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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

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A Sweet Hosting Story: S <3

This is one of my favorite hosting stories {although, I love them all}.  Linzey helped us when we were hosting Jonalyn–the incredible dental hygienist who helped us with each and every one of the three sessions, screaming and all.  It was Linzey who made it possible, and made sure it was covered free of charge with the office she works for.  It was extensive, Linzey was so nurturing and kind with Jonalyn, and Jonalyn just loved her.  At the end of the 3rd and final visit, it was Linzey who presented Jonalyn with the just perfect Anna doll.  She changed her life forever.  And how she and her husband are changing another life.

Linzey and her husband Pete are hosting “S” this summer in their home, who may just be the cutest little boy (Just wait and see…).  I have loved reading their updates, their sweet days with him and how creatively they love him.

I asked if I could share one of her updates and she said yes!  It’s very special.



I can’t believe it’s been over a week since S arrived. He has blessed our family and brought so much action into our lives. So much has happened since my last post! All great!!!

We’ve been beach camping since last Monday and we’ve had such a great time enjoying family. He is one of the most active kids I’ve ever met! He is always ready for an adventure and isn’t scared of anything!
We’re so lucky to live close to the beach and it’s something that I’ve taken for granted. I’ve been beach camping since I was a baby and basically lived at the beach every summer growing up. It’s become part of our routine, I don’t think much of it, but this year was different. I can only imagine what was going through his mind when he saw the glistening ocean and crashing waves for the first time. I saw it again through his eyes, the eyes of an orphan. I couldn’t stop smiling knowing what was over the hill, and when we made it to the crest, I pointed to the ocean. His limited vocabulary about summed it up “WOW Mamma, das good!”
I had to video his first ocean experience! He was chomping at the bit to get in there! He kicked off his sandals handed me Mabel’s leash and strutted in. He looked back at me smiling, as if can you believe this, are you seeing this, isn’t this amazing. Every day he would go in the ocean and about every 10 waves he would look back at me on the beach and wave. I think he loved the thought that someone was watching him. I’ve tried my best to watch him, be present in the now, and encourage him. He hasn’t had someone to watch him, he’s been on his own, taking care of his younger brother and little sister. I’m sure its so nice for him to be a kid and have someone just be happy that he’s happy. 


We bought him a life jacket and he was in the ocean about 3 hours a day he loved jumping over waves, kayaking, and catching crabs.
Even though he can’t swim, he was down to go way out over the crashing waves in the kayak. “Mamma let’s GOOOO”
I was astonished in the amount of trust he had in me. Here I was, in control of the boat, in water he can’t swim in, ocean he’s never seen, and waves he’s never experienced and he’s laughing his head off, having the time of his life. It reminds me of how God works in our lives, once you give up control, trust in God and just ride the waves; It’s a beautiful thing. You are free to enjoy and experience this world and all its adventures. I’ve learned a lot from the way he lives life.


We flipped twice and I quickly got him back in the boat, he recovered in less than a minute and he was ready to charge the waves again. I am amazed at how resilient he is. I’m so glad God has put us in the position to take care of him. I still can’t believe he has traveled all the way to America by himself to live with a family he doesn’t know. This must be the most trusting person I have ever met.

He has such a great sense of humor and had no problems joining in on any fun.  We bought him a bike and realized quickly he needed knee pads and elbow pads. He is so daring on his bike, “look mama!” As he rides by with no hands. I’ve learned to relax and let him go. The look of peace on his face as he zooms around on his bike is worth all the stress.

We took him to the wild animal park yesterday and we all had a lot of fun. I can tell he hates lines and is very impatient. Okay, no animals moving in this exhibit, NEXT. Probably the fastest trip to the Wild Animal Park ever. He fed the birds, you could tell he thought that was cool. My favorite part of the day was when he rode on Pete’s back.


Pete and I both admire his confidence so much. We dropped him off at Church yesterday; they have indoor basketball, a foosball table and air hockey table. He wanted to play air hockey but the table was empty, he grabbed the air puck and walked over to a kid who was in mid shooting position at the basketball area with 3 other boys. He tapped the boy on the shoulder, held up the puck and said, “play?” I wasn’t sure how the boy was going to react because he was obviously in the middle of a game with his buddies. “S.” confidently pointed to the air hockey table and started walking over to it. The kid, with the basketball still in his hand, turned to his friends and tossed the ball to them and followed S. Pete and I were shocked, well, we don’t have to worry about him making friends…

After church he was acting goofy, jumping around practicing karate moves on nearby trees and fire hydrants meanwhile, I’m thinking ‘Okay, no more sugar…’
We get to the car and he opened the door for me. Oh, melt my heart. Pete always opens the door for me, in fact, sometimes I speed walk to entrances to watch him full on run to open the door for me; it makes me giggle. He’s so sweet  I’m so glad Pete is rubbing off on him. He is such a great husband and is so good to me.

We use a lot of positive reinforcement with S. It makes him feel good, I can tell. He is so eager to please. Last night he made us popcorn and took our drink order (water) before we started a movie. He made sure to tell us the ice was a little melted. As if, its not my best glass of water but, I hope its okay… He’s so sweet.

I think yesterday was a good indication of our progress. We are trying our best to set a good example for him and show him what a family should look like. I could cry when I think about the day he laves to go back to his country. Back to an orphanage. I know it will be good for him to see his brother and sister but, selfishly I don’t want him to go. Hopefully his brother will be old enough to come back and stay with us over the winter. I wonder what this is for him, a vacation? a possible future? To us it is forever, we will be in this child’s life forever, following him, encouraging him, watching him, praying for him. Praying he doesn’t end up a statistic because he is loved and cared for by us, by God.   20% of orphans that age out of orphanages commit suicide with in the first 2 years on their own.




“This is the best thing we have ever done, ” -Pete, aka Papa <3


If you have a moment, would you be willing to share a short comment, prayer or encouragement for this sweet family?  There’s family is so special and S is such a special boy!  

Thank you!


DIY Delicious Cashew Cheese! {YUM!}

Wow, cashew cheese.  We put it on everything.  Macaroni has purpose, pizza feels fresher, kids lick their spoons while our bodies are nourished and our stomachs write us thank you notes.  Vegan and dairy free.

Dairy free, does our bodies good.  I recently shared our DIY Almond Milk recipe, which has been such a perfect fit for our family.  Last night when the kids were sleeping, I poured a handful of almonds in a bowl and covered them with water.  While the eggs cooked in the morning crispy on the stove, the kids just waking up, I popped the soaked almonds into the blender with water and some vanilla and we had a fresh batch of milk ready for them.  I use the foam on my tea.

Well, today I am sharing our dairy free cheese recipe–it’s so good.  Wonderful, you will want to put it on anything everything.  It makes life easier, and healthier, I’ll explain after the recipe, but just know, it’s a crowd pleaser.



Good for your heart, helps your body process antioxidants, lasts a long time, and so easy that’s it’s almost silly.

Plus–did I mention, delicious?


1 cup cashews soaked overnight

1/4 cup filtered water

A squeeze of lemon

Pinch of Salt

{Optional: 1/2 garlic clove, unless you have picky eaters.  They will LOVE the plain version.}



Rinse your cashews and put them in the blender.



Add the water, lemon, salt, garlic and watch it turn into buttery, luxurious goodness.  It’s so easy you may need to bake a cake or something since you scheduled time in your kitchen, and you’re done, but on a roll.  Otherwise…


Just enjoy, because look:



Cashew Cheese. So good, you might cry.

Perfect for a last minute lunch:  Boil some pasta and broccoli together.  After you drain, slather some refrigerated cashew cheese on the steaming noodles and veggies and you are ready for an amazing, fancy, 5 star lunch that your kids will devour.  No creepy dairy side effects, doesn’t cause cancer like Kraft ;)


We put it on all sorts of things, dresses up any meal.

Here’s my encouragement to you:  Maybe you haven’t tried anything like this, maybe you’ve wanted to make healthy changes but feel overwhelmed: try this recipe, start small and see how you feel, see if you enjoy it.  It will be easier than you think, and maybe better.  Maybe kraft boxes will fill your trash cans, and your stomach and gut will process other foods more efficiently, crazier things have happened :)

Sometimes one small step towards health is the good kind of contagious and leads to another.



Pin for later—->http://www.pinterest.com/pin/181762534936028327/



If you try this recipe at home, show us your recipes you create with it!  Take a picture of your little ones or your or the meal and hashtag #TGECashewCheese  We will want to try all the recipes you come up with and learn from one another.


Enjoy and hugs!  xoxo


#VivaHEALTH!  #VivaYummy!

How about you?  Are you a cheese lover?  Could never give it up?  Have you tried cashew cheese, what do you add to it?  What’s your best recipe using it!?