Searching for Sanctuary

Redeemer Presbyterian Church, PCA ( Indianapolis, IN

While standing in the check-out lane at the grocery store, I watched the young lady who was robotically scanning labels and punching in price codes for fruit and vegetables and with meticulous organization, bagged each item that I was about to purchase …she never turned her eyes away from that task.

To be honest, I wanted her to hurry-it-up and not to be so careful with the bagged lettuce and carrots. It didn’t matter to me if produce was mixed with dairy or if a jar of tomato sauce was placed in a bag with paper napkins.

But I stopped that impatient urge of aggravation to notice her. To appreciate her methodical and calculated process of scanning and bagging food.

So I spoke to her:  “Hey! Thank you so much for organizing this chaos of food and stuff! I guess you have been standing here for a long time already. How’s your day going?”

WOW! Her comments almost brought me to my knees. She looked up at me with clear eyes and a beautiful smile. “Thank You!” was her reply.

She proceeded to tell me about her day as a cashier (I will never take grocery store cashiers for granted again) and she gave me a peek into her family. She is also attending a community college and working for a better life for her children.  Our conversation continued as I shared with her some tidbits about my family and the peace that God has given me through the trials I am facing. I noticed that she slowed down scanning food. She slowed down organizing the bagging procedure.

She felt that I wanted to listen to her…and she wanted to listen to me.

I continued to compliment her, to praise her work ethic and striving to succeed for her family…and I sweetened all of that with nuggets of God’s grace and the peace He gives to them that search for all that.  And while we chatted, the strangers standing in line next to me had their ears opened and eyes watching us, with pleasant expressions on their face.

So you see, we are all searching for sanctuary. A better place to be.

The photo I shared of this post is of a sanctuary, a photo of the interior of a grand and humble church.  Perhaps it’s the image you may think of when you consider where to go for sanctuary.  But sanctuary can be found wherever you are.

I discovered sanctuary while standing in line at the grocery store talking with a stranger about God’s love and grace because God was with me…with both of us.

She is searching for sanctuary. I am searching for sanctuary.

Our deepest and most enduring peace and happiness…a sanctuary–can only be found in God.

Confia en Dios!

“Confia en Dios!” I heard those words everyday by the sweet and resounding voices of children, exclaiming very loudly and heard on the streets beyond the concrete walls. I, too, repeated those words over and over again throughout the week. When I woke up in the morning and as I fell asleep at night. “Confia en Dios!”

Trust in God. Trust in God, no matter what.

I just returned from a fantastic week of adventure in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, MX. What a privilege it was to be at Iglesia Bethel (in the above photograph) and help with a basketball camp, VBS, and serve the community. It was the most fun I’ve had on a missions trip in a very long time. Actually, it’s been a very long time since I’ve gone on a missions trip!

My husband has been to Monterrey much more than I have. For years he has encouraged me to go and see how God is working in the communities through the church planting efforts that we are passionate about. I usually had a number of good reasons or excuses for not going, but at this particular time I felt called to go…the persistent thought to stop delaying the inevitable–just GO! After a lot of prayer and pushing aside the rush of anxiety about the unknown, I purchased a round trip flight to Monterrey, MX. Now I was definitely committed!

On the way to the airport, my husband asked what I hoped to learn and what I hoped to accomplish while there. I replied that I didn’t have expectations for accomplishing anything, however I did hope that God would accomplish something unique and extraordinary in me. I was going to see first hand how God has answered our prayers, to celebrate the growing ministry of Bethel in their community of Apodaca and to live in the midst of life-on-life ministry for a fast and furious week. I wanted to experience traveling with a group of people whom I hardly knew and to hang out with Mexicans that I’ve never met before and [attempt to] communicate with them when I don’t know Spanish.

I am humbled by the generosity of the family I lived with and the extraordinary gift of God’s grace that was evident every moment of the day. The adventure was fantastic…more than I ever imagined! I hope to return to Monterrey to see the smiling faces of my new friends, to sweat together while running around a park with children from the neighborhood, to break bread and commune in fellowship.

There is too much to unpack about the week in a few paragraphs here and I’m sure I will write about the lessons God taught me in the weeks to come.  And regarding “unpacking” stuff…my suitcase was full of items that I never used! I have a long list of, “What not to pack” (FYI: no need to bring a roll of toilet paper or a small personal fan!)

While there, I met Sam Ferrand, a photographer documenting the church planting efforts of Mission to the World in Monterrey, MX. I love how she writes about Monterrey, photographs the mountainous landscape, while capturing the essence of a neighborhood and the precious expressions of lovely people. Check out her blog here: Keep Calm and Drink Teaquilla!

You may also enjoy reading these posts I wrote about preparing for this trip:

Imagine the Adventure!

A Simple Devotional About More:

To Be Present:

Here are a few photos from the week: