and More Honesty

I don’t want last Friday to become a theme of my blog.

Because it isn’t about me…though it is where my heart is right now.

And I have to tell y’all the truth…I’m completely and utterly torn. Like, wake-up-at-4:30 a.m.-with-tears-streaking, torn.

In the dark, I whisper why‘s and how‘s and what-if‘s…all of those questions that should never be uttered because I know


And my sweet girl sleeps soundly in her room, and everything in me aches to lift her from her gonna-be-a-toddler-bed-soon crib, even though it’s the wee hours of the morning, just to feel her heart beating against my chest. How I would gladly sacrifice sleep and a less-tired day for the reassurance at that moment that she is alive and well.

I opt, instead, to tiptoe into her room, rest my sweating and shaking hand upon her chest, and wait until she’s taken a few deep breaths. Satisfied, I leave as quietly as I entered.

But sleep has escaped me and there’s nothing to do but lie there in bed and…pray.

I know my prayers aren’t meaningless and unheard, but how can a person feel that their words to God can mean anything in light of the magnitude of heartbreak enveloping so many lives?

It’s a question I grapple with as I lie there.

The household doesn’t stir for almost an hour an a half more; even the dogs are oblivious to my nighttime restlessness.

I talk to Him. About the families, about those aching. I pray for those I know personally who need extra strength or healing. I talk to Him about my dreams, about my hopes.

I give thanks.

Thanks that I have the blessing of a little girl who is the sunshine.

Thanks, too, for the shadows that preceded the sunshine, because they brought more beauty than I ever dreamed possible.

And in that moment, I remind myself…

Oh, what dark shadows are surrounding these lives right now.

But, oh, what complete beauty will come.

Weeping may last for the night, but joy…JOY…comes in the morning.

He’s promised us this, and so we can know and lean on this Truth.

Oh, Father, we anxiously await the day when You will bring that JOY. And until then, we lift these precious families to You, knowing that You’re holding each of them in Your strong and sovereign grasp.


Friday, Um…

My favorite Friday link-up is taking a break for the month of December.

I will miss it…miss my five minutes, miss my blog hopping to visit my writing friends, miss them hopping over to say hi, miss the topic being chosen for me.

Now the truth comes out. 😉 

So I was really trying to alliterate my title.

Many thoughts came to mind. Such as Friday…



…frustrations? (Sorry, out of the three, this one would have made the most sense today.)

But I don’t want to write about that at all.

So, here are my Friday thoughts…a sweet friend sent me some verses today that are definitely worth processing. :)

This game of waiting never seems to end.

When I think about it, life for everyone can be viewed as a series of events that leave us waiting.

Waiting to finish school…

…get married…

…buy a house…

…have kiddos…

…find that perfect job…

The list really never ends.

I joke that I don’t wait well, but the truth is that I really don’t.

I want to, but I so often allow my mind to race, my fears to set in, the worst outcome to become my reality…

That’s why I need to continually remind myself of this…

Do not be anxious about anything…

Words straight from Scripture. Somehow the whole NOT worrying thing must have been important for us to grasp if He put it there.

but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving

God, do you know how hard it is to give thanks while I wait? Oh. Yeah. You do. You’ve already been there.

let your requests be made known to God.

Why is it that my first instinct is always to worry instead of pray?

He may already know my heart, but He still wants to hear from me. I feel pretty special knowing that. :)

But maybe my favorite part of all of this is the next verse.

And the PEACE of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV)

Amen. Amen. Amen.

God, I know I’m such a worrier…I let the what-if’s take over far too often instead of trusting in what I know of You…that You are faithful and have it all figured out. I pray for Your peace while I wait…because I know it only comes from You.

Waiting. Would appreciate your prayers. Hopefully I’ll be able to give you an update soon!

Hope you have a great weekend…thanks for stopping by!


Update on Taylor

Today, I believe in miracles.

I always have, but today? I really, really, really believe.

But rather than give you my take, I’ll just pass on what I know. :)

:) Taylor made it through surgery.

:) Though her tumor was wrapped around several arteries and veins, the doctors got it ALL.

:) Then, they biopsied several areas surrounding where the tumor had been, and ALL BUT ONE came back negative. The other one showed just a microscopic amount of cancer.

:) Four months ago, this little girl was diagnosed with aggressive, Stage 3 neuroblastoma. Next week she’ll hopefully continue her chemo treatments and kick the rest of this thing!

What an amazingly strong, beautiful little girl Taylor is.

What trust and unshakable faith her parents have demonstrated through this journey.

What a miracle-performing, disease-healing, awesome, powerful, sovereign God we serve.

He still does miracles, He still moves mountains.

And we saw that today.

Thank you to each of you who prayed…this family was covered in prayer today.

Praise Him.


Little Blessings (Pt. 52)

:) Laughter with my girl.

:) Perspective…and the insight that can be gained from a rough morning.

:) The chicken dance. (BAIS peeps, do you remember? ;))

:) What the house looks like after three hours of cleaning. (Since the girl is sleeping, we’re guaranteed it will look this good for another ten, too!)

:) Cozy blankets and chick flicks. (Guess what I’m doing tonight?)

:) Blog hopping…love reading my friends’ takes on life and all that God is doing.

:) Early morning 5k PR’s. :)

:) The gift of true friendship.

:) Anticipating a crazy-fun, downtown-5k weekend.

:) Prayer…and a Father Who loves us each so deeply. Please keep the Hall family in your prayers, especially tomorrow. (Tuesday.) I went to college with Julie and Randy; tomorrow, their youngest daughter, Taylor, who is not even two yet, will be having surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from her spine. This is a very delicate, risky surgery as the tumor is wrapped around arteries. Please lift up Taylor, the doctors who will be working on her, and her family as they trust God to heal their precious little girl. You can read more of her story here, and if you’d like more updates or information, there is a facebook group called Praying for Taylor. I know they would appreciate your prayers so much. Thanks!

P.S. Wanted to give you a photo…what a beautiful little girl. God holds her in His hands. :)


Just a Few Words

Long day.

Preceded by a night of little sleep.

This morning we crammed in three errands, a trip to the doctor for Mae, and a trip to pick up a prescription. Then we came home and kind of crashed. Well, crashed minus sleep. (Does that make any sense? ;))

My poor girlie is sick…thankfully I took her in right away and her doctor got her started on something to help. Deep cough, feeling miserable, difficulty sleeping…those things just don’t work for a toddler. It’s hard to see her like that.

If you’d say a quick prayer for Mae, that would be wonderful. :) Nights are the hardest…for the most part, during the day, you’d never know she wasn’t feeling well. (She’s kind of on a permanent bounce-o-meter…or something like that. ;)) She even played outside in the leaves with Sammy tonight. But when the cough kicks in at night, it just doesn’t seem to stop.

Tomorrow is going to be a take-it-easy, stay-at-home day…hopefully it will help.

Seeing my kiddo sick and miserable makes me so sad…praying that this doesn’t hang on too long.

I’m off to get as much sleep as I can…from the couch cushions we put on the floor of her room…there’s no other place I’d rather be tonight. 😉


MoNDaY mOrnINg CofFeE LoVE

Clearly, from the title, I need a good dose of the stuff.

It’s 7:45 a.m., the girlie is still asleep, we’re almost packed for our trip, and YES.

I’m drinking coffee. :)

Mae and I are headed out to Iowa in a couple hours. (I’ll tell you more about that at the end.)

In the meantime, I am SO incredibly, super-excited that I finished packing for both of us by 9:30 last night. That, like, never happens. Of course, there are still the last-minute things, but I’m impressed with my organization/lack of procrastination. And that I’m sitting down to blog before we go! (That usually never happens before a trip, either!)

Though I did make myself get up early so I’d have time for it.

Oh, the commitment I have to this space. 😉

Ok, I’ll stop. Obviously, I should be chugging more coffee if that’s where my brain is right now. OY…

And as much as I want to go on and on this morning, I need to keep it short. Ish. I told myself we’d leave at 9, but that won’t happen. Does anyone else out there do that? I SAID 9, so we’d be out of here by 9:30. That should happen. I hope. :) Really not relishing the thought of hitting the afternoon rush in Des Moines, and I think if we leave by 9:30 and don’t make too many stops, we’ll be good. Rush hour + Mel = don’t mix.

We had a good weekend. It was Pumpkin Days at Immanuel, and of course, we took our girl. She’s been fighting a cold for a few days, so she was definitely not as crazy as she usually is, but she completely hearts bouncy houses, and she had a great time with that. She even joined some of her older friends in the “big kids” bouncy house with the slide. Tobin and I were amazed that she could climb up to the slide in there. Sigh…my girl is growing up way TOO fast! We’re glad she had such a good time, though.

In just a few, Maelie and I will be heading to Iowa for a few days. The purpose of part of the trip is so she can have grandma/grandpa time. :) We’ll spend the night there, and tomorrow morning I’ll leave her in Creston and head back to Des Moines for a couple days to see my two best friends. Hence, the other purpose…to help one of them pack to move back to Creston. She and her six sweet kiddos will be moving in just a few weeks. I’m sad for them…they’ve had such a hard year. Though the details don’t belong on the blog, please keep them in your prayers. :)

It will be fun to have a change of pace from my normal, though I’m sure I will miss my girl like crazy! I’m looking forward to reconnecting with them and just being the three stooges that we used to be. We really are a riot when we get together. :)

Along with that, I’ll be taking a hiatus from the blog for a few days. Even if I can carve out the time to write, I’m not going to. I know it will all be here when I get back on Thursday night! 😉

So, in the meantime, prayers are appreciated since, as most of you know, I completely love driving long distances by myself. (Well, with a toddler.) Please pray for safety and good mommy/daughter bonding time. We have lots of fun music, snacks, toys…hopefully it will be a good six/seven hours. :)

So, happy Monday and happy week, friends! Back soon. :)


There’s No Place Like The Purple Couch

I’m back. :)

So I ended up taking a two day hiatus from the blog. And that’s ok. I need to give myself permission for things like that.

Especially when abdominal surgery is involved. :)

So the gall bladder came out on Tuesday.

The surgery itself was fine…I cried a little when they took me back to the OR and made me say goodbye to Tobin. But they gave me some type of sedative that had me floating within seconds, and before I knew it we were in the Operating Room. I vaguely remember them moving me to the operating table and strapping me down, and the next thing I remember is coming out of it all and doing something totally Mel.

Yeah, when the nurse asked me what I needed, I told her I wanted a hug.

Thank God for nurses who oblige strange requests, and even better, don’t make the patient feel like a complete idiot for asking in the first place. 

She totally gave me a hug and then held my hand ’til I came to a little more.


At the time I thought it was completely normal to need a hug…now I roll my eyes at myself. However I suppose it IS better than spending the entire operation talking to my surgeon about something obscure. (Which, to my knowledge, did NOT happen. Another thank You, God.)

Tuesday afternoon was full of morphine and naps and a visit from my daughter and some sweet friends who were definitely good for my heart.

But since I was still in pain, the morphine continued to be administered.

By the next morning I still couldn’t eat anything or keep more than a tiny sip of water down, and I had a headache on top of all of that.

They figured it was the morphine making me sick, and I had to wait it all out for several hours before I could have anything more for pain. Or nausea. Or my headache. I’ll spare you the details, only to say that it was a miserable 4-5 hours.

I remember lying in that bed having a conversation with God. There was a lot of pleading with Him just take the pain away. I’m so thankful that in moments of weakness like that…especially when praising Him and giving thanks to Him were the furthest things from my mind…that He still hears prayer and answers it.

He sent a few things…a text from a friend, a phone call from my pastor, a quick chat with a nurse…to help take my mind off of the pain, too.

Once they were able to give me different pain meds and they kicked in, I perked up. I actually ate jello and crackers and even half of a turkey sandwich around 11 pm. (That is SO me…again.) :) I watched part of the Tonight Show and managed to get a decent night’s sleep, which I think is what really helped.

Today was ok…less pain, though it is still there and will be for a few days. I was blessed with some pretty great nurses who were there, for the most part, all three days I was in. It was nice to be on a first-name basis. :) Though when Tobin and Maelie came to get me around 1:30 this afternoon, I was definitely ready to go.

I went straight to our purple couch and have been (mostly) resting there since. A couple friends have stopped by, and those visits were definitely spirit-lifters. Life is good.

It’s always good to look back after a few not-so-easy days to see God in the smallest details. Gallbladder surgery was nothing earth-shattering, but it was still nice to have those reminders of His love and care.

Well, it’s getting somewhat late, and I can’t wait to crash for the night.

On the couch.

Oh, there’s no place (at least for now) like the purple couch. :)

Thanks for your prayers, friends.


An Answer to Prayer

I was just thinking today about life two years ago…

…about how Mae was so teeny-tiny.

…about how we were packing up our lives to move here and begin a new chapter.

…about how Illinois felt more foreign than Indonesia.

…about how scared I was that I’d never find friends. 

One of my sweet friends from Minnesota told me that she was praying extra hard for God to send me one or two close friends. I’m sure I prayed that off and on, too…in between diaper changes and feedings and naps and coffee and episodes of Little House on the Prairie. 😉

But I know she prayed it…often.

And God answered that prayer…beyond what I could have ever imagined. And these two beautiful women, Kris and Alison, are a big part of that answer.

Friendship is such a gift…and I am so blessed.

This pic was taken at my surprise birthday party the other night. Will tell you all about it tomorrow. :)


A Heart Spill

I just started a pot of coffee. (It’s 9:15 p.m.)

It could potentially be a long chat tonight. (And if it’s not, hey…hubby will have iced coffee in the morning. ;))

So for the last few days…I’ve kinda fluffed my way around the blog. I didn’t really write junk…I just wrote things that didn’t make me think too hard. The fact is, I’ve been thinking a lot lately.

But putting those thoughts into words on a blog is much more difficult than the actual thinking. (I write some pretty great bestsellers in my head!)

I’m not sure how to process this…so I may just let my thoughts spill and see where they go. I apologize, in advance, if you hopped over here for Mel’s witty take on life. Maybe tomorrow. :)

By the way, you may have noticed that the blog is different? Yeah. I’m in the middle of updating some things and figured…if I can’t change the past, at least I can change my blog!

So I really hate those nights when I KNOW I need to share something. (Or a million somethings.)

It has been a really discouraging week. I can’t count the number of times that uninvited tears have overflowed and made my eyeliner run all over the place. Or how often I’ve felt so exhausted and drained that doing anything has felt impossible. Or how often, out of sheer exhaustion and impatience, I’ve raised my voice at Mae.

On Saturday (following several days of this), Tobin and I knew we needed to get out of the house, and the three of us went to Menards. Mae did fine for the first part of the trip and started to get fussy toward the end. While we were waiting in line to check out, I gave her a tiny sip of my coffee to calm her down. (Judge me now. Enough people in line were doing it.) I could feel their eyes burning at me, and to make matters worse…that one sip only made her want more. She started screaming, Coffee! Coffee! Coffee! After a few seconds, when it became apparent that this wasn’t going to stop anytime soon, I picked her up, took her outside, and carried her across the entire parking lot to our van while she continued her rant.

I could feel people staring at me, and it only reiterated the thought that I’m a bad mommy.


Add to it the fact that for some reason, Indonesia keeps coming back to me…and not in good ways.

Here’s the thing. We loved it there. (Most of the time.) But we also struggled, and it was no secret to anyone that we were ready for what was next. I don’t believe we left on bad terms, though I do know that God definitely had something else for us and that He moved us on at the right time.

Lately I’ve been seeing pictures on facebook and hearing stories of how great my former students are doing…and I’m filled with questions and, often, regret. Don’t misunderstand me…I completely loved them and am thrilled that they’re thriving. But it makes me wonder…

Did I do enough? Did I love them enough? Did I let them know how much they mean to me? Was I a terrible teacher?

More lies.

Tobin and I have been through one of our more difficult seasons of marriage recently. The details don’t belong here, we’re working through things, and we really are ok even if there are tough days. But there are also those times when I look around the house and see a total disaster…a sink full of dirty dishes, clothes thrown around the bedroom, a nursery floor covered with books and toys or we exchange less-than-kind words…and I start believing that I am bad at this wife thing.

You know, the lies are really starting to get to me.

It’s been a silent week. The kind where friends are busy and plans don’t happen like I thought they might. My phone has been pretty quiet and my social interaction pretty limited. For an extrovert who thrives on being busy and social, this is possibly the worst kind of week. And even though I know it’s not me, I start to believe that my friends don’t want me.

I’m ready to squash satan’s lies.


The fact is that I know, as a mommy, I have my days. We all do. But I also have DAYS…the ones when Maelie and I have the best time ever together and we laugh all day long and have adventures and soak up every moment of this precious, mother-daughter bond. We make memories that will be etched in my mind forever and, hopefully soon, in hers.

That’s truth.

It’s also fact that, though Indonesia wasn’t perfect, it was still time that wasn’t wasted. While we don’t know the kind of impact we had, we know that we were impacted and left there feeling completely blessed for having the chance to be part of what God is doing there. We got to love some pretty amazing students and grow with some incredible friends.

More truth.

I believe with everything in me that satan will try everything to destroy a marriage. Tobin and I aren’t perfect and we’re fully aware of that, but we love each other, and we love our Father. We’re both guilty of letting things like a dirty kitchen and selfish moments take over our days…but at the end of those days, we love each other and we’re committed.

Complete truth.

And while I’ve had a lonely week, sometimes I forget that being alone isn’t necessarily a bad thing. One thing I don’t do well is be still…and maybe that’s a lesson He’s trying to teach me. To take those times I feel alone and let Him fill that void. My first instinct, rather than to grab my Bible, is to grab my cell phone. He always meets me exactly where I am, with exactly what I need for the day.

He is Truth.

I guess I share all of this to ask you to pray for me. Please pray…

…that I’ll be able to throw regret out the window and live fully in the present.

…that I’ll choose to ignore satan’s lies and walk in Truth.

…that I’ll strive to live a life that pleases Him every single day. 

He’s Good…and His Truth is just that.


Thanks for listening. :)


A Heavy Sort of Morning

It’s a heavy sort of morning.

Outside, the blanket of white beauty that fell overnight makes the world a little prettier. The tree branches bending under the weight of their icy frosting make the scene outside my window look much more like a photograph than reality.

But it’s real…and a very real reminder to my heart this morning.

A few hours ago a dear sister from a decade ago went in for surgery, the doctors hoping to correct the problem with seizures she’s been having, their frequency and severity increasing. It’s a delicate surgery, and the snow covering the world reminds me of the blanket of prayer in which she’s wrapped.

God is Good…and He will be just that regardless of the outcome. But this pastor’s wife and mama to two precious girls has so much living to do…and we all pray that she will be able to do just that. KS, you are in my heart and prayers today and in the days to come.

Another dear, lifelong friend is aching and hurting so much right now. In so many ways, she is my hero. The Proverbs 31 woman, a fantastic mommy to her wonderful and beautiful children…and the ache in her is something I can’t fix.

That kills me.

All I can do is pray. He has already wrapped her in prayer and love. She is loved…so loved. And we trust in His goodness even when we don’t see purpose.

And still another dear friend faces unknown. I ache for that unknown, for I am still learning trust. But her strength and joy encourage me, a daily reminder of the Grace in which she walks.

Today I am reminded that just as the blanket of snow outside makes everything a little prettier, so is His Love.

It makes things beautiful.

He hears prayer, He calms troubled hearts, and He proves over and

over that He is Love.

And that He is Good.

It is in that blanket that I wrap myself today.

And the one I hope you find yourself covered in, too.