Mercy House Exists Because 12 Year Old Mothers Do {Special Opportunity}

I don’t want to live in a world where little girls become mothers. 

I don’t want to think about how Stella and Cecelia got pregnant. I don’t want to see their cramped homes with dirt floors and the mat on the floor that serves as a bed for six people.

I don’t want to hear how Lillian was passed around in her village like garbage. I don’t want to imagine the horrors she endured without a chance at education or a right to dignity.

I have seen the raw video footage of her rescue.  And when she wiped away silent tears at the thought of leaving her hell, the world should weep with her. Because for the first time in her broken life, she had hope.

I don’t want Mercy House to exist.

But it does because 12 year old mothers do.

I don’t want to think about these things…especially at Christmas.

But I have a 12 year old child and I can’t forget how girls in our world live especially during this time of year.  He came in a cradle so He could endure the cross for us and for them.
mercy house exists because 12 year old mothers do

mother child sponsorship program

God wants you to see these faces, to  know these names. Mercy House depends on your knowing. It thrives on you not looking away, leaning into these hard, broken stories.

Three years ago, Edith was rescued. When she was discovered, her premature baby was starving to death because she’d been feeding her water dripped from a rag, not knowing her own body produced life-saving food. She hadn’t even realized she was pregnant until she went into labor.

She wrote these words for you:


When you become a part of the story, you become a part of the success.

In the next couple of months, six residents will transition out of the residential facilities that Mercy House supports in Kenya.

mother child sponsorship program 1

Today, we are excited to announce the brand new Mother Child Graduate Sponsorship Program.


Every teen mother at Rehema House (supported by Mercy House) has a story. And although they are all unique, each girl has endured unspeakable trauma and unimaginable hardships.  But that’ s not the only thing they have in common: Every mother hopes for a better future for herself and her child and often that dream starts with education. From the beginning of every rescue, Rehema House’s holistic, Biblical approach works to transform each mom emotionally, physically, socially and economically in Jesus’ name, while simultaneously seeks to reconcile each girl back home or with a caring guardian when possible.  It’s a beauty from ashes story over and over again.

Our new Mother & Child Graduate Program will provide school fees, uniforms and books for four years to the graduates who are transitioning from Rehema’s residential facility back to their homes, supported by their families. The sponsorship program will also help meet any medical needs that might arise for their children. As part of the resident’s economic growth, every graduate will be able to pay for her child’s education from the account that has been set aside from the product she has made during her residential stay (No money will exchange hands, Rehema will facilitate these accounts). It’s a beautiful way to help a teen mom, help herself and her child. Sponsors will receive up to 4 letters a year via mail, along with updates on each sponsor page.

We need 60 people to step into six young mothers lives and go the extra mile to support her and her child. For as little as $20 a month, you can do just that.

I can’t think of a better way to spend Christmas.

We are so happy to announce that this program was fully sponsored within 48 hours! Please consider helping us bring in new residents for 2015:


WFMW: Yes to Grace


I’m happy to introduce you to this week’s guest poster, Sara, 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.

I’d been waiting on the call for four years, but it still took me by surprise. The call wasn’t telling me to hop on a plane and fly across the ocean as I’d planned. Instead, the call was about a little girl a state line away with an immediate need. I opened the picture from our adoption caseworker and stared into the sad face of a blonde-haired girl in a dress with pink ruffles. She looked disheveled; it was obvious she needed a mother’s touch and a big pink hairbow.

I wish I could say that we acted without hesitation, but it wasn’t so simple. There were the unknowns to consider and the questions you never voice outside of a prayer. We had long, whispered talks in bed that led to sleepless nights.

In the end, we said, “YES.”

Our family grew to 3 kids in 3 weeks–it took twice that long for the honeymoon to wear off. And then, we were left with a mess–someone else’s mess that magically became ours with a simple three letter word…


It’s funny how such a small word can hold such weight and power.

frozen hat

Call me naive, but I thought that the big yes would be enough, that I would somehow be off the hook from other yeses. The thing about saying a big yes, is that it demands a million more.

Will you walk through deep grief and explosive anger with a little stranger? Yes, Lord.

Will you peel back the layers of trauma that are keeping this child in bondage even when it gets unbelievably ugly? Yes, if I must.

Will you keep her and change her name to your own when everyone who knows you best and everything within you says to raise the white flag and scream no? To tell the truth, I’m still pondering that question. Trust me when I say, “It’s complicated.”

Sometimes saying yes means adding to your mess.

It isn’t easy parenting someone else’s child with huge, gaping, flesh wounds of trauma. It’s downright messy and the wounds don’t heal fast. In fact, it gets worse before it gets better as you peel back the layers and uncover years of hurt and behavior patterns.

It’s humbling to be the first person to tell her about Jesus and grace. It’s even harder to live it and extend grace again and again and…again, but these are the small yeses that my big YES demands. So, I keep loving and living grace even when it feels like love will never be enough. I fight for her healing, for therapy appointments, for someone to just help her already with the stuff that I am not equipped for. I set the bedroom door alarm at night to keep everyone safe from her and to keep her from hurting herself. I raise the expectations and wait for her to live up to them…slowly.

pink gloves

But most importantly, I keep buying the pink hat and gloves with Elsa and Anna on them when I’m on my self-imposed “mommy time out” after a day that threatens to break me. And, in the morning, I give them to her with a fresh smile and a simple explanation.

Her eyes turn downward and she quietly says, “I don’t understand why you got me a present, Momma. I wasn’t very good.”

I pause, take a deep breath, and reply, “You’re right, sweetie. You don’t deserve a present, but I don’t want you to be cold. When I saw this hat, I knew it would make you smile.”

She thinks and stares at the pink hat and gloves with Elsa and Anna on them for what feels like forever. Then, slowly she lifts her chin and whispers, “It’s kinda like grace.”

My throat grows tight and tears burn hot down my face, ” Yes, baby. It’s exactly like grace.”

And with that, I’ve got enough energy to say the next YES.


Sara headshotAn accidental homeschooler, Sara never would’ve guessed she’d trade her Master’s degree and a traditional classroom to teach her kids at home. Sara spends her days keeping her three active children busy with a little bit of creativity and a whole lot of mess. She blogs at Happy Brown House, where her passions and life collide. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and of course, Pinterest.

10 Books I Love (& Own) On Sale for $2.99 Each

I love to catch up on reading during the holidays when I’m traveling or relaxing with my family.

If you’re a Kindle-lover, you won’t want to miss these 10 books for only $2.99. I happen to own all of them and recommend them highly: Click below on my affiliate link and be inspired!

        1. Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe
        2. Restless: Because You Were Made for More
        3. Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions
        4. Let. It. Go.: How to Stop Running the Show and Start Walking in Faith
        5. Happy Wives Club: One Woman’s Worldwide Search for the Secrets of a Great Marriage
        6. Sacred Marriage: What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy?
        7. One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are
        8. Fearless: Imagine Your Life Without Fear
        9. Women Living Well: Find Your Joy in God, Your Man, Your Kids, and Your Home
        10. The Virtuous Life of a Christ-Centered Wife: 18 Powerful Lessons for Personal Growth


Memorable Gifts Kids Won’t Forget

I’ll never forget the Christmas we gave too many gifts.

My kids were around 4 and 6 years old and it was like a marathon of toy-opening and we needed water breaks to get thru it.

I’m not even kidding.

Most of the gifts were sale or clearance items I’d bought all year and tucked away. It was the season of my life I refer to as “Quantity not Quality.” It was all about more–more for me, more for them. It left us with a lot of stuff, including emptiness.

As I encouraged my weary kids to continue unwrapping that day, I looked around the room with torn paper and too many toys and I felt guilty.

From that point on, I decided to do Christmas differently-to make it about more with less.  Since then, we’ve limited Christmas to a handful of gifts. This might not be right for all families-I know some who do no gifts and some who do twenty, some who give what’s needed, while other offer what’s wanted. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way, but I do think an intentional Christmas is a memorable one.

That’s why we try and include a non-toy or experience gift.

Experience gifts come in all shapes and sizes-like music lessons or a special date with dad or a membership of some kind.

In the past, we’ve given musical instruments, day trips and memberships.

My oldest daughter is a flute player, loves music and would rather be marching in a band than doing just about anything else. She’s getting tickets to see the best marching band in the country who will be touring our town this summer.


My son loves archery and he’s getting a lesson from an Olympian along with a membership to Elite Access (that was given to us to review). Elite Access is a members-only online portal for athletes, coaches and parents featuring Olympians and World Champions who are sharing their secrets to success. This new resource was started by my friend Laura Wilkinson, gold medal Olympic diver and World Champion. (She let me wear her medal once). If you have an athlete, I highly recommend checking it out.

If you haven’t completed your shopping list, consider thinking outside of the box and instead of adding more stuff under the tree, give your kids something that will last a lot longer-an experience they will remember.


Here are some great ideas:

60 gift ideas (that don’t add more stuff to your lives)

25 non-toy gift ideas

A Letter to My Children on My 20th Wedding Anniversary

Hi Kids,

This week your dad and I are celebrating 20 years of marriage and I need to tell you a few important things.

First of all, twenty years.

Your dad married me two days before my 22nd birthday. It was the best birthday of my life.

He surprised me on our wedding day and sang to me and we’ve been making music together since.

(Yeah, this officially makes us old. And gross. Keep reading.)

You know how as musicians you play a piece over and over again, until you get it right? And sometimes even with all the practice and perseverance, you don’t play it perfectly, but you still make music? And then sometimes, you play it and the sound fills the room and you know you’ve nailed it?

That’s what marriage is like.


It’s a lot of hard work, it takes a lot of practice, a lot of redoing and fine tuning. There are missed notes and off days mixed with magical moments and beautiful melodies. And if you ask an accomplished musician if they’ve ever played a piece perfectly, they answer no. But they keep playing.

A good marriage isn’t about one bad day or one good one. It’s about not quitting on either.

Your dad and I have had both. You’ve seen some good and bad and there are stories of freedom and forgiveness we will tell you when you’re ready.

A good marriage is about looking for the small gifts that we don’t always see.

Like when your dad got home in the middle of the night recently from his out-of-state trip. It wasn’t because of a delayed flight, it was because he stopped to help a man in the parking lot jump his car. I used to get angry about things like this–arriving home late, making dinner wait, but when I really look past the small inconveniences, I see the big heart of a good man, always looking for ways to help other people.


Daughters, this is the kind of man I married.

And it’s the kind I pray for in your future.

I pray you’re the kind of wife who counts the good your husband does more than you count the bad.

I pray you’re the kind of wife that says I’m sorry first.

I pray you’re the kind of wife who asks Jesus for help.

Because that’s the kind of wife I want to be.

Son, since you were a little boy, you’ve been trying on your dad’s shoes. Keep following his steps.

I pray you’re the kind of husband who makes your wife laugh until her sides ache.

I pray you’re the kind of husband who whispers over your wife in prayer when she’s asleep.

I pray you’re the kind of husband who will love God more than anything else.

I pray you’re the kind of husband who will bring sweet tea on sour days.

Because that’s the kind of dad you have.

I pray you know deep, abiding love. I pray you are each other’s favorite people. I pray you are good forgivers when you drive each other crazy and believe in each other when you can’t believe in yourself.

I pray you have half of what we have.

Most of all, I pray you keep God in the middle to draw you closer to each other. I pray you keep Him above you to remind you that life is a breath and to look for the gift in every day. Because He can take the bad days and hard moments and turn them into beautiful years.

And one day when you look back, it will sound a lot like music.