Shalom Story

We met Felipe and Jimmy in November. They were here along with nine other Colombian teens, experiencing a “Minnesota vacation.” All the kids had one thing in common. They wanted to belong to a family.

We went knowing it was a possibility. All five of us – Kyle and I and our three boys – were volunteers at the Camp of Dreams. But each of us knew deep inside, there might be something more. These kids needed families.

The next week was Thanksgiving. We gathered around Grammy’s table, laden with food and circled by family. We joined in the feasting and lively conversation, and all the time we wondered. Should we? Could we?

Secretly we prayed and wrestled with God. We considered life the way it was. And it was crazy good. This family, the five of us, and the whole clan of us, too. So much fun and so much love. I remember thinking, it’s peaceful the way it is. My home, my life. Peaceful. I like peaceful.

The Sunday after Thanksgiving I woke early, lit fireplace candles, and brewed my coffee. I sat with my Bible, too distracted to read. “God. I don’t think I can do it. I’m afraid to give up this peace.”

Later that morning Pastor Mike was preaching. The first Sunday of Advent.

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6

It was somewhere toward the middle of his message when he said it. “It’s not peace the way we think of peace. It’s the peace of shalom.” He went on to describe this SHALOM, and it was all over for me and my peace. “Shalom is life made right; life the way it was designed,” he said. “Nothing missing. Nothing broken.”

I wrote those words down and kept them. I tucked them into my journal. I carried them in my head. Nothing missing. Nothing broken. Shalom peace.

Back at home I groaned when I saw the same word draped above my mantel. There, cut out of fancy paper, outlined with gold glitter, hung one word. PEACE.

This peace wouldn’t let me go.

A day or two later I went to work, mind spinning with thoughts of boys who needed a home – and a home full of peace. My insides quivered all day long, raw fear consuming me. And then it happened. Sweet Barb, my dear friend and coworker, looked into my eyes, saw my anguish. She knew nothing, but she spoke this word. Never had she said it before, and never since.

“Sonya – Shalom.”

It’s a rare gift to hear the audible voice of God. That day, I did.

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