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

On Life and Road Trips (and Dill Pickle Peanuts)

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

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

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

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

It’s definitely time to talk again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Distance is hard, and I miss them already.

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

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

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

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

Sig

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

Sig

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. :)

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.) 😉

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.) 😉

Love, Mommy

Sig

Mission Moments: Redeeming Stories With Fair Trade Friday

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I love a good story.

While you’ll often find me with my nose buried in a good book, my favorite kind of story is one of redemption, one where God takes a seemingly hopeless situation and turns it into something beautiful.

I’ve seen that in my own life, and I’m hoping you’ve seen it in yours, too.

About a year ago, I was introduced to Fair Trade Friday.

“FTF exists as an avenue for women to empower women.  We are tackling poverty through job opportunity and empowerment rather than enablement. 100% of the proceeds support the artisans, more than 500 women and their children from all over the world. FTF is a ministry of Mercy House Kenya, a non-profit organization.”

Fair Trade Friday offers a monthly subscription box of fair trade items and also an earring of the month club. You can also purchase items in the Mercy Shop. (Both subscriptions are currently wait-listed…BUT there are are openings often! So sign up, and you won’t be waiting too long.) :) And just a warning: if you go over there, be ready to fall in love with some beautiful pieces!

But the thing is…these awesome fair trade items are really only a tiny piece of the story…

I’ve had the privilege this summer to be part of the Fair Trade Friday blogging team, and I’m excited to be over at God-sized Dreams today, telling you a little more about this incredible organization and how its changing lives around the world. (And, there’s a fun giveaway, too!) I hope you’ll join me here to learn more about it.

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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.  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 “home”…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

April Friday Favorites {+ a GIVEAWAY!)

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

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

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

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

So let’s get to it?

OH. And I’m throwing in another category…EAT. Because…NYC and Philly. 😉

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

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

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

Read

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

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

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

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

Watch

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

He didn’t go for it.

Ahem.

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

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Wear

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

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

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

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

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

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Eat

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

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

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

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Go ahead. I’ll wait while you clean the drool off of your keyboard.
😉

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Listen

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

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

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

I also need to write more about the weekend.

So clearly, I have a lot of writing to do. Someone please make me do it? 😉

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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March Friday Favorites

Mae&MelBali final
I’m really loving writing this post each month. I love that Crystal decided to make it a link up. :) It’s fun to write about my favorite things, but it’s also a ton of fun to read about what everyone else is loving, too. Make sure you check out the link up over at her blog.

And I’m feeling pretty proud of myself this month, too…read on to hear about at least what I consider a major victory in my fashion life. Which may seem a little self centered, but hey…some days we have to celebrate the small things.

😉

Ok, that was goofy, but that tends to be me most days. In fact, I was just telling a friend that on that personality quiz, Which Friend Are You?…I am always, ALWAYS Phoebe. It must be my running. Or the random songs I sing…yeah, most likely that. 😉

Well, I can keep getting more random or I can tell you a little about some of the things that are topping my favorites list right now. Let’s do that before I confess that I had a handful of jellybeans for breakfast…

March books final
Read

I must be stuck in a huge rut, but I haven’t been doing a ton of reading this month, though I’m trying to be more consistent with Bible reading. My journaling Bible has helped a lot…and though the giveaway is over, you can read more about that journey here. It’s not a perfect one at all…but I’m thankful.

Also, I did finally start reading The Hardest Peace…the same weekend sweet Kara went to be with Jesus. It’s a hard read, and I’m taking it slowly because blubbering-Mel isn’t really a very functional Mel. This book is completely undoing me…and I’m also aching so much for her sweet family right now. Will you join me in prayer for them?

Also, a dear friend wrote the book, 31 Days to Coming Alive…and it’s so, SO good that I had to read it again. She’s just funny, insightful, and a breath of fresh air…you can nab the Kindle version for a steal, or you can get it in paperback, too. Seriously. Just buy it. (Also, I can’t wait to meet her in real life someday…I might have also invited myself to go to Nepal with her the next time she goes.) 😉

I’m determined to give myself some grace for the months when I feel restless and don’t read many words. But the ones I’ve read this month have been good.

Watch

Well, I’m not sure exactly what I’ve been doing with my time because watching anything hasn’t really happened, either.

Lately, hubby and I have spent a few nights each week watching an episode or two of Friends. (Thank you, Netflix.) We just laugh together, and it’s time well spent. I need it.

I also really want to see the new Cinderella, but I’m not sure that my very active four year-old would actually sit through a movie that is an hour and 53 minutes long. So I might be begging a grown up friend to go with me instead. :) Have you seen it? Is it as amazing as I’m hoping it is?

And I started watching God’s Not Dead the other night, and it’s awesome, but I also fell asleep halfway through because it was after 1 a.m. when I started it. (I just couldn’t sleep, and after an hour of praying for everything and everyone I could think of, I decided to watch a movie. Cue sleep.) 😉 I’m looking forward to finishing it this weekend. (And if you stream Netflix, it’s available there.) :)

Wear

Ok, Y’ALL.

LOOK.

earring selfie final
I. WORE. EARRINGS.

And now I’ll stop with the capital letters. 😉 I’m just really stinkin’ proud of myself for finally wearing them. I’m sorta lovin’ them, too.

And so, of course, I took a selfie. The big, dangly ones seem to be winning out right now, and these are definitely my favorite. My hubby bought them for me the weekend we went away to Galena, and I adore them, and I actually don’t think they take over my head.

So if they do, don’t tell me. 😉

I seem to be in love with dresses right now, too. I have no idea…NONE…what has happened to this girl with a twinge of rebel in her, this girl who scoffed at dresses for over a decade following Bible college. Apparently they got cute…and maybe I grew up a little, too. 😉 (And Target has a buy one, get one 50% off sale this week. That’s not really doing me any favors…)

Listen

This is always a hard one for me. So I’ll tell you a story instead. :)

Our due date was the 14th, and I knew it would be a really tough day. Because as much as we mamas know that a due date is really only a ballpark number, it was etched on my heart for months. I didn’t want to be all boo-hoo over it, but it was a really emotional week…one when I didn’t know what I needed but I’m thankful God did.

And then a friend just asked, Hey, what are you doing on Saturday?

And it meant the world that she just wanted to spend some time together. We ended up grabbing a coffee and wandering Goodwill (which is one of our favorite things to do) and mostly just talking…

and it was so, SO good for my heart.

It was also a reminder that sometimes we just need to take the time to listen and love and be. She’s in such a busy season of life, and she still took that time for a friend.

I’m so grateful for friendship and for a Father Who meets us where we are. Even when we feel lost.

And while that may not have been quite what the word Listen is intended for, it’s where I went with it today. Plus, time with a dear friend is always my favorite and it should make the list somehow. :)

I’m also missing the sound of the ocean, and that kind of fits under listening, too, doesn’t it? 😉 That’s why I chose the photo I did…I love looking at me and Mae in Bali…sigh. The beachThe tropics. Honestly, I’ve been pretty homesick for Indonesia lately. I’m a restless girl with nomadic tendencies who has chosen to put roots down…and that makes things tough some days. Loving two places…always missing one.

It’s the life He’s given us, though, and I’m grateful even when I’m homesick.

Anyway…there you go, at least for the month. :)

Lots of favorites…lots more I didn’t share, too.

What are you loving today?

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Lessons From Indonesia: Why We Probably Won’t Ever Rescue a Stray Cat Again

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo I decided that a sunrise photo from the upper floor in our Indo house was a much better picture for you today than one that actually goes with this story. I loved seeing this so many mornings…what a reminder that His mercies are new every single morning.

Oh, late-March Monday morning in the Chicago burbs.

You sure got me.

SNOW. Really?!

Ok, I might need to confess that my brain has this thing where when the calendar turns to March, I suddenly think that life should be daisies and green and NO. MORE. SNOW. (I realize that it IS still March in the Midwest.)

And alas, spring is not to be just yet, and here I sit looking out my dining room window, watching the inches of white fluff pile up onto Mae’s swing set, the same one she was finally able to play on in the last weeks after a frigid winter.

But I’ll get over it because there’s coffee and I’ve got words to share.

First of all, I took sort of a little unplanned hiatus from Indo stories the last two Mondays. My heart needed a break to process life, and it was time well spent.

Life is good, it really is, and I’ve got things to share. Soon. (AND they’re already written which is, like, a miracle.)

But today I want to keep doing what I said I was going to…sharing my stories and giving you a glimpse into Indo life. :)

This story is one that came up in a conversation with friends who were visiting last week. I warned hubby that I was going to share it…complete with maybe a little drama. 😉

His response? I’d expect nothing less from you.

He knows me well…and I love him. Truly.

And when I read this story, I’m reminded that I’m really blessed to be sharing this life with him.

Thanks for reading. :)

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And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.
Romans 8:28 (NIV)

Tobin and I laugh now about a lot of things that have happened to us…and not just the Indonesia stories, though those adventures do seem to provide quite a bit of entertainment for people even a few years after our return to the States.

I’ve come to accept the fact that adventure just seems to find us…something that I have truly learned to appreciate and value.

Because hindsight is 20/20, it’s always easier to look back and smile. For one thing, my husband is here, home with me, and our family is safe and healthy and happy.  But there were a few days in March of 2008 where every possible scenario ran through my head…the kinds when I feared a life without him.

So, it’s no secret to anyone who knows us that we love animals.

We brought home a golden retriever puppy when we’d barely been married a year. We had nothing but instant love for the newest member of our family…love to the point of, less than two years later, purchasing a one-way plane ticket to Indonesia for him. (Scoff not…at the time, it cost more to get him there than it cost for both of us. Combined.) But that’s just what you do for family.

Less than a year into our Indonesia life, we adopted Sammy…our other golden. Our lives were suddenly full of happy puppy days and tons of golden retriever love…we love it that way still, even now that we have a daughter, who only just makes the love overflow even more in our house.

Neither of us had ever been remotely interested in owning a cat though we have nothing against them. But in Indonesia, it almost felt like it made more sense than it didn’t. At our first house, especially, we had quite a rat problem that, thankfully, the dogs were able to somewhat keep under control, but we thought a cat might help keep them out of the house completely. Still, we never pursued actually getting one.

And then one Thursday night, my husband came home from the high school boys’ Bible study he co-led and immediately came to find me. Almost out of breath, he told me that he’d found a cat about a block away, huddled on the side of the road. It had been there for hours, just bait for another, bigger animal. He said it looked sick, and would I be okay if he decided to bring it home so we could take care of it?

I was a bit shocked that he asked, but I quickly agreed.

If only we had known what was coming.

That night we noticed, almost immediately, that there was something severely wrong with this cat. It could barely walk without falling over and would twitch almost constantly. We set it up with a litter box, food, and a blanket in a box in a spare bedroom and closed the door for the night.

I secretly wondered if there was a point to even trying to help it. The cat was in really bad shape, but we figured it wouldn’t hurt to see what happened for a few days.

Oh, a few days…we truly had no clue what those “few days” would actually look like.

The next morning Tobin was up early, checking on our new friend. He was sitting on the bed, holding the cat and petting it, when Sammy nosed his way into the bedroom, immediately frightening the cat.

The cat’s reaction? Was to sink its teeth deep into Tobin’s hand.

Here we are…5:30 a.m. on a Friday morning and dealing with a cat-from-who-knows-where bite.

Not good.

I immediately got on the internet, and…to this day I have no idea why…looked up symptoms for rabies. We always hear about the foaming mouth stuff when it comes to rabies…never the symptoms that precede it.

Guess what?

One of the early signs is neurological issues…including twitching.

We made a quick, somewhat frantic, call to our school PA and tried to come up with some type of plan.

Let’s recount the facts…Indonesia. Possible rabies. We had no idea what to do…with the responsibilities of life staring us down.

While I got ready for school (and desperately tried NOT to freak out) Tobin called around and found people to cover his classes. Following the orders of our PA, he hopped on his bike and drove to the nearest hospital where rabies vaccinations could possibly be available.

I went to school; I had every intention of keeping life that day as normal as possible, but my emotions were exploding so much I could barely stay calm. After teacher devotions that morning, a friend offered to take my class for the first few minutes so I could get myself together.

And I finally cried.

Once I got the tears out, I went downstairs to my classroom, streaky eyes and all. My students, ever the prayer-warriors, wanted nothing more than to pray for my husband, and so that’s what we spent our Bible class doing. :)

Tobin showed up later that morning with the news that he hadn’t been able to find a locally made rabies vaccination, but that the hospital had given him a Tetanus shot.

I wanted to be snarky and make a comment about the fact that a TETANUS SHOT probably wouldn’t do much good, but I held it in.

I knew he was panicking, too…we just had different ways of showing it.

He had found an imported-from-France rabies vaccination in town, but our out-of-pocket expenses would be over $500…and so he was trying to find a local one first. Knowing that he had a window of 24 hours, he spent most of the day looking but eventually went back that afternoon for the imported vaccination.

So…rabies vaccination: check.

We thought it was over. (Well, once he finished the series of shots that would happen over the course of the next few weeks.)

But during a school music concert that evening, Tobin noticed something.

A redness creeping up his arm.

At the suggestion, again, of our PA, he took a Sharpie and marked how far the redness had spread. We were alarmed, a few hours later, to discover that the infection was progressing at a scary speed.

Oral antibiotics were begun the next day, but the redness continued to creep…and we were starting to worry.

In almost a curious way, Tobin asked our PA, So what will happen with this infection if we let it go? Will it eventually just go away?

She wasn’t being cruel, just direct, but her reply? No, it will kill you faster than the rabies.

We now realized that we needed to get this thing under control. But the problem was that every option was being tried. It wasn’t like people were sitting around watching Tobin get worse. They were trying everything.

And speaking of control, I was having major control issues by now.

Because cat bites, international medical care or the lack thereof…they don’t teach you how to deal with those things is training.

And I was terrified.

There was nothing I could do to help my husband, and I was scared he might not be okay.

As the oral antibiotics continued to fail, our PA finally found a series of antibiotic shots that, thankfully, worked.

The red that had crept halfway to Tobin’s elbow by this time was finally stopping and even receding a bit.

After several more shots and a few more weeks, the swelling and red were completely gone though Tobin still had a scar from the bite.

And we were so incredibly thankful…like the kind where I really can’t express our thankfulness in words.

I never imagined we’d be in a place like that…a place where something happened and there was nothing we could humanly do to help.

God taught me a lot during those few days. That He’s got it worked out, and when things seem hopeless, He’s still got a plan.

No matter where we are.

Oh, and the imported shot that cost us $500? Insurance paid every single penny. God is pretty amazing, isn’t He? :)

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The stories I’m sharing are about a place and people who are in my heart forever…I never want to paint a negative image of them or their amazing country. Therefore, I ask for your grace over each word and story. I pray that I share these words well.

The above is an excerpt from Lessons From Indonesia: On Life, Love, and Squatty Potties. All words and stories are my own and are copyrighted through Amazon publishing. Feel free to read them, but please ask for permission before sharing them. :)

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