“I still struggle with stuff,” I said to the young married girl standing in my living room the other day.

“You mean like having, buying, getting stuff? Even after Africa, after all you’ve seen? This makes me feel better,” she confessed.

Why are we afraid to admit we struggle? While my struggle has changed in the last two and a half years, it’s still there, resurfacing nearly every time I see a throw pillow that would look amazing on my bed.

Last week, I bought a new one. I hope you’re not disappointed in me.

Here’s the honest deal: When I returned from my first trip to Kenya, I was wrecked. My husband and kids had little wrapped gifts for me. I refused to open them and asked that they be returned. For months, I cleared and cleaned out, I struggled, I labored with responding to what I’d experienced. We sponsored six more Compassion kids, I didn’t go to my favorite store once in all those months. I decided we would only wear second-hand clothes, I only bought fair-trade gifts, I set up this prison of self-sacrifice that made my entire family miserable.

And then finally, I discovered all the pain was leading to an unplanned and unexpected birth, it was hard labor and it produced Mercy House.

One day a wise friend said to me (after hearing of my ridiculous search for second hand black pants my daughter needed for a concert), “what is your one thing?”

“What do you mean?” I asked cautiously.

“What is your passion? If you could pick one thing God has called you to. What would it be? One.”

I answered, “Encouraging mothers. Here and around the world.”

Then the words that brought freedom, “Kristen, you’re wasting a lot of time and energy trying to do it all. Your giving a lot, sacrificing with your time for Mercy House. Don’t let guilt rule you. Buy what you need and occasionally something you want. You’re all tangled up in sacrifice turned to good works.”

Maybe your one thing is fair trade clothes or healthy living and organic food, maybe it’s the local homeless shelter, orphan care or adoption. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be aware and generous in other areas. This is a given. I just think we shouldn’t try to do it all because we are motivated by guilt.

Take adoption for example. We are not all called to bring orphans in our home, but caring for the orphan (and the windows) is a Biblical mandate for believers. It’s not optional. Your one thing might not be adoption, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give to the couple in your church raising money to bring a baby home, host a fundraiser, become certified to offer respite care for foster families.

Finding and pursuing your one passion, changes your life and ignites a Godly desire to support others in their divine pursuits.

My dear friend Suzanne (who is my right hand volunteer for Mercy House) recently brought Reese home from China. This beautiful abandoned child with a cleft palate was just two years old when she came home, she couldn’t walk, talk or eat normally.

In just six months, she’s walking, talking, potty-trained, enjoys food, is in love with her three big brothers, bonded to her mommy and daddy and recovered from two surgeries.

When this baby girl walked thru my door the other day and hugged my leg, I thought my heart would explode.

You know what’s amazing about being a part of someone’s struggle?

You get to be a part of their victory too.

Because when you pursue your one passion, it’s so beautiful, others will want to be a part of it. So, I’m going to keep on struggling.

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” -Frederick Douglass

This weekend, I’m at Together for Adoption in Atlanta, Georgia, representing my one, Mercy House, but I’m also hoping to engage and encourage in someone else’s struggle and eventual victory.

What is your One?

Orphan Care Isn’t Sexy

We live in a high gloss world.

We want beauty. We crave attractive things.

We have cute handbags, pretty paper, and desire gorgeous houses. Our society is consumed with superficial loveliness.

Sex appeal is a hot commodity.

The ugly truth in our pretty world:  *attractive people earn more
money and are generally viewed as more successful.

And while God created true beauty, it isn’t found in home decor or luxury cars. It’s not really about perfect figures or chiseled

True beauty is found in the least of these.


But orphan care doesn’t sell. It’s not attractive or appealing.

There’s nothing desirous about poverty so devastating it chokes the very breath out of you. The stench of living without simple resources
makes you want to run. I’ve touched the heads of sick children, living in the streets of Africa’s slum. I shuddered as death rattled with every breath. I only offered them silent tears that fell to the rot beneath my feet.

Poverty isn’t pretty.

It’s forgotten in our world. We pretend there aren’t thousands and thousands and thousands of children dying everyday,
while we shop for an upgraded life. We ignore the forgotten because it makes us uncomfortable.

We forget the orphan because they make us feel ugly.

Not our carefully manicured facade, but the inner self that is deteriorating with selfishness and apathy.

I met orphans- Susan and Vincent and a host of others in the poorest part of the world. I have touched the faces of orphans in our foster care system. Their beauty shined a light on my ugliness. I will
never be the same. Jesus used their plight to change me.

It’s still difficult to stare down the enormous beast of poverty. I question if we can really make a difference, really change the world? But how can we not at least try?

We are excited to join the voices and wrestle out these challenging questions at The Idea Camp focusing on the global orphan crisis
and the church.

Orphan care (foster care, adoption) aren’t sexy, but they are beautiful.


The Crisis-Part II

[part 1]

I never planned to care about orphans or their plight.

I’m just a regular mom, with a mortgage and carpool, who loves sweet tea and home decor.

But caring for orphans was God’s plan for me.

And before you sigh in relief…….

it is God’s plan for you.

Every believer in Christ should be actively involved in the global orphan crisis. We should all ask God, “Should we adopt??” If the answer is no, than that is just the beginning–not the end.

If we believe the Word of God, James 1:27, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” then we all have a responsibility.

True religion: That’s what summed it up for me. If I want to follow Christ, then caring for orphans, widows, the poor, is a basic requirement of Christianity.

In conjunction with the Idea Camp, here’s part one of an interview they did with my husband and I:

!C//ORPHAN – Kristen Welch from The Idea Camp on Vimeo.

[part III: What Can We Do to Help The Orphan Crisis-coming soon]

The Crisis: Part I

We are in the midst of one of the greatest tragedies of mankind.

While we sleep under down comforters in warm houses in wintry December, a silent crisis of massive proportions is occurring on the other side of the world.

It probably won’t make the nightly news or even garnish attention from our story-seeking media.

Powerless people living in the death grip of poverty don’t have a voice. For the most part, they only arouse a bit of curiosity and make us uncomfortable in our American Dream.

The global orphan crisis has reached staggering statistics of 163 million orphans (United Nations). The number is so great, it is beyond our comprehension.

And yet it is real. As far as the eye can see, stretching across countless miles, there is a sea of children who live without parents and are in a desperate need of help. Every number is a face, a life created by God, an innocent child whose companion is suffering. Children who have smiles that light up the world, children who play with a ball created from trash. Children much like our own, only born into a gulf of poverty.

When I think of an orphan, I automatically think of adoption.

It has traditionally been the answer in our western minds to this vast need. And while I love adoption and watching the undeniable beauty of an orphaned child rescued and brought to the abundance of our country, I firmly believe that adoption is not the answer to the global orphan crisis.

Is it life changing? Definitely. Does it solve the problem for the orphan adopted? Absolutely.

But for every child that is adopted there are thousands left behind.

What is the answer to the global orphan crisis? I believe it is empowering these destitute nations who lack basic resources with our support through the local church, but even more than that, it is Jesus.

I’m still trying to figure out what this means for me and my family. I believe that giving our finances to Godly organizations like Compassion International is part of the answer. I believe that providing clean water and resources is part of the answer. I believe that it’s God’s desire for Mercy House to empower hopeless girls with the skills and education needed, so they don’t abandon or abort their children. I believe we all need to ask what we are supposed to do-for some that will be adoption, for others it will be something different. But every Christian needs to do something.

I believe a conscious awareness of this global crisis in our every day lives will stir up a resolve to move out of our comfortable lives and do something.

Across our nation, there is a collaborative movement of meaningful conversation rising up to help us think outside of traditional roles of caring for the orphan, one such event is the !dea Camp. I hope you’ll consider joining me in February at this event.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”-Martin Luther King

Close your eyes and listen.

Give them a voice.

Where you find an unfathomable crisis, you find God.

God is with the poor.

I Don’t Know if We Will Adopt {ADOPTION CARNIVAL}

::Adopting Families:: Please add your blog/fundraiser (or both) links below
::Everyone Else:: Please support, visit, shop and pray!

Before traveling to Kenya, I wrote this post, that proclaimed our desire to adopt a child, possibly from Africa.

The desire came from a deep longing to do something to help the 147 million orphans in the world. The desire came because it seemed like an obvious thing for us to do.
Then, I met Susan, an orphan, while I was in Kenya. I saw what $38 a month did in her life. I knew she didn’t belong in America.

I returned home to a wrestling match in my heart and head.
My hubby first voiced his thoughts, “what if we’re not supposed to spend $30,000 on one International adoption, what if we are supposed to sponsor as many kids as we can?”
I said, “What if we’re supposed to do both?”
We chose the immediate, because it was immediate and we started covering our refrigerator with photos.
Then I read this post from a lovely mother who has adopted and will again. She states eloquently that while adoption is an amazing, life-changing, good option, it is a band aid. It’s a fix over a gaping hole in a world that is too poor or too inadequate to care for their own kids. It’s not God’s Plan A for these precious kids.
In a deep, heart-to-heart talk with my hubby the other night about adoption and our future, he said, “Do you have a peace about adopting right now?”
My heart in my throat, “No.”
“What do you have a peace about?” he said.
And out of nowhere, I said, “Returning to Africa. Someday. I don’t know how or when……” And we cried together.
Y’all, I have NO IDEA where that came from or even what it means.
Maybe we will be a band aid, a Plan B for a child.
Or maybe God wants us to work on that gaping hole a continent away from home.
Either way, we could certainly use your prayers as we try to figure it out.
I don’t know if we’ll adopt or move to Africa, but we will do something. Who knows, maybe both……

I believe every Christian should ask themselves/God if they are to adopt. If the answer is no, then we should help those who are adopting! Adoption is expensive and an emotional journey for families. While our family can’t personally help every family adopting, we want to help this family. I don’t know Tiffany, but she asked me to help. And I feel like that is what God wants us to do. You can support them, too, by buying coffee.

Please come back (tomorrow) on Friday, I will be adding a Mcklinky to this post for families who are adopting (you can add your fundraiser or blog).
Please visit the links and choose a family adopting to shop from, support with encouragement and pray over! I strongly believe that God urges every Christian to care for widows and orphans and when we do something for one of these, we do it unto Him.

My Valentine’s Gift (Announcement)

I think I’ve made it clear that I’m married to an amazing guy. Not only is he the bravest man I know, he’s a quiet artist. He delights our kids with his unbelievable Play-Doh sculptures and pencil portraits and occasionally keeps himself awake in church sketching our pastor. (I never said he was perfect).
He has an eye for color and loves making things with his hands.
With a bit of copper, a dab of silver and more love than I deserve, he made this necklace for me for Valentine’s Day–a big surprise:
The word Upendo in Swahili means love.
He made this sculpted African copper necklace in honor of my upcoming trip to Kenya.
We also hope in the future to sell these gorgeous handcrafted necklaces to help pay for…….
our future adoption.