(in)RL 2013!

Hi, friends!

So, there’s this site that I like to read a lot. Maybe you’ve heard me talk about it here or there? πŸ˜‰

Last April, (in)courage hosted their first ever (in)RL…(in)RealLife…conference.

It was great…really. Just an awesome time spent with friends, drinking coffee, growing closer to God and each other…and celebrating the beauty of community and friendship.

And this year it’s on for April 26th and 27th…I can’t wait!

The plan of the conference is great…because it’s all online. No plane tickets or reservations required…though there are meetups planned all over the place to give you a group to meet with, no matter where you live. Last year I met up with two of my friends, and we had a really great afternoon. :) There are sessions on Friday you can watch on your own; on Saturday, you find the nearest group and join them! (Or you can watch online on your own, but it’s more fun with friends!) :)

I seriously can’t recommend this enough…time to hang with girlfriends, laugh, eat, grow, connect, heart-share? Not to mention, the women behind this fantastic online community are amazing…every single one of them. Each day, their words bless me so much…I just love the thought of two days of hearing from them.

I have no doubt it will be incredible. :)

And, this year it’s free, too…so you really have no excuse unless you happen to have a conflict on April 26th and 27th. πŸ˜‰

What do you say? Who’s in?

You can head over here to check out the details. And as a bonus, if you register today, there are free gifts!

Trust me, you won’t want to miss this.

And, for my local friends, I’m hosting the Carpentersville meet-up. I hope you’ll think about it and join in!


My First Vlog!

Was feeling brave tonight…so, I did a vlog. (Video bLOG…the term was pretty new to me, too. ;))

Honestly…pushing the publish button is kinda scary. But, admittedly, so was talking to a camera, knowing that I needed to get it all in one take. πŸ˜‰

Here ya go…tonight, you get my words in a different form…complete with lots of facial expressions because that’s just me. :)

Hope you enjoy…and thanks for stopping by!

Jan 13 Vlog from Mel Schroeder on Vimeo.


Five-Minute Friday: Dive

Today I’m linking up with Lisa-Jo at The Gypsy Mama for Five-Minute Friday.

Join me!

The rules: Write for five minutes. No editing, revising, overthinking, or backtracking. Just write.

Today’s Topic: Dive

Ok, I just gotta laugh here.

Like, really.

Because I know a lot of you think of me as somewhat athletic…no sarcasm here…I’m a runner, and I can hold my own in a volleyball match or a basketball game.

But you should have seen me try to learn how to dive.

Like, physically dive. Into-a-pool dive.

It was a riot. πŸ˜€

I was your typical eight-or-nineish-year-old girl who hung out with her best friends at the pool every day during the summer. (I heart small towns for that very reason.)

Around that age, diving became the cool thing…and what’s not to love? Springing off the diving board, sailing through the air, and plunging headfirst into the cool water?

I so wanted that to be me.

And. It. SOOOOOOO. Wasn’t.

Oh, I was a klutz. For most of that summer, I just couldn’t figure it out.

I’d bend over with my arms outstretched over my head and jump.

Every time, without fail, I’d splish splash into a belly-flop worth of America’s Funniest Home Videos.

I would laugh at myself because that’s just me, but secretly, I wanted to execute the perfect dive so badly.

What a metaphor for life, really.

There are so many dreams and desires we hold dear and wish deeply that they will come true.

We try and try and put our best possible effort forward, and they still don’t end up looking like we wish they would.

Often, though they will eventually happen, there are challenges and flubs along the journey that complicate it. Or, maybe, build character.

And so when I dove headfirst into writing this book, I think somewhere inside I knew it would be much like I described learning how to actually dive…I’m sure there will be moments, but it will happen…when the time is right and when God says, Now.Β 

Until then, I just keep trying. Just keep doing what I’m doing and trusting Him.

Just keep writing those paragraphs and telling those stories. :)

And since I know you’re wondering, I can now execute a flawless dive. Maybe I should try for the Olympics next?


Five Minute Friday


Just a Diet Pepsi Chat…

Hi there, friends.

Just a sit-down-with-a-Diet-Pepsi and chat-with-you-all kind of night. :)

First off, I want to say thank you to all of you.

Your encouragement and comments in the past weeks (especially Tuesday) since I’ve started sharing more about my God-Sized Dream have knocked my socks off. Well, figuratively. It’s far too cold for even me to be running around barefoot. πŸ˜‰

I have to admit that as I continue to write and share my heart, this whole book-writing thing gets scarier and scarier. There’s so much that needs to happen…and so much that I’m admittedly uneasy and nervous about. Extra reasons for me to grasp more tightly to my Father’s hand, huh? He’s got it. :)

But I want to keep most of my dream-sharing for Tuesdays…so I’ll save my most recent thoughts until then. :)

It has been quite the week in the Schroeder house.

Hubby is wrapping up his job tomorrow…the one he’s been working since we moved here in July 2010.

It’s very surreal for both of us…sad, yes, but there is so much hope for the future, and we’re extremely grateful for that. With his new job, I’ll be able to stay home with Mae and write…with the non-pressure to make some money if I would like. I’ll just get to be with my girl, work on my writing, spend time with friends and at at my church…that makes me really, really happy. :)


And I’m happy for him, too…this job is a blessing in so many ways, and we’re excited for this new step. :)

It’s also been a hard week.

I’ve hesitated sharing this…and I’m going to leave most of the details out here. Really…if you want to find out more, I’m sure it won’t be that difficult, but I want to respect the people involved.

There’s been so much heartache and sadness for friends from the church we left behind in Minnesota, who I’ve known for several years and Tobin has known most of his life. They are going through something incredibly heart-wrenching and devastating…their son was charged yesterday with killing his wife on Sunday.

It’s the kind of situation that makes me sick…both physically and in my heart.

Sick for the family and friends of this beautiful woman and mother.

Sick for the little boy she left behind.

Sick for his family and friends…not only are they left with so many unanswered questions and wonderings, but they’ve also lost a daughter-in-law, sister, and friend whom they loved, too.

I just ache for them…to the point where I’m not sure I can even put it into words.

Will you pray for this family? I know they need and would appreciate your prayers so much. I’ve been asking God to just hold them tightly and reaffirm His unconditional love for them in amazing ways. I just cry for them…they must be hurting so much.

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”

Lamentations 3:22-23

What a beautiful thing that, as children of God, we can claim this promise.

So thankful for that tonight…thank you for praying. Love to you all.

P.S. This song has been playing over and over in my head over the past two days. I love it and the Truth found in it. Have a listen. :)


My God-Sized Dream…in Words

It’s a gorgeous January morning.

For me, gorgeous means sunshine and NO snow, though if some of my friends were to read this, they’d be writing out an IOU for one snowball to the face.

Well, when there’s actually enough snow to THROW said snowball. πŸ˜‰

I’ve got my coffee, too…always a prerequisite when I’m about to write something deep.

Deep, it is.

Big, too.

I’ve always been honest in this space; therefore, if you’re a frequent reader, the news that I’ve got a God-Sized Dream brewing in my heart and soul isn’t new.

And by now, you probably know that one of my deep desires is to publish a book and share the stories God has placed in my heart.

Eight years ago (goodness, has it really been that LONG?!) my husband and I were preparing to make a big move to the other side of the world. God had placed the burden in our hearts to serve in an international school, possibly even a Christian school, and He flung the doors wide open for that dream to come true in 2005.

We sold it all, said some tearful goodbyes, and moved to Indonesia.

It was five years of…everything.

Wonderful…the kind of wonderful that still makes my heart sing when I think of the people we grew to love and the ways He changed hearts and lives. So amazing.

Challenging…the kind that makes me sometimes-wish I could go back but then brings me to a place of trust because God can still work through imperfections. Thank You, Father, for that.

Life-Changing…I still think about it every day. Most days we talk about it. And once in awhile I’ll even write about it on my blog.

Just Hilarious…I’ve always been that girl; the one who doesn’t need to seek out adventure because it just finds her, and life in Indonesia was no exception. (Trust me…this book is worth reading just for the story about me using a squatty potty for the first time. Really. It’s a kick…I can’t believe I’m putting it in print. :D)

When we returned to the U.S. in 2010 to begin our family and put down some roots in a new place, I started to write.

Really write.

I need to process the change from life in Indonesia to life in Illinois, the transition from being a couple to a couple with a new baby girl, and, quite honestly, what it was like to go grocery shopping in a store that had a thousand kinds of salad dressing.

And as I began to write, it wasn’t long before a dream started to creep in.

That dream turned from creeping in to planting itself deep within my heart.

And that brings me to today.

Today I am writing it down, reliving each story, and it’s an insanely wonderful place to be.

It has taken me the better part of two and a half years to finally be able to express the many, many emotions that still emerge when I visit the Indonesia part of our lives.

My God-Sized Dream, right now, is to take this collection of stories and experiences and turn them into a…memoir? (Just being honest with you…I am not a fan of that word. I think it’s corny. Help, please? ;))

Stories that will make my readers laugh out loud, let a few tears drip, love a little more deeply, and see the goodness of God in a life that is continually in progress.

I would love to see my stories in print, and each day I’m getting a little closer to that.

That’s my dream. :)

I am so, so thankful to God for the paths He allows us to travel.

Each one never ends up looking quite like I think it will, but He is always there, always guiding me, always next to me holding my hand…and this book-writing journey is no exception.

I am so incredibly blessed to be a part of the God-Sized Dream Team…a team of women who are also busy dreaming and doing and trusting. They’re amazing…every single one of them, and I’m so thankful that God has given me the opportunity to join them as we all pursue our dreams together! It’s gonna be a ton of fun to watch what He does through all of us!

And thanks to each of YOU for joining me…it means the world to me that you are here.

Love to you, friends!

God-Sized DreamsAnd be sure to stop back every Tuesday…I’ll be sharing more each week about my dream and what He’s doing. :)


Little Blessings (Pt. 58)

:) My precious girl falling asleep in my arms tonight.

:) Pizza night with a chick flick.

:) Creating and inspiring.

:) Words…on both the days they flow and the days they don’t.

:) Book progress.

:) Laughter with a dear friend.

:) Mommy/daughter duets…I’ll love you forever…

:) Mittens on clearance. (Guess who’s gone the entire winter so far without having a pair that actually cover her fingers? This girl.)

:) Date night anticipation.

:) Being able to talk to my Father like I can…despite how scattered and frustrated I’ve been lately, He still listens. I’m so thankful for that. :)


Banished to the Basement

No, not really, but I knew that would get your attention. πŸ˜‰

I’ve actually spent a good part of the day IN the basement, but that was by my own choosing. (But before you go feeling sorry for me, I have a comfy chair, a fleecy blanket, my laptop, and my awesome slipper boots that I hate to ever remove from my feet. Life is really very good with these four items. :))

AND my awesome husband gave me a wonderful, late-Christmas gift.

The afternoon off.

Yes, it deserved bold. I probably should have typed it all in caps, too.

I needed it. Between attempted book-writing, keeping up with the blog, staying connected with my Dream Team sisters, spending as much time as possible with Maelie, and trying to not bow out of regular life…I maybe think I almost, kind-of went a little crazy yesterday. Just maybe. (Though I’m positive I hid it very well.) Add to that the fact that the emotions have been running high this week, and well…enough said.

So we spent this morning together as a family…coffee, took our time getting out of the house, and then made trips to Hobby Lobby and Target to pick up a few things. (Side note: Yes, yes, I know that today was “Support Hobby Lobby Day”. However, I went there because I needed to get a few items, not because I’m into that whole thing. I mean, I support Hobby Lobby and AMEN to their courageous stance against the whole Obamacare fiasco, but I’ll go there anyway, not just on January 5th.)

Ok, ok, climbing down from my soapbox. Hee hee. πŸ˜€

Anyway, so when we came home, I temporarily much moved myself to the basement to get my head back together. I am pretty sure there were so many scattered pieces floating around in my brain by then that productivity would have been questionable had I not given myself peace.

I created for awhile. Thanks, Pinterest. I am now almost positive that if I continue at the rate at which I am currently going, my friends will never again need to purchase an accessory of any type.

That could make me cool. Or slightly obsessed. (I vote for the first. ;))

So between Mod-Podging (I love that verb…it SO belongs in the dictionary) and an extremely-overdue, hour-long chat with my Indo-friend, Becky, I managed to squeeze out two more chapters. The plan is one more tonight, and I will be on track to be half done with my rough draft by January 20th. Wowza.

Definitely a productive day.

Oh, and guessing you probably want to see what I created?


They’re going to be on chains for necklaces. (Mod Podge just takes so stinkin’ long to dry that I haven’t finished yet.) And this is my first try, so they’re definitely not perfect, but I love this kind of thing. So the fact that I can make them now? Well, like I said, thanks, Pinterest. I really do heart you and the far-too-many, must-make options you provide for my creative streak. :)

So can I tell ya something?

Writing a book scares me.

I mean, the actual words to paper are the fun part for me. I love reliving the memories…it’s like they come alive in my heart all over again. :)

But there’s that part of me that wonders why my stories would matter to anyone else.

I know that’s fear and uncertainty speaking, but I gotta be honest. I’m terrified.

But I also know that God wouldn’t have opened some pretty huge doors lately if He didn’t want this to happen. And so I’ve got to trust (there’s that word again) that it’s all in His hands. Which I already know.

I just sometimes forget that little detail.

So I’m gonna head back to my rough draft and pound out several more paragraphs.

And, hey…if I don’t feel like much of a book writer tonight, at least I look like one. Guess who got glasses? (Translation: Guess who really needed to start wearing them again so she could see…I don’t know…across the room?! Slight sarcasm. ;))

But life IS much better without a headache. And when I can see. :)

Off I go…back to the book. Must. Write.

Happy Saturday to you…hope it was a good one.


Five-Minute Friday: Opportunity

It’s back! (insert slightly-cheesy, but oh-so-HAPPY grin)


Today I’m linking up with Lisa-Jo at The Gypsy Mama for Five-Minute Friday.

Join me!

The rules: Write for five minutes. No editing, revising, overthinking, or backtracking. Just write.

Today’s Topic: Opportunity

Each day is a new opportunity, especially with a sweet, sometimes-more-than-slightly-mischievous, toddler running around at my feet.

She is a sponge…and she soaks it all up, whether I want that for her or not.

And, together, we try to take each opportunity that comes our way for learning, teaching, changing, growing.

But lately, well…she’s two.

Those five previously written words probably speak volumes to most of you. πŸ˜‰

She’s two, and sometimes taking opportunities is…hard.

That temper tantrum is often easier to ignore than to correct, and the same goes for other various misbehaving moments that generally occur within a normal day.

Often, rather than taking the opportunity to show her what she should be doing, I ignore or use the dreaded time-out…forgetting that those little eyes are watching me. Learning.

Too much, too quickly.

And then I stop and remember…

The greatest opportunities often come from the greatest challenges, not from the easiest ones.

On the easy days, I coast…and there’s no reason to go outside of my limits to reach for something else.

It’s on those difficult, sometimes-just-plain-hard, days that the biggest opportunities…for blessing, for sharpening, for growth…arise.

And so I stop in my tracks as I watch her getting frustrated again over something that seems small and insignificant to me.

But not necessarily to her.

I kneel down on her level, grasp her hands, look into her eyes, and take the opportunity to show her that I love her and that I’m on her side.

And that I always will be.

Five Minute Friday


2013: What to Read

Since I’m kind of in goal-setting mode, I thought I’d continue today. :)

Yesterday I shared more of my “life” goal for the year.

Here’s my intellectual/spiritual one. (More to come on both of those, though.)

As much time as I’ll spend writing words, I also want to put some good ones into my brain, too. What goes in must come out, right? I’ve got quite a few books on my list, and thanks to a Kindle gift card and some good prices for the new year, I’ve already got them all. (I just had to buy two of them, but hey…I’ll always take a good deal!)

Here they are…no particular order.

1. The “Do-What-You-Can” Plan: 21 Days to Making Any Area of Your Life Better. (Holley Gerth) I wrote about this one yesterday…I started it a few days ago, and boy, is it a good one. Holley has broken it up into 21 days…short chapters and good things to think about, pray through, and do on my way to my big goal. :) I really can’t recommend it enough, even if you’re not pushing toward a God-Sized Dream…at least yet. πŸ˜‰

2. You’re Made For a God-Sized Dream: Opening the Door to All God Has for You. (Holley Gerth) I haven’t seen this one yet. It releases in March, but I’ll get to read it before because as part of the team, I get an advanced copy to read and review. :) I’m really, really looking forward to reading it. And, as a side note, I am so giddy that I get to call the author of these first two books my friend! :)

3. A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband “Master”. (Rachel Held Evans) There are extremely mixed reviews on this one from just this side of the fence. I’ve read some of them, but if I’m being honest with you, the title alone made me itch to get my hands on it. I’ve started it, and so far, I’m enjoying it. I may not agree with everything in it, but I think there’s always a lesson to be learned somewhere. I’ll definitely let you know how it goes!

4. One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. (Ann Voskamp) I have wanted to read this one for a long, long time. And today, as I was browsing, I saw that it was really on sale, so I eagerly snatched it up. I can’t wait! (P.S. There’s also a Bible study to go with the book…I’m hoping to do that this year, but we’ll see how time goes.)

5. Is it cheesy that I added the Bible? I’m saying no, and I’m not adding it to gloat that I’m planning to read it all, cover-to-cover, in a year either. I’m actually not…I had to do that once in college, (in about eight months, actually) and it became more of a chore than a hunger for Truth. While I may read the whole thing, I refuse to promise that now. The bottom line is that I want to grow closer to my Father through His Word.

I’m sure there will be a few less thought-provoking books thrown into the mix this year, too. I’m sort of a sucker for Sophie Kinsella’s books…she keeps me laughin’ like crazy! So when her newest one comes out…yeah. πŸ˜€

What about you? What’s on your reading list for 2013?


2013: Dream

Happy 2013!

If you popped over for my list of 13 in 2013 ;), I hate to disappoint you, but there’s not one.

It isn’t that I don’t believe in setting goals or having things to work toward. There are plenty of things I’d like to see happen this year. I just didn’t write them all down.

At least yet.

I’m trying to find more balance this year…and I’ll admit that I’m definitely in process.

We all are…all the time, but for some reason I just feel like I’m really in process right now.

I’ve decided that’s a good thing. :)

2013 is the year I get to write my book. Honestly, I’ve already written a good portion of it, but this is the year where it goes somewhere. That is, if God wants it to. And so a lot of my spare time…you know those moments between chasing a toddler and painting with watercolors and sticking stickers and rocking baby dolls…will be spent with words.

I wrote my life statement for the God-Sized Dream Team today.


It was no small task. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever spent so much time on one sentence. And between the scribbles and notes, I managed to come up with what I believe God is asking of me this year.

I believe God has created and called me to encourage and inspire others through words, stories, and lessons learned from the unexpected adventures that come from a journey of walking by faith.

At this time in my life, I feel that sentence best depicts the purpose of my book.

God gave me (us) an experience like no other when He opened the door for us to spend five years in Indonesia. That doesn’t make our experience, or our lives for that matter, any better than anyone’s, but those years did leave me with a few things.



Heart lessons.


Deeper love.

…and more.

And my purpose in writing is to share some of what He taught me through the grit and the grace that abounded during those years.

And still continues today.

In trying to choose a word for 2013, I went through several.

I thought I was going to choose Rooted, a word that God continually seems to bring to my mind and my heart.

In the end, though, I chose Dream.

God has given me an incredibly opportunity to really pursue the dream of writing a book this year. He’s given me amazing friends and prayer support and a team of women who are each pursuing a dream as well.

Today is the first day of 2013, and again, as I do each day, I am giving my dream to God. I can plan all I want, write all I want, submit my book to as many publishers as I want…but in the end?

What happens is up to Him.

I trust Him and I’m blessed beyond words for the opportunity to


Will you come along for the journey?

And, today, my sweet friend, Holley Gerth, launched an e-book called The “Do-What-You-Can” Plan: 21 Days to Making Any Area of Your Life Better. It’s fantastic…I’m going through it right now. And today…JUST TODAY…the Kindle version is free! Head on over here for your free copy!