currently: drinking coffee and eating the last of the chocolate from Sweden (sorry, Richard!)
reading: Advent goodness
hearing: the tick of the kitchen clock
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
smelling: A SIMMERING POT OF CHRISTMAS AND pine!
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!
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.
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!
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!
this is my love language.
Even when I was little, notes and letters were very important to me. I use to have pen pals, I would leave little notes everywhere around the house: to my siblings and parents. I would write to my friends often and during college I would leave little notes here and there for people to find. I would spend hours in the stationary section in stores perusing over paper, pens, stationary, cards, etc.
I love the written word; the time you invest in sitting down and writing to someone, the fact that it is your own handwriting and not a computers impersonal script. It is a beautiful way to say you care about someone.
I also love the tools and art that go behind writing: a good pen (I LOVE a good pen!), a sharpened pencil, beautiful stationary, a journal waiting to be filled.
If you want to get to my heart, a handwritten letter or a little note is one of the ways. (and I keep every single one of them!)
Well, my friends, we are so excited to let you know that we have a mailing address here in Ecuador! A P.O. Box where we can receive letters and small packages:
So that means, if you have sent us your Christmas cards in the past, please keep sending them! We would so love to receive them and have a little taste of home, your home! It would bring us so much joy!
Or if you find the time and want to write us a letter, you would make my heart so happy! We would so love to hear from you! And we’d also love to write to you as well!
Let’s keep this beautiful art of the written word alive, whether it be through notes, letters, journals, diaries, books, or Christmas cards!
starting a fire in and enjoying the warmth of wood-burning stoves
visits from friends….Evelina from Argentina!
baking (it’s been a while)
lighting candles in the morning
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!)
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.
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,