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.

HBvg9cZBriABXmql-wDFQbXvzDLlM_aPImRb7_tjW0M,sxYrS7L1wtupzNGEsT7MVxmq-lDNAqy-O8kXhGpdVUE

You have changed mine.

You have changed theirs.

Thank you for saying yes with me.

Your yes matters.

tRYhXwu8eD54WHv8aAEMXDhWBXh4I9aDbgzGYs4K6eA

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

Mostly, for saying yes to God.

FjPN9LXGYj8tfCRL1FCZbpPLOR4RXF0YTrKYP3nM8Qw,gNPgnxv7KII-Otev_SLzvkzYhH3ov5UsWgiIDo1UFZA

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.

9CRnHEiJid984uHV86E9E7aNhIgsm1a_6uJmsm3S5ek

party

photo copy

BnEAgYZofQXpAH_8md7xSzC5qQ17GnzzL5P2wb2XGmc,uGr7TURRtq0OlJvowcLmCbXyhJZ5vyyqW6V7u1rFlYw

XPA7u5E9-TBf853mwHdlGfjO9QmMPPXuGNvfNtVkRF8,5jtBy9M7VqiudL7-ZEJz6SK_5CtwrIsr0ppLwzKylN0

photo copy 2
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.

QSPdMRisz4V7uDsQ4wtL_S78_sTeFodzPyUMquTpf54,AsAuVzXdg4Mw2HV6GfNQM-b4buWkxftwviHTFqhG7s0

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

photo copy 2

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.

zWg1PYzWMs7DYhoTxK-hFaeDrArrlDsdPTe1_MYuPIE

 

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.

SayingYesToGod_Verses2

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):

The Two Questions Every Christian Must Ask Themselves

A friend of mine told me about a group of women, mothers with children, who were living in absolute poverty.

Their babies didn’t have diapers. Their kids didn’t have shoes. Their homes didn’t have furniture. Their pantries didn’t have food.

I’ve met women just like them, stood on their dirt floors and been offered the last plate of food in their house.

But these mothers in this story didn’t live across the ocean, on the other side of the globe.

They live 49 miles from my front door.

They are refugees—removed from Bhutan, their country of birth, because of genocide against their race and placed in a refugee camp in Nepal, where they survived for 15 years, until more recently, when the United Nations relocated thousands of people again, to their new home in America.

They are my neighbors.

But many of these refugees have never been more than a mile away from the apartment complex that is now home. Once aid from the U.S. ended after 90 days, they found themselves in a foreign country, unable to communicate, trying to navigate a much different culture, living a minimum-wage existence where diapers and toilet paper, shampoo and soap, are a luxury they cannot afford. They didn’t know there was a food bank within walking distance. But how would they manage toddlers and babies without a stroller or cart for food and who would help them fill out the paperwork to take what was needed?

As I listened to the story, I felt moved with compassion. Because this is my heart, my calling: To empower mothers with opportunity—for some it’s an opportunity to give, for others it’s opportunity to receive. I don’t have all the answers, but I know we can help each other.

I couldn’t help but wonder, How could I help? I immediately told myself, I’m doing enough. What could I possibly do? How much more could I add to my already full plate? We give a lot, how much more can we give?

But then I realized I was asking the wrong questions.

 2 Questions Every Christian in America Needs to Ask Themselves

 

Go ahead. Ask yourself. It’s not an accident. It’s not luck of draw. There is a purpose. You have a purpose for living here and not there. What do you think it is?

I don’t think it’s a mathematical mistake that one-third of the world is rich enough to ease the burden of the other two-thirds who are desperately poor, living on less than $1 a day. It’s not a curious coincidence that we are already sitting on the answer.

It’s something we teach our children from the cradle. It’s called sharing. We have more than enough, enough to share. It sounds like a match made in Heaven, huh? Like maybe it was God’s plan all along to love others, and instead of accumulating the American Dream, there’s the chance to give some of it away.

And I believe when God asks us what we did with our talents, our resources, our land-of-the-free, home-of-the-brave opportunity, we will be accountable for our answer.

Yes, we give already. But we have been given so much. We can give more, share more, do more. Not to prove we are good people or need a bigger list of good works. We do it because it’s our purpose to glorify God. We do it because He first loved us and we love others. We do it because we have it to give. We do it because if we were reusing disposable diapers, we would want someone to share with us.

We do it because our houses and cars and pins on Pinterest are temporary.

Our stuff will not last, but people will.

When I asked myself these hard questions, I knew immediately what my answer had to be.

I started sharing this story with my friends and church community, many had the same answer. And with a pile of yeses, answers starting coming in. Moms started pulling out clothes and shoes, their excess to share. Dads moved furniture into garages to give away. Women began stockpiling diapers. Volunteers are offering ESL classes, a website is being built and a group of moms have started teaching knitting.

Once a week, for as long as I’m able, I’ll be spending the day 49 miles from home,with my neighbors. 

Is there a right answer to those hard questions? I don’t know.

But my family is starting by looking at what we have, thanking God for it and then sharing it with someone else.

I hope you will too.

Neighbors are a great place to start.

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.

————————————————–

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.

School1

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.

School2

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.

 School3

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?

School5

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.

rhinestone jesus quote

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