The road that brought me to Maggie’s Place at the beginning of August was full of twists and turns; a constant ride of uphill climbs and downhill soars. When I accepted the MissionCorps position in December of my senior year, my spiritual life was at an all-time high. I was so ready to minister to the moms, love the babies, and serve alongside my fellow volunteers. But soon after, in January, I found myself in a spiritual desert, not having the strength or willingness to pray to God.

As the months went on, I dealt with obstacle after obstacle that came my way and I struggled to finish my senior year of college with a smile on my face. When I graduated in May, I started preparing myself to soon move to the physical representation of the spiritual desert I had been living in for so long. Who was I to act as a support and mentor for these women when I was so far from having it all together?

On our first official day of training, we had a presentation on living in Arizona. We talked about cacti safety, heat exhaustion, and the best coffee shops in the area. The last slide of the PowerPoint had an incredible image of the desert at dusk and it said, “Welcome to the Valley of the Sun!”

This juxtaposition of sunlight shining down into the dark depths of the valley struck a chord within me. I knew that was what God was going to do in my heart here at Maggie’s Place. I knew He was going to pour sunlight into the barren places of my heart. I knew He was going to meet me somewhere in the desert. And He did. So far, life here is far more beautiful than I ever could have imagined, and far more challenging than I could have ever expected. The most unbelievable part though, for me, is through all the hills and the valleys in our lives and the lives of the moms, God’s love and light can still be tangibly felt in ways that I didn’t experience before Maggie’s Place.

Maybe it’s the constant prayer. Maybe it’s the intentionality of our community. Maybe it’s the heart of our donors and volunteers. But, as one mom said in our living room after a generous woman had donated a box full of goodies for each of the moms, “Yo – this place is BLESSED!” And it’s true! The intense summer heat here in the valley serves as a reminder of the intensity of God’s love and intentionality for the poor, the forgotten, the lowly, and the broken.

Author Daniel Crawford writes, “There is never a majestic mountain without a deep valley, and there is no birth without pain”. When I’m driving through the valley with the moms on the way to an appointment or a class, I can’t help but stare in awe when the sunlight hits a mountain a certain way, or when the clouds paint a masterpiece behind the trees. These kinds of beautiful moments can only be experienced in the valley, just like there is a certain grace that can only be experienced in the low valley moments in our lives.

As labor pains prelude the miracle of birth, often the valley moments in our lives make way for us to reach the mountaintops. In a short amount of time, the moms, staff, Corps, and babies at Maggie’s Place have reminded me to look up. Lift my eyes to the mountains, and see God reaching down His hand to lift me up from the valley. And while I’m here, my job is not to have it all together, but to soak in every sunbeam I can get.

By Emily Bruce, a MissionCorps