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Driving around the neighborhood, sparks of color have been found among the trees as pink and white and purple blossoms enter in. All the while, the calendar states it is merely the middle of February. Perhaps it is the abundance of clouds and rain this winter but it seems a little early for their arrival. Despite my usual love for their elegance and grace as spring is ushered in, this year it seems to early and out of place. But they are declaring in their sweet and soft voices of the newness to come, as does the sun, boasting its extra minutes of light.

So much beauty and birth still to come.

This season has been about birth and newness on more levels than I could possible keep record. The summer brought a season of hard and love and the fall ushered in one of surprise and shifting, as moving boxes filled our garage, while newborn diapers and more social workers graced our homes.

Transition has been a key word in my vocabulary, more than I thought was possible but with each use, as it has rolled off the tongue, God has showed something of himself and brought us to place of truly open hands to his leading.

Now, new birth and life is coming. Blossoms lining the road ahead as we go.

Today is the termination of parental rights for our littlest son, as we are in the process of adopting Ryland's biological brother. We are thankful to tuck four littles in to bed and kiss four little heads good night and surprised by God's grace to allow us one more of his.

We moved from our homiest of neighborhoods, following God's leading throughout it all (perhaps I will share details later) and starting to build an extension of our church there.

And then there is this silly thing that I really questioned God's timing about. With four small children and starting a new church in a new community, is it really time to start something else new? Clearly the answer is yes, because time is his and he gives and makes time for things that his heart is for, should I have the obedience to trust and listen.  

As I mentioned months ago about starting a small creative business to support women coming out of hard places and trafficking and addiction, it is now on the cusp of its birth. As products are being listed and the website is almost tuned and women are coming together to be the hands and feet and encourage and inspire others,  it leaves me in awe and wonder at what God will do, all the while worshipping and cultivating thankfulness.

Everything is under construction at the new website. I had debated keeping the blog or including it in the new site, so when I did not renew the domain over the summer and the new owner wanted several thousands of dollars for it, I got my answer.

So this is me tying up the last bit of ingracealways and heading over to more new things. If you would like to continue along, feel free to check out the new blog over at 

Here's to blossoms and new beginnings.

Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43: 19

This writing challenge has been fun and I learned more than I thought I would and enjoyed the process. With one month closing, it was exciting to see progress and rhythms carved out and being one twelfth of the way through. 

And just when momentum and excitement built, life happened. That is life as of late. 

Situations and circumstances beyond our control have changed, cliché I know but there's no other words to put to it and I am not at liberty to share the specifics quite yet, hence the lack of activity over here. 

I have missed writing and the upcoming prompts were intriguing but life around here had been 100 mph and anything but lack of activity. 

So I guess this is me bowing out for now, as we navigate what our everyday looks like. It may allow for more room to write in the future but for now, I am okay with enough time to sit down to fold laundry before calling it a night. 

Because some seasons call for fun challenges like writing and then give way to much harder, better things that fill the day with life and relying on Jesus even more. And when it comes between family and otherwise, family always wins. If you could keep our family and the entire situation in prayer, we would be grateful.

The days seem a bit longer and events keep unraveling and reminding me to breath, as more circumstances come up like split toes and trips to urgent care and hit and run car accidents and colds stealing the little bit of energy I have and hand washing dishes for over a week while we await the new dishwasher replacement, all the while our family has graciously helped us navigate the new waters. 

We are confident God is working and for that, we are keeping joy afloat and love abounding and prayers constant, for God is faithful. 

Here's to crickets around here and new adventures. 

For I am confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will continue to perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart. Philippians 1:6-7


This is part of a 365 day blogging series through Savor by Shauna Niequist. If you would like to blog along, whether daily or weekly, I would love to have you for the journey; be sure to link back to the post. And if you are not a blogger, you can join along, too. Just leave your response and answers in the comments

If you're married, how has the love between you and your husband grown and changed since the day of your wedding? What would you say to a bride on her wedding day?

I once heard about a study that showed how the brain changes once couples have been together for a certain amount of time. I cannot recall how long, though I am sure you can find it with Google, but it showed how different parts of the brain interact with longevity. The chemicals that were once produced in the butterflies in the stomach phase are no longer there. Not to say butterflies are no longer apart of the relationship but more like you are able to be a more sober version of yourself, not seeing the through rose colored glasses. It is the beginning of the opportunity to choose to love and to stay. 

By the time Ricardo and I said I do, we had been together for four and a half years and had shared our address for three of them. Those butterflies had long since flown off, our friendship was even more rooted in love. He has always been my best friend and for that I am ever thankful.  

The love that was there on our wedding has changed and evolved, for the better, something I hardly give a nod to or thought otherwise before marriage.

Ricardo is more of my best buddy than ever before, as we share even more inside jokes and children and experiences that have squished us together in ways only time and circumstance can.

Bride to be,

I am not sure what else to say about marriage. And honestly, marriage is my favorite and for the most part, it has been easy for us, not perfect but easier than I have heard of others; not to boast but in true transparent fashion it has been a gift from God. Ricardo is my go to guy and I think that is key in marriage and laughing.

As for my advice to new brides, it may be a little more sweet than you experience but if you push your feet in and open your heart and set God at the center, love will be cultivated.

I received this top ten list for marriage when I was engaged and it pretty much covers the basic topics. I slip it in to wedding cards and give it to newlyweds because it is such great advice. Lloyd had been married for a long time, so it is surely tried and true and I can attest. 

Perhaps you are coming in to marriage with your address, bed and bank account already shared, as were ours. Our adjustment period was short and uneventful, I guess you could say. We lived with my sister and her boyfriend and got along great, besides Ricardo eating their chips. 

But maybe, just maybe you are waiting until after you are married to merge your belongings and for that I commend you.

Either way, marriage may be more eventful than anticipated in all the wrong ways, in which case I would instruct you back to the top ten list and to your knees in prayer, both by yourself and together. 

This later is not my story and I cannot direct you through experience but I know love is meant to hold fast and unwavering to the hope we profess. And I want to encourage you it will get better and easier, I hope. But honestly it could get harder before that happens. Love anyway. Choose to love.

The more you are around someone the more the opportunity to love or not. To grow and learn. To experience life together.  

So breathe and laugh and smile, even when things are tough. Love always wins and prayer changes everything. 

This is part of a 365 day blogging series through Savor by Shauna Niequist. If you would like to blog along, whether daily or weekly, I would love to have you for the journey; be sure to link back to the post. And if you are not a blogger, you can join along, too. Just leave your response and answers in the comments.

God listens and hears us when we pray. Have you ever felt that you got more than you bargained for when he gave you exactly what you asked for? What do you avoid asking?

As Ricardo and I started growing in our faith, I started praying he would take the lead more in our marriage. I was hoping he would start suggesting nightly studies we could do together or a small devotional or keep up with the one we had started without me asking about it. We read the bible together but it was not always regularly.

He was busy. He was working full time and still going to school. He was gone at least half the week with night classes. I understood it but it still did not sit right. While he was studying away at business, I was praying God would give him a break through. While he was getting together with other classmates for group projects, I was praying he would go deeper in his own personal time with God.

As I transitioned from working to staying home with Penny, I had more time to listen to sermons at home or while doing errands. God was speaking and I was praying Ricardo would be able to lead our family well.

One night as I asked yet again if we could do our devotions before bed, some frustration from initiating it yet again slipped in to my tone, which Ricardo picked up on quickly and asked for the reason. I expressed the leadership status I was hoping for as I sat next to him on our bed. He was thankful for the hint but put off by the way it came across and I apologized for the way I let it all unfold. It was one of those slight pivots in our relationship that changed our trajectory.

Coming for a line of strong willed women, God reminded me that I had to step back in order to allow him to lead, not stepping on his toes or giving him subtle hints, and loving him as he learned to take more initiative, even when it was not how I would have liked it to transpire. I had to learn submission and learn it well. Something I continue to learn and trust God with as we go over decisions and I support him with whatever he thinks is best and God's leading in the end, which is something I had a harder time doing in the past.  

It has been one of those prayers that seems two fold and I know God is one who calls and sets people apart but he also listens and answers prayers. 
Through all the prayers and growth in faith and leading well, God called him to be a pastor. To lead not only our family but God's people, which was hard for me to accept at first, as one of my I would never... came to fruition. This is the part where I like to joke and say I prayed too hard for him to lead our family because now he is leading others, too. A friend said she was having similar issues with her husband and I jokingly told her not to pray too hard because you never know who God will allow him to lead eventually.

But through it all, it has been amazing seeing how God has blessed Ricardo with the skill sets and ability to gather people together and the way people listen and ask for his guidance and the wisdom God has given him. And how his relationship with God has developed as he has studied and learned from other pastors and teachers and continues to do so. He has been a great leader as our family has grown and continues to surprise me. 

I am forever grateful for answered prayers, even when it seems more than what I asked for.

Here's to God listening and answered prayers. 


This is part of a 365 day blogging series through Savor by Shauna Niequist. If you would like to blog along, whether daily or weekly, I would love to have you for the journey; be sure to link back to the post. And if you are not a blogger, you can join along, too. Just leave your response and answers in the comments.

Has there been a season in your life when prayer was the only thing that kept you sane? In what ways was God's presence comforting to you?

Mamahood has had a way with prayer for me that nothing has been able to compare to. Perhaps it lessens with time but as far as I see, it just increases as new adventures and development arise. 

Navigating the waters as a new mom had me on my knees, with hands raised and Bible opened. And then deepened with the birth of a Jude and even more so with the entrance of Ryland. 

Prayer and transitions always seem go hand in hand. Not to say that prayer life is based on the hardships because that would not be accurate but the prayers asking for wisdom and strength and peace come more readily in those  times, as well as the welling of gratitude for the provision.

I find myself praying for other mama friends and their marriages and for wisdom and fun because they, too, are navigating similar unknown waters. At the beginning of the year friends and I formed a Mamas in Prayer group where we meet once a month to take time to pray for whatever is filling our hearts and hands at the moment, while the kiddos run and play and we enjoy coffee. 

While motherhood is a big part of my prayers these days, it is not all encompassing.

Hearing God has forever changed my prayers and deepened them and God's comfort has been made nearly touchable. Reading God's word and the words forming their own meaning and application for life in ways only the Holy Spirit knows is soothing to my soul and a reminder how he hears us and loves us all the same.

He is constantly using people to bring his Word to me; little billboards and flashing lights of how he is a God who is in everything and working in it all and using his people to do his works. A sweet friend called this morning, asking how everything was going and offering prayers as I told her of the latest happenings.  

A little while later, as I spoke with a woman who walked through my door due to circumstances beyond my control, the theme of prayer wrapped the conversation as she humbly claimed prayer as her source of strength and the only reason she could do what she does and how everything and everyone who is involved is covered in her prayers. And I almost wanted to laugh as she spoke, since the theme of today's writing on prayer encompassed the day. It was this beautiful picture of what it looks like to rely on God for all things and to keep going even when things are not easy and do not make sense. That is the majesty of God, always working for our good and showing his goodness in any way he can.

 Here's to prayers and God's comforting presence. 

This is part of a 365 day blogging series through Savor by Shauna Niequist. If you would like to blog along, whether daily or weekly, I would love to have you for the journey; be sure to link back to the post. And if you are not a blogger, you can join along, too. Just leave your response and answers in the comments.

If you have a sibling, take a few minutes to thank God for that relationship, for that life, and for the memories you share. 

I am the fourth born to my mom out of seven. The middle child. My brother, Rich, was the first, followed by Debbie almost two years later and then Mandi graced the world two years after her. There is a four year gap between Mandi and I and then nineteen months later, Carrie arrived. Nearly four years later Nick was born and finishing our family, Naloni was born four years later. Seventeen years span from the oldest to the youngest. And yes, we were raised Mormon in case you were wondering. It was a common question growing up, though I hardly understood the ties at the time.  

Growing up, friends asked if I was adopted due to the lack of resemblance among my siblings. My dad's complexion is dark, mirroring his Hawaiian and Filipino heritage, while my mom is all things white and boasts blonde hair and blue eyes and fair skin. Her features are the ones that I reflect, with skin that likes to redden, instead of tan, unlike my siblings who glow in the sun.

We do share a common nose, the one of my dad and my mom's smile. And there are pieces here and there that if you look closely, you can see, though most think we are merely friends rather than siblings.

But we do share the same parents, despite the questions of onlookers who had to clarify with my mom if our dads were the same. Once, mom did respond sarcastically to a lady in the store after answering the question numerous times, naming different dads for each of us. She was the bakers and she was the butchers. He was the milk mans. And we are not sure about her. The lady walked away speechless with eye brows raised.

I have never been able to imagine what it would be like to live without siblings; I am ever grateful for mine. We always had someone to watch and listen to and play with and learn from. Not always the best things to learn but we learned them all the same.

Rich taught us at an early age about entrepreneurship with his rental property. He marketed his spacey, luxurious room for a nominal fee to my older sisters for occasional use. He worked hard and had fun, sometimes a little too much and showed us what not to mimic, like his high school prank of putting memorial benches on top of the building.

Debbie taught us gymnastics and how to walk on our hands around the house and just how cool Rocky Balboa was. She showed us the best places to hide at the top of the closet, though mom warned me not to imitate that either. She taught us beauty tips like face masks and things to make your hair shine and boys.

Mandi showed us the value of practice, even if it meant practicing her flute in the garage. She never gave up and tried her best. She taught us to keep going even when it was hard. And about instant messaging and computer stuff. She always seemed to know.

Carrie showed us how to voluntarily pass out at school and horribly forge our parents' signature and try to convince the teacher it was legit. Carrie showed us how to trust people, especially Disney princesses, as she made her way around Disneyland with princess Jasmine.  

Nick was the baby but not quite. He was always a sport, even letting us dress him up in our doll clothes before he could talk. He was concerned about staying out of trouble and let us know that if we were bad then we would have to put an Always pad over our mouth, even demonstrating it for us. We were thankful for the suggestion but never instilled this practice in to action.

Naloni was the baby and was just that. He was loved on bit extra by everyone and coddled a little more. We laughed at the way he said "mac - woni" for macaroni and carried him everywhere. He was constantly being held and mistaken for Debbie's son.

A short snit bit cannot do justice the thankfulness and love for all the years we shared the same address and presents under the tree and birthday parties and late night swims under the stars and movie nights and the lessons along the way. For memories that have been and for those to come, I am ever grateful. 

Here's to siblings. 


This is part of a 365 day blogging series through Savor by Shauna Niequist. If you would like to blog along, whether daily or weekly, I would love to have you for the journey; be sure to link back to the post. And if you are not a blogger, you can join along, too. Just leave your response and answers in the comments.

Have you seen moving and surprising transformations in the lives of the people you love? What was that like? 
Ricardo and I became roommates after he graduated high school. Believing in God was something we both held in common but following Jesus was another we had yet to touch. One Christmas, while gathered at my Mom's house, my Aunt Pam was among the celebration. It had been years since we had been in the same room, a time I could not remember if I had to.
She was always so fun to be around growing up. Laughter was a constant and toys guaranteed but her presence never was. She would cancel last minute when we were hoping to see her. Disappointed once again, my mom told her over the phone that she was going to stop telling us when she was coming to visit, so we would not get our hopes us, as I listened from outside the door.

What I lacked in knowledge then, I understood later. My aunt lived a different life style and always came to visit with her friend, a friend that was a girl and shared a bed with her. Her friends were always sweet, playing with us and braiding our hair and I never thought anything of it. As I got older, it became common knowledge that my aunt was a lesbian and she liked to party, have her drugs and smoke them, too.

When we met again that Christmas, I had a hard time believing the stories that she told about Jesus and how he had saved her and how she was no longer a lesbian after all these years and her concern about us living together before we were married. I stood next to Ricardo, listening to these words and wondering what she was smoking now, in disbelief, while she sat on the edge of the fireplace ledge looking up at us. Ricardo had never met her and I had to catch him up on her background and such as we left.

It was a while before we saw her again but she still claimed her same salvation through Jesus and denied any claims of being a lesbian. During this time God starting revealing himself to us and we found him, too as we started attending the college group at my aunt's church.

And as we saw her more frequently, her claims become more apparent in her personality and her transformation was solid. She spoke encouraging words to us as learned the ropes of what it meant to follow Jesus, always supporting us in any way possible like being our last minute babysitter and getting certified for respite care once we became foster parents.

God has used her to teach me lessons, like how to get used to people stopping by unannounced, even though I always thought I welcomed it, and how to let go of my children a bit more as they enjoyed time with her in her blue Ford truck. She has taken pleasure in being an aunt a second time around and we have been blessed to have her. She has traded alcohol for Dr. Pepper and zeal for the world in to boldness for Jesus. These days she is serving in prison ministry and helping out friends whose husbands have passed and taking care of her Chihuahua.

What I love about God is his relentless pursuit for us since the fall in the garden of Eden. No matter how far lost we think someone is, there is always an encounter with Jesus that can change everything. Even the family member we have deemed unable to be saved. Nothing is impossible with the Lord. 

Here's to surprises and transformation. 

This is part of a 365 day blogging series through Savor by Shauna Niequist. If you would like to blog along, whether daily or weekly, I would love to have you for the journey; be sure to link back to the post. And if you are not a blogger, you can join along, too. Just leave your response and answers in the comments.