Make Room

December 11th, 2018

Family hiding from the storm
Found no place at the keeper’s door…

…A Savior King who had no home
Has come to heal our sorrows…

Is there room in your heart…
For God to write His story…

Mother holds the Promise tight
Every wrong will be made right

The road is straight and the burden’s light
For in His hands He holds tomorrow… (Make Room, feat. Matt Maher)

Make room…space.

Something the Innkeeper did not have inside his door.

But Mary did.

In her soul, to receive the angels words. To say ‘I am the Lord’s servant…”.

In her schedule, to travel away from the comfort of home, to stay with her cousin Elizabeth.

In her womb, to be filled with the Hope of the world.

In her arms to wrap him in swaddling clothes and to hold the Promise tight.

Space can feel uncomfortable…in a too-empty room. In a too-empty schedule. Maybe Mary’s calendar of wedding preparations, cooking for company, celebrations with friends, felt as though it was all swept into one task … “Go to the hill country, hide there, and prepare to be a mother to the Messiah”.

Maybe we are programmed to feel like ‘busy’ equals productive. A full cup, a full schedule is the best thing.

But sometimes, life seems to sweep all of those lines on our daily schedule into one task.

Recover. Heal. Care-give. Parent. Wait. Rest. Prepare. Listen.

And the space can feel uncomfortable.

But in the space I find room.

Room to ponder, to process, to feel. To be present and receive. Although the stillness may feel more like missing out…I can grow deeper.

“The real work happens between practices, just like a plant ,it takes root and grows between the times that you water it” he said, and we found our notes and moved right into the next chorus of our practice. But that sentence lodged itself inside… and is still taking root.

So often we are looking for the ‘arrivals’, the ‘final performances’, the December 25th’s, the moment the suspense will end with the Joy of unwrapped gifts…and we won’t have to wonder anymore. The times we drink in the richness of life like a thirsty plant. We look for the wait, the longing, the tension of the in-between, the preparation to be over.

But what if we are supposed to make room in that wait.

Make space to live more in the wonder of what will be. And grow, and put down roots in those places.

20161211_232107And what if, even when maybe the lines on my schedule remain more full than ever with hardly a space to breathe in between…what if I can still make room. What if I can still quiet my heart in the middle moments, in the daily tasks, in the questions and concerns.  In the full schedule and needs of the day, the places I am not enough,  to say like Mary “I am the Lord’s servant” and let the praise flow.

“Is there room in your heart
For God to write His story…”

“… and Hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:5


Do Not Be Afraid


                      ~December 25th~

“And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.”

Greatly troubled. Confused and disturbed.

These past few weeks, I’ve tried to sit a little longer in the story in Luke chapter 1.

A couple of Sundays ago I was looking a little deeper at the story of the angel Gabriel’s visit to Mary with a circle of little people, and we noticed the emotions Mary was feeling when she heard the announcement ‘Greetings O favored one!’ .

What does confused and surprised look like we wondered? Scared and troubled?

In this season of gifts and joy and family and friends, thoughts of confusion and fear have been pushed away by the notes of “all is calm, all is bright’… and ’tis the season to be jolly’.
But as the Christmas story opens for Mary, these emotions are front and center.

For young Mary, life was interrupted unexpectedly and would never return to the familiar she had known. And the feelings of confusion and fear at an unknown future were not known only to Mary…they have been well-worn by many human hearts over the decades.

But my little charges and I kept reading the words that followed and practiced together the confident declaration to the fearful Mary…


Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.”

Each word holding the weight of all the fear and confusion and asking to carry it for her.

Each word holding the comfort of the God who would choose to come close to confused, troubled hearts, and carry their weight.

This God who was inviting Mary to trade her fear and confusion and hold the Promise of Life in her arms instead. To trade them for a simple ‘Let it be’ and a song of praise that is still reverberating in concert halls and shopping malls and church sanctuaries and aching hearts.

“I am the Lord’s servant. Let it be to me according to your word.

O Mary.

A mere few lines of scripture after your troubled heart….those beautiful words of acceptance. I wonder how many moments it took for that peace to settle into your heart. Was it instant the moment those words reached your ears? I wonder how long were there moments in between you wrestled with the news? Did you echo the words penned in the book of Psalms:

“In that day you will SING… I will praise you O Lord… See God has come to save me… I will trust in Him and not be afraid.”

O how my soul praises the Lord…for He took notice…”

From confused and troubled. To a song of praise that has spanned decades and crossed cultures.

One that I hope I can still hear, even when the Christmas lights have been unstrung, and the notes of ‘All is calm, all is bright’ have drifted away. 

Even though the future was still unknown…and there were still so many things to hold and ponder in your heart.

You could trust the God who held it all.



From the Top

It’s been too long. My fingers miss the flow of thoughts turning to page…the reminder as I go through busy days to stop and look between the lines. For lessons, for what gets missed as I speed by.
And these weeks have been speeding by…filled with good. And hard. And spilling over
with moments calling for me to stop and pay closer attention. 

This was one of those…and several months later I need to re-read right to that very last sentence. 

November 2017

My hands gripped the bicycle brakes, slowing my speed and easing my tires over the uneven asphalt, avoiding the cars speeding past on my left and the curb on my right. I can never cross that bridge without a quick look at the canal flowing underneath and the window of sky flashing past till it’s covered in a high-rise apartment building again. Breathing in the freshness of an October morning…even if it is a chilly gray one and I’m a little out of breath from the uphill climb.

It’s the best place close to home to watch the morning…or the evening sun. Sometimes I run up there just because I need to see it’s rays before they leave for the day.

Back to focusing on the speeding cars inches away and pushing away the thoughts of what a bad place this would be for a spill. It’s been 4 years but I still can feel that foot slipping off the pedal, the catapult over the handlebars and my face landing first, body following after. Ouch.

But at least that was an empty bike path. Here…well I don’t want to think about it.

To the left I see a welcome white line spring up beside me signaling the start of my own lane…a benefit of living in an active Canadian city with infrastructure for bike lanes.  (They didn’t have those in Pachacamac Peru where I daily stepped over gaping sidewalk holes just a few months ago… sometimes no lanes at all and it was a free for all, cars, four legged creatures, and pedestrians).

My shoulders relax and my grip loosens, coasting as the downhill eases into a flat stretch.

Maybe my bike seat is a better place to think because there’s no Spotify, no morning news…no cell phone to glance at or blue dot on the Google map to follow . But for some reason that wide bike lane made me think of the ‘wider’ places in life. The days, the weeks, the seasons we can breathe a little lighter, ease the weight off of our shoulders and coast a little more.

And we wish those seasons, those stretches would come without the climb.

Without the speeding cars and curbs and bumpy pavement and the fear at any moment of landing facedown.

But I’m pretty sure the hills are what give my legs the best work out. And also that gripping those brakes and engaging every sense makes me more aware, more awake, more engaged in the journey. Pretty sure it makes me arrive at school more teacher-ready for 20 little people who need all my focus for the next 7 hours. And it definitely makes me appreciate that white line and wide lane at the bottom just a little more.

So if tomorrow is a day where I’m wishing for a smooth straight stretch…please remind me that good things happen outside of my ‘comfort zone’ …and that the view is always best at the top of the hill…

…after the climb.

 March 2018

Most mornings recently I’ve been cocooned in my car, trying to ward off morning chill and find the quickest lane in the rush of Bank Street traffic.  It’s been harder to see that window of sky. But the few days when I ‘ve left my cocoon of warmth and donned my skates instead…the view of sky was there to reward…

…after the work-out.





Mexico and Missing Out



Her hugs were squeezy-tight and her eyes were a dancing deep chocolate brown. Her name was Azul, Spanish for blue, like the near by ocean at Playa Bonita. She didn’t take long to steal my heart as we spent the week together…and she was beautiful as she hung on to my leg and begged me to take her ‘back’ with me.

Tonight she sat across the table in the sanctuary of Familia de Dios,  sandwiched between her 9 year old brother Luis, and one of the Joni and Friends interns who was helping her uncle with his dinner. We had gotten to know her 3 uncles during that week and discovered that her uncle Israel LOVED his coffee. He sat with dignity in his wheelchair, with a contented face…despite the too big chair with no foot pedals to rest his tightened limbs, and eyes that were clouded over with cataracts making it hard to see his fork.


His brother Miguel sat across the table, a smile brighter than the Mexican sun spread all across his face as he dug into the potatoes and salad. He didn’t say much but his smile said it all.

As I talked with the petite 24 year old across the table, mother to Azul, Luis, and a chubby 2 year old Ian, the bits and pieces of their story came together. Larissa had grown up with 3 brothers with special needs, and had married young, having 3 beautiful children of her own. Her mother had passed away from HIV just one month before leaving Larissa and her 3 brothers, one in a wheelchair needing complete care, one unable to speak, and the other with learning challenges. So she had picked up her little family and moved in to their home in the barrio to care for her brothers. Their father works nights as a security guard at the hospital so he can’t care for his sons, but he bikes the sandy road to their house to join in for meals.

We had dropped the kids off a few days before at a small concrete building, and Miguel

had announced with so much pride ‘Este es mi casa! This is my home!’

Eight people. In a small, hot, concrete house. With no bathroom. No toilet, no bath to bathe Israel’s stiff muscles.

What was I supposed to say? Words didn’t seem to encompass that kind of hard.

So I listened. I shared that my dad had also passed away a few years back.

The servers brought a second plate of salted beef and mashed potatoes and mango juice, and treated them like VIP guests. The Pastor came and warmly greeted them, finding out ways the church could help provide for them, realizing they had mutual connections as they chatted. One of the Joni and Friends interns helped to feed Israel, and make sure his coffee wasn’t too hot, and another ran around with the chubby cheeked Ian, laughing and delighting in his giggles.

We pointed to their photos in the slideshow as the music played, and Miguel’s smile got even bigger.

Do we understand? We can try…but we don’t.  We were able to shower off the grime of the 100 degree Mexican humidity every day when we returned to our rooms. I have 3 bathrooms in my house and my bedroom alone would fit their entire kitchen and living area.


But Love speaks when our words fail. When our lives seem a world apart and it just doesn’t seem fair

Larissa hugged me tight as she said good bye, and I felt honoured, so privileged to have met this courageous, beautiful soul.  I shared that she was doing a wonderful thing in caring for her brothers, and that we ALL had been so blessed by our time with them.


Seeing Miguel showering sunshine,  feeling his tight hugs that brightened everybody’s
day.  I’m pretty sure his smile had hit instagram before our heads hit the pillow…sharing
with friends and family how much Joy he brought to the day.


Seeing Israel’s face beaming when he arrived in the morning, ready to spend the day with his new friend Ethan, one of the Joni and Friends interns. And hearing his “GRACIAS” said with effort through tight lips as we pushed his wheelchair over the sandy road to his house with no front door.

‘THANK YOU.’ A word that I often forget to say even though I have so much.

And I come back to the words of Luke 14, to the words that inspired this special dinner tonight… ‘Bring them in, that my house will be FULL….and YOU will be blessed.’

Israel, we need to see your dignity shining through your pain. Miguel, we need your smile that speaks more than words. We need the courage of your care-giving Larissa. Azul we need your squeezy tight hugs.

Or God’s house is not full…and WE are missing out.





Familiar backdrops

“I delight myself in You, captivated by your beauty,

I’m overwhelmed.”

These words sprang from my heart this morning as I jogged in the morning sunlight up the path, yellow flowers waving beside me.  Hills stretching out, melding into blue horizons as they rolled into the distance. A white spire of flower like a giant snapdragon rose into the blue of the morning sky.

The winding hill led me out into a neighboring street, a pink hibiscus floating by my peripheral view, then a bird of paradise sprouting up, flaunting it’s orange beak.

Gardens with white roses and bright reds overflowing their bushes.

It’s been 3 weeks and I still feel like California flowers are dressed in their best just for me. ( I also feel a bit like I cheated the system…leaving the20170412_184615 grey of Ottawa, and friends wishing for sunnier days.. and arriving to full blown spring. I feel a little ‘touristy’ taking out my camera to capture the neighbors rose bush… but hey I’ve never seen so many roses blooming in April!)

I don’t want to lose the enjoyment and the ‘wow’ of this beauty.

But I know how quickly in life the ‘wow’ turns into familiarity. The roses on the front lawn just become a blur as we rush in and out to the next activity. The bird of paradise becomes just another green plant as our mind spins with all that we have to do, or the things we wish we had.  No time to notice the little snail inching his was across the sidewalk leaving a dot-to-dot trail behind him, or the lizard stopping to assess the stranger on the path.

The gift we have been given become just another familiar backdrop to the day and it’s challenges. And instead of taking in the stunning beauty of a yellow daisy against the bluest of skies, my mind churns with the ‘have-not’s’ and the ‘not-yet’s’, the questions I don’t understand,  and the places ‘I wish I was’ in life.

Maybe the writer of Lamentations 3 didn’t want to lose his ‘wow’ either.  Maybe he had just enjoyed a sunrise over the Eastern sky, painting the hills with pinks and peaches in the freshness of dawn.

‘This I call to mind. And I have Hope. His Compassions are new every morning.’

Maybe he also was calling his heart…and ours…to never lose our ‘wow’ at the Compassions of our God. Fresher than a California morning. More vibrant than a pink 20170520_091656hibiscus. More lasting that the waving yellow flowers on the path ahead of my running feet.

New…every morning. When the sky is blue…and when its a grizzly grey. For every new need. Filling  His Word with truth, with promises.

No…I don’t want them to become a backdrop. Something I’ve heard oh so many times. But to jump out and make my heart sing even as I bump into the challenges and questions of the day, and my feet begin to lose their footing.

Because unlike the green of the California hills around me that are quickly turning brown with the strength of the sun and the scarceness of rain — This Word, His Compassions and Promises held inside — will not fade with time and weather.

“The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the Word of our God will stand forever.”

Isaiah 40:8


I pedaled my bike around another corner, pushing into each turn, breathing heavily. Almost there… keep pedaling…so close…my thoughts were joining the rhythmic motion of my wheels.

It was one of those days when I just needed to go ‘up’. To push for a view. To move20170509_192305 towards the last rays of the setting sun.

I almost stayed in my room. I had writing to do. Papers to read for my Disability course.  I was tired…it was chilly. (confession…I guess I’m learning to measure ‘chilly in ‘California’ terms…)

And I didn’t have much time before the sun would sink below the horizon. But the path steadily forced me upwards, climbing around one bend in the foothills after another.

Then suddenly it was bending downwards, away from the setting sun, into the shadows. No! I don’t want to go down! I braked around the corner.

But on the next curve the path turned upwards again. Just a couple more hairpin turns and the view opened onto a vista stretching out to the Pacific ocean and the Channel Islands in the distance.  (I couldn’t see them that night, but I was told that they’re out there.)

My heart beat slowed and I propped up the kickstand on my bike.

20170509_193036The road was winding far below on it’s way to the ocean side. The rocky cliff of Boney Mountain was standing stately and firm on my left, and the sun was touching down on a peak to my right.


And it was all calling to my heart to stop. To take it in.

Be still and know that I am God.

Be still and know.

Be still.





The breezy air was just about perfect as I rode down the wide bike path along the strip of neatly groomed grass in20170414_162203.jpg the neighbourhood of Newbury Park. I breathed in the California air, scented with spring blooms and couldn’t stop the stream of thoughts going through my head …’ These hills are so beautiful…this weather is perfect…how can this place be so nice…it’s SO beautiful!’
Sprawling hills wearing a coat of mottled spring green. White stucco houses, with arched doorways and turret entrances tucked safely into their comforting folds.

A peaceful shopping plaza, waterfall bubbling down into a frog pond.

I spotted the tiled sign with the scrolled letters ‘Encanto’ , spanish for ‘Charm’, and knew that was the sign I was almost at my temporary home.

Charming is what this neighbourhood is. Picture perfect. The kind that almost feels too good to be true.

20170430_170516So different from the hot dusty hills of Manchay I left behind in Lima Peru. So different from the gloomy grey days I left behind in Ottawa as spring struggled to make her arrival.

Earlier today I opened my inbox to a picture from home of the park just a few blocks from home.  The spring snow melt had overflowed the Rideau river…and it was clear that the park and the soccer field had fought a losing battle with the river. The bare trees looked dark and leafless…waiting…waiting…for a new spring coat.

And for the few weeks I was home in between Lima sum20170410_155910mer heat…and California spring…I heard it…and felt it in the air around me…the LONGING FOR SPRING. For the snow to melt, for the ground to soften, for the sun to shine! The gardeners waiting to get their hands in the soft earth, kids waiting to shed their jackets, students waiting for their daily dose of Vitamin D, so many waiting for relief from winter blues.

20170426_164337Sometimes I forget HOW LONG spring takes to come. And isn’t it just easier to spend 5 hours in the air and find spring color and sunshine somewhere else?  Just
avoid the flooded paths, and gloomy days…the in between?

Maybe, yes.  My heart IS grateful for this moment, for taking in this season of ‘Instant Spring’.

But I also have felt the exhilaration as the first spreading rays of sun begin to win the battle over the winter chill in Ottawa. When the puddles begin to shrink, and the robins bravely touch down, and the birds let out their tentative song. When the first plucky crocus pushes it’s splash of  yellow sunshine up through the snow like it’s joining ranks with the battle against the cold. When the bikes come out and the path is dry enough for the first chilly ride. When rain boots replace wool liners, fingers come out of their mittened hiding, and hats can be tucked away in the box marked ‘Winter Wear’.

When the first leaves courageously push their way onto the tip of the barest of branches, and the blossoms join not far behind. When the musty smell of earth is traded for apple 575208_10150943341836055_595982229_nblossom and lilac perfume, and my students are shedding their layers and shrieking with delight at a dandelion discovery.

And I want to remember that feeling in the seasons…the areas of life where I am not given ‘Instant Spring.’  When I’m not taken 30,000 feet above the flooded parks and gloomy skies and transported to sunny, charming, California hills. When I’m waiting…waiting….like those bare tree branches.

(although they tell me the green is short lived around here….the hills are quickly turning bare and brown…and the waiting will begin for the morning mist or hint of rain …)

I want to remember that sometimes the waiting…the longing….Makes the bird song louder, the lilac perfume sweeter, and the kiss of sun bring even more life. The JOY richer. And if I need a reminder to keep hanging on when the wait stretches ahead….there is a Book that reminds me in Genesis 8:22 that ‘While the earth remains, Seedtime…shall not cease.”…spring WILL come.  This Book also reminds me that fear and doubt will fight a losing battle when the rays of Hope shine in…

“Our soul waits for the LORD; 

He is our Help and our Shield…

our heart is glad in Him…” 

“… As surely as the sun rises, He will appear;

He will come to us … like the spring rains

that water the earth.”

Psalm 33:20 — Hosea 6:3

No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.  ~ Hal Borland

Even in the Valley

It’s May 14th, almost 6 months since I bumped along in the back seat of this van. These days I’ve been riding along the smooth roads of Southern California. But this week, I have needed to be reminded again…that even in the Valleys, He is with us. 

We were sitting in the back seat of the full van, bumping over the roads from Ica back to Lima. My heart was in my throat more times than I could count, passing cars coming straight for us and nearly missing a trucks bumper. We had one close call that morning 20161218_140641that left my adrenaline racing…but I consoled myself with the fact that drivers here seem to have a sixth sense on the roads and a hairs breadth is all you need. Never mind the ‘Don’t pass on a solid line around a corner when you can’t see what’s coming rule’…There’s always the rutted shoulder if need be. And the ‘Leave- a-cars-length-in-case-of-sudden-stopping’ must not have been part of their driver’s Ed training.

‘They know what they’re doing’ I thought.

We had left the ‘Efata’ orphanage & school for the deaf early that morning and had been driving for hours along the coast. Sandy, dusty hills surrounded us, and my 8 year old friend Camila and I were singing,  practicing ‘O Canada’ in sign language,  and passing the time by watching the beautiful sunset splash across the water and soften the dusty hills.  We paused in our singing and I posed a question to her.  ‘Hey Camelia, why does the light stay even when the sun is already set? ‘

‘Cuz it’s Jesus that has the light! His light never goes off!’ she exclaimed. And she continued, ‘….and his Church is ALWAYS open.’

And she began to sing…’

‘You are the way the Truth and the Light,

Were living by faith and not by sight.”

‘Mira mira’ oh no! Exclamations of horror at a car rolled into the ditch, people stopped on the side of the road, no ambulance or police…and how would they get there in all the traffic anyways?

‘There was a man holding his hand, and trying to get him out’ I heard the little voice of my  8 year old friend Camila . She had seen it too.  Oh so sad. And nothing we could do to help.

My heart sank and my stomach rolled. ONE split second was all it would take.

Fear began to grip my heart, and I just wanted to be safely back at the complex, or better still back home where the paramedics were minutes away and people usually  followed the respectful cars- length- away-from your bumper, and no-passing-on-a-double-line-around-a-corner sort of rules.

But even there…accidents happen. The truth is, I’m not safe. I’m vulnerable. And sometimes that truth fills me with fear.

I heard a little voice beside me.  ‘But even when I walk in the  Valley of the shadow of death, I don’t fear, because your rod and staff are with me….’

Even when. In the Valleys, in the Shadows, You are with me. 

She couldn’t have known how much I need to hear that. But Someone else did.

‘I thought of that because we were in a valley…’ she said.

Even in the valleys. Even when we can’t see clearly, and we have to walk by faith. Even there…He is with us.

Just like the young mom I saw holding her sleeping baby on the bus ride through Manchay, through the town called ‘Fear’ in Quechua. She held him close, covered warmly in a yellow sleeper and hat…and he slept, oblivious to the chaos of the traffic, the jolting of the bus. The poverty of the hills around him…the unknowns of his future.

His Presence, His Love,  loosens the grip of fear on my heart…calling me to Rest. To just let go…and be held.






“From God…to me…to you…to others.” 

My thoughts roll over each word like pearls on a string….precious, and costly…said with so much effort, and I choke up thinking about that moment. Said with so much love, so much passion,  as some of the last words I would hear from a man who taught me so much.

Dad I miss you here in Peru. Speaking Spanish… remembering the Spanish classes we took together and how you loved to communicate with the locals on your rare trips to the Dominican or Mexico. Spending time at the Children’s Home here…and remembering how you loved to take a wiggling, restless little person in your arms, and hug them tight till they felt safe and cared for. Being invited to so many homes for Peruvian dinners…remembering how you and Mom loved to open your home to others, to share their cultures and try new dishes.

It’s hard to believe it’s been 4 years. 4 years of missing.

And yet I am thankful for the 28 years before that. For every day that I woke up knowing I was loved. For the way you taught me, encouraged me, loved and cared for me. I know you weren’t perfect, and you felt your imperfections…thank you for being honest about that. For reminding me of the perfection of my Heavenly Father…of the trueness of His love.

1604522_10153863013835584_1065654502_nThank you for pointing me to the Source of Love…that is still there even though you had to leave. Through your  words, your life…through cards like this one.

“From God…to me…to you….”

Dad, I felt that love. So many times over. One of the girls asked today where I got my ring.
” It’s my birthstone…My Daddy gave it to me.”  I said.  ( I remember…you wanted to give me a necklace, but took me to the store and let me choose what I would most like to wear. And looking back…the gift of your time was even more precious than the pale aquamarine stone.)

“….to others.”

And with every beat of my heart, every moment I’m gifted…may I keep remembering Who loved me first…and may that love continue to flow… (1 John 4)

“Oh I’m running to your arms, 

I’m running to your arms, 

The riches of Your love, 

Will always be enough, 

Nothing compares to Your embrace, 

Light of the world, forever reign.”


Joy in the Morning

“Joy happens where two poverties meet” I read posted under a Facebook photo.

I think for a while, and nod my head in agreement. I see it happening here in Lima, Peru.

And I felt it last Monday at Cerro Azul beach, jumping into the chilly waves with the
children from the Juniper 20170116_102417Tree Children’s Home, watching them enjoy the cold of the Pacific ocean.

‘Maia’ and ‘Lila’ holding hands and jumping in the waves.

‘Lucas’  having races to see who could stand up first and longest on the surfboard.

‘Milan’  content to just  lie on the surfboard and be pushed again and again into the rush of the wave. ‘Otra vez! Otra vez!’ She pleads, till I’m sure my sunscreen has worn off hours ago.

‘Victoria’ timidly watching from a safe distance, and finally convinced to get on a board and give it her best try.

I stand with the cool waves lapping, the midday sun keeping the perfect balance between 20170116_143058hot and cold.  Pushing surfboards out to the waiting instructors, cheering wildly at the success even if it was a split second before the wave knocked them over. A more picture perfect day South of the Equator there could not be.

Joy is spilling all over this beach.

Just the night before we had been listening to the stories of these children’s lives…filled with neglect, abuse, sadness. Such a contrast to the laughter and joyful shouts all around me.

‘Amy Jo! Go for it!’ I hear. And the instructor is motioning me out. It’s been 3 years since the last time I went out alone with a board. So much waiting and falling and I barely got up. Can I do it?  But the instructor tells me exactly where to position my toes, paddles me out over the breaking waves, and positions me for the perfect run in. ‘Wait’ he says’till I say ‘Ya’, then you go! I look back, see the wave coming and start paddling…ahhhh too soon! And I miss it. But he patiently repeats ‘Wait till I say ‘Ya!” y tu puedes!” The wave is coming, I hold onto the board with tight grip, listening and resisting the urge to look. ‘YA!!” I feel the push, stand and sail in toward shore to whoops and cheers, several of them my own.

And I think back to a journal entry I wrote 3 years ago.

“Surfing…so like waiting on life, needing to be ready, positioned, watching for the opportunities to come, ready to throw everything into ‘catching the wave.’ And all that waiting…so worth it when the power of the wave comes.’

20170116_144257So hard to wait. But so worth it. I am so thankful for this moment, for these children who have been rescued from so much pain, who have been given the gem of a day at the beach. I know that this day, and the  joy they share even through their own poverty are  a gift to the lonely places in my own heart.

“I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world.”Mother Teresa once said. And there at Cerro Azul beach, I saw so many letters being written. From house parents serving picnic lunches, instructors patiently teaching, big siblings helping little ones.  From the children, their courage to try new things, their laughter,  their discoveries, and their joy.

amy-jo-and-macarenaFrom God Himself who whispers to my heart:

‘Weeping may endure for a night, but JOY comes in the morning’ 

I have stepped for the moment into their world and their lack..and they have stepped into mine. And maybe that’s where the morning dawns.