Why We Have to Try {Free Printable}

If you ever wonder if the impossible is possible, this story is for you.

If you ever wonder if your yes matters and how powerful your no might be, lean in.

If you ever wonder if God still cares for the sparrow and works miracles, keep reading.

It’s been exactly five months since Mercy House found Edith with her 3 day old starving baby, whom she was feeding water from a rag. She named her Hawi (God’s favor in Swahili). We had a house full of girls, were short-staffed and overwhelmed, but we couldn’t say no.

We had an empty bed, support from donors and we had to try.

Maureen, Executive Director of Mercy House, saved their lives that day with her quick response.

This remarkable miracle story is still being talked about at the hospital where she and her baby spent several weeks.

These pictures were taken the day we brought them home to Mercy House:

 

Maureen realized just how sick this tiny 3 pound premature newborn was after she snapped this picture and rushed them to the hospital.

And yesterday, exactly 5 months later, when this picture hit my inbox, I burst into tears.

Our God is so big.

They are thriving. Edith wants to be a doctor one day. Baby Hawi is healthy and happy and meeting milestones, despite her prematurity.

Two years ago when Maureen and I set out on this wild and scary journey, we had no idea what we were doing. There were no promises of success.

But God didn’t ask us to be successful. He just asked us to try.

And when people see this beautiful picture, they will look past our inadequacies and see WHAT GOD HAS DONE.

And when our fear and doubt surface and the brokenness of our girls overwhelms us, we will remember:

We just have to try. He will do the rest.

And that big frightening mountain looming in front of you? He isn’t asking you to conquer it. He’s just asking you to take that first step.
Why We Have to Try :: FREE 8×10 Printable


Why We Need to Struggle

When I run into her next to the spaghetti at the grocery store, she hugs me and says, “so, was your trip to Kenya just ah-maazing!?!?” She drags out the last word and her voice goes up and I am afraid to commit. It’s the tone used to describe a memorable vacation in an exotic place with a lot of exclamation points.

Before I can answer, she says, “I bet you just want to give all this up and move there!”

What I mean to say is “Yes, we had some amazing moments. But it was also hard.”

But instead what came out was, “On my last day in Kenya, I convinced one of our girls not to run away with her tiny baby, lost track of when my family had showered last and counted the hours until we boarded the plane. Oh, and I saw a man die in the middle of the road.”

She couldn’t grab her noodles fast enough.

I am not good at any of this: When I’m here, surrounded by comfort, I long for there. I get sick of all the stuff and pressure and complications of living first world. When I’m there, tangled in a mosquito net, wondering if we will have water, covered in dust, out of my comfort zone in a hundred ways, I revel in the simplicity of life and how close God is, but I long for here.

I try to wipe away the stain of the human suffering I witnessed, I try to forget the world that didn’t even pause when a man died after a hit-and-run in front of our van on the way to the airport. I’m packing my house and living 360 degrees different than I did a few weeks ago.

I. Struggle.

Yesterday, as I read Ann’s post about her anger,  I couldn’t help but feel it, too. I am ashamed at the relief I feel when I am home, how much I love the ease, the comfort and convenience in America. I am mad that I long for both worlds. I hunger for this while I ache for that.

I. Struggle.

Sometimes I think I initially said yes to Mercy House because of guilt and my fix-it way-of-thinking. That’s why I am slow to take credit for what has been accomplished in the last 18 months because it was all God and just a minuscule speck of me.

It all comes down to this question: Do I love my comfort more than Christ?

I get a different answer every day. And when I peel back the layers, I discover the anger. But we need to struggle.

If we aren’t struggling against our culture, we are giving into it.

Today, this email from a friend landed in my inbox. I asked her if I could share a part of it. She and her husband just bought a new house.

” I don’t like the way the house looks. It’s got old, stretched out, stained carpet and white walls…When we bought the house, I had fully planned on taking up the carpet and refinishing the wood floors underneath,, as well as putting a fresh coat of paint on all the walls, which is purely a vain desire. But nothing needs to be changed or updated…not even close. After reading Ann’s post yesterday, I spent the rest of the evening in tears before I just finally went to bed (at 7:00 p.m.) to escape all of the ugly emotions swirling around in my head and heart.

All day today, I have fasted from Pinterest or even thinking about home decor and I honestly can’t decide if I’m being sinful or not in wanting those things. So my question is this: If you were in the same position, would you refinish the floors and paint the walls or would you invest the money in Mercy House?

My answer:

Yes.

We would give money to Mercy House and we would paint (eventually). I told her the bottom line for us is this: we feel good about what we are giving and doing for God (and if we don’t, something is wrong). We hold our money loosely. If God lays it on our heart to give someone money, we do it. But at the same time, we also get what we need and occasionally what we want. And we struggle. Does God ask us to lay aside our plans to get something we want to provide for someone in need? Absolutely. Heed that invitation. You’ll never regret it. But don’t be a slave to guilt.

I responded, “In my opinion, I don’t think it’s wrong to paint or update some, I think it’s wrong to go into debt to do it or to ignore the nudge to give to someone because you want things. Be generous givers and do the work of God and also set aside a bit of money to do good things for your family.”

“Struggle is the food from which change is made, and the best time to make the most of a struggle is when it’s right in front of your face.

Now, I know that might sound a bit simplistic. But, too often we’re led to believe that struggling is a bad thing, or that we struggle because we’re doing something wrong.

I disagree. I look at struggle as an opportunity to grow. True struggle happens when you can sense what is not working for you and you’re willing to take the appropriate action to correct the situation. Those who accomplish change are willing to engage the struggle.” -Danny Dreyer

Most of all,  whatever you do, don’t stop struggling.


When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Look for the Beauty

My sweet son begs to play tackle football and I can’t give in and instead let him negotiate his first bike ride to school alone. My mothering heart aches in tangled pride and fear. I follow secretly behind him in my minivan.

Sometimes I don’t know how to say yes or let my kids grow up.

I bribe my five-year-old to stay in bed one more night and step over tantrums before church on Sunday morning and I wonder who’s really in control.

Sometimes I can’t breathe because this mothering thing is so hard.

I wake up with a list full of plans and ideas and instead spend the day trying to solve a crisis. I am overwhelmed daily with inadequacy for this calling.

Sometimes I want to run away because I don’t know how to live this thing out.

Some days are hard: There are relationship challenges, misunderstandings, the money is tight, the house is broken, the kids fight, the dog pukes, chronic neck pain, the pressure to keep it all spinning builds…

I collapse into bed and second-guess my day, wondering if I was good at anything.

My life isn’t always beautiful.

As a matter of fact, there are parts of it that are just downright ugly.

The fear, the doubt, the second-guessing, the duct tape holding my dryer together.

But it’s in the tough places, that He teaches me.

If life was always pretty and perfect, I wouldn’t know how to search for the beauty. 

I wouldn’t understand that caterpillars need time in the ugly cocoon so they can transform into a butterfly.

I wouldn’t know that it’s only through irritation and pain that oysters form priceless pearls.

I wouldn’t appreciate that unbelievable pressure and heat produce sparkling diamonds.

Beauty is everywhere, but it’s appreciated even more in the hard places.

I have prayed for courage to rise up in my sweet son. I see it in the tilt of his chin as he buckles his helmet and leaves me waving in the driveway. I see beauty.

My oldest child comes to me late at night, so tall and mature, I hold my breath. “Will you lay with me?” she whispers and we talk deep into the night. Her little sister, following in her shadow. I see beauty.

Over Skype on a particularly hard day, Maureen and I say the words we are both feeling. This is hard. I want to quit. The very next day, we are a part of bringing a strong son into the world. We say it and mean it: I love this job. I wouldn’t want to do anything else.

An unexpected check in the mail, a cupcake on your doorstep, a friend who helps, a massage, a husband who loves–all beauty.

When the going gets tough, the tough look for the beauty. I’m learning this lesson in the hard places.

Beauty is often wedged between the hard and uncomfortable, adjacent to the difficult.

But when you find it, you’ll know exactly what to do with it.

How to Find Beauty in the Hard Places:

  • Rehearse His promises: Life is going to be hard, but take courage, He has overcome the world. John 16:33
  • Run to Him- He is our refuge- a very present help in the time of trouble. It may be hard, but we are never alone. Ps. 46:1
  • Rely on Him- Cast your cares (big and small) on Him, He cares about every detail. I Peter 5:7
  • Remember He’s got this- all things work together for good for those who love Him. Rom. 8:28

Five Ways to Celebrate Easter Every Day

She cracks open the Resurrection Egg, her eyes fill with wonder. Inside the pink plastic shell lies a whip. She is filled with questions and there is fear.

Why a whip?  She’s still learning the story. Every year is like starting over, only fragments stick in her 5 year old mind that is still grasping the concept of space, time and death.

There is sadness in the Easter story. The dice, the crown, the pain,. There is death. But the whole story must be told to fully receive the beauty of Easter. We walk through the valley, to receive the triumph.

But why did they kill him? It’s the hard, necessary question. He had to die. He died for us.

It’s the part of the story when I’m reminded my sins held him on the cross.

But this isn’t just a story about death.

As her brother and sister fill in the pieces of the story, she remembers the tomb.

Yes! The tomb.

I point to our Easter Garden and I ask, What did we put in the tomb?

She thinks. Nothing. Nothing is in the tomb, Mom. Not even Jesus.

Victory.

She smiles. Jesus is alive.

And we tell the story over and over. It’s not just a pastel, chocolate-covered story we drag out with the eggs. It’s the very core of who we are. It’s the most important story ever told. It’s the truth we cling to in the darkest of nights. It’s the story we encourage one another with. Death didn’t win. He is alive!

The resurrection gives my life meaning and direction and the opportunity to start over no matter what my circumstances.  ~Robert Flatt

This story doesn’t belong on a shelf. The resurrection is the very reason we have hope. It gives our life meaning today and our tomorrow a future.

And that’s why we must celebrate Easter every day.

Five Ways to Celebrate Easter Every Day in Your Home:

1. Continue to tell the story–when the Easter hype fades and our society focuses on commercializing another day, let’s keep sharing the Easter story. Don’t put away Easter with the candy. Watch this video with your kids.

2. Keep the cross at the center–While the cross was a crude death sentence, it’s also a beautiful reminder of what Jesus has done for us. Yes, it’s about death, but more it’s about life. Hang a beautiful Cross in your home and talk often of it’s meaning.

3. Celebrate new life year round: take a nature walk in the Spring (search for cocoons, nests, baby animals etc); plant new flowers in the summer, hide bulbs in the earth in the fall, put out birdseed in the winter, speaking the beauty of Daniel 3: 52-90 all year long.

4. Focus on grace throughout the year. Be quick to forgive and extend grace as it has been given to you. And never forget that His death means LIFE ! Print this free printable to keep in your home all year long.

5. Sprinkle reminders of His story (history) in your life: Celebrate communion regularly. Talk about the Last Supper as your breaking bread with your family. Mention the crown of thorns as you weed your garden, hang a purple sash over a cross in your home and talk about our King.

It’s Good Friday. It’s the perfect time to start celebrating Easter every day.


Ten Fun Ways to Keep Easter About Jesus

Easter is about Jesus.

eas·ter/ˈēstər/ meaning “the most important and oldest festival of the Christian Church, celebrating the resurrection of Christ.”

It is a day to celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord.

I’m not against fun or chocolate covered eggs, I just like meaningful things to remain, well, meaningful. I want my family to celebrate Him. Sure, we can add in the fun, but I don’t want the fun to be all there is.

Call me a radical zealot.

Thank you.

Here are ten ways to keep Easter About Jesus and have fun:

  1. Read The Parable of the Lily and plant (or force) a lily bulb
  2. Create this easy, beautiful watercolor Cross Art
  3. Plant an Easter Garden
  4. Dye/hunt eggs. Share the reasons behind the traditions
  5. Make Resurrection Eggs. Read Benjamin’s Box: The Story of the Resurrection Eggs
    along with it.
  6. Bake Hot Cross Buns on Good Friday
  7. Fill Easter baskets with something meaningful (a new Bible, a cross necklace, eggs with Scripture)
  8. Make Resurrection Rolls for Easter morning breakfast
  9. Share your Easter meal with someone who might spend it alone or take a basket to a child in a hospital
  10. Have a family devotion together and talk about the meaning of Easter (this is a good one)

I think Easter is fun when it’s celebrated for all the right reasons!

What would you add?

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