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Only four months apart, these girls are such a gift to one another. I remember the day they met almost 11 years ago. Our daughter, only 8 weeks old, meeting her "big cousin" for the first time.

They would continue for years, seeing each other during the summer and at Christmas; growing closer with each visit. Tears were shed every time we said goodbye. They dreamed about one day being neighbors and getting to see each other every day. We all dreamed about one day moving "home".

In 2011, this dream became a reality. It has been such a blessing to watch them grow the past four years, together and independently; each with hearts full of love for others and God. They are on the brink of so much change and it is something special to have one another to share these un-navigated waters.

As I look at both of them, I can't help but think back to all the years we waited. We dreamed of these days surrounded by family. A vision I thought would always be a dream, yet here we are. I am forever thankful for God's provision in our life. For His plans, in His time, always. And it is a reminder to wait on Him.



dinner date


Tonight you went on a dinner date with just you and Daddy. You have such a beautiful bond with him. I am so grateful for all the time Daddy invests in our family. He has such a love for Jesus and he pours that into each one of you. We are blessed to have him leading our home.



in awe


I love to watch how our kids can find wonder in such simple moments in their days. I strive to live like this. I want to stop and be in awe daily of this world we live in. Life gets busy and some days I get so focused on the moments we are living that I lose sight of God’s glory and my part in His amazing story. Yet, our lives here on earth are so short. Whether we are given 4 or 94 years to live; they are so brief, in light of eternity.

Where do we each fit into His story? What do we do with the years we have here on earth? This is something I have been thinking about a lot. I met with 5 young women last night as we wrestled through this question. Each of us has dreams and visions that God has placed on our hearts, yet many of us fear others and what they think about us. Many of us are scared of failing. We are scared to move in obedience. And we seek affirmation, approval and love from the world. It is an internal fight so many of us face. But ultimately, it is a fight to love God the most.

And then this morning, I came across these words from Jennie Allen, “Our God is worth this fight. And if there is a sober, honest bone in your body you'll admit that this is a fight! It is a full-on war to love God more than any visible thing or person on this earth, even more than ourselves."

I pray we will all keep dreaming for Him.That we will boldly and bravely follow Him. That we will seek Him and His glory and our small part in His story. I pray we live our lives with the knowledge that His love and affection are far greater than anything we can create for ourselves.

And I pray that when I come to the end of my life I can say these words: “I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do” John 17:4.

I don’t ever want to stop living in awe of Him. I don’t want to stop seeking my part in His great story.





I love to get outside with our children and spend time exploring. No agenda set. Just time together. Recently, we spent some time at one of our favorite local spots. The kids spent hours exploring and imagining. They each had their own island in this fun world they created. I sat next to the water and listened and watched as they played together.

In a world that competes with electronics daily, I know without doubt that the real magic happens when everything is unplugged.

Head on over to the 5 minute project to see the rest of these images together. Josh Solar and I have collaborated using the word Explore; one of us in the warmth of Florida and the other in the cold of Kansas City.



just one person


With each New Year, we often begin to focus on how we can improve our lives. How can we be better versions of ourselves? We seek to lose weight, eat healthy, get out of debt, etc. This weekend I listened to a sermon that really got me thinking about New Year resolutions in a different way. The pastor, Andy Stanley, asked, "What breaks your heart? What needs to be done around you?" He continued; "if you really want to become a better person, do something to make the world a better place. Be a means to an end." He shared that “we tend to forget that the people we respect the most didn't devote their lives to becoming the best version of themselves. They devoted their lives to making a difference in the world . . . or in someone’s world.”


That one word was so profound to me. Oftentimes, we feel like the problems in the world are too big for us to make a difference. We wonder how our little bit of time, effort or finances will make a difference.

But, it starts with one person.

These words gave me such encouragement. First, they reconfirmed that my role as a mother to our children does make a difference. There are days, it is easy to lose sight or downplay the importance of this role, yet as parents we can make an eternal difference in the lives of our children. Second, I was encouraged to seek the people in my daily life that are in need; people I see in my neighborhood and community. Who is in need of a smile, an open ear, a genuine heart? Each of us can make a difference and make this world a better place.

We must ask this question daily.

How can I make a difference in the life of someone?


Who is that someone?



Morning Mercies

the joy project january 19 ginger unzueta The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease.  Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.

Lamentations 3:22-23



love in a frame

the joy project january 11 2015 There’s something emotional for me about seeing these five together in a frame. Family knows us in ways that some never will. My husband has seen me in some of my most ungraceful moments; moments of selfishness, moments of hurt, and moments of fear. My children have seen me in my most impatient hours; tired, worn out, and irritable. And these realities; they go both ways. It's a constant yo yo of love and forgiveness. It’s not from lack of love; but simply humanity filled with our imperfect and selfish ways.

Family can often be the people that we hurt the most; yet, at the same time we love them with the deepest and most crazy love. It’s incredible to know love like this. Pure and unconditional. I believe love and life are both made up of the imperfect. People. Memories. The mistakes and stories waiting to unfold. The struggles and successes merge together to create a life that we will one day look back on.

Many days, I hurt my family and in turn they hurt me. We are all weak and imperfect on our own. But, each new day is adorned in grace and mercy. Each new day, we have the chance to come before God and ask Him to help us be more like Him. Each trial we go through on our own, or as a family, gives us a chance to seek Him. He brings light to the dark. And because of that, I humbly thank Him for this imperfect life and for these imperfect people to love and grow with.



grace abounds

the joy project january 3 2015 If I could capture the way love feels, this image would be it. Our eyes and hands connected. Her smile that forever reminds me that grace abounds. I’ve often thought how the love I feel for our children is the closest I will ever know to the love of Christ. This girl of ours is strong willed. She challenges me throughout each day. Yet, she will never push too far, she will never lose my love. I will never give up on her. We will always come right back here to this beautiful spot, where grace abounds, where love never fails.

Today, I read these words from Paul David Tripp. “He never mocks your weaknesses or throws your sin in your face. He never gets tired of you or gives up on His relationship with you. His love isn't conditional and his grace is never temporary. He doesn't ask you to earn what you can never deserve, and He never makes you feel guilty for needing His good gifts.”

I am always amazed and always humbled. This incredible overwhelming love I feel for our children; it is only a small portion of the love He has for me. It’s amazing. It really is.



beauty within

the joy project dec 4 2the joy project december 4'

Our youngest child challenges me often with questions and observations about life. Last week we were in the car together when she asked, “Mommy, why am I dark?” She then quickly continued, “Is it because I am Spanish like Daddy?” Before I could answer, she stated, “And you are light because you are English. “ It was an interesting perspective from a five year old. My husband’s family is from Peru, although he was born and raised in the United States, and all three of our children look like him. We have never described people by their skin color; in fact, we have been very cautious to find other attributes about people when describing them. I now see how observant children can be. They notice things on their own and have questions. This wasn't the first time she brought up her skin or hair color to me. A few weeks ago she told me that she wished she had light hair like her cousin.

Last month, while getting her physical, the doctor suggested that we get her eyes checked. The first thing our daughter said to me was that she would look funny with glasses. I am surprised that she has so many thoughts about her outward appearance at such a young age. I always thought that if we didn't emphasize outward beauty in our home, that our girls would be immune to it.

As cliché as it sounds, I want them to grow up and see the beauty inside each person. I want them to see the character and spirit of others. I want them to appreciate each person’s unique beauty without comparing themselves or wanting to change. There are so many pressures as girls age to conform to a certain size and dress a certain style. The world and media heighten this pressure, which makes it hard for girls to realize that true beauty comes from within.

I pray that as our five year old matures, she will appreciate her individuality. I pray that our girls will not feel an inner desire to conform. I know firsthand how hard this battle can be. I want our daughters to know that they do not need to be anything other than who God has created.

I want our children to see that when they shine for the Lord, and live life with grace and love, beauty exudes from them. This is incomparable to anything we can create for ourselves.

When I see our daughter in these images, in the light overflowing with joy, all I see is beauty. I see His beauty. It is not her clothes or her hair or her skin I see. It is her spirit and her soul.




living for what matters

the joy project november 28 ginger unzueta I was sitting by the lake today with a friend while our children played.  We spent the afternoon talking about our dreams and passions. I've thought about this a lot lately and realize how often we are held back by fear. Fear of judgment, fear of disappointment, and fear of failure. Many people have stopped dreaming altogether. Past hurts have them paralyzed. Dreams have been traded in for reality and responsibility.

We all feel the pressures of a full life as parents who stay at home, parents who work outside the home, newlyweds, grandparents, or students in school. We all fill unique roles and it seems we are all busy. Our days are filled and often times, we don’t stop to dream. We go from one day into the next and life seems to be going okay. But, are we living with purpose? Are we living with passion? Are we using our passions to live a life for God? Do we even remember what makes us feel alive?

This week in the car, I heard this quote from Francis Chan, “Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don't really matter.” These words rang loud in my ears.

Our time here on earth is so short. I want my dreams, my time, and my decisions to be made in light of eternity. So often, we focus on things that don’t really matter. We get caught up in the today of our life and lose sight of important truths. I know I've spent too much time worrying about insignificant things. If the truth be told, I will likely waste time in my future as well. We fear failure and we let others opinions hold us back, but our most important question should be if we are living for what matters. We all need to take time to dream. We need to seek what God has planned for our life. We must let go of the world’s opinions and standards and live in His glory.

In Jennie Allen’s book Restless, she shares the following, “Paul wrote, “If I were still trying to please men I would not be a servant of Christ” ( Gal. 1: 10) . Western mentality has shaped our views of work and success and calling so deeply that it is difficult to shake the idea of pleasing and impressing other people. God is asking us to get over it.”

As we head into a new year, let’s make time to dream and to live passionately for Him. Let's not allow fear to paralyze us anymore. Let's dare to live for what matters, even when it's hard.



inner circle

the joy project november 13Today, you were  playing with your cousin Cha Cha  when Aunt BB stopped by unexpectedly. I was super excited to see her; I always love whenever we get time to visit. I noticed immediately that you began to act in an unkind way to your other cousin. In your own words, you explained that you were already playing with Cha Cha and wanted to play with her alone. You didn't want to share. I explained that this wasn't a nice behavior and I apologized to Aunt BB. I was embarrassed and disappointed that your heart was so selfish at this moment. It didn't take long before all three of you were playing and the conflict was behind us, but I have thought about that afternoon a lot. It really bothered me that you would act so unwelcoming. I never want anyone to feel left out or hurt because of your behavior.

This weekend as I was thinking about that afternoon, I came across a post by Lisa-Jo Baker entitled How To Get Over Cliques and Get Real Community. In her article, Lisa-Jo discusses how as women we often want nothing more than to be needed and invited in by other women. She shares how we often feel left out and not a part of the inner circle.

She shared this quote from C. S. Lewis. “The quest of the Inner Ring will break your hearts unless you break it.”

Lisa-Jo continues, “But friend, just blink. Blink and see that it’s a mirage. The illusion that there’s an inner circle we've been left out of; the lie that we've been left out on purpose. We’re built for friendship, yes. We have community in our bones. And when we’re desperate and blinded by the taunting mirage of the inner circle we will end up drinking the sand- angry, gritty, bitter and confused. We can fight to find a way in or we can love on the women where we’re at. We can obsess over who didn't talk to us or we can focus on the woman we’re talking to. We can keep looking for a seat at a more popular table or we can pass the bread basket and an introduction to the women sitting right where we already are. Everyone is on the outside of something. But that is only half the story. We are all on the inside of something often without even realizing it. Do you see? Blink. Do you see them? Your people. Look around. Wipe the mirage out of your eyes. Now, who do you see?”

As I read this, I thought about you, only 5, unknowingly creating  your own “inner circle” of sorts and how damaging these behaviors can be the older we become. I thought about the many times I have felt left out of one “inner circle” or another. And then I realized all the times I have unintentionally left others out as well. Who haven’t I seen?

I really want you and your sister to grow into women that can be confident right where you are. Women, not seeking the inner circle, but loving everyone around them. There wasn't anything wrong with your desire for  one on one time with Cha Cha, but Christ’s desire is for us to love all of those around us, not a select few, at a select time. This is a reminder to me to open my heart to each woman God has placed in my life right now. It is a reminder to me, the next time I feel left out, to stop and see who is already sitting next to me.



a brief moment

the joy project november 09 You were heading out to play with some of your friends when I saw you coming down the stairwell with your soccer ball in hand. This is you right now; always with your ball.



color war

the joy project november 7 athe joy project november 7 b A few weeks ago, I decided to order Holi powder so you could have your  own color war by the lake. It was so fun to watch you together; laughing, screaming and painting one another in bright colors.

As most mothers, I am grateful when I see y'all having fun together, and most of the time you do enjoy being together. You really are each other’s best friends, but the reality of life, with multiple children, is that there is also conflict. Big Sissy and Bubby, two and a half years apart, can be very competitive.  Your battles have become a valuable lesson in our home about grace.

I love these words by Bob Goff, “Grace doesn't seem fair until you need some.” Often times, you will tattle on each other, pointing out mistakes or misbehavior; almost as if you want to see your sibling get into trouble. Yet, when the situation is turned around you see how hurtful this can be. We explain that God wants us to encourage one another, not seek out each other’s faults. He is the ultimate example of grace. I want you to see how beautiful life can be when we encourage one another. I want you to know the importance of giving grace always.

This is true for both adults and children. How often do we focus on how we have been hurt or wronged? How often do we genuinely give grace and forgiveness? I know there have been times that grace was not easy to give; but I have seen how freeing it can feel to demonstrate grace and to give love, even when it is not deserved.

I cherish these moments where you are blissfully enjoying one another. On days when I find you in the midst of conflict, I am reminded of the never ending need for grace. I know that as your mother, I must demonstrate this example of grace in our home. It’s always a blessing that God will continue to work on my own behaviors, as I mother the three of you.



under the lights

the joy project november 6 The time change means soccer practice is now under the lights.  I wasn't sure how I would like you having soccer practice for the competitive team twice a week for two hours each night, but  I have really learned to enjoy this time at the field. Not only do I love to watch you play;  but it has been good for me to have time to just sit, to socialize, or to read while you practice. I've really learned to find value in the times we are just still. Time to build relationships or time to restore ourselves are both wonderful things.



My eyes are on you

pieces of life november ginger unzueta 1 So often in life when trials come my way, I let worry take over. I forget the powerful truth that God is in control. I forget to go to Him first. I start letting negativity take over my thoughts. I begin to try to search for a solution or remedy. I begin to believe in only what I can see. I know that this isn't how I should handle these difficult times, but it is often where I fall.

But, there is always something or someone that reminds me that He is always faithful and His love is never ending. That there is nothing bigger than Him. Music has been such a beautiful way for me to worship and to feel close to Him, when all seems to be wavering. I have been singing the words of It is Well, by Bethel Music continuously the last few weeks. They speak such truth. A truth I often need to be reminded of.

“Far be it from me to not believe. Even when my eyes can’t see. And this mountain that’s in front of me. Will be thrown into the midst of the sea.

Through it all, through it all. My eyes are on You. Through it all, through it all. It is well.

Through it all, through it all. My eyes are on You. It is well with me.

So let go my soul and trust in Him. The waves and wind still know His name. It is well with my soul. It is well with my soul”

I am reminded to keep my eyes on Him always. I am grateful for the reminders of His presence. I am grateful that He has given me our children as a reminder of his love and grace. I want our children to see that through all circumstances we can seek Him and find peace. These images are reminders to me to live in the moment. We can let worries and disappointments paralyze us from living fully or we can truly trust in Him and His plan. It is through His peace that we can enjoy these beautiful moments of life, even in the midst of storms and trials. I pray that we can find joy in all things.

And so I let go and trust in Him and know it is well.



normal day

the joy project october 27 ginger unzueta 2the joy project october 27 ginger unzueta 4the joy project october 27 ginger unzuetathe joy project october 27 ginger unzueta 1

“Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in the quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow.” –Mary Jean Iron

This week I will celebrate another year of life. Birthdays have become bitter sweet for me. I am so grateful for another year of health and life, yet there is a part of me that is also a bit nostalgic.The years seem to pass with such speed. As children we tend to race from one year to the next; and then, all of the sudden, we realize the urgency to appreciate each day we are gifted.

On Sunday,we gathered with all of our family (aunts, uncles, cousins)  at Mimi and Popi's  house for dinner. You could say this is our “ordinary”, as Mimi and Popi  host us almost every week for Family Night Dinner. I couldn't help but pause and be so grateful for this normal. Admittedly, life with 10 adults and 10 children is not always perfect. We all have our differences and there are times where grace is lost, but I see so much beauty and love in each of them. I thank God that we can experience life together. Having one another to share the celebrations, the sorrows, and the everyday is certainly a treasure.Please, normal day, "let me never pass you by in the quest for some rare and perfect tomorrow." Let me see the beauty in each moment, each day.