Costa Rica


Now that we're home (home home in North Carolina), it's time to unpack.

Physically, that looks like a bedroom floor piled with a mayhem of luggage and car trash.  :)  That's going to take a few days.

Spiritually, it's been underway for several weeks and will continue long after the clothes get sorted and put away.  Blogging is helpful not only to readers but to the writer...when Kat , who sees herself as one who passes out torches (and I agree), asked me to post some reflections of our journey - why we did it - on her blog, I was grateful for the push.  Too often, we mean to write but never get around to it.  (Even people who write for a living!)

I'd LOVE for you to hop over here to Inspired to Action (which is one of my favorite places to get motivated), where Kat so graciously made room for me on her couch.


Thank you. You guys have been (and continue to be) immensely encouraging to me, not just with the release of How Emptiness Sings, but over the months, with your lifting-up letters and stories.  They always seem to appear in the Inbox at just that moment when I'm beginning to wonder about all this and where it belongs.

It belongs with you.  And not surprisingly, you and I are a lot alike.  Which "adds to the beauty" (credit Sara Groves) by reminding all of us that we are less alone amongst humans than we sometimes feel.

So.  That's it.  Thanks. Now go get inspired.   :)

The Line

The Line

Who’s to say why a modern girl

Should be so moved

By socks on a line,

Bath towels damp and clothespinned,

Dancing like old friends on a parquet floor

Swinging like children on rusty monkey bars


Who will unfold the reasons

She opens inside out

At the sight of a white polyester fitted sheet

Billowing and blowing full of Costa Rican breeze –


Why she inhales more deeply,

Or stands more quietly,

In the presence of the mundane,

Fabric doing what fabric must do,

Under the midday sun.


Who can explain

The rushing river of abundance

In stretching out a task






About the pleasure of being spun clean

And sundried slow.


About the joy of hanging by a thread,

Old underwear flung against the clouds

For all the world to see.


And! the crisp harmonic contrast:

What our hands have made


What His hands have made.


Who’s to say, really,

That she shouldn’t just stay

A few minutes more --

Arms long and loose –

In a


standing still moment


Old-fashioned awe

Of laundry on a line.


la iglesia

...writing in Costa Rica, a poem...

The plaza surrounds the cathedral

With concrete pavers

Boys on skateboards sliding across space and time

Brown-skinned mamas, babies in slings

Trucks and vegetable vendors, holding out dirty nails and strands of garlic

Laughing exchanges between old men

These towns are built from the inside out

Beginning with la iglesia.

Someone told us all pueblos have these three:

Iglesia, Futbol, Cantina

Not sure of the order.

I haven’t yet stepped inside one of these monuments, but I imagine:

Exquisite attention to detail,

Arches and stained glass,

Artfully constructed altars,

Firm pews with straight backs.


Dim light.

Gorgeous fortress.

Humanity is a throng in the plaza on a Sunday afternoon.

What if we open those ancient walls and bring her inside?

Stack the stones out in the sun

Encircle park and babies, chile peppers and people

Until the heavens become an ocean overhead, and the floor a soccer field...

And we are within, and the whole thing in the light,

The only altar a flame,

The gospel of Christ.

And everywhere chairs and basins and towels.

What if we lean against the urge to merely deconstruct

And instead remember -

How to build a family?

How to center a life,

around something you cannot buy

or build

or earn

or find within yourself?

What if we discover there is ample room for skating and singing and spontaneity

Because the church is a living thing with lungs

And not a well-decorated tradition?

What if the church is a throng  in the plaza on a Sunday afternoon,

Moving like a flash mob

Around the center of our hallelujah?

far-from-home Christmas...

I’ll admit I wondered.

Can it be Christmas if there is no bread pudding?  Will we feel the awesome joy & delight & anticipation if we have few decorations and no family and neighbor-friends.  If we don’t attend a Christmas Eve candlelight service? If I have no piano?

Without parties and shopping and glowing fireplace, will the “coming” be glorious?

When we decided to arrive in Costa Rica before Christmas, I was up for the adventure, but definitely uncertain what it would mean for the kids and for me as far as our emotions related to this great season of celebration.

Last night we were invited to attend a special Christmas worship service at a small church in Cartago, a city about 20 minutes from where we are staying.  Our new friends, Tony and Anna Grace, graciously drove out of their way to transport us and watched over us the whole night.

They meet in a large, windowed room on the corner of a city block and when we arrived, the folding chairs were quickly filling with people, the tables with dishes of yellow rice & chicken & black beans, and the air with recorded music as the worship team got situated on the stage.

We sat toward the back and waited eagerly.  It’s a very strange experience to be enveloped in words and conversation and music and yet be completely unable to understand any of it.  To be wholly dependent on the kindness and ability of others to translate or attempt your language.

(We haven’t run into many fluent English speakers, which is very good and challenging for us!)

The team of musicians, men and women with shakers and electric keyboard and guitars, led a medley of Christmas songs, almost all familiar tunes, from Silent Night to Grown-Up Christmas List and we listened and swayed and joined an occasional line of harmony.

When the pastor, a tall and gracious gentleman who had come out to greet us at the street, stood to preach, I was all ears, straining hard to understand some little bit.

What I recognized and understood were not the sentences he spoke, but the power of the gospel in his voice.

The Name. Jesus… Jesus… Jesus.  Regalo…

And I listened to the singing and the preaching and thought:

These are His people, too.  I have family here.  And some day there will be no language barrier between us.  One day the only thing that really matters will be the only thing.

Long ago God crossed invisible borders and entered our country speaking a new language called Hope and Rescue, made this language accessible to every human in every land through the power of His Spirit.

It was a glorious coming, and will always be so, whatever country we inhabit and regardless of décor or tradition.

It doesn’t need to be contrived or conjured because it really, truly, actually IS.

There is no fear that Christmas won’t find us when we are far from home (as we all are), because Christmas is not a feeling but a Person, and He found us years ago.

May your last week of waiting be full with the joy and gladness of being found, wherever you are...