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.


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.


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.


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?


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!


31 Bits (poverty in Uganda)

Rahab’s Rope (sex trafficking India)

Mercy Shop (girls/babies in Kenya)

Market Haiti (poverty)


Sseko Sandals (poverty in Uganda)

Batik Boutique (single moms Asia)

Open Arms (refugees)


Trade One (global)

Noonday Collection (global)

Come Together Trading Company (global)

Delicate Fortress (global)

Serrv (global)


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

What Really Happens When We Dream Big

At least once a week, I want to quit.

One unexpected phone call, a big question I can’t answer, one more crisis and I just want to walk away from this great big beautiful burden because I don’t think I can take another breath.

Last week, I was drowning in understanding IRS laws, accounting questions, growing pains that come with seeking direction for the future and morestuffthanIcouldhandle. I cried more than I prayed and I felt sorry for myself. I left in the middle of it all and went to the grocery store and bought a pumpkin for my front porch. How spiritual is that?

I hope you respect me more for being honest and not less for being weak.

There are no plans for the 30+ hours I spend every week for Mercy House to ever be more than volunteer work. I don’t say that as a martyr. I just don’t know how to do this any other way. And yet the work, the dream, it grows bigger and more consuming every day. And I wonder how to keep going…how to make it to tomorrow…how to glorify God in my messy heart.

I am prone to wander, God, I feel it. Selfishness, it’s always there under the surface.

And at the same time, I love this house and these girls and this God-size dream so much that I cannot imagine quitting. Ever. Not even one day. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to sometimes. God-stuff is hard work, mainly because I’m being rewritten in the process.

Do you want to know what I’m really learning in all of this? This isn’t so much about me helping others and “helping God,” it’s about Him using The Helping to change every single part of me. It’s a digging deep, gut-wrenching, are you really going to trust me, Kristen, when you don’t have it all figured out question?

So I compartmentalize.  I stir dinner, I watch my son play flag football, I write grants for Mercy House, I plan a trip over Christmas for my family, I drive my daughter to flute lessons, I manage a non-profit and I write as an outlet. I try to be a good wife, mother and friend and I mainly try not to drown. My life isn’t glamorous and it is messier than you think.

And I remind myself every time I feel the urge to run away that I’m not supposed to know what to do.  I’m no more qualified today than I was when I trembled in my initial yes. I just need Him more today than I did yesterday.

I look at how this dream has reshaped my family, my children, our future. It’s breathtaking. And so I keep breathing.

And even though I wake up and go to sleep scared to death, I’m beginning to understand when we pursue His big dream for our lives, we are changed in the process. It’s a painful good I wouldn’t trade for all the selfishness in the world.

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” -Albert Einstein

Why We Aren’t Meant to Know the Future

It was just an innocent question. It came from someone I didn’t know. Or better, someone who didn’t know why on earth I founded a maternity home in Kenya, Africa.

Fair question.

My short answer: God kind of tricked me into it. 

Kidding. Sort of.

She wanted to help me with strategic planning, big picture, longterm sustainability, non-profit management.

Y’all: I had no idea what she was talking about. And then the question:

“What is your plan to keep this going?” She motioned to the picture of sixteen people I love on the other side of the world.

I smiled and said, “This is all a miracle and none of it was my plan and I honestly don’t know.” I said the words with a confidence that spoke of the supernatural, but when it hit me like a ton of bricks in the middle of the night, I only felt the natural.

How will I keep this going? How did a small yes turn into $150,000 + a year and  dozens of lives looking to me for direction?

I got out of bed and started crunching numbers, looking through notes of a new project and future development, and everything ended with a big question mark.

I tossed and turned myself back to sleep and woke up hung over with the heavy burden that comes from trying to see into the future and not being able to.

Then I opened my Jesus Calling devotion to these words, “I did not design the human mind to figure out the future. That is beyond your capability. I crafted your mind for continual communication with Me. Bring Me all your needs, your hopes and fears. Commit everything to My care. Turn from the path of planning to the path of Peace. “

Humble yourself under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7

And I felt Jesus calling me (again) to give it to Him. We aren’t meant to know the future. We are meant to live in such close communion with Him that He makes the future known, one step at a time.

I love these words by Corrie Ten Boon–

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”

I don’t know. I’m saying it out loud and would wear it on a t-shirt if I could.

When this updated picture landed in my inbox this week, I took a deep breath. I couldn’t help but grin at those beautiful sassy faces. I touched each one, leaving smudges on my screen.  I couldn’t stop the tears as I prayed over each girl and her baby.

I still don’t know how I’m going to keep it all going.  But that’s usually the best place for God to show up.

Are you facing the unknown in life? Technically, we all are, we just have the illusion of control. Let’s say it together. I don’t know. Group Hug.

But it’s okay, we’re not supposed to.

He’s given us a hope and a future.

It All Starts With One Small Yes [Introducing::Pure Charity]

I used to think changing the world was done by world changers:  People with power, money and influence.

A superhero cape didn’t hurt either.

But more than ever, I’m convinced world change happens in the quiet yes’ of ordinary days, by inadequate people who simply love God and others.

Which sort of gets us all in the game.

You don’t know my heroes, they can’t fill a stadium or sell a truckload of books. They work in obscurity and are unknown. They simply live to make His glory known.

And while there is no formula for world change, I believe it all comes down to this: it all starts with one small yes.

We like to categorize people. This guy does big stuff. That gal is special, look what she can create. But there is one category every God-lover fits into: you were created to do something for Him. You may still be looking for your One thing, but I believe there are a few choices we can all make.

You might be staring down a dozen questions today or perhaps you’re waiting for someone to ask.  I know what the answer is.

I’m excited and honored to be a part of a brilliant new movement called Pure Charity. This non-profit takes ordinary people like us who buy from powerful companies in corporate America and it turns our every day purchases into something good, benefitting amazing non-profit projects to help people in need.

Pure Charity doesn’t encourage you to spend more money, rather it harnesses what you’re already spending and puts it to good work. If you buy diapers online, purchase plane tickets, need a new printer, pride yourself as an Amazon Prime member, your clicks count.


In 3 easy steps, you can make a difference. Here’s how it works:

  1. Sign up at Pure Charity.
  2. Download the webapp bar. This little app in the corner of your screen will make it easy for you to know if one of the 800 retailers is a Pure Charity partner. You can just go about your online business and when you shop, click the webapp to make sure you get giving credit for your purchases.
  3. Fund a project. Here’s where it gets fun! You can add a debit/credit card to your account and put money into a project OR as you shop, your giving fund will accumulate and you can choose projects to give it to.

——–>Amazing truth: With just a simple yes (click), you can help fund projects like this one at our very own Mercy House!  It’s free, it’s intentional, it’s a small way to make a big difference!

I believe in Pure Charity. I believe in you. I believe that together our yes counts. Will you please take 5 minutes and join me today? 


Want to know more? Check out these links: Pure Charity FAQ, Info about  the WebApp,

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Pure Charity and did not receive any compensation for this post.