Thanksgiving and “Hello December!”

And we’re back from Thanksgiving!

Even though Thanksgiving and I have our differences, I do love the fact that it brings family and friends together, and for that reason, I do celebrate and give thanks.

This year was the first year that I wasn’t able to be with my family during Thanksgiving and so it was really special for me to be able to come together with our missionary family here in Ecuador.


I loved the traditional food we had, the fact that everybody brought something and participated in some way, and that we all went around the table and shared what we were thankful for.

But what truly made it feel more like “home” was the little things, like laughing while doing the dishes, hearing the cracking and popping of a fire in the fireplace, sneaking bits of food here and there as we prepared the meal, the coolness of a rainy Quito day, and the sweet friendship and camaraderie we share.


And although we didn’t do the traditional Grothe, “after-dinner-before-dessert-hike-around-the-circle”, we did do a hike the day after thanksgiving and listened to Christmas music all day. *happy heart* It truly was a lovely Thanksgiving.


Minnesota Visits

This past week we also had our first guests from Minnesota and our home church in Minnesota, the Millers! It was so fun to spend a few days with them as well as hear home church news and happenings in Minnesota. It was so lovely to be able to show them our lovely country we call home! Thanks Millers for the love, encouragement, and visit!


Welcome December!

And with that, we closed off our November and said hello to the much anticipated month of the lovely December, which will be filled with but not limited to:

  • Christmas decorating and music
  • christmas cookie bakes
  • much candle lighting
  • cozy fires in the fireplace
  • Christmas services and celebrations
  • Christmas movie nights
  • rest, and rest
  • Richard’s whole family coming to spend Christmas with us in Ibarra.
  • I am so excited that I could pop!

The Christmas season is definitely my favorite: all the excitement, decorations, togetherness, and what it means for us as a people of faith in Christ.

That is why I absolutely love and participate in Advent, as it prepares us and gently leads us into reflection and preparation for Emmanuel, the celebration of God with us. God with us.

God, with us.

Hallelujah and Amen!

Bring it on, December! We are so ready for you!



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The grace of space

And there it was, smack dab in the middle of the page, the words calling my skimming eyes to a halt. I couldn’t move on, yet I couldn’t look. I was ashamed to read them, knowing their difficulty in my life, yet, there they were, written as a reminder just for me, and maybe, you too….

“Let yourself be loved”

Is that it? These were the words that brought my skimming, reading, rhythmic-pattern to a halt.

It sounds so easy, yet audacious to one who has struggled to love herself.

But yet, I didn’t find the words as cruel or cliche as they could have been in the past. This time they seemed almost hopeful; prepared with grace and delivered delicately, not to point out what I couldn’t do-but rather, what I can do.

“Your greatest gift is not your gifts, but your surrendered yes to be a space for God.”

A space. Making room, making time, creating a space to receive his love, to actually let myself be loved.

How do I miss it so often, so busy and worried about doing this or bringing that….yet, in the quiet, in the chaos, he whispers:

“come, make space, and receive”

And in that space he fills me, fills the hollow places in me, the starving, fearful places in me.

And what I’ve found is that, when I let myself be loved, when I create a space for Christ to come-he asks me to carry that space with me-wherever I go. To offer that space to others. To carry the space for him to enter in and conceive grace and hope and love.

It is one thing to create space, but another to stay in the space.

But what a gift it really is to not only offer space, but stay in that space. I have never felt more loved and valued then when, in those moments, dear souls have offered me the space to talk, to cry, to vent, and to rejoice. And when I see through my tears or my anger that they have not left, but rather stayed….nothing speaks more volumes than that.

“The being with is always the gift, not merely the doing for”

And how true. When we choose to offer to others the space that Christ offers us daily, and stay in that space, we find it becomes a sanctuary, a safe place to hear the brokenness behind the anger, the truth behind the facades and fake smiles, and the false fears stop, as we keep in space for Christ to grow us and conceive grace and understanding in us, in the situation.

And how beautiful and fitting that it starts with empty hands, no performance or gift, just a beckon and a call to make space and receive.

“This is the chronology of grace, the chronology of Christmas: before we’re called to give, we’re called to receive”

May we truly respond his call to come and receive and may we carry that space with us this Advent, this Christmas.

Peace and joy,


the santanas


*all quotes from Ann Voskamp

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