No Vacancy

A van load of excited travelers sailed across the dessert, thinking happy thoughts, enjoying the new CD that an aspiring artist (also a fellow train passenger) had gifted them, dissecting the favorite parts of the day…

The sun was sinking creating a beautiful world of evening light.. And although we were weary, Our hearts were full.  We fell into a peaceful silence. Basking in the memory of the sound of the train whistle echoing up through the Rocky Mountains, the smell of that fresh air, the grime of the soot from the engine. It had been an incredible experience. Some of the girls had dreamed of this day for a long time- a trip from Durango, CO to Silverton  by way of the Narrow Gauge Rail. We’d put in a huge day, we were tired, but happy and content.

Durango, CO

Somewhere along the line, the matter of where our overnight stop was going to be, came into the discussion and we made the sad discovery that it had been overlooked. We were fairly new at this traveling game- and everybody thought someone else had taken care of it.

To make matters worse, it was the Fourth of July AND We didn’t have cell service. One by one each cell phone searched for service and died a painful death. So there we were out in the desert on an Indian reservation with a regretful lack of planning. We rolled into the only town on this lonely stretch of road and pulled up to the first motel with great apprehension.  Please, Lord, provide… I walked into the lobby and received the dreaded news “Sorry, we are full. It’s the Fourth! This is a busy weekend”

I groaned and tried to decide how I was going to react- play on the sympathy of the overly busy receptionist or take the news in stride. I attempted for the latter, and after a few questions received the news that everything in town was booked, but there was one Indian run little joint 10 miles down the road…

The NO VACANCY signs illuminated the “next town Tuba City 80 miles” sign as we wheeled out of town.

At this point, my job as driver changed to coach as I attended to prepare the girls for camping out in the dessert under the stars among the cacti, coyotes and wild horses. The soot on my face seemed to intensify to extreme grit as I planned how we could camp in the van- with no showers. Ugh.


Again the No Vacancy sign shone way too cheerfully as our last option came into view. You’ve got to be kidding me.  Someone suggested that we stop anyways. I, again, entered the lobby with a knot in my stomach. “We were looking for two rooms”

“Why sure! We have plenty of room tonight!” What?!

We mentioned the fact that the sign said ” No Vacancy” and she laughed and said ” I wonder how that happened? No wonder no one was stopping!”

We laughed too- that sort of delirious laughter that comes from being highly concerned/ greatly relieved and way too tired. If you ever wonder if God turns on No Vacancy signs.  I think I know. He provided for us without a question.

After that experience it’s a little easier for me to envision the desperation in Joseph and Mary’s hearts that eventful trip- as they searched for SOMEWHERE to stay. And came to rest in a barn. God provided.


And I wonder- with all the busyness of Christmas-all the wonderfully festive Christmas plays and programs, the caroling, the stacks of mail, the endless baking, the gift buying- if sometimes- Jesus comes by and stops, and sees that I’m so preoccupied that my heart’s signs says “no vacancy”

This isn’t just a Christmas problem- it’s something I fight year round. It’s so easy- to allow other things- well intended things- to crowd out my time with Him…


“Oh come to my heart, Lord Jesus, there is room in my heart for Thee…”

Yes, please…

Merry Christmas!


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