The Question God Wants Us To Ask

“Aren’t you tired?” She asked over pizza while our kids giggled around us in the booth. “I mean, you’re a mom and you have a busy life, you write and have Mercy House and now you’ve added Fair Trade Friday to your plate.”

Good friends ask hard questions.

I think about her question and stifle a yawn before I answer.

“Yes. I am. Tired.”

Good friends give honest answers.

I thought about my hectic day of carlines and deadlines…. I remembered the early morning wardrobe drama and the tears over a lost library book and then the very full day across town serving refugee women in my city.

After a long pause, I answered, “I spent the first 30 –something years of my life wavering between the pain of the past and chasing the American Dream and I was always asking God the same kinds of questions–to help me, to heal me, to give me more of something.

But when I changed the question to  “What can I do for you, God? Instead of what can you do for me? He answered.

When I stopped trying to fix my problems and tried to help others fix theirs, God helped me. He healed me. He gave me something deeper and more fulfilling than I could have dreamed. I’m overwhelmed and tired, but I don’t want to live any other way.”

If I had to name a regret in my life—it would be this: That I didn’t discover the breathtaking beauty of serving others sooner.

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It’s not only helped other people; it’s helped me.

Continue reading at (in)courage….

 


How Are You? Really.

My thoughts were a million miles away and I didn’t even hear her call my name the first time.

When she said it the second time, I realized I’d been lost in thought.

“Hey, Kristen! How are you?” We were new friends.

On the outside, I had it together. But there was a swirling storm inside. I looked better than I felt.

I was living out my yes to God. But I was having a hard day. I was tired and overwhelmed. I had more questions than answers and mostly, I felt so alone. I was facing impossibilities and I just wanted to quit.

“How are you?” People ask that question all the time. It’s a greeting, something to fill an awkward pause. But few wait for an answer.

This day, my friend did. She asked and then she waited.

Maybe I was desperate for the waiting. Maybe it was the kind of day where tears just brim. Maybe she really cared.

I believed the last and I decided to tell her exactly how I was doing.

I shared my burden, the struggle, the unknowns. The dark clouds began to clear.

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Sometimes healing starts with a question.

I let her in. And she tasted my brokenness. As I wiped my tears and apologized for my awkward answer slash confession, she asked me what I wanted to happen. How did I want God to answer this big question mark in my life?

And so I told her. I confessed a dream I had told few people–a big, impossible dream, a best case scenario answer. I felt silly saying it out loud.

But I also felt bold. Like speaking it meant something.

She listened and then she did something so powerful. She didn’t say, “I’ll pray for you.” She prayed for me. Right there, in a hallway, with people passing by. She grabbed my hands and asked God for the impossible on my behalf.

Nothing changed. But everything was different. I felt like I had let someone in and more importantly, laid the weight of burden down.

That was nearly a year ago.

Last weekend, I saw my friend again for the first time since my hallway blubberfest.

And I got to share the most profound news with her….

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You Are Where You Are For a Reason

We sat on the lush green lawn next to the sprawling manor and let the sun warm us.

July in Kenya is cold.

The Mercy House babies toddled and giggled offering us flowers from the nearby bushes, while their teen moms finished lunch.

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It looked like just another Thursday in Africa. But it was more. It was miraculous.

The wind whipped through the willow trees and blew petals from the flowering plants and it was as if nature itself bowed down at the holiness of what God had done.

A houseful of transformed residents. Six new pregnant girls. New babies coming in the fall. Two beautiful homes paid for by a bunch of mothers. Glorious. For His Glory.

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The task still seems more daunting than ever–our first HIV case, 12, 13 and 14 year old pregnant girls, reaching beyond our walls into the neighboring slum to help a dozen more teen mothers. But God can do anything, even the impossible. And He is.

I looked up from the baby in my lap and saw my own teen daughter talking intently to one of the older Mercy House residents.

The wind carried words and I caught bits and pieces of their conversation.

“Why do you think I was born here in Kenya and you were born in America?” Violet, 17, mother to 2 year old Maureen asked my daughter.

“I don’t know,” my daughter said after a long pause. I could tell she was thinking.

It’s a hard question.

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These Kenyan girls only know of America from the news and movies. We are mostly the only Americans they interact with once or twice a year. And while they’ve never visited and probably never will, they long to. Because they understand how much we have. They know how much we’ve been given.

And then I heard my 14 year old daughter whisper to her African-born friend, “Maybe we were born in America so we could help you in Kenya.”

They grabbed each other’s hands and held on. I swallowed the lump in my throat.

Because yes, this is it. The honesty and purity of one child’s words to another, were holy.

Because maybe this is why we have so much. Maybe this is why we were born where we were born.

Maybe this is why we are where we are today.

I don’t know where you are right now. You might be in any country in the the world. You might be in the middle of your house, in the middle of suburbia folding laundry. You might be reading this on your shift break at your job in the hospital on floor 2. You might be standing in line at the pharmacy, waiting on medicine for your mother who is very sick. You might be in the lowest season of your life or the best. I don’t know. But it matters.

Because you are where you are for a reason.

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Click to continue reading at incourage ….


What Really Happens When We Look Fear in the Face

I walk into a room of 500 dining women waiting for someone to take the stage and my fear isn’t speaking in front of these women.

It’s eating with them.

I don’t know where I’m going to sit. My hands are sweaty, my heart is pounding like the rain on the window.

And my fear is a brewing storm.

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Yet, I keep dancing with it.

Being fearless is temporary. At some point, something in our life triggers fear. What if my husband has a wreck driving home in this storm? What if those test results come back positive? What if I can’t pay that bill? The what ifs open the door to fear.

Dancing with fear is seeing the world as it is and then wisely stepping out into the unknown anyway.

It’s slowing sitting down among strangers, instead of running from that vast dining room to the safety of storm outside.

I love safety and comfort.

Which is why it’s sort of crazy that God has called me to a dangerous life of wild obedience.

But saying yes to God doesn’t make me brave because I’m still afraid; it makes me obedient.

Continue reading over at (in)courage….