The heat in Texas is still in the high temperatures.  As I entered our air conditioned home, I silently lifted a prayer of thanks.  I put down my purchases, walked to the refrigerator and gathered sweet tea, salsa and chips.  I sat at our table anticipating the rest from an afternoon of back to school shopping.  I was glad to be home.

I am still amazed at how a bowl of salsa can draw a crowd.  Soon, each of our 4 children gathered around the table with me.  I dipped my chip and lifted it to my mouth, listening as we snacked.  In those moments at my table, I was given the rich privilege of being present.   I listened as each of our children offered opinions, facts, feelings and hopes from their hearts.  It was fascinating to hear how each of them had been impacted by a summer full of changes.   I listened and responded sometimes in silence and other times with my words and tears, smiles and laughter.

In a split second I was reminded of my husband’s prayer at the beginning of summer. He held my hands and we prayed together, asking God for a healing summer of bonding and restoration for our family.  I silently thanked Him for His faithfulness.  The flood of healing and severe mercies Love has brought into our home and family since we began a new marriage journey years ago has been breathtaking and extravagant.

Yes.  We ate chips and salsa, we drank sweet tea, and they shared hearts.  Being present is different now with adult children and high schoolers.  It is no longer reading books, fixing broken toys, wiping noses, building legos and watching Disney movies.  It is no longer coaching them through Middle School years.  No.  I am learning that being present in this season of my life and theirs comes most beautifully when I listen to Love and follow Him as He invites me into their hearts and their experiences.  Though the severe mercies of summer have left some of my children in the unknowns and uncertainties of changed plans, my heart finds rest in the One who loves them and knows the story He has written for each of their lives.  My heart is tender as I encounter grace:  “My presence shall go with you and I will give you rest.”  My heart rests and I know deep in my soul that Love will hold each of them as they depart from our home.

Until then, there’s conversations over salsa.

My Homemade Salsa Recipe

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3 ½ cups fresh tomatoes (or one 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes, drained)

1 10 oz. can diced tomatoes with green chilis

1 T fresh lime juice (more if you like)

2 tspns. chopped garlic

1 handful cilantro (stems and all)

½ large onion

2 jalepeno peppers.  Remove all the seeds for a mild salsa (it is helpful to core them with a veggie peeler) or; if you prefer spicy, leave some seeds in

1 tspn. salt

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Throw it all in a blender or food processor and blend until desired consistency.

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Serve with tortilla chips.

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Ellen Oelsen lives in the Texas Hill Country with her husband of 24 years. She is a mother of 4 children and loves their 2 dogs and 1 cat. Her hobbies include cooking, nature, reading, plays, and two stepping. She delights in offering hospitality of the heart and creating spaces of care, rest, play and reflection to inspire hope. She is beginning to expose the writer within her.
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