.

Things Moms Say

things moms say

Her boys were just little guys and my first baby unborn when we made our Mother Covenant. At the time, my belly was swollen and there were blocks and toys scattered on the grandparents living room floor.

But it’s a day I’ll never forget: it’s the day my sister-in-law and I vowed to raise each other’s kids if anything ever happened to either of us.

It’s the necessary kind of stuff no one likes to talk about. It’s the hard part of living and most of our words and promises never happen. But we make our plans to try and control the uncontrollable. It’s all an illusion, this grasp on life and the future, but it makes us feel better about the unknown.

Years passed. More babies were born under our roof and her little boys grew. With each year, my sister-in-law and friend fought Diabetes. And even though she grew sicker, she never gave up. She never stopped singing. She never stopped laughing. She never stopped loving. She wanted to live. She wanted to raise her boys and love her husband.

But instead she passed away suddenly 5 months ago last week. The same week her sons, now 15 and 19 years old, with their big 6’5 bodies hanging off twin mattresses, slept under my roof.

I can see the toll five long months have had on these nephews. They are hungry for a mother’s love and all I can think about is the promise I made to their momma so many years ago. These boys aren’t mine; they were here for just a week and returned to their loving dad and home. I wanted them to hear the things their Mom would say to them.

But she couldn’t, so I did. For the week, they were mine.

Like most moms, I get tired of saying the same things over and over to my kids. I just want them to listen! I grow weary of the monotony of motherhood some days. But when I say the things moms do– to boys who long to hear instruction and encouragement, love and discipline from their mother–it makes every mother word sacred:

  • Stop picking on your brother
  • Put on more sunscreen
  • Can you carry that box for me?
  • How did you get so tall?
  • Here, have another serving. Eat more.
  • I love you
  • [no words, only a quiet hug]
  • Bring me the aloe vera and I’ll put it on your sunburn
  • Come get your shoes
  • Next time, use more sunscreen
  • Yes, you can have more food
  • Do you have enough money?
  • Leave your brother alone
  • Do you have dirty laundry?
  • Did you just toot?
  • Stop taking selfies on my cell phone
  • Yes, I’ll read what you wrote
  • I love you
  • Don’t crush your cousin in the “sandwich hug”


I treated them just like my own. Instead of resisting my mothering, they were like sponges. It broke my heart and made my day. I know their momma was smiling, whole and healed from Heaven. But she is missed everyday and left a gaping whole, mother-size.

Before we took the boys to the airport, my husband and I held hands with our nephews in the kitchen and took turns praying over them and asking God to heal the broken places. We all dreamed and talked about more time together, even though a thousand miles separate us.

And then we let them go.

It was a simple reminder of how precious life is. We aren’t promised tomorrow. We must make today count.

Because it does. Count.

Motherhood is not about being a good mother or how we handle the hard moments; it’s about being what no one else can be: your child’s mother. [<———Click to tweet]

We must look for the joy in the little things we say and do.

Because Mom? They are a big deal to our kids. 


50 Ideas for Your Summer Box

This summer we are trying something new in our house. I have been collecting things for our Summer Box (which is really a big laundry basket). The ideas and items are SCREEN FREE, creativity builders and my kids can choose one item on slow days.


Several summers-ago, we set a guideline for summer reading. Your screen time (TV, movies, video games, etc) is based on your reading time. Read an hour, get an hour of screen time. It’s turned my kids into book lovers!


Here are some of the ideas in our box.

Gypsy Burlap Queens {Giveaway}

Congrats to random commenter #21, Deidra. You won!
My sister opened a darling Etsy shop and I’ve been helping her get it ready to open. My twin and I are like night and day–different, but dependent on each other. We live close and raise our families together (cousins rule!) I wouldn’t have it any other way. Love you, Kara!

Introducing: Gypsy Burlap Queens

How cute are these smocked patriotic matching outfits just in time for Fourth of July?

2013-05-21 22.47.43

Almost makes me want another. Almost.

Her gypsy shop has a bit of everything:


And today, I’m giving away a set of MR & MRS block letters and funky “&”. It one of my favorites from her shop:



Hop over, take a look, tell me what your favorite item it and then leave a comment on this post as your entry.

WFMW: Ipsy



I have a teenaged girl in the house.

She is girly through and through and offers to go grocery shopping with me and looks for eggs on the makeup aisle.

We are dipping our toes into the fragrance and cosmetic world, nail polish and brushes and oh my goodness, there’s a lot out there. Since when did one bottle of nail polish cost $8? I was telling my sister how expensive it was to have a teen daughter (hers is 18) and she told me about Ipsy.

It’s a little monthly club that delivers 4-5 quality cosmetics, lotions and sample makeup in a cute little zippered makeup clutch right to your door.
We tried it out for a month and besides thrilling my daughter, it had some great items (this is what we got):

It’s $10 a month and you can filter what goes in your bag when you sign up. I’m not sure if we will continue it, but it’s a neat idea and it works for a blossoming teen girl!

You can check it out here. If you sign up, my daughter gets free eyeshadow. 😉