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?


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!]

 


The Stain of Beauty and Brokenness

Once Africa’s red dirt gets under your nails, it’s hard to get it out.

The red clay is caked to my shoes and the cuffs of my jeans and it has stained my heart.

There are majestic animals roaming wide open spaces and breathtaking sunsets filling the horizon.

Vibrant colors wash the city. It is a constant contrast to the extreme poverty that desperately works to strangle out hope.

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Gridlocked traffic jams and thick exhausts plagues the city. Suffering tinges this country.

Today we stopped at a gas station on the way home from a quarterly Mercy House board meeting, next to a bright, outdoor market where handwoven rainbow bags swayed in the breeze, inviting us to behold their beauty.  An elderly beggar was asking for money outside the window. The gas station attendants told him to leave and when he wouldn’t, they took his walking cane and beat him with it.

He limped over to our van and asked again.

It’s not just this land. It’s the people that capture. It’s their resilience. It’s their beauty. It’s their brokenness.

Beauty and Brokenness–built on red soil–that’s what brands the heart.

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We spent 4 hours in our meeting today talking about just that.

I was reminded again of the impossibility of what we seek to do. Rescuing a girl and her unborn baby from the clutches of evil is audacious work.

It is heartbreaking. It is heartwarming. It is both at the same time. The magnitude wrecks me. We are believing God for the impossible, the improbable.

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We take two steps forward and one back.

We make slow or no progress at all, but we are faithful and when we look behind us, we can see how far we have come.

We have 4 guards, protecting two houses, two dozen moms and babies with more coming. A gardner who also serves as a driver, and a social worker and a counselor and . . .  and I felt a wave of panic today at this responsibility.

Rescuing and redemption. But again, this is God’s work, not ours.

Today we played ball and laughed and chased toddler boys, who randomly stopped to pee pee in the bushes and on the rocks every chance they got.

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Sitting in a circle, we asked shy new residents what they wanted to be when they grew up. I can hardly reconcile listening to 12 and 13 year old girls whisper their childlike dreams while a baby kicks in their wombs. My kids, the same age, sit next to them.

And I am undone.

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One of the residents at Mercy House painted my fingernails red today. Crimson polish stains my nails and my skin.

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It’s the worst manicure I’ve ever had.

It’s the most beautiful one, too.

When we look again, we see something impossible-we see both.

The breathtaking stain of beauty and brokenness.


He Is Not Safe, But He Is Good

Tomorrow we leave for Kenya.

My husband and I have been watching the news closely.

These are not safe times in our world.

And I keep reminding myself God has not called us to safety. 

Even though it’s my favorite.

Some days the very title of my book mocks me.

Sometimes –often– our yes to God is scary.

Obedience is risky.

But when I shut out the what ifs, I can clearly see that God holds us close.

You may be standing on the dangerous precipice of your yes. The unknowns are terrifying, the fear tangible, but the peace palpable.

God is with us.

And when we ask, “Is He safe?” The answer is no. But He is good.” CS Lewis

Would you pray for us?

  • Pray for peace in Kenya.
  • Pray for protection over our homes, the staff, girls, babies.
  • Pray for wisdom and direction over key decisions that will be made in meetings.
  • Pray for the dozens of young, pregnant and single mothers we will be inviting into our new community outreach in the heart of two slums.
  • Pray for me? I’m a big baby and I just need a lot of Jesus.

I’ll be blogging from Africa. Follow our journey on Instagram.