Thoughts and Favorites (+ a Giveaway!)

almostspring

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

๐Ÿ˜‰

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

Time can slow down Any. Day.

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

You’ve been warned. ๐Ÿ˜€

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

Mac in stroller

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

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

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

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

READ

I’ve been reading a lot.

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEAR

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

cutehoodie

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

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

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

FTF earrings

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

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

WATCH

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

Maybe I’m getting old. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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

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

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

GO

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

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

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

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

indo green

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

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

Forever.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wanna win?

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

That’s it.

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

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September Friday Favorites (+ a GIVEAWAY)

onecrunchyleaf final

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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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? ๐Ÿ˜‰

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.)

๐Ÿ˜‰

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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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.) :)

dresspeek final

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!) :)

coffee+jesus selfie final

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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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

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Mission Moments: Redeeming Stories With Fair Trade Friday

FTFheadband final

I love a good story.

While youโ€™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.

Iโ€™ve seen that in my own life, and Iโ€™m hoping youโ€™ve seen it in yours, too.

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

โ€œFTF exists as an avenue for women to empower women.ย  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.โ€

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-listedโ€ฆBUT there are are openings often! So sign up, and you wonโ€™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 isโ€ฆthese 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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May Friday Favorites (+ a Giveaway!)

meandmygirl final

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.

๐Ÿ˜‰

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,ย Mommy, let’s take a selfie and make our glamorous faces! (At least one of us has it…) ๐Ÿ˜‰

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. ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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.) ๐Ÿ˜‰

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. ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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.) ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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.) ๐Ÿ˜‰

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.ย 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? ๐Ÿ˜‰

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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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.ย :)

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!) :)

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April Friday Favorites {+ a GIVEAWAY!)

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

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

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

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

So let’s get to it?

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

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

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

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

Read

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

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

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

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

Watch

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

He didn’t go for it.

Ahem.

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

jonathancrombiephoto credit: IMDB

Wear

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

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

another earring selfie final
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.

donut&coffee final 2
Go ahead. I’ll wait while you clean the drool off of your keyboard.
๐Ÿ˜‰

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Listen

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

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

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

I also need to write more about the weekend.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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When Doodling Brings You Closer to God {and a GIVEAWAY!!!}

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This is a hard thing to admit, but I struggle opening my Bible some days.

Many of the days.

Itโ€™s been a struggle for years, and I attribute-without-blaming it to the fact that I attended a Bible college for five years, where the Bible inadvertently became more of a textbook than a gift.

Iโ€™ll never forget the first week of my freshman yearโ€ฆthe one when we were required to read the entire book of Genesis. I caught myself audibly grumbling as I stayed up well past midnight to finish the required reading. While Iโ€™d never been super-crazy-Bible-reading woman, I was pretty good about reading my Bible…and I sure wasnโ€™t enjoying any of this.

Plus, it was a total โ€œOn Your Honorโ€ systemโ€ฆdid I read it? Yes or No. Circle one.

Oh, goodness, there were days when I was tempted to fudgeโ€ฆbut who lies at a Bible college?

And so I squandered sleep and fun and many other things in order to tell the truth about my Bible reading.

And while the whole required reading thing isnโ€™t what this post is about, I know itโ€™s a lot of the reason why I still donโ€™t always view reading the Bible as an enjoyable activity.

It’s just that I donโ€™t always crave God’s Word like I should.

Today I’m over at God-sized Dreams, sharing about a surprising way I’ve learned to enjoy reading the Bible again. Will you join me there?

And, P.S. There’s also a giveaway you won’t want to miss!

๐Ÿ˜‰

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On Coming Out of Hiding… {and a GIVEAWAY}

fair trade friday final(Ok, so I wrote this yesterday. Words are still good a day later, right?) ๐Ÿ˜‰

It’s been a long time since I’ve had the urge to just sit down and write.

Write with no plan, no agenda, no pressure of publishing something.

It feels really good.

I think part of it is that we’re hunkered down on a below-zero day with no school (I think this is day FIVE in 2015?) and there’s not a lot to do. We’ve built a fort and played games and it’s already the incredibly late hour of 8:30 in the morning. I finally talked my girl into finishing her breakfast inside the fort while watching a movie. (Don’t judge.)

And, in a strange way, I feel like I’m coming home when I sit down at the keyboard and tap out thoughts. I’m not sure where we’re going with all of it exactly, but I’m good with that. Sometimes coffee and a few free moments is all I need to just…be.

The truth is that I’ve hidden myself somewhat in the last month or so. I’ve made it to the blog on Mondays long enough to dash off a few thoughts and copy/paste a chapter of my Indonesia story. By the way, thank you for reading. Seriously, from the bottom of my heart. It brings tears to my eyes when someone tells me they’re enjoying my words. This process has given me a whole new kind of respect and admiration for authors who hand chunks of their heart on paper over to people to critique. Scary.

So it’s been easy, in this season, to hide and pretend a lot of things. So many of my dear friends know me more through computer screens than they do in real life…and so I can easily share what I want to and leave the rest buried somewhere, probably under a pile in my messy house. (Why is it that with a four year-old, my house is never clean?)

๐Ÿ˜‰

I don’t necessarily want to hide…I just want to figure out when it’s ok to share and when it’s not. That’s something I’ve been trying to do for the last year. Pretty sure I’m still in the figuring-out mode.

But, in no particular order…a few things. An update. And maybe a giveaway because I love you all…just for being here and reading my really, really random ramblings. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Maelie is growing up so fast. People warned me, and I always knew it in the back of my mind. But, seriously. I’ve got an almost-five year old on my hands, and it’s wonderful and heart-wrenching all at the same time. Seeing her become the person God intended is awesome…and knowing that the years are flying makes me cry. Right now, we’re just trying to soak up the sweet moments and beauty in the normal days. She’s wonderful. Well, most of the time. Let’s not forget that she IS four. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Our hearts are finding a new normal. Not gonna lie, it’s been a rough year…yearish. Whatever. I’m not even sure what constitutes a year anymore. Our house is just a lot quieter now. It’s amazing the change and silence that two dogs to one brought. Oh, we miss our Andre boy and the way he loved winter and snow…and life. His doggie dish still sits in its place in the corner, and I sometimes wonder if it’s time to put it away. But it hasn’t been that time yet, and so we just leave it and smile at the memories when we see it. The tears are fewer now, and while that hurts, it’s right. He wouldn’t want us to cry forever.

And along with loss, her due date is coming up. Too soon, and it’s always on my mind. I find myself wishing for a hugely swollen belly and the hope that would have been here so soon. It’s hard when there are so many reminders of what would have been…and instead we still try to wrap our minds around what won’t ever be, at least here on earth. It’s a tough season and the tears really aren’t fewer right now. Not when it comes to the little one we ache for so much.

And yet there’s still joy…truthfully, it’s been tough to believe that God is good this year. It feels like His goodness has been wrapped in pain and we’re struggling to see purpose. The one thing we do still see is the little joys He brings…through a silly-sweet girl, a doggie cuddle, words from a friend, a moment that brings a smile. We’ve had to be intentional about finding joy…and maybe He wanted that for us.

Our family is doing ok. Even better than that, most days. Sometimes I think Tobin and I are at a better place than we’ve ever been…and I have to be careful saying that because I know we will always…every single day…have to work at this thing called marriage. It’s not easy, and neither is this journey of parenting. But it’s a tough kind of wonderful, and though life doesn’t look at all like we’d dreamed, we’re finding some pretty incredible beauty in what God has given.

Finding the gifts in today…that’s what we’re trying to do.

And I just feel like giving away a gift. Because I’m Mel, because it’s what I do, and because this is really, really beautiful. (I’m not sure why I’m not keeping it for myself, but I’m not.)

About a month ago, I ordered a box from Fair Trade Friday. I ordered the trial box (just a one-time), which you can find here…and then I loved it so much that I signed up for the monthly subscription (which is even cheaper with free shipping!), so you can bet that there will be more goodies on their way to me! For $35 + shipping, I got a bag of fun surprises. (Picture at the top of this post.) :)

The yellow and white key fob, I gave away to my dear friend. :) The little bracelet I kept for myself. The necklace…I have to confess, it was a little funky for me (which is surprising because I breathe funky) but I adore the beads and the colors, so I’m restringing it so I can wear it and be reminded of some amazing women around the world and how God is reshaping their lives and teaching them that they have value.

And the last thing? This gorgeous, gray hat with a flower…seriously, I adore it. But since I crochet, I also have A. LOT. OF. HATS.ย And so I’m going to give the hat away, along with a $10 Starbucks card, because it’s cold right now, and all I can think of is being warm and drinking coffee.

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To enter…leave me a comment. Tell me something that brings you joy. I’ll pick a winner on Monday and email you. And that will be that…cute hat and a gift card on its way to you. (U.S. residents only, please.)

I hope this mass of words finds you all well…sending virtual hugs. Thanks for being here. :)

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January Friday Favorites {and a GIVEAWAY!}

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Ok, seriously, y’all. I win.

It is 3:40 a.m. and my eyes are W.I.D.E. O.P.E.N. so I win something.

I’m not sure what that is exactly…perhaps an extra cup of coffee?ย Because I’m definitely going to need it. ๐Ÿ˜‰

And you can definitely believe that the coffee is flowing this morning, thanks to my new, awesome-and-slightly-obnoxious-aqua-colored, Keurig. Yes, friends…dreams do come true in the form of coffee makers. I finally have my Keurig!!!

Cue happy dance at 3:45 a.m. ๐Ÿ˜‰

So I am completely in love with the Friday Favorites linkup my awesome sister, Crystal, is hosting at the end of each month. I just HAD to participate! Plus, it’s always fun to share my favorite things with you anyway. And I love to give things away because giving gifts is my love language times about a thousand. (Ok, ok, yes cake is my love language, too. And if you’d like to send me some, Please. Do.)

Here ya go…my current favorites. And, keep reading for a fun giveaway at the end! :)

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Read.

I love books. A little too much, perhaps, which I would realize if I took take the time to count the number in my house or on my Kindle. I guess if I’m going to do something with my free hours, (haha…free?!) reading is potentially the best thing I could be doing. Or, one of them.

The Best Yes (Lysa TerKeurst) is the book my Thursday Morning Moms’ Bible Study is going through. It’s good stuff, and I love the discussions we have. I feel like that book choice was a God-thing as I’m really trying to have better priorities.

Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet: Tasting the Goodness of God in All Things (Sara Hagerty) Oh, good grief, I have cried more than I haven’t cried reading this. (I even broke down in front of the neighbors’ dog during the first chapter and freaked her out a little. Not kidding here.) I’m about halfway done, and it has been a process…each chapter leaves me feeling wrecked and it takes a day or two to be able to pick it up again. And, yet? One of the best I’ve ever read. I can’t put it down even when I can’t pick it up.

The Hardest Peace (Kara Tippetts)ย I’ve had this book for a few months, but it’s honestly taken me awhile to begin. It’s just been a hard season, and I knew this would be an emotional read. I’m not too far into it yet, which means I’ll need to give you an update next month. Also, would you say a prayer for the author, Kara, and her family? You can catch up on a bit of her story here. Also, the Kindle version of this book is just $2.99.

Back Home (Michelle Magorian) I loved the Disney Channel movie in the early 90’s and can’t find it anywhere on DVD. So I figured the next best thing was getting the book. (I’m a sucker for the used books on Amazon that cost a penny plus some shipping.) Good book and it gives me a change of pace. I normally prefer nonfiction, but occasionally I’ll pick up a fiction book. I like this one.

Watch

I’m not a big TV watcher…I’m just not. Sometimes I’ll turn on a movie just to fill the empty. (Yeah, I’m an extrovert and noise is my friend.) But other than a few guilty pleasures that go in spurts, I’m pretty out of it most of the time when it comes to TV.

Also, Tobin and I have been discussing the kind of things that happen on our TV screen, and we want to be careful and show integrity whether our daughter is in the room or not. We have seen a couple good movies lately, though. :)

The Impossible was a really intense movie we watched early this month. It’s about the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and a family that miraculously survives it. It’s powerful and a tear jerker and makes my heart pinch because you all know how SE Asia holds such a special place in my heart.

The Good Lie was a powerful one, too. I watched it twice in the span of 24 hours because I wanted to get my money’s worth from my Amazon rental…and because I wanted my hubby to see it, too. (I watched it alone the first time.) It’s one of those that made us stop and remember how blessed we really are. There is suffering in the world that we cannot even imagine…it made me look at some things differently. Just be warned…I’m pretty sure I cried all over the couch the first time. (You’ll need tissues.)

Also, I’ll be watching the Super Bowl. With friends, and I honestly like that part more than the actual game. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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One thing I’ve really started loving lately is eye makeup, and Ipsy has helped with that.

Ipsy a monthly subscription for $10 (free shipping!) and you get a beauty bag with 4-5 items, some sample-size and some full-size. My latest bag (picture above) was awesome…and, actually, I haven’t had a bad bag yet. They sent me some gel eyeliner and an eyeliner brush…those were my favorites this month, some eye shadow, eye cream, and some sheer glo cream. (That was the only product in my bag I was a little meh about…I’m not exactly sure what to do with it. But it was sample size, so I didn’t care too much.) ๐Ÿ˜‰

To sign up, you answer some questions about your preferences and are sent the items from a pool of 20-30ish different options, based on the products available for the month. You don’t get to choose, but honestly, the items are so awesome that I’d be happy with almost all of them. And for a cool $10? What’s not to love?! (But be aware that there is a wait list for this. There are things you can do to bypass the wait list, but I chose not to and waited about two months.) And if you sign up through this link, I get some bonus points for freebies. If you feel so inclined. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Also, I’ve been eying this dress…but alas. I don’t really need another dress. It is cute, though. (And maybe my hubby will read my blog today, too…size M, darling.) ๐Ÿ˜‰

Listen

I’m a music girl, and there are a lot of songs that have resonated lately. This one is probably one of my favorites…and I need the reminder on a daily basis, too. Have a listen. :)

And…A GIVEAWAY!

So I kind of love to give gifts. I just do. Plus, it’s been a long time since I’ve given anything away here.

So…leave me a comment and share one of your current favorite things with me, and I’ll enter you to win a $15 Amazon gift card so you can order a new book or watch a new movie or find some new makeup. Something fun. :)

I’ll email the winner on Monday. Good luck! :)

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A New Space for A New Journey (And a GIVEAWAY!)

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For years, I’ve stared at it.

The boring space that is A Barefoot Life. Really, friends…it was boring. I’m just being real here. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Maybe what I wrote wasn’t always boring, but there’s so much that’s appealing about a pretty blog. And as a polka dot lovin’, flip-flop wearing, fashion-adoring girl, it just seems right that the place I live online should be cute too, huh? Can I get an AMEN?! ๐Ÿ˜‰

And my sweet friend, Lisa? Well, one of her callings in life, at least according to me ๐Ÿ˜‰ is to design pretty blogs. And she did an amazing job, didn’t she?!

Oh, I’ll be coming back here all day (and probably all of forever…) just to gaze at the beauty that SO not my gift at all. I’m so very thankful that someone I love is gifted in this area. :)

In thinking through my blog redesign…the one I’ve been wanting to do for a year, at least…it was hard. I had no direction because I was going through that kind of season. You know, one of those.

What’s my purpose? Who am I exactly in this great, big, bloggy world?

Because let’s be honest, friends…this bloggy world IS big. And it IS easy to feel like a tiny drop in a sandbox bucket.

Over the past few months, God has been whispering something. It’s not always been something I’ve wanted to hear, but He’s been pretty loud and clear.

He’s not calling me to write a book (right now, at least) or to be some big, awesome, word star. He’s just calling me to share my words.

Beautiful or messy, profound or just chatter…for the people who need them. And that probably won’t be the entire world…though that would always be nice. :)

He just wants me…Mel. My heart, my willingness, my words…for me to take those and use them for Him and let Him do the rest.

It has taken a long time for me to embrace that and not just be ok with it.

But today?

Today I’m completely owning my new taglineLive the Adventure. Tell the Stories. (<====Tweet this!)ย 

And there’s actually a funny story about how He gave me that tagline. It was somewhere, in the air, between Doha and Chicago, as I fretted over situations and processed a dream that had come to an end when I opened my email during our layover in Qatar. It was in those moments of grief and even a little fear that I heard my Father whisper…

Live the Adventure…it’s what I’ve created life to be. And then Tell the Stories…the people you love, the places you go, all I’m doing in you.

That’s it. And I kind of love it. A LOT.

So welcome to my new place…same site but a whole lot prettier. Thanks again, sweet Lisa! :)ย 

I can’t wait to share the adventures with you…the ones that happen as I slowly traipse my way around the world and the even better ones that happen in my own backyard.

I hope you’ll join me for all of them!

Here’s to a new space for a new journey…I can’t wait! :)ย (<====Tweet this!)

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I’m so glad you’re here, and I want to say thank you with a happy, fun, summer giveaway. Use the rafflecopter below to enter to win some of my favorite things! (Sorry…U.S. residents only.) :)ย 

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First up…what’s summer without COFFEE? (Really, what is LIFE without coffee? But we might have to go into that another day…) ๐Ÿ˜‰ And, psst…Dunkin’ Donuts has any-size iced coffee for 99 cents all summer from 3-6 pm! WooHoo!) And if, for some sad reason, you are nowhere near a Dunkin’, let me know, and I’ll throw in $10 so you can get yourself some good coffee. It’s not like that gift card won’t get used around here…ahem. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Finding Spiritual Whitespace…it’s one of my new favorite books. In fact, I’m reading through it for the second time so I can journal it out in detail. (I never do that with books. I’m doing that with this one, though…it’s that good.) It will probably take me six blog posts to talk about why it’s my favorite. But if you’re craving rest and intimacy with Jesus, you need to read this…Bonnie shares a journey of heartbreak, healing, and hope. It’s inspiring. And I think, no matter who you are or where you are in life, her words will resonate somehow.

My sweet friend and blog designer also has an Etsy store with some of the most beautiful prints I’ve ever seen, and Lisa is offering a free print from her store to the winner…you get to choose! Be sure to hop over and check out her amazing designs…they are seriously gorgeous. (I need more walls in my house just so I can buy more of her prints!) And as a bonus…the money raised from all sales goes to help fund her family’s adoption. How cool is that?! :)

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Last up…check out one of my new favorites. Ok, so it took me a loooooong time to embrace dresses and skirts again…five years of being forced to wear them might do that to just about any woman. But gotta admit that they’ve stolen my heart this summer, and Target has some cuuuuute dresses right now…this one was an awesome $11.ย Ok, ok, I had a $5 gift card and got a sweet 20% off with Cartwheel. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Take this $20 gift card and pick up something fun to wear. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Thanks again for being here, friends. I wouldn’t want to walk this journey with anyone else!

(And I’ll pick a winner on Sunday. Or, rather, Rafflecopter will.) ๐Ÿ˜‰

Photo credit: plugged mind

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Giveaway Winner!

So we, rather unceremoniously, chose the giveaway winner in our house this afternoon.

I had this really cute plan of letting Maelie choose the winner and then I wanted to take her picture with the winning piece of paper.

Guess what? She’s two and was having…um, a moment. :)

So, instead, my awesome hubby put his hand in the bowl of little pieces of paper and drew the winner.

I suppose you’re wondering who that is? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Congratulations, Kandi! I’ll be contacting you by email to get your address.

Thanks to all of you who entered and blessings to each of you as you pursue your dreams! I loved reading about the desires God has placed in your hearts. :)

And if you’d like to purchase Holley’s book, you can find it here.

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