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

changing leaves final

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wild in the Hollow final

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

1st day cute final

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

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

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

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

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

tattoo final

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sig

Just Living

day lilies 2 final

This past Wednesday came and went.

All day, and for a few days before, I’d fought for words and thoughts and prayers, trying to find some way…any way…to put it all into something that made sense.

I felt obligated to mark the day with a blog post, and yet as the words didn’t come and didn’t come and didn’t come some more, I knew it wasn’t going to happen.

It bothered me all day long that, as a writer, I couldn’t find words.

You see, Wednesday was a year since July 22, 2014…the day we lost our sweet baby, Carly. And all I wanted her to know was that we think of her. We remember her. Every single day.

I’d only carried her for several, too-short weeks, and yet the loss was crushing. I remember lying on a bed in the ER, shivering under a blanket, wondering how we would ever go on, how there would ever be joy again.

To be honest, in the days and weeks that followed, there wasn’t a lot of much. I remember the moments of forcing myself to just do what came next, even if it was the most necessary thing like getting a drink of water for my daughter or taking a shower or making ourselves walk outside.

Trying to just live…it was harder than I’d ever expected it to be. But I kept doing the next thing. We all did because we had to.

And all of those next-things somehow added up…and we found ourselves at a year later. My hubby and I were talking about how it’s hard to pinpoint any particular event that happened this past year…it all feels like a crazy, sad blur and tangle of emotions and life.

It wasn’t where we wanted to be, and in many ways, I feel like it was a wasted year. But it wasn’t.

Life still went on.

Our sweet Mae went to PK4. She made new friends, had new experiences, learned so much, made some wonderful memories…and thrived.

As a couple and a family, we managed to walk grief...and even if there were some hard, hard days, we grew closer together instead of letting it tear us apart.

We said a hard goodbye to our sweet doggie boy, and we found ways to keep going after that, too.

We kept following Him, and though it was tempting to walk away sometimes, we chose to trust God and the plan He has for us even if we don’t see or understand any of it.

We found strength in community…in those who loved us well and were willing to laugh, cry, and sometimes…just be…with us.

We found ways to love and laugh and grieve and hope…and to let all of those happen at the same time because sometimes life just has to look like that. And we also decided that it’s ok when life does look like that.

And at the end of Wednesday, I looked back at my day and realized something.

I’d fought for words all day. In between the early morning Bible reading and trying-to-write at my picnic table, the coffee at that same table with a friend, lunch and a long, heart-chat (yep, at the table!) with another dear friend, in a meeting, in a stop at the store, in painting a huge flower on that table (more on that later…) in letting go of Carly’s birthday balloons at the river, in eating cupcakes and singing a sweet, sad, Happy Birthday

I’d been trying to write.

And, instead, I realized I’d been living. We’d been living.

Despite the pain, God is giving us the strength to live our lives…and live them well.

Maybe it sounds small, but I think just living…it might be the best way we can honor her. Remember her. And let her know that she’s still a part of us.

Happy first birthday in heaven, sweet Carly Kristine. We love you and we miss you so much.

Sig

Just Life on a Friday

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

Something.

Anything.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s been the hardest part of it.

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

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

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

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

Sig

Thinking of Her Today

MelRiver final
I’ve sort of been pounding this post out, over and over, in my head for quite some time. Except it’s changed every single time, and I’ve struggled to find the perfect words for it all.

So I’m just going to let go of the perfect and write.

I know that none of this is going to be wrapped up in a pretty package with a sparkly bow. Sometimes life just doesn’t look like that, even with a sparkle-lovin’ four year-old in the house.

But I’ll try.

Today is our due date for her.Β March 14, 2015. And while I know that doesn’t necessarily mean anything, I know it’s a date that is forever etched on the heart of this mama who carried her little one for much too short of a time.

Today, tomorrow…this weekend, this month, even this past year. It’s all been a hard sort of grief…the what-would-have-been kind that creates an aching hole and takes my breath away. It comes and goes and it usually comes at the most inconvenient times. (Like when I’m walking through a store or when I’m putting on my eye makeup or when I’m sitting in church with no tissues. Especially then and holy snot. Seriously. This should be a lesson learned.) πŸ˜‰

I don’t suppose I really expected these days to be easy. I mean, if things had gone the way I wanted, I’d be cuddling our sweet newborn right now instead of writing about how much I wish I was.

But today my jeans fit (well, mostly) and my sleep is less-interrupted and my arms are empty.

And there are many days when I fall into my Father’s arms and tell him what I’ve said (or tried to say) since it all happened…that it’s ok and that I’ll trust Him. But there are also days when it’s really hard to do that, and I still wonder. A lot.

Because this wasn’t my plan, and the longer and harder I think about an entire lifetime without our sweet Carly, the more painful the ache becomes.

I’ve tried to fill up life as much as possible lately. We went away last weekend and I’ve tried to stay busy this week. I’ve got plans with a friend and some time with my hubby and Mae today, friends coming over for dinner tomorrow night, and more friends visiting next week.

Life is still full and it’s still beautiful, but there are also days when the hole is so present…like today.

I’ve told myself that if I get through the weekend, I will have survived one of the hardest weeks of my life. I’m not a dummy…I know I won’t magically feel better the moment the sun is up on Monday morning, but there’s a piece of me that says I might find a little more hope.

I might. I even think I will.

But right now…well, my family is walking a hard, grief path. We’re breathing through it and finding smiles and even laughs…knowing that she’s in heaven smiling and laughing and probably chasing Andre. (Or, being chased by him.) πŸ˜‰

And I’ve been trying to find ways to honor her because that’s what we should do. The fact that we never held her on earth doesn’t mean she’s any less our daughter.

We hung a special print in our house, and I’ll tell you about it another day because I want to, but that story needs to wait.

I framed a quote to sit next to the stuffed lamb we bought for her, the one Maelie hugs every day and Oh. My. Heart. It breaks and it melts.

I bought some paper lanterns to let go, but I’m scared we’re going to set something on fire…so we’ll see if that one actually happens. πŸ˜‰

And we pray about her and ask God to hold her for us since we can’t be there to cuddle her and cover her with the millions of kisses she would have had.

And none of it feels perfect, but it feels right.

We’re honoring her the best we know how.

Today is my due date. Would you lift us up? This grief stuff…it’s hard.

But we also know our Father is holding us. And holding her, too.

And there’s peace in that…and the promise that one day we’ll hold her, too.

quote for baby Carly final 2 watermark

Sig

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?) πŸ˜‰

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?)

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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. πŸ˜‰

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. πŸ˜‰

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.Β 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.

fair trade friday hat final
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. :)

Sig

See Ya, 2014

2014 heart final 2
It’s safe to say, almost-a-million times, that I’ve put off writing this post.

I’ve been aware for several weeks that I needed to sit down and, somehow, find a way to put 2014 into words.

Words that are honest but also bring hope. Words that remember but also look forward.

It’s proven to be much more of a challenge than I thought it would be.

But that’s ok. Today I’m finding you and my blog dashboard after an embarrassingly-late sleep in and two large mugs of coffee…and I think I’m ready to share.

So let’s get to it. Though I am extremely tempted to refill the coffee mug yet again before I chat. We’ll see. πŸ˜‰

When I look back a year and read through some of the things I shared with you all, I realize something. I had so much hope for 2014.

That hope looked like a lot of things. Restoration in relationships, especially my marriage. Hopefully an addition to our family. Topping it all off with a book deal.

I like to dream big. :)

When I make that list of things, there is a certain semblance of failure that threatens to creep into my heart. And while I won’t let it creep in, the tears are definitely creeping toward the corners of my eyes, and I have to blink them back.

There’s so much I wanted from 2014…so much that wasn’t just NOT given, but was also taken. It’s easy to dwell on those things and let them define a year.

A year. The truth is that we had a packed year. A crazy one. A difficult one. And there was a lot of good in the middle of it.

This was the year we finally got to take our sweet girl to our second home. I still can’t stop the tears of joy when I think of the first time we introduced her to strawberry juice or she rode on a motorbike or she gave our beloved pembantu a hug. We had dreamed of being back in Indonesia as a family, and I still have to pinch myself when I remember that we actually got to go.

IndoMotor
There were also some pretty sweet reunions with some of my favorite sisters.
To steal a line from Logan…or was it Sarah Mae? πŸ˜‰ It still blows my mind that the internet gave me some of my best friends. They are truly a gift, one I am so grateful for.

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And part of me wishes I could just stop there so you could all see the good…but I know I need to keep going and keep it real. :) Because there are other pieces of the year that need to be shared…

And they SHOULD be remembered because they’re forever-pieces of the story He’s writing.

The hope our family had of another child broke to shards on a sunny July morning, and it has taken months to even begin to pick up the pieces. Our hearts still ache and the tears still fall, and while I will make no apologies for those things, I also know that I need to hold onto Hope and continue to walk forward. It’s there, even when I don’t see it, and I need to claim the promise that His plans for me are good ones.

We said a heart-wrenching goodbye in September to a beloved member of our family. It was a sudden, painful blow, and while there are so many good memories of the wonderful 11 years with our sweet boy, we just hurt. Still. And we accept that He gives and takes away, but that isn’t without tears. And those tears just have to be part of life for this season as we move forward and love the ones we hold in our arms.

family-final
And maybe a silver lining in all of this loss is that God has knit us closer together as a family and especially in our marriage.
We have clung to each other as we’ve tried to cling to Him. God has deepened our marriage, forcing us to walk with HimΒ together on the many, many days we don’t see. We love each other more deeply (though we can still argue with the best of them!) and we choose to walk this life together, now, more than ever…even if there are days when it’s tempting to throw it all away.

And we also hold on a little tighter to our girl, too…though she did give me a reminder the other day. Mommy, soon I’ll be too big for your arms! Never, my girl. Never. πŸ˜‰

Mae&Mommy final
I’ve also watched Him take the book-writing dream and say a firm, No.
That one…it’s hard to swallow. Writing and publishing a book has been so much of what I’ve let define me as a blogger…and yet, it’s not what He’s calling me to.

That makes me cry, kind of a lot. And yet, through so many things, I know He is just saying that it isn’t what I should be doing right now. I’m being called to a season of depth and connection, not building and branding. I’ve needed to let go…for awhile now. And as I’ve slowly accepted that and loosened my grip, I can’t tell you how much peace it’s brought. How much pressure it’s released.

And it’s also confirmed something in my heart.

You see, I want to tell my stories. I don’t want to sell them.

And so…you’re all going to be getting them this year. On the blog. Every Monday, I’m going to share one. Unedited, raw, heart-stories that come from a tender place in my soul from an unforgettable time in my life. Stories He gave me that I want to share.

I lived them, and so it’s time to tell them. I hope you’ll be back every week to read them. :)

Honestly, it’s easy to read all of this and and wonder how on earth so many paradoxes can coexist.Β In some ways I’m shaking my head…but mostly, I have to remind myself that I don’t see the whole picture. Oh, I’d love to…but alas. πŸ˜‰

If I’m being completely honest here, it’s tempting to say (audibly AND loudly), See ya, 2014. Don’t let the door smack you too hard in the #!* on the way out!

Brutal honesty here, folks. πŸ˜‰

And yet, I want to walk away from this year, knowing without a doubt that none of it was wasted.

I see it so much already…in the prospect of sharing my words for the simple fact that I can tell my stories, in expectantly looking forward to the good He holds for us, in the ways He is taking the heartbreak and making something beautiful from it.

It’s what I hope for in 2015.

Which brings us TO 2015…at least tomorrow. Will you come back? I want to tell you about the word He’s given me for the year.

It holds Hope, a different kind. One that I think He might be using to knit our hearts back together.

I truly love each one of you who have spent even a few seconds here. Thank you for that, from the bottom of my heart.

Goodbye, 2014.

(And have a Happy New Year, my friends!) :)

Photo Credits: Kim Deloach Photography, Alan Levine

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I’m linking up at God-sized Dreams today as part of our One Year Celebration…seriously, can you believe it’s been a year?! We’re all sharing stories and updates from what God has done this year…so hop on over and join us. :)

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I’m also linking up with my sweet friend, Kristin, for Three Word Wednesday. :)

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In the Fog

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I’m sitting here, on an early morning, with my cup of coffee and words swirling around in my brain…words that have yet to make it anywhere else.

I might also be thinking about the scores of Christmas cookies we have left from our neighborhood party on Sunday and wondering if frosted gingerbread cookies qualify as breakfast. I mean, ginger is a root which totally means it’s in the vegetable category, right? Therefore, the cookies = veggies.

I love my reasoning.

So it’s almost Christmas, and other than sending out a card, I feel like I’ve been sort of bah-humbug about the whole season, even if I’m really not. I truly do love Christmas. However, I’m also blaming the fact that there’s no snow…and while I don’t always love it, it doesn’t ever feel completely like Christmas without a blanket of white.

LET. IT. SNOW. Dear God, please let it snow. (Ok, y’all. Write this down. Take a screenshot. Do SOMETHING. Because those words will probably never be uttered from my fingertips again. Ever.) πŸ˜‰

So…life. Where we are. What’s up. It’s heavy, but I want to talk about it today…I guess because I’m finding that sharing what’s on my heart is one of the most healing things right now.

To say that it feels like we’ve been in a fog the last few months feels about right…so we’re gonna go with that this morning and see where it takes us. :)

I love where we live. I’ve talked about this before, but how we ended up in this house was a total God-thing. He really worked out every single detail for us to randomly end up looking at our cute, two-story, blue home on the last morning we were in town looking for a place to live before we moved. We were sort of on a time crunch and it wasn’t in the plan, and we had another house we thought would work…and yet Tobin just had a feeling that we needed to drive over and take a look. I said no…but we can all see how well he listened to me. πŸ˜‰

And we walked through the front door, looked at each other, and knew. We were home.

And there are a lot of reasons we love it here. The neighbors are the most awesome ever…truly, they are the best part of being here. It’s much of the reason why we chose to buy after we rented. We want to raise our girl here, in a neighborhood where the kids still ride bikes and go fishing and the neighbors talk to each other beyond a hello.

We love the house, too. It’s a bit on the small side, but it’s also full of charm, it’s quirky, and it’s old and oozing character…and it doesn’t look like every other house on the street. We’re not really cookie-cutter sort of people anyway, but I think everyone already knows that. πŸ˜‰

And? We love, love, LOVE that it’s a block from the river. When I’m washing dishes, I can look out my back window and see a beautiful view, no matter the season. We’re blessed and we know it.

A few weeks ago it was a rainy, not-too-cold-for-December, morning, and I looked out to notice a somewhat-thick fog hovering over the field near the river. It was the kind of fog that gives you a glimpse without seeing the whole…and it was strangely beautiful.

And I thought about how that’s what our lives look like right now.

We are thick in the fog. Some days just getting up and getting through and not looking forward too much are what we can manage. Not wondering about the next Sunday and how hard it will be to sit through church without crying. Not thinking about whether there will be two lines at the end of the month or not. Choosing to live in the moment…however it looks…and not imagining life too far beyond that.

He’s teaching us to embrace what He gives for the day and not worry about tomorrow. Sounds a little familiar, huh? πŸ˜‰

The truth is that it’s been a horrible year. I don’t say that lightly.

My heart aches…physically. Still. Babies still make me gasp for a breath, a pregnant belly is even worse. I dread March and all that might have been…and how hard it will be when her due date comes.

I see a picture of my sweet doggie, and the tears spring to my eyes and I miss the sweet way he would rest his nose on my leg and wait for a chin scratch. He’s still so much a part of us, and we miss him more than I can even express.

Loss…it’s what has summed up our year, a year that held so much hope twelve months ago. A year that, now, leaves us wondering where that hope has gone.

And while I don’t feel like hope has died, I do feel like it’s been buried for awhile in the grief and the wondering and the waiting. Especially the waiting.

And maybe waiting is what He wants me to embrace now more than ever. Being content with just the piece of the picture that is today, no matter how unclear it is.

I kind of think that’s how Mary must have felt. It was no small task to carry the Savior of the world…and I often think of the fear and wondering that must have encompassed her heart, day after day, as she waited for her baby to be born. Yes, she sang her praise and she chose to trust…but she was also human and imperfect, and I think we sometimes forget that part of the story. And I wonder if, on those uncertain nights, she was scared of what the whole picture looked like. I imagine she may have felt like she was in a fog at times, too.

But she trusted and she obeyed…and a Savior was born and he brought Joy and Hope and Peace and Love…those things our world desperately needed and still needs.

We may have to choose to see them some days and to believe that they are there even when we don’t see. I know He has good things for us, no matter what 2015 looks like…and I’m going to choose to own that.

We might be in the fog during this season, but I can’t wait to see the picture when it lifts.

I think it’s going to be beyond what we ever could have hoped for.

Merry Christmas, friends! Wishing you all a wonderful celebration of the birth of our Savior. Thanks for being here. :)

Love,
Mel (& Tobin & Maelie, too!)

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Just Life…Because It’s Been Too Long

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How is it November 21st already?

Or, more accurately, how is it that I have yet to write something this month?

So I’ve started and even almost-finished a few posts lately.

….like the letter I wrote to the waitress we had the other night when Maelie wanted to go out for pancakes. She was kind of mean. Or a lot of mean. And I decided maybe I should give her some grace and not push publish. Because I am not mean.

…And then there was the spiel I started writing about leggings and why they aren’t pants but they are…and I didn’t get very far because it seems that every blogger has spoken his/her piece on that subject. (I did appreciate my snarky thoughts, but I’m not sure y’all would have. Plus, I wear leggings. Gasp.) πŸ˜‰ But maybe I’ll share that one anyway. Later.

…And I even tried to write about life a few times. Just life.

And I think that’s where we’re landing today. We’ll see how it all goes. :) So grab your coffee and a heated blanket if you’re in the Midwest…because, helllloooo, evil winter, who decided to come Way. Too. Early.

Maybe I should write about the weather. Or not. (Plus, I don’t live in Buffalo…therefore I have absolutely nothing to complain about.) πŸ˜‰

The truth is, friends, it’s been a quiet season. Quieter than I ever could have anticipated. Life has been full of raising a four year-old, of a few other things sprinkled here and there, and of a lot of reflection.

There is a part of me that hates the whole reflecting thing…I mean just how much can a person think about a particular life event? Or two?

Apparently…A. LOT.

So, the truth…and life…in I-hope-not-too-many words, but I forewarn you. I’ve gone 21 days without a blog post. πŸ˜‰

This season of grief has been hard. I can’t believe how many reminders come up. I’ll be having a good week and then I’ll see a pregnant woman and just about lose it. I’ll have to stop and catch my breath or even turn and walk away.

My God feels so very far away.Β  I have tried to walk with Him through this…or allow Him to walk by me. Whatever. But there’s this distance…and I’m not sure that’s entirely abnormal. I think it’s ok to still love Him and feel like there’s a quiet season. I think He’s waiting to speak until my heart is ready to listen. That’s where I am, and I have no idea if it’s right or wrong.

We’re trying so hard to count our blessings. There are so many and, daily, we are aware that there are reasons to be thankful. It’s just that there are often…and I do mean OFTEN…moments when that good feels like it’s shrouded in a thick fog. I see…but I battle believing that it’s for us.

I still don’t understand. We would be about 5 1/2 months along right now. I thought for sure I’d have some glimpse into life by now of why God didn’t want us to have this little one. But…nothing. And the truth is that as hard as it can be to have answers, I find it even more difficult to not have them. What? This was just random? Some days I just wish He’d spell it out for me.

There are still a lot of ugly days. I still cry. I had a screaming match with God…or, more accurately, at God…the other day in the car. It wasn’t my finest moment and I’m thankful no one else heard it.

We’re trying to keep going and find some sense of normalcy. And, how hard is this to admit? Some days it just looks like survival. We get up, we do our day, we try to find a few smiles…at least one more than the day before. And that’s how we move forward.Β We do what’s on the list and we don’t do much more than that.

And it sort of breaks my heart, this whole season I wasn’t counting on. Because this space…my heart…it’s so empty, and I hadn’t planned on that. In a weird way, it’s a reflection of life in general. Life feels empty.

BUT…I’m trying to fill it somehow. With laughter, with memories, with Bible journaling, with loud Christmas-and-non-Christmas music, with friends, with things that make me smile. I’m reading books that make me laugh, watching cheesy Christmas movies, reading stories with my girl and laughing with her, too. And I’m not worrying so much about words and writing a lot of them.

Oh, I’ll write them when it’s time…and I know that someday there will be a whole lot more of them here. But there’s also a time for quiet. And I think this might be it.

We’d still appreciate your prayers. We’re heading into the holidays, and I commented to Tobin yesterday…I’m just having a hard time getting into Christmas.Β (Yes, I realize we’re a week out from Thanksgiving…but it’s notΒ that far away.) πŸ˜‰ I can force the music and the movies, but the feeling isn’t there. Not that it’s about feelings at all…but there’s usually something warm and fuzzy about this time of year, right?

The gifts aren’t purchased. I want to put up the tree this week but only so I don’t have to think about it closer to Christmas. I dread hanging ornaments we ordered on it…too-small ways of remembering our precious baby and beloved dog.

Somewhere in this there is something we’re supposed to learn. I have to believe that. Because, although it’s been a season of battling with God, I have to fall back on all I know of Him.

I know He’s good. I know He doesn’t just randomly allow things to happen without having a purpose.

I know He still loves us.

And maybe that truth is the one we need more than ever right now.

Well, I’ve rambled on and on about life and, RATS! I never even got to the leggings part. That will just have to wait until next time. πŸ˜‰

Thanks for being here.

Photo Credit: Christian Reimer

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As I Am

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I love this picture of Sammy.

It’s just him on any day…I honestly don’t even remember which day this was. He was just lying down. Being cute. Not even moving when I pulled out my phone for a photo…yeah. He just is.

Nothing special but maybe everything that is special. And I love it. :)

So it’s been three weeks since there have been words here.

And today I finally decided it’s ok to write no matter what.

Honestly, I’ve been waiting for something. And if I continue to wait for it…I guess there wouldn’t be words today. Or maybe for a lot more days.

I’ve been waiting for that moment when I had the grief thing figured out. The kind of day when the smiles just came and the words poured. The kind when I felt no pain or no sadness or no wishing for what might have been. The kind when I could admit that I’d moved on completely.

And then I realized that’s just not life. And it’s not what He wants for me, either.

Just like He wants every day, He wants me to come as I am.

And that’s hard. But it’s the right thing to do.

It’s hard to sit and pour things from a heart that’s been beaten down. A heart that struggles to find Hope even though I know it’s there. A heart that has been through so much loss and has wondered…often…if God is really there.

My hubby and I were talking on Sunday during our long road trip from Minnesota to home about that. About how so many times during this season we’ve had to fall back on what we know of our Father…because we have a hard time feeling any of it.

As I am…it looks rough. Ragged. Puffy, tired eyes. A few extra pounds from the running that hasn’t happened.

And when I took a selfie a couple of days ago, I could see it all. I could see a thousand things that were wrong with this picture.

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I was tempted to change the color settings, to crop things a little…to make it look a little better than it actually is.

But the truth? Is that God doesn’t want that from any of us. He doesn’t ask us to spend hours on the way things appear before we come to Him.

He already knows it. All of it. And the best part of it all is that He chooses to love us despite it. Despite the flaws, despite the imperfections.

I don’t have this all figured out.

I don’t know what my days are going to look like.

Tomorrow might be a truly wonderful day…full of laughter and sunshine and memories with my girl.

Or, it might be a hard day, too…with tears and questions and more tears.

And that’s ok.

Today it’s ok, and tomorrow it is, too.

Because His mercies and His promises are for me every day…not just on the days when life feels good.

It’s part of the journey and it’s where I am.

As I am.

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My Andre…

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It’s been three days.

It seems like so much longer, but that’s how hard days can seem. The way they stretch and linger is painful…heart-wrenching.

He and I, we sat on the couch together three days ago. He was resting, his chest rising and falling…my hand there with every breath. In between games of Sudoku…something to keep my mind off of it all…I’d look over at him.

Feel the tears well up.

Whisper a prayer that it was all a bad dream.

Breathe into his ear how much I loved him.

Repeat.

We knew it. The vet had confirmed it just the day before, but we knew. We knew it was almost over.

Eleven years that had made up a lifetime were about to end.

It was soul-crushing, the kind that leaves a hollow, painfully deep ache.

And even in the ache, I caught myself reflecting…

Reflecting on a life together that began on a beautiful September Saturday in 2003. He bounded toward us, and I almost said no because he was bigger than the cute, wiggly, 12 week-old puppy I really wanted. But there was something about him, and we just knew.

We knew this was our puppy. And so we took this almost-five-month-old, still wiggly, ball of fur home with us and named him Andre.

He was totally an Andre…always happy, a little goofy, and perfectly sweet. We were in love immediately.

He bounded into our lives, ready to take on any adventures that might come with it. And had he known what was coming, maybe he would have turned around…but he didn’t. He stayed, he boarded planes, he crossed cultures, he welcomed more family members, he followed us wherever we went…and he lived every single day with exuberance.

Every single day for eleven plus years…and those years passed by too quickly.

And we watched the calendar pages turn, wondering where it was going. The one consolation was that he was still so much a puppy…so playful, so full of love.

And it continued until the end. Only in his last weeks did he show signs of slowing down…and that was why my hubby decided he needed to be checked out.

It didn’t take long to hear the words tumors and a week or two…and those words broke our hearts to shards. He wasn’t in any pain…but we carried that pain.

Knowing that he could slip away at any moment made it hard to even breathe.

Just 24 hours after we knew, it was time. We watched through tears as he used up the last of his love on people…that was so Andre. And then, exhausted, he found a spot in the grass to breathe in some of his last moments. We carried him to the van, and Tobin and I went.

We drove in tears, we gave final hugs, we went into the room, the three of us together for the last time.

We held him and told him, over and over, what he already knew. We loved him so much…and he had been the best dog in the world.

And my arms were wrapped around him, my hand on his heart, when he went.

The tears fell…more than I’ve ever cried, I think…as we said goodbye and forced ourselves to leave the room and find our way home…a home that will never feel the same again.

It’s three days later, and the tears still pour.

I miss my boy. I miss the way he greeted me with a smile and a butt wiggle multiple times a day. I miss the way every second was a gift worthy to be lived with exuberance. I miss the cuddles and the snuggles and the endless amounts of dog hair all over me.

I miss it all so much.

I miss him. And I will forever.

And I sometimes wonder why we chose it when we knew it would come to an end. But, really, we know the answer to that…and it’s the same answer that helps us breathe through the moments that hurt so much.

It’s Love. He lived it so well.

And so we laugh through the tears and smile and talk about the Andre stories…about the times he went swimming in places he shouldn’t have, about the time he ran into a tree, about the millions of ways he filled our lives with love.

We go on. Because the best way for us to honor his life is to live ours like he did.

Goodbye, sweet, sweet boy. You were a gift to us in ways we can’t even describe. We thought we were making your life better when we brought you home, but you were the one who made us better. Blessed us. And gave us a life full of love that will stay with us forever.

To Andre. You are forever a part of us…and forever in our hearts.

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