Thoughts and Favorites (+ a Giveaway!)

almostspring

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

😉

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

Time can slow down Any. Day.

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

You’ve been warned. 😀

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

Mac in stroller

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

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

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

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

READ

I’ve been reading a lot.

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEAR

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

cutehoodie

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

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

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

FTF earrings

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

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

WATCH

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

Maybe I’m getting old. 😉

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

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

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

GO

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

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

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

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

indo green

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

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

Forever.

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

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

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

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

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

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

And how ’bout a giveaway? Nothing like changing the subject. 😉

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

giveaway2017

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

Wanna win?

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

That’s it.

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

Sig

On Seasons and Sleep…and Giving Thanks

path-grass-lawn-meadow-final
It’s been a long time. A really, really long time.

And I don’t know why this morning is any different from the other mornings other than I feel like there are some words. So I should write them, yeah? :)

Potentially it’s because I browsed facebook for all of five minutes this morning and dissolved into a puddle of tears twice because of Humans of New York and CBS. (Thanks, guys.) And then I watched a story last night, too…this one. And it made me weep because that’s just what I do these days, apparently. (Though…major tissue alert. Just sayin’ that right now.)

Maybe those tears are pushing the words out, I don’t know.

Or maybe it’s that the last two nights I’ve been out cold before 9 p.m. (Actually, the first night was 6:30. SIX-THIRTY, y’all.) Clearly I’m catching up on sleep. This is sort of funny, but I fell asleep in my puffer vest and leggings last night…the night before it was in my jeans and hoodie. Who needs pajamas?! 😉

At any rate, it’s not even 6:30 a.m. 7 a.m. and I’ve already had two three (and a half) cups of coffee and am considering stock in Kleenex.

So it might be that kind of blog post. We’ll see. But I haven’t written in a long time, and I miss it sometimes. So I’m guessing there will be a lot of words this morning. (You’ve been warned.) :)

It’s honestly been a random sort of existence lately.

I don’t so much remember this with Mae, but I’m sure it happened then, too. It’s just that with her, I never had to be anywhere. We never had to do anything. So our normal was whatever the day brought. With Mac…it’s different.

We have a first grader to keep up with…and she needs to get to school, be picked up, have her mama there for certain things. It’s all good and it’s all beautiful, but it’s changed the baby game plan I had in my head. The kind that looked like two solid naps a day, sleeping through the night…all that good stuff with which I was so incredibly spoiled with Mae. (But I’ve tried not too compare my kids. Too much.) 😉

The truth is that I’ve loved watching my daughter grow up, even though it’s bittersweet. Every day I take her to school, and my heart pinches and explodes at the same time…leaving her there. Knowing it’s right, but accepting that it’s going so, so fast. I mean, look at this girl! Seriously. So. Grown. Up.

maemommy-2-final

She’s such a cool person, in my incredibly unbiased opinion. 😉 She writes plays that make us laugh our heads off, she fills up journals at the age of six, she’s asked to “real blog” (though I won’t let her use her domain just yet), she’s rocking the big sister role, and she’s reading chapter books with her reading light, late at night when she’s supposed to be sleeping. She’s got such a tender heart, always praying for others and hurting when they hurt.

I don’t know God’s plans for her, but I know they’re going to be amazing. I just love this girl.

maemac-final

And watching her be Big Sissy to this Little Man? Oh, my heart. (In a puddle all over the floor.) I was so, so worried about two kids, girl and boy, six years apart. And, yet…Mac completes our family…and these two. Just the best.

Baby boy keeps growing and changing because that’s what little boys do, and it seems like it’s already going way too fast. Flying. HOW is he four months old already?!  He’s rolling over and moving around tons, and I think he’s getting ready to crawl. OY. And, judging by the amount of drool he produces, I’m pretty sure that teeth aren’t too far off either. WHERE is time going? Ah, this face. Melting again.

mac-final

It’s Thanksgiving week, and I really love this time of year. It’s starting to get colder, which might not be my favorite…but a change in seasons always makes me stop and think about life and how there are always changes. Challenges. Sometimes pain. But a lot of joy, too.

On Saturday, fall-ish winter finally arrived. I (somewhat painfully) put the flip flops away and put on an actual coat as the temps dipped into the 20’s and 30’s…and I was forced to reconcile with the fact that my toes will now need to be covered for approximately five months. (Give or take. And here in the bi-polar Midwest, it will probably be give.) :)

Sometimes I gripe about change, but the truth is that I enjoy it most of the time. I like the surprises of life, and I love a good adventure. Sometimes change brings hurt, too…but I’m learning to deal with that. Just like I’m learning to put on a winter coat. Because…reality. I live in Illinois, and it’s November. 😉

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

Sometimes I look back and am amazed we survived. Or, me at least. 😉 A year ago, I’d just seen the positive pregnancy test, and a few days later I was already vomiting my guts out. (Sorry for that bit of graphic information.) And as the weeks progressed, it became apparent that, if baby was going to make it, I needed help. (And IVs and lots and lots of medication.) We were scared…there are side effects and unknowns that come with those things, and I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you I was worried there would be something wrong with my baby boy. But God…He’s good, and Mac is healthy. Though I do wish he’d take naps! (We’ll save that post for another day.) 😉

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

I truly have so, SO much to be thankful for, and no doubt, topping the list is a sweet little boy named Mac. My little family, my friends…many of whom ARE my family, a place to live, more than I will ever need, prayers answered beyond what I could have imagined by a Father Who loves me more than I will ever understand.

Life is really good, even if it’s really random.

And thank goodness there’s coffee to help survive the random. 😉

This has always been one of my favorite songs. It’s been around awhile now, but…I still love it. Maybe having a listen will bless your day, too.

I’m so thankful for all of you. Happy Thanksgiving. :)

Sig

Stepping Back

biblecoffeefinal2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

200blogbuttonavatar

Sig

He Redeems

He Redeems finalphoto credit

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

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

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

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

So here we go. :)

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

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

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

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

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

No heartbeat.

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

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

Someday.

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

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

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

And then came a day last November.

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

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

I didn’t.

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

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

That was too much hope to let creep in.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was instant love.

He stole my heart. 😉

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

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

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

And I didn’t hate that day anymore.

This, friends, is redemption.

He can always, always redeem.

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

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

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

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

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

McClain 1 final

Sig