On Control

The night before Daisy landed in the hospital for her first diagnosis, I was busy. Doing a whole lot of nothing. She was tucked into her bed and I was sucked into the world-wide web. She was resting her little body which was about to come apart at the seams, and I was unaware, suspended in cyberspace scrolling through pages and pages of moisturizers on Sephora.com. Tinted moisturizers, age-defying moisturizers, pore-minimizing, light-refracting, wrinkle-wrangling moisturizers. You know the kind of sucked in, where an hour flies by and you realize you haven’t moved an inch, and you’re still unsure which of those over-priced under-delivering tubes to buy. A complete waste of time, but since my life was fully under control, it seemed a totally acceptable way to spend it.
Eventually I landed on some brand or other, typed in my credit card info, and perhaps putzed around my house for a bit before climbing in my four-poster bed, snuggling under a down comforter. Perfectly safe, perfectly secure. Kid in each room, check. Husband nestled next to me, check. Food in belly, clothes on back, car in driveway, check, check, check.
The story is now history, but as it goes, we ended up in the hospital the next day, then for the scariest subsequent 11 days of our lives. Awaiting the diagnosis in the E.R., the package of makeup was fulfilled in the order fulfillment facility. Praying on knees, grasping an IV pole for strength, the package was sent out on the UPS truck. Waiting with loved ones while a pediatric surgeon painstakingly removed the tumor from my daughter’s abdomen, the package enjoyed a cross country adventure. Countless nurses flew in and out of our room, armed with needles and drugs while countless hands passed my package in and out of trucks and shipping warehouses. Days and nights bled into one another, and finally the traumatizing hospital stay was over. I walked up to my front door, slid the key in the lock, and wearily looked down. The package from Sephora.com had arrived, in all its branded glory.
I kicked it across the room.
That box represented much to me. It represented the hour of my life I wasted shopping that I’ll never get back. It represented the illusion of security and the reality of life’s fragility sneakily hiding in distraction. But mostly, it rudely mocked my naïve idea of control. Without realizing it, I had believed I could basically control my life. You make good choices, you reap the benefits. Cancer was not supposed to happen to Jesus-loving God-fearing people. But there it was, proving me wrong.
But as life has a way of making sure we learn a thing or two, after a time of hating that Sephora box I began to be thankful for it. It taught me something beautiful about control. I can’t control a lot of what happens to me in my lifetime, but I can control how I spend it. I think we can believe the lie of “this is the way it has to be,” and give in to lesser things, but that’s not true. Things we think matter sometimes don’t, and things we think will be around forever aren’t guaranteed. Life is full of things we think we can control, fix, manipulate, but often we can’t.
It’s not just with cancer or tragedy, it’s all day, every day. We get caught up in stuff that’s tertiary, we let it consume us. That Sephora box showed me what I can control.
I can control how much time I spend on tech.
I can control how I speak to my loved ones.
I can control where I direct my focus.
I can control the trap of comparison.
I can control what I look at, what values I let in my heart and home.
I can control how much love I keep to myself, and how much I share.
I can control how much attention I give to what is important.
I can control when to say yes, when to say no.
I can control whose voice I give ear to.
Though it was satisfying to passionately punt that box, the tangible reminder is gold. Because who knows what tomorrow brings? But today we learn to lean in to real life, stop and listen to the sound of laughter. Today we learn to stop our rushing and offer a kind word to the old man in the grocery store, to the preschooler who desperately wants to save a snail’s life in the parking lot. Today we learn to turn off our phones and experience the world in actual color, not merely technicolor, complete with sounds and smells, and pollen and precipitation. Today we learn that life is sitting around waiting, and it won’t live itself. That’s our job.



Public Service Announcement

Hi friends!

It has come to my attention that some folks have found issue with not being able to read And Still She Laughs because of the tears. They come quickly, like a flash flood, and they blur all vision causing the reader frustration that they can no longer see the words. Friends, I have a remedy for you: my publisher has released the audio version of my book! Now you can cry all you want, tears of sadness as well as laughter. Be frustrated no longer, because now a professional will read it to you. You can drive and listen, hike and listen, garden and listen, even change your baby's diaper and listen! The reader is also named Kate, and she is talented and lovely and is an award winner for The Fault in our Stars. (Also a tearjerker). Here is a sample: https://soundcloud.com/harperaudio_us/and-still-she-laughs-by-kate-merrick

Here are links to buy the audiobook:

·         http://christianaudio.com/and-still-she-laughs-kate-merrick-audiobook-download?gclid=CMeYk6eY7dICFctMDQodx0oDmg
·         https://www.audiobooksnow.com/audiobooks/and-still-she-laughs/1573381/?gclid=CIDN8a2Y7dICFdGCswodk6IH2w
·         https://www.recordedbooks.com/title-details/9780718098261
·         https://libro.fm/audiobooks/9780718098261
·         http://www.downpour.com/catalog/product/view/id/258550/?format=Download

I've also been notified that some readers have put the book down sometime in the first two chapters because it's so sad. Well, friends, there can't be true happy without some terrible sad. "Though sorrow may last through the night (or the first two chapters), joy comes in the morning." If you can get through the first 2 chapters, you'll find encouragement, sass, sunshine, TMI, and all kinds of other things that will make you glad you pressed on! Plus, there's a poop story involving a pair of corduroy pants:) You're welcome.

Please don't fear the tears, my friends. They are necessary to healing, a deep and healthy part of the journey of life. "Those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy!"  Psalm 126:5





Birth, Death, and Celebration

Today is the birth day of And Still She Laughs. I'm praying it's the birth of new beauty, new freedom, new joy in the reader (maybe that's you!). I'm praying it births in us an adventuresome spirit, a fresh desire to go further up and further in. In life, with God, in love. It's the day of a little bit of pain but a lifetime of joy, of some hard truths, but full and deep blessings. It's the day of official release, and release is what I'm feeling. Releasing control, releasing emotions, releasing good news to whomever needs to hear it. 

Today is the day of death to myself. It's uncomfortable to have something so vulnerable out in the world for anyone to see. Almost like showing up at school in your undies. But I don't believe much is accomplished without sticking your neck out, so there it is. And you know? It's not about me, it's about God what He has done for and in a broken-hearted girl. And so today I share it with all of you. "Unless a grain of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels-a plentiful harvest of new lives." John 12:24 NLT

Today is the day we celebrate all the ways God has given me laughter! Thank you dear friends, thank you for praying me through the pit. Thank you for holding my arms up so I can breathe. Thank you for celebrating the goodness of God, even in the depths of suffering. I will celebrate in faith all the awesome things God will do for you too!

If you live in the area, please come to the launch party! It's at Reality Carpinteria Thursday March 9th at 7pm. There will be lots of books there, I'll do a reading, we'll have some worship, and be defiantly joyful together! Plus we made some really cute daisy seed packets for you;)

If you'd like to share on your social media (I explain why I'm not on social in the book) here are some pretty images. Thank you for partnering with me to share a healing story.

Here are a few prompts for sharing my publisher wrote and put together to make it easy:

“My friend Kate Merrick just released a beautiful book, #AndStillSheLaughs, about finding joy even in the midst of heartache. Read the words I shared about it: [endorsement]”

“If you’re looking for joy and truth in the midst of suffering, my friend Kate has a book for you. Her beautiful words in #AndStillSheLaughs will both comfort and challenge you, inspire and ignite you. If you need these words, consider ordering a copy…you won’t regret it.”

“A beautiful soul and a beautiful book! My friend Kate’s book #AndStillSheLaughs is available now and you don’t want to miss this one.”

“Kate Merrick is a dear friend of mine whose story and testimony will knock you off your feet. This book will bless any and all who read it! #AndStillSheLaughs is available now.”




Join us!

So, I've always been a fan of Texas...the horses, the ranches, the cowboy hats, and seeing as I'm a part-time cowgirl and all, (ok, the deal with that is that I've had a horse a few different times, most recently a gorgeous Buckskin, half Arabian half Quarter horse named Holly. A total looker who tossed her mane with all sass and frass. She belonged to Daisy, actually, but she became my friend after Daisy left her to me. There's more to that story, perhaps another day.)

Back to Texas. I'm headed there this February to speak at IF: Gathering! Britt and I are speaking together Friday night, the 3rd, and the conference goes through the next day. One of the rad things about IF is that there are local gatherings all over the country, even outside of the country! I encourage you to connect with an IF: Local near you. 

Join me and thousands of others in the simplicity of the gospel, learning about the early church, and ask questions of ourselves and our generation like what are we about? Who are we becoming? What would happen if we truly lived out the values of the first believers?

The conference is simulcasted, so you get the opportunity to hear the teachings, worship and stories from Austin, while getting to go deep with sisters in your area. Win, win!

Click here to learn more. 

Lionhearted Advent

This, friends, is Daisy when she was in preschool with her good buddy Dylan. I couldn't resist using this picture since it's Advent, and their rumpled and homemade costumes just really remind me of the family of God: you, me, and all of human history. Sometimes we feel like we are someone of importance, sparkly garland nestled on our heads, plastic crown tipped at a jaunty angle. And yet we are all just dust. Placed when and where God has chosen. But I've a strong hunch He looks at us like I'm looking at these kids I love; with all affection and pride.

I'm sharing a homily I wrote last year for our church's advent gathering. It's dramatic but fun, and I hope It brings you a bit of refreshment as we close in on the craziness of Christmas. I was working on my book at the same time, so it overlaps a bit into a couple chapters, and I even share a little story about what happened when I was writing my "satisfyingly dramatic homily." It's my prayer we get an opportunity for a little reality check, attitude adjustment, or fresh perspective, Enjoy!


Christmas. It is not an isolated event, lone in the universe, standing still for its picture to be snapped and kept safe in plastic. No, it’s the culmination of millennia of plans and prophecies and history and small seemingly insignificant events all working together supernaturally, spinning into a symphony with an increasingly recognizable melody; louder and louder it’s climax blinding with the magical angelic display of adoration, and yet at the same moment is earthy and human and lowly. It’s unsafe and wild and cosmic. It’s a grand dichotomy, Christmas.

And Christmas is not only for the privileged, for the glittery, for the well-fed and perfect. The story of Advent is vast and dramatic and mysterious and yet the Master Planner is found to be humble and kind to weary people along the way. How extravagant it all is on a grand scale and yet how intimate—how personally meaningful it is for each of us, for the plain, the simple. 

The story begins so long ago, really at the beginning of time. A time overshadowed by sorrow and regret: the banishing of the First Two from the Garden.The waiting had begun, the yearning for reconciliation already swelling in broken hearts. 
In the epic saga of the Coming, God had chosen to tell his story through people. Because He is kind. An unlikely cast of characters, gently, mercifully he placed them in the midst of this most important of stories. The genealogy of Christ that we read in the beginning of the Gospel according to Matthew is like flipping through a frayed family album; pages cracked with old glue, ancient script entitling sepia toned faces and stern expressions. Our fingers flutter over these family pictures, surprised by the unlikely ancestors of Jesus, the human-ness of it all. 

We see Father Abraham, righteous by faith, yet flawed by flesh. There’s Tamar, taken advantage of by evil men and fighting to survive using methods we deem both shocking and distasteful. We recognize Rahab, the heathen prostitute who showed faith in the God she had only heard whispers of. Our eyes crinkle with warmth when we see Ruth, Gentile widow, caring for her mourning Hebrew mother-in-law selflessly, faithfully. Eyebrows lift with recognition of the renowned King David, handsome warrior, famous royalty, and we softly gasp in surprise when our eyes shift to the tragically beautiful woman, David’s humble and broken wife Bathsheba: woman of sorrow, used and grief-stricken. 

Flipping further through the pages filled with distant relatives we’ve never met, our eyes skim over kings, both good and evil. We point out Uzziah from the time of the Prophet Isaiah, Hezekiah, who pleaded with God for miracles. We shoot looks of approval at the picture of Josiah who unearthed the scripture and honored a return to the Word of God in what had become a godless nation. And then the common, the virtually unknown, the regular, every day, salt of the earth folks.  Men like the carpenter Joseph.  

From Abraham to David, David to the Babylonian Exile, from Babylonian Exile to Messiah, Matthew records all the men and 5 of the women Jesus is descended from, the royalty, the commoners. The good, the bad, the broken, the faithful.  A bit like me. A bit like you.

The family album quietly represents many monumental historical events, as well as many seemingly inconsequential workaday lives all linked together, like fibers spun into thread. Each on their own somewhat weak, but woven together, of great value. Royalty and poverty, sin and obedience, all knit together into this epic story of the coming of Messiah. Christ the King, who hears the humble, who mends the broken, descended from those whom His Father had chosen. A tapestry woven from a pile of loose threads.

Isaiah the prophet, speaking with the authority of Almighty God, quenches dry souls with these words: For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace

A child, born to us.  

A child, born of a virgin.

Who was the lucky one? Who was to carry this child? Mary the virgin engaged to Joseph the carpenter. Mary of a nothing town like Nazareth. Not a sinless baby-blue dress wearing blond haired picture of placid perfection, of serene loveliness, smiling with lips softly closed and head tilted just right. No, not her. The Mary I read of in scripture is the one with guts, true grit, and unwavering faith in her Creator, the Master Storyteller.

Mary. Chosen for perhaps the most mysterious and honorable task a human can do. A task incredibly risky, daunting. A task that laid bare and gave up so much when she said “be it done to me according to your word.”

Mary. Who gave up her reputation, destined to be seen in her community as unfaithful to Joseph.

Mary. Who sacrificed her security, knowing she could potentially be left alone without a husband to support her financially or protect her physically.

Mary. Who relinquished her stability, choosing the unknown of what was to come, aware that she could be stoned for what her neighbors and family thought she had done.

The night she pledged her service to the King of Glory, the night she agreed to the blessed yet rugged life, she was proclaimed favored and blessed. 

Mary, favored, blessed, would be traveling at full term several days journey for a government census. Favored and blessed she would birth her firstborn in a barn with only a trough to lay Him in. Mary, favored and blessed would have strange shepherds visit her sacred birthing room, a room filled with the stench of sweat and dung and wool. Mary, favored and blessed would flee a murderous king in the night to protect her treasure, our treasure. Mary, favored and blessed was willing to be a vital part of the narrative, the grand story culminating in flesh, the newborn Jesus.

Mary was blessed to change holy diapers, honored to wash hummus from Jesus’ precious young face. Mary, favored to hold his small soft brown hand, walked Jesus to Torah school.  Mary was faithful as she watched her grown son work humbly as a carpenter, choosing not to take a wife. Mary pondered truth as she believed God’s word, even after 30 years of waiting for her son to reveal his true kingship.

Mary, blessed, favored, honored, and faithful, witnessing her firstborn son die a common criminal’s death on a common wooden cross: despised, rejected, innocent.

Mary lived a lionhearted Advent. From the harrowing adventure beginning with celestial greetings, to the tedious years of Jesus’ boyhood, to the unthinkable pain of following him to the cross, she fearlessly served God. 

In the family tree of King Jesus, God has chosen the unlovely, the stained and tarnished, the struggling, the broken, the abused, the forgotten, the downtrodden. And he has chosen the plain. He has given ordinary women the gift of belonging, and has made the timorous into warriors.  

Let us not rush through Advent, but stop, open our eyes, listen to the love story. Let us press in with bravery while we await the coming, and with worshipful hearts look Heaven full in the face and proclaim “let it be to me according to your Word.”