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  • Sonya Leigh Anderson


I was first compelled by shalom.

We met Felipe and Jimmy in November. They were here along with nine other Colombian kids, 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 weekend it was Thanksgiving. We gathered around tables laden with food and overflowing with family. We gathered for 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 so very good. This family – the five of us, and the whole clan of us, too. Nearly perfect. 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 our high school pastor preached. I can’t remember the text or the topic, but I’ll never forget what he said about peace. Somewhere toward the middle of his message 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 in 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 as raw fear took over. And then it happened. A dear friend and co-worker saw my fear, and spoke one 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 think I did.

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