WFMW: The God of Second Chances


I’m happy to welcome this week’s guest post from Lindsey for my Wednesday series Yes, Works For Me! Please welcome her and be encouraged by her yes to God and continue to link up what works for you.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret…

I was not a good mother. Not for a very long time.

Thankfully, He is a God of second chances.

My second chance started on a rainy, gloomy day. My three-year-old son was sitting in time-out for the fourteenth time…and it was only 9:30am. The house was a mess, breakfast was burnt and I hadn’t taken a shower or changed out of pajamas in days.

As hopeless tears started to fall, I decided to cope with my obvious failures by hiding in my dark closet.

It was day 61 of my being a “stay-at-home” mom.

I had been a career girl. I LOVED my job and the validation it brought me. My work reviews were fantastic and I was well liked. By outward appearances I was successful, happy and fulfilled.

The truth was far from that.

I had neglected my marriage and my children for years. Adultery had also led to the implosion of my marriage, a fact that demanded immediate action before I lost everything. So I left that career and walked into the unknown feeling lost, terrified and stripped of my identity. Those feelings grew as the days passed and I fumbled through trying to knit my marriage and life back together.

In that closet I started whispering a small prayer full of hesitant words to a God I barely knew.

I asked for a second chance, for a sign that He was here in the midst of my painful path of obedience.

I asked for a renewed relationship with my children.

I asked for the undeserved gift of many firsts to come to replace all the ones I had missed.

Almost immediately a sliver of light shone promise across my face, as my son peeked into the closet and said “Mommy? Can I come in?” I nodded my head yes and he sat in my lap, talking about the red fire truck he held in his hand. Sharing how it was his favorite toy and showing me all the cool sounds.

As he rambled on with excitement, it hit me.

This was my first conversation with my son that did not involve me yelling at him to be quiet, to obey, or to go away.

Tears started falling again, only this time they were full of joy. God was already giving me a second chance — my first “first” — simply because I had asked.

I’m going to let you in on another little secret…

I am a good mother. And have been for a very long time.

While my path has been filled with bad decisions and sorrowful mistakes, I am confident that I am now an equipped mother loved by a glorious God and am reminded of His love to me every time a new “first” occurs.

My prayer for you is to remember God’s presence in YOUR mess.

He is the God of second chances. And He is waiting to give you yours.



LH Bio Pic.jpgLindsey believes God-inspired words have the power to bring hope and healing to a broken world. She spends her days loving her family, listening to classical music, pretending to clean, writing to God and helping authors create and share life-changing messages.



WFMW: Say Yes to Your God-Sized Adventure Today


I’m happy to welcome this week’s guest post from Kari for my Wednesday series Yes, Works For Me! Please welcome her and be encouraged by her yes to God and continue to link up what works for you.

Twenty-two years ago, I didn’t have a clue how to say yes.

For me, life was all about maintaining a well-organized home, driving a new minivan, enjoying the perks of being a stay-at-home mom, vacationing to beautiful places, and trying my best to make my children happy all. of. the. time. I loved providing them with the pleasures of a comfortable life with the best toys, activities, and experiences.

But, if you peeled back the layers you would have found a mom who was self-centered, overly busy, stressed, and unhappy. I was messy on the inside. I wasn’t feeling satisfied. I didn’t feel adequate in any area of my life. But, I was too embarrassed to admit I was a mess, even to myself.

During this season, I delivered my son at 21 weeks gestation, who took his last breath in my arms and with his death, I lost all the hopes and dreams I had for him and my family. I found myself depressed without a purpose in my life. I was lost in my sorrow. I felt like I was failing miserably as a wife and mom.

“God uses our brokenness for His purpose. What He puts back together heals stronger.” #RhinestoneJesus

As God started healing my heart, He started to challenge me in ways I had never experienced before. To my surprise, He put in my heart a desire to adopt. My focus started to shift from people, places, and things to surrendering my heart. As we began to say yes to God as a couple, our dreams began to change for our family. In 2008, we adopted the most beautiful baby girl, Zoie Senait from Ethiopia.

However, it was unnerving feeling unsatisfied living the “yuppy” lifestyle. How was this possible? We had already shared 16 comfortable years in our marriage, but God started to convict us to fully surrender to Him.

It was a tough battle and I fought it every step of the way. I questioned God. We already adopted our daughter from Ethiopia…what more could you possibly want from us? (What a dangerously stupid thing to ask God)

“Hardships in life shape us, struggles define us, and both ultimately prepare us for the future God is calling us to.” Kristen Welch

God was faithful and He started prying every single one of my fingers off the stuff I was clinging so tightly to. But, I still wasn’t willing to say yes with full abandonment.

  • I didn’t want to let go of my home.
  • I didn’t want to let go of my comfort.
  • I didn’t want to let go of my husband’s salary.
  • I didn’t want to let go of my stuff.

When you surrender fully to God’s calling, you must be willing to give up your lifestyle, your reputation, your everything. When you give God control, He must take ALL of it. You have to give Him your mess.

As my hubby and I started sayings yes, God started us off on a new adventure. We spent the next 5 years leading mission teams to love big on orphans. We built up our ministries, Simply Love and Man Up and Go. Our passion was living out-loud James 1:27. But, He wanted more from us.

If God asks you to let it go– do it! Be obedient. Do good. In 1 Timothy 6:18 Jesus requires us to be rich in good works, be generous, and ready to serve.

We said yes again, and sold our home, quit our day job, sold our stuff, and started on a radical God-sized adventure that transformed our family forever.

We lived in three 3rd world countries for 15 months. First, we served in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia serving a slum community and leper colony. Next, we spent 2 months in rural Haiti living in an orphanage and sharing the gospel to the lost and caring for the sick. Finally, we headed to Nicaragua hosting mission teams, loving big at a re-nutritional orphanage, and building homes in the poorest communities.

Honestly, our time living abroad were some of the best days and some of the messiest days of my life. I felt vulnerable at every turn.

We are now back living in the states, and my husband has a new job with a bigger platform than we could have ever imagined to reach men, women, and families world-wide to live for Jesus. Together, we are sharing our story to encourage others to serve the Great Commission, be lovers of Jesus, and loving people.


So, how do you say yes to a God-sized dream?

Here Are 7 Ways to Say Yes…Today:

  1. Pray Through: Pray like your whole life depends on it. Start asking God to transform your heart to be a lover of Him and prepare for God to change everything, your dreams, hopes, desires, and passions. If you ask, He will be faithful. There is nothing He won’t provide for you to live the purpose He created for your life. Remember, prayer is also listening to the Holy Spirit’s leading. You don’t want to head off in the wrong direction.
  2. Commit to Fasting: This is one of the most important things you can do to prepare you soul, mind, and heart to say yes. When you take the time to give up something (like food) and focus with prayer and fasting, God WILL reveal his power and miracles to you.
  3. Make Sacrifices: What are you willing to give up? It doesn’t mean you have to sell your home and give away all your stuff, but it does mean you will make sacrifices to say yes. It does mean you will live obediently, no matter what the cost may be. Watch out! When you are willing to give everything up to serve and love Him, God will change everything.
  4. Take Action: Real action takes movement and when it’s time to move forward, DO IT AFRAID and move! If we aren’t willing to jump in the adventure with both feet, we miss out on the plans He sets in motion for us. If we move too slow, we find ourselves slacking back into old habits, old fears, and old living.
  5. Remember His Grace: Here’s the thing, we will always be messy. We are sinful by nature and will constantly, consistently, and miserably fail. Grace is the gift of favor and love from Jesus because we don’t deserve His love. We don’t deserve His undeserving redemption. I don’t know about you, but that takes the pressure off all our big fat failures.
  6. Remember the Battle: Satan wants to discourage us, make us feel like failures. He kills our dreams, steals our ambitions, and destroys our spirits. It’s not God that’s not putting us back in the game, it’s us allowing satan to keep us out of the game through what he does in our minds, filling our thoughts with despair, guilt, shame, loneliness, and failure. Take every thought captive! (2 Corinthians 10:5)
  7. Make Jesus Famous: Give Him full control of your life. Say YES right now– today to follow Him the rest of your life. Full surrender. Complete obedience. Every adventure will be different. Look different. But, it will be a God-sized adventure. Nothing is better than loving and knowing Jesus.

Sisters, our “stuff” was never designed to make us happy. Our joy does not come from materialistic things. True joy comes from saying YES to serving and loving and caring and blessing and helping others with your gifts, talents, and passions.


unnamed-1Bio: Kari Gibson is the proud daughter of marriage and parenting guru, Gary Smalley. She learned at an early age how to dream big and pray bold and love people. She is the author of four children’s books, Mookie’s Secret, The Very Scary Cave, Mookie and the Too-Proud Peacock, and Mookie the Berry Bandit.

She has spent the past 6 years leading mission teams to Haiti, Uganda, and Ethiopia mobilizing others to go and love and serve big. She married her high school sweetheart, Roger, who is the senior director of adult and family ministries for Assemblies of God. Roger & Kari live in Springfield, MO with their three super-kids Michael, Hannah, and Zoie.

Kari blogs at My Crazy Adoption and writes about everyday life–marriage, family, parenting, faith, adoption, orphan care, and all the other things that celebrate the craziness of life and loving big.

WFMW: The Hardest Yes of Motherhood


I’m happy to welcome this week’s guest post from Erin for my Wednesday series Yes, Works For Me! Please welcome her and be encouraged by her yes to God and continue to link up what works for you.

The word “mess” is a familiar one to me. I’ve never been the best at keeping things well organized, but add three boys and all the Legos that come along with them, and I’m usually surrounded by messes. When I read the concept of saying “yes in my mess” in Kristen’s book I thought, “I can do that. I’ve been doing that for years.”

It turns out our messes aren’t always just physical, though, and it is often the relational, spiritual, and emotional messes that prevent us from saying yes more often to God and His plans for us.

I’m writing this during a break in packing my oldest son for camp. He’s eight and this is his first year going to church camp three hours away from home for four days. This may have been my hardest “yes” as a parent so far, and not just because I’m going to miss him or because he’ll be so far away and I worry.

Erin Yes In My Mess Post

My relationship with my eight-year-old has been quite messy for the past year or so. I am sure it’s not that much out of the ordinary. Many other moms of eight-year-old boys have reassured me of this. I asked his permission before telling this story because it is his story as well, but honestly, I don’t know if he feels the mess between us as much as I do.

The relational tension between us is two-sided, but I’m owning up to my part today. I’m creating a lot of mess with my own expectations and a desire to hold on to control of my family. Yuck. I hate to admit that, but this is where my “yes” came in to play.

Several months ago, my firstborn came home from AWANA talking about church camp and how he was finally old enough to go. “Can I go?! PLEASE?!” I was happy to hear him excited, but my mind quickly swirled with thoughts of him being too young and not ready and the camp being too long and too far away. This seemed like something very much out of my control.

Besides the control thing, I couldn’t help but think about where our relationship as mother and son was…and how I didn’t want it to be this way just before he left to be on his own for the first time. I had to make the decision to send him to camp or not in the middle of that mess. This was just about the time I was reading Rhinestone Jesus. As I wrestled with this balance of feeling God leading me to let my boy go and the feeling that I wanted our relationship to be “right” before I released him, I read this…

“God didn’t wait for me to get my life together before I said yes – He accepted my willingness in the middle of my mess.”

That’s just what I did. I said yes in the middle of my mess. I’m not writing this to tell you what happened on the other side. We’ve been working on my expectations and his respect for me, both making progress but with lots of room to grow. He leaves for camp tomorrow morning and I really have no idea what God will do through this. I only know He is working on me through this whole experience, asking me to let go so that He can shine. And I trust that He will.

“God wants us right in the middle of our mess because it’s the perfect place for Him to shine through our imperfections.”



Erin Mohring enjoys life in Nebraska with her husband of 11 years and their three boys, as well as reading, running, and movie nights with her guys. She writes at Home with the Boys and is the co-founder of The MOB Society, a site for moms of boys, by moms of boys.

WFMW: Why this Mother is Moving to Uganda {Giveaway}



I’m happy to welcome this week’s guest post from Emily for my Wednesday series Yes, Works For Me! Please welcome her and be encouraged by her yes to God and continue to link up what works for you.

I wore Africa on my feet when I was three.

I wore it red on my soles, padding softly across the dirt to stare through the wire fence at neighbors dressed in bright prints and singing deep songs from somewhere low, their hips swaying as they washed dishes and clothes in the sun, in bubbles in a bucket.


Kristen Welch

The same kind of bucket I bathed in with my brother who was borne premature in the Congo, and our house was made of cement and my crib covered in mosquito netting, the legs of the crib in bowls of water to keep the tarantulas from climbing.

We ate mangoes, fallen red and plump on the ground by the garden where Mum grew legumes and squash and she canned those mangoes and we spread them on homemade bread.

I stopped talking when we moved to Africa and didn’t say a single word while I lived there. I just laughed and all those words, they got caught in my throat and then we went back to Canada when I was four.

And they said we were home but I didn’t see it. Because home wasn’t white and cold, it was red dirt roads and hot like the sun, and I’ve spent my whole life trying to get back there.

I’ve spent my whole life trying to find home.

I tried to find it in an eating disorder when I was nine because even though I’d found my voice I wasn’t allowed to say what I needed to. We were pastor’s kids and we moved a lot, we were home-schooled and I was the eldest of four, and my Dad was always at church and I didn’t have any friends, so I stopped eating.

And even after I nearly died at sixty pounds, and the nurses said I was a miracle and I began to believe in God, it wasn’t enough and I couldn’t leave our house fast enough at eighteen.

Searching the whole globe for home, but I never made it back to Africa.

Not until this January, when I went on a bloggers trip to Uganda and that red dirt, how it clung to my soles.

I embraced every bright-clad woman I saw, every child, and I couldn’t stop holding the people because they were family.

But my family was hurting.

They wouldn’t say it. They just hugged me and moved over so I could sit with them in the dirt, in their life, and hold their babies.

And even though I visited Rwanda too, it was Uganda which wrapped my heart tight like Kikoyi, an African cloth, and I was there for three and a half days.

I took Uganda back with me on the plane, I took it sobbing and restless and wrecked for the abandoned babies I’d seen, for the slums with their cardboard walls and the hunger, and the child-headed households and the thirst—the hospital that had no well, the kids who had no school to attend or shoes to wear, I took it all home, and I fell on my face every night begging God to show me what to do.

And he said to this girl who hadn’t spoken until she was four, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (Proverbs 31:8-9)

The Lulu Tree is a name God gave me before I knew it was a real tree in Uganda, a Shea nut tree which produces fruit, as the website says, in the people’s exact time of seasonal hunger. Lulu means pearl in Swahili, and Uganda is the pearl of Africa, and we have no plan except to be like Jesus.

To feed beans and to read a Bible story. My friend Joy is our hands and feet in Kampala, she lives there with her family and she is overseeing a team of nationals who will minister to the mamas and children in the slums of Katwe.

And in four years, in September of 2018, my husband, kids and I will be moving to Uganda for one year to serve alongside Joy.

God whispered it to me when I left for Uganda in January: “Your job is not to fix. I could fix the world with one breath. Your job is to love.”

I hear this every time I fall on the floor in the dark begging God to help those children, the ones sniffing glue to numb their hunger, the ones lying in the same dirt chickens defecate on.

All we have is a pot of beans and a Bible. But it’s our loaves and fishes. And we’re trusting Christ for a miracle.



My memoir, ATLAS GIRL, is releasing this month, and I am excited to give away FIVE copies today. Just leave a comment below to win!

From the back cover:

“Disillusioned and yearning for freedom, Emily Wierenga left home at age eighteen with no intention of ever returning. Broken down by organized religion, a childhood battle with anorexia, and her parents’ rigidity, she set out to find God somewhere else–anywhere else. Her travels took her across Canada, Central America, the United States, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia. She had no idea that her faith was waiting for her the whole time–in the place she least expected it.

“Poignant and passionate, Atlas Girl is a very personal story of a universal yearning for home and the assurance that we are known, forgiven, and beloved. Readers will find in this memoir a true description of living faith as a two-way pursuit in a world fraught with distraction. Anyone who wrestles with the brokenness we find in the world will love this emotional journey into the arms of the God who heals all wounds.”

Click HERE for a free excerpt.

I’m also giving away a FREE e-book to anyone who orders Atlas Girl. Just order HERE, and send a receipt to:, and you’ll receive A House That God Built: 7 Essentials to Writing Inspirational Memoir an absolutely FREE e-book co-authored by myself and editor/memoir teacher Mick Silva.

Atlas Girl_700x175_2

ALL proceeds from Atlas Girl will go towards my non-profit, The Lulu Tree. The Lulu Tree is dedicated to preventing tomorrow’s orphans by equipping today’s mothers. It is a grassroots organization bringing healing and hope to women and children in the slums of Uganda through the arts, community, and the gospel.
Bio: Emily T. Wierenga is an award-winning journalist, blogger, commissioned artist and columnist, as well as the author of five books including the memoir, Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look (Baker Books). She lives in Alberta, Canada with her husband and two sons. For more info, please visit Find her on Twitter or Facebook.

WFMW: Because Your Yes Is Worth It


I’m happy to welcome this week’s guest post from Andrea for my Wednesday series Yes, Works For Me! Please welcome her and be encouraged by her yes to God and continue to link up what works for you.

God has given each of us gifts, passions and dreams that are for His glory.
These desires and passions are all to advance the kingdom.
He wants to use each of us to do amazing things.

What you do everyday is good. You are doing the faithful work He has called you to.
He has great plans for your life. He has great vision and purpose for you.

I am writing these words and I really believe them in my heart.

But…I get stuck on a few details.

I am a mess.
My life is messy and not perfect.
At. All.

How can I say yes to God size dreams when I can’t even control the family laundry?

say yes image

How can I say yes to the desires and stirrings in my soul when I stink at meal planning and when my kids eat more cereal and mac&cheese than I care to admit?

How can I say yes to the dreams that are tearing me apart and scare the living daylights in me; the dreams that bring me to my knees and make me tremble?

How do I step outside of my everyday life and walk in the dreams and visions He has called me to?

Am I so bold to say, “Lord, I can’t seem to wash my kids’ underwear, but here am I, send me?”

Am I that audacious?
No. I’m not.

It’s easier for me to cower in my mess and say, “Lord, I am not qualified. I am not perfect. I can’t even match socks correctly. I forget to put a timer on meals and burn them often. I call going to the library ‘school’ more than I probably should and then I don’t return books and rack up embarrassing fines.”

Yet God says, “You think I don’t know you’re crazy? You think I don’t see your mess?
I see it. I’m calling you anyways. I give you dreams and visions despite the mess.
If you give the mess and the crazy to me…I will make it beautiful and fruitful.”

Because, ya’ll…He is really good at taking nothing and making something.
He is really good at taking cowards and making them brave.
He is really good at taking the meaningless, everyday mess and producing an overflow of greatness.
He is really good at taking the unqualified and making them purposeful and outstanding.

Because ya’ll…He made Eve from a rib and her womb was fruitful.
He made Esther bravely step up and she saved a nation.
He made Ruth do the work of gleaning and from her womb came the line of the Savior.
He made Peter, an unqualified, mess of a fisherman speak words of truth that saved 3000 people in ONE day.

God is worth the mess of life.
He is worth the crazy, beautiful, big dreams of life.

He desires for you to say yes.

Say yes, because what God is leading you to is worth everything.
Say yes, because God is worth it.
Say YES.



Andrea Portilla has been married to her high school sweetheart for 11 years and she is also a mom and home educator to three amazing kids. Andrea can be found online at 5 Minutes for Faith and will soon be contributing to the new online magazine, Faith, Truth and Love. Andrea writes about her passions, faith and imperfections at BeautifulCraziness and her greatest desire is to inspire women to walk faithfully in what God has called them to within in their own beautiful, crazy lives.


WFMW: Saying “Yes” and Trusting God to Provide


I’m happy to welcome this week’s guest post from LeeAnn for my Wednesday series Yes, Works For Me! Please welcome her and be encouraged by her yes to God and continue to link up what works for you.

Snuggled in our king-sized bed under mounds of fluffy down feathers, sleep overtook me as I waited for my husband to come home from a late night meeting at the church we helped plant less than four years prior. As a pastor on staff, his days and nights were filled with meetings, ministry, and more meetings. Our marriage and family life were struggling under the weight of expectations and other challenges of ministry life. His heavy footsteps treading down the hall woke me and the words, “I think I’m going to resign” came gently tumbling out of his mouth.

Rhinestone Jesus by Kristen Welch
In one night, my comfortable identify as a pastor’s wife in the church we loved came crashing down.

In the months ahead, I followed my husband into uncharted, uncertain territory as he moved from a steady (albeit small) church ministry salary to launching his own pastoral life coaching business and ministry. It didn’t take long to see God’s hand of favor in the one-on-one interactions he had on a daily basis, and my husband’s faith moved him to try audacious things as a new small business owner.

But I was scared.

Our tiny emergency fund wasn’t even the amount of one month’s salary and everyone knows starting your own business isn’t a recipe for quick financial success. My full time income alone wasn’t enough to meet our basic household financial obligations.

“Deep down I knew God was calling us to something radical,” writes Kristen Welch in Rhinestone Jesus. “And even though radical terrified me, I was more afraid of not following God.”

As his wife, I desperately wanted to support my husband in this new opportunity as he ministered to those who would never step foot in the door of a church but who would listen to godly wisdom shared in the context of creating goals and breaking down life’s hurdles.

His faith was contagious and it prompted my journey from a fear-based religion to a faith-based relationship with Jehovah Jireh, our Provider.

After two years of struggling financially when every month we have more bills than income, we have watched month after month God provide in large and small ways for our needs.

  • My husband’s new office needed painting? One of his first clients gave him a gift card to a paint store and friends provided the labor.
  • The kids needed pajamas? Old Navy had their exact sizes on clearance for $0.47. (No, that’s not a typo…less than a dollar each!)
  • No money for gas or groceries one month? A client gave me a card and $400 in cash with a note encouraging me as the wife of a world-changer…she knew it was hard and wanted to encourage me to continue to follow my husband as he pursued God’s call for his life.
  • The mortgage payment in jeopardy of not being paid on time? Without knowing the need, a friend gave us a check that more than covered the payment.
  • Christmas coming up and no money for gifts or extras? A family gave us $200 and told us to enjoy the holiday.

There are so many more examples of God’s faithfulness and provision through this time. We have learned that remembering God’s past faithfulness is the key to moving forward in bold faith.

Saying “yes” to God even in the midst of uncertainty has proven to be the greatest blessing. While I still at times struggle with fear as our financial situation each month is filled with unknowns, I am learning that “our need cannot be bigger than God’s provision.” (Gary Morland)

As we continue to say “yes,” He continues to provide for our needs, one day at a time.



Growing up all along the east coast in a military family, LeeAnn Taylor has settled in North Carolina with her husband Chuck and two spunky kids, Salem and Sekaiah (with one more on the way!). She’s learned that living out the Christian life authentically requires daily submitting the pieces of our broken lives to God, the Ultimate Artist, allowing him to craft them into a beautiful mosaic masterpiece that can be used for His glory. She writes at The Mosaic Life about the journey of releasing fear & control, living intentionally, and embracing the freedom of Christ.


WFMW: Your Yes Is Enough


I’m happy to welcome this week’s guest post from Michelle for my Wednesday series Yes, Works For Me! Please welcome her and be encouraged by her yes to God and continue to link up what works for you.

I remember gazing at the check on my dining room table, my cursive signature tidy in the lower right corner. The night before, my husband Brad and I had decided to sponsor the education of two teenaged Tanzanian girls. I’d dutifully written out the check the next morning, but I stopped just short of sliding the blue slip into an envelope.

I didn’t want to mail the money.

Brad and I had supported local charities sporadically for years – ten dollars for hunger, twenty dollars for new sneakers, an unwrapped Christmas gift, a few checks here and there – but we’d never contributed to an initiative that entailed such a significant monetary commitment.

But as I sat at the dining room table with the pen in my hand, I realized the money itself wasn’t the problem. The hard truth was that I simply didn’t want to spend it on something that seemed so fruitless.  What was the point? I reasoned. Who were these girls, and how would our help make any difference at all? It felt futile, like the tiniest drop

That was five years ago. Today photographs of Jackline and Neema hang on our stainless steel fridge. They are women now, wise eyes and huge smiles replacing gawky school-girlishness.


Last week I received an exuberant email from Jackline. She’s enrolled at the university, studying to become a professor. In her note she included a list of final grades from her first semester at college, and I smiled big like a beaming mother when I saw all the As and Bs.

Neema is finishing her last year of high school and hoping she’ll do well enough on the national examinations to gain entrance into the university. She always begins her letters, “Dear my lovely parents…” neatly scripted on stationary she’s illustrated by hand.



I admit, even after five years, I still struggle to write letters to Neema and Jackline. Sometimes the gulf between Nebraska and Africa seems to yawn so wide, I can barely string together a single paragraph. What to write to those who have so little?

Should I mention we recently returned from palm-lined beaches?

Should I say we are taking our young son and his five friends bowling for his birthday party?

I can’t possibly admit we repainted our older son’s bedroom, bought him new curtains and a new comforter to replace the ones that were not very worn.

I feel guilty. We have so much and they so little. It seems wrong, backwards and upside-down, that the ones who have virtually nothing pray for the ones who have so much. And truthfully, our handful of letters and once-a-year check seem not nearly enough.

“It’s common to have the desire to do something but end up doing nothing because we don’t know where to start,” writes Kristen Welch in Rhinestone Jesus. “We often don’t do anything because we think our contribution won’t be enough.”

She’s right. Most days it doesn’t feel like nearly enough. Two young women in a country of more than 40 million people, 60 percent of whom live on less than $2 a day? How does that make a difference at all? How can our checks, our letters, possibly matter?

Except they do. Even when I don’t quite know what to say, those letters and those checks matter for two women with wise eyes and broad smiles. Two women who live 8,750 miles away, in a country stricken with poverty. Two women named Jackline and Neema.

Our efforts are small, as are our contributions. They barely register a blip. But those smiles beaming at me from our fridge tell me something important: our yes is enough.


bioA Massachusetts native, Michelle DeRusha moved to Nebraska in 2001, where she discovered the Great Plains, grasshoppers the size of Cornish hens … and God. She is the author of Spiritual Misfit: A Memoir of Uneasy Faith and 50 Women Every Christian Should Know: Learning from Heroines of the Faith (releasing September 16, 2014).  Michelle writes about finding and keeping faith in the everyday at She’s mom to two bug-loving boys, Noah and Rowan, and is married to Brad, an English professor who reads Moby Dick for fun.

WFMW: Yes Starts With Blind Faith


I’m happy to welcome this week’s guest post from Kelli for my Wednesday series Yes, Works For Me! Please welcome her and be encouraged by her yes to God and continue to link up what works for you.

He toddled up to me, babbling in a language that was equal parts baffling and poetic. Scooting backward into my lap, the small boy with a mop of blonde hair spoke as though we were lifelong friends, his animated story inducing hearty laughter from the caretakers in our presence.

I was fifteen, on my first foreign mission trip to Minsk, Belarus, and I was enamored with this foreign land. I left that trip with the little boy from the orphanage seared permanently on my heart.

Twelve months later, I landed in Kiev, Ukraine on a second mission trip, and I felt like I was coming home. I would return a third time to Kiev before leaving for college where I minored in the Russian language, eventually spending four months in Kiev exploring, learning, and further cultivating a love for the country and culture.

That’s where my “Yes” began.

When my husband and I married, my past experiences were so engrained in my very being that it seemed natural to assume our story would include that place. I decided early on that the obvious connection between my life as a married woman in America, and my deep love for Slavic culture would intersect in a Russian adoption.

In May, 2012, my husband finally felt ready to say “Yes”, if for no other reason, he said, than the Lord had not given him the freedom to say no. Sometimes, the next steps are obvious. And sometimes, we just have to say yes in blind faith.


Fourteen years after I first felt this twinge of hope, the dream became a reality, and it never, ever occurred to me that we wouldn’t succeed. Though I knew Russian adoptions to be tenuous, there was never a part of me that thought ours wouldn’t be successful. It seemed the Lord was preparing us for this the whole time.

Until the Russian government shut down adoptions in the middle of our process, leaving me doubtful of God’s goodness and devastated at the loss of a dream. It took me more than a year to piece back together my fragile faith. We looked into adopting from every other country available, but the Lord would not give my heart the freedom to leave Russia and Ukraine.

That’s when my “Yes” changed.

I abandoned the “Yes” that made sense to me, and I began praying that the Lord would lead us to what He had planned. In so doing, our “Yes” has become much larger than we anticipated. We’ve learned more about the orphan crisis in Ukraine, and our hearts have been broken for the children aging out of orphanages at 16, and forced to live on the streets.

60% of the girls turn to prostitution. 70% of young boys turn to drugs and alcohol. And now that we know, how can we not respond?

The thing about saying “Yes” is that the outcome is never a guarantee. So much of Kristen’s story in Rhinestone Jesus resonated with me, but this quote in particular has rolled through my heart with a steady beat:

Kristen writes, “If I have learned anything in this journey, it’s this: the good makes the hard worth it. But getting to the good part requires making it through the valley of the hard.”

We never would have headed down our current path of ministering to aged out Ukrainian orphans if we hadn’t experienced the devastation of our terminated adoption. We had to say “Yes” to the first path to find the second.

It seemed the Lord was preparing us for this the whole time.

Kelli Stuart is a wife, a mother, a writer, and the driver of a smokin’ hot minivan. Kelli can be found numerous places online including Compassion International, The MOB Society, Extraordinary Mommy, and Mercy Found Ministries. Kelli shares her heart, her humor, and her quest for inspiration at Kelli