Yes, I Drink Caffeine at Night. Sometimes Late.

Hi, my name is Mel, and I’m a coffee addict.

I know that’s shocking news to all of you.

So it’s 9 p.m…and a pot of coffee kind of night. Or at least a cup.

It wasn’t a bad one at all…it was actually a really good day.

But I don’t feel like I’ve sat down much…so bring on a cup ‘o joe, my pj pants, and some quality time¬†for me and the blog!

I like to chat about life…what’s up, what’s down, what I’m learning, how He’s working. So let’s talk about that, k? And hopefully, I’ll get through the conversation on just one cup of coffee because, really, I shouldn’t be drinking more than that this late.

Even coffee addicts need sleep. ūüėČ

What’s up? Lots of stuff.

My days are full of Mae…she is such the sunshine. It’s melts my heart and makes me smile really big to see the way she blesses the lives of people around her. She is JOY and random hellos and handshakes and hugs and complete love all rolled up into a pretty stinkin’ cute, albeit slightly-messy-haired,¬†little girl.

And I am incredibly blessed to spend my days with her.

The temperature lately has been UP…therefore my desire for a tan has been elevated, too. :) Truthfully, I’m not the sun worshipper I used to be, but, hey, if there can actually be a tan in March, why not?! I got some good color in Spain and have been able to keep it thanks to Chicago’s glorious, eight consecutive, days of 80’s and sunny.

Love.

The weather has been completely awesome for running, too…I can’t remember ever going for an early morning¬†run in March in¬†a tank top and shorts. Ever. That is motivation enough to get me out of bed at 6:15. Truthfully, I like running in the morning just for the simple fact that I’m done for the day. I don’t particularly like “looking forward” to running because I don’t really “look forward” to running. :) But I like the way I feel after, so I guess that’s a good tradeoff.

What’s down?

Certainly not gas prices. Ugh. But I don’t want to analyze those too much.

The amount of time that Maelie naps during the day is definitely down. I’ve seen this coming…she’s slowly cutting back on her afternoon napping…secretly, I think she just wants to play outside more. :) I have to accept the fact that she’s almost two…it’s the inevitable. Rats…I was hoping she’d take four hour naps til she was six…like her mommy did. True.

But what ISN’T down is her energy level. She just goes and goes and goes. And I think people fall in love with her because she’s so outgoing and loving and just…crazy, big-hearted, Mae. I love¬†her oodles¬†for it, even when I wish she’d sit down for two minutes. ūüėČ

What I’m learning?

Tons…where to even begin.

I’m looking forward to learning more about the wonderfully¬†crazy journey of parenting at Mom’s Bible study. We’re starting a new book, and I really am looking forward to it. I love being a mommy, but I also know that there’s a lot of godly wisdom out there that will help me become much better at it.

I guess this one ties into the next one…

What’s He doing?

I mentioned a few days ago that I bought the book Jesus Calling for my Kindle.

Came across this a couple days ago. I found it challenging, convicting, and, truthfully, I am still chewing on it. I want to process it more with you all, but now is not the time.

But I’ll leave you with it because it’s that good.

“Holiness is letting Me live through you. Since I dwell in you, you are fully equipped to be holy. Pause before responding to people or situations, giving My Spirit space to act through you. Hasty words and actions leave no room for Me; this is atheistic living. I want to inhabit all your moments–gracing your thoughts, words, and behavior.”

Wow.

G’nite, friends.

Sig

The Best of Spain

…as promised. :)

The walkway along the beach in front of our hotel. We walked it many, many times. And isn’t the Mediterranean just beautiful? ūüėČ

Look! They sell white chocolate Magnums! Mmmmm….or, not really. The regular ones are much better. But we had to try one, just to say we did. The ice cream part was good.¬†:)

Another pretty view. I honestly never got tired of standing on the balcony and seeing this. :)

We had chai and a latte one afternoon. I may be a cool barista, but I can’t pour a latte that beautiful.
Yet. ūüėČ

The “Old Town” center in Marbella…it was a cool place to walk around and explore. Lots of history there.

So, this is what we had for dinner almost every night in Spain. :)

In keeping with the food trend, this is what I had for breakfast almost every morning. Yeah, it was as good as it looks…probably better. :) Mmmmm…

Tobin took this shot from our balcony…Marbella at night. I think it’s a great picture. :)

Just a shot we took of ourselves…there are a lot of those.

Spain was cool. Very, very different from what I was expecting but still fun and an adventure we’ll always treasure.

I’d always wanted to see it…and so it was a dream come true to do just that with my man. There’s no one I would have rather shared this experience with. :)

Coming soon: Morocco Love!

Sig

I Love Today

(This post has nothing to do with trips or photos of trips…you know, those things I’ve been meaning to post for a few days. I promise they’re coming soon! :))

It does? Have everything to do with today.

It was a Monday…normal, mostly.

I woke up feeling a bit blah and sore from my workout last night…and needing a good dose of JOY. I prayed for it, wondering how He would give it.

‘Cause I knew He would.

It came through my girl. Mae and I have had a few rough days since Tobin and I got home from our trip. There have been extra temper tantrums, more stubborn moments, and even more moments of feeling like a parenting failure.

Today my heart was just full…of Maelie love and blessings. Oh, sure, we had a few moments…we always do. But, mostly, it was just good. Playing together. Laughing and singing and guitar playing. A trip to the grocery store filled with a precious little girl greeting everyone she saw, chatting up a storm…and spreading loads of sunshine to the place. A good afternoon nap, and then some fun family time before Tobin had to leave for his Bible study. We played outside, grilled out and ate on the back porch, took a little walk and visited our favorite friends, read stories, played some more.

A truly wonderful day.

I just soak up days like this…those when Mae and I just are. It’s what we do so well. :)

I’m so, so thankful.

Because today is what we have at this moment…and I love it.

Sig

Found

I had kind of an aha! moment the other day.

Well, at least it was aha! for me…and maybe you can relate. Or maybe not. Either way, I’ll share. :)

So,¬†a little background…

When I signed up for facebook several years ago, I was pretty tight with my security settings. And over the years, my hubby has made sure that I keep them updated.

That’s because I don’t want people knowing everything about me.

In fact, if you go and try to find me on Facebook, chances are you won’t just by typing in my name. (Unless we’re already friends.)

That’s because¬† I don’t want to be found.

I thought about that the other day as I searched for a friend on facebook and couldn’t find her.

I¬†often put up walls. I have for years. In my mind, I think that if there are walls and people can’t get in, then I’m safe. This has worked well in the Facebook world, for the most part. In real life,¬† I have really¬†tried to let them down and have succeeded, for the most part. I want those relationships…those friendships.

But what about in my relationship with my Father?

Over the past few days, I’ve stopped to consider those walls that I’ve unintentionally (or, sometimes intentionally) built to keep Him out, to keep His Word from penetrating my heart.

I attended a Baptist Bible college for five years.

A small glimpse of what that entailed: more Bible classes than non-Bible classes, intense study of the ten main doctrines, hundreds of memorized verses, chapel every day, many papers, hours upon hours of Bible reading, sometimes weekly.

To be blunt, all-things-Bible were crammed down my throat.

And that led up to me building some serious walls around my heart.

The Bible became my textbook…and therefore, was anything but what I wanted when I actually had some down time.

That makes me really sad.

And I noticed a pattern, as I left the Bible college world and went out on my own.

It became¬†easy to gloss over verses, never really taking them to heart. It was even¬†easier to scan a chapter to “say” I’d read my Bible for the day. It was easier than ever to have an emotional moment with a few verses and then move on, forgetting what made me think, going on with my day.

That’s been my problem for the last ten-or-so years…

I’ve put up walls, never letting my Father in.

And in some ways, by putting up those walls, I ran from Him, never wanting Him to find me. To assure me of His love and compassion and grace and sovereignty and power…and, really, the list could go on.

I feel weak admitting these things…knowing in my heart that it’s been a much bigger battle than I’ve ever let on.

But I also know something…that He is bigger than those walls. And despite the fact that I ran, He always held me…keeping me in His care even when I didn’t always want to be there.

I confessed this to you…but I also want to be honest and say that in our searching over the¬†past, almost-two years…God has changed me. I can’t explain it all in a day…I can just tell you that He’s more real than He’s ever been. He’s teaching me about Love and truly living for Him.

And in His power, I’m trying to do those things.

I don’t have it all figured out…but today I know I’m found by Him.

The truth is, He never really lost me.

And that’s pretty amazing.

Sig

Currently…

Borrowed this from a fellow blogger.

In an effort to not think too hard…it is the weekend, after all. ūüėČ

Enjoy. :)

Current Books: Organized Simplicity by Tsh Oxenreider…reading it slowly to digest it and actually apply it to life. Beginning a new Bible study book, Effective Parenting in a Defective World by Chip Ingram…looking forward to it. Just finished a Karen Kingsbury on the plane, Leaving. Problem is I scored that one super cheap…the other three in the series roll in at a whopping $10 each. I’ll be borrowing those from the library. But definitely a good read.

Current Playlist: No particular artists but lately lovin’ anyone who’s “redone” a hymn, like the one I posted a few weeks ago. Also have a playlist for running that I listen to. When I run. ūüėČ The rest of the playlist is whatever I’m singin’ at the time. Works for me. :)

Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure: Does The Bachelor count? I didn’t watch the whole season, just here or there, but my interest was definitely piqued with the finale. I truly don’t know what Ben was thinking…or that he was thinking…but I wish love for him and Courtney. Truly.

Current Colors: Always a fan of green. Really liking it with brown and cream right now, too.

Current Fetish: Flip flops. Always. Especially when the weather is summer in March. Score.

Current Food: Um…don’t laugh. String Cheese. Craved it the whole time we were gone. Something about a good shot of protein with just a few calories.

Current Drink: Two. Of course. Coffee…with whatever creamer I have in my fridge. :) And lately, liking Cherry Coke Zero. Both¬†much better with a dear friend and a heart-spilling chat.

Current Favorite Favorite: Music. Love it all. (Well, mostly.) I sang through my whole run this morning. Not sure how I sounded, but the world…was just brighter this morning. Waved at a few drivers I recognized, belted out All I Need (Bethany Dillon), and soaked in the moments of the sun on my face. Music.

Current Wishlist: I don’t really have a list of wants other than shorts that fit ;). If I could wish for something, it would be that balance in life came more easily.¬†I’m trying…and jet lag has helped with it the last few mornings. I’ve woken up so early and had so much time to accomplish things before the daily grind of life began. Morning coffee, Bible reading, laundry, blogging, running…have all happened before I needed to get Mae up for the day. Maybe I’m wishing that this trend can continue. I think it could be very, very good. Oh, and maybe I’ll wish that my book will get published this year…well, once I finish it. ūüėČ

Current Needs: New black flip flops. Whether those are actually a need…it doesn’t really matter, probably.

Current Triumphs: How does one answer this without bragging? Or at least sounding like it. Being a pound away from my goal weight is definitely a triumph…and the fact¬†that I decided weeks ago not to obsess over a number on the scale anymore.

Current Bane-of-my-Existence: I’m not, in general, particularly annoyed with anything right now. I really try to look on the sunny side of the street…and walk there ’cause it’s much warmer, too!

Current Celebrity Crush: Totally my hubby. He’s famous to me. :)

Current Indulgence: Today I finished round 2 of the Biggest Loser competition with my friends at church. And I am eating a big chocolate chip cookie sometime today to celebrate. And maybe some pizza, too!

Current Mood: JOYful. Allowing¬†the JOY¬†to seep into every moment…because life is good even when things are hard. I am blessed, I am loved, I am His…and that’s enough.

Current #1 Blessing: Family, friends…and¬†the JOY they add to¬†life.

Current Slang or Saying: Golly, Miss Molly… (to Mae); Oy… Aduh… (that one never changes)

Current Outfit: Brown cargo shorts, purple tank top, flip flops with rhinestones that are, sadly, falling apart.

Current Link: Um, I don’t know? I really, really like these shoes. I could add them to my wishlist, maybe. ūüėČ You can find them here.

Current Quote: I spent some time reading in Romans this morning when I got home from my run…the sun was shining, there was coffee made, and I couldn’t NOT sit on the front porch and soak it all in. Chapter 8 was particularly meaningful today, though no one verse stands out. But¬†I also spent my Valentine’s Amazon money (finally) and bought the devotional, Jesus Calling, for my Kindle. And today’s thoughts were exactly what I needed to read. This stood out:

“Rejoice in the One who understands you completely and loves you perfectly. As I fill you with My Love, you become a reservoir of love, overflowing into the lives of other people.”

Wow…I want that to be me.

Current Photo: Um, bread, anyone?!?! (Sorry, I had to talk about it one more time!!!) ūüėČ

Sig

A (Poor) American in Paris

At the end of our trip we stopped in Paris for a day.

Since I was a little girl, I’d dreamed of seeing the Eiffel Tower and all of the things that made Paris so magical.

The Eiffel Tower was cool…and when the lights twinkled at night, it was magical. Like seeing something I’d only ever imagined…and it didn’t disappoint.

But Paris…I have to reflect on this city, and here’s why.

I couldn’t believe the amount of Gucci and Chanel and Prada and expensive purses and coats and boots I saw. It seemed that everyone around me was just a walking advertisement for Vogue…and I looked down at my Target jeans and $5 combat boots that I wore while tromping through Paris.

And I felt poor.

We’d see people lounging in the late afternoon sun having a drink and a chat with friends at an outdoor cafe…and a quick peek at the menu told us exactly what they were paying to have that drink.

I felt poor again.

We wandered a bit around dinner time, looking for a place off the beaten path, but the prices just killed us. (Obviously, figuratively ;)) We could have paid the money and eaten that food, but we just couldn’t do it.

If that makes any sense. :)

It was a reminder, once again, that I felt poor.

As the evening wore on, Paris crept into every part of me, nagging and whispering to me exactly what I didn’t have. Lots of money, expensive things…

And then I caught myself.

And as we walked back through the narrow, cobbled streets and passed bakeries and bought bread…what we could afford…I stopped.

Thought for a moment.

And smiled.

Eight days of adventure with my honey, courtesy of some hard-earned frequent flyer miles. ūüėȬ†Going to places we never thought we’d see. Exploring and having adventures that didn’t require emptying our savings account. Riding a camel and suriviving the Tangier market. Basking in the beauty of the Mediterranean and the mountains and the sunshine. Laughing, mostly. Learning to love more deeply. Knowing that when we went back, we’d have¬†our amazing daughter waiting for us in a place that is home…full of friends and family and community and love.

So I tromped through Paris feeling very, very poor.

And when¬†we arrived home…had a precious reunion with our girl, saw some dear friends, started feeling a bit jet-lagged…I opened my purse to see a small paper bag containing my Eiffel Tower key chain, my lone souvenir from Paris that I paid half a Euro for.

I clipped it onto my keys and stared at it for awhile, thankful for the reminder.

The reminder that I am very, very rich.

Sig

Mommy Lessons from the Playground

So, we’re technically not coffee-dating today, but that’s ok. It’s far too nice outside to even think of drinking something hot. (But I am having a Diet Coke while I write, just in case you’re interested. ;))

It’s so beautiful, in fact, that I went with some friends and all their kiddos to the park for lunch after Bible study.

Maelie loves the park. I love the sunshine. So it works.

However, today was a challenge.

You see, I have been blessed with a fearless, independent, personality-oozing daughter…who I do believe will conquer the world of Survivor someday. Or whatever reality show¬†requires the most¬†nerve at the time.

We hadn’t been to¬†this particular park since¬†early last fall, when she was just taking off…no pun intended…with walking. ūüėČ So, other than chase her around the grass, I hadn’t dealt with Maelie and the “big kid playground” yet.

We got there before her friends arrived, and I gave her a few minutes to play before we ate. She shot up that play structure faster than I could have…and went right for the dropoff with the¬†climbing wall.¬†I had chased her up and caught her arm just¬†before she took the six foot plunge to the ground.

Crazy, sweet kid.

But she was mad.

And determined to play on this playground just like the kids who were older than she is.

I managed to detour her interests with McDonald’s for awhile, but she hadn’t forgotten about that humongo slide like I’d hoped she would.

The thing is…I knew I needed to let go.

To let her play, run, be a kid. Learn the hard lessons that come with bruises and scrapes and falls.

That’s life.

But my mommy heart ached to the very depths, and I just couldn’t.

So I followed her…up and down that playground equipment probably ten times. Each time, she’d look toward the drop off but turn and go down the slide.

After awhile she lost interest and busied herself with things closer to the ground. While I silently rejoiced…

After trying out the rocking dinosaur, climbing on a park bench, and walking up and down a hill several times, she was ready to go back to the slide.

I almost couldn’t handle it…and this is where I have to be honest with you.

I don’t want to let go of my daughter.

Already.

Because independence and fearlessness and a love of trying new things means that

She is growing up.

More quickly than I want, with more guts than I was prepared to handle.

I processed it out with a sweet friend who was willing to listen and let me cry and offer advice…and she assured me that all moms go through this at one level or another.

And as we talked…my daughter climbed.

She climbed…with a pause to jump on the little wiggly bridge (does that thing have a name?!)…to the top. She’d stop, look over the edge, then sit and fly down the slide as fast as she could.

Wheeeeeeee!

And I continued to be close…as I watched her do this over and over.¬†Watched her because she is 21 months old. She could do something dangerous, and I wanted to be there to catch her.

But eventually, I won’t be there.

And when I’m not, the only thing I can hope and pray is that she’ll make the right choice. The one that comes from the things she’s learned as she’s growing up.

But my job?

Is to let her go.

Just a little right now.

And trust that it’ll all be ok.

Sig

Home Again :)

We are home.

And tired.

But blessed.

And enjoying a sweet reunion with our girl. :)

Since I’ve been up for about 24 hours straight, and since the world is kinda spinning…I think I’ve earned a blog pass for the night. :)

We’ll coffee-date tomorrow. G’nite!

Sig

Little Blessings (Pt. 27)

:) Paris!!! A wonderful city to see but I wouldn’t want to live here. Really.

:) Twinkly Eiffel Tower lights.

:) Buying bread from people who don’t care that I can’t speak a lick of French. They just smile and take my money ’cause (I think) they know how much I just wanna stuff that baguette in my face!

:) Adventures that catch us by surprise but make us smile.

:) Having a tan in March.

:) Anticipating reunions.

:) Being loved. And being in love, too… ūüėČ

:) Time to visit one more bakery before we come home tomorrow. (I know you will all be so glad when I’m not talking about bread anymore!!!)

:) Good talks about tough stuff.

:) Time to reflect and appreciate blessings I’ve forgotten I had.

Sig

Last Day

It’s our last day in Spain…early tomorrow morning we head to Paris for a day before coming home on Wednesday.

We’ve had a great time here…sunshine, sand, the (really, really cold) Mediterranean, bread :), exploring, good coffee, adventures to African countries, camel riding, wandering, dreaming, talking, just being together.

It’s been exactly what we needed.

We were talking today about how we’re ready to come home, though, which could be a first for me on a vacation. Ever. I do love the beach. :) But we miss our girl, we love our home and friends and church…and we’re ready for normal again…if that’s what we are. ūüėČ

Tomorrow is a quick stop in Paris, long enough to see the Eiffel Tower, eat some French food (probably BREAD if Tobin leaves the choice up to me!), spend the night, and head home.

We’ve been so blessed to have this time together…and saying goodbye to Spain is a little sad, but it’s been so good that it’s hard to be too¬†sad.

Signing off from Espa√Īa…love you all. :)

Sig