To The Monica’s of the World: You Are Not Forgotten

 She sat next to me and we munched on Kenyan samosas. Every once in awhile she would peek over her cup and smile when our eyes met.

Monica’s look was expectant and she fidgeted nervous next to me. I could tell she wanted, no needed, to say something. She leaned over and whispered, “Please, may I say something to you.”

I set down my cup and turned to her and said, “Yes.”

Our day at Rehema (Mercy) House had been so full already. We met new faces, rubbed some growing bellies, and listened to baby giggles.



We shared with these young girls, half mothers, half moms-to-be, about God’s beautiful plan for each of them.


We talked about thanking him even for our painful past, appreciating our present circumstances and looking forward to our future hope.

The girls listened intently and wrote down gratitude and dreams in their journals.



During the tea break, Monica sat next to me. Before I knew it, she wrapped her arm around my shoulder and put her warm hand in the center of my chest. She leaned in close, eye to eye.

Her words, thick with emotion, were said slow and heavy, “Thank you. Thank you for saving my life.”


Immediately, tears threatened and I looked down at her still swollen feet.

Monica moved into Rehema House in Kenya just a month ago. She’s one of more than 20 current residents and graduates that Mercy House supports. Monica is unique though, not because she’s a total orphan or a victim of abuse, not even because she suffers from epilepsy. Monica is the first teen mom at the maternity home, who won’t become a mother.

Her baby died in her womb just as she was moving into the house. She’s a mother without a child.

And just as she was recovering from the loss of her innocence and then the loss of her unborn baby, she suffered unexpected kidney failure and faced a near near-death experience in ICU.

After many days fighting for her life, Mercy House paid her $5000 unplanned medical bill.

Monica hugged me tight, gratitude etched on her face, “Please tell the people who helped me thank you. I owe them my life.”

“I don’t know why God allowed me to suffer at the hands of evil, but maybe it was so I could come here. Because God has not forgotten me,” she whispered.

Her thanksgiving, even in so much loss, was tangible. Breathtaking.

Silent tears slipped down my cheeks and she reached to wipe them away. I continued, “God has a special plan for you, Monica. He sees you. He loves you so much. He chose you. I know it’s hard to be the only girl without a baby and you might feel left out, but God sees you. He will redeem your ashes and trade them for beauty.”


I couldn’t help but think of the dozens of Monica’s supported by Mercy House and the countless Monica’s around the world today. Oppressed. Impoverished. Feeling forgotten. Yes, some wandering streets in Kenya, looking for hope, but many also in our cities, on our streets.


Even in the mirror.

We may feel alone. We might feel forgotten. We may suffer physically or spiritually or emotionally. We may wonder where God is in our struggle.

As I looked deep into Monica’s dark eyes, I didn’t see a stranger, I saw myself.

I saw a reminder of God’s great love for her and for me. And for you.

“Please tell the people God has remembered me,” Monica said to me.

A broken girl, with swollen feet, an empty womb and a grateful heart wanted you to know that He remembers you, too.


Help us remember the forgotten women of the world by wearing our simple prayer bracelet that falls off. Our new love mercy prayer bracelet is a piece of hemp with 3 simple beads-two silver and one gold. One silver bead represents you, the other a girl who needs prayer and the gold bead represents God in the middle. Our new bracelets are wear one | share one (you get two for the price of one!) After you’ve done your part in prayer, the bracelet will fall off. Order a family service project kit today and help us put bracelets together and sell them. 100% of the proceeds go to support women all around the globe.


That Thing You Can’t Let Go Of

Four years ago, we sat in a warehouse-turned-coffee shop and had a heart to heart. Terrell and I were visiting one of our favorite Texas towns and we stumbled upon the quaint shop. The walls had pallets hanging on them, holding fair trade product from around the world. I bought a few Christmas gifts and we sat down to enjoy a cup of coffee.

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This is what I want to do, he said.

I looked at my husband like he was crazy. Mercy House was only a year old, he was working 50+ hours a week as a sales rep and I was juggling family, writing and the new non-profit. We were overwhelmed.

Even with all these reasons, I heard something in his voice I will never forget: It was the sound of a dream being spoken aloud. And I know how much courage that takes.

Yeah, it was a cool place, but it was more than a global marketplace and a great cup of coffee. It was hope and opportunity for the countless women it empowered.

Fast forward a couple of years.

I was having a hard to sleeping. Again. What is it God? I whispered in the middle of the night. That was the first night I was burdened to create jobs for impoverished women. It didn’t make sense-this tangible intangible, this whisper in the night. I argued How am I supposed to provide jobs for women? I’m in over my head with my yes already. But I held onto the words.

Because I couldn’t let them go.

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You may know the rest of the story. A few months later, I visited an apartment complex in the heart of my city and started helping refugee women make product. I didn’t really relate it to creating jobs for women at the time. It just felt like obedience. But then Fair Trade Friday was born out of our vision for Mercy House and now with over 1200 members a month, we are providing jobs for many, many impoverished women all over the globe.

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The tiny building on our backyard that has housed Mercy House product and an office quickly filled and we added more shelves and volunteers actually had to move boxes into my yard just to fill orders. Product began to fill our garage and dining room. For months we carried thousands of fair trade items to my church every month for volunteers to pack monthly boxes because we needed the space.

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On the way home from my parents house one night a few weeks ago, I was feeling a little discouraged about our space problem and I passed a sign for a building lease. I picked up my phone and called the number. It was a Sunday night and the owner answered. He just happened to have a warehouse space for a rental rate so low I had to have him repeat it a couple of times. The building isn’t fancy (at all), but it has enough room for us to pack our boxes, house volunteers, have an office or two and a retail space.

Sometimes signs really are a sign from God.

As we scrubbed and painted and prepped our warehouse last week, Terrell stopped and pulled me close.

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This is what I saw all those years ago.

I hadn’t thought of that little coffee shop in the middle of  Texas in years. But I knew immediately what he was referring to. I nodded my head yes.

It was this place.

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I don’t know what you can’t let go of today. But can I encourage you to hold onto it?

God speaks in the dark of the night. He whispers a word, maybe two. He gives us a glimpse. He plants hope in our heart. And it may take months or years or a lifetime, but when God speaks, he will make a way. We might not know when or how or who, but He is faithful.

Don’t let go.


[If you’re local to North Houston and want to come  volunteer or help pack our monthly boxes, we’d love to have you! You can learn more here. Or if you’re just in the neighborhood and want to come shop, we’d love that too!]


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.

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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:


Let’s Give Differently This Holiday Season | 3 Ways to Change Christmas

Last week I had lunch with two women from Azerbaijan, an oil-rich, but oppressive country situated at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia.

They have heartbreaking, but hopeful stories and use their testimonies to work with women who are escaping violence and oppression in the Middle East. We talked about partnering together.

It was humbling to sit with these former Muslim women who daily risk their lives to follow Jesus.

It made me want to live differently, so I can give differently. 

With the gift-giving season around the corner, I want to encourage you to think and shop differently this year. Dad doesn’t want another tie and mom has enough cardigans. For the same amount of money, you can give a unique gift and change someone’s world.

Here are three ways to give differently this season:

1. Give a gift in someone’s name:

Rehema House Gift Catalog-Mercy House supports impoverished moms and babies at Rehema House in Kenya. Not only can you impact lives in Kenya, you can also do so in someone’s name. For every gift you give, you can have an e-card sent to the person of your choice. [Gift options start at $10. For example, you can gift this for $10 in  your teen daughter’s name and this for $50 in your grandma’s name.]  It’s an easy way to change the world. Check out the Gift Catalog here.


Compassion Gift Catalog-I love Compassion and I believe in what they do. I have seen their work behind the scenes in Kenya and elsewhere and they change lives.

2. Give a gift twice:

Fair Trade Friday-Fair Trade Friday is a fun monthly subscription club (with more than 500 members) that delivers 3-4 fair trade items to your door. The items are created by impoverished women all over the world who are supported by your purchase. Join the Club or give a Fair Trade Friday Gift Box to someone who’s been extra good on your list. Get $5 off a one-time Fair Trade Friday gift box with this code:  5off 

The Refugee Project-Gorgeous hand knitted and crochet items are always on everyone’s list! Every purchase benefits a refugee who has been relocated to the USA from a refugee camp, struggling to make ends meet in their new home. I spend my Friday’s with these beautiful ladies.

the refugee project

No. 41-When you buy a lovely sewn burlap and kitenge bag from Rwanda, it not only supports the young lady who created it after she’s aged out of an orphanage, it also feeds one child, one meal, every day for one year.

Zambia Soap Company -THE PERFECT STOCKING STUFFER -Scented Organic Handmade Soaps and Lipbalms (Families harvest organically grown herbs. Workers distill the herbs to make essential oils for soap, while women widowed by the AIDS epidemic weave gift baskets and attach labels.all overseen by local Zambian churches)

3. Give a gift that provides for a future:

The Mercy Shop-A large percentage of every purchase from the Mercy Shop goes into an account for each of the Rehema House residents who created the items. After graduation, she will be able to use that money to provide school fees for her baby (while Mercy House continues to pay her school fees). So, every purchase helps provide for the future of the babies that Mercy House supports!

the mercy shop

Caring for Korah– We believe in child sponsorship. We just added our 11th child to the family (besides 3 of our own). Our dear friends are saving lives in Ethiopia and you can give a child a future this Christmas.

Let’s change Christmas this year.

The Mercy Marathon #Milesformercy

This summer I met Chrystal Evans Hurst at the Declare Conference. She had an idea- a creative way to say yes in her mess. I loved her story and thought you might enjoy it too. She started #milesformercy and it isn’t just for runners, it’s for anyone who has a yes in them. After chatting and falling in love with this lady, I discovered she was Tony Evans daughter! I’m excited about her yes to God. 

by Chrystal Evans Hurst

It all started the morning I went for a run and met Linnette.

Well… technically I guess it started before that. I guess it started when I decided to run a marathon.
I have no idea what got into me and why on earth I’d attempt such a thing. I don’t consider myself a runner.

I’m too slow. SUPER S-L-O-W.

But I go out there and put one foot in front of the other.
On one of the days I was out there doing my “so-called-running,” training for a marathon, and preparing my body for the torture of running for 26.2 miles, I connected with a local running group and met Linnette.
She was running easily and we struck up a conversation.I let her do most of the talking.

In fact, I asked her questions so that she would indeed do most of the talking. One of those questions was to ask her about her motivation for running. Was she training for a marathon? Was she trying to lose weight? Was she seeking to check something off her bucket list?

While Linnette was running because it was good for her body, that wasn’t the only reason she was running.
She told me that for every mile she ran, she went home and put $1 in a jar.
I quickly did the math.

Six miles a run. Three runs a week. Twenty bucks every seven days. Eighty dollars a month.

I started getting excited about the idea of saving eighty dollars to regularly reward myself for putting in the work.
My brain immediately started calculating how I could easily earn a massage, treat myself to a pedicure, or indulge in more runner’s paraphernalia.
But Linnette quickly brought me down off of cloud nine when she proceeded to inform me that she didn’t spend that money on herself. She explained that, every few months, after the jar was filled to overflowing, she emptied the jar, collected the cash, and delivered it to her local pregnancy center.

Linnette wasn’t just running for herself.

Linnette was also running for others.

She was putting in the miles so that the blessing of her healthy heart and her healthy life might overflow to the hearts and lives of others.

As I ran, ever-so-slowly, I processed the reality of what this woman shared with me. And honestly, at that moment, I felt like a cold-hard criminal. There I was… running next to an angel basically and realizing how far my thoughts had been from blessing another person with my efforts.
Now… that conversation didn’t change everything.

Yes. I’m still running for me. I like the race. Running is a part of my journey to steal my life back.

But in running to encourage myself, stretch my own limits, and move beyond my comfort zones… I’ve found myself wanting to encourage others too… just like Linnette.

So I contemplated running for a variety of different organizations. I asked around. I googled. I researched. I found a lot of potential groups to partner with but nothing seemed to fit. Nothing felt right.

And then I found out about the Mercy House…And it was my story… half a world away.

Something deep stirred within me.

Because I was an unwed teen mom. And even though I live on this side of the globe, it wasn’t easy. The hurt in my heart was overwhelming and the realities of living that life seemed insurmountable at times. But I did have help. I did have support. I did have a family and community of people who were willing to encourage me and love me as I tried to get on my feet.

These girls, almost 9000 miles away on the other side of the world, are in my same predicament…
Except they are unwed teen mom’s not living in America with a teen pregnancy center available to them or a 1-800 number to call. Many of them do not have the support of their family and are instead encouraged by their loved ones and communities to abort their babies. They are encouraged to choose their next meal over motherhood.
There is no one to give them encouragement and love as they seek to get on their feet. Until Mercy House. Every girl who steps through the door of the Mercy House is offered hope in Jesus Christ.

When I watched the Mercy House video, then later met Kristen personally, I knew this was the organization I wanted to support. I figured that in my running for me, I could also help others by raising money and awareness for an organization that was doing what I would love to do many miles away on the other side of the globe.

I had found my cause… #MilesforMercy
In the weeks to come, I’ll run and contribute $1 for every mile from now until my marathon on December 14th, 2014.
I’m running… but my upcoming marathon is not gonna be just about me. I’m running a marathon and the miles I run will be #MilesforMercy.

I figure if I can buy the shoes, buy the water belts, and pay the marathon entry fee, I can spend some money changing the life of another girl that I will probably never meet.
Maybe, like me, you might donate a dollar a dime or a penny for every mile you run, walk, or bike. Maybe you don’t want hit the pavement but are willing to donate in conjunction with my runs as I chronicle my marathon journey via social media.

Either way, I’d love for you to join me on my #MilesforMercy journey so that we can touch the life of young girls who needs our support. I’m stealing my life back and I’m overjoyed at helping girls on the other side of the globe, steal their lives back too.
Act Justly. Walk Humbly. Love Mercy.
Do you want to run for Mercy House too?
Enter #MilesforMercy in the “instructions for sellers” box so we can keep track of how much we raise!)

photo source

Our First {Mercy House} Gala & A Way For You To Be A Part

Congrats to winners (and thank you so much for supporting this great cause)

Basket #1 Lori Covington | $500

Basket #2 Paula Murphy | $700

Basket #3 Karen |$400

Basket #4 Ben | $500

Tonight is the first Mercy House fundraising gala in Houston, Texas.

I’m tired and so excited!

We are hoping to raise part of the 2015 budget for the work in Kenya so the organization can begin to focus on new partnerships to empower impoverished women all over the world.

I can’t wait to see what God is going to do.



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But I knew it wouldn’t be right not to let you be involved. Mercy House started right here in this online place so many years ago with your yes.

Besides raffling off some great items and experiences at the gala and sharing our hearts for the women of the world, we are also having a very special, one-of-a-kind Silent Auction. And you can be a part!

We have four baskets up for grabs virtually…and you won’t believe what’s inside!



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Each basket contains:

  • An assortment of beautiful paper bead jewelry | $70
  • 16×20 Micah 6:8  chalkboard poster | $20
  • Mercy House’s brand new long sleeve “Your Yes Matters” shirt | $25
  • Ethiopian summer scarf | $30
  • A gorgeous one-of-a-kind large Masaai Market Basket from Kenya |value $100
  • And a limited edition High-End Fair Trade Friday box with 4 amazing items |mystery box valued at over $140
  • Free shipping

Are you ready? You can join our big yes tonight!

You can knock out your whole Christmas list with potentially TEN one-of-kind gifts that give back!

bidLeave a comment with the basket number you’re bidding on and the $amount you want to bid. Please note: all 4 baskets are valued at $400 and have a $200 minimum bid.

There are a couple of other ways for you to be involved:

  • Write “Your Yes Matters” with hashtag #youryesmatters on a piece of paper and share it on social media@mercyhousekenya
  • Make a donation
  • Pray that God will bless this event

The highest bidders on all 4 baskets will win!

This silent auction ends midnight CST Friday night.


Fair Trade Friday

When I was in Kenya with my family a few weeks ago, I gave a hint about something that was coming soon.

And it’s here. Now.

More than a year ago, God dropped an idea in my heart.

I had this crazy – overwhelming, overpowering desire to empower women all over the world with opportunity and employment in the name of Jesus.

And I had no idea what that meant.

I had more questions than answers.

But I wasn’t able to shake this truth: While it’s often easy to give people in poverty what they need; it’s empowering to help them meet their own needs.

They don’t need more charity. They need more opportunity.

The two homes in Kenya that Mercy House supports are full with mothers, mothers-to-be, babies and toddlers. It’s a wonderful kind of hard when we are at capacity. It means we are helping, but it also means there are others hurting.

There is a heartbreaking slum at the base of the mountain from our beautiful new home. And now every Friday, the Mercy House staff is taking mercy to 12 new young single moms who live less than a mile from our organization. They are being introduced to God, they are learning skills and they are finding hope.




And on the other side of the world, at the same time, in a small, packed room, the same thing is happening with displaced refugee moms.


And it’s happening in Ethiopia, India…

Have you ever felt so passionate about something that it scares you?

This is it for me.

It’s called Fair Trade Friday.

fair trade flags

What: An affordable subscription-based club that delivers a box of beautiful fair trade product created by women we support, delivered by  the first Friday of every month (starting in September)! Check out the options.

Why: Fair Trade Friday exists as an avenue for women to empower women.  We are tackling poverty through job opportunity and empowerment rather than enablement. 100% of the proceeds support the artisans, hundreds of women and children from all over the world. FTF is a ministry of Mercy House Kenya.


When I think about what $30 or $60 a month means to these young mothers–how it will help them meet basic needs for their children–I can’t help but think this is a bit of Heaven on earth.


Plus, it’s really cute stuff.




And fun mail!

It’s like Stitchfix or Birchbox that changes the world.

The club has a limited membership (we will continue to expand in the near future), so join today!

(Sorry, this is limited to the USA only).

P.S. You can expect your box by the first Friday of September if you have a prepaid membership. If you sign up today to become a monthly member, you will get the introductory box around August 21 and your first club box in September!