finding joy :: 5

starting a fire in and enjoying the warmth of wood-burning stoves

winter sunrises

visits from friends….Evelina from Argentina!

baking (it’s been a while)

lighting candles in the morning

christmas traditions

my sweet students and staff

blasting this song in the car while MOVING 

also listening to christmas music

creating music (more on this soon!)

and what the snow does to the trees (truly a winter wonderland!)




















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We have our tickets!

We leave May 24th and come back sometime in August.

As much as we are excited, we are also…..in sort of a state of huh?

This is such a weird limbo to be in.

We’re going to Ecuador…..

But we’re coming back.

We’re packing up our house and moving out.

But will continue to live in the US for a while.

We are quitting our jobs and saying goodbye to our students and co-workers.

But are still working on fundraising.

Honestly, we were a little disheartened to reach April first and have to buy round-trip tickets to Ecuador. Our goal was to be in Ecuador by this spring, and while we will be in Ecuador this spring, we will be coming back in the fall.

But, like a very wise and dear friend told me, “maybe it is a blessing in disguise” and we remember that. Sometimes we (ME…ELIZABETH!!!) are in such a rush to get from one thing to another, one place to another, one stage in life to another, that we forget this beautiful, step by step, sometimes seemingly slow, sometimes unnoticed, yet powerful thing called: process, journey.

God seems to be all about those processes, those slow (to us) processes. But he does things in them, he grows things in them, he changes things and renews things in them. I guess just think of nuts growing into trees or seeds growing into flowers, or babies growing into adults (no, don’t think about that too much, it will make you sad), or juice changing into wine, sweet tea into Kombucha? (hehe)…..a process. A growing, learning, changing, encountering, extending, expanding, enhancing, process.

It also gives us time to keep on preparing, to keep on learning, growing, connecting, forming partnerships, making memories, and just doing the daily habitual things that are so normal but so grounding and truly beautiful.

So, we move forward in faith that God can, in an instant, move us from 30% to 100%. And we move forward in faith that God is a good Father that can use this process to change us, renew us, grow us, stretch us, love us, and prepare us in his perfect timing, on this beautiful journey of life.





At the Grand Canyon….talk about a process!

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Farewell, Minnesota Christmas…….

I can’t quite let go of Christmas yet.


I mean, every year when December and the Christmas season are coming to a close, we begrudgingly get back into the routines of daily life, but this year, knowing that this is probably our last white, Minnesotan Christmas for a while, I am even more reluctant to dismantle the tree, the greens, the hanging cinnamon stars, and the cozy, stringed lights.

I am even more reluctant to end the daily gatherings at my parent’s or siblings’ homes, sitting by the wood-burning stove, playing games, reading together, going on morning, winter walks or evening moonlit strolls.

I am reluctant to let this season end, literally and figuratively speaking.

I know it is a process, of letting go, of holding on, of saying goodbye, of saying hello, er…hola. But still….it’s hard. It is a PROCESS. Just like much of life; growing up, getting older, experiencing sorrows and joys and mountains and valleys and days of triumph and days that feel like a failure.

This process of life, of seasons…..it’s hard stuff. It really is, but to resist it, I think, would only make it worse, as hard as it is, I am learning to be fully aware and to be consciously and intentionally apart of it. To be awake to the changes and the feelings and emotions of it all, to not let it drown me, but be okay with feeling sad or feeling excited. To be okay with it being messy and not exactly what I thought.

But the hope of process for me is, we do not have to do it alone. We are all in process, in different seasons, in motion, in change, but we are not alone. I am so thankful for the community of support around us, for our friends and family who have known or know that seasons and different processes we are going through and offer us their space and time to process with them. We are so thankful!

I am so thankful for Christ and how he intentionally and purposefully chooses to travel with us through every season and process, daily.

Just today, as I was spending sometime alone, thinking on the past year and how some parts of it were so hard and ugly and thinking to myself, “what a waste that time was, I wish I could re-do or re-live those moments and do things differently” or, “I wish I never had to go through that season, that I could have erased that moment in my life”. Instantly after I thought that, I felt in my heart, God saying:

“It was not for nothing, it was not in vain, it was not lost. The things that you think are dead are breathing in life again. In silence, I was and am there. I am in the grief. I am in the seemingly wasted years, in the mistakes, in the ashes, in the pain, in the unnoticed, in the broken…look closer, look closer, I was there and am there. I am there. There is no “wasted” or “lost” in me. I am NOT a passive Father”

And it is so true. He isn’t passive, in the waiting, in the silence, in the proceses, in the different seasons, he is not passive, he is right with us, walking with us. Oh, that my eyes would be open to Him. OH, that even when I don’t see or feel, that I would choose to believe. Oh that I would choose to believe!

So, in this process of “lasts” and in this season of change and bittersweetness, I am going to try to have my eyes wide open to each moment, to intentionally be apart of the process and the season, whatever one it may be, I want to be apart of it, not wishing it were over, or trying to blur the days away, but through the mountain highs or valley lows, singing out to remind my soul, that I am not alone and I am not alone.

So maybe we’ll keep the tree up just a little bit longer and we will linger just a little while longer in the moments we are together, and be thankful for this season and the next.


The Santanas
















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