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….

click to continue reading at (in)courage

 

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….

Our Stories Need to Be Told

I’m a storyteller.

But I don’t always tell all my stories.

I haven’t told you about all the broken pieces that make up my life.

And you probably don’t know that some days I struggle with my yes. As in the last 14. The first two weeks of a new year and I’m weary and my family is stretched and there are a dozen decisions we need to make and I just want to pull the covers over my head and order Chinese food and watch movies with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.

Okay, I’ve done that already.

I’m supposed to be excited about All the Things, but I’m mostly scared. I’m supposed to be a leader, but mostly I’m inadequate. I’m supposed to love this dream and mostly I’m overwhelmed by it. I’m supposed to be living in community and mostly I feel alone.

Some days I’m not fine. 

There. I said it.

And then just a few days ago, I learned about a community of refugee women and children living in poverty just down the road from me. Women who have faced unspeakable hardships and suffering and they need help. And all of a sudden, they are all I can think about. And I’m reminded of what makes me feel alive.  Part of my story is saying yes. It gives me purpose and makes me want to throw back the covers and courageously live the next chapter of my story.

This is the year I’m telling my whole story. All of it. Even the broken parts.

And you have a story too. Maybe one you haven’t told? That hurt. That testimony. That regret. That hard parenting road. That miracle.

Here’s your chance:

Let’s make 2014 a storytelling year. Because your story matters.

But first you have to tell it.

Check out all the (in)RL details here. Registration opens tomorrow and it’s FREE!

I’m also sharing over at the (in)courage community today about the painful places. 

When God Made Room in the Inn {Giveaway}

Congrats to random commenters Katie and Lyra (you’ve been emailed).

There have been few times in my life when I’ve been speechless.

This is one of them.

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[Get Lucy’s Live Mercy T-Shirt here]

Many of you have lived mercy, so others might know mercy.

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When I walked thru a very crowded Mercy House in Kenya a few weeks ago, I kept thinking there isn’t enough room. The house was bustling with cradled, crawling, cruising babies and busy mommas chasing busy toddlers.

There was plenty of this:

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God created something from nothing. He did the impossible, the improbable and He used a bunch of you to do it.

Click here to continue reading and find out HOW MUCH was raised thru the (in)mercy campaign the past 3 months for Mercy House in Kenya…

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Thank you for saying yes with me.

 

Because of your generous giving, Mercy House will be helping more pregnant girls and delivering more precious babies in 2014.
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God delivered The Greatest Gift.

And He keeps delivering girls in Kenya from tragic circumstances and babies from certain death.

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This beautiful (in)mercy charm necklace  at The Vintage Pearl celebrates a great cause– 50% of each necklace sold through January 31, 2014 will be donated to The Mercy House Kenya.  It’s hand molded and then cast in sterling silver with a sterling silver ball chain and a freshwater pearl.

Today, as a thank you for being a part of this God-sized dream, The Vintage Pearl is giving away two $50 gift certificates (that you can have or regift this holiday season). Check out the gorgeous (in)mercy necklace and leave a comment with your Christmas wish.

(in)Mercy LIVE from Africa

Teen-aged laughter and baby giggles.

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Heartfelt worship songs and dancing feet.

Red dirt and colorful laundry hanging on the line.

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I’m in Kenya this week with my family at Mercy House and this verse is alive in my heart:

“O, Taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.’ -Psalm 33:9

Sometimes when we give money, we wonder if it really goes to what it’s asked for. I’m your eyewitness today, testifying of mercy.

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Maureen, Kenyan Director

We have a little more wiggle room for our 24 residents now and in our new-to-us van.

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Two new classrooms are already in use…

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As a skills room

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and a computer lab that will take our students to the next level of learning.

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Click to continue to read all God has done through (in)mercy at DaySpring….

An Invitation to Step (in) Mercy

Three years ago today on Sept. 12, 2010, I invited you to be a part of an incredible God-story. Some of you may remember…
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Thirty-six hard, beautiful months ago, Mercy House was born. It has been a labor of love to help those who would need to labor and learn to love.

An unlikely family was created, babies conceived in abuse and desperation, united sisters through grief and shame.

 

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One-thousand-eighty days ago, Mercy House opened it’s doors to be a haven for pregnant girls to become mothers, to fall in love with their unplanned babies. It’s a home of second chances, an environment for orphaned girls to connect, for lifelong friendships to establish.

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It’s a place where hope is born.

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It’s a home for new life and 12 tiny miracles so far…

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It’s a house where aunties are created and cousins play.

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It’s a refuge where girls like Cindy can lay down their burdens in exchange for transformation.

“When I joined the house, my challenges were nothing to smile about, it was not a joke because I had a big burden deep inside me. I worried a lot even though I never wanted to show it out directly. I also wondered how I would get used to the new environment at Mercy {Rehema} House with new people and policies set since I never had any at home…It was nothing close to my home having been brought up in a filthy slum. But I thank God for this far, am totally changed and my life transformed am a proud mother, the burden is gone and above all a new creature fully transformed.” Cindy, age 18

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It’s a beauty for ashes kind of place, where God takes what the world has trampled and turns it into something breathtaking.

Twenty-six thousand minutes ago we said yes to a God-sized dream.

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And today, we are inviting you to be a part of the story again. We have the opportunity together with (in)courage through Pure Charity to change the world for the girls and babies of Kenya.

Phase 1: Drive Mercy {Van}

Phase 2: Learn Mercy {Classroom Additions}

Phase 3: Generate Mercy {Generator}

Phase 4: Advance Mercy {Computer Lab}

Phase 5: Live Mercy {Second Home}

Mercy House is a place that will change your life the minute you step into the story.

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Will you step (in)Mercy today? <—————– Click to learn more about Phase 1 (of 5)

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Thank you Dayspring and (in)courage for being a part of this dream!

photos by Bess Brownlee