Friday, February 27, 2009

Choosing to Take the High Road

I wanted to write a word of encouragement to Mercy graduates and supporters that whenever times get tough in your own life and whenever you are wrongly accused, we must continue to have faith in God and let Jesus be our example. When people say things about you that aren’t true or when attacks come, there is very clear instruction in the Word of God about what we are to do and what our stance is to be.

Matthew 5:11-12 says, “Blessed are you when you are reviled and persecuted and people say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad for great is our reward in heaven. For so they persecuted the prophets that were before you”. So we are in very good company when people say bad things about us because of our Christian walk. I am excited that God’s Word is true.

As Christians, we have to choose to refuse to be distracted by the enemy and to take the high road. Romans 12:21 instructs us, “Do not let yourself be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” At Mercy Ministries, we choose to do this by keeping our focus on what we do every day of our lives, which is transforming the lives of young women and seeing them set free from all kinds of life-controlling issues.

Another thing that the Word of God clearly shows us is how we are to respond when trials come, and even personal attacks. In Romans 12:14, it says to “bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them.” So we are to bless our enemies and pray for their eyes to be opened to the truth. And our prayer for these people should be to come to know the same Jesus that we know.

I want to share with you a word of encouragement from one of our graduates, who understands this principle at a deep level.

It has been 12 years since I walked through the doors of Mercy Ministries and as I look back, I am amazed at God's goodness and mercy on my life. I came to Mercy Ministries as a last ditch attempt to get help. I had suffered years of sexual abuse and as a result, became self-destructive in an attempt to regain control of my life. I came to the conclusion that I would never overcome my past. I decided if Mercy could not help me, I would take my life.I am so grateful that God had another plan. At Mercy Ministries, I experienced the love and grace of God. I forgave the person who abused me, and I was healed in many areas. I began to respect myself. Mercy gave me the tools I needed to walk in freedom.

Today I no longer hurt from the sexual abuse and can honestly say I hope the person who abused me comes to know to the Lord. God has been so good to me. He used Mercy Ministries to set me free. I now have a Master's Degree in Social Work and I work in an industry filled with hurting people. My prayer is that God will use to me be his hands and feet to a hurting world.

In closing, I hope that all of us will choose to treat our fellow human beings with respect whether we agree with one another or not. I want to thank each and every one of you for your comments and challenge everyone to allow those they disagree with to still have the freedom to say what they want to say. I would like to see us to be able to agree to disagree without attacking each other. It seems like as fellow human beings, that’s the least that we can do.

I hope you have a great weekend.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

An Open Letter from Nancy Alcorn

An Open Letter from Nancy Alcorn, Founder and President of Mercy Ministries

When I started Mercy Ministries over a quarter century ago, God laid a powerful verse on my heart that has become foundational to our work: “For judgment will be merciless to one who shows no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13). Ever since then, that verse has reminded everyone who passes though our doors that Mercy Ministries is a safe place where all are loved unconditionally.
I have been so blessed by the amazing work God has done through Mercy Ministries during these years and I am humbled by the part He has given me to play in seeing thousands of young women transformed by the power of Christ. At every step, God has honored our commitment to reach hurting young women at no cost, while never accepting money with strings attached and tithing 10 percent to other ministries.
Mercy Ministries, and I personally, have faced many trials, big and small, over the years, and thanks to God’s grace and the prayerful support of our partners and friends in the ministry, we have overcome them. Recently however, we were faced with a new challenge, and after careful consideration and a lot of prayer, I’ve decided to confront this trial in a way that won’t surprise any of you who know me well: head on.
In 2008, a Nashville alternative-weekly newspaper published an article asserting, among other things, that I have led a homosexual lifestyle. Even though these personal attacks took place in a single article, they have been perpetuated by a handful of Internet blogs. My initial thought was to not dignify these attacks with a response, but I’m taking this opportunity to settle the issue once and for all. While those who know me well instantly saw these allegations for the slander that they were and are, I want to make it clear that I am not gay, nor have I ever engaged in a homosexual lifestyle.

These attacks have been deeply hurtful for me personally, but what frustrates me even more is that they are so clearly the enemy’s effort to distract from the amazing work going on at Mercy Ministries, and that is why I have chosen to respond. Last year we celebrated the 25th anniversary of Mercy Ministries and closed out what I see as the first chapter of Mercy’s amazing story and our message that true freedom is possible through Christ.
Since then, we have reorganized the governing structure of Mercy Ministries to bring new levels of oversight and accountability, have increased our fundraising efforts, and are in the process of opening two new homes—one in California, one in North Carolina—over the next two years. We are also now certified by the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability and have attained the highest possible rating from Charity Navigator. Mercy is ready for the next chapter, one in which I believe God is going to use us to reach even more hurting young women with His love and compassion in new ways.
In light of God’s love and compassion, I want to make something very clear: while Mercy Ministries has always adhered to the traditional biblical view of sexuality and marriage, we believe God’s love is unconditional and applies equally to those living a homosexual lifestyle and those living a heterosexual lifestyle. The mandate God gave Mercy Ministries those 25 years ago has not changed: we are not a place of judgment, but a place of love and compassion where the power of God’s mercy transforms hurting young women.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Don’t Wait for Tomorrow

For all the young girls out who are there struggling with eating disorders, I felt like I should share something with you that I received in the mail this past week. It’s so important for you to deal with your issues while you are still young so that your whole life is not destroyed because of it. So many people care about you, even people you have never met. This particular lady who wrote to me touched my heart because she is 60 years old, and she has been struggling with an eating disorder since she was 15. She actually has such a heart for other people that she sent in a donation to Mercy Ministries asking that it be used to help young girls who are still struggling with an eating disorder. I will not reveal her name in order to protect her identity, but I will share with you her words.

“Hi, I’m 60 years old. I’m 5’3”. I weigh 77 pounds. I’ve been anorexic and bulimic since I was 15 years old. Maybe it’s too late for me. I wish you or someone was around 45 years ago to help me. I want to help the young girls who come to you. Please use my donations to help them. Thank you.”
I hope this will encourage you to seek help today. In 2 Corinthians 6:2, it clearly says, “…today is the day of salvation.” You might say, “What is today?” I say that today is literally today - the very moment you are reading this. Today is your day of salvation, if you will make up your mind to receive the help that is being offered. As I have mentioned before, my professionally trained counseling staff and I have put together a book called Starved: Mercy for Eating Disorders. If you’re still within the age group to be able to come to Mercy (13-28), we would certainly welcome you to apply to the program. However, regardless of what age you are, we are happy to send this book to you, free of charge, upon your request. If you are interested in receiving this book free of charge, please email me your mailing address at

In addition to our book (Starved: Mercy for Eating Disorders), I also want to recommend some other help available:

Dr. Linda Mintle. Linda is a licensed clinical social worker who has been in general clinical practice for over 20 years. She specializes in eating disorders as well as marriage and family therapy. Linda has played a key role in training our counselors and staff, and has provided resources that are used daily in our Mercy Ministries’ homes. She is the author of 15 books including. We use her materials with our girls, and we highly recommend her resources. She has a book called Making Peace with Your Thighs, as well as many other books available on her website at

Friday, February 20, 2009

A Life and Death Decision...This is why we do what we do

As I reflect back on this past week, I just wanted to share with you how great a difference one choice can make - not just in the life of the person who is making the choice, but also in the lives of all those connected to that person.

In the middle part of 2008, a young 15 year old girl facing an unplanned pregnancy walked through the doors of Mercy Ministries. Her heart told her that abortion was wrong, but she needed a practical way that she could choose life. It was at this point that she found out about Mercy Ministries and how we take in girls just like her free of charge, and we allow them to prayerfully consider whether to parent their child, or to place them for adoption through our licensed adoption agency. This young courageous girl wanted to deal with the issues that had brought her to this point in her life, and she has done just that through the Mercy program. This past week, she gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. After committing her life to Christ and praying for God to show her what was best, she made the decision to place her baby for adoption. She was also able to help choose the couple that she wanted to raise her son, and she is now courageously walking out her decision with great maturity and also the peace of God that passes understanding. When this girl chose life, she made a way for her son to be able to live his life, for an adoptive couple to receive the answer to their prayers, and for the trauma of her past to be healed so that she could experience hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). Just think of all the blessings of God that have occurred and will occur in the future because of the power of this young girl's choice.

As I reflect on the events of this past week and how this child was born, I can't help but think about the blog that I wrote on February 3rd entitled "We Asked and God Answered." I encourage you if you are reading this blog to scroll back and read that blog if you haven't already. I wrote about a young 16 year old girl also facing an unplanned pregnancy, and this young girl's heart also told her not to get an abortion. But in this case, her family wanted to force her into making that decision because they did not want her to have to go through the pregnancy at such a young age. I shared about how they came to check out Mercy Ministries, but they spoke about how they already had an abortion scheduled. As this girl's family drove her to the abortion clinic - call it the power of prayer, call it God's conviction, call it whatever you want - but right before they got to the abortion clinic, the family decided to turn around and bring their daughter to Mercy to talk with a counselor about possibly going through the Mercy program instead. The power of that one choice to turn the car around has set into motion a whole series of events. I am happy to report to you that this young girl has gone through the application process and will be entering the Mercy program in the upcoming week.

Once again, the power of one choice. The family made the decision not to force the girl to get an abortion, and the girl has made the decision to come into the Mercy program to receive help for herself and also for her unborn child. Please pray for this young woman as she enters the program this week - pray that she will make a total commitment of her life to Christ, and pray that God will show her what is best for her, whether to parent or to place her child for adoption. We are believing for great blessings for this young woman in the future that she has in front of her.

Last but not least, I want to share one other situation with you that occurred just a few days ago. We received a large manila envelope in the mail filled with checks made out to Mercy Ministries from many different people. This envelope also contained a bulletin from the memorial service of a 16 year old girl. There was a note scribbled at the bottom of this memorial bulletin that said, "Our daughter overdosed on pills and died." Right after that, there was a place on the bulletin that requested that in lieu of flowers, that people send donations to Mercy Ministries. My heart broke as I looked at the beautiful face on the front of this memorial bulletin. Her entire life was in front of her - so beautiful, such a bright future, so much potential, yet her life has been cut so very short.

I couldn't help but reflect on life and death as I thought about these two babies being born and the contrast of all that can happen during one week at Mercy Ministries. On one end, we are helping girls bring new life into the earth, and on the other end, we are trying to prevent young girls from dying prematurely from addictions, eating disorders, suicide, and all the different issues we deal with. I share this with you because if you are reading this blog, you are probably supportive of the work we do. I want you to know that we were so impacted in our office when we got the bulletin with this young girl's face on it that we all had a good cry. You see, this is why we do what we do. I cannot even begin to tell you how many letters, phone calls, and emails I receive from girls telling me that if it wasn't for Mercy Ministries, they would be dead by now. We want to help reach young women before it is too late, and we hope that you will join with us so that you too can be apart of reaching young women before it is too late. Life is too precious not to live it to the fullest because we only get one lifetime.

Please join us in praying for the two young women that I mentioned in this blog, but especially for the family of this young girl, who is grieving over the loss of someone who can never be replaced. In closing, I hope you will take time and spend it with the people you love the most and enjoy them to the fullest. I hope you have a great weekend.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Beautiful Girl

I just received this from a Mercy graduate in the UK...too good not to share!!!!!!

Only eighteen months ago, I was a mess – suicidal, self-harming and in despair, which makes it an utter miracle that I can write this now as someone who loves life and the person God created me to be. Brought up in a Christian home, I knew God in a personal way from the age of six, but circumstances soon made me doubt whether He loved me and whether there was even a purpose to my life. I was sexually abused for more than a decade from an early age and on top of this, physical and verbal abuse occurred for the majority of my childhood. I felt like I deserved this and soon felt worthless and dirty, covered in shame and guilt. School became a place of pain as I was bullied frequently, which only served to enhance the lies I believed about myself, life and God.

Not wanting to share what was happening in my life, I battled with depression, borderline personality disorder and social phobia whilst trying to mask just how broken I was. I lived from the pain of life rather than the truth of God's Word and was desperately miserable. Feeling so low, I began to punish myself by cutting, restricting my food intake, attempting to make myself sick and eventually trying to take my own life on a number of occasions. That was when I found out about Mercy Ministries and I knew I needed to apply because death was the only other option.

I entered Mercy Ministries UK in September '07 and graduated last March, ready to live my life again. While I was at Mercy, I found, in a deeper way, a God who never stopped loving me and who was walking beside me at every moment even when I felt so alone. I found purpose to my life and a reason to keep going – to speak freedom into the lives of those who are still bound and to glorify the God who has set me free. I now see myself in the light of my future and the beauty that God has instilled in me. I can walk with my head held high because I'm righteous and not shamed by the abuse of my past. Now I'm studying at the Abundant Life Leadership Academy in Bradford, England and I'll be going on to pursue a degree in Creative Writing from September. Life has never been so exciting!

Writing has always been a way that I've found I'm able to express myself and it was a vital part of my healing as I freed myself of my past and then wrote truth over my life. The poem below came about in a really difficult time at Mercy, whilst I was confronting the lies I'd believed about myself and the pain that I had encountered. I really believe God wrote through my own hand what He wanted me to know and the truth He wanted me to believe. God really is no respecter of persons and these words are for each of you who have known pain. They are God's words for you!

Joy x


Beautiful girl,
Oh how I weep at the tears you cry,
For I never wanted you to be hurt,
And I long for your pain to disappear.
Trust me, my darling,
As there will be a day when all the hurt ceases,
When the darkness will be seen in the light of your beautiful future;
And that’s what it is –
Gloriously fruitful,
And you will be blessed.
Let me hold you, my precious child,
As then I can lavish my untainted love on you –
Pure adoration poured on my baby girl.
I’ve always been walking with you,
And never will I leave your side,
For you are too precious to me.
Every moment, I rejoice over the marvellous work I have made in you,
And tender compassion fills my heart,
Reaching out to my broken daughter.
As the clouds gather overhead,
With torment surrounding you on every side,
It is then that you must grasp my everlasting hand,
For no circumstance could snatch you from me.
Despair doesn’t have to be yours,
As greater things exist –
Serenity and joy are there for you,
Secure in the awesome destiny I mapped out before you were even conceived.
Rest in me, my beloved,
Release your cares to me,
And I will carry you onwards.
My princess, I love you,
And never would I have inflicted those awful things on you,
As you are more precious than words can say,
Though my blood can eloquently describe my adoration for you.
Daddy was there when you felt so alone,
Sobbing over your hurt,
Praying my little girl would run into my arms.
I just want to hold you,
To tell you that it was going to be okay,
As my purpose is greater than the pain,
And to sing my lullaby of love over someone so dear to me.
Desperately, I want you to see that, in my eyes, you have always been the same –
My beautiful, prized possession.
Righteousness is still yours as shame rises up within you,
And you are still accepted in the Son as self-rejection threatens to take control.
You are whole in me,
With all brokenness being restored.
Perfection dwells in you,
And ceaselessly cries out on your behalf,
That you may live out your awesome royal position,
And see yourself in the splendour with which you are clothed.
Your past will be as treasure to my glory,
Made beautiful by my hand,
Raised up from the ashes that surround you.
Your painful past will be nothing but a testimony of grace,
As my melody of healing resounds throughout your days.
Your hurt will be transformed into hope,
Yet you must let me love you,
Let me wipe away your tears,
So I may tend to your broken heart.
My gentle kisses from heaven will be planted on your cheeks,
Shrouding you in mercy,
Drawing you into Daddy’s heart.
Crawling out of the chrysalis of everything past,
You’re breaking free,
And together we’ll soar into glory.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Way I Made You

Ashley with a member of Mercy staff

At the present time, we have a beautiful young woman at our Nashville home named Ashley. Ashley is 21 years old, and she has been in the program for approximately three months. All of the staff in the Nashville home have been amazed to see Ashley’s growth since she’s been in the program. Not only does she have a very painful past of abuse, but she was actually born with Cerebral Palsy. We marvel on a daily basis at the positive outlook and beautiful spirit of this young woman! She has chosen to forgive the people that have hurt her, and all of the residents in the home are so very fond of her. She has impacted the lives of so many people in a very short time. I was in the home on Saturday spending time with the girls, and Ashley approached me and asked if she could share with me a poem she had written. I was very eager to read it, and when I did, I can honestly say that it brought tears to my eyes. I asked Ashley if I could share it on my blog today, and she was very willing to not only give me permission to share her poem with you, but also to post a picture of her beautiful angelic face so that you can see her joy. I hope this blesses you, and I hope that some day you might have the privilege of getting to know Ashley just as we have. She is definitely one of God’s special ones.

“The Way I Made You”

The way I made you
Is different to the physical eye
Yet unique and special to me
For I see you through my eyes.

I know sometimes you don’t
Why you were born with C.P.
And I know you struggle
With all the different people you see.

That are able to do some
Things that you can’t
You look at them and long for the day
To come.

My darling, I feel that longing
More than you think I can.

I know your feelings of loneliness
And the struggles you daily endure
For I feel every pain that you feel
It is in Me you’re secure.

The way I made you is perfect
Just the way I wanted you to be
And that’s exactly how I see you,
A beautiful miracle to Me.

So next time you get discouraged,
About not being the same
Come to Me, I’ll be here
Just call on My name.

Ashley with Mercy graduate, Tamara

Friday, February 13, 2009

Close to the Heart

In my last blog, I had our in-house Registered Nurse, Christy, tell you about what a day is like for her in the role she plays at Mercy Ministries. There is no doubt that God uses Christy and all of our staff to support, strengthen, and help the girls in various ways. Today I want to introduce you to another avenue in which God works to bring healing to the hearts of young women.

For years, I have watched young women walk through our doors who are so traumatized by the pain of their past that they cannot even relate to another human being, or even begin to open up to a counselor. When many of these girls are initially unable to relate to their counselors and other staff, we have found they will often times first open their heart to one of our special resident pets. Our choice of pet over the course of 26 years of residential ministry at Mercy Ministries has been Shetland Sheepdogs (Shelties). The purpose of this breed of dog is to herd sheep, and it is so interesting to watch them in the various homes with the young women as the shepherding instinct comes out in the way they relate to the girls. We have had a number of Shelties over the years from the time they were young puppies until the time that their lifespan ended. It is always so difficult to lose one of these guys because they become such a part of our family and play such a significant role in the lives of many girls as they are healed and restored.

The Nashville home is our largest home, and our two most recent Shelties there are Jude and Jonah. Jude is still with us, and he turned 10 years old on December 28, 2008. (Jude actually has his own Facebook page. Look for Jude Alcorn on Facebook and become his friend! ) Jonah would have turned 10 in a couple of months, but unfortunately he received a cancer diagnosis last Fall and we had to put him to sleep on October 17, 2008. This was such sad news for so many of our girls, especially the ones who got so close to him while they were in the program. I just received a memorial scrapbook in the mail filled with awesome pictures of Jonah and his interactions with some of the girls while they were in the program. This particular girl was very very close to Jonah, and she wrote to me about what Jonah meant to her. I want to share some of the pictures that she sent, along with what she wrote about what Jonah meant to her. This is from Hayley…

Dear Nancy,

My experience at Mercy was life changing. I learned so much about myself and truly began to seek after God and His truth. In the midst of all the counseling and allowing God to mend my broken heart, I found comfort in a furry friend. Jonah was a huge part of my healing process. He was there for me on the good days and the bad. He taught me a lot about myself and my relationship with God. Jonah had this way of making me feel loved and needed. He always seemed to know when any of us were in need of a friend. Thank you so much for allowing me to take care of him. Jonah was the first thing I felt safe to love and cherish after experiencing the death of my mother. It was at Mercy that I began to have feeling and truly live. Jonah helped me to embrace my emotions and not be afraid. God used Jonah as a tangible form of His own love for me. Thank you for trusting me with Jonah and for sharing him with me. I am very grateful for the time I spent loving, caring for, and learning from Jonah. I hope you enjoy this scrapbook I made in memory of him.



We just love to see all the different ways God works in the lives of the young women who come to us to receive healing from life-controlling issues.

I know that Valentine’s Day is tomorrow. Whether you are single, married, dating someone, or not dating anyone, I want to remind you that love can be found and celebrated in many places, even through a pet. This weekend, I encourage you to focus on all the ways love reaches your heart. If you are a single girl like me, I pray for God to bring the man of your dreams into your life! And if you are a single man, I pray God will bring the woman of your dreams to you. I hope you have a wonderful weekend and a Happy Valentines Day!

Love to all,


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Knock Knock – A Day in the Life of Mercy’s RN

Today I have asked Christy Tullos, the Registered Nurse at our Nashville home, to share with you from her perspective how God has been able to use her medical training to serve at Mercy Ministries..

So, I was asked to give you a glimpse of the world of Mercy through my eyes. I’m the Director of Medical Services in Nashville...the registered nurse on staff from day to day. My Mercy journey began in 2006, after eight years of working in labor and delivery. What a change it was to go from the land of pre-term labors, complicated pregnancies, cesarean sections, hours of pushing, and babies being born, to the contrast of the world of Mercy with forty precious girls under my nursing care – some who are pregnant and many who are not!

I am often asked what exactly I do from day to day in the Nashville home. There are a myriad of tasks that keep my job interesting. There are multiple knocks on my door each day that require different interventions:

Knock one: “I need a band-aid.” Knock two: “I just threw up. I have a stomach bug. I’ve never been away from my mom.” Knock three: “Can I take my breakfast medication at noon so I can avoid the long lines?” Knock four: “I’m having contractions.” Knock five: “I want to lower my medications. Can I see a doctor?” Knock six: “I think I might faint.” Knock seven: “I need refills on all my meds.”

The knocks go on and on and there are 100 other examples. Each is an opportunity to assess, encourage, show love, make decisions and determine the best course for care in each moment. I have the opportunity to set up all doctor’s appointments for our girls and to accompany them to many of these appointments. I cherish these times, as they are moments one on one with each of these girls to better know their stories, what brought them to Mercy and how God is working in their lives, sometimes even as soon as their first few days with us.

Some of my favorite doctor visits are those with the pregnant girls for prenatal care and the twenty-week ultrasound. Ultrasounds had become a bit mundane in all my time in labor and delivery. However, I never tire of sitting with a Mercy girl as she sees her twenty-week baby, often for the first time, on ultrasound. Her eyes light up and tears often come as she sees the fragile parts so perfectly pieced together. She connects all the fluttering and movement within her to the pictures of life on this screen. And plans for this life begin to emerge.

I have had the awesome opportunity to be present in the delivery room with many of the pregnant girls. What a privilege to be more than just the delivery room nurse, knowing her only a few hours, as I had done hundreds of times before in nursing. What a privilege to know the story behind the story…how God had met her on this journey and worked in the many details of her pregnancy and decision-making process. What a privilege to watch it all unfold….to watch that baby come after hours of difficult labor…to hear the first cries….to watch her take the baby in her arms after 9 long months of prayer filled moments. And what a privilege to see her either plan to parent that precious child or lovingly place him into the arms of a carefully chosen couple, now blessed beyond measure at the brave choice this mother made.

No matter the situation, it is always amazing to see God’s hand at work….to see God in each detail concerning every girl that is willing to allow Him in. The transformed lives are what touch me the most from day to day. It is a blessing to be able to give nursing care, but I see the ultimate care being given from a loving God that takes these fragile, wounded hearts and makes them whole again, time after time.

Monday, February 9, 2009

From Death to Life

We get the privilege day after day of seeing young women’s lives changed through Mercy Ministries. But the change doesn’t stop there – families and relationships are often restored as well. We receive letters and emails on a regular basis from parents who are in awe of the change in their daughter’s life and who are so grateful. One parent wanted to share with you about how blown away she was by the transformation in her daughter’s life and about her journey through it all. I hope this mother’s story encourages you, especially if someone you know is struggling with a life-controlling issue…

“In life, how do you ever thank someone for saving your child’s life? Whatever you do or buy or say would never be enough. The only way to begin to repay is to share the blessing and pass it on to someone else. Nancy Alcorn, through Mercy, Mel, and the staff at the St. Louis home brought Amy back from a nightmare existence to being alive and well. Amy would have died, probably within a year, had it not been for Mercy.

Amy walked through the doors of Mercy in September 2007 after carrying the pain, shame, and loneliness of bulimia on her back for eight long years. In the world’s eyes, one would think Amy had it all together – college, sorority, and a full social life - but behind the successful shell on the outside was a terrified, hopeless little girl wondering how she got to this place. Amy’s path, like many, took her through hundreds, even thousands of hours of counseling, five weeks at a residential eating disorder treatment center, and many one-time visits to support groups, none of which she would return to. But each of these helped me because I felt like we were doing SOMETHING. Gradually I reached the end of trying to DO something and realized I couldn’t fix it. Amy graduated from Indiana University, which only God was able to see her through, and came to live with us in St. Louis.

A friend of mine at a Moms-in-Touch group mentioned that her spiritual daughter was going to a place called Mercy Ministries and it might be something for Amy. I mentioned it to her but she blew it off, especially since it involved God. Even though she was raised in a Christian home she had not found her way to a loving God. The one thing our friends and family had continued to do through all of this was pray. In June 2007, Amy finally realized she had hit bottom and asked me what the name of “that place” was and she began the admissions process. You see, God had been there all along waiting for the right moment. As Amy says in her testimony, she was done with God, but He wasn’t done with her.

The jacket Amy wore before Mercy would have been labeled “invisible.” She was manipulative, secretive, deceitful, rebellious about church (she even worked on Sundays so she wouldn’t have to go), and she spent her free time at bars on the weekends. Her thoughts all centered on how she could get her next food fix and then how she could purge. The new jacket she wears is labeled “hope,” which is what Mercy gave her through Jesus Christ.

Today, she has returned to her first career choice and is attending The Broadcast School in St. Louis. She loves going to church on Friday nights with a group of young women, and on Sundays with us. She also attends a singles Bible Study Fellowship every Monday and spends more time reading the Bible than I do. She was recently baptized at our church and gave her testimony. Amy just applied for a chance to go to Guatemala on a mission’s trip. She is truly transformed and God is at work in her. It’s amazing!”

Just today I received a note from Amy herself along with a donation to Mercy. I thought you might like to hear from Amy as well…

Dear Mercy Ministries Staff and Nancy, I want to thank you for everything you do for Mercy! I graduated from the St. Louis home in March of 2008.
I am so grateful for Mercy and what God is doing through it! I believe I would not be here if it was not for Mercy, and I will always be so thankful to Nancy for her obedience and trust in God.

Nancy, you have no idea how much I look up to your faith. I am only beginning to see God’s plan unfold in my life and I have no doubt Mercy will continue to play a huge part in my life. GOD IS AWESOME!! Thanks again.

Much love,

Friday, February 6, 2009

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Today I am excited to share with you some very encouraging words from a friend in ministry, Dr. Linda Mintle. Linda is a licensed clinical social worker who has been in general clinical practice for over 20 years. She specializes in marriage and family therapy and eating disorders. Linda has played a key role in training our counselors and staff, and has provided resources that are used daily in our Mercy Ministries’ homes. She is the author of 15 books including Getting Unstuck, A Daughter’s Journey Home, and Making Peace with Your Thighs. I think you will really love what she has to share…

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder by Dr. Linda Mintle

Do you struggle with liking your face or not feeling pretty enough? Well consider this. When Jesus walked this earth, his physical appearance would have garnered little attention in today’s culture. He’d be a candidate for an extreme makeover. We would prefer Jesus to have been described as tall, dark, and handsome, yet according to scripture there was nothing physically attractive about Him. He was looked down on and passed over. I wonder if this was so we wouldn’t make an idol out of His appearance and miss who He is—His true identity and His purpose for coming to earth. Jesus didn’t come as Adonis but Adonai. He did not draw crowds because He was drop-dead gorgeous. People were drawn to Him because of who He was—God’s only begotten Son. Son of God and Son of man. He announces over and over that He and the Father are one. In His mind, there is no question regarding His identity. And we share in this identity when we become one of His. To God, our faces are beautiful because they reflect His image. So when you struggle with feeling inferior based on your outward appearance, be reminded by Paul’s words “When I am weak or insecure, then I am strong because God’s power is working in me.” God uses imperfect faces to reflect the face of God. He uses our smile to show compassion and care. Through us, the radiance of God’s love can shine. What kind of an amazing God would do this? Only one that sees us as the object of His affection.

For more information about Dr. Linda Mintle you can go to her website at or you can visit her blog at You can also look for her on ABC Family's daily television talk show, Living the Life, with Terry Meeuwsen and Louise Duart, where Dr. Linda appears regularly as the resident mental health expert. expert.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

From a Mother's Heart

I wanted to share with you a letter that I received straight from the heart of a mother. This mother’s son is now married to a Mercy graduate. She shares about the life-transforming power of Christ that her daughter-in-law experienced through Mercy Ministries, and how God has answered one of her lifelong prayers. I am sure this will bless you!

As a mother of four, I have spent my share of time on my knees in prayer! Throughout my children’s lives, my husband and I have prayed specific prayers for each of them. We understand the importance of choosing the right mate. We realize that this important choice is pivotal to one’s mental and spiritual health for life. With this in mind, many of our prayers have been focused on praying for our children’s future mates. Our youngest son, Brad, was no exception. We have prayed for his future wife from the time he was in my womb. We prayed for her safety and protection; we prayed for peace and love to permeate her little life. We prayed for her to have a heart soft toward the things of God. Throughout my son’s childhood, I would try to envision this little girl, wondering where she was and what she was doing, and asking God to give her a carefree life full of joy. I pictured a beautiful child who always had a smile on her face and a happy countenance that attracted everyone to her.

Well, Brad’s future wife’s life was not lived in a God-like atmosphere. Because of circumstances, Kristin’s life was far from being carefree. By the time she was a very young girl, scars had been inflicted upon her poor little spirit that affected every area of her life: mental, emotional, spiritual and physical. She lived in a world of rejection, abandonment and fear. Like most young women who grow up with these issues, her life spiraled out of control, and she made some very wrong choices. She would tell you that if it weren’t for Mercy Ministries, she would be dead right now, and after listening to her painful testimony, I believe her.

Kristin graduated from the Mercy program in St. Louis, and she is truly a new creation in Christ! She renounced every wrong way of life, and made a radical change by the principles learned at Mercy. She began a career, set up boundaries with her old friends and her family, and began to choose life – God’s life - in every area. Mercy rescued her and gave her all the tools to live the life I prayed for her as she was growing up. She met my son; they were married, and they now have a beautiful baby boy – my grandson, Trysten.

Kristin is living proof that God hears and answers prayers even when we aren’t seeing it happen. She came to Mercy Ministries desperate for healing and wholeness, and that is exactly what she received! God listened to the prayers of a praying momma and answered them. Because of Mercy I not only have a beautiful, whole daughter-in-law with a heart soft toward God, I also have the most adorable grandson alive! I’m sure you’d agree!

Oh, and by the way, Kristin is a beautiful young woman who always has a smile on her face and a happy countenance that attracts everyone to her! God is faithful!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Letter from Ashleigh

It’s been three years now since Ashleigh graduated from the program, and she continues to amaze me with her growth and maturity. She asked me if she could share with you today, so here it is. I hope you enjoy!

Hey, my name is Ashleigh and I graduated from the Nashville home on September 26th of 2006. I wanted to take a moment to thank Nancy for pressing into the heart of the Lord and for sharing what she found in the eyes of her Creator.

For more than 20 years I focused on the ‘me’, ‘myself’, and ‘I’ of Ashleigh. I clothed ‘myself’ in labels that I picked up along my journey of life; labels of anger, anorexia, academia, self-hate and control. I defined ‘myself’ by beauty in the flesh, financial success and material possessions.

Amidst all of this, there was still a young girl within me that had a dream. My heavenly Father had graciously blessed me with a dream at the fragile age of three years. A fallen world and the sin of mankind clouded and then shattered my dream of marriage and motherhood. My heart’s desire had been shut out and redefined by the ways of the world as a means to cope instead of feeling pain. I was aware of this young girl’s child-like presence, but I was unable to acknowledge her.

God’s mercy is freedom and His grace is sufficient! Nancy’s heart and commitment to be a channel into experiencing His unconditional love has created an opportunity for that child in me to come back to life. I have traded my life in the flesh for abundant life in the presence of my King. He says, “I delight in her!” I am free to be as I focus fully into His eyes and hold His hand.

I no longer need labels. I have life!

Nancy, Thank you for making a way!


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

We Asked and God Answered...

Recently, a family brought their teenage daughter to take a tour. She had just found out a few days earlier that she was pregnant, and it was obvious emotions were running quite high. As we often do, we gave this family a tour of the home and told them as much about the program that we possibly could, and answered all their questions. A family member of this young woman, shared up front that he wanted his daughter to get an abortion, but a family friend insisted that they come and take a look at the Mercy program first. She also accompanied them on this visit.

Due to confidentiality, I won’t go into any more detail than this. Suffice it to say, this young girl seemed quite interested in Mercy, but a family member insisted that they had an abortion appointment, and he intended to keep that appointment. Since this young girl was a minor, we knew this was an issue that had to be resolved between her and her family. However, we did explain to this family, should they change their minds, that our program is available to their daughter free of charge. That was last Friday, and we knew we had to pray. We believe that every life is precious, regardless of how it is conceived, and we have seen time and time again how God has worked so beautifully in such situations in the past. That is why we provide Mercy Ministries, because we believe every girl should have a practical way that she can choose life. We knew we had to place it in God’s hands and that our role was to pray, so we shared this with a number of our internal staff who made this a matter of their prayer focus over the weekend.
The day came and went and we had still not heard anything from this family, but we continued to pray. Just this morning, this distraught dad was driving his young daughter to the abortion clinic to ensure that they take care of this “problem” but somehow they never made it all the way to the abortion clinic. They showed up at Mercy and the family member explained that something came over him and he just could not make his daughter do it. He is a Christian man, and he said that the Holy Spirit convicted him that it was just wrong, and at that moment, as they were headed toward the clinic, he totally turned the car around and came straight to Mercy instead. Our counselors dropped what they were doing and made themselves available. After spending approximately two hours with this young girl, once again explaining the program in great detail, this girl hugged our staff member and whispered, “I will come.”

I share this story for several reasons. First, I think it is very important that we understand the power of prayer. Second, I think it is very important that when we’ve done all that we can do in the way of offering options, that we do not try to force our will on anyone, but rather leave it with God and pray. And finally, I have to admit that we had to pray extra hard for this one because we knew the young girl was being forced against her will, and we were very concerned about the impact that this would have on her life in the future. Nevertheless, we also understood very clearly that this was a family matter between this girl and her parents because she is a minor. So, what else do you do? We don’t believe in blocking abortion clinic doors, and we don’t believe in taking a person’s choice away from them, but we do believe in providing a true choice. That’s exactly what happened on Friday afternoon, and we knew we had done everything we could do. Anything outside of prayer would have been an interference with the personal choices that this family had to make for themselves. I am so thankful today that I can report to you that God intervened, and this young girl has made the choice for life. Now she will pray about whether to be a single mom or to place her child for adoption.

This story is just one example of the many things that happen on any given day at Mercy Ministries. Your daily prayers on our behalf are so important as we seek to be a good steward of what God has entrusted to us. I hope this story encourages you to believe in the power of prayer!

Monday, February 2, 2009

She Just Knows!

Last week I received an awesome message on Facebook from one of our graduates in the United Kingdom. She was thanking me for the vision of Mercy and sharing about how her life had been so transformed. I actually got to say hello to her last May when I was there for the Cherish Conference in Bradford, England. It was so cool to see Erin, and it was even better to hear from her last week. Erin actually shared with me a poem that she wrote shortly after she graduated from Mercy. I think it is so powerful that I asked her permission to share it with you. I just received her response back today, and I wanted to share that with you before I share her amazing poem.

Hey Nancy,

I just checked your blog out tonight, awesome!!!! You can totally use
my poem but I can’t take any of the credit. Two years ago I could barely
string two words together.I was so bound by fear that I literally was
afraid to speak.God has taken me on an amazing journey with this and
these days, you cant get me to shut up !!! Expressing myself through
poetry is new to me and I just feel so privileged that God has given me
this gift. Hopefully catch you in Bradford in the summer.

Erin xxx

that quiet smile
spreads across her face
edges softened
more often a trace
of pleasantries in her soul
there doesn't seem to be that
regular whirring
continually stirring up unrest
fading into the last
few hours of letting go
and by-gones be
identity written and published
copyrighted into the fabric of history
all those strings of insecurities
have slipped from their post
and sailed off the coast
into the rosy sky
never more to be seen
now she can more comfortably lean
into the Arms around her
every second that goes by
she's changing and finding
herself more beautiful
more like the One she loves
more like the One that loves her
and there's no false modsty there
and there's no striving
it's just a deeper diving
into truth
the peace that massages her heart
tells her that she will never be forgotten
or trodden down again
and He would do anything for her
He can't tear Himself away from her
picking up her every day
and making a melody
out of those tragedies
that seem so small now
she’s gaining ground
and as she dreams
of gentle waves
tickling her toes
she just knows
who she is.
She is His.

For those of you who are in the middle of a struggle and perhaps still dealing with a life-controlling issue, I hope that Erin’s story will encourage you that there is still hope, and that freedom is attainable. Feel free to contact us if you are one of those people so that we can pray for you and also send you a book related to your particular issue free of charge.