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.
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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.
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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.
Why?

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…
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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
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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.
#MilesforMercy
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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!)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Plus, it’s really cute stuff.

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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!

The Truth About Religion

I am a church child of the 80’s.

I wore this pin, remember?

I did all the stuff Christians do.

And then a few years ago, I realized I was spiritually fat.

I was well-fed, plump on a lot of religion, but lacking obedience.

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Faith has always been a huge part of my life. I guess I would characterize myself as full of faith but lacking in obedience. I believed everything Jesus said; I just didn’t always do what He told me.

But when I began to say yes in my mess, that’s when I started to slim down.

Getting fit is uncomfortable. It can be painful and stretch us further then we thought possible.

It makes us stronger.

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When we started rescuing young pregnant girls in Kenya, many orphaned, we hired young and old widows as housemothers to help us help them.  And somewhere in the mix of helping orphans and widows, I discovered the truth about religion.

It’s not so much about what we believe, it’s also about what we do.

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We can’t really separate the two. One without the other is dead.

And when we find a way-some way in our busy lives and busy world- to serve the least of these, we find God. Every time.

When we step out of our comfort zone and serve another human, it’s a spiritual act of worship.

Religion is so much more than a check in a box. It’s being the hands and feet of Jesus. It’s about fulfilling what we were created to do. It’s about focusing on what matters. It’s about bringing God glory.

Faithful widows like Jessica, Winfred and Judy spend their days serving the least of these.

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“Thank you for helping these girls,” Judy grasped both my hands last week in Kenya.

“You’re helping us, too. We love our job and we need it,” Jessica hugged me tight.

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My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving. Colossians 2:6-7

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As I watched widowed women love orphaned girls and fatherless babies, I saw Jesus.

I found true religion in an unlikely place.

And I’ve never seen a more beautiful site.

 

Coming Soon

There is an amazing story—and invitation behind these pictures.

It starts in a slum at the base of the hills where our new home is located.

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I can’t wait to tell you.

 

Here’s a hint: It includes fair trade, shopping, and empowering another dozen young mothers in the slum with hope, opportunity and Jesus.

 

Coming soon!

What I’ve Learned About Motherhood

  • Motherhood has taught me a lot about messes. I only thought toddlers eating spaghetti in a high chair and first graders painting a picture were messy–their art pallets are contained, controllable. Then I had a 12 and 14 year old and their room became their masterpieces.
  • Motherhood has taught me never to start a war over a mess. In the end, it all cleans up and the words and anger hashed over untidiness do more damage than dirty clothes on the floor and mud pies.

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  • Motherhood has taught me to never give up. For years, I’ve carted my kids to lessons and practices, tutoring and rehearsals. I’ve taught them to try and try again and when they don’t know what else to do, I’ve taught them never to give up. It’s a universal lesson of motherhood and I’ve witnessed it this week with young mothers in Kenya–no matter how hard the going gets, there’s always reason to keep trying.

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  • Motherhood has taught me to listen to my own words.
  • Motherhood has taught me to appreciate humor. I only thought my kids were funny when they were little. They have always had a knack for sharing every family secret to every stranger they met. And now they are quick-witted and sarcastic. And I find it brilliant.

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  • Motherhood has taught me to laugh at myself.

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  • Motherhood has taught me to believe in something I cannot always see. I direct my children down a narrow path. I cannot always see the curves and turns ahead and I don’t know what obstacles will be in our path. But we aim our lives and travel together. I believe in the best in them–even when I don’t see it.

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  • Motherhood has taught me the best will come when I least expect it. For me, it was a couple of Wednesday nights ago. It had been a very hard day, with unexpected news that had me needing more of Jesus. And when we made ourselves go to church, I looked down the aisle and saw each of my children, eyes closed, hands raised, singing to God. We took Communion together, and I understood the holiness of motherhood
  • Motherhood has taught me about hope. I have met mothers all over the world –some with nothing, not even clean water or enough food for their families for the day–and I see the same thing in all of them: Hope.

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  • Motherhood has taught me a lot about me. I’ve learned how to forgive and be forgiven. I’ve learned when to offer grace and when to receive it.
  • Most of all, I’ve learned that love  matters most.

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 What is motherhood teaching you?

This World Is Not About Us

It’s strange just how small you feel when you fly across this great big world.

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It’s easy to slip into the mindset and think this life is all about me.

My happiness. My comfort.

And then I see a vast sea of people without either.

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I’m reminded again what life is really about.

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If we make it about us, we aren’t really living.

Life isn’t about money or stuff. It’s not about how much we have.

Or don’t.

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This life isn’t about me.

We are small. A breath.

It’s too easy to build a life around what we want. But bigger and better often leaves us feeling like we are really missing something.

Because this is not our purpose.

We were created for more.

Life is more than work. Life is more than play. Life has one purpose.

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It is to make His glory known.

If we are not actively telling others about him or living a life that points to Jesus–

we are missing the point of life.

Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage. Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. Matthew 5:13-14

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When we live our life for God and others-

that’s when we really start living.

Be [You] tiful

Thursdays and Fridays are their favorite days of the week for two reasons:

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Most of the pregnant residents at Mercy House enter the home with only the clothes on their back and that’s it.

But even though their hands are empty, they carry a lot of baggage.

It’s the first time in their lives, they have the opportunity to eat three healthy meals a day.

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They have been rescued from hell. Situations so unthinkable, it’s hard to imagine–like young girls passed around and abused by older men, violent home lives riddled with extreme poverty, HIV and even defilement by becoming second wives as 14 year old girls.

Their pride is gone. Their self esteem shattered.

And with their lovely dark eyes downcast, the last thing they feel is beautiful.

Immediately, the residents begin in a skills class five days a week (along with intense counseling), a few hours each day. Making product is a result of the class, but it’s not the real reason behind it.

Something transforming happens when these girls are given an outlet to create.

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As they begin to adjust to their new life and God’s love is spoken over them and to them, change starts from the inside out. Hope is restored.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday they learn jewelry and sewing and they marvel at what they can make from paper and fabric.

Stunning:

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But if you ask them, it’s Thursday and Friday they love most.

Because that’s the day they get to be beautiful.

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For six months, salon classes teach them how to intricately wash, braid, and style hair; perform manicures and pedicures and much more. And while they massage each other’s feet and hands, paint toenails and braid hair, something miraculous happens.

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They begin to believe they are beautiful.

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Something we could see all along.

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Maybe you’re feeling used by this world, ugly inside and out. I think we’ve all had those days. But it doesn’t change who we are and how much we are valued.

We just have to believe it.

 

[Want to wear Charity’s gorgeous necklace? We have a limited supply of this brand new style at The Mercy Shop.

Write yourself into the amazing Mercy House story by checking out the current Wish List.

Special thanks to Dayspring for their beautiful donations for the new home in Kenya. We appreciate their generosity!]