I’m Dreaming of a Mercy Christmas

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Today we launch our SheLoves Mercy Christmas Project. Our hope is to give 18 residents at Mercy Ministries of Canada a Christmas they won’t easily forget. We hope you’ll join us in spreading unconditional Love in this very practical way.

18 residents x $200 = $3,600. Please ChipIn here  or if you would like a tax receipt, please scroll down and donate online through Relate Church. We so appreciate you!

If you’d like to make a donation and give it as a gift this Christmas, here’s a beautiful PDF card you can download and print out: SheLoves Mercy Christmas 2012 (<— Click on the link for download.)

I have a dream this Christmas … well, actually I have several dreams. The one I get to share with you today is on my heart all year round–not just when the weather starts turning cold and the leaves begin to display God’s beauty in radiant colors.

There is a small residential home in Surrey, British Columbia for young women with life-controlling issues. These issues could include eating disorders, addiction, self-harm, depression, suicidal tendencies and unplanned pregnancies (just to name a few). This place is called Mercy Ministries of Canada and it is the place I called home for seven months, which just happened to include the Christmas of 2010.  [Honesty disclaimer here … I am HUGELY biased! Lol]

I can say to you, without hesitation, going to Mercy saved my life, my marriage and my two boys. I had severe anorexia nervosa, major depression and I just wished I was dead. My internal organs were damaged and my heart was literally giving out.

I was hospitalized for the month of June 2010, again because of my heart, and my doctors said I wouldn’t live past Christmas if things didn’t drastically change. I remember being relieved. The end was finally coming. I only had to be alive a few more months.

One day I will tell you how God intervened in that hospital room. I’ll tell you how God brought people into my life to carry me through my valley of death when I could no longer walk, and how I ended up applying to be a resident of Mercy. For now, though, I get to tell you about how God used a simple Christmas gift to teach me all about His love!  [I am so excited for this… OK, let’s go!]

Christmases Present

It was a couple of weeks before Christmas. Fresh snow was falling and the house was beautifully decorated for the season. The air was full of the sumptuous aromas of a full-on turkey dinner (complete with all the fixings) and, oh my … the dining room looked like it had been cut out of a design magazine. People were talking, hugging and laughing and having so much joy. Out in the gathering room there was a Christmas tree with presents under it, around it and even more surrounding the room. There were presents everywhere!

Sounds perfect, right?

To me, it looked too good to be true. “Where’s the catch?” I wondered. “What do you really want from me?”

I still remember thinking: “You’re just giving me this so I’ll come back after break! I don’t want these gifts! I don’t deserve this! I just want to leave!”

Those were my thoughts, but I was wrong. These expressions of Love were real, because I was at the Mercy Ministries Canada Christmas Party.

My Christmases past …

Christmas was never a happy time when I was growing up. I can remember other children at school getting overly excited for school break, grandparents to visit, food to eat, Santa to come and presents to open.

“Don’t get me wrong, I did receive some presents, but I also knew the unsaid expectation that came attached with each one. I would rather have had nothing at all.”

To me, Christmas meant spending more time in my house, with my father, with my family and I dreaded it every year.

But that Christmas, I remember sitting side by side, with my Mercy sisters, on the long white couch surrounded by a mountain of gifts. I knew these presents had come in from complete strangers. They didn’t know me, they didn’t know my story and they didn’t even know my name. To say I was freaking out would be the understatement of the year. I wanted to run out of the room so badly, but somehow I got stuck right in the middle of the group and running was not an option.

In that moment I couldn’t see or understand why my anxiety was so high … but God has shown me since that I wasn’t trying to run away from the presents. What I was trying to run away from was the unconditional love that each of those presents represented; the unconditional love I didn’t think I deserved.

Total strangers loved me enough to send me a Christmas gift with the knowledge that they would never know who received it. These strangers showed me what unconditional love really looked liked, and by extension, they showed me the unconditional love God has for me in a real and tangible form. That Christmas I experienced love that had no conditions attached. God’s perfect love.

That day my heart began to soften and I began to trust just the tiniest bit … A seed was planted that Christmas and it has been growing ever since!!  I am eternally grateful to everyone who gave from their hearts that Christmas. God used them in ways I’ll never truly be able to convey in words.

I received so much that Christmas and I have come so far since then. So, here is my dream for the Christmas of 2013:

My dream is for our SheLoves family to gather around the current residents of Mercy Ministries and shower them with God’s unconditional love in a tangible way.

Very Practical Gift

One of the most important gifts the Mercy residents have received in the past, is actually a very practical one–a gift card to the mall. I can share with you from my experience, and from talking with my Mercy Sisters, that this gift is the one that brought us the most tears.

Let me explain a little bit about this … Most of the girls who go to Mercy do not have much, if anything at all. Some girls do not even have the essentials, like a winter coat or toiletries or warm socks. There is an entirely different side to this as well, and this is the side that affected me. I went into Mercy wearing a certain size of clothing. That “all important number” is what I graded my self-worth on (the lower the better) and they didn’t make anything smaller.

As Mercy helped me gain health back and restored my weight, I went up in clothing sizes. It was so hard each time I had to concede to the next “number”; each time I felt a complete loss of control and like a failure. I didn’t always have the money to buy bigger jeans, so I would squeeze into the old ones. The problem with this is that it would constantly remind me of the weight I had gained and trigger my eating disordered voices.

With the gift cards, the girls will be able to buy a winter coat or a bigger size pants and not have to worry about where the money is going to come from. It really is such a practical gift, but one that means so much more than you might ever realize.

So …

I would love for us to be able to gift the 18 Mercy residents with $200 in gift cards each. That means, as a SheLoves community we hope to raise $3600. With this in mind, we have set up a SheLoves Chipin account that is easy to access and is really user friendly!

18 residents x $200 = $3,600

The amount received (with a small percentage paid to Chipin) will be divided equally between the residents and given to them at their Christmas party. I cannot tell you enough the impact this gift will leave with each precious young woman.

We might never know her story or her name. We won’t get to see her face as she opens up a gift and we won’t receive a “thank you.” But we will know that God is working to mend her broken heart through the love of us strangers, and who knows, maybe one day she’ll get to write about it. Maybe one day she’ll get to rally an army of women to show God’s unconditional love to those in need.

UPDATE:

We can now offer tax receipts through Relate Church!

DONATE ONLINE HERE:

– Please select “No Shipping” and “No State/Province” to avoid extra charges

Please enter amount to donate first and then click on ‘Donate’: $

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Could you please help us spread the word about our SheLoves Mercy Christmas project? #shelovesmercy

If you like, here are some suggested tweets:

– Joining @shelovesmag today to show what Love can do this Christmas, for Mercy’s sake: http://wp.me/p2Betl-6mj  #shelovesmercy

– I’m dreaming of a Mercy Christmas. How about you? http://wp.me/p2Betl-6mj #shelovesmercy

– 18 precious women experiencing God’s unconditional Love through the hearts of strangers: http://wp.me/p2Betl-6mj #shelovesmercy

– Count this stranger in: http://wp.me/p2Betl-6mj #shelovesmercy

– Helping set girls free from life-controlling issues through a simple gift of unconditional Love: http://wp.me/p2Betl-6mj #shelovesmercy

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Rebecca Graham

Rebecca Graham

I am a Lover of God, wife to an incredible man, and mother to two amazing boys! We live in the Greater Toronto Area, where we live life every day to the fullest. That includes the blessing of being a stay-at-home mom, baking, crafting, creating, and just taking the time to 'be' together. Life circumstances brought me to Mercy Ministries of Canada as a resident in 2010, where I learned of the Love that God has for me. My life is now about showing that Love to everyone I meet!
Rebecca Graham

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Comments

  1. Having lived with a dear friend who was a Mercy Ministries counselor at the house in St. Louis for a few years, I know I myself have been blessed simply in hearing the stories of redemption that come from those homes. It is a privilege to participate in your call for donations and pray for God’s work to continue in these havens for women as they are led to meet Him one on one. 🙂

    • Rebecca Graham says:

      Thank you so much Jill! I’m still blown away, even 2 years later, by strangers love… By love like yours!!

  2. So wonderful Rebecca! Thank you for being so brave and sharing your story, and your dream for Christmas this year! I am cheering my sisters on from Uganda, and can’t wait to hear all of the amazing reports of generosity! Christmas redeemed for so many– in Jesus name!

  3. Love you so much and so incredibly proud of I think I may explode. Beautifully written – you captured that Christmas moment exquisitely. This is just the tip of the iceberg honey.

    • Rebecca Graham says:

      Thank You Megan. I love and miss you too! You were such a huge part of my journey at Mercy… and still to this day. You are incredible, I just thought you should know that! 🙂

  4. Thank you for this opportunity! Count me in!

  5. So exciting! I love your story Rebecca and I can’t wait to be a part of bringing some joy to the Mercy Girls. Thank you for bringing us the opportunity 🙂 xo

  6. Made tears well up in my eyes looking at your family photo. I love you so dearly my friend Rebecca. The hope and compassion you carry within you in certainly God given.

  7. You will raise even more. I just know it.He’ll show you His heart is so very big. Rich blessings…and deep abiding.

    • Amy… You are so right! God has shown me over & over again just how much he loves us!! Makes me cry everytime!

Trackbacks

  1. […] also launched the SheLoves Mercy Christmas project–to empower and give dignity to the young women at Mercy Ministries of Canada for Christmas. […]

  2. […] year I had a dream: I dreamed of a Mercy Christmas. It was a dream in which the residents of the Mercy Ministries home would be showered with love. A […]

  3. […] weeks ago, we asked you to come alongside our Mercy girls, starved for unconditional love. Rebecca told her story and we shared our Christmas Dream. Donations came in, but not with the gusto I’d hoped. The […]

  4. […] doors at Mercy Canada, to where she is now – a thriving mother of two, striving to give back. Check out her story about the Very Merry Mercy Christmas she experienced. Long-time readers, you will remember this because we were a part of it and […]

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