Spread the Love {Feb. 10-14}

STL_FBbannerv2*Congratulations to random winner, Spread the Love participant Sarah Hess!

I love a good love story.

I’m a sucker for a hero and damsel in distress.

And for the past few years, I’ve witnessed an epic love story that even Hollywood couldn’t write.

It has scenes of desperate broken-hearted girls, born into unthinkable poverty, used and abused by this world, fighting to survive…

But then, the Rescuer comes.

And He takes the bruised and shattered lives, expectant with hope and a child and He speaks healing and a future into their lives.

Mercy House is a beautiful love story. It’s a social media love story that started right here on this screen with a simple yes. It shouldn’t be a success story. But our Hero uses weak and inadequate people in the middle of their mess to show his ultimate glory.

Think about the best movie you’ve seen. What happens after you see it three times? You tell people about it.

I’m not asking you to buy anything or donate a penny today. But I am asking you to share this love story and bring awareness to this cause. Because here’s the thing: this story is still being written and you can be a part of it.

Would you consider spreading some love this week? It’s super simple and there are lots of options–

How to spread love: Feb. 10-14

Tweet one of these:

FacebookLike Mercy House Kenya

Use one of these as your status:

  • I believe in the work of @mercyhousekenya. Check out how they are changing the world for moms http://www.mercyhousekenya.org #spreadthelove
  • I’m helping bring awareness to a beautiful love story @mercyhousekenya. Share this post and #spreadthelove

Pin one of these pictures:

Meet Edith. Tell her story @mercyhousekenya #spreadthelove

Meet Sarah. Tell her story @mercyhousekenya #spreadthelove

Baby Maureen is a @mercyhousekenya miracle baby #spreadthelove

Win this epic basket-of-love-from @mercyhousekenya.jpg #spreadthelove

Instagram-take a picture of any Mercy House product you own (t-shirts, jewelry, or even a screenshot of this page) and tag it: I love @mercyhousekenya #Spreadthelove

Share one of these videos on your social media platform or email it to friends.

And every time you share about Mercy House this week, you’ll be entered to win this:

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The basket contents include (plus a few extra things not mentioned) more than $500 from The Mercy Shop:

One very lucky winner will win this amazing basket of goodies (over $500 in value) to keep or share. Every time you SHARE about Mercy House–through your blog, on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ you get an entry. Click here to list all your entries on this form. (You can earn up to 17 entries by sharing)

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It’s a week of love. Please help us spread it!

Thanks for loving mercy.

 [Click FB SHARE below]

Why I Really Need You on My Team

Nearly every Thursday night for the past couple of months, I’ve sat on the sidelines watching my 8th grader play on her junior high basketball team. I’m the rowdy mom on the front row of the bleachers screaming her lungs out.

(I did not know this about me).

That is, until my daughter started playing on a team and then I was ALL ABOUT THE TEAM. I learned the other girls names and figured out their strengths and weaknesses. I came to cheer for my daughter, but I ended up rooting for everyone on the team.

Because I understand that one person really can’t win a basketball game. It takes the entire team, working together. When one person gets hurt, the game stops. When one girl scores an outside shot, everyone rejoices. A team consists of everyone doing their part, sacrificing and giving their best.

And y’all, I really need you on my team.

(Thankfully, you aren’t required to sweat or return to junior high).

When we said yes nearly four years ago to starting Mercy House (remember that?), I had no idea where that would lead. I mean, really, NO IDEA. And many of you who joined me, probably didn’t either.

And where we are headed in the next four years is even bigger. I don’t have all the answers  (thankfully, I do have an amazing Board of Directors), but I do know this dream will expand to empower more mothers with opportunity.

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This isn’t just my family’s story. When God assembled the characters and wrote the plot, He included you. Yes, you. If you’re here on this page right now, you are a part of the Mercy House story. And your yes–no matter how big or small it feels-is critical. There is no small yes in this family.

Because when  you bring Mercy House to your church, you are altering the future of a hopeless pregnant girl in Kenya. And when you and your kiddos host a garage sale for mercy, you are impacting young single moms living in the slum. When you wear your (super cute) Team Mercy shirt and tell the story to those who ask, you are causing ripples you cannot see. When you share one of our videos on your FB wall, you are scoring points on this team.

When you say yes, you write yourself into this giant God-sized dream.

And we cannot do it without you.

The best thing? Every yes counts.

There is no small yes in this family

Team Mercy is a new initiative to involve your family and it’s a great place to start. If you aren’t already a part of Team Mercy, please consider joining ( minimum of $3 a month monthly commitment). It’s really not about money, although that helps. It’s about sharing something beautiful in our broken world. This is an amazing love story of how a Holy God will use a bunch of mothers to change the world and I want you to be a part of it. Not just so that the team will grow, but because it will change you.

V-ohoHfY2ndoUfR_3IfXGPyUc48TV3jfhPCcC2Vu_ZQ,3SG57Yc92zZcEQ0SSdRRXyTO94B9w02CkHbIKRC3tDEMy daughter’s team has won and lost some games this season. Most of them won’t go on to play high school ball. But do you know what’s better than scoring points, defending, rebounding and dribbling? It’s doing it together. These girls learned to depend on one another, step in when they were needed and think of others before themselves.

This journey has taught me the same thing.

Be a part of Team Mercy today.

Serve with Your Family: Introducing Team Mercy

Serving with my family has changed my life. It’s impacted my children, our home, in ways I could have never dreamed.

Finding opportunities that are kid-friendly and actually doable can be a challenge.

I’m excited to introduce something very close to my heart: Team Mercy.

What is Team Mercy? Sign your family up and become a team member and advocate for moms and babies at Mercy House Kenya and single moms in surrounding communities by bringing awareness through fundraising events and sharing this amazing God story in your local community.

What is an Advocate? Definition: a person who speaks or writes in support or defense of a person, cause, etc. a person who pleads for or in behalf of another; intercessor.

Why join Team Mercy:
Not only will you be supporting a worthy, grassroots cause, you will have the opportunity to serve alongside your family. Being a Team Mercy member gives you opportunities to change the world! There are practical ways for you to link arms and serve with your family. If there are local church events or conferences in your area, you could even represent Mercy House.

Read the Team Member Requirements Here.

How do I become an advocate? Get started by filling out our online application. It’s free!

Wear your support– Get your Team Mercy Shirt here! (all Team Mercy Members can get the shirts HALF-PRICE with a completed application!)

Click to discover all the opportunities we’ve created for Team Mercy members…

Together, we can change the world.

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…

!!!!!!

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.

A Wedding to Remember

Kenyan weddings deserve their very own post.

When Maureen visited us in America in January 2013 for meetings and speaking engagements, a generous friend of mine secretly took Maureen and I wedding dress shopping.

Because we knew (hoped) this day was coming a few months later. I had the honor of being there when the big question was asked.

Over the past few years, Maureen and I have had many Skype conversations praying and talking about her future husband, someone for her to share her life and calling with. And so, we knew if we could arrange the delicate timing of our next trip, it needed to include one very special Kenyan wedding.

And after Maureen lost her beautiful mother suddenly in June and asked if I would stand in as Mother of the Bride, I knew we had to be there.

Y’all.

You haven’t really celebrated joy until you’ve attended a Kenyan wedding. The day started very early in the lasted until sunset. And there was a lot of waiting for the bride to make her special appearance. It can sometimes take a bride up to an hour to s-l-o-w-l-y walk down the aisle. Thankfully, Maureen has too much spunk for that.

Here we are waiting…

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Here comes the bride (just a few seconds of what went on for HOURS):

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Then there was dancing and singing and more dancing and more singing. And we repeated this about 27 times.

Possibly the world’s cutest flower girl and ringbearer (the two firstborn babies of Mercy House):
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I mean, SERIOUSLY.

The Mother of the Bride got to take care of Precious and Travis. It was hard work! I might have fed them tick tacks and Pringles the entire ceremony. After Travis had about 12 chips, he started to lick the salt off and pass them down the row. Awesome.

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The Mercy House babies loved dancing (as well as several hundred other guests!)

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Maureen was a stunning bride. And her joy was evident.

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Dear Maureen and Oliver,

What a day! Thank you for sharing your amazing day with us. You are an example of purity and  faithfulness-a beauty for ashes story-to the girls at Mercy House. You’ve given them a fairytale to look forward to someday. We pray God blesses your union and His face continues to shine on you.

Love,  the Welch family

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The bride and groom presented a cake at the reception to our family and the residents of Rehema House.

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And then we danced some more…

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And just because, this needs to happen again:

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Photos by my friend and photographer, Suzanne Box

How to Turn Your Life Around

“I used to be hungry. I didn’t know where to get my next meal. My life was so hard. And then I became pregnant and I was kicked out of school. I was so hopeless.

But God found me and I moved to *Rehema House. I have so much food now; I have a chance at education. I love God so much and I understand the Bible and his love for me. I have clothes and I am a mother now to my baby. I love my life.”

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Rose’s story is just one of many. They all sound different, but they are the same.

This is my story, too.

I was living for myself, pursuing the American Dream of having bigger and better. But I woke up in a slum and found rich people among the poor. And discovered a spirit of poverty in my rich life.

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God has the final say and He showed me how to give my life away.

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And that’s how I found it.

God turned my life around.

And He will do the same for you.

How to Turn Your Life Around

1. Accept Who He Is: God commands our destiny. When we accept His power and purpose for our lives, it throws open the windows of the impossible. He is I am.

2. Acknowledge What He Can Do: If anything, I pray my life will show you that God can do anything with anyone. He can make a way where there is no way. He delights in the impossible. Try Him.

3. Agree to Give Your Life Away: When we lose our life for His sake, we will find it. When we put God first, others second, ourselves third, we find true peace, happiness and wealth we cannot imagine.

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“I now have hope.

God has turned my life around.” -Rose, age 17.

 

*Rehema is Swahili for mercy.

Thanksgiving on the Other Side of the Globe

Thanksgiving Menu:

Flour chapatis

Maize

Beans

Rice

Watermelon

 

Kenyan Pantry

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Meal Preparation is an all day affair:

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Everyone has a job:

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Family Devotion Time:

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Talking about dinner manners:

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A beautiful table setting:

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Full tummies:

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After-Dinner Naps:

(how many babies can you find?)

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Decorating for Christmas:

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It’s a lot like your day!

Thanksgiving.

Thanksliving.

Thank you God that it’s not about giving on one day. It’s about giving our lives away.

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For When You Wonder if You’re Valuable

Once there was a prince and he was looking for a wife. He searched the land and found a farmer with two daughters. When he asked about the dowry for the young maidens, the farmer explained that for the educated daughter, who was beautiful and smart, pure and above reproach, the dowry was ten cows, a small fortune. But for the second daughter who was uneducated and not as pretty and broken, the dowry was one cow. The prince left and said he would come back the next day with his decision.

And he did.

He presented the father with ten healthy cows and the farmer brought his firstborn daughter.

“No,” the prince replied. “It is the second daughter I want.”

“Oh, you have paid too much,” the father protested. But the prince gave the ten cows. Because he saw beyond her appearance or situation.

He saw her for who she would become. He knew what love could do. DSC_1717 He recognized her value.

This Kenyan Proverb was shared at our very first Mercy House Graduation today. The first four girls brought into the maternity home, almost three years ago now have completed Phase 1 of the Rehema House program. And now they move into Phase 2, a halfway house of sorts with more independence and outside education as they are slowly reintegrated back into their homes if it’s a viable option.

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They were rescued when they were most hopeless.

They were redeemed when they were destitute.

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They have beautifully transformed from broken, desperate girls into glowing new creations.

They have been given hope.

And a future. DSC_1593 Every resident has a unique situation and while some may stay three years, others may stay longer. But the ultimate goal is to make disciples and send them out into the world as a light, a new generation of Esthers.

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It was humbling beyond words–to be in this place for such a time as this.

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As I shared how all this began, one small yes, that’s grown into a God-sized dream, I could only give God the glory and thank Him for the good work He has done.

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For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. -Psalm 139:13-14

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As Terrell and I knelt on our knees before these beautiful new creations, robed in royalty, we washed their feet.

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And not for one minute did these girls wonder if they were valuable.

They knew they belonged to the Prince of Peace.

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That’s what love will do.