a rest retreat

Like I mentioned in our December Newsletter, I always feel bittersweet about leaving the old year behind. I think back on all that was said, not said, done, and not done, seen, felt, heard, learned, etc….

It was a hard, magical year, 2017…a good hard and a hard hard and magic bits in between here and there.

We reached our 80% mark for being funded, Richard became a citizen of the USA, we traveled to many different states, we moved to a new country, we did Merge, we got involved in new ministries, we went Scandinavia and to Europe and met up with my whole family, I became a resident of Ecuador, our car broke, I got really sick, we fought, we forgave, we learned, we missed weddings and births, we got really busy, too busy…..

But even though it was a hard year, it was a year of life together with my husband, with my family, with my friends, with God….and I truly believe that each season is a gift a there are treasures to be found, lessons to be learned, life to be lived.

One of the things that I really want to change this year is how busy and scattered I feel. I know that with moving to a new country and culture, there will be a certain amount of scattered-ness and busyness that one will experience, and I know that with Merge, especially in the summer, it can get downright crazy….and life, everyones’ life in general has moments, seasons, and days of busyness, but, but….I truly believe that there are enough hours, minutes, and seconds that make up moments, that we can use to refocus, breathe, pray, and rest. There are habits we can change, new ones we can start, and certain things we can say “no” to and others, “yes”.

So this year, I’m starting off with that in mind, and thanks to Amanda Watters, I have somewhere to start.

Amanda Watters is the author of the blog, Homesong. A beautiful journal of life, rhythms, routines, meals, crafts, and deep, beautiful thoughts.

I am joining her on her “Homesong Rest Retreat”. A retreat to “focus on being more intentional with our time, while devoting our energy to inner work that will help ground and center our spirits for the New Year ahead” -Amanda Watters



So if you’d like, you can join me as well!

Here is her first post with some starting information

And here is her latest post about preparations for the coming rest retreat.


Peace and joy in this new year!







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5 minutes

currently: drinking coffee and eating the last of the chocolate from Sweden (sorry, Richard!)

reading: Advent goodness

hearing: the tick of the kitchen clock

seeing: flies….everywhere!

dreaming: of a white christmas (really)

singing:i’ll be home for christmas

watching: dancing with the stars (ahh, I want to get back into dance so badly!)

eating: lots of homemade bread, christmas cookies, and sauerkraut

drinking: ‘BUCH and not enough water

looking forward to: Christmas with our Ecuadorian family

thinking about: rhythms and routines

hoping for: SNOW on Christmas day

missing: family and baby spinach

loving: the holiday busyness

discovering: non-verbal cultural cues (always forever)

crafting: sneaky christmas gifts as well as knitting wash clothes

baking: chocolate chip cookies for our wednesday night bible study in the mountains

writing: christmas cards and this journal

needing: more sleep

wanting: more sleep and rest

reliving: memories from this time last year

debating: if i should take a shower….nah


crying: over this video

learning: more about balancing ministry and daily life

deciding: not to let the little things throw off my day

praising: god for the mind-blowing, life-changing: “you will find a baby…..lying in a manger”

planning: January Merge trips and a get-a-way adventure!

Feeling: the heat from the fireplace and bittersweet




5 minutes are up!

What have you been: reading, hearing, seeing, dreaming, singing, watching, eating, drinking, looking froward to, thinking about, hoping for, missing, loving, discovering, crafting, baking, writing, needing, wanting, reliving, debating, smelling, crying, learning, deciding, praising, planning, feeling these days?

I’d love to hear!





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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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mes chers amis…..



It has been a couple weeks now since our dear, dear friends from France, the Weilers, left.

Yet, I am still mentally digesting all I learned from their time here with us.

Our time together reminded me, once again, just HOW valuable and needed is diversity in the body of Christ.

Even though the Weilers were only here for less than three weeks, they taught me so much through their culture and personality, and beautifully reflected a life of peace and rest.

Although we invited them into our home, they invited us into their daily routines and ways of life: each morning we would prepare a simple breakfast, carry it outside and slowly eat and drink tea while enjoying the morning sunlight, each other’s company, and the freshness of the morning. After lunch we would always sit down either on the earth outside or on the carpet inside and take tea and dark chocolate. It was not rushed or fancy or something that it was not….but simple, together, and peaceful.

But truly, my favorite moment was when Mrs. Weiler (Claire), my husband, and I sat down one evening while at a friend’s cabin up North and talked in the fading light about meditation. It was so beautiful and such an eye-opening experience. 

Claire has been a yoga instructor for more than 20-plus years and practices the art of meditation. And you can sense, when you are around her, that she is a women of peace and rest.

While talking she explained to us how she views meditation. And to be honest, I had not thought much about meditation, I always either pushed it aside as “too New Age” or didn’t think it would ever benefit or enrich my life. But Claire said something that completely changed my view on meditation. She explained that meditation, truly, at its core is “receiving”. That we must, “receive first, before anything else; before words, before pleas, before phrases…we must first quiet our wandering minds and receive. Just receive”.


How I long to just quiet myself, my crazy, scattered thoughts and focus on just receiving from Jesus. Sitting first and before even lifting up a Psalm or a prayer or a thanks, to first just receive. What do YOU want to say to me, Abba, that I don’t hear from all my wondering and thinking? What do you want to calm in my anxious heart? What do you want me to notice? What part of your creation are you wooing me with….the air, the sun, the smells, etc.? What area in my life do you want to cover with your peace? What truths have I been forgetting about You, about me? Can I hear your song over me?

And like Claire said, it is a hard practice to do at first because honestly, our lives are a lot more about “doing” then “receiving”. But I think it is a such a beautiful life practice that can bring such sweet connection to and peace from the Father. To sit and to receive. How beautiful!

It is a practice I am trying to learn; a habit I am trying to start, because now, I view meditation as a beautiful part of a culture, religion, and the scriptures that the Father can use (and has been using since looong ago) to bring peace, rest, and restoration. It is one beautiful way, out of many, that we can practice abiding and resting; that we can practice listening and hearing the Father’s heart for us. And it has been a great connecting point and has given space and opportunity for listening, sharing, and growing with others.

I am so thankful for my dear French friends and for all they have taught me and for how God does not shrink from culture but uses culture and traditions for a life of wholeness in Him.


the santanas

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