It Matters. {Giveaway}

Updated with randomly chosen winners: Please check your email!

Congrats to Amalia, Valorie M, Melody B, Jodi T, and Brandi

Every load of laundry.

Every spill wiped.

Every hug given.

Every phone call made.

Every note mailed.

Every meal cooked.

Every dollar given.

Every day lived.

Every time you say yes to someone other than yourself, you are changing another person’s world.

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You have changed mine.

You have changed theirs.

Thank you for saying yes with me.

Your yes matters.

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Thank you for buying my book, for reading the story, for saying yes to Mercy House.

Mostly, for saying yes to God.

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We had a little YES party this past weekend. So many local friends have served faithfully, quietly for years. I got emotional seeing them all in one place.

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party

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These are the some of the volunteers behind Mercy House USA.

They are the package-stuffing,

mail-sending,

jewelry-tagging,

box-carrying,

data-entrying,

order-printing,

bank-going,

donation-giving

YESES.

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I love you, friends, real-life and online, all the same, I love you deeply.

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And to those reading from California to North Carolina, from Canada to Mexico your yes is changing the world and today we celebrate that.

I’m giving away FIVE copies of Rhinestone Jesus with FIVE ‘Your Yes Matters” leather bracelets and FIVE “We change the world” prints.

Because your yes matters. 

Leave a comment to win.

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bracelets available here | prints available here | books available here

 


God Doesn’t Need Us to Say Yes

A magazine for young girls asked me to interview my kids for an article on missions–from their perspective.

My kids wanted to know if it was a paid job.

Oh, writer’s kids.

Their answers were great and enlightening. They talked about the adventures of traveling and trying new foods, about sometimes being scared of the unknown and all the fun that comes with holding babies.

But it was the answer to the last question that made me cry.

Q: Why did your family start a maternity home in Kenya?

[without missing a beat]

A: “Because God asked us to. We don’t always know what we are doing. But He helps us,” said my first grader in a tone that said OBVIOUSLY.

But here’s the truth we must understand: GOD DOESN’T NEED US TO SAY YES.

He’s God. He created oceans and land and the world with a thought. He doesn’t depend on us to say yes. He can accomplish in a second what we labor in for years.

But He invites us to say yes.

He invites us because obedience changes us from the inside out. Saying yes causes us to depend on him because His ask is always bigger than our ability. He wants us to experience the impossible, the miracle in the mess so that He will be glorified.

He invites us in so that He will be glorified through us.

Obedience is the way we communicate our love to God. But obedience is also for us.

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Some days I feel like that little kid in the Bible who had just a bit of fish and a couple of loaves in my rolled-up paper sack.

And God says, “Who will say yes? There’s a need, who can meet it?”

I look at my lunch and I know it’s not enough. And I know God can do it without me. He can speak the Word and meet the need.

But there it is: an invitation.

I can clinch that sack or hide it behind my back. Or I can offer my little lunch. It’s not much, but it’s all I have.

Because here’s the thing: your yes may feel small, but God is big and so size doesn’t matter. And we can turn down the invitation. We can walk away and enjoy our little lunch. And we will never know what we missed.

But we will miss it just the same. Because we were created for more. We were created to say yes to God.

Here’s a deeper look into our yes (and our mess):


Take a Risk Today. You Just Might Start Something.

I’m a horrible dancer.

I mean horrible. My kids beg me to not even snap my fingers in public (What? snapping isn’t allowed in dancing now?)

I think they are imagining I will look like the guy in this video. But sometimes, we have to step out and do something no one else is doing. We have to take a risk. It might seem stupid. We might feel alone.

Even it if looks crazy, we should dance:

Because we just might encourage those around us to join in.

We might inspire someone to say yes.

Who might inspire others to say yes.

Who might inspire even more to say yes.

That’s what happens when we say yes to God. We risk everything, but we reap so much more. And we are never really alone.

Take a risk today. You just might start something.

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My new book will be released to the world in six days. If you’re interested, I’d love to have you help me launch it. If you want to help spread the word about this yes movement, click here. This invitation is limited to the first 50 people. Thank you.

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When We Face the Battle of Comforts

The best thing about saying yes? We don’t say it alone. I’m happy to introduce you to Katy and share her words with you today. Katy joins me and several other ladies every week to serve the refugees relocated to our city. She is my friend and she’s a part of my yes community. Her yes is beautiful and although she may think it’s small some days, she’s saying it right where she is and she’s changing the world around her with it.

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by Katy

As our class sings, “Head, shoulders, knees and toes!” my eyes go to the tiny toes poking through threadbare socks. My little friend isn’t without shoes because she is a stubborn three year old; she just doesn’t have any.

I mistakenly call a boy “she” for over an hour because his tattered, mislead by his pink floral clothing. But the lack of boyish clothes is the least of his mother’s concerns when they’ve spent years fleeing genocide and persecution.

It was his mom, in fact, who communicated in broken English that they had lived “like pigs” in the refugee camps, herded around in deplorable conditions. That was her reality for nearly 20 years.

I see bleak hints from their past everywhere: the young legless mother sitting in a wheelchair with a baby on her lap, the men with missing limbs and eyes.

I’m not on a trip to a third-world country. It’s just another day at our preschool.

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It all started a few months ago. Word began to spread of refugee families in desperate need in our city.

Though safely distanced from the genocide of their homeland and the squalor of the camps, these people faced a new onslaught of severe obstacles. Groups were rallying to help, searching for ways to provide comfort. Recognizing a few acute needs, a couple of ladies formed ESL and business classes.

My season of life doesn’t afford free mornings alone to go teach classes and minister to women. My little ones are with me full time – my primary “ministry” – so if we are going to serve outside the home during the week, we’re going to do it together. That’s not everyone’s story or season, but it happens to be mine currently, and I’m grateful for that.

The aching need in front of me called out with a haunting question: “How will you respond?”

The answer rested in the children. The student-refugees attending the classes were also mothers, and they had children running around a bit chaotically while they tried to absorb lessons on acquiring a new language and starting a small business. That circumstance understandably complicated their already herculean task.

To take the little ones aside for their own class could be an immense gift to their mothers.

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For a moment I was daunted by the thought of taking on childcare. I didn’t necessarily feel qualified and it would require organization and commitment. But then this came… My strength is made perfect in your weakness.

Ah, yes. Of course. But is it safe for my children? What about sickness, or lice? And we’ll miss naptime and it’s a long drive and a lot of gas money and I don’t know how all these details will fall into place.

But then… Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Was my scripture study on “Trust” last year without reason? Doesn’t every great story in the Bible begin when God urges his people to step into the daunting, the seemingly impossible, and lean into his comfort – the true kind of comfort that’s not man made?

Don’t we often face the Battle of Comforts? We forfeit the profound life-changing experience of witnessing God’s provision through us, and to us, when we are focused on pursuing our own worldly comfort.

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So what began with a long, nervous drive to our first visit, which felt a little crazy, has transformed into a natural rhythm of our days and weeks. It’s now just “preschool,” and of course my boys simply see the children in our class as friends, as it should be.

We sing and dance around the room with instruments. We read books aloud, color, write our alphabet, and paint. Snack time is always a highlight. And there are lots of hugs.

Our family is learning more with each visit. I’m floored with gratitude for the opportunity to meet some small but immediate needs in the hurting world, while at the same time nurturing and teaching my own sons in the process.

God is using these refugees to display his breathtaking love to me. I don’t know why I’m so taken by joy on the cold floor singing silly song with kids.  I can’t explain why I tear up almost every time I talk about them. I’m desperate for more ways to help, because when it’s our friends who are “the poor,” we don’t mind getting our hands dirty, do we?

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Meeting needs will look different for all of us. For some it must be done within the walls of the home, where often the most sacrificial living takes place. For others it will be at the office. For a friend of mine, it’s the hospital where her daughter is undergoing chemo and she interacts with anxious parents daily.  And another friend and her family have devoted years to troubled youth in the inner city.

But the common chord we can all cling to is this: The Comforter is on the move, for our joy, and for the good of others.

The Father of mercies comforts us, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction.

But to receive that life-changing comfort often means stepping into the uncomfortable. And that’s where I’m prone to pull up short.

When we respond to Jesus’ call act mercifully, it brings with it a beautiful symbiosis. The Spirit, our comforter, allows us to exchange our fleeting, self-made comforts of safety and savings for the profoundly life-changing comfort of resting in the sovereign care of our God. And in so doing, we actually get the privilege of sharing that same comfort with those we serve.

May God give us the vision and courage to make that trade when presented with the opportunity.

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Just Cause {How to Give Twice}

With the holidays fast approaching (HOWDIDTHATHAPPEN?), it’s time to start thinking about gifts. I love that we all hold the opportunity to shop strategically and bless twice: the person we’re giving to and the person (organization) we are buying from. Nothing feels better to give a gift to someone you love EXCEPT giving it and knowing it helped someone else live in freedom.

There are so many just causes we can give to and bless those who are receiving. I’ve highlighted a few that  help girls and women in our world specifically.  Your purchase will keep on giving. And don’t forget to shop thru Pure Charity to truly maximize your spending this Christmas!

JEWELRY & HOME DECOR

31 Bits (poverty in Uganda)

Rahab’s Rope (sex trafficking India)

Mercy Shop (girls/babies in Kenya)

Market Haiti (poverty)

FASHION & FABRIC

Sseko Sandals (poverty in Uganda)

Batik Boutique (single moms Asia)

Open Arms (refugees)

FAIR TRADE COLLECTIONS 

Trade One (global)

Noonday Collection (global)

Come Together Trading Company (global)

Delicate Fortress (global)

Serrv (global)

GIFTS OF LOVE

Give safe drinking water, a chicken or medical care, plus dozens of other options with these great organizations:

Compassion Gift Catalog

World Vision Gift Catalog

Samaritan’s Purse Gift Catalog