The Mercy Marathon #Milesformercy

This summer I met Chrystal Evans Hurst at the Declare Conference. She had an idea- a creative way to say yes in her mess. I loved her story and thought you might enjoy it too. She started #milesformercy and it isn’t just for runners, it’s for anyone who has a yes in them. After chatting and falling in love with this lady, I discovered she was Tony Evans daughter! I’m excited about her yes to God. 

by Chrystal Evans Hurst

It all started the morning I went for a run and met Linnette.

Well… technically I guess it started before that. I guess it started when I decided to run a marathon.
I have no idea what got into me and why on earth I’d attempt such a thing. I don’t consider myself a runner.

I’m too slow. SUPER S-L-O-W.

But I go out there and put one foot in front of the other.
On one of the days I was out there doing my “so-called-running,” training for a marathon, and preparing my body for the torture of running for 26.2 miles, I connected with a local running group and met Linnette.
She was running easily and we struck up a conversation.I let her do most of the talking.

In fact, I asked her questions so that she would indeed do most of the talking. One of those questions was to ask her about her motivation for running. Was she training for a marathon? Was she trying to lose weight? Was she seeking to check something off her bucket list?

While Linnette was running because it was good for her body, that wasn’t the only reason she was running.
She told me that for every mile she ran, she went home and put $1 in a jar.
I quickly did the math.

Six miles a run. Three runs a week. Twenty bucks every seven days. Eighty dollars a month.

I started getting excited about the idea of saving eighty dollars to regularly reward myself for putting in the work.
My brain immediately started calculating how I could easily earn a massage, treat myself to a pedicure, or indulge in more runner’s paraphernalia.
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But Linnette quickly brought me down off of cloud nine when she proceeded to inform me that she didn’t spend that money on herself. She explained that, every few months, after the jar was filled to overflowing, she emptied the jar, collected the cash, and delivered it to her local pregnancy center.
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Linnette wasn’t just running for herself.

Linnette was also running for others.

She was putting in the miles so that the blessing of her healthy heart and her healthy life might overflow to the hearts and lives of others.

As I ran, ever-so-slowly, I processed the reality of what this woman shared with me. And honestly, at that moment, I felt like a cold-hard criminal. There I was… running next to an angel basically and realizing how far my thoughts had been from blessing another person with my efforts.
Now… that conversation didn’t change everything.

Yes. I’m still running for me. I like the race. Running is a part of my journey to steal my life back.

But in running to encourage myself, stretch my own limits, and move beyond my comfort zones… I’ve found myself wanting to encourage others too… just like Linnette.

So I contemplated running for a variety of different organizations. I asked around. I googled. I researched. I found a lot of potential groups to partner with but nothing seemed to fit. Nothing felt right.

And then I found out about the Mercy House…And it was my story… half a world away.

Something deep stirred within me.
Why?

Because I was an unwed teen mom. And even though I live on this side of the globe, it wasn’t easy. The hurt in my heart was overwhelming and the realities of living that life seemed insurmountable at times. But I did have help. I did have support. I did have a family and community of people who were willing to encourage me and love me as I tried to get on my feet.

These girls, almost 9000 miles away on the other side of the world, are in my same predicament…
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Except they are unwed teen mom’s not living in America with a teen pregnancy center available to them or a 1-800 number to call. Many of them do not have the support of their family and are instead encouraged by their loved ones and communities to abort their babies. They are encouraged to choose their next meal over motherhood.
There is no one to give them encouragement and love as they seek to get on their feet. Until Mercy House. Every girl who steps through the door of the Mercy House is offered hope in Jesus Christ.

When I watched the Mercy House video, then later met Kristen personally, I knew this was the organization I wanted to support. I figured that in my running for me, I could also help others by raising money and awareness for an organization that was doing what I would love to do many miles away on the other side of the globe.

I had found my cause… #MilesforMercy
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In the weeks to come, I’ll run and contribute $1 for every mile from now until my marathon on December 14th, 2014.
I’m running… but my upcoming marathon is not gonna be just about me. I’m running a marathon and the miles I run will be #MilesforMercy.

I figure if I can buy the shoes, buy the water belts, and pay the marathon entry fee, I can spend some money changing the life of another girl that I will probably never meet.
Maybe, like me, you might donate a dollar a dime or a penny for every mile you run, walk, or bike. Maybe you don’t want hit the pavement but are willing to donate in conjunction with my runs as I chronicle my marathon journey via social media.

Either way, I’d love for you to join me on my #MilesforMercy journey so that we can touch the life of young girls who needs our support. I’m stealing my life back and I’m overjoyed at helping girls on the other side of the globe, steal their lives back too.
Act Justly. Walk Humbly. Love Mercy.
#MilesforMercy
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Do you want to run for Mercy House too?
Enter #MilesforMercy in the “instructions for sellers” box so we can keep track of how much we raise!)

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What’s On My Reading List This Fall {Recommended Reads & Free Books}

Fall is here and I feel like I’m falling behind. I’m in the middle of a crazy-busy season of life, but I’m determined to slow down and read. It’s how I know I’m taking care of myself. It’s a great way to relax, reflect and respond. Here are the awesome books (click on the my affiliate links below to read more about each book) I’m planning on digging into this fall:

  • Decorating Cookies Party by Bridget Edwards (Recipe book)  | My dear friend (and former next door neighbor) Bridget, has done it again! This week she released another cookie cookbook and it’s an amazing, picture-filled DIY cookie party guide. She’s got me itching to break out my mixer. Remember when I made these? I’m not exactly a baker, but I am on page 33 (!). I was honored to attend Bridget’s cookie party and it was so fun and delicious. I ate them all. Leave a comment on this post and you could win a copy!

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  • Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas by Ann Voskamp (Children’s book) | I cannot wait to get my hands on Ann’s newest book for our family. It will be our guide this Advent Season. It’s full of daily Scripture passages and specially written devotion to help children of all ages understand the Advent theme for the day, and participate in suggested activities to apply the theme.

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  • God Made Light by Matthew Paul Turner (Children’s book: ) | I’m planning on adding this book to my Christmas list to all the littles in my life. I love the beautiful art and the Gospel message.

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  • Revolution in World Missions by K.P. Yohannan (Faith book)| I’ve actually read this book and it was absolutely life-changing. I can’t recommend Revolution in World Missions, written by the founder of Gospel for Asia, enough. And guess what? Everyone gets a FREE copy. Click and get yours today.

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Leave a comment to win Bridget’s fun new cookie party book and make sure you click here to get a free copy of a book that will change the way you see the world!

[Updated with Winner: Congrats to random winner, Summer!]


WFMW: The God Nod

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I’m happy to introduce you to this week’s guest poster Crystal for my Wednesday series Yes, Works For Me! Please welcome her and be encouraged by her yes to God and continue to link up what works for you.

Waking up in the 3:30 darkness, I smiled. Race day was finally here! I would combine my two passions of running and social justice by putting on a 5k/10k charity race for Compassion International’s Child Survival Program (CSP).

I just knew in my gut that this race was a God-thing. And it was. We had hoped for maybe 150 runners. More than 300 showed up. I thought the race could raise $3,000 for impoverished mothers and babies around the globe. We raised more than $6,000 — enough to keep a CSP center running for several months.

From those numbers, the race was a stunning success, especially when you consider that it was founded by a rookie race director who really was just a stay-at-home mom.

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And yet, from the moment people started showing up, things went wrong. An unapproved race used the course the day before, leaving elaborate chalk drawings that pointed my runners in the wrong direction. While trying to cover those markings, I grabbed the wrong spray paint — non-washable — and accidentally graffitied the whole park. About 20 people got lost on-course. My husband crashed a borrowed truck into a car — after he blew out a borrowed golf cart’s windshield. And there wasn’t a single aspect of the race someone didn’t complain about afterward.

I sobbed for two days. All I could think was FAILURE. I had planned and planned some more, but it wasn’t enough.

God, You’ve had your hand in this race, I prayed. You moved mountains. So what happened? Are You mad? I just couldn’t understand why so many things went wrong if Jesus wanted me to create and direct this race.

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Since then, I’ve learned that “giving God the nod” means no artist smock included. You’re going to get messy! Saying YES to this race meant success, but is also meant hard growth. Like learning that:

God uses both our strengths – and weaknesses — to glorify Him. In many ways, my personality perfectly lends itself to being a race director. However, it also breeds impatience and lack of context. Yet the Lord, with his infinite planning skills, utilizes both to accomplish His purposes.

My standing with God is not based on my performance. Pre-race, I would have said, “Of course God loves me no matter what!” But I never realized I didn’t truly believe that; it took the race to expose my faulty belief.

The ones who truly care are the ones who get out and do something. My best friend gently pointed out that my biggest critics weren’t the ones dealing with the race’s 10,000 details. They merely had to pay $20 and show up.

Failure isn’t always failure. Sometimes, it’s a launching point. Preach it, Teddy.

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Saying YES means you get lost on the course. You deal with some jeers from spectators, and even more from the inside. You trip and fall on the trail.

But you keep running, and keep praising the one who gave you breath to do it.

 

Godnod3Crystal Kupper is a military wife, freelance magazine writer and stay-at-home mom of three cuties living in England. She blogs over at Crystal’s Cliffnotes about parenting, marriage, military issues, volunteering for Compassion International and Reece’s Rainbow, missing all things Oregon and how really, really ridiculously good-looking her man is.


What We Eat On Mondays and Why It Matters

We eat the same meal at home on Monday nights for dinner.

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We aren’t in a rut. It’s not gourmet and there aren’t any secret ingredients.

We are being intentional.

Most of the world doesn’t have the luxury of having a pantry and refrigerator full of food with dozens of options. Meat is for the wealthy and fruit is a delicacy.

What better way to remind our kids how much we have than through their bellies?

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We eat rice and beans every Monday, so we can remember how the rest of the world lives and eats.

Sometimes the best way to introduce a different perspective is by doing something different. And then repeating it often.

Recipe:

Cook brown rice, lightly salt, add fresh cilantro

Top with generous amount of black beans, seasoned with cumin.

Add fresh avocado.

It’s what we eat on Mondays. And it matters.


Our First {Mercy House} Gala & A Way For You To Be A Part

Congrats to winners (and thank you so much for supporting this great cause)

Basket #1 Lori Covington | $500

Basket #2 Paula Murphy | $700

Basket #3 Karen |$400

Basket #4 Ben | $500

Tonight is the first Mercy House fundraising gala in Houston, Texas.

I’m tired and so excited!

We are hoping to raise part of the 2015 budget for the work in Kenya so the organization can begin to focus on new partnerships to empower impoverished women all over the world.

I can’t wait to see what God is going to do.

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But I knew it wouldn’t be right not to let you be involved. Mercy House started right here in this online place so many years ago with your yes.

Besides raffling off some great items and experiences at the gala and sharing our hearts for the women of the world, we are also having a very special, one-of-a-kind Silent Auction. And you can be a part!

We have four baskets up for grabs virtually…and you won’t believe what’s inside!

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Each basket contains:

  • An assortment of beautiful paper bead jewelry | $70
  • 16×20 Micah 6:8  chalkboard poster | $20
  • Mercy House’s brand new long sleeve “Your Yes Matters” shirt | $25
  • Ethiopian summer scarf | $30
  • A gorgeous one-of-a-kind large Masaai Market Basket from Kenya |value $100
  • And a limited edition High-End Fair Trade Friday box with 4 amazing items |mystery box valued at over $140
  • Free shipping

Are you ready? You can join our big yes tonight!

You can knock out your whole Christmas list with potentially TEN one-of-kind gifts that give back!

bidLeave a comment with the basket number you’re bidding on and the $amount you want to bid. Please note: all 4 baskets are valued at $400 and have a $200 minimum bid.

There are a couple of other ways for you to be involved:

  • Write “Your Yes Matters” with hashtag #youryesmatters on a piece of paper and share it on social media@mercyhousekenya
  • Make a donation
  • Pray that God will bless this event

The highest bidders on all 4 baskets will win!

This silent auction ends midnight CST Friday night.