How Lucky I Am…

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

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

Oh, where to start, where to start.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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


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

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


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


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

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

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

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


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

I would do it all again.

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

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Selamat tinggal, Indonesia…but just until next time.


When I Really Should Finish Packing…


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To visit friends and our beloved pembantu.

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

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

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

We need closure.

Almost four years later, there’s something missing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All of those are so worth it, too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See you again soon. :)


The Pain…and the Good…of Still


People who know me well…well, they know a lot of things about me.

And one of them is that me + ferries (as in, the boat kind) don’t get along.

At all.

It really all started back in 2006…and probably before, but I just didn’t know it. 😉

My husband and I were living and working overseas in Indonesia. We did okay financially, but we didn’t have a lot of extra money to do extravagant things often. However, we made it a point to travel over each Christmas break since, at that time of year, it was far too expensive to go back to the States. We had fun…Bali, other parts of Java, the beach.

And one year…Thailand.

Oh, my friend Becky and I had the most incredibly fun time planning that trip. We started in October to be sure that we could find the best possible deals on absolutely everything…from hotels to quick, in-country flights, to even leaving the country.

You see, in Indonesia, non-residents who are residents (if that makes any sense) have to pay every time they leave the country. $100. And on our salary, that was a lot.

But Becky and I discovered that by taking an in-country flight to Batam and, from there, taking a ferry to Singapore, we’d only have to pay $50 each.


With that, and some good bargain-hunting skills, we managed to book our entire trip…eight flights and two ferry rides per person…for around $350 each. Not bad. :)

We flew into Batam late on a Friday and found a place to crash for the night. The next morning we took a taxi down to the ferry terminal, had some coffee and pastries, and bought our tickets for the ferry.

All was happy happy…because I had ZERO clue as to what was coming. None…

Today I’m over at God-Sized Dreams, talking about seasickness, stillness, and what I learned from it. Join me here? :)



A Tribute…and a Goodbye

My sweet grandma passed away on Tuesday morning.

She was 93.

It shocked me and shook me more than I thought it would. It has taken a few days to even be able to write about her.

And the life she lived.

You see, my grandma wasn’t a normal grandma. Or mother. Or friend. Or, really, human being.

I am not calling her weird, though I’m sure she’s laughing right now. 😉

She was a mother of TWELVE. Not completely uncommon for that generation, but still. TWELVE.

She was a widow at 49, many of her children still at home, her youngest just seven years old.

She went back to school and became a nurse so she could support her family. Though our conversations never really went there, I’ve heard from a lot of people that she was pretty darn good at what she did, too. Somehow, I can totally see that.

She was a volunteer, always helping out at her church’s rerun shop.

She went on mission trips every summer to the Appalachian mountains…until she turned 80.

Yes, 80.

She was a grandmother to 29.

A great-grandmother to 69.

A great-great grandmother to 11.

And when I read these things about her and I see the woman she was and the way she lived and loved…I’m just inspired.

Inspired, not just by what she did, but by the love in which she did it.

It was never about her.

Most of my memories of her are from when I was younger…from the times we would spend at the old farmhouse.

But just a year or two ago, I was back in Creston and stopped over at her house to visit. While we were chatting, I noticed a photo of her with my grandpa that was sitting out…they were both young, in their 20’s, and my grandpa was in his Navy uniform.

I asked her about it, and she started telling me more about my grandpa than I’d ever heard before. And as she spoke, she got this teenager-in-love twinkle in her eye.

I asked, Was he cute?

And she giggled like a little girl. Well, yes.

I think I melted a little here. :)

And we talked about him a little more before the conversation went somewhere else.

I’ll hold that memory dear and close to my heart for the rest of my life…that sweet conversation that took place between granddaughter and grandma, just the two of us. That glimpse into her heart from a place I rarely saw.

She always made me feel special…like I mattered, even though there were so many of us. Well, it’s true. There WERE a lot of us. (Really, you should see what her two-bedroom house looks like when everyone is there.) 😉

We were all special to her…we all mattered.

And she left behind a legacy worth celebrating…and a lot of people who will miss her so much.

I love you, Grandma.

GrandmaAllenFlorence Catherine Allen
September 20, 1920-March 4, 2014

You can read my grandma’s obituary here.


Behind the Scenes: The Blanket Stealer

Today’s post comes courtesy of a wife and mama who’s had a scattered Monday. Hey, sometimes it just happens. 😉

When I can’t focus, I talk about the fluff.

And today…well, it’s literal fluff. 😉

If you’ve been around this place awhile, you know about Sammy.

He’s our younger golden of the two at eight years old, but he acts about eight months old. He’s all crazy puppy and all love. Truly. And you will also never, ever meet a more loyal dog.

We kinda love him. A lot.

And it’s not really a secret in our house that our dogs are a bit spoiled. Not completely, but there are certain things they get away with. They regularly make themselves comfortable on our bed or on the furniture. (We just clean the dog hair off a lot. Pretty much every day, or at least it feels like it.) They beg when we eat. While we make them lie down while we’re actually eating, they do usually get a scrap of people food. And there are presents for them on Christmas and cuddles for them every day.

Every hour. 😉

They’re part of the family, and if dogs can reason, I’m pretty sure they know that.

Around Christmas time, I was the recipient of two awesome blankets. A sherpa throw that is UH-mazing and a heated blanket that has been my best friend during this never-ending thing called the Polar Vortex.

I will occasionally have to wrestle these blankets away from my daughter…she clearly shares her mama’s love of NOT. BEING. COLD.

Don’t worry…there’s zero bitterness in there. 😉

But my dog? Really?

I literally hopped off the couch for less than two minutes to run upstairs and do something. Left the heated blanket on because, well…IT’S COLD and I really can’t wait to Just. Crawl. Back. Under. It. And. Be. Warm. Again.

I thunder down the stairs, turn the corner, and…


On my blanket AND my pillow. All cozied in and snuggled up and looking about as cute as he possibly can.

Oh, the eyes…the please-don’t-move-me, look. Melt.

And while everything in me just wanted MY BLANKET BACK, it was too cute not to photograph. Hubby is good with a camera, yeah?

So that’s the story.

Of my cute, furry, sweet golden retriever and how he totally steals blankets and the comfiest spots in the house.

And since I know you’re wondering, T convinced him to scoot over a few minutes later, just enough so I could reclaim my spot.

And then he snuggled right up next to me.

It was a good afternoon. :)


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

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

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