He Redeems

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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.

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Letting God Rewrite Your Dream

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I always thought I’d be a mommy to two girls.

When I envisioned our future family, I saw my daughter, Mae, walking with her hand clasped tightly to another little girl’s.

It’s a precious image I’ve had in my head for a long time, but one I was afraid to verbalize.

In 2014, after a struggle to become pregnant, we found out we were expecting, and I was sure this was it.

My two girls.

Sadly, we miscarried that sweet little one, and I pushed that image far back into the corner of my brain…and my heart.

I felt like that dream was over, and it was one I grieved for a long time.

And then…surprise of surprises…we found out this past November that we were expecting again.

And I allowed that dream to take its place in the depths of my heart again.

I was sure.

My pregnancy with this one was nearly identical to my pregnancy with Maelie, other than the fact that I was even sicker. But everyone knows…sick = girl.

Oh, I wanted her to be a girl so badly.

We’d picked out her name. Hope Kristine.

And though there were nagging thoughts of, I think this might be a boy, I tried to stay positive.

God knew the desires of my heart, and I was sure He’d give them to me.

Today I’m over at God-sized Dreams, sharing a piece of how God is doing some rewriting in my life. Will you join me here?

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Just Living

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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.

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Thinking of Her Today

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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. 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.) 😉

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.) 😉

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. 😉

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.

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February Friday Favorites

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The longer I write the more I realize how much I love random.

Often, my favorite posts come out when I plan absolutely nothing. I just sit down and dash off words…because that’s the best way for me to be me, exactly as I am. And that’s where I am today.

As I’ve started to write a few more words this year…and we’re getting there…I’m realizing how at home I am with my keyboard and my thoughts. And, of course, my coffee.

Can I just confess right now that we have exactly enough Indonesian coffee to make ONE MORE POT, and I’m heartbroken. I literally can’t bring myself to use it up. And so I sit here, drinking my random, donut shop blend. And it’s still ok, but it’s definitely no Aroma Kopi, which is the best there is. Ever. (Can we just go to Indonesia? Seriously, I’m headed back next year for a visit…I’d love to take a friend along!) :)

So I love Crystal‘s Friday Favorites linkup at the end of every month…just a chance to share some favorites. It’s fun, it’s one of my favorite ways to write and share, and so I’m jumping in and hanging out at her space today. I love it. :)

And now, I bring you some of the current faves.

And I’m sorry there’s no giveaway this month, but I AM giving away something completely awesome on God-sized Dreams in a few weeks, so keep your eyes open for that one. (You WON’T want to miss it!)

Read

I haven’t done much reading lately. I’ve bounced around several of my favorite blogs and caught up with some dear sisters. That’s probably been my favorite reading for the month. Here are two that spoke to me so deeply.

My friend, Gindi, was featured at Kristin Schell‘s blog this week. I completely adore her story of community and how God is weaving that into her heart and life. I’m also completely jealous that it is warm enough in Texas to have a turquoise table in her front yard, year-round. I have to wait until spring, but I’m hoping there will be one in my front yard soon, too! Gindi is one of my dear friends, and I hope you will stop by to read her beautiful words.

This post really got me. Hard. God has been working on a lot in my heart lately…I haven’t really talked about it here because there are times when there just isn’t a way to process it all. (I did just try to process it and just ended up with a tangle of words. So we’ll talk later.) :) But you should read it.

And maybe the most reading I’ve been doing lately has to do with my Bible. I’m really trying to be in the Word more. Oh, I fail sometimes. But the times I do spend there are so sweet. So precious. So needed.

Watch

I pulled out an old favorite series and shared it with Mae a week or so ago. I was completely impressed that she sat through two episodes and laughed at the funny parts. (And she also continues to talk about the time that Sara smeared a cherry pie in Felicity’s face. Ahem. I don’t think that was exactly the takeaway.) 😉 I’m a bit of a goof, but I love older tv, the good stuff, when I know I don’t need to worry about what my daughter will see.

Also, anything remotely related to Anne of Green Gables always. wins. Always.

You can watch the first episode free here…which is all kinds of awesome. :)

Wear

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My favorite thing to wear right now, hands down, is my heart necklace. Since last summer, I’ve been looking for the perfect necklace…a sweet way to remember the babies we’ve lost and to honor our precious daughter. I looked everywhere and finally settled on this one from Etsy. It has Always Love stamped on the outside and Maelie’s name with the initials of our two little ones in heaven, I.M. and C.K., on the inside along with a stamped dandelion and their three birthstones. The dandelion was part of the original design, and I thought it was the perfect hug from God since a dandelion was the image that came to my mind just days after we lost our sweet Carly.

I wear it every day, and I honestly can’t imagine a day when I won’t.

I’ve also been wearing more workout clothes. Two weeks ago, I just decided it was time. Time to eat better and work out more, and it’s good. It’s amazing how drastically reducing sugar (it helps that I gave up dessert for Lent) has also made me want healthy food. Case in point? It’s 8:30 a.m. and I want grilled chicken and avocados. (No lie.)

Ok, that was random. 😉

I also vowed that this month I would wear a pair of earrings. Um…I bought a pair and then chickened out of wearing them in public. I promise I will wear them this weekend. And, of course, I’ll document it for next month, too.

Listen

One of my favorite things is to have coffee with a friend…just to chat and listen and be. Not kidding, if I were given a choice of anything, that’s what I would choose to do with a free hour or two. (If I were given a day full of coffee dates for my birthday, I would completely be in heaven. Just fyi.) 😉

I love this song, too…I’ve basically decided it’s the soundtrack of my season. I’m working on it in voice lessons…not sure I’ll ever do anything with it, but it’s beautiful. And a reminder I need every day. So have a listen and then download it at iTunes if you so want. (I may or may not play it on repeat often.) :)

And that brings us to the end of the favorites, at least for today.

What are some of your current faves?

Happy weekend to you all. Hugs. :)

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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?) 😉

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. 😉

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. 😉

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. 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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See Ya, 2014

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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. 😉

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.

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There were also some pretty sweet reunions with some of my favorite sisters.
To steal a line from Logan…or was it Sarah Mae? 😉 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.

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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 Him 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. 😉

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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. 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. 😉

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. 😉

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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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.) 😉 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.) 😉

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. 😉

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.  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. 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. (Yes, I realize we’re a week out from Thanksgiving…but it’s not that far away.) 😉 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. 😉

Thanks for being here.

Photo Credit: Christian Reimer

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For a Season

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I watched the two of them walk ahead of me for the almost-two-block distance to our house.

For the last time.

Hands clasped, any passerby would have believed they’d been friends for so much longer than a month.

And I thought back for a few moments…

It was a normal, early-June day, and a girl from the neighborhood, one I’d seen a few times, rode her bike down our sidewalk. My four-year-old was playing on her swing set, and I watched as the girl slowed her bike and came to a stop.

That was the only invitation my Mae needed.

Running over to her, she greeted her already-friend, and the two of them were playing together in seconds.

A few weeks later, her mom stopped by and chatted with me. Though I’d talked with her a handful of times in our four years on Wisconsin Street, this was the first time we’d talked in depth.

And it was in that conversation she mentioned she and her daughter were moving several states away at the end of July.

My heart felt a little pinch as I realized this new friendship for my daughter (and for me) was only for a short season.

And I realized that there have been times in life when I’ve questioned the seasons God gives us.

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Today I’m over at God-sized Dreams, talking about the seasons He gives…and how He’s teaching me to trust that they are good. Join me?

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On Life…and Monday and Coffee. But Mostly Life.

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About a week ago, I walked outside…and what I saw made the tears drip almost immediately.

At the beginning of the summer, my dear friend had given me some day lilies to replant in our yard. Being the awesome, motivated, person I am, they sat in a wagon for two days before I got around to actually putting them in the ground.

And for several weeks…I wondered. Watched them turn brown-ish. And figured they were probably beyond hope.

But when I walked out and looked at them on that Friday afternoon…

HOPE. In the form of beautiful, orange blossoms. And I knew God had sent me a little hug, a reminder…that He can always bring beauty, even on the days we feel like we’re dying.

And that’s where I am right now…in that place of waiting on Hope. Of trying to live even though, honestly, some days it feels like the life is being sucked out.

And writing…well it’s such a huge part of how I live. And so there are days, like today, when I just pound out the words and hope they mean something in the end. 😉

And? It’s Monday. Oh, Monday. How I looooove thee.

Can you just hear the sarcasm dripping? In fact, I think it’s dripping right into my coffee… 😉

What is it about Mondays? Seriously. Even as a stay-at-home mom, I don’t generally embrace them happily. Or, even embrace them at all.

But the fact that they can come with coffee, so long as I can find my way to the kitchen to actually make it…well, that might make them look just a little better.

So let’s have a coffee chat, since it’s waaaaay early on Monday and there is coffee in my mug. Thank you, Jesus, for that.

I was telling my hubby that time feels like it’s crawling right now. It’s been such a long two weeks.

In some ways that’s good. I mean, I’ve said often how bittersweet it is to watch my girlie growing up so quickly. The years are FLY. ING. And, yet, somehow, the days that have made up life since July 22nd…well, they’ve been plenty long.

The truth is that the ache is an ever-present thing. I’ve had to find distractions, sometimes purposely creating them. Loads of laundry that aren’t quite full yet might just get washed anyway to fill some minutes. Cleaning underneath the couch, (oy…) yeah, maybe that happened, too. Sort of. And I don’t forget to water my plants and flowers anymore, either. 😉

I find myself desperate to make the days go by.

Maybe that’s normal?

But by Friday night, I was so ready for something to be different. I’d been out one other night that week for the every-28-days haircut/color. (Totally serious.) But I needed…to think. To just be. In a quiet place where talking didn’t need to happen unless I felt like it. So I called my favorite nail salon and made a pedi appointment. Of course, I arrived and the place was busier than I’d ever seen it. Goodbye quiet and hello, woman next to me loudly proclaiming her joy that her friend was pregnant.

I went home that night, cute mint green toenails and all, and cried. Probably more than I’d cried yet.

And so on Saturday, we ventured A.W.A.Y. Downtown away, via Portillo’s because Chocolate Cake Shake. Enough said. 😉 And then we sat in traffic for a small forever and found the zoo. A fun day for Mae because she needed it…and she declared it the Best. Day. Ever. We were glad for her, even if we might not have shared her sentiments. 😉 Seeing her excited was fun, though. We needed fun, and we needed to smile. Even laugh, especially when she announced to several people that the wild hog was “SO cute.” Golly, I love her. :)

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And yesterday. Let’s just say it’s not how I imagined we’d ring in 12 years of wedded, up-and-down, bliss. We’d had plans to go downtown overnight but decided not to leave for that long and had even debated whether to really celebrate…that word just doesn’t work right now. But our sweet, amazing friends had offered to take Mae to church and hang with her for the afternoon, and…who turns that down?

So we bummed around an area about 30 minutes from us. Drank some really bad coffee. (Seriously. I think this former-barista girl should’ve gone back behind the bar to teach them how to Make. A. Latte.) Walked and wandered a lot. Ended up at a really fun flea market and bought a bookshelf and two trinkets for the porch wall.

That might have been what made me cry for the first time that day…and in front of a complete stranger, too. But sometimes…yeah.

And we found a pizza place for an appetizer and a water (because I’m boring when I drink liquid) and played cribbage and talked about life. About how we’ll never forget the crazy trip to South Africa or the Thailand adventures. About parenting and how it’s filled us and left a huge hole all at the same time. About a little girl who has brought so much joy to our days, a kind of joy for which we will be eternally grateful.

And we talked about our sweet baby, the one who has been gone just shy of two weeks and it feels like two years. The one we named Carly Kristine…and we talk about her in our house, and it just feels right even though it makes us cry.

And I was reminded again that even in the ups and downs, there’s no other person I’d rather walk this journey with. Happy anniversary, Tobin…I. Love. You.

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And I thought a little, too, about how writing is how I cope right now. It’s how I process life, and I don’t worry so much about how or what I write but more about where my heart is when I write the words.

And it goes back to my Father. Because He knows and He loves…and though there are times I have to remind myself of His love, it’s always there.

And maybe in all of these words and stories, I’m just trying to survive. And He’s giving me a way to survive. To live. It’s important.

And some days we just breathe…and figure it out as we go.

Thank you to all of you who have been praying…you need to know that your prayers mean the world to us. And that we’re ok…because He’s holding us.

To Monday, a new week…and the adventures that are waiting. :)

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