How Lucky I Am…

We’ve been back on U.S. soil for about a day, and already, jet lag is rearing its ugly head.

I’m not surprised…really. We’ve done this enough to know that it just happens when days and nights are completely flip flopped. I have to admit that I was hoping…just a little…that Mae might defy it all and sleep through the night. She made it until about 3 a.m. and was in bed by 4 this afternoon. I’ll just take it and hope she’ll make it a little longer each day. (Says the girl who took a four-hour nap at 3 p.m. Yeah.) ๐Ÿ˜‰

Oh, where to start, where to start.

After a whirlwind two weeks, spent almost completely unplugged, it’s really hard to even know where to begin.

So, please forgive the broken thoughts and sentences and the randomness. I’m hoping you’ll see my heart through the words, and more importantly, the people.

My prayer in going back to Indonesia was that God would remind me of the good there.

Friends, He did it. Over and over. Through conversations, through memory-making, through adventures and walks and chats and visits. He gave the beauty I so desperately wanted to see, and the funny thing is that I didn’t even have to look very hard to find it.

I also wanted closure. I honestly thought we were going back, once more, so I could say goodbye.

And then my feet hit the ground in sweltering Jakarta, and I realized something before we even left the airport…that while I may say a lot of see-ya-laters to Indonesia, I never want it to be over.

This place, the people…they’re in my heart. I don’t want to say goodbye and just leave it all behind forever.

ibumae&mel

We also wanted our daughter to see this place…and even love it. And she did.ย She may have even told her daddy that she wanted to live there… :) Really, watching her embrace it all and take the adventures as they came was something that reminded me, again, of the beauty that can be found if we’ll just take the time to look for it. And it was kind of a secret dream that we’d get to be one of those families on a motorbike, just once. Granted, we’re about twelve kids from breaking the record, but I’ll take it. I love this pic. :) (And, yes, we really did drive around like this…kind of a lot.)

IndoMotor

God gave me a gift almost immediately upon our return in my friend, Becky. She and I picked up a friendship, one that had gone almost FIVE years without a visit, exactly where it left off. There were motorbike adventures our first morning, more coffees and talks than I can even count, early morning walks, times spent together that were good for both of our hearts. Oh, I love this beautiful woman who is living out her calling. And I count her as one of my dearest friends, even if twelve time zones separate us.

beckyandmel1P.S. Someday I’ll tell you the story of why we took this pic where we did…it may or may not be in the book. ๐Ÿ˜‰ย 

And with Becky comes her wonderful hubby and this sweet little boy. Becky said it best…We wanted our kids to like each other. We had no idea they would love each other so much. Mae and M had two weeks of play dates and pool times and friendship-building, even though they’re young. What a gift…and I have to whisper something to you. One of the hardest things on Friday, as we got ready to leave, was watching the two of them say goodbye. They both cried, and this mama wept. My daughter is learning at such a young age how much it hurts to say goodbye.

MaelieAndM

And, yet, we choose to open ourselves to the goodbyes because we want this kind of life for her…the kind that sees beyond her own backyard and embraces the world and the beauty it holds.

There were so many people who reached out to us during our time in Indo, making time for coffee (I seriously drank more coffee in the last two weeks than I have in my entire life.), dinner, hugs, chats, adventures. Sharing life with these precious friends is a gift, and I’ll take it and breathe thanks, even if it means that years separate visits.

lilybecky&mel

We stayed with some wonderful friends and so loved reconnecting with them. One of our favorite days was spent with them…they took us to the angklung show, something Tobin and I had experienced several times and were thrilled that Mae got to see. She even got to dance at the end of the show with a sweet girl, the one who beat out her friends for the chance to dance with our girl. That blessed this mama’s heart, too.

AngklungDance

The time we spent in Indo flew…and there are stories, lots of them, to share. Stories from airports, stories from surfing, stories from pausing to breathe and reflect. As they start to spill out, I’ll post them…but Rome wasn’t built in a day, and all that’s going on in my heart feels about like the size of Italy. ๐Ÿ˜‰

As we were flying home yesterday (or Friday, or whenever because, really, the days are all mushed together right now) I was just talking to God. It was a conversation I wish I could have recorded because I’m not sure of all I said, but even just a day or so later, I’m already seeing how pieces of that conversation are revealing what’s next for me and what He wants. And those plans…while they don’t look at all like what I thought they would…well, I think they might be even better.

On our last night in Indonesia, many of our sweet friends came together to love us, and as we squeezed in, trying to get one photo of all of us together, I was reminded of this.

How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye this hard.
–A.A. Milne

IndoDinnerGroup

For all of the heartache moments and streaming tears, for all of the wishing and wanting to have it all in one place, for all of the blasted tissues I went through on this trip…

I would do it all again.

I would open myself to the reality that my life will always be a series of loving two worlds…and always missing one.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Selamat tinggal, Indonesia…but just until next time.

Sig

When I Really Should Finish Packing…

packing

…and because I’ve got one, uber-messy, suitcase wide open on the bed…I’m gonna blog instead. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Hey, I’ve got five hours before we leave for the airport. It’s. ALL. good.

And so here I sit…on the hallway floor, leaning against the wall, out of sight of messes and reminders of what I should be doing, and instead…

Letting you know what’s really on my heart. It’s been awhile.

Tonight the three of us are headed out, just one layover and 31 1/2ish hours separating us from a place that holds a piece of my heart.

It hasn’t always been the pretty piece of my heart…but it’s an important one.

The reasons we decided to go back for a visit to Indo are really too numerous to count.

To visit friends and our beloved pembantu.

To take our daughter there so she can see it and know what Indonesia actually is.

To rebel against this ridiculous winter we’ve had. (Ok, I just had to throw that in…not really. Tickets were purchased mostly before the freezing, too-much-snow, madness began.) ๐Ÿ˜‰ I will fully admit that Bali is included in our agenda for a few days, though.

But the real reason…and one that went so unspoken in our house for so long…is this.

We need closure.

Almost four years later, there’s something missing.

I think a lot of it comes down to the way things ended. Pregnancy, leaving the country separately, so many unknowns, a hard last year…it was just time.

And while my 32-weeks-pregnant body couldn’t exactly run out of Indonesia, I sure did my best.

These last years have provided so much time for reflection. For processing. And, yes, for writing.

There is currently a rough draft of a book that I hope and pray will see the shelves of a bookstore near you soon. ๐Ÿ˜‰

But that book…it touches the good memories. A few difficult, but mostly the good. The funny. The ones that are easy to share.

The truth? Is that there’s a lot more that needs to be added…but before I can go there, I need to go back.

I don’t expect any deep, philosophical conversations about the time we spent there to happen. Nor do I really think that going back that far and revisiting hurts is a good way to spend our limited days. But I do think, if for no other reason, my feet need to touch Indonesian soil again so I can say a proper goodbye.

The kind that says, thank you. Thank you for all you meant to me.ย Not, thank you for giving me so many reasons to want to leave.

My heart is a bit raw when I think of leaving our lives here for two weeks to go back…and yet, I know there is so much good waiting for us. The smiles and hugs and hearts of people who mean so much, the beautiful green and mountains, reminding me of my Creator and the One Who loves us completely. The conversations I can’t wait to have over coffee. (Indonesia makes some gooooood coffee.) And, yes, the outlet shopping. (Oh, come on. You know me, right?) ๐Ÿ˜‰

All of those are so worth it, too.

So I guess, in all of this rambling and putting off the packing, I’m letting you all know that I have no idea what the next two weeks look like.

I know they don’t include a lot of blogging or social media. Or texting. Or, really, being connected too often.

In fact, my time away looks just like that. Away.

Time to breathe and enjoy the moments surrounding me with my precious husband and daughter. It’s truly a gift, and I plan on embracing it.

So if you don’t hear from me, don’t worry.

And if you miss my words, know that I’m busy living the moments so I can tell you the stories later.

I love you all and am so grateful you are part of my journey.

Now, back to packing…though, really. Wouldn’t it be awesome if the suitcases could actually pack themselves?!

See you again soon. :)

Sig

Coffee For Your Heart: On Death Grips and Inspiration

Family-28
We’re sixteen days out.

Sixteen sleeps, as I tell my girl.

It’s crazy…craaaaazy…that in just two and a half weeks, our family of three will be boarding a plane bound for Indonesia. (Only for a two week visit…just in case you thought we were moving back. Nope.) :)

To be honest, I don’t think I’ve fully processed all that will actually go into an opposite-side-of-the-world trip with a toddler. I know there will be extra packing and more organization than normal needed…gone are the days when we can toss things into suitcases the night before and call it good. Now I actually have to plan what she will need, not only while we’re there…but while we’re on the plane. While we’re in the airports. While she’s up at two a.m. and running circles in someone else’s house, thanks to the inevitable, sleep-stealing, jet-lag.

I have gone over and over potential details of this trip in my head…meaning I’m pretty sure I’m missing a lot. (I need to just Make. A. List.) ๐Ÿ˜‰

But I’ve planned surprise activities and gifts for Mae. (A huge thank you to the dollar section at Target.)

Lots of snacks. (Hello, endless fruit snacks and goldfish. Hypothetically, of course. Of. Course.) ๐Ÿ˜‰

New headphones so she can watch movies and play games. (The first flight is 14 hours. The second, nine. Plus a stellar eight hours in the Doha airport. Yeah….)

My goal is to do everything in my power to keep her busy, entertained, and blissfully unaware of what happens when the plane lands.

Because here comes the confession. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’m not a great flier. I do fine once we’re in the air, but the takeoffs send my heart rate up, and the landings? Well, they send it through the roof.

It’s pretty safe to say I hate landings, which is so weird and ironic, because those landings mean we’ve finally arrived, and the fun can begin.

But I still loathe them…and freak out far more than a person should.

Though the takeoffs make me nervous, I totally plan on grabbing Mae’s hand, comforting her if she’s scared, being close and letting her know that her mommy is there as the plane soars into the sky.

She thinks we’re taking the plane to heaven…goodness, I hope not. ๐Ÿ˜‰

But the landings…well, that’s where I might get selfish and hand it ALL over to my hubby.ย I’ll be too busy trying to calm my own heart, attempting to keep my pulse inside of my body, hoping I don’t break my fingers as I death-grip the armrest.

And that will be hard for me…I know it. I will struggle as my three year-old sees fear in her mama, up close and right in front of her.

It’s not something I’m proud of…but I also know something. I’ve been on a gazillion flights…I think, last time I counted, we are hovering near the 200 mark.

And I know…I KNOW…it’s not going to be different.

I’m not going to magically have a calm heart and be all chill when the plane hits the runway and, most likely, does a hopefully-only-little bounce. I can pray, and I know He will give me the strength to get through it.

My Father knows how good my prayer life is when a plane is about to land…but He also knows that’s how I face fear.

I’ve been thinking about fear and how I so often view it as a weakness.

But it’s not. Really, it’s just an opportunity to lean on Him and not let that fear overtake me.

And that’s what I’m hoping my daughter sees in me when we have the first of six landings. And the second, the third, the fourth…

When I think about people who inspire me (though I’M not necessarily inspired by ME) I think of those who stare down fear and rise above it.

And that doesn’t always mean the death grip is released and the heart rate returns to it’s usual, whatever number.

It simply means there’s a trust that God is bigger than all of it. Because He is.

I think of a sweet friend and mama who is raising her six precious kiddos alone. She’s so brave as she lives a life that looks different from what she planned, and I’m sure there are times when she is afraid and times when her kids might even see that fear. But she faces it, she trusts in Him as she walks in Grace, and she inspires a lot of people.

I think of a friend who is facing unknown right now…scary unknown. And he chooses joy and trust in the midst of it, knowing that God’s plan is always the right one. That? It’s inspiring.

I think of a dreaming sister who fights for her family and for what’s right, even if it comes at a cost. The days can be hard and the future blurry, but she walks on in faith. And she inspires me.

And I’m hoping that maybe…maybe…one day down the road, my sweet Mae will see the death grip and the shaky, sweaty hands of her mama as inspiring.

Someday. ๐Ÿ˜‰

In the meantime, I’m gonna fight that fear…because He didn’t give me a spirit of fear.

He gave me a reason to lean on Him.

Our Indonesian adventure with a toddler is just 16 days away…bring it on!

This time, as a family of three…and I. Can’t. Wait.

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I love my sweet friend, Holleyโ€˜s, new link-up! Her Coffee For Your Heart: 2014 Encouragement Challenge is just what it sounds like. Think of Wednesdays as that day where I just share some encouragementโ€ฆand you can pretend that weโ€™re sitting at a table over coffee, just sharing life. Sounds like a great way to spend Wednesdays in this space. :) I hope youโ€™ll hop over and join us!

Coffee-for-Your-Heart-150

Sig

Five-Minute Friday: Visit

Today Iโ€™m linking up withย Lisa-Joย for Five-Minute Friday. So, grab a timer, set it for five minutes, and join me!

The rules:ย Write for five minutes. No editing, revising, overthinking, or backtracking. Just write. Then leave some comment love for the person who linked up before you…and anyone else because that’s the fun and the heart of the community!

Today’s prompt: Visit

IMG_4072I can’t believe it’s already been almost four years.

Four years since I clung to him at the airport, seven-month-preggo belly creating distance between our embrace, tears staining my cheeks as I released his hand and stumbled toward immigration alone.

Four years since I said goodbye.

Oh, not to him. He followed me six weeks later, after he’d completed his commitment to the school and just in time for the birth of our sweet Mae.

No, it’s been almost four years since I said goodbye to my other home…the one on the opposite side of the world.

Time flies. Like a jumbo jet across the Pacific…and I have been waiting for the day when we can board one again for a visit.

There have been many, many days when life here…the life we know and love now…has completely enveloped me. He has poured His blessings on, and we have gratefully accepted them. This is a good place, one I’m So. Very. Blessed. to call my home.

But there have also been the days when my heart longs to Visit. To go back and hug the people I love who live so far away, those I said goodbye to as tears brimmed and hearts ached.

And a couple weeks ago, we bought tickets!!!!!!

Can I throw in a late-night, happy dance? I just think one belongs here. ๐Ÿ˜‰

It still feels surreal that, in a short 57 days, (yikes!) the three of us will board a plane. And after a stop in Qatar (who knew? I had to look it up on a map…), our plane will land in Jakarta, and my feet will, once again, step down on Indonesian soil, the dirt happily making its way between my flip-flop clad toes. (In March…be jealous. Very jealous.) ๐Ÿ˜‰

There will be a beach trip, hopefully a little surfing, some BFF time, an exploration of all-things outlet shopping…but mostly?

There will be time to love people…those people I have missed so much that my heart aches over the distance that spans these two countries.

I can’t wait to visit.

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Five Minute Friday

Sig

Just Blogging Today

I haven’t just written in soooooo long.

Or, just shared pictures.

So, hi. Let’s do that today.

I remember when I first started this blog a few years ago, I’d sit down with a cup of coffee and just write to you all…tell you about life, tell you about where I am, tell you about the flavor of creamer in my coffee cup. (Pumpkin spice today, since I know you care. ;))

That stopped…and there are reasons why, and maybe I’ll share those another day.

But there are things I can tell you today, so why not? ๐Ÿ˜‰

So it’s Thanksgiving, and we are headed up north. (Such a Minnesota term.) ๐Ÿ˜‰ This time, though, to Green Bay to see some of his family. That will be fun…but, confession? And not really a new one…I hate to be cold. It’s gotten worse since moving back from Indonesia, but thankfully the weather report is sunny and not too frigid.

Some of you may have seen this picture on facebook…Maelie got her own tree for her bedroom, and she’s beyond ecstatic about the fact that it’s hers and all things sparkle. This is one of my favorite pictures of the two of us ever…and it’s a memory I will always hold close. She looks happy in the picture…but I wish you could have seen the excitement and heard the squeals as she raced around the room, almost unable to contain her joy in between hanging pink ornaments. Yes, pink. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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I kind of want to live like that every day…well, minus the pink ornaments. :)

And I still haven’t fully processed Allume. In fact, I might be the last person who attended to actually write about it. Sometimes you just can’t force the words, ya know? I’m working on one post that’s not quite there yet…it’s heavy but even so much more amazing that I’m still trying to wrap my brain around all that God did…and is still doing.

I also want to tell you about the book. And how I left Allume with hope instead of hurt and, for the first time, the actual desire to let God do with it what He wants, instead of me pushing it like crazy. I’m taking a break until January, and then the plan is to look (and pray!) for an agent. And actually pursue publishing it. Squeeeeee! :)

And I want to share pictures and tell stories of women who have made such an impact.ย I’m not kidding when I tell you that hugging them (in)RL was a highlight of my year. Lisa-Jo, Ann, Holley, Kristin, Delonna, Christine, Gindi, Mandy, Julie, Crystal, Laura, Kim, Elise…and so many more. So many sister-stories to tell,ย and I want to tell them.ย How they’ve changed my life and my community, every single one of them.

MelandLisa-JoMe with Lisa-Jo…hugging her was like hugging an old friend. So thankful for her and her heart for community!

HolleyandMelAnd, Holley…my sweet friend and mentor. She is truly as beautiful, kind, and wonderful (in)RL as she is through the words on her blog and in her books. The whole weekend felt like being home with her and my wonderful GSDT sisters.

PhotoboothLove ’em! Oh, girls, how I miss you…and making silly faces in the photo booth with you!

More stories to come. :)

And because I’m usually so random and it’s just me to throw something like this in here, you need to know about these. Oh. My. Goodness. Where have they been all my life??? (Or, more accurately, where have I been?)

51o-PDE3IbL._SX190_CR0,0,190,246_I. Kid. You. Not. They make arm warmers…aka: elbow gloves. Oh, the happy in this house. You can buy them here because, come on. You know you want them.

And at the risk of disappointing you all, I’m trying to drink less coffee. It’s 7:30 a.m. and I’m on my first cup. (Oh, the horrors.) Really trying to limit it to two cups a day…I’m starting to think maybe all that caffeine isn’t such a great idea, for more than one reason. So far I’ve managed to survive the coffee-downsize with only a two nasty headaches in the last few weeks. Here’s to embracing moderation and drinking more water. :)

And I could probably go on and on about coffee, but I need to stop thinking about it. That’s probably not helping much, either. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Thanks for joining me, friends…and for enduring my random. Wishing you all a blessed Thanksgiving! (((hugs)))

Sig

Behind the Scenes: Surfing in Iowa

I’m a surfer.

I call myself that as I currently sit in the place I call home…the freezing burbs of Chicago. (It snowed yesterday. I’m still not over it.)

But it’s true. I actually surf.

How it happened is kind of funny…it was almost a last-minute, last-day-in-Bali, gotta-do-this-now-or-I’m-never-gonna thing…and after a few major wipeouts, I completely fell in love with all things surfing. This pic is actually from ’07 and is one of my first rides. :)

mindasurfing_med

I’m well aware of how awesome I look. ๐Ÿ˜‰

After this first ride, anytime we were anywhere near a beach, I would run down, rent a board, and take on the waves.

And it’s probably safe to say that I miss it now. A lot, some days. I haven’t had the chance to go since before I was pregnant with Maelie, though a nice surf instructor at Kuta Beach in Bali did offer me a discounted rate on board rental when I was six months pregnant, with a looks-like-nine-months, belly.

Sigh.

I have to admit that would have been quite the sight…IF I’d been able to actually stand up. :)ย 

This past weekend, Tobin, Mae and I took an insanely quick, 36-hour trip to Iowa to see his family. We had some good times, more than enough more-than-good food, and managed to pull off surprising his older brother for his 40th birthday. It was fun, it was crazy at times with 22 people all in one house, and Mae soaked up the time with her twelve cousins. (On the way home: I miss my cousins! With wailing.)

On Saturday afternoon, the weather was so beautiful that we headed to a nearby playground so the kids could run off some (or more than some) energy.

Friends, I’m not kidding…when I got out of the car and saw this playground, I couldn’t wait to play. It was that good.

One of the first pieces of equipment we saw (and immediately jumped on) was this…to describe it? Basically as close to surfing as you can get in the Midwest and on a playground. :)

Long, skinny, wobbly, and requiring some good balance to stay on it.

playgroundsurfing

It went up and down and up and down and I almost fell off once but totally saved it and my former-surfer pride. It was fun and a little tricky, and a great chance to bond with my sisters-in-law, all three of them, as the four of us navigated this piece of playground equipment…I’m still not sure what it was called.

But it was fun…and a happy memory from the weekend.

And, it’s probably as close to surfing as I’ll get for awhile.

What do you think? Should we build one in the backyard for Mae? ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Happy Tuesday, friends! Today is the day when I join some sweet friends at Crystal’s space for Behind the Scenes. We’re sharing the silly and sweet and sometimes-tear-jerking moments that happen behind the camera lens…I hope you’ll take some time and pop over to read some great stories.

Social media and online relationships can make us feel like everyone else has it all together. We’re edited, proof-read, Pinterest-perfect versions of ourselves (or so some might think!) when – in reality? There is an unfinished pile of laundry around the corner. That cute toddler smiling for the camera just had a massive meltdown seconds ago. That yummy breakfast-for-dinner you just showed us on Instagram? It’s because the cat licked the chicken that was supposed to be for dinner.

“Behind the Scenes” is a fun link up where we show those photos – but tell the real story behind them.ย The sneak peek behind the scenes, a look past the edges of the photo to the real life behind it.

crystalstine.me

 

Sig

Behind the Scenes: We’re Not Just Picking Flowers Here…

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When I first look at this picture, I think,

Mel, couldn’t you have at least gotten this from another angle? Really? It’s your precious girlie picking a flower!

And then I answer myself with a loud, resounding,ย NO!

Because this is not really a story about picking flowers at all…but I hope you enjoy my drama storytelling, anyway. ๐Ÿ˜‰

On Sunday afternoon we left town around 12:45 p.m. and headed to Madison, Wisconsin, for Tobin’s uncle’s birthday party.

It’s a two hour drive.

ETA with a potty break thrown in there: 3:00 p.m.

Right. On. Time.

But, no. Oh, no.

Our first mistake was getting on I-90 which was kinda like downtown Chicago after a Bulls game.

Times about a hundred gazillion.

Traffic was creeping…and I do mean creeeeeeeeeeeping.

We sat in it for a good fifteen minutes before we were able to inch our way toward the first exit we saw.

We’re poring over the GPS, trying to find an alternate route, already running super late, and have just turned onto Route 72 when we hear that little voice from the backseat.

I need to go potty!

It’s our first road trip with her being potty trained. {OF COURSE she needs to go potty…it’s Murphy’s Law at its finest and most inconvenient. ;)}

We stop at the first gas station we see and We. Make. It.

Whew.

But we’re Tobin and Mel and Maelie…the fun never stops with just a potty break! ๐Ÿ˜‰

She spots a field of flowers as we’re walking back to the van. Down the hill from where we’re parked.

I’m wearing heels. (Of course…when am I not? But still.)

I WANNA PICK A FLOWER!

Knowing that the easiest thing to do in this situation is to Just. Let. Her. Pick. The. Flower…I kick off my heels and we run down the hill to find the very best one.

Realizing at this very moment that this is potentially a perfect picture for my Tuesday post, I whip out my iPhone and snap a picture as fast as I can before we run back up the hill to the van.

And, yes, I remembered to go back for my shoes. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Soon we’re off again, down or up or whichever way we were going on Route 72. (I’m thinking I need to write a song here…)

The drive is going smoothly for about six minutes, which is a record for us on this trip, friends.

Things. Are. Most. Definitely. Looking. Up.

And then we see? The brake lights.

There’s a train. It’s. Not. Moving. At. All.

People are turning around, and I just think, Can’t you wait a few measly minutes for a train?

And then Tobin points out that people on the other side have gotten OUT of their cars and are walking around. Clearly, this train is not moving anytime soon.

We sit for a few minutes, thinking that maybe our presence will bring some good luck and things will get moving again. Not a chance. Like the multitudes, we backtrack and find another route. (At this point, the GPS tells us we’re going to be about 30 minutes late.)

Finally on our way (again) we head toward Rockford. We are Just. About. There. when we pass over I-90, which I think may have a new name in my mind now. (It does not belong here.)

Traffic is moving.

We’re encouraged that perhaps we can hop back on the freeway and make up a few minutes.

Our next mistake: We get back on the freeway.

Because we’re optimistic like that.ย ๐Ÿ˜‰

No sooner had we actually entered the highway when we saw brake lights and it backed up.

We crawled.

Crawled.

Actually, I’m pretty sure I could have gotten out of the car and, literally, crawled faster.

OY.

At this point, I think the phrase, And WHY are we doing this?, may or may not have escaped my lips.

But by now, I just need to focus on something else, so I pull out my phone and tap out a text message to a friend. It’s all, Hope you’re having a good day, we’re stuck in traffic, haha, but she knows me well enough to know that I’m just not telling her exactly how frustrated I am.

It takes up a minute of our forever-into-eternity, long trip, and then I look up.

Still traffic.

Twenty more minutes before we hit Rockford, which is normally a 40 minute drive for us. Sunday? It took us

An. Hour. And. 40. Minutes.

Good grief, have we done something wrong?! Don’t answer that.

Thankfully the rest of the trip was uneventful except for one more little stop right before we arrived at our destination just a few minutes before 4 p.m.

Happy party, fun to catch up with people we hadn’t seen in a long time, there was cake, all is good.

Except there’s a drive home, ya know?

We planned it and got off the freeway Completely. Before. We. Even. Arrived. In. Illinois.

Take THAT, I-90.

๐Ÿ˜›

Home in two hours and a few extra minutes. Praise Jesus.

Except I have to go through Rockford next week, and I have no idea how I’m going to survive it.

Lots of prayer?

More detours?

Please. Send. Chocolate.

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Happy Tuesday, sweet friends! On Tuesdays I link up with my sweet friend, Crystal, at her space for Behind the Scenes.

Social media and online relationships can make us feel like everyone else has it all together. We’re edited, proof-read, Pinterest-perfect versions of ourselves (or so some might think!) when – in reality? There is an unfinished pile of laundry around the corner. That cute toddler smiling for the camera just had a massive meltdown seconds ago. That yummy breakfast-for-dinner you just showed us on Instagram? It’s because the cat licked the chicken that was supposed to be for dinner.

“Behind the Scenes” is a fun link up where we show those photos – but tell the real story behind them. The sneak peek behind the scenes, a look past the edges of the photo to the real life behind it.

I hope you’ll take some time to hop over and read about the real and messy of life that happens behind the photos we take.

crystalstine.me

Sig

A Mess of Batik…and Identity

The other day I was digging through some boxes we’ve stored in our basement.

Some of them contain items we shipped back to the States from Indonesia three years ago, and while we’ve gone through the boxes at least once since then, we weren’t in the place yet where we could just start pitching everything we don’t use. (Though that day is definitely closer now. ;))

I was actually digging (and making a total mess…really) for a book that I’d had shipped to me in Indonesia and thought I’d brought back. It figures that I didn’t find the book, but I did find?

This.

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Yes, it kind of fits me like a great, big, batik, tent. ๐Ÿ˜‰

But, before you cringe…let me tell you the back story.

During our years in Indonesia, I loved all things batik, especially the patchwork kind. Purses, shirts, even skirts…I couldn’t get enough of it. When I stumbled on this tank top in a little batik shop in Yogyakarta during our Christmas trip of ’08, it was like finding a treasure. And so I bought it and wore it and loved it. (And I’m guessing packed it up to ship home way before I actually left Indonesia because my prego belly was probably way too big for it by then. ;))

And that shirt wasn’t the only batik thing I brought home. A couple skirts, shirts, a kebaya, blankets, more bags than I can count… IndonesiaBags

Yep, I stocked up. (And, bonus points to the person who can count how many batik purses are hidden in all of that.) ๐Ÿ˜‰

I wanted to make sure I had enough batik to get me through however long it took me to…

Well, I’m not exactly sure how to finish that sentence.

For several months after my return, I wanted that piece of Indonesia.

The kind I could look at and hold in my hands, the kind that could remind me of the place that still held so much of my heart, even if my feet weren’t planted there anymore.

I’d wear those batik shirts around and carry the cute bags and find a little piece of my identity in the fact that even if I couldn’t be there, at least I could remember it.

But eventually that day came…the day when I pulled out a bag I bought at Target. And I dressed in my jeans and and equally-Target tank top, probably with some Old Navy flip flops thrown in there, too.

I’m not sure how, or even exactlyย when, it happened, but I became ok with not having that piece of I’ve-obviously-been-somewhere-most-of-you-haven’t-and-that-place-is-my-identity, thrown out there for the world (or at least my little C’ville) to see.

Finding that shirt the other day brought me back to that place…and reminded me of the silly things I sometimes find my identity in.

While a cute bag is always nice (can I get an amen, here?! ;)) and so is a fun, unique shirt…if I’m choosing to label myself with something that trivial, then I have a long way to go.

I guess I still do.

We all do.

That’s why I’m thankful that I’m redeemed, that He’s called me by name, that I’m precious and honored in His eyes…that He loves me.

That. I’m. His.

And as I sit here writing this, still wearing that tent-like tank top, it’s a beautiful reminder, one I need every day.

Thank you, Father.

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But, seriously…I added a striped sweater. Don’t you totally think I should wear this on our next date night?! ๐Ÿ˜‰ย 

Sig

On Memories and Sarongs…

A few weeks ago, I broke my favorite coffee mug. It was a travel mug I purchased at the Starbucks at BIP in Bandung, my last night in Indonesia. (I looked for a picture and couldn’t find one online…just think cute, batik, brown and blue. :))

I was crushed, no pun intended ;), to the point of tears. I had already been in I-miss-Indonesia-mode like crazy…and it just felt like a crushing blow.

Yes, it was just a coffee mug, but that mug was special.

But breaking it did make me start to think…about the things I hold dear, about the things that have a place in my heart and life, about the things that take priority where they shouldn’t.

And so, yesterday, I did something I’ve been putting off for three-days-shy-of-three-years.

See, in three days I will have been “home” from Indonesia for three years. (It’s strange to see that typed out. Time has truly flown.)

And when I packed my bags and boxed up what I wanted us to ship back to the States, a lot of those things included were little, at-the-time-symbolic-but-generally-just-taking-up-space, trinkets. And for three years, I’ve kept them stored in a few random bags, which were stuffed, mostly-unopened, in one of our closets.

I’ve known for awhile that this kind of clutter needed to go, but it’s hard.

So many of those little things were gifts from students and friends, little oleh-oleh (souvenirs) purchased during trips. They all hold a memory.

And it’s hard to throw away memories.

But, let’s be honest here…a person only needs so many sarongs. :) (Not kidding when I tell you that I came back with more than a dozen. Ahem…can I blame it on my love for going to the beach?) ๐Ÿ˜‰

So I started…smaller. I went through three bags of jewelry and other random “fun”…and I threw out 90% of it. Straight into the garbage can. I pulled out a few things to save for Maelie when she’s older and even found two or three things I’d been wanting but had no clue where they were. ๐Ÿ˜‰

And then I moved on to the sarongs, which were a bit more difficult to part with. Like I said before, there are so many memories tied to them (again, no pun intended…man, I’m on a roll today! ;)) and it’s hard to just toss them aside. I let myself keep three…my two favorites and, again, one for Maelie.

But I honestly felt guilty about throwing those away…and so I didn’t.

Here they are. :)

sarongs

And here’s the deal. (If you’d like. :)) If you see one you like in the picture, leave me a comment to claim it. (I’ll get your address through email.) I’ll toss it in an envelope and send it your way in the next week or two…and in that way I can get rid of some of the clutter and pass on a little Indo-love at the same time. (I will tell you that I’ve used a few of them once or twice…and I promise to wash them all before I send them out. :))

But if you want a purchased-somewhere-in-Indonesia (most likely, at a beach) sarong, here’s your chance. And it would make me happy to pass them on to friends instead of just tossing them or donating them. :)

The longer we’ve been back in the States, the more I’ve realized that my memories from Indonesia don’t lie in the souvenirs that surround me.

Not in seashell necklaces, not in bright-flower sarongs, not even in the world’s cutest batik coffee mug.

The memories…and, more importantly, the people…are in our hearts. And that’s the way it should be.

:) Blessings, friends.

Sig

A Reminder of His Protection

I don’t love to fly.

Which could actually be shocking to many of you, considering that my life, in general, has deemed traveling by plane very necessary.

I’m not kidding when I tell you that takeoffs and landings, especially, scare the b-geebies out of me. This, coming from a girl, who has endured at least two hundred of them. Yep, I still sweat and grip the armrests so tightly that my knuckles turn white.

So, you can imagine the kind of conversation that ensued when, Saturday morning I trudged out of bed (yes, I usually trudge for the first few minutes…not exactly a morning person), and his first words to me…

This is crazy…a plane coming from Bandung overshot the runway in Bali and landed in the ocean.ย 

So, like any curious, former-Bandung-Indo-resident, Bali-lovin’, girl would do, I immediately headed to the computer to watch a clip with him.

It kind of shook me up to see it.

We’ve flown all over Indonesia. Once, even with that very airline. We’re also (still) aware of the fact that several of the airlines there don’t meet safety requirements, and runways in several major Indo airports teeter toward the too-short length. There is one, in fact, that has been “officially” deemed too short, but it’s one we never actually landed on.

Seeing the footage sent chills up and down my spine as I recounted the many times we’ve landed on that very runway. (Prayers being uttered during every landing by yours truly. ;))

Once we watched the footage together (and laughed at how one of the announcers pronounced Bandung (friends, its Bon-doong, not Ban-dung ;)) we had to process it out, you know.

Or, at least one of us did. :)

Indonesia and Bali are both on our list for next year. We’ve been wanting to take Maelie there before she gets too much older…plus, if we’re going that far, we have to do Bali so this girl can hit a surfboard for a few hours. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Well, and so we can introduce our girl to this little slice of paradise that is so special to us.

But, true to my personality type, I immediately freaked out. I guess there’s no way Maelie will see Bali now!

:)

It’s moments like that when I’m glad to be married to a rock-solid, albeit-slightly-a-little-too-steady, ISTJ like Tobin. Because his response?

Why not?

He gets it, and it was a short, not too earth-shattering (thought maybe plane-splitting ;)), reminder that my Father has it all figured out. The fact is that if our time to go…and if God chooses a plane crash for that…then there’s not a lot I can do to stop it.

I just have to trust that He’s got it all worked out for good…and I know He does.

I’m posting this video because, praise God, other than some minor injuries, everyone made it off the plane safely, which seems like a miracle when you see the plane. (It is also, in fact, shocking how close to shore that plane is.) We used to hang out at Kuta Beach and watch the planes come and go from just a mile or two away…crazy to think that a plane went down just that distance from where I surfed and boogie boarded. Wild.

Thanking my Father today for His protection of these precious people.

(P.S. My apologies for any potential ads that may precede this video…I tried to find the least-offensive one, but who knows what’s gonna show up. ;))

Sig