Confessions from a Tired, Whole30 Mama Who Needs to Tweeze Her Eyebrows

coffee table final
So I typed out that title and laughed a little because it’s totally and completely 100% true. The tired part AND the Whole30 part AND the part where I tell you that I have largely ignored my eyebrows for my entire life.

But I’ll get to that later.

First we must sit down with something to drink, preferably coffee since I can still drink that on Whole30…thank you, Jesus…and talk about the tired. 😉 I kind of wish we could chat it up in real life because, let’s be honest, for most of us it’s been way too long. But since this is the best we can do today…well, let’s get to it. :)

I was telling the sweet, fellow-mama cashier at Walmart yesterday, as she rang up my…AHEM…eyebrow mascara, that there will be a day, again, when we shall sleep. I don’t know when that day is, and it may very well be in heaven, though I’d like to think there’s hope of it happening before then. Now don’t go getting all theological on me. If God is creating a place of pure and absolute joy for us, then I have to believe there will be naps. (Uninterrupted ones with fuzzy blankets and just the right amount of darkness and rain on my mansion rooftop to accompany them.)

But, enough about heaven. For now, I’m tired.

When we had Mae, I didn’t know how good we had it. She was an instant sleeper and slept through the night, EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT., from 7:30 p.m. to 7:00 a.m., at FIVE AND A HALF WEEKS.

Let’s just let that sink in.

I thought it was normal and surely a result of reading (sort of) and implementing (kind of) this book.

Easy peasy stuff.

She has continued to sleep like an absolute champ, and while there are other things we struggle with, sleep is not one of them. Bless it all and her, forever and ever, AMEN.

Mae 7 years final(Isn’t she SO grown up? I just adore this girl.) :)

And then, there’s Mac…probably, and by that I mean absolutely, the happiest kid I’ve ever seen. He’ll give a smile to anyone, and he’s full of cute words and giggles and kisses and love. But sweet little smiley boy that he is, sleep is NOT his gift.

Here are the facts: I’m over-the-moon lucky to get one good nap from him a day. And nights? He almost always maxes out by 5:00 a.m.

Oh, dear Lord, I pray as I hear him whimper each morning. Aroused from sleep and aware of my insatiable need to pee, I refuse to move even the slightest. (This is helped, not at all, by the fact that he is in the alcove attached to our room. I CANNOT WAIT for our addition to be finished and for there to be a DOOR. on. his. ROOM.)

Hallelujah and another amen. 😀

Once in a very great while, he’ll have a cup of milk and go back to sleep until 6:15 or so. But not always.

And so there have been many early mornings and a tired mama often. Always, perhaps?

I am blessed by this sweet face. He is pure joy, and it’s a good thing because I would like a nap pretty much every single moment of my entire life, currently.

Mac laughing finalAnd let’s be honest. He may be the cutest little boy ever.
(In my incredibly unbiased opinion.)
😉

The other day, I was examining the crows feet that have taken up residence in the corners of my eyes. I sort of wanted to cry as I realized that we are here, and next year my age will not begin with a three. No, no it won’t.

And while I’m planning to celebrate with a huge party of epic proportions, it’s all kind of sinking in right now.

And then there are my eyebrows, which are really close to those crows feet.

To be honest, I’ve ignored them pretty much my entire life.

Oh, I’m a makeup girl. Not a ton, but you’d better believe that there’s powder, mascara, and eyeliner involved before 8 a.m. every day. (Except Saturday.) But my eyebrows have never bugged me too much, so I just kind of left them alone.

Except now. NOW they’re changing to grayish. What on earth?!?! And I’ve been dying my hair for years because hello, genes, but eyebrows? What does one do with those?

So off to Walmart I went this week. Mac and I wandered the makeup aisles and finally found a little tube of the right color of eyebrow mascara (I. KNOW. RIGHT.) I’m probably the last person to know it existed.

And so I bought that tube, and we came home, and I tried it out, and HOLY EYEBROWS. They exist! And my daughter told me they look weird, but I’m going with the opinion of the girl who actually knows how to. use. makeup. 😉 So I think they don’t actually look too terrible, except now I can see every hair, and NOW I am going to have to tweeze them.

Yikes.

Should I wax them instead? Please send help???

And also, it would be a total injustice to my current existence to leave out the part where I also confess that it’s Whole30 time again for this girl. Friends, my jeans don’t fit. And out of all the eating plans I’ve ever done, this one helps them fit the fastest. (Even though it’s not technically a weight loss program. But let’s be honest…when you remove sugar and dairy and grains and beans and alcohol from anyone’s diet, they’re gonna lose weight.)

So, while I wait to recover my lost sleep and long for some dark chocolate and tweeze my eyebrows, you can most likely find me with a cup of black coffee and a bowl of cauliflower rice which, contrary to what everyone says, is NOT an acceptable substitute for the real thing. It tastes like…Cauliflower. Blech.

But I do like the part where I can eat bacon. So there’s that, too.

Life…it’s just a beautiful mess, isn’t it? Every day.

But then, every day, too, there are always reasons to smile. It’s September (one of my favorite months), fall is on its way…and hellloooooo to all the hoodies and boots and things that can be made pumpkin spice, even if they shouldn’t be. 😉 Why can’t we just live in September all the time?

The kiddos are growing, changing, becoming even more of who God made them to be. Hubby and I…we’re good, too. Still growing in Him and in life and in marriage. Perfect, no…but He’s not done working on us yet.

Community still continues to be a precious gift…a beautiful one that is sometimes a challenge but always a blessing. The roots for our family are being dug even deeper, and the joy that comes from anticipating a lifetime in this place is good. He’s good.

And I’m thankful that, despite horrible sleeping patterns and funky eyebrows and a bit of a pudgy belly that spills over the top of my jeans…that God meets me anyway.

He loves me despite those and in spite of me and the way I run ahead of Him often and try to do things my own way and, instead, just end up making a mess of things.

And I wasn’t really planning on ending up here today, but I did. And so I’d like to share this with you.

One of my dreams is coming true this year.

AMTB_PreOrder_Square final

I’m over-the-moon humbled and so very grateful to be included in this book as an author. :) And there’s a part of me that does an inner, WOOHOO!!! scream every time I see the cover, but honestly, letting it sink in makes my eyes well up with tears, too. The happy kind. 

It’s one that’s for people like me…the ones who want to follow Jesus and make him their all every single day, even in the middle of the mess.

You can pre-order it here, and if you do, you get that super cute mug FREE from Dayspring, too. (Ummm…yes, please!) :) I feel like you kinda can’t lose with extra time with Jesus and another cute mug to drink coffee out of. (And mine will have creamer in it in 25 days, too!)

You know what? You all bless me, just for taking the time to read the random words that spill out of my heart through my fingertips. I may not ever author a published novel or be a storyteller who goes viral, but I’m a writer, and it’s very much a piece of what defines me. I’m learning to speak that and believe it.

And so it means the world when you read my words.

Blessings, hugs…and may you go eat a piece of chocolate for me today since I can’t. 😉

Happy Friday!

Sig

Wandering Home

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I had determined that so much time would not pass before I wrote again, but six months happened anyway.

Six months of life and joy and ups and downs and all the things that come from what happens when less and less time is spent at a keyboard.

I miss it, often. Most days, really.

But I also see the gift in giving myself the freedom to breathe away from screens and, instead, sit on the floor and play with bristle blocks. I didn’t even know they existed until my little boy came along.

Somewhere in the last six months…

…we went from first to second grade.

…we went from seven months to thirteen, six to seven, 38 to 39, and someone, who shall remain unnamed, found his 40’s. 😉

…we went from fourteen years married to a milestone. 15.

…we laughed and cried, fought and rebuilt, hurt but chose love.

…we built a thousand plus more memories.

…we turned a two bedroom to a working-on-becoming-three-with-an-extra-family-room thrown in there. Hello, awesome construction and MORE space. 😀

And so much more. (Including miserably failing at anything related to writing.) 😉

I’ve never been the type to stick my roots down. I think insecurity and painful childhood memories have a lot to do with that. When I actually did fall under the title of nomad, I reveled in it. The freedom to go and see and do…

And leave.

Yet, here we are, and the house at #127 has the deepest roots we’ve found so far. I’m not sure they’ll ever really be yanked up, and that’s oh-so-good.

And hard. Some days, really hard.

The July day we broke ground was the day my Indonesia heart broke a little, too. No one knew because I masked it with a big smile, but I knew that, most likely, an Indonesia life wasn’t in the plans for us anymore. My heart has always longed to return, somehow. Short-term, probably, but long enough to love again. But God has to move in all hearts, not just the emotional one.

And so, above dragging my family across the world and tearing us from a place we all love, I choose to honor God’s calling for us in this season. I press into the relationships and hang on to those that need a little extra hanging-on-to. They’re precious, and friends like this don’t walk into my life every day. I cover our lives in prayer because we always need it, but I think we all need it a little more right now. If that even makes sense.

I choose to invest, even on the days when it hurts; I smile when I sing a praise song because even though the act of praising is sometimes bittersweet, the God I’m singing to is unchanging. Always the same.

And we breathe silently and deeply, the kind of breath that catches in our throats because another year has passed…and we walk our girl to her second grade classroom, where she flits off and gets ready to fly just a little more. And tears pool in the corners of our eyes as we watch it all. But then the stories of recess and art-creating, of singing songs and learning math spill out of her at the pick-up line, and I know to the depths what a blessing this all is.

But my wandering heart is still learning to stay anchored to the One Who holds me.

And so I stumble out of bed every single morning, a bit earlier than I’d like thanks to the baby boy who enjoys those early hours. I sip a little extra coffee, find some time and space for my Father and what He has for me that day, and then she rises so we can really start the day. It’s routine…it’s our becoming.

The kind of becoming that teaches us, again, that no matter where we go, He is always with us. But the part of that verse I never see there, and maybe He just meant to imply it because we should already know it, is that wherever we stay, He’s there, too.

I’m finding myself again slowly, in the most close-to-Jesus way possible. I know he’s my everything, and so I lack nothing.

But sometimes I still wander.

Away from my blog, away from what I should be doing, and even, at times, away from Him.

I’m so, so grateful He doesn’t wander from me.

There’s a lot of life not shared here anymore…and I miss that part. I was half-joking, kind-of bragging to friends the other night that when it comes to words, I’ve still got it. 😉 But the truth is that sometimes He asks silence from us so He can quiet us and teach us more than we’d learn if we were making noise all the time.

So that’s our season. For now.

Seasons definitely change, and I don’t know what the next one will look like. But I do know Who tells every leaf where to fall.

And so I’ll wander a little bit more, looking for His next plan…but I’ll always wander back to Him.

I’ll always wander back to Him, because in the end, He’s Home.

Sig

Thoughts and Favorites (+ a Giveaway!)

almostspring

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

😉

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. 😀

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? 😉

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. 😉 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. 😉 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. 😉

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.) 😀

AND…since Mac was a boy instead of a girl, we need another bedroom. 😉  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. 😉

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.) 😉

giveaway2017

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?! 😉

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.) 😉

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.

maemommy-2-final

She’s such a cool person, in my incredibly unbiased opinion. 😉 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. HOW is he four months old already?!  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.

mac-final

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. 😉

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

Sometimes I look back and am amazed we survived. Or, me at least. 😉 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.) 😉

macmommy-finalSorry for my freakishly large-looking hand.
Selfies will do that to ya.
😉

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. 😉

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

Stepping Back

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I was so close to quitting it all. SO close.

Sometimes life has a funny way of telling us that’s the best thing, right?

Things were getting overwhelming and I felt, often, that I struggled to even keep my head above water. Between being a wife and a mama and now a NEW mama, six years later, who was re-entering the infant stage…let’s just say it was all becoming too much.

My house looked like a tornado had ripped through it, the dishes continually piled up, I couldn’t remember to actually finish a load of laundry in one day, and let’s not even talk about how many times I didn’t cook dinner…

AND? I was doing good to keep the kids (yes, kidS…plural now) fed and alive.

That’s how life felt two months ago when I messaged my dear friend, Alecia, and told her I needed a break from God-sized Dreams.

I was taking that oh-SO-much-needed break…but in the back of my mind, I wondered if it was a step toward being done with the site, too.

Between an extremely difficult pregnancy and, now, a brand-new baby boy…and trying to give everything I could to my family and life here, I didn’t feel like I had much to offer to other dreamers.

Today I’m over at God-sized Dreams, sharing a little about life lately and where I am now. I hope you’ll join me here:)

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Sig

He Redeems

He Redeems finalphoto credit

There are times in life that cause reflection…major life events seem to do that for me. (That also seems to be the only time I can manage to find the time…or words…to blog these days, too. Sorry. I promise I’m working on it!) 😉

Our family has been through something pretty important recently 😉 and I want to share it with all of you.

You see, even though pregnancy lasts just nine months (for which I am EX.TREME.LY. thankful…) our story is so much more than just that. It includes prayers and trust and some hard, hard days…and I know that many of you have prayed for us during this journey.

So while it’s ultimately God’s story, you are all a part of it.

So here we go. :)

I’m not even sure when it really started…years ago.

But for this piece of it, my heart goes back to July 22, 2014. That was the day we lost our baby, the one we named Carly Kristine.

Just a few weeks earlier I’d seen the faint line that told me my girl, Mae, was going to be a big sis. I was so, so excited…but cautious. I guess I’d just gotten used to living the paradox of holding on to and fighting hope.

And while I never wanted…or let myself expect…to lose our little one, the night the spotting started, that hope slipped. And the next day, I knew.

And that was the day…the day of the ER and the freezing cold room and the what-seemed-like-hours of tests and ultrasounds and the words,

No heartbeat.

And so we went home that day and fumbled through just trying to keep going. There was grief. There were tears and there still are today. There were ways we remembered and still do. But there was also a mark on the calendar day…and on my heart…of July 22nd, and I knew it would never be a day I welcomed.

It isn’t that I didn’t think God could heal my heart…I knew He could. And that He probably would.

Someday.

But I didn’t expect full redemption…the kind where He says, See what I’ve done? And that I’d truly be able to stand back in awe.

It’s just that sometimes a loss is too great, and it can never be replaced…so we don’t even dare to hope for it.

The months that have made up the years since have been up and down…there’s been a lot of joy in the gifts that He’s given and some moments, too, of hurting and wishing for what can’t be anymore. But I can’t complain…His goodness has always been there.

And then came a day last November.

I honestly didn’t expect to see the positive on the test.

I’d had symptoms. I threw up during a longer run. My running pace had gotten slower. I was tired. And so…I peed on a stick. And I almost just threw it away after that without even looking because I thought I knew.

I didn’t.

It was there, and it wasn’t even faint. Full on. We. Were. Pregnant.

And there was a huge part of me that refused to let myself even go all the way to July 28, 2016…my due date. Because, how?

That was too much hope to let creep in.

But as the weeks went on (days, really, because I get so darn sick when I’m pregnant) there was no doubt. This baby was thriving and taking me down. (I can laugh about that now.) :)

And I fought with HG and puked my way through the almost-first-half of pregnancy, and as I was starting to feel just a bit better, we found out we were having a boy.

A boy I’d wished with all my heart to be a girl.

But there it was on the screen, and there was no mistaking that a son was on the way for us.

And as the weeks somehow flew and turned into months, I found myself ready to welcome this little one. I was full of fear, full of anxiety…but also a little bit full of hope, too.

Maybe finding that hope again was the first of many gifts this little boy gave to me.

And on Wednesday, July 20, 2016, we welcomed McClain Jonathan Schroeder to our family.

It was instant love.

He stole my heart. 😉

And I wondered with everything in me why I’d never wanted a boy.

There will always be a part of my heart that grieves the loss of a baby, just two years ago, who was just as wanted and loved.

But that Friday, just two days later…July 22nd…I was lying in my hospital bed, looking at a sweet little boy, feeling my heart almost-explode at the love I have for our new little one.

And I didn’t hate that day anymore.

This, friends, is redemption.

He can always, always redeem.

He can always, always take something that hurts and make it beautiful.

He can always, always give hope when hope feels impossible.

And I’d go through it all again…just to know and see and feel this much of His goodness.

Thank you, Father…You know better. Help me to remember that anytime I doubt it.

Welcome to the world and to our family, sweet Mac. We love you so, so much.

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Letting God Rewrite Your Dream

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I always thought I’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 girl’s.

It’s a precious image I’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 brain…and my heart.

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

And then…surprise of surprises…we 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 knows…sick = girl.

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

We’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 He’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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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.) 😉

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. 😉 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. :)

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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 😉 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. 😉 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

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Sharing Life Again

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A sweet friend told me the other day that I hadn’t written lately.

Actually, a few of you have told me that.

But she didn’t say it to make me feel guilty at all…she just said she missed my words, and that meant a lot.

To be honest, I told my hubby a few days ago that I thought maybe it was time to hang up my keyboard on this space and call it a really good run. I love what this blog is and what it has meant to me in the last five years…and sometimes good things come to an end, too.

But he gently told me that maybe I shouldn’t do that…and that maybe I should keep writing and stay open to the possibility of words.

It would be easier to quit…but his words have been floating around my heart for several days.

And, the truth? I’ve known I’ve needed to find some words lately and just get back to sharing life, so maybe this attempt will actually find you all.

So, it’s fall. And I love fall. :) I love the crunchy leaves and sweaters and boots, and let’s be honest. Coffee just tastes better in the fall, too. It does, I promise. 😉

For this girl who thrives on change (and has somehow been placed into a record-long-to-her, phase where life DOESN’T change much) fall is a reminder of the beauty God can bring through the different seasons of life. I love that.

Truly, it hasn’t been an easy season. For me and for a lot of those I love.

Sad goodbyes have marked this season of change.

Unexpected challenges have left some wondering where exactly purpose lies.

There’s just some hurt going on and life feels upside-down.

It’s hard to write through all of that…but I want to because I want to be real. I try to be, anyway. I can’t promise perfect words…but here’s a little bit of life right now. :)

Every morning my daughter and I pray on our way to school. She complains because I spend the better part of our 6-7 minute drive in prayer, but I want to be intentional. We talk to God about the people we love, but we also take time to say thank you for the blessings. Because there are so, SO many, even in the challenging seasons of life.

I love God, but understanding Him lately? Well, that hasn’t happened. There are a lot of times I don’t see His purpose. I don’t understand the death of a friend who had so much life left to live. I don’t understand the loss of a friend’s husband to a cruel disease. I don’t understand how we can make simple plans that happen for everyone else…and they don’t happen for us.

But I do trust my Father. And I tell Him that every day. And I find it a gift that I can tell Him that, even on the days when I doubt Him.

I’m pounding this out when I should be finishing up a last post for GSD and packing a suitcase. I get to have an adventure today and for the next few days. Off to the East Coast and off to see some dear sisters who have a special place in my heart. :)

That’s a gift, too.

And in the midst of a crazy week, we managed to throw family pictures in there, too. And while I wonder if our colors were a little non-matchy and if I shouldn’t have worn those distressed skinny jeans with a hole in the knee (really, Old Navy?!) because they make my butt look ginormous, I know that the smiles and the memories captured will be treasured for a lifetime. (As long as you can’t see how big my bum is. Seriously.)

Just keepin’ it very real today. 😉

I love my family and the gift they are to me.

And time and again, I look around at my community, and I fall in love even more. I have no idea why God chose to put us here, in our 1870’s-old, but updated…thank you, God…farmhouse with an awesome yard and a beautiful view and the best friends/neighbors we could have asked for…but I’m thankful.

I’m thankful that He sees what we need and gives it to us, in spite of what we think we want.

I’m so surrounded by blessings…in people, in places, in memories, in a Father Who loves me. Who loves all of you.

And I’m trying to be better about remembering those blessings. Every moment.

Thanks for still stopping by this place. Maybe God isn’t quite done with it yet? Maybe. And I’ll take a maybe. :)

Will you share a blessing with me today? I’d love to hear from you.

I’ve got a plane to catch…but I’ll be back soon. :)

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September Friday Favorites (+ a GIVEAWAY)

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Hi, friends. And, happy fall! (I love that I can officially say that.) :)

So I’m sliding in late this Friday…and I’ve also written this post once already, and then I decided to delete the 1,000+ words and start over. I guess some days are like that.

I want to give y’all a glimpse into life…and also to share the joy when I talk about my month and my faves. I was in just a little too snarky of a mood when I wrote the first round…so we’ll see if the snark reduces a little this time. 😉

When I realized it was time to write this post, I decided that there are a lot of other things I could have (and probably should have) called it. Like…

That Post Where Mel Admits She Basically Hasn’t Written Anything in a Month

OR

All About Making Friends With Other Moms in Target

OR

The Day Mel Got an Extra T-shirt in the Mail and Decided to Ask if She Could Give it Away on Her Blog

So, let’s just roll with all of them, ok? 😉

Here we go…it feels good to end the 3+ weeks of not-so-many (translation: N.O.) words. (Don’t fall off your seat or anything, but I also already have a post written for next week. I. KNOW. I like Riesling, should you feel led to send me a bottle of wine to celebrate.)

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READ

We’re being totally honest here, right?

I haven’t read much at all this month. Sadly, not even my Bible has been opened every day. I think it’s a season…and I seem to go all or nothing, meaning I read twelve books at once or none at all. There are so many good ones out there, especially by women I know and love, but I just haven’t been able to…to focus long enough and actually keep a book open long enough to finish it.

And herein, I give myself some grace…and vow to do better tomorrow.

But I do have to share a blog post, written my GSD friend, Kayse. Honestly, the whole thing kinda breaks my heart, and I hate that this happened to her (you’ll just have to read it) BUT I love how she processed it and responded. So you should definitely hop over and read about the time a woman tried to parent her child in Target.

And as a side note, I’ve been feeling convicted about going out of my way to encourage other moms, especially after reading her post. Sometimes my to-do lists and shopping lists and general moods just get in the way of taking the time to encourage. Yesterday, I found out that being intentional can sometimes make my day…and someone else’s, too. I got to play a game of “soccer” with a sweet, two year-old boy and chat with his mama while we waited in line at Target.

And can I just say that it felt insanely awesome to trade confessions of the cereals we sometimes feed our kids? :) (No All-Bran in this house. Think Cookie Crisp. Which is delicious, by the way.)

WATCH

I’m beyond excited that there’s a new season of The Voice happening. Whoop, whoop! Other than that, I’m a TV failure. I know nothing about any of the current shows, other than an occasional flipping to HGTV in order to dream myself some big, home-renovating dreams. 😉

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This is always my favorite one. :)

So I have this dress that I’ve been waiting to wear. I saved it for a getaway my hubby and I were planning to have this past Wednesday-Thursday in a cute little town about an hour north of us. Sadly, our girl came down with strep throat (at least we think so…still waiting on results), and we had to cancel. (And are hopefully rescheduling for this coming week.)

So this beauty may get to see the light of day at least once this year. (Here’s a sneak peek…golly, I love a cute dress.) :)

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A few weeks ago, a friend and I were talking about how much we love a particular saying and how we both wanted it on a t-shirt. So, of course, I went to my beloved Etsy and found the perfect one and ordered two. They came, we both loved them…YAY! And then a few days later, I got two more in the mail.

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And I sorta felt like it was my super lucky day since I now had enough of this particular shirt to rock it for the rest of my life, but I knew I should tell the sweet girl who runs her Etsy shop about the mistake. And so I emailed Ashley at Savannah Chic Boutique and told her, and she was SO KIND and told me to give one of the shirts away on my blog and send the other one back. She’s just starting her store, and goodness…her stuff is so cute, and she’s such a sweetheart. (Hop over there or to her Facebook page and check it all out?) :)

And of course I said thank you…and now I’m so excited to pass on the love to one of you! Y’all…I love this t-shirt. And one of you will love it, too! (See the end of this post for how you can win it!) :)

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So…my feet have been going a lot lately. I signed up for a horrendously long (to me) race, which means I. HAVE. TO. RUN. SO. I. DON’T. DIE. ON. THE. DOWNTOWN. CHICAGO. PAVEMENT. (9.3 miles feels like a lot. Just sayin’.)

It’s this race, and maybe the only thing that will keep me going is the chocolate at the end, but a confession? There’s a part of me that really, really wants to reach my goal of actually running the whole thing. I’m shooting for 1 hour 30…just under a 10:00 pace. We shall see. Sometimes I have really lofty goals…but sometimes I surprise myself, too. 😉

So I’ve been pricing trips to Indonesia lately, and I knew it was gonna happen. Two months ago, tickets were hovering around $900 each. (I know. I know. I shoulda bit the bullet and just bought them.) Yesterday? $1700. And so goes goodbye to any chance of an Indo trip Maelie and I may have had in 2016. (In reality, prices could go down again…you’d better believe I’ll be watching them like a hawk.)

BUT. On the flip side I’m headed out to New Jersey/NYC to visit my dear friend in a few weeks. That’s exciting, and I’ve been looking forward to it since April. :)

And, a random blessing today that doesn’t involve travel but that’s ok…my sweet girl is feeling so much better, and we even took a little walk today. I love her so much…and I’m so glad she’s (mostly) back to her spunky, silly, full-of-love, self. :)

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So that’s September and what life is looking like around here. :)

I’d love for you to enter to win the t-shirt I talked about. Click on the Rafflecopter link and follow the directions.

For reference, the t-shirt is a women’s size large that I think fits like a slouchy medium. I’m a size 6-8, and it’s a little big on me. (Trust me, you want this shirt. And if it’s not in your size, you can always pass on the coffee/Jesus love to a friend.) :)

Happy Friday, friends! Now click this link and enter. :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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