2015: Open

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A year ago I chose Restore as my word for 2014.

I believed that God had a lot of healing and restoration for our family, and I chose that word knowing that we were probably looking at a pretty stretching year.

I was ready to be challenged, but I really had no idea that He would choose to bring us through what He did in order to bring that restoration.

I say bring…I should say that He is still bringING. We’re not done yet…we probably never will be.

And there are times I wish I hadn’t chosen that word…but I did, and He sure had a journey to take us on in the twelve months that made up 2014. I talked a lot about that in my last post…as in 1,200-plus-words, a lot. 😉

And now…we’re looking at 2015, and I’m even looking at it a day late.

Truthfully, for the second year in a row, I thought I would be focusing on a word like Create or Art or Do. Part of that is because my hands have been itching to get busy again. I got two new art books for Christmas, a journaling Bible, and tons of new, fun pens. I kind of can’t wait to get to it all. I’m teaching myself to do lettering, and I’m thinking it’s going to be awesome…though whether I am actually awesome at it is questionable. 😉

But let’s get back to how God ISN’T letting me make that my focus for the year. 😉

It’s not what He’s whispering to me…at all.

And so this post comes to you, courtesy of me finally bending to what I know He’s working on in my heart.

open door button final 32015: Open. Let me tell you a little about it.

The word Open came to me as I was thinking about the last year and praying through some things. 2014 was a hard year, and as easy as it often is to go back to those things that made it rough, I’m also aware that there are some things God is doing in my heart. I want to be open to them.

So, some goals for 2015.

Open my Bible.

Every day, first thing, even if it’s just for a few. Find something He wants me to dwell on, to think through, to pray over and apply. (And since we’re talking journaling Bibles, which are AWE. SOME., doodling and writing on the pages is totally included in this.) :)

Open my hands.

There are too many dreams I’ve held onto with tightly-clenched fists, determined that they would come true in my timing and in my way.

Haha. Really, Mel, you should know better by now…

But I am beginning to open my hands by giving you all a gift every Monday. (If you want it!) 😉 Starting this Monday I’ll be sharing my book with you here, chapter by chapter. It’s my way of telling my stories for the simple fact that I love to tell them. No strings attached, just words. (A LOT of them.) 😉

And…Open my heart. (This is a tough one.)

I’ve had this perfect plan in my head for so long, one that includes another baby of our own. Realistically? Well, I know it could happen. And it might, still. But I do believe that the words, my ship has sailed, came out of my mouth the other day in a conversation with my husband. I think God might be moving us into a new season of being open to something different.

While I was at Allume in October, God crossed my path with two incredible women, and through conversation and even a few tears, and through buying the cutest necklace (more on that one another day…) 😉 I learned about The Sparrow Project and Project 143.

I also came home wanting to host a child and possibly adopt.

But I also knew we needed to pray through some things before we decided anything. It’s a shocker, I know, but sometimes I run on emotions. Big ones. 😉

And yet, there was something different about this.

And I honestly didn’t have a clear picture of whether we should even look into it until just last week when the face of an eleven year-old boy popped up into my Facebook news feed. There was something about him, and I called Tobin into the room. As tears streamed down my cheeks, I showed him the picture and told him that I finally felt like now was the time. And maybe the most surprising thing to me was that my hubby didn’t disagree.

Because this is our chance to say, Yes. We’re open to this and whatever might come from it. 

This isn’t an announcement to the world that we’re adopting. A part of me wishes it was…there’s something about having a clear picture of whatever is coming. But the honest truth is that we don’t know. We don’t know if we’re meant to have another child in our family, and we don’t want to walk forward with that expectation as an absolute. Some of you know that we’ve been down this road once before, and it was heartbreaking. The decision to adopt is not something that should ever be chosen without an incredible amount of prayer and surrender.

And yet…we feel that God might be finally giving us a glimpse of what’s next. Will you pray with us?

And so that brings us to 2015 and the year of being Open…being open to whatever He has for us.

I really have no idea what it even looks like, but I love the whispers of Hope that are finding their way into my heart.

I love that I’m smiling more smiles and crying less tears as I type this.

I love looking forward to the new and exciting…and I want to completely embrace whatever He has for us, even if it might not be what I would have chosen.

Here’s to 2015. Let’s do this. :)

Photo Credits: William Murphy, Tim Green

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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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In the Fog

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

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

I love my reasoning.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Deep, Not Wide

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I made a mistake last year.

Well, to be fair, I make them every day. 😉

But this one…it was the kind that grated on me for a year. I just couldn’t get it out of my head. And I knew things needed to be different, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what I had done wrong. And, really, it took twelve months to process.

But this morning, as I sit down with my coffee and pour my heart out to you, I’m starting to see.

And, oh…it feels good to finally see.

So one of my dreams has been, for a long time, to “make it” in the blogging world…to become the next big blogger, whatever that looks like.

And what that DOES look like…well, I still haven’t quite figured that out. For a long time, I had it in my head that it meant tons of followers, comments, a platform the width of the world, lots of recognition. And, of course, a book deal to follow.

In reality it sounds like a lovely, perfectly-ordered dream, doesn’t it?

And there was a time…a span of about a year…when I chased that dream hard.

Too. Hard.

Today I’m over at God-sized Dreams telling a heart-story, one that’s tough to share with the world. Will you join me there?

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The Gift of Perspective

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Or maybe I should title this something more along the lines of, “When Your Day Falls Apart and You Have To Deal With it Anyway…”

Oh, Wednesdays.

So, usually, I like this kind of day. Wednesdays are the one day of the week when we don’t have to be anywhere until 11 a.m.

I try to sleep in a little and pray Mae does, too, but she seems to be on a permanent, wake-up-at-6:30-no-matter-what, kick these days. And so our day usually starts a bit earlier than I’d like it to, but yesterday morning I figured we’d make the best of it all, and I crawled into her bed to cuddle. We laughed, we joked, she stroked my hair and asked me if my headache was better. Yes, you may melt now. She’s just that sweet. :)

And then we got up to face the day. She had her breakfast and watched some tv while I worked out and got ready to leave the house.

We usually leave a few minutes early for gymnastics on Wednesdays so I can stop at Dunkin’ for a caffeine fix. It’s my once-a-week treat. :) We also needed to pick up a friend, too, and so I went out to the van around 10:15 to start it.

Turned the key.

Nothing.

I figured it was a fluke because we have had starter problems in the recent past. (Here, I might just insert that I don’t recommend a Dodge Caravan. I love my minivan, but I won’t be buying another one…this one has left me stranded just a few times too many.) One trick is to shift in into neutral, which will usually kick the starter back into working right.

But the van wouldn’t shift AT. ALL.

I called my friend and told her we wouldn’t be making it to gymnastics.

And then I called hubby, and by then I was so frustrated that I cried. (Sorry, T. I know you know it’s not you, but I’m still sorry.)

I tried a few other things like using a different key and attempting to shift it again, but nothing worked so hubby came home from work to look at it and confirmed that I wasn’t crazy. (Which was a weird relief. While most of me wanted the van to JUST. START.ALREADY, there was another little part of me that was relieved this wasn’t me and my female, I-don’t-understand-anything-about-cars, brain.)

And this was the part of the day when my brain started racing over all the things I needed to do. Pick up one more thing and get a friend’s birthday package in the mail. Bible study this morning, afternoon music practice for Mae, two music practices for me tonight, followed by a cookie exchange.

In short, I needed my van today.

But we had to have it towed…and the estimated return time? Unknown.

And I had to stop myself and remember that this was not the end of the world.

In my first-world mind, it felt like a big deal…until I thought of the people I know and love in another country who do life without a vehicle every single day.

The ones who live not much more than day-to-day and find the faith to know without a doubt that their needs will be taken care of.

The ones who don’t celebrate a Christmas that looks like mine…yes, we do Advent and look forward to Jesus and the reminder of just what a miraculous gift he was and still is. But our Christmas also comes with beautifully lit trees and equally beautiful packages (if my hubby wraps them) and music and apple cider and cookies and parties and special church services and a thousand other material reminders of the holiday that is so wonderful, so meaningful, and also so commercial.

And maybe I just need to, daily, go back to a young woman who, over 2,000 years ago, probably took the most uncomfortable ride of anyone’s life on a donkey. Dude, I know donkeys were just how people traveled back then, but still…I could barely walk when I was that pregnant. I can’t imagine sitting my bum on a donkey, riding through that kind of terrain, and actually staying on, to boot. (Ok, so yes there are theories out there that maybe she didn’t ride on a donkey…I’m going with the Sunday School answer today.) 😉

When it comes down to it, it’s all perspective, really.

Yeah, it’s a stinky day when life doesn’t look like I want (and need) it to. But maybe I don’t need it to, either.

Maybe my heart needs to slow down and remember the season…and the truth that I am a blessed child of God because of the gift that came wrapped in cloths, lying in a manger, so many years ago.

And may I remember that always, even on days when my van won’t start.

Update: Too much money later, at least I have my van back this morning. But it’s always good to gain some perspective, isn’t it? :)

Photo Source: openclipart

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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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Finding My Song Again

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My heart pounded a little as I walked into the music room that Wednesday night, and there was really no reason for it. I mean, these were my friends, and singing with them was definitely nothing new or scary.

The normal, pre-practice chatter happened, and that was good, but then the singing started and it was a good thing that we were all sitting in a row and I was on the end because I couldn’t believe how fast the tears sprang to my eyes.

I made myself hold them back and sing the words, but it was hard, and I wondered that night if maybe…this season was over.

And I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around it because how does a season that has lasted 36 years just end like that?

How could a single event take such a big piece of me?

I thought it over during the next days as I half-dreaded Sunday morning. I didn’t want to say to anyone, I haven’t sung since before…

The truth is that in my mind, life is defined right now in two ways…Before. and After.

It’s not a conscious choice…it’s just how my brain thinks right now. :)

Certain things bring pain, and I’ve had to find where to draw the line so I can avoid what I need to…I’m not necessarily avoiding everything that’s difficult, but I’m not just throwing myself into all-things-painful, either. Does that make sense? 

I know it sounds crazy, but the night I started spotting, I was wearing this silly, sweet tank top with a giraffe on it. I haven’t worn it since. I can’t.

I also rarely go to Target. It’s too painful, especially walking by the baby section, which is much-too-conveniently located, smack dab, in the middle of the store. Our bank account is doing better thanks to this, but my heart aches over it. I’ve been back twice…once with a friend, once with my hubby. I didn’t make them hold my hand, but I was close. 😉

Same with Chipotle…which I craved up and down during those weeks. I just can’t go.

And there are other things that make the list, too…like the book I was reading that I haven’t picked up again, the song Blessings…and the list can go on and on.

And Sunday morning came because that’s just what happens when days pass…and while I was ok, I couldn’t fight back the tears as I walked into church, wondering what I was even doing.

I really felt like my song was gone. Maybe forever.

And even as I picked up a microphone for the first time in weeks, I had the sudden urge to run…I seem to be good at that, and it was what felt right at the moment, but I stayed.

And I sang.

And while it was no big deal, really, the morning was a scream of Hope that my heart desperately needed.

I needed to know that my song was still there. Somewhere.

And it was. IS.

He’s finding my song for me again.

He’s healing my heart, one little piece at a time.

He’s Good…and I’m so thankful.

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Sometimes We Wait…

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It’s been a long time…in fact, the longest time I’ve gone without writing since I started the blog.

And probably at least twelve times in the last week…Twelve. That’s a lot. I’ve sat down and tried to write something. Anything.

You know, words.

Let’s be honest, I don’t always have something incredibly profound to share, but I usually have Words. Stories. A piece of the journey that has taught me something.

In all of the up and down that has been life during the last month, the one thing I never thought would disappear is the ability to write. And yet, for all of the writer’s block I had before, it’s a hundred times worse lately.

I hate that.

But I seem to always write better with coffee, so we’ll try. It’s always worth a try.

And? Well, no matter the season of life, coffee is one of those welcome constants…I always like coffee. :)

So, a few random things about life…lately…ish.

This girl…she is headed to PK4. And though she’s been four for Two. Whole. Months, I still can’t wrap my mind completely around the fact that she’ll be in school three mornings a week. Which means, pretty much, that I’m going to cry, and she’ll tell me to stop. 😉

1stDaySelfie-finalHere we are, bad lighting and all, before her Hello/Goodbye Day at school yesterday.
She is cute. And I need more sleep. 😉

I started running again. I took a necessary (but too long) hiatus, and can I just confess that even running three miles now feels a bit like torture? And not just physical, either. Honestly, I spent so many miles on the familiar, close-to-our-house, bike path…while I was pregnant. And during those miles, I talked to God, I praised Him, I sang along with my playlist, and I dreamed dreams for our new little one.

And so going out on that bike path now is just raw pain. I’m choosing to face the pain because I need to…I need to go there and move past it. Because there are certain realities…like the fact that our house is less than 100 yards from the path. Even if I never go back to the path, it’s still going to be there.

It’s my next step forward.

And people still ask…how are you?

And if I’m in a blunt mood, I’ll probably tell you how much I dislike that question before I say anything else because, the truth is, I don’t know how to answer it.

I always feel like people want to hear, I’m great! Or, even just good.

The truth? Is that I ache and cry far more than I want to. I’ve gone exactly one day without crying in a month. One. I don’t even remember what day that was…I just remember that it happened. And thought it sounds a bit crazy…that one day out of 31 gives me Hope.

I need Hope. Lots of it.

And maybe, right now, that Hope comes in different ways. Small ways. Through coffee with friends and heart chats, through park adventures with my girl and a late-night Google hangout with a sister.

God gave me a word last spring as we flew over oceans and crossed cultures, and even in a moment of uncertainty and even fear, I knew that He was telling me that my purpose was to share my Journey.

I had no idea that this…loss…was supposed to be part of that journey. I didn’t want it to be.

But I think I forget sometimes that the journey twists and turns. We can’t always see what’s next.

And there are other times when the journey seems to stop. It doesn’t, really…but He does ask us to wait. Trust. Breathe…knowing that He has us where we’re supposed to be.

And that’s where life is right now.

There are blessings…and I’ve tried to be intentional about seeing them. Counting them. Giving thanks for each time a smile comes.

And there are hard moments, too…and rather than throwing them away, I try to remember His promises. We know JOY comes in the morning.

And so we wait for it.

And we find reasons to smile along the way, too. :)

Photo Credit: Motiqua

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Just Keep Running

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Several days a week, my view during my morning run looks like this. You would think that would be enough to get me excited about actually running…but, um.

I confess.

I confess that running is maybe not my most favorite thing in the world on a lot of the days. A LOT.

There are times when I do really, really like it.

And then there are a lot of times I don’t, but I do it anyway. I drag myself out of bed, force the socks and shoes on my feet, and push my own bum out the door just so I can M.O.V.E.

I don’t look like a runner…I’m just telling y’all that now. My running clothes aren’t bright, fun colors and expensive brands. Nope. I run in Target shorts and tank tops and my running shoes are the Nikes that were on sale, big time, at Kohl’s last fall. (And a lot of times? I just sleep in my running clothes…minus the shoes… 😉 so I don’t have to change in the morning.)

I don’t have a perfect stride or even-close-to perfect breathing when I run my miles. Also, I’m pretty sure my arms flop around like Phoebe’s do in that episode of Friends.

There are a few days when I basically make it my goal to survive…And, to keep running.

And so I get out there and I do just that. Some days are better and faster, and some mornings I’ve gotten a whole lot more sleep than others, but I go. I do it.

And all of those things? Well, they make me a runner…at least, in my mind.

You see, when I plan to go running, I set my goal before the first steps. And, barring a major injury, I have a rule that I don’t shortchange myself. If I’m going out for six miles, I’m going to do six miles.

Three miles of sprints? No cheating. Just do them. (Ugh. And I realllllly don’t like sprints.)

Last weekend, I wanted to quit halfway through my four mile run. (The problem with that was that it was at the turnaround, so quitting…yeah…) I’d run about a 19:50 split on the two-plus-a-bit-more, and I was happy with that. I’d just turned around and passed the little section of the path that almost meets the road, and cars (with onlookers) zoom by.

It was then that two guys on bicycles passed me going the other way. All I heard them say? She’s a runner? That’s the funniest thing I’ve ever seen!

Plus laughter.

Ok, ok so I know. I KNOW. They could have been talking about anyone.

But it was a bit of a tough pill to swallow for the girl who already doesn’t feel like a runner or really look like one, either…and I felt the defeat creep in as I forced my feet to keep moving. Boy, was the finish line…in the form of my front sidewalk…a welcome sight.

But then I thought about that comment…and whether it was actually meant for me or not wasn’t the issue. You see, there are always going to people who choose to use their words for discouragement.

There are also going to be people who look at a person at judge them just by what they see. They don’t know the story, and they don’t know the hundreds upon hundreds of miles you’ve run or thousands of steps you’ve taken or millions of words you’ve written.

I have a choice…WE have a choice. We can let them squash us or we can just keep running. Or writing. Or doing. Or being.

I’m thankful that last week, I chose to keep running. Was it my fastest time? No.

Was I dying just a wee-bit when I finished? Maybe, yeah. 😉

But their words didn’t stop me, and they shouldn’t stop you today, either.

It’s been a weird season for me, to be honest. I’m not exactly sure what God is doing with my words or with my family or, even, with my life. But I’ve got to believe and trust that He’s got a plan.

He does. And it’s a good one, because He promises us just that.

And so, some days I pull myself out of bed and go for that run, the one that is replacing another glorious hour of sleep that I could have. 😉

Other days, I sit down and write words…words that might end up published or words that might just stay hidden in the pages of a journal.

And yet, others…well, I don’t know on those days. And so I open His Word and pray…pray that He’ll give what I need for the day. He always does.

And, somehow, my feet find a way to move forward…to keep running.

I don’t know where you are today, my friend…but keep running. Whether you are pounding words or pounding pavement, He’s got this.

And I’ll cheer for you, too. :)

Sig

A New Space for A New Journey (And a GIVEAWAY!)

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For years, I’ve stared at it.

The boring space that is A Barefoot Life. Really, friends…it was boring. I’m just being real here. 😉

Maybe what I wrote wasn’t always boring, but there’s so much that’s appealing about a pretty blog. And as a polka dot lovin’, flip-flop wearing, fashion-adoring girl, it just seems right that the place I live online should be cute too, huh? Can I get an AMEN?! 😉

And my sweet friend, Lisa? Well, one of her callings in life, at least according to me 😉 is to design pretty blogs. And she did an amazing job, didn’t she?!

Oh, I’ll be coming back here all day (and probably all of forever…) just to gaze at the beauty that SO not my gift at all. I’m so very thankful that someone I love is gifted in this area. :)

In thinking through my blog redesign…the one I’ve been wanting to do for a year, at least…it was hard. I had no direction because I was going through that kind of season. You know, one of those.

What’s my purpose? Who am I exactly in this great, big, bloggy world?

Because let’s be honest, friends…this bloggy world IS big. And it IS easy to feel like a tiny drop in a sandbox bucket.

Over the past few months, God has been whispering something. It’s not always been something I’ve wanted to hear, but He’s been pretty loud and clear.

He’s not calling me to write a book (right now, at least) or to be some big, awesome, word star. He’s just calling me to share my words.

Beautiful or messy, profound or just chatter…for the people who need them. And that probably won’t be the entire world…though that would always be nice. :)

He just wants me…Mel. My heart, my willingness, my words…for me to take those and use them for Him and let Him do the rest.

It has taken a long time for me to embrace that and not just be ok with it.

But today?

Today I’m completely owning my new taglineLive the Adventure. Tell the Stories. (<====Tweet this!

And there’s actually a funny story about how He gave me that tagline. It was somewhere, in the air, between Doha and Chicago, as I fretted over situations and processed a dream that had come to an end when I opened my email during our layover in Qatar. It was in those moments of grief and even a little fear that I heard my Father whisper…

Live the Adventure…it’s what I’ve created life to be. And then Tell the Stories…the people you love, the places you go, all I’m doing in you.

That’s it. And I kind of love it. A LOT.

So welcome to my new place…same site but a whole lot prettier. Thanks again, sweet Lisa! :) 

I can’t wait to share the adventures with you…the ones that happen as I slowly traipse my way around the world and the even better ones that happen in my own backyard.

I hope you’ll join me for all of them!

Here’s to a new space for a new journey…I can’t wait! :) (<====Tweet this!)

                                                           

I’m so glad you’re here, and I want to say thank you with a happy, fun, summer giveaway. Use the rafflecopter below to enter to win some of my favorite things! (Sorry…U.S. residents only.) :) 

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First up…what’s summer without COFFEE? (Really, what is LIFE without coffee? But we might have to go into that another day…) 😉 And, psst…Dunkin’ Donuts has any-size iced coffee for 99 cents all summer from 3-6 pm! WooHoo!) And if, for some sad reason, you are nowhere near a Dunkin’, let me know, and I’ll throw in $10 so you can get yourself some good coffee. It’s not like that gift card won’t get used around here…ahem. 😉

Finding Spiritual Whitespace…it’s one of my new favorite books. In fact, I’m reading through it for the second time so I can journal it out in detail. (I never do that with books. I’m doing that with this one, though…it’s that good.) It will probably take me six blog posts to talk about why it’s my favorite. But if you’re craving rest and intimacy with Jesus, you need to read this…Bonnie shares a journey of heartbreak, healing, and hope. It’s inspiring. And I think, no matter who you are or where you are in life, her words will resonate somehow.

My sweet friend and blog designer also has an Etsy store with some of the most beautiful prints I’ve ever seen, and Lisa is offering a free print from her store to the winner…you get to choose! Be sure to hop over and check out her amazing designs…they are seriously gorgeous. (I need more walls in my house just so I can buy more of her prints!) And as a bonus…the money raised from all sales goes to help fund her family’s adoption. How cool is that?! :)

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Last up…check out one of my new favorites. Ok, so it took me a loooooong time to embrace dresses and skirts again…five years of being forced to wear them might do that to just about any woman. But gotta admit that they’ve stolen my heart this summer, and Target has some cuuuuute dresses right now…this one was an awesome $11. Ok, ok, I had a $5 gift card and got a sweet 20% off with Cartwheel. 😉 Take this $20 gift card and pick up something fun to wear. 😉

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Thanks again for being here, friends. I wouldn’t want to walk this journey with anyone else!

(And I’ll pick a winner on Sunday. Or, rather, Rafflecopter will.) 😉

Photo credit: plugged mind

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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