On the edge of the equator, on the edge of a slum — I sit with a woman at a loom.
This is the woman who would unexpectedly start to flip our farmhouse.
I’d never met her before.
But she’s the actual woman who wove the welcome mat that’s been laying just inside the backdoor of our farm house this last year.
I reach out to shake her hand. All our Homes tell a story.
Claris and her woven welcome mat is part of the story of our home. I watch Claris’ eyes.
Every blanket, every mat, every spoon, every plate — in every one of our homes — began somewhere in the world, was made by someone in the world, and somehow changed a bit of the world’s story — for better or worse.
I step closer to watch how Claris weaves.
Claris shuttles the threads through her hands, moves the weave of things with her feet. I lean forward and ask Claris what runs through her mind when she runs the whirl of loom.
“Always I’m thinking,” she says, her hands not leaving the shuttle and the long mat she is weaving. “I will only have the right pattern, if my hands and feet keep moving together right. I just have to keep my hands and feet moving together just right.”
I watch Claris’s holy work, the way her hands and feet move, and something in me is deeply moved. I reach out to touch her shoulder.
When you’re following the pattern of Christ, you’re always about how hands and feet really move together — just like His.
In the middle of a Nairobi slum, in a singular shaft of light from the relief of an open door, I sit in the suffocating heat of a tin shack, with Claris who has invited me — into her home.
The only welcome mat Claris has is her warm smile.
But she invites me right to her table.
In a slum in Nairobi, I sit in the home of a woman who’s uniquely woven herself into part of my home, and I sit under her roof, at her table, and I start to name that in me which is deeply moved:
Make homes into holy places
and make holy places into welcoming homes
Make tables into altars —
and make altars into tables
because He who is our bread
Invites us all
to be a celebrating, banqueting people who:
Make space at tables
Break bread at tables
Recognize Him at tables
Feast till the very end of time at tables
And invite more to the Table.
Lay out the welcome mats. Set the tables. Make the tables long, so more know they belong. Tear down the gates and lay out more plates.
Grace given, grace received, grace passed forward and given again.
Claris passes cups of tea around her table and she tells us: She is the aunt of Lillian and she’s now Lillian’s guardian. Because Lillian had been passed around from slum shack to slum shack, from man to man, raped and assaulted and disposed of, until she found herself pregnant and in the the safe refuge in Mercy House’s home. A safe home for young girls raped in the slums — a safe home for vulnerable girls to become mothers.
When Lillian now visits the slum with her giggling baby boy slung on her hip, men down the alleys call out her name, call out threats, call out a price. But Lillian keeps walking. Because now? Now Aunt Claris is a full-time weaving artisan with Mercy House and she can afford safer housing, a better home, she can put food on the table, and Lillian’s in school and being offered vocational training through Mercy House.
So now? Lillian can walk home.
I tell Aunt Claris that my Farmer husband says her mat at our home’s back door is the best one we’ve ever had, and he asked where I got that mat, and I think how all our homes long to tell the very best story.
The welcome mats under our feet, the steaming mugs in our hands, the full bowls on our tables, could tell a grace story — a story of fair trade, a story of life change, a story of saving, Gospel grace. Stories that empower a sister, change the lives of a whole family, free another soul from darkness, offer the sheltering roof of amazing grace.
I ask Aunt Claris what story she wants the people who stand on her mats to know?
“I want you to be happy and your life to be changed.” She takes my hand in hers.
“Because — because of that rug, all the rugs — I am happy and our lives are changed.”
She’s weeping happy. And I fling my arms around her.
Claris and Lillian’s whole lives have flipped…. Because of the dignity of work, because of becoming a creator, an artisan, because of fair trade.
And I look her in the eye:
What if all our lives kinda flipped, our paradigms flipped, our perspectives flipped, our priorities flipped, our homes flipped — because the stories in our homes flipped — from unfair stories — to fair trade stories?
Flipped to a story that you would want to know, a story you’d want to tell — not a story of oppression or exploitation, but a story that deeply respects every artisan with the dignity of a quality work environment, that fully honors their craft with empowering, fair compensation.
If our homes aren’t telling a fair trade story — are our homes telling an unfair story?
Make the most eternal investment by House Flipping — by flipping house scripts — from a house full of unfair stories to a home full of fair trade stories.
When I walk in the back door of the farmhouse — I step onto that welcome mat — and into the story of Claris, the story of Lillian, into a story that’s changing the world. I smile.
Be happy! All our lives are changed! Watch how all our hands and feet can move — reaching out to each other — to invite each other into more and more Grace.
When we sit down to eat — we share a kind of communion with the world, with the hands that grew our food, with the hands that made our plates. Tables become altars and altars become tables.
Make tables into altars — and make altars into tables, because He who is our bread invites us all to be a celebrating people who make space at tables, break bread at tables, recognizes Him at tables — and invite more to the table.
A Grace Crafted Home tells a grace story — that all, everywhere, are invited to His table. Into His life-changing home.
Wherever there is a place of Grace —
we all find more of Home.
A place where we show grace. Give grace. Pass on Grace.
And I laugh when I flip over that mat in the mudroom — laugh and tell the Farmer that when the chips are down, let’s flip houses that do nothing less than gain more grace for more of the world.
The man grins a mile wide and winks and it’s my that heart flips — and our lives and stories and unfair stories and all our homes can all flip.
On the edge of a room, on the corner of a mat, I stand on a soft weave in bare feet, because a fair trade home like this could become a bit of holy ground.
Because — nothing ever flips the script like grace.
To (our New Fair Trade Store!!) Grace Crafted Home —
the kind of home you’ve always longed for.
Every piece in our Grace Crafted Home collection is:
* fair trade
* dignifies, honors and empowers the artisan
* has a good story to tell — a story you’d not only want to know, but a story you’d want to tell — so you are part of changing story of the world for better
* 100% of all funds not only empowers artisans around the world, but partners with Mercy House Global to support several homes for young women and their babies in crisis pregnancies in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya
* 100% — every penny — of your Grace Crafted Home is giving grace back to those in need — and writing a grace story not only in your home, but around the world.
Choose to craft a home that is not only beautiful —
but crafts a meaningful, powerful and beautiful story in the world.