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Grace, like a Sticky River

“Nooooo mama, I want doooooown!”
“No honey, I can’t let you down, see those big cars? We are in the road and I don’t want you to get squished, I love you too much.”
“No mama, why you love me?”

Elijah had been struggling with behavior this weekend, I had spent two nights praying for wisdom. “Elijah, I love you because you are Elijah. If you act good or bad, I will always love you because you are Elijah.”
“No mama,” he didn’t want the words to sink in. He was eating a mango, the juice running in rivers down his arms. ‘Gracious words promote instruction,’ is what we heard this morning. And instead of a lecture, we allowed our words to flow, like the sticky, yellow rivers, coating him.
“I can’t stop loving you, you are my Elijah.
“I love you Elijah, me too,” said Finley and Maria.
“If you take off your diaper and climb out of your bed, I still love you.” Our words poured out, gracious as a sign of trust on the other end of those words, not our instincts.
He stopped saying no.
He held my hand.
“Thank you,” he said. And I think he meant it.


The next day, after what seemed like endless chances this morning for us to practice grace… to a little boy who tried his hardest to show that he didn’t deserve it, I threw my heart out–and what felt like prudence, and wasn’t sure where it would land, it felt like faith, to trust; “You are so good, you mean so much to me,” allowing truth to flow, unending. Free to give. Freedom.

When he woke up from nap after falling asleep in a mess of hot tears he told me, in a teeny voice,
“Yes, honey.”
Looking into my eyes, he squeaked, “I no get out of bed. I no throw toys.”  A light was in his eyes as they met mine.
I touched his cheek, his good behavior, although surprising, didn’t change what I saw, I still just saw him, this boy I love. What had taken work, stood in our presence.

Tonight before dinner, he stood outside, sunlight on his chest, picking deep red flowers, so carefully, before presenting them to me–a first. Not one flower, but a careful bouquet, full and rich.
We placed them in a little vase with water, and Finley wouldn’t be outdone, so he made one, too, shoved them in a sippy cup.
One step, of many to come, but grace and trust have made their homes.

Affectionate satisfaction. 

“For God’s word is solid to the core; everything he makes is sound inside and out. He loves it when everything fits, when his world is in plumb-line true. Earth is drenched in God’s affectionate satisfaction. Psalm 33:4-5//


To trust, blindly it feels, in the words written, and reread them often, because they are the opposite of me, and I always forget.  To place myself always in the vicinity of learning, to hear wisdom.  To surrender the desire to protect myself, to get the final words, and instead to allow grace–what is not deserved–to be what comes out.  Always.  Love is free, we can, through God, give it away.

And on the other side of that leap, a promise awaits.  But it’s one we each have to experience on our own.  God’s goodness, His healing.  Waiting for you, to be picked in it’s fullness, bringing life and light , and rich, real beauty.

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Today, I am sharing our favorite weeknight meal, we make it a handful of times per month: Tilapia with Rainbow Mango Salsa.

A favorite for the kids, and the adults, our absolute most fave, enjoy!

It’s simple to make, sweet, filling, healthy and it smells incredible.  It feels like a tropical vacation meal, like you are suddenly in a warm place, shaded by banana tress near a quiet ocean with the faint hum of lively bugs in the back ground, even if you aren’t there in person :)

Start with these 5 fresh plant ingredients:


-2 limes, chopped

-2 large mangos, chopped

-1/4 red onion chopped

-1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

-1 red pepper, chopped


My children are little mango monsters.  We have one tiny baby mango tree, and when we first planted it in the soil, they looked at it longingly, excited, “It will take a long time,” we told them.  We sometimes see the boys crouching by it with their small, plastic watering cans, urging it to grow and flourish with their offerings of care.

How do you cut your mangos?  When we learned the cross-hatch and pop-out method, we have never looked back.




After you combine those first five ingredients, it will look like this :) :) :)

I wish you could breath it in.  I remember the first time I made this, I wasn’t expecting it, nothing I had ever made has smelled this good, even when it was coated in some bottled, sticky sauce made of fake ingredients.



Refrigerate and let chill as you preheat the oven for the fish, @425.

As the oven preheats, put your fish on the baking sheet, we LOVE our Silpat so we don’t use aluminum foils and it makes all food come out fantastic, you can reuse it thousands of times.  We lightly oil the fish and sprinkle a little  salt, then bake the fish for 20 minutes.  We typically use tilapia, we like the mild flavors, but it’s also the least expensive fish at our store, which fits our family of 5.  But the fish of choice that you like will do, this salsa will enhance any type.

When the fish is done, serve with the mango salsa and your favorite sides.  It will be beautiful.  You will find rows of fingertips along your countertop trying to catch a peek at what they smell.


It’s a good time to get kids to help set the table, even little tiny ones can help with napkins, well, if you don’t mind them wrinkled, which we don’t ; )




As your kids dive into this meal, and your and your husband enjoy, just remember how healthy each bite is, and that in one meal, they are getting all the food groups, alive in flavor.


And they will love it!



If you try it, let us know!  You may have all the salsa ingredients already.  What’s your favorite kind of fish to cook with?  Are your kiddos mango kids?  What is your favorite weeknight meal?  If you make this, you may want to then travel to Costa Rica ;)

ENJOY!  xoxo


Pin for later—-> http://www.pinterest.com/pin/181762534936101104/


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Finding the Pain

Brows furrowed, she looks down.

“But you promise not to make fun of me?”

“Oh honey, we would never make fun of you.  We don’t do that in this family.”

“But–you’ve had an easy life your whole life.”


“For me, I was ten years in an orphanages.  My life was hard.”

“I know, honey.”


“It’s hard for me to remember,” she stops.  But, trying “I never remember Russia, I just only want to think of here, with my family.”

“It’s ok to remember and think about how you felt.”


“I have more feelings here, I feel more things here.”

“Here we ask you about how you feel and talk about it.  That is what you do when you love someone.  You talk about feelings.  It’s good for you.”

“Yeah,” she contemplates, nodding her head.


“Did people ask you about your feelings when you were in Russia?”

“No.  No one did.  I think I was all alone there.

All the kids were.  And sometimes when I think, I think it’s sad…”  she starts again, on the edge of a cliff she has tried her best to stay away from.  High on the bliss of family, but with growth and care, she can now see more clearly.  She teeters on the edge, and we beckon.


And she shared, word by word, from secret places deep in her heart, tears flicked off the edge of her chin.  Of loss, so much of it it could fill an ocean, black as it is at night.  How could,  and why.  We have no answers, but allowing the words to flow out, out of the deep night sea, it’s ok.  We honor the pain, permitting it to come out, to breathe life into it’s own nostrils, yet separate from her chest, unbinding itself from her.

In our hearts we can’t imagine why, such a perfect child, and broken path.  We respond with the softness of loving words, to counter the lies told with truths seeped in, gently.


And she takes a breath, there it was.  The tears shine on her cheeks, but fresh ones don’t run their course.

We feel proud of her in our chests.  For many years, her heart and depths of her soul treated as a desert, hurts carving deep cracks along the surface as she soothed them herself, “I’m not special.”  Carrying the burden of a thousand worries, as a child, patching, distracting, hurting.

In the stillness, we ask her if she wants to give a piece of her pain to God and she agrees, eager at the chance, could it be?   As she hold up both hands and closes two eyes so tightly.  We pray.  And her daddy who loves her so much, prays over her, as he fills the space with truths over her, and gratitude for her, sending a quiet, peaceful shower as cracks, at first spill over, but slowly, become softer and begin to absorb.



And as we talk, she grins.  Her smile comes quickly, the sun coming up in the morning when the sleepy world wasn’t quite ready.  Yet she was.  Faster than any person I know to find hope and peace after sharing that kind of pain.


She buries her face in daddy’s chest, and speaks of a lighter heart, her body a million miles away from those memories, from those times long gone.  Lighter, a breathing thing, out and gone.  Given away.  As she reenters her life, the one meant to be, the place of feelings and care.  Where love and safety don’t run out, but spill into old, arid places.  As she sings a new song, of fresh, a new life, brimming with potential.


Oh, visit the earth, ask her to join the dance! Deck her out in spring showers, fill the God-River with living water. Paint the wheat fields golden. Creation was made for this! Drench the plowed fields, soak the dirt clods with rainfall as harrow and rake bring her to blossom and fruit. Snow-crown the peaks with splendor, scatter rose petals down your paths, all through the wild meadows, rose petals. Set the hills to dancing, Dress the canyon walls with live sheep, a drape of flax across the valleys. Let them shout, and shout, and shout!

Oh, oh, let them sing!

Psalm 65  / 9-13