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. πŸ˜‰

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. πŸ˜‰

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. :)

Sig

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. πŸ˜‰

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? πŸ˜‰

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.)

πŸ˜‰

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. πŸ˜‰

WEAR

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.

coffee&Jesus finalPhoto Credit: SavChicBoutique (Etsy)

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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GO

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. πŸ˜‰

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. :)

Mae+Mel selfie final

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

Sig

On August: Smiles, Messes, and One Really Big Shark

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Somehow the calendar page turned today and I found myself staring at the month of September.

September is one of my favorite months. It’s that strange one that flips between summer and the promise of sweater weather, the one when the pool is still up and used even if there are acorn shells and crunchy leaves covering the ground. (It’s also the only time of year that I feel like I can reasonably pull off wearing shorts with long sleeves. That’s just weird and probably not very trendy, but I’m not sure I care too much.) πŸ˜‰

I could lament forever that I can’t believe August is over, but now that we’re staring at this month…I guess I’m good with it. We survived transition, we made it through some hard days–the kind when we cry while we remember, and now life is falling into a bit of a routine. A bit…we’re still finding normal somewhat, but it feels more settled.

I haven’t been very good at keeping track of my favorites the last few months…but I still felt the bloggy urge to write about August somehow. So here we go.

Random, to be sure…but here’s the good, the bad, and what just was. Is. I love my life and the blessings God has given us.

I’ve been working my way slowly through Wild in the Hollow. Everyone I know who’s read it has devoured it in mere hours. I’ve been wanting to devour it, but Amber’s words hit so close to home that there are times I need to close the pages and find a quiet corner for soul processing. It’s such a unique read, unlike anything I’ve ever opened. I recommend it so much. (And actually, one of you is going to get a copy of it if you make it to the end of my ramblings.) πŸ˜‰

Wild in the Hollow final

I think my daughter is completely adorable in her school uniform. Who knew that khaki, blue, white, and red (and the shades that fall into those categories) could create such cuteness? She’s just growing up and stealing my heart a little more each day. She also started soccer last week, had her cheerleading debut with some of her BFF’s on Friday night, AND there’s a LOOSE TOOTH in there, too. Hold me. T’was a full week and such a turning point in her life. I feel like she’s really a growing-up girl now…full of wonder and change. It’s fun watching her become.

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We saw War Room on Sunday night. I have to be honest and tell you that the weekend in our house was not full of peace and oozing with kindness. Hubby and I…well, we just had a few of those days. We didn’t so much like each other those days, and I know Satan was just dancing all over our hearts. It was horrible. How ironic that we’d made plans to see the movie with friends…and even up until the moment we walked into the theater, I could feel my marriage being attacked.

But we stayed and we watched (and I cried–more than once) and the movie was SO. GOOD. And I’m praying the truths from it will seep into our beings as we walk this road. Marriage…it’s no fairy tale. But it’s still beautiful, and I love him and I love my Father. We belong together forever, even on the messy, ugly days.

It’s been almost a year since we lost our sweet Andre. Sometimes I feel out of place and wrong for still grieving a dog. He was my sweet boy, and we still miss him so much. If you think of us on the 19th, will you whisper up a prayer? I think we’ll probably need to go away that day because I’m not entirely sure I’ll be able to handle being in the house where he spent his last hours. Golly, I miss my boy.

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I’m a mess. It’s just been a messy month. Do you ever have those? I’ve had ugly cries in the church balcony, angry words with my Father, and too many moments of bitterness. I’ve beaten myself up over it all…but then I come back to the promise that He can turn this mess into something beautiful. I’m waiting for the beauty He’s promised.

Oh, and I got a tattoo. Yeah, you read that right. I’ve actually had it for a month, but it wasn’t something that I knew how to write about, so I just didn’t. Instead, I just kind of let it be seen sometimes and if people wanted to ask I told them the short version: I wanted a tangible reminder that my Father makes everything beautiful. Someday I’ll tell you more of the story. :)

tattoo final

I signed up to run a 15k. I have exactly 68 days to train for it, which is only slightly scary. My current distance sits at about a whopping 3 1/2 miles. Oh, boy…good thing I just bought a new pair of running shoes. πŸ˜‰

For about a month I have been telling my husband I need the beach. I just love it…I miss my surfing days and the sand between my toes and the sound of the crashing waves and the soul peace that comes from breathing deep and feeling small in the vast. We’ve been teetering back and forth on possibly taking a long weekend this fall and going, but we honestly haven’t been able to make a decision. So, wishing for the beach…I am. Completely. Not sure it will happen this year, but a girl can dream, right?

And you would think that a video like this might change my mind. Alas, no. I still heart the saltwater sea. I swear it calls my name. (Though I can’t get enough of the following 42 seconds. Seriously…cracking up.) πŸ˜€ AND potentially praying that I don’t get eaten by one of those ever…

And that…well, that’s life for us now. It’s good and full of blessings…and writing like this reminds me of just how blessed I am.

And I feel like giving away a copy of Wild in the Hollow because it’s just so beautiful. (And it’s going to find a spot on my bookshelf forever, I think.) To enter, leave me a comment…either here or on facebook…and share a blessing. That’s it. :) I’ll pick a winner on Friday and shoot you an email/Facebook message to let you know you’ve won.

Happy Tuesday, friends. Make it a beautiful one. :)

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.) πŸ˜‰

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.) πŸ˜‰

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.) πŸ˜‰

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. πŸ˜‰

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.) πŸ˜‰ 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.) πŸ˜‰ 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.) πŸ˜‰

picnic table final

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. πŸ˜‰

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. πŸ˜‰

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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) :)

Tbirthdayfampic final

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. :)

June faves final

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?!) πŸ˜‰

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. πŸ˜‰ 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.) πŸ˜‰ 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. πŸ˜‰ 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) πŸ˜‰ but these are mine. I wore them on Sunday with my cute dress.

It was just a cute day. πŸ˜‰

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.) πŸ˜‰

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

Trusting God When You Can’t See

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Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Β Hebrews 11:1

He showed me a picture of it, late one night as we sat awake in the hotel room, taking care of our new little girl.

A month into parenthood, we were also house hunting, having just left the mission field after five years in a country about as far away as we could have been.

We’d loved it, but it was time to be back β€œhome”…and we were struggling to find what that might look like.

We found ourselves in a brand new state, thanks to his new job, and we desperately needed a place for our family to live. We were watching the days tick down into single digits, looking at house after house after house.

But none of them felt like they could be home.

And then he pulled up the picture of the blue, two-story, and I told him no because it didn’t have a fence. This new, very-tired-and-over-the-top-emotional mama, who also happened to have two crazy golden retrievers, Needed. A. Fence.

Mostly for her sanity.

But he insisted we look at it, and so we did.

Today I’m over at Circles of Faith, sharing a story of just one of the many ways God took care of us when we left the mission field. Will you join me here?

Sig

Five Years Old!

Mae&Mommy5years final

My Maelie,

I sat down to write this letter last night, and I couldn’t help but feel a little sad that it was your last night of being four. I gave you one more kiss on your forehead as you drifted to sleep, and I felt that pinch in my heart.

It’s going so, so fast and I guess I just wish I could hold you a little longer.Β 

Oh, you’ve been counting down to the big five years old for months, and I know you’re so excited. More than anything, we want to celebrate your big day with you.

Because YOU’RE FIVE!!! πŸ˜€

I see more glimpses each day of you growing up, becoming more independent and a little less needy for your mommy, but you still melt my heart when you climb into my lap for a cuddle and tell me you love me. I hope those moments never end.

I love you so much. So, so much. And I tell you that often and multiple times a day because I want you to know that it’s true. Every single day, more each day than the one before.

We’ve had a year. It’s hard to say it was a good year, but I don’t want to say it was a bad year, either.

It was still a precious year because I got to spend it with you, my beautiful daughter.

Our family has walked some hard days and weeks and months…and you walked it right along with us. You saw the tears and you cried some of your own, too. Your little heart and mind took time to process losing your little sister and knowing you would have to wait for heaven to play with her. The tears flowed the day you hugged Andre goodbye and we came home without him.

You’ve seen some hard days, and I wish those hadn’t been part of your four year-old life. They’re so much for a little one to handle, but you showed us just how strong you could be.

Your daddy and I…we found strength in the joy you brought to us. And we found lots of reasons to smile and laugh, too.

There were adventures and car trips and new places to explore. You loved riding the train and subway in New York and a visit to, possibly, the most famous toy store in the world. :) (Mommy liked that trip, too!)

We made new friends and played new games, and you flew through your second and final year of Preschool.

And…you came out a READER!

Goodness, my girl, you blow me away with how far you’ve come…and we’re just beginning the journey.

You’ve kept us laughing (and still do!) with your witty, intelligent, hilarious take on life. You never miss an opportunity to tell a good story which makes us think you might just be a writer someday like your mama. Or, who knows? You’re a lot like your daddy, too. It will be fun to see what God does and continues to do with you. Remember to always keep your heart open to Him…you are His child, and He has great plans for you!

It’s true that sometimes you and I, we have hard days.

But I also know that this has been the best five years of my life, these years of being your mommy. I wouldn’t trade a single moment of it for anything.

You are loved, you are beautiful, and the world is waiting for five year-old YOU!

Get out there and change it.

But, first, eat some cake and CELEBRATE! πŸ˜‰

I love you more than you will ever know…and God loves you EVEN MORE.

Happy 5th Birthday, my Maelie girl!

Love you forever,
Mommy

Sig

May Friday Favorites (+ a Giveaway!)

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Oh, goodness…is it really that time?

I mean, I love writing this post, but I’m also feeling slightly guilty that I’ve barely written anything in the last two months. Tell me to quit feeling all the guilt, k? And also, I’m sure I’ll make up for it with the word count.

πŸ˜‰

So we’re getting into summer around here, and it’s good. Parks, playing outside, ice cream, friends, making a summer bucket list. I love spending my days with this girl…the one who said tonight,Β Mommy, let’s take a selfie and make our glamorous faces! (At least one of us has it…) πŸ˜‰

I love her so much. Pinch me because I don’t know how I’m blessed enough to be her mama. But I am…and it’s a gift.

And with that little, cute tangent…here are the faves. A bit random this month and not quite as exciting, but keep reading. I feel like giving away one of my favorites today, so make sure you enter!

But read first. πŸ˜‰ So, let’s get to it.

Read

Well, I made up for my lack of reading in the past few months with this month.

I *think* I read five books and am reading two more right now, which might be a record for me. (As in, five GROWN-UP books. I may or may not read a lot of children’s books too.) πŸ˜‰

A few favorites:

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Though it’s a classic, I’d read mixed reviews on it. There’s no real plot twist, and in a book of that length, that can start to feel mundane. I found myself caught up in Francie’s story, though, and the more I read, the more I wanted the story to just keep going. And when it ended, I was sad.

Miracle on Voodoo Mountain. I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy at Allume last fall, and I sat down to read it this week. Friends, I burned through this book in less than a day. I couldn’t believe how gripping Megan’s story (and, really, God’s story) is…and once I opened it, I couldn’t put it down. I recommend this one. It reminded me a lot of Kisses From Katie, which is another of my all-time favorites.

Northanger Abbey. I decided to work on my brain power and read some Jane Austen. πŸ˜‰ It’s been a Long. Time. since I’ve read anything like it…and I feel like this story took a bit to get going, but I’m liking it. Enough that I might actually read another of her books in the near future. :) (If you’re a Jane fan, please leave me your recommendations in the comments?)

Watch

Hands down, When Calls the Heart has been the winner this month. Jessica Turner recommended it on her blog one day about a month ago, and she didn’t have to twist my arm too much. I love dramas that take place in that time period, and as usual, this one sucked me in immediately. I’m slightly embarrassed at just how quickly I managed to get through the first season. (Psst…it’s available on Netflix streaming. For some of you, I think this might be the best news of your day.) πŸ˜‰ Golly, I love this show.

And that’s about it in the watching department, at least this month. Obviously, when I read more, I watch less.

Novel idea, huh? (Pun totally intended.) πŸ˜‰

Wear

Well, I finally jumped on the Fitbit bandwagon. I’m not necessarily the girl who wants the latest and greatest with everything, and I thought it over for a good, long, four months before ordering this one. I like that it makes me intentional about things like Getting. Off. My. Bum. and walking around more. It’s also very motivating for me to get up early, go for a run, and see my step total skyrocket.Β What can I say? I’m a slight dork.

Also, I tend to drink more water when I get the satisfaction of logging it. I don’t so much enjoy admitting to my dashboard that I ate too much cake when I have to log those calories, too, but hey. Baby steps, right? πŸ˜‰

Also, I’m pretty much addicted to all-things-maxi-dresses-and-skirts. I found this one, super-clearanced, at Maurices, and it’s one of my new favorites. I wore it on Mother’s Day, and aaahhh…it just makes me happy. :)

Also, still loving the earrings, but no new pairs to share that I can think of. I’m just having fun wearing the same ones over and over. Though I did let hubby know that I’m in love with these, and if he wants to buy them for my birthday, I’ll totally let him. πŸ˜‰

Listen

This whole album. Seriously. I’ve had it downloaded for several months and have even listened to it here and there, but just recently, it’s found its way to repeat on my playlist.

YouMakeMeBraveAlbum

Especially the song, You Make Me Brave. I could listen to it and sing it all day long. (Ahem. Sometimes I do?)

Anyway, I’m giving away a free download of the album.Β :)

To enter, just leave me a comment. Share some sunshine from your week or a current favorite. Or, really, just say hello. I’m not picky. :) (I’ll choose a winner on Monday morning and send an email with the details.)

And while you wait to see if you’ve won, have a listen. Love this song. :)

Happy weekend, friends!

(And I’m borrowing this idea from my sweet friend, Crystal. Make sure you hop over to her space to catch up on her favorites, too. She always has such a great list!) :)

Sig

Just Life on a Friday

yayforcoffee final

I know myself well enough to realize that when the blog has been quiet for too long, I just need to write.

Something.

Anything.

Well, not exactly anything…but at least sentences that tell a story or two.

The truth is that the last few weeks have been full of writing for myself…but not for anyone else. I think I intended to share more than I actually did (which would be No.Thing.) but life just got in the way, I guess.

But words felt necessary today…and so here are some. They’re random, but it’s been a random week, so I’m just gonna roll with it.

πŸ˜‰

My girl finished PK this week, and I honestly have no idea what to even do with it all.

I cried because who doesn’t cry when their sweet kiddo reaches a milestone? Plus, Kindergarten? How is she old enough for this???

And then the two of us went out for frappuccino minis, which really translated to I-needed-to-go-to-Target-for-shampoo; how-convenient-that-Starbucks-is-here-too. That kind of thing, you know?

And we smiled and laughed as we walked through the store, and I thought about how awesome it is to have such an amazing little girl to share my days with. (I just wish those days didn’t fly by quite so quickly.)

A few days ago, it was a gorgeous, sunny day. It was also 46 degrees, according to my iPhone. I didn’t really believe my phone because Mae and I were both outside in tank tops and we weren’t cold AT ALL. And also, my shoulders turned a shade of red that I don’t usually see until that day mid-July when I forget to reapply the sunblock.

Yeah, I got fried in May. IN. MAY.

And also I’m pretty sure the weather app was broken because No. One. Burns. In. 46. Degree. Weather. (Just let me be right here, ok?) πŸ˜‰

I am more than ready for warm weather to make an appearance for longer than a few days at a time.

And if that randomness doesn’t scare you off… πŸ˜‰

I spent three days eating red meat for every meal this week. (As in, to the point that it was becoming gross.) Before you start thinking that I have weird eating habits, let’s just say I wanted, in the worst way, to get my iron levels up so I could donate blood. Because, yeah, they stink, no matter how much steak I eat. You know it’s bad when I walk into the room and tell them to do the finger prick part before I sit through all the paperwork.

And also, I failed again. (My husband asked me if I was ready to give up yet. Never.)

And after my last few end-of-the-month blog posts…you know, the ones when I share all my favorites? Yeah, I decided I needed to read more books. So I’ve been reading a lot.

I laughed my way through Sophie Hudson’s A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet. I cracked open A Tree Grows in Brooklyn for the second time…I didn’t finish it the first, and I’m actually almost done with it. And then a few days ago, I finally opened Eight Twenty Eight: When Love Didn’t Give Up, and an hour later I looked up, and I was almost on page 100.

So I think it’s safe to say I’m doing just fine in the reading books department. And also, yay for expanding my reading horizons. I feel proud of myself. :)

And I’m also really looking forward to summer with my girl.Β 

We’ve got a whole summer, friends! It’s been fun to hear her talk about the things she wants to do. Parks, picnics, play dates, swimming, froyo, birthday celebrations…she’s an easy (and fun!) kid to please.

She’s not asking for the moon, though if she did, I’d probably try to find a way. πŸ˜‰

So I’m praying that God will give us an extra wonderful few months together…and also that He’ll redeem last summer.

It feels like we’ve lived a lifetime since last July. And, maybe in some ways, we have.

We’ve seen loss and walked grief. We’ve found joy on the other side of it…and days that still hurt and pinch in painful ways.

I suppose it might be how this life looks from here on out.

We’ve found ways to surrender dreams and keep walking with Him. And Trust.

That’s been the hardest part of it.

But in the midst, there’s been so much good. And He has been good.

The other day my girl was picking “all the pretty yellow flowers” in our yard, giving them to me one by one. And I thought about how God has been so good about giving us those pieces of tangible beauty despite the pain of the journey…a verse, a text, a prayer, a flower, a surprise coffee from a friend, sweet time with my hubby and girl, friends who have loved us so well.

We’re really blessed…even if there are days when it’s hard to see purpose.

And I hope this Friday morning finds you counting your blessings, too. Thanks for being here, even when I take huge, bloggy vacations. πŸ˜‰

Sig