Thoughts and Favorites (+ a Giveaway!)

almostspring

Or, we could just call this piece the everything-all-at-once post.

๐Ÿ˜‰

As usual, it’s been too long since I’ve found this place. Life just keeps zipping by, and I can’t believe it’s almost March and that I have a seven month old.

Time can slow down Any. Day.

I started writing a pretty deep post last night…and when I hit 1,400 words and was still only about half there, I decided maybe now’s not the time for (too) deep thoughts. Though there’s plenty of rambling going on here.

You’ve been warned. ๐Ÿ˜€

But occasionally I have a day when there are a zillion thoughts swirling that aren’t as deep, and so why not hit the blog? Mac is napping, it’s a beautiful sunny day, and I’m basically killing time until we can sneak out for a walk. (And last week when we had those gorgeous, basically-spring temps? It was Mac’s first time sitting up in the stroller and…OH. MY. HEART.)

Mac in stroller

But back to writing…the honest truth is that I’ve been pretty quiet the last year. It felt like the internet was so, SO noisy, and I just felt overwhelmed even entering conversations. And so I’ve hung back and learned to be still and listen more…and it’s been really, really good. Mostly.

But writing is the one thing I don’t want to be too silent on. Sharing words gives me life. I’m not ready to hang up this place yet.

So I’ll keep running back to it and finding words when there are some.

I also haven’t done a favorites post in forever, so I thought I’d do that, too. You know, because sometimes it’s just good to catch up on life, if not for the good of everyone else, at least for me. And how about a giveaway? Cause I love a good one. (Keep going.) :)

READ

I’ve been reading a lot.

Mostly the Bible…I started the beginning of the year in 1 Samuel, and I decided to just read straight through. Some days it’s eight chapters (usually not, though) and some days it’s two. I’m just trying to open my Bible more…and I’m finding that, for the first time in my life, I’m enjoying it. That sort of makes me sad to say, especially after five years of Bible college, but it’s pretty true.

I’m thankful that God doesn’t give up on us.

He’s renewing my heart and showing me a deeper relationship with Him.

I’ve been reading through a couple other books, too…slower than normal, but sometimes I can’t process it all at once, ya know? ๐Ÿ˜‰

The Broken Way (Ann Voskamp) is amazing. I got so excited when it came out that I ordered a few copies. And the study guide. And the DVD. So if you’re local, there might be a Bible study coming up sometime. :)

Uninvited (Lysa TerKeurst) This one just speaks to the season I’m in right now. Some relationships are a little up and down/confusing, I’m not sure where I fit anymore, and I need the reminder that God wants me…even on the days when no one else does. Maybe we all need that reminder?

WEAR

I’m a sucker for cute hoodies, and I’ve loved Evy’s Tree since I first heard about them. Their hoodies are awesome quality but a little on the expensive side…but once in awhile, I splurge.

cutehoodie

I spent some of my Christmas money on this beauty, and I think it was worth the splurge. :) It screams spring, and I love that, until I tone the last bit of my baby belly, it hides it all…well, when I zip it up anyway. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Plus, it’s just cute. If I had an endless cash flow, I would buy ALL. THE. HOODIES. But I don’t and that’s probably better for everyone. :) And yes, yes I do take pics late at night with messy hair and smeared makeup and a wrinkled shirt. That’s just how I roll.

Speaking of toning a baby belly (and not speaking of hoodies) I finally, for the first time ever in the U.S., joined a gym. I’ve been doing a 5:45 a.m. spin class twice a week…and oh, boy. Once I get there, it’s actually enjoyable. (And sweaty) The dragging myself out of bed at 5:15? Notsomuch. But it’s good for me, and it’s one way I can take care of me.

Another thing I’m still loving…earrings. ALL the earrings. ๐Ÿ˜‰ And though I typically gravitate toward the bigger-and-more-dangly-the-better, kind, my most recent pair from Fair Trade Friday kind of has my heart. And the story behind these brings tears to my eyes, too.

FTF earrings

So I’m breaking my rule and wearing them anyway and totally loving them. :)

And should you want a cute pair of earrings in your mailbox every month, go here. It’s the best $13 I spend every month…and every pair comes with a story of redemption. That’s just cool. :)

WATCH

Other than This is Us (and we’re two episodes behind, so SHHHHH!) or some HGTV here and there, I’ve barely turned on the TV in weeks. I go in spurts…lately I’d just rather read or create or get something done around the house.

Maybe I’m getting old. ๐Ÿ˜‰

The truth…and this isn’t the first time I’ve shared this here…is that the “older” I get and the older Mae gets, the more there’s a filter on what comes into this house.

I didn’t always filter what I watched, but especially now it just seems like there’s so much garbage out there. I don’t need all kinds of bad language going into my head, and I don’t need sexual references in just about every show there is. Sometimes I feel like an old prude for voicing all of that. And some days I miss watching Friends, too. (Honesty here.)

But God has been working on me in a lot of ways, and one of those is praying for the strength through Him to make choices that honor Him. So I don’t apologize for trying to do the right thing…the right thing for me and my family. I’m definitely not perfect at it. (No judgment here on what’s right for everyone else.) It’s tough some days, though…and I think it’s ok to admit that, too.

GO

I’m itching to take a trip…it’s been a few years since we’ve left the country, but it’s not gonna happen this year. We’re currently having our garage door replaced, and that desperately needed to happen. (Ask me sometime about the morning I spent three minutes, when we were already late, trying to get the stupid thing to stay down.) ๐Ÿ˜€

AND…since Mac was a boy instead of a girl, we need another bedroom. ๐Ÿ˜‰ย  And I LOVE that he’s a boy, but facts are facts. So we’re (hopefully) adding a two-story addition to our house. I’m super excited for an extra family room, a bigger bedroom for him and us (with a walk-in closet and little sitting/writing/drinking coffee area overlooking the river) and just more space.

I guess we finally dug those roots down deep. It feels good.

And also, we’re never moving. Ever. :)

indo green

And the truth is that, most days, I’m sure of that. I don’t usually miss Indonesia anymore.

But I did today. I saw a picture that brought back a memory, and it was hard and the ache was deep. And, again, I had to breathe and wrap my mind around the fact that the Indonesia part of our life is over.

Forever.

It won’t ever be again, even if there are trips back to visit. Life there has changed and gone on and morphed into something that isn’t the Indo we lived. It’s good because life has to keep going and kids need to know our Father, but sometimes it hurts that we aren’t there for it all.

But we know we’re where we need to be, and so…hello, house addition. :)

As I look out the window and see the sunshine coming through bare branches, it calms my heart and reminds me, once again, that my God is so very good.

Even in the changes and the unknowns and wonderings. Even if, sometimes, we have to stop and just give thanks for what was, what is, and what’s to come…even if, and especially when, we don’t feel gratitude.

I wonder how many times I can share this song on one blog…but it’s a perfect metaphor for life and it resonates so much right now.

And everything that’s new has bravely surfaced,
Teaching us to breathe.
And what was frozen through is newly purposed,
Turning all things green.
So it is with You and how You make me new
with every season’s change;
And so it will be, as You are recreating me…
Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring

And how ’bout a giveaway? Nothing like changing the subject. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Presents are my love language and I just feel like brightening someone’s day. So I fell in love with this Pioneer Woman mug at Walmart a few weeks ago. (Yes, you read the Walmart part right. I’m currently on a stay-out-of-Target-for-the-sake-of-our-budget kick. And I’m doin’ good.) ๐Ÿ˜‰

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So I’m giving away this mug, some of my favorite coffee (try it with some vanilla almond milk…YUM!) and this chocolate because duh. Chocolate. And a cute pair of fair trade earrings that came in my box last month…they weren’t as much my style, but they’re still stinkin’ cute and someone out there needs them. :)

Wanna win?

Leave me a comment here or on facebook and tell me something. Anything. A blessing, a smile, a way I can lift a prayer for you. I’ll pick a winner Wednesday night.

That’s it.

I hope your week is overflowing with blessings, friends. Happy Monday!

Sig

On Seasons and Sleep…and Giving Thanks

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It’s been a long time. A really, really long time.

And I don’t know why this morning is any different from the other mornings other than I feel like there are some words. So I should write them, yeah? :)

Potentially it’s because I browsed facebook for all of five minutes this morning and dissolved into a puddle of tears twice because of Humans of New York and CBS. (Thanks, guys.) And then I watched a story last night, too…this one. And it made me weep because that’s just what I do these days, apparently. (Though…major tissue alert. Just sayin’ that right now.)

Maybe those tears are pushing the words out, I don’t know.

Or maybe it’s that the last two nights I’ve been out cold before 9 p.m. (Actually, the first night was 6:30. SIX-THIRTY, y’all.) Clearly I’m catching up on sleep. This is sort of funny, but I fell asleep in my puffer vest and leggings last night…the night before it was in my jeans and hoodie. Who needs pajamas?! ๐Ÿ˜‰

At any rate, it’s not even 6:30 a.m. 7 a.m. and I’ve already had two three (and a half) cups of coffee and am considering stock in Kleenex.

So it might be that kind of blog post. We’ll see. But I haven’t written in a long time, and I miss it sometimes. So I’m guessing there will be a lot of words this morning. (You’ve been warned.) :)

It’s honestly been a random sort of existence lately.

I don’t so much remember this with Mae, but I’m sure it happened then, too. It’s just that with her, I never had to be anywhere. We never had to do anything. So our normal was whatever the day brought. With Mac…it’s different.

We have a first grader to keep up with…and she needs to get to school, be picked up, have her mama there for certain things. It’s all good and it’s all beautiful, but it’s changed the baby game plan I had in my head. The kind that looked like two solid naps a day, sleeping through the night…all that good stuff with which I was so incredibly spoiled with Mae. (But I’ve tried not too compare my kids. Too much.) ๐Ÿ˜‰

The truth is that I’ve loved watching my daughter grow up, even though it’s bittersweet. Every day I take her to school, and my heart pinches and explodes at the same time…leaving her there. Knowing it’s right, but accepting that it’s going so, so fast. I mean, look at this girl! Seriously. So. Grown. Up.

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She’s such a cool person, in my incredibly unbiased opinion. ๐Ÿ˜‰ She writes plays that make us laugh our heads off, she fills up journals at the age of six, she’s asked to “real blog” (though I won’t let her use her domain just yet), she’s rocking the big sister role, and she’s reading chapter books with her reading light, late at night when she’s supposed to be sleeping. She’s got such a tender heart, always praying for others and hurting when they hurt.

I don’t know God’s plans for her, but I know they’re going to be amazing. I just love this girl.

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And watching her be Big Sissy to this Little Man? Oh, my heart. (In a puddle all over the floor.) I was so, so worried about two kids, girl and boy, six years apart. And, yet…Mac completes our family…and these two. Just the best.

Baby boy keeps growing and changing because that’s what little boys do, and it seems like it’s already going way too fast. Flying.ย HOW is he four months old already?!ย  He’s rolling over and moving around tons, and I think he’s getting ready to crawl. OY. And, judging by the amount of drool he produces, I’m pretty sure that teeth aren’t too far off either. WHERE is time going? Ah, this face. Melting again.

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It’s Thanksgiving week, and I really love this time of year. It’s starting to get colder, which might not be my favorite…but a change in seasons always makes me stop and think about life and how there are always changes. Challenges. Sometimes pain. But a lot of joy, too.

On Saturday, fall-ish winter finally arrived. I (somewhat painfully) put the flip flops away and put on an actual coat as the temps dipped into the 20’s and 30’s…and I was forced to reconcile with the fact that my toes will now need to be covered for approximately five months. (Give or take. And here in the bi-polar Midwest, it will probably be give.) :)

Sometimes I gripe about change, but the truth is that I enjoy it most of the time. I like the surprises of life, and I love a good adventure. Sometimes change brings hurt, too…but I’m learning to deal with that. Just like I’m learning to put on a winter coat. Because…reality. I live in Illinois, and it’s November. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Our last year has been full of change, for sure.

Sometimes I look back and am amazed we survived. Or, me at least. ๐Ÿ˜‰ A year ago, I’d just seen the positive pregnancy test, and a few days later I was already vomiting my guts out. (Sorry for that bit of graphic information.) And as the weeks progressed, it became apparent that, if baby was going to make it, I needed help. (And IVs and lots and lots of medication.) We were scared…there are side effects and unknowns that come with those things, and I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you I was worried there would be something wrong with my baby boy. But God…He’s good, and Mac is healthy. Though I do wish he’d take naps! (We’ll save that post for another day.) ๐Ÿ˜‰

macmommy-finalSorry for my freakishly large-looking hand.
Selfies will do that to ya.
๐Ÿ˜‰

I truly have so, SO much to be thankful for, and no doubt, topping the list is a sweet little boy named Mac. My little family, my friends…many of whom ARE my family, a place to live, more than I will ever need, prayers answered beyond what I could have imagined by a Father Who loves me more than I will ever understand.

Life is really good, even if it’s really random.

And thank goodness there’s coffee to help survive the random. ๐Ÿ˜‰

This has always been one of my favorite songs. It’s been around awhile now, but…I still love it. Maybe having a listen will bless your day, too.

I’m so thankful for all of you. Happy Thanksgiving. :)

Sig

On Life and Road Trips (and Dill Pickle Peanuts)

mountain road finalphoto credit: unsplash.com

A sweet friend has been encouraging me lately to find my words again. I’ve known I need to, so why not today?

Oh, words. You are both a gift and my nemesis. Why must it be that way?

But I’m sitting here in my Superwoman t-shirt, the juniors size large that I bought and stretched over my belly even though it is SO. NOT. a maternity shirt, and maybe the silver logo is helping me feel a little more super-ish. So we’ll try and see where this all goes.

It IS May, after all. And baby is due in two months, and I haven’t written a word here in over four.

It’s definitely time to talk again.

Like I said, baby is due soon-ish. Which means that Mel’s belly is more than a little big-ish. I feel huge, even if people keep telling me I’m all baby. (I’m not…there is definitely more in, AHEM, other places.) But in the interest of keeping readers and because I haven’t taken a single belly shot, here we all go. (At least my hair is/was sorta cute today.) :)

28 weeks final

I’m feeling a lot better. Two months of IVs and a medicine pump did wonders, and sometimes I’m just incredibly amazed at how good I feel. There’s nothing quite like feeling death-ish (man, I really like -ish today) for months to make a person appreciate the good days.

The coffee love is back (thank you, Jesus) as is the burrito love. And other things. Like baked potatoes and steak tacos and french fries. And salad because all things need balance, yeah? But I will just tell you that this little guy is making me HUNGRY. (He’d better be cute to account for all the extra pounds I’ve packed on.) ๐Ÿ˜‰

So now we’re really just in countdown mode. (And paint-the-nursery and buy-a-new-stroller-and-carseat modes.) Guess what? If you wait too long between your kiddos, their carseats expire. Who knew? Now we do. :)

Sadly, though, baby S will still be stuck with a pink pack and play. But I’m sure he’ll survive.

So I road-tripped it down south this past weekend. It was my longest to-date, and to be honest, I’m kind of surprised that I did it. And now that I’ve actually driven 13+ hours one way, I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

I met up with a friend in Chattanooga, and then we drove down to Auburn, Alabama, to meet up with a couple more friends. I had no idea how far I actually drove (1,798 miles round trip!) until I looked at a map. It was long! And, surprisingly…a lot of fun.

Honestly, I needed some good alone time…to process, to pray, and, yes, to hold my own little concerts. (Funny story…I forgot that my hubby’s dash cam records everything. Ahem. I made him swear he wouldn’t go back and listen.) ๐Ÿ˜‰ And by the time I’d survived (and YES, I mean SURVIVED) Nashville rush hour, I was so ready to see my friend.

Two more hours of winding mountain roads that made a gorgeous drive, and we were reunited.

We laughed, we talked late into the night…and it felt like I’d known her forever even if this is only the second time that we’ve met face to face.

coffee with Jenn finalphoto props to Jenn and her awesome selfie skills ๐Ÿ˜‰

LOVE HER. (This pic is from our first meeting…coffee several weeks ago.)

And the next morning we headed down to Alabama, and then our group was complete. We had three days of girl time and deep chats and laughter over some of the funniest stories I’ve ever heard, times of prayers and tears, and even a little shopping in one of the cutest towns I’ve ever seen.

Oh, and lots. LOTS. LOTS. OF. FOOD. (How did I not photograph this?) I guess I was too busy stuffing my face with mac ‘n cheese, chicken casserole, cinnamon rolls, pickle wraps, pepper jam on crackers, banana pudding…are you drooling yet? ๐Ÿ˜‰

In all honesty, the whole weekend was an incredible gift, one that I didn’t know I needed so badly. These women are such a sweet blessing.

GSD selfie finalphoto props to Jenn…again. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I hadn’t realized how lonely I was until I spent this time with friends. This pregnancy and all it’s brought with it…has been lonely. And just really, really hard.

That’s nobody’s fault, really. It’s just this phase of life and where we are. I choose to be content with the days as they fall, but sometimes it’s hard. And so when I get a gift like this past weekend, coming off it is almost a little depressing.

Distance is hard, and I miss them already.

But in the meantime, between visits…we pray, we Vox, we connect when we can. And you’d better believe I’ll be making some banana pudding soon…you know, in honor of my friends. ๐Ÿ˜‰ And I also got myself hooked on dill pickle flavored peanuts…I had no clue they would be so good, but I sort of inhaled them. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Sadly, I could only find the cashews on my drive back, but I’ve still got one bag left.ย  And, heck, they’re so good, maybe they’ll get their own blog post. ๐Ÿ˜‰

dill pickle cashews final

So life has been busy, it’s been full…and God is good.

In all seasons, in every day…no matter what it all looks like.

Here’s to words again…thanks for being here.

Sig

Letting God Rewrite Your Dream

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I always thought Iโ€™d be a mommy to two girls.

When I envisioned our future family, I saw my daughter, Mae, walking with her hand clasped tightly to another little girlโ€™s.

Itโ€™s a precious image Iโ€™ve had in my head for a long time, but one I was afraid to verbalize.

In 2014, after a struggle to become pregnant, we found out we were expecting, and I was sure this was it.

My two girls.

Sadly, we miscarried that sweet little one, and I pushed that image far back into the corner of my brainโ€ฆand my heart.

I felt like that dream was over, and it was one I grieved for a long time.

And thenโ€ฆsurprise of surprisesโ€ฆwe found out this past November that we were expecting again.

And I allowed that dream to take its place in the depths of my heart again.

I was sure.

My pregnancy with this one was nearly identical to my pregnancy with Maelie, other than the fact that I was even sicker. But everyone knowsโ€ฆsick = girl.

Oh, I wanted her to be a girl so badly.

Weโ€™d picked out her name. Hope Kristine.

And though there were nagging thoughts of, I think this might be a boy, I tried to stay positive.

God knew the desires of my heart, and I was sure Heโ€™d give them to me.

Today I’m over at God-sized Dreams, sharing a piece of how God is doing some rewriting in my life. Will you join me here?

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Sig

About a Year…and What’s to Come

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Ha ha…I’m getting pretty good at writing on the last day of the month and no other days. I guess that’s just life right now.

I’m honestly still trying to wrap my mind around the fact that 2015 is hours from ending, and I’m not exactly sure where it went. (I’m also wondering if this blog post is actually going to make it…it’s 11:45 and I still haven’t posted.) ๐Ÿ˜‰

I mean…there were milestones. There were lots of things that happened. Lots of good. Some bad. Probably a few things I’ve blocked from my memory, too, and that’s ok.

There were sweet family moments and vacations…hello great, BIG, I-love-you, New York City! There were friend moments and lots of coffee and chats at a picnic table I actually built. I know. ๐Ÿ˜‰ There were laughs and giggles with my girl as we rang in the big FIVE (really? how did this happen???) and so many memories that I can’t even really begin to count them all. Oh, and I ran a ridiculously long race that I will probably never do again. And I got a tattoo.

And there were challenging moments, too…days of marriage that required surrender and forgiveness and humility. Times we wished for different circumstances. Sickness and disease in people we love…and those brought us to our knees and forced us to give thanks both in the healing and in the dying.

Whew. There was a lot.

But despite all of that, I’ll look back at this year as a good one. Read on. :)

NYC family final

So a year ago, I chose a word.

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Open.

I was determined to be open to whatever it was that God had for us, especially me, in 2015.

I thought I knew what that was, and it included adoption.

So I was open…but with a plan for those doors that would open.

And then…it just didn’t happen. We had some good conversations and prayed, and it didn’t seem that, in this season, adoption was right for our family.

I was content with that and content to move forward as a family of three.

God was definitely working on me when it came to being satisfied with what He gives.

And so, instead of grief, we embraced the milestones. The first day of Kindergarten and her first time wearing a school uniform. (Cue the cuteness.) The first lost tooth, followed by another. The fact that Mae seemed to grow inches overnight and we had to keep buying new clothes. Her first season of soccer. Her first Christmas service.

Oy…I could keep going forever. So many firsts. Wonderful ones.

And we embraced them, knowing that most likely, those firsts would be onlys and lasts, too.

In October I flew out to New Jersey/New York to see some friends. During my time there, I had a pretty intense conversation with a friend where I told her, We’re done. And I’m ok with it.

And I was.

And then there was this morning in November. I’d wondered for a couple weeks before because I felt off. On a whim, I peed on a stick.

Yep. God has a sense of humor…and a plan so far greater than anything I could ever plan for myself.

2016 is going to bring a lot of things…included in it, a new baby in July.

I’d still be trying to wrap my mind around it all except I’ve been so dang sick that I am obviously pregnant (well, and we’ve gotten a heartbeat…), and at 10 weeks, have already just about exhausted all of the medication possibilities available to me. One has kinda worked, so we’re going with it for now. And, in between, I sleep and try to survive (and, yes, puke) a lot.

Not how I would have pictured it, but I tell myself continually to give thanks.

God is good, even when we don’t see it.

And I know without a doubt that this is good, too.

I’m not choosing a word for 2016.

I never really thought of one or felt like there was something specific God was putting on my heart. I suppose I could choose baby ๐Ÿ˜‰ but I think I’m just going to go with taking the year as it comes and waiting on Him each day for what He has for my heart.

He’s continually making things new, and that’s a pretty awesome promise to cling to.

My family…we’d appreciate your prayers. While this is the second time I’ve gone through this…it’s tougher this time around. I’ve been sicker, and I’ve also got an active five year-old to keep up with, too.

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By the way, she’s completely over the moon and can’t wait to change all the diapers.

Golly, I love her. :)

So I’m not sure what all we’re looking at this coming year. Lots of changes, definitely. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’d like to keep up with the blog. I’d like to keep writing for the two sites I contribute to. I hope that will happen and that this online space won’t completely die off, too. Because I love it…and it’s special.

But no matter how often…or not…I check in, I think I’ll be around. There will be too many fun things I’ll want to share with y’all.

So here’s to a great year…and to 2016!

Happy New Year, friends. XO

Sig

To My Daughter on Her First Day of Kindergarten

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To my sweet, five year-old, Maelie girl…the one who’s off to Kindergarten this morning,

This letter…it’s a hard one to write.

Whenever anyone has asked me how I feel about you going to kindergarten, my answer is always the same.

I can’t believe we’re here.

I stayed up late last night, staring at my computer screen, well aware that in ten hours I’d be walking you into your classroom for your first day. And there are a few things I know will happen…

I know I’ll cry. (I know you’ll tell me to stop, too.) ๐Ÿ˜‰

I know you’ll completely melt me in your stinkin’ cute little uniform.

I know you’ll hug me goodbye.

And I also know that today will mark a change of seasons for us.

There have been so many times in our five years together when I’ve wanted to freeze time, or at least slow it down to a crawl.

Yet, this morning, I want that more than ever.

Kindergarten…it feels so huge. It’s EVERY. DAY. It’s the last year before all day. It’s new milestones that range from words and reading to crossing the street to the big school. It’s uniforms and learning to tie shoes, it’s new teachers and new adventures.

It’s a little bit of letting go. And that little…well, it will continue to lead to more and more.

There are many many days when it takes my breath away, this letting-go-of-you thing. I’m not ready. I don’t suppose I ever really will be.

But as I pound out these words and you are still off in dreamland…I just want you to know a few things.

I have loved the last five years. LOVED them. Being a stay-at-home-mama wasn’t something I always wanted to be, but I’m so grateful that God changed my heart. The opportunity to be with you, every day, has been the greatest, most wonderful gift, better than anything I could have imagined. I have loved spending our days together.

I love who you are…and who you are becoming. You captured my heart before I held you in my arms. I knew I would completely love you, but I had no idea what that looked like. And from the first moments of holding you to this very morning, I have continued to fall in love with the girl you have grown to be. You are absolutely incredible and so, so beautiful.

You have so much to look forward to. New friends, new teachers, new games, new stories, SO many new things to learn. Embrace it all and HAVE FUN!

It won’t always be easy. And when it isn’t, remember that you are surrounded by people who love you. And God loves you most of all.

No matter what, I hope you will always run to Him. Maelie girl, He loves you so much and He has such amazing plans for you.

This morning I’m letting you go a little more. I’ll leave you in your classroom, and you’ll begin a new journey, one that will lead you to places more wonderful than you can even imagine.

Yes, I’ll cry a little…but I’ll also be cheering for you. :)

There’s so much out there waiting for you. Don’t be afraid to dream BIG.

Go find your wings and fly, my girl.

I love you to the moon and back. (Plus infinity.) ๐Ÿ˜‰

Love, Mommy

Sig

The Random of July…

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I really have no clue how today is August. Did this catch anyone else by surprise?

I knew time would fly this summer, but I didn’t expect it to go quite so quickly. But we’re coming to the end, and goodbye, July. :(

I usually close out each month with a list of favorite things. And when I started to make that list, I sort of started to feel guilty.

I haven’t read much of anything this month. (Though I have Wild in the Hollow sitting on the table next to me. Now I just need two or three, blissfully uninterrupted hours and a cup of coffee. I’m very much looking forward to it.) ๐Ÿ˜‰

I haven’t watched much, either. (Except season 7 of Little House on the Prairie. I’m watching them in order. It’s not my favorite one so far, but it’s good.)

Of course I have favorite things I wear because I’m a girl and I like clothes. And hubby bought me the uber cutest, most funky dress (it has POCKETS!) from my new favorite store as a late birthday surprise, and it will be making an appearance sometime over the weekend…either at church or on our anniversary on Monday. But, really, who wants to read about another dress?

Ok, ok, so maybe you do. I’ll share someday. ๐Ÿ˜‰

But I sort of feel like I fell off the favorite things bandwagon just a tad. So I’m going to sum up the month of July with the random of life. That’s good too, right? In this case, the random are also favorites. :)

Every July my sweet friend comes to visit from Texas for the month. Her parents live in our neighborhood, and so she brings her son with her, and they hang out here, visiting family while escaping the oppressive, summer-Texas heat. (I’m just guessing it’s oppressive…I’ve never actually experienced it.) ๐Ÿ˜‰ She and I have shared many coffees and long chats in the last weeks, our two kiddos have had a blast together, and we’ve so loved having them here. They’re leaving tomorrow to go home…and we’re really going to miss them. Like, the kind of missing where if I think about it too long, I’ll cry. Love you, sweet friend.

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I decided I needed a summer project so I built a picnic table. (Yes, you read that right.) ๐Ÿ˜‰ Other than minimal help from my hubby, this gorgeous, yellow-and-turquoise, work of art is mine. I love it…and I look forward to many, many coffees and talks happening here. It’s technically supposed to find a home in the side yard where anyone can sit down and enjoy it, but it’s been in our backyard since I finished it. It’s also become my sanctuary and my early morning happy place. And at least for now, I need it to be that way, and it’s right. (And, also, I pretty much finger painted that flower, and I think I love it.) ๐Ÿ˜‰

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I tacked on another year this past month, and I confessed to my husband that 37 feels so much older than 36. I know it’s really all mental, but wow. I’m three years away from 40. And also three years away from a celebration of epic proportions. Let the planning commence. ๐Ÿ˜‰

My sweet girlie heads to Kindergarten in exactly 18 days. I don’t know what to do with this, but I know the sight of her adorable little uniforms hanging in her closet about makes the dam burst. Good grief, how are we HERE? And she’s so excited so I’m cheering her on with all I have, but some days it’s not much. I just can’t believe it’s gone so fast.

And speaking of milestones, Tobin and I are celebrating 13 years on Monday. I know that in the grand scheme of life, 13 isn’t huge, but to me…to us…it feels like a place we weren’t always sure we’d see. This marriage thing is hard, and I’m pretty sure we’ve had more challenging days than easy ones. But I’m glad we stuck it out…and I’m truly looking forward to many more years with him. He’s smart, funny, an awesome daddy, takes care of us so well, and will do just about anything…however completely embarrassing and ridiculous…to make me smile. Blessed, we are. I think we’re kind of adorable, too. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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So here’s to celebrations and finding ways to squeeze out the last bits of summer. It’s been a good one…and I hope that for you, too. :)

Thanks for hanging around my space and for being here. Love and happy August all around!

Sig

June Favorites (But Not on a Friday) :)

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So I’m not exactly sure where June went.

But here we are.

My daughter is five…she’s been five for TWO. WHOLE. WEEKS. and a day. And we’ve also had possibly the craziest June ever which was topped off with two performances of The Lion King, where my girl was the uber cutest lion cub ever. And we all say, awwwww! Plus we celebrated my hubby yesterday and tonight there’s gonna be cheesecake with friends because…well, because birthdays. And friends. And cheesecake. They’re all really, really good and we like them in our house.

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But, sticking to the theme…and the fact that I LOVE writing this post, I bring you some of the faves for the month. :)

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Read

I didn’t read quite as much in June as I did last month. That could be because of the crazy of VBS and other things that occupied our time…and the fact that it’s now warm enough to swim and play outside every day. (Well, when it’s not raining. We’ve had PLENTY of that, too, this month.)

Row For Freedom: Crossing an Ocean in Search of Hope (Julia Immonen) This book was handed to me at Allume last fall by a publisher, and like just about every book does, it landed on my bookshelf for a few months. (If you’ve been to this conference, you understand the tons-of books-problem. It’s almost overwhelming to even know where to start.)

But a few months ago, I picked it up, read the back, and added it to my I-need-to-read-this, stack. I’m so glad I did. SO. Seriously…not only is the message behind this book powerful, it also made me want to go find four of my closest friends and convince them to row the Atlantic with me…really, any ocean will do. Or a large sea? (Some of you are looking for a place to hide right now, aren’t you?!) ๐Ÿ˜‰

And while it’s not a book, this list of ENFP struggles is so worth the read. I mean, it’s worth the read if you ever want to begin to understand your good friend, Mel. ๐Ÿ˜‰ It’s almost frightening how accurate most of the list is.

Watch

Well, I’ve been oh-so-patiently (not really) waiting each week for the new episode of When Calls The Heart. Still a favorite.

And, somehow, the first ten Love Comes Softly movies are available, on DVD, from Amazon for 13.99. I don’t know how, but I don’t ask questions. I watched the first three in a week and decided I’d cried enough, but when I have more emotional strength, I will venture to the next one, which I’ve already seen and just about wrecks me completely. (Who comes up with these plot lines? Seriously.)

And, yet, I still watch. Over and over because I’m me and because I apparently own stock in Kleenex.

Wear

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Hmmm. Well, my hubby gave me (let me buy?) an early birthday present in the form of a cute dress. (That you can see here because…well, I took this picture so late that I had to do a selfie.) ๐Ÿ˜‰ It’s my favorite, at least for this week. I wore it a week ago on Sunday morning for praise team, and then I liked it so much that I wore it the rest of the day, too, even when we played three games of bags and frisbee that included running around. ๐Ÿ˜‰ My sweet daughter asked me why I didn’t change clothes, and I just smiled at her. Because Mommy likes cute dresses.

And, also, my Fair Trade Friday Earrings of the Month about took my breath away. Seriously, these are GORGEOUS and my new favorite. I sometimes give my earrings of the month as gifts (because even I don’t need that many earrings) ๐Ÿ˜‰ but these are mine. I wore them on Sunday with my cute dress.

It was just a cute day. ๐Ÿ˜‰

And if you’d like to learn more about the Earring of the Month club, you can check it out here. I highly recommend it. It’s an awesome way to make a difference in the lives of women around the world AND to have a tangible reminder to pray for them. (Plus, cute earrings? Yes, please.) I think it’s the best $12 I spend every month. (The ones from this month are available here, too.)

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Listen

Last week I took my guitar to my voice lesson just to change things up a little. I’d been strumming through a few of my favorite songs, and my teacher and I ended up on Stronger.

I’ve loved the song for awhile now, but it took on a new meaning that morning. I told a friend later that sometimes I struggle with believing the words that I sing, and her response was something I needed to hear. Sometimes we sing them TO make ourselves believe them.

There are hard weeks, there are struggles, there are days when we fight to trust our Father…and I’m certainly no exception to any of these. I need the daily reminder that He is Lord of all. That He always has everything. Because He’s stronger than all of it.

So I hope you’ll have a listen to this one by Hillsong. It’s incredible and it’s meant a lot to me in the last weeks. (And if you’re anywhere near my back porch this summer, you’ll probably hear me belting it out at least once. Sorry about that.) ๐Ÿ˜‰

And…I think that’s it, at least for this month. What are some of your current favorites? Anything I’m missing? (I’m sure there’s a lot!)

Hope you had a wonderful weekend, my friends.

Sig

Seize The Vine

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Several years ago I had the fantastic opportunity to take a trip to the jungleโ€ฆlike, the real jungleโ€ฆin northern Sumatra, an island in Indonesia. (We lived there for several years.)

I was invited to join a group of friends for a crazy, whirlwind, three-day trip, and it included a day-long, deep-in-the-jungle hike. Being the adventure girl that I am, I jumped, quite literally, at the chance.

We made a quick, island-hop flight, endured a four-hour van ride (with some of us riding on top of the vanโ€ฆ) through the potholed road from Medan to Bukit Lawang, and were dropped off a mile from our hotel, at midnight. Luggage in tow, we hiked through the dark, checked in, and crashed for a few hours before meeting at six a.m. for the start of our adventure.

Because we hadnโ€™t had enough of that yet or anythingโ€ฆ ๐Ÿ˜‰

After watching an orangutan feeding just across the river from the hotel, we took off for our jungle-traipsing with a guide leading the way. Up and down, a stop here, a break there, some rock-scaling on the side…it was a tough hike, and Iโ€™m sure I spent more time looking where I was stepping than at what surrounded me.

This should probably be where I confess that Iโ€™d read too many travel books before the trip and knew the potential of creatures lurking around me. Tigers, elephants, poisonous snakesโ€ฆyeah.

But at some point during that hike, we stopped for a water break, and I took the time to really look around me.

Vines everywhereโ€ฆit was totally like the movie Tarzan. And Iโ€™d kinda had this dream to be Jane at one point in my life…

Today I’m over at God-sized Dreams, telling one of my favorite Indonesia stories. Will you join me?

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Sig

April Friday Favorites {+ a GIVEAWAY!)

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Well, given that I’ve barely written a single word this month, I figured I’d better get my word quota finished in one post.

Sorry about that…this one’s pushing has long passed 1,500. (But I think it’s worth reading, just for the giveaway at the end!) ๐Ÿ˜‰

Some months are like that…and, honestly, there’s been a lot of processing going on…just not a lot of sharing the words. I’m finally good with that, I think.

But I really love this end-of-the-month post…the chance to update and just share my faves with y’all. And there were a ton this month because, between Easter (helllooooooo, cute dresses!) and a crazy-busy, FUN week of vacation for the three of us, there are just lots of stories to share.

So let’s get to it?

OH. And I’m throwing in another category…EAT. Because…NYC and Philly. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’ve also got a few fun things to share and a giveaway and the end of this post. Because one cannot travel and discover so many awesome things and NOT share them with the rest of the world, or at least her ten readers, ya know?

I know! (And also, I just love presents.) :)

I bring you the April faves…there are some goodies!!!

Read

So I finished The Hardest Peace. There were a lot of tissues involved…it was one of those books. Heart-wrenching, painful mixed with absolutely beautiful. I recommend it. Read it.

This, too…a friend shared it with me last week, and it’s spot on. Plus, I had a conversation with another friend before she even sent it to me that was basically the same thing. Will you pray for me, friends?

Right now…I’m a mama. And I want to love it completely without wishing for more. My more will come someday.

Also…I’m dying to read the latest Shopaholic book. Just because I haven’t read it yet, and she is stinkin’ FUN. NY.

Watch

My hubby and I have been sorta-kinda-addicted to Flip or Flop on HGTV. Seriously…I have no idea why watching a couple buy houses in absolutely disgusting shape and transform them into stunning beauties is so enthralling, but it is. (Psst…Netflix has the first season available for streaming.) I mostly-seriously said to my husband earlier this week,ย I think you should quit your job and we could flip houses! Wouldn’t it be fun?!

He didn’t go for it.

Ahem.

Also, with the loss of my childhood TV crush last week, Jonathan Crombie (aka: Gilbert Blythe), Anne of Green Gables has been on my TV a lot this week while I’ve drowned my sorrows in red currant wine. (Ok, not really. But someone tweeted that, and I thought it was insanely clever.) ๐Ÿ˜‰ I totally bought the DVD trilogy back when…I don’t even know. When it first came out on DVD. Gotta admit that I’m a little devastated. I loved him. I think we all did. :( Rest in peace, Gil.

jonathancrombiephoto credit: IMDB

Wear

I’m still rockin’ the earrings. (At least I think I’m rockin’ em.) Golly, where have I BEEN? Now my ears feel naked without them. I’m loving this pair from Work of Worth, an awesome fair trade company. They’re huge, and these Might. Actually. Take. Over. My. Head.

But I don’t care because they’re so cute. (And I also realized that you can’t see them too well here, but it’s late and I’m lazy. But I did manage to take this in my kitchen. Really, Mel?! OY.) :)

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And, this dress. So, funny story. I ordered it from Maurices a week before Easter, which is a lot in the ordering-online-from-Maurices, world. (They are usually up there with Amazon Prime in terms of shipping. Yep.) But it didn’t even ship by Thursday night, even though I’d ordered it Sunday. And so I dashed…dashed…out of the Maundy Thursday service and sped (just a little) my bum over to the closest Maurices, skidding in the door ten minutes before they closed.

Aaaahhhh…breathe. They had it in stock. In my size. And, I LOVE it. It’s my new favorite dress. Maybe forever. :) Also, if you want one, you should buy it pretty fast because it’s selling out quick. I’m a 6ish, sometimes size 8, and I bought a medium. It was perfect.

Here we are on Easter. We’re cute, I know. And also, these two are my favorite favorites. :)

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Eat

Ok. I’m a world traveler, and I love…LOVE…seeing new places. But my husband and I have confessed, many times, that while we’ve seen the world, we haven’t exactly seen our own country.

And so we added a couple new places two weeks ago…and the whole vacation deserves its own post, which it’s going to get…but I couldn’t not mention how much I now love the East Coast. Philly was fun, the bit of it we saw, and the friends we saw it with were even better. My introduction to the city happened at Reading Terminal Market in the form of this donut.

And, really, there’s a REASON there’s already a bite out of it. Warm, gooey, cream filled, salted caramel-ly…it was beyond delicious.

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Go ahead. I’ll wait while you clean the drool off of your keyboard.
๐Ÿ˜‰

That was the best donut ever. I’m still thinking about it. Often. (The coffee there was pretty awesome, too.)

And when we decided to do NYC for a day, I knew I couldn’t go there without getting a bagel with lox. Dude, I’ve read about these forever, and I had to try one. Had To.

And so when we stopped in a little deli for lunch, I figured it was the perfect opportunity. $3 for a bagel and cream cheese…and I added some smoked salmon. Never even LOOKED at the price.

I figured I’d get a slice or two of salmon, eat my bagel like a real New Yorker, say yum, and call it good. Bucket list, check.

Nope. Tobin comes over to the table with our food. Um, Mel? I’m not even going to tell you how much that bagel cost.

Huh? It’s a bagel with cream cheese AND. SOME. FISH.

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Nope. Apparently, adding TEN INCHES OF SALMON to my bagel shot the price up FOURTEEN DOLLARS! Dude, we’re not poor, but really?! And so, the saga of Mel’s $17 bagel began. (And ended rather quickly because there’s no way I could eat all of that. Or even half.)

It was good. Not the best thing ever, but it was good. And if it happens again, I will specify…how about $2 worth of salmon instead of $14? ๐Ÿ˜‰

But there was plenty about New York food to love, and the roasted cashews at Battery Park were a favorite, too. But I’ll get to that all next week. Aaahhh, New York, you now hold a piece of my heart forever. And, also, I need to come back for your pizza. I ran out of stomach space for that one.

But I’ll be back in October, and I can’t wait!!! (More on that one later.) :) :) :)

Listen

God gave me a gift while we were in Pennsylvania…the chance to attend Winsome, a retreat that is the God-sized Dream of a dear sister, Kim. It was a God-thing that the timing and location worked out, and being there was such an amazing gift. I got to reconnect with dear friends, share heart chats and LOTS of coffee, go deeper with friends I didn’t know as well, worship with my hands raised, listen to Truth from women who are doing such incredible work for God…

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The tears are running down my face right now because I just want to go back and do it all again.

One of the moments that weekend that meant so much was when a friend just asked,ย How ARE you?ย And she listened while I went on and on. ๐Ÿ˜‰ And she had no idea how much I needed that. And now I miss her like crazy, too.

I also need to write more about the weekend.

So clearly, I have a lot of writing to do. Someone please make me do it? ๐Ÿ˜‰

And how ’bout a giveaway? Golly, I love to give presents. :)

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Last week, I was exploring a little town in Iowa when Mae and I made a quick visit there to see some family, and I wandered into a little store, The Silver Spider. I fell in love with pretty much everything there, and it’s a miracle that I walked out without more treats. But I did discover Blue Q bags, and am now carrying a messenger one that I adore. (I also have the bicycle print one on my please-buy-me-this-for-my-birthday, list. Just fyi in case that’s important information for any of you.) ๐Ÿ˜‰

But because I loved the bags so much, I bought this zipper pouch for one of you to win! Because, hello. Bicycles = SO. CUTE. and this pouch is awesome. It would work for makeup or a Kindle or your chocolate stash. (An iPad mini fits in there, too, if that gives you an idea of the size.)

And I’m completely on an earring kick lately, in case you haven’t noticed. ๐Ÿ˜‰ These are from ViBella, one of my favorite fair trade organizations, and I think they’re adorable…as is pretty much ever piece of jewelry on their site. I hope you’ll give their facebook page a like and then hop over to the site to do a little shopping! Seriously…there are some gorgeous pieces there, and your money is going to provide jobs and education for people in need. Win-win. :)

And because it’s spring (YAY!!!!!!!) and that really deserved more exclamation points, but I’m trying to show some restraint, and because Dunkin’ has their any-size, 99 cent iced coffee between 3-6 pm back…a $5 gift card, which will cover your caffeine fix for a week. (Grammar people, please don’t pick apart that last sentence.) ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’m throwing caution to the wind and using Rafflecopter for this one. (Rafflecopter and I have a love/hate relationship.) Click the link below and follow the instructions to enter. Good luck! And I’ll choose a winner on Monday morning.

I’ve missed you all. A lot. Thanks for being here. :)

The happiest of weekends to you. May you find some sunshine and a quiet spot to enjoy it all. :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Sig