“Why don’t you meet every Sunday? What will you do if a visitor comes that day?”

It came as an honest question, someone wondering why our church community only meets every other week together, spending the other Sundays meeting in smaller groups in homes.

And it's one I’ve had to wrestle with these past few years.

The traditional church setting has been my constant companion since I was little girl—forever, really. As a community, it's been so good to me. Some of my fondest memories are with church people and at church functions. I was blessed to be loved—and loved well—by pastors, friends, and families that attended with us.

When I needed support, the church was there. When our family walked through hard times, they supported us. Not just with prayer, but in very tangible ways—meals, house cleaning, babysitting, cards, hugs—and so much more. When we celebrated, they were right there with us with bridal and baby showers that showed their love and support.

But I realize this is not everyone’s experience. There are those who have been hurt by the church and the people who go there. Christians have been mean to them, let them down, and in some cases even hurt and abused them.

I get that. I hear it. And I will not discard it just because it is different than my own experience.

Happy Monday, friends! In our past three years of blogging, we've met a number of amazing women with similar visions and passions. We're thrilled to feature one of those sweet friends today, the amazing Amy L. Sullivan, who is talking about five principles to help guide our daughters AND we're giving away a copy of her NEW book! (details below...)

I have one daughter making her way through middle school (stubborn lockers, multiple teachers, and important decisions about the dreaded lunchroom). Oh my. And I have one daughter starting first grade (new friendships, long bus rides, and math which includes fractions). Oh my.

As I watch my girls learn to navigate the world, I know one truth: growing up girl is no easy task.

Image by Gabriela Camerotti via Flickr
My morning started with my child stepping into a big pile of dog doo, thirty seconds before the bus pulled up to the bus stop.  The driver watched as I stopped frantically trying to wipe poop off a small left shoe (still attached to the child) with a twig, sighed resignedly and waived the driver on without my kid.

Happy Monday, friends! Today we are so excited to feature a guest post from Kelly Bingham. When she told us the story behind The Mom Quilt and the significance of the work The Mercy House is doing in Kenya, we were immediately on board. We love the ebook, the mission, and the love and care for others Kelly so clearly displays. Here's more from Kelly:

In a sleepy fog at 6:30 this morning, like every morning, I made my way down the stairs to prepare my son's bottles of formula for the day. I lined up five bottles, turned on the faucet, filled them with water and set them aside to add powdered formula.
Photos courtesy of The Mercy House

I take for granted sometimes that I don't think twice about giving my son water from our tap. We don't worry about clean water for drinking or bathing or laundry. We have it so well, in fact, that we often buy plastic water bottles to drink.

Water is not so easily available for young mothers and girls at The Mercy House in Kenya. The Mercy House provides safe refuge for young pregnant girls and new mothers in a place where women don't have many options. About 21,000 women are hospitalized each year from having illegal, unsafe abortions in Kenya, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights. Young females face a harsh and often unforgiving or even violent road, where abortion is a volatile topic, families often force females into the sex trade to provide food, and rape is common. The World Health Organization reports as many as 1,500 women die in childbirth every day in Africa.
“The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone of the structure.” Mark 12:10

We had some work done in our garden last week; nothing too exciting: a new fence, a bit of pruning, and a bit of levelling off of the ground. Our garden is quite small so every part of it is precious and much needed! We have three daughters, including a very inquisitive preschooler who loves investigating outdoors, so we were thrilled when the work was done and the limited space in our garden was maximised.

As the guys were finishing off, they were levelling the ground and discovered a BIG stone in the
ground. They were really surprised at its size, and it took the two of them to move it onto a level surface to investigate it. After a bit of debate and cleaning off, they decided it was a “cornerstone,” probably from the house next door, which used to be a manor. (Just to clarify, we do not live in a manor of any kind! Our house is messy, well-loved, used, run through with an the array of crunched up potato crisps on the sofa, paint spillages, dirty clothes and everything else that goes with a house of three girls!) The guys surmised that it probably would have been part of a wall at one time, bordering our house. The shape of it and the way it had been chiselled certainly seemed to fit with the description of a cornerstone. It was covered in dirt but, at the same time, it was beautiful.

We’ve heard about it for months. We’ve read about the terror. Rape. Murder. Fear. And there’s been talk of help, organizations who’ve been stepping up and those who’ve been praying.

But this week a little boy washed up on shore and something broke—deep within us—all around the world it could be felt.

We focused our eyes on what is happening, and we have not moved. We’ve watched. We’ve wept. We’ve prayed. We’ve read the statistics:


And now?

Tel Aviv at night
Hello, friends! As you know, Kendra, Julie and I are passionate about social justice issues. Recently, our dear friend Nancy talked to us about seeing the effects of human trafficking firsthand and a connection she made with someone who is trying to do something to help. We were more than happy to jump in and help spread awareness for this outstanding issue! We'll let Nancy explain:

"DAD!" A small, panicked voice echoed from the bedroom across the hall.

As my husband rolled out of bed, a glance at the clock glowed with a time well past midnight.

Shadows. They have suddenly become sinister in the eyes of our child as they loom and leer across floors and windows and walls.  
Today I have the privilege of sharing over at Michaela Evanow's blog a post I wrote for her series, this is motherhood too about raising an adopted child. Over the past few years I've been more than blessed by Michaela's blog, her honesty and her open heart. I hope you find her as much as an inspiration as I have.
Courtesy of Michaela Evanow
“Mommy is this right?” 
My daughter shows me the note she’s writing. There are pictures of herself and her siblings taped haphazardly alongside her printed words. 
“It’s close!” I reply. 
“Well, what would make it perfect? I want it to be perfect!” 
I glance over the note, stopping at the words mom and I love you. But this note isn’t for me, it’s for her other mother. Her birth mom. 
Jasmine came to us at three month old. She was a beautiful baby girl. I still remember that first day—what it felt like to hold her as she cooed at us, giving her a bath in our kitchen sink, laying her in the crib we’d borrowed from a family member, turning off the light to her freshly painted room. 
I remember months in limbo. As foster parents, we cared for kids, but never knew for how long or when they’d get placed somewhere else. 
Jasmine was different. I loved her from day one, secretly wanting to keep her for always. 
Miraculously, seven years later, here I am with my daughter by my side.

You can read the rest of my post here.

Today we're also linking up with Jennifer Dukes Lee and Holley Gerth.