Five-Minute Friday: Begin

Today I’m linking up with Lisa-Jo for Five-Minute Friday. So, grab a timer, set it for five minutes, and join me!

The rules: Write for five minutes. No editing, revising, overthinking, or backtracking. Just write. Then leave some comment love for the person who linked up before you…and anyone else because that’s the fun and the heart of the community! And this is the last week Five-Minute Friday will be hosted by Lisa-Jo…next week begins a new era and a new host.

Today’s prompt: Begin

Begin, begin. Where?

My heart isn’t even sure I have the words to begin again, not after the week and a few days we’ve had. Loss, heartbreak, so many tears…I feel like I’ve lost who I am…and my words…in all of it.

I know this is how it is, this grief thing. That when there’s a loss, it takes time. It takes a lot of tissues. And then it takes more time, even.

And then, maybe, there’s a whisper in my soul that says it’s ok. To laugh through the tears. To smile when it hurts. To find the joy, even when there’s pain.

It’s how to begin again…this life. The kind of beginning that says We love you so much, sweet baby. And now we begin this journey of forever missing you.

And we can only pray that there’s something beautiful, something that will always whisper of His promise that He makes all things beautiful in His time.

Not ours. His.

And so we trust that there will be beauty here. Somehow.

And until then, we lean on Him to make the ache just a little less.

And we breathe deeply and begin another day.

Because He’s Good.


Five Minute Friday


He Gives…and He Takes Away

I’m not sure how to write these words. I don’t really want to, either…the past few days feel like they haven’t been real. But He keeps reminding me that the journey isn’t always an easy one, and some days there is heartache. The kind that physically hurts.

And so I share it because, now, this heartache is part of our story, too.

I’m no stranger to one line.

One single line, the kind on a test designed to show you two. Or a plus sign. Or something more than just one line.

And it’s not a secret that pregnancy has been a struggle for us. Years of trying, failing, and loss finally gave us the most precious gift in the world. A daughter. My sweet, heart-forever girl, Mae.

And we wanted more. We knew it would be hard, and it was.

So on that morning a few weeks ago, the one when the all-too-familiar, one-line was actually a plus sign, the tears of joy dripped.

Mae was going to be a big sister.

We were cautious. We knew the risks. I told a small handful of people because, well because I honestly am a horrible secret-keeper. But there’s also power when there are people praying.

In the waiting, I tried to live life well. In between the headaches and tiredness, life was good. I kept up with running and (mostly) kept up with Mae.

We were excited.

And that’s why I didn’t see Monday night coming at all.

I noticed a couple of spots, but they were light brown and small. And? I felt fine. So I went for my evening run with some friends, came home, and…oh. A few more spots. Still brown.

I said a prayer and went to bed. Everything seemed fine on Tuesday morning. I took it easy, skipped my run, caught up on a few things.

And then I went to the bathroom, and I screamed for Mae to grab my phone. T was home from work in 40 minutes, and we were on our way to the ER with a quick stop to leave Mae with a friend. I barely got through the door before the tears started to fall, and in broken sobs, I told the woman at the desk what was happening.

She got me in to see a doctor, but by then it was too late. We knew. Four hours of pokes and prods and tests only revealed what our hearts already knew.

Our baby was gone.

We held each other and cried. And then we went home and tried to breathe.

And breathing is where we are now.

There are moments when the pain is intense and there’s no way the tears can be stopped.

Other moments, I can laugh. It feels almost wrong…but maybe that’s God’s gift in the form of a four year-old girl who walks the line of silly and sweet. She doesn’t understand, and maybe we need that right now.

Sometimes I feel numb…that this isn’t me. Us. That we’re not walking this road again.

But for whatever reason…one that I may never understand…we are here.

Heartbroken but not without Hope. Devastated but clinging to Him. Trying to take the next step forward without crumbling.

The Lord gave…

He did. And though the tears slip, I still find a little smile when I look at the one pregnant belly picture I took. Really, it looks like I ate too much cake the night before (and I probably did) but that picture is a cherished memory of our sweet one. A sweet, sad smile comes when I remember whispered celebrations and squeals and hugs with a few close friends, even a few hush-hush conversations when no one else was around. I’m thankful I got to celebrate this precious life.

and He also took away.

We will miss this sweet one for the rest of our lives. The ache for Heaven seems so much more intense today than it did a few days ago. I keep wishing we could go back and that there was something we could do to change things, but there isn’t. And so we go on.

And we choose to bless His Name anyway.

We love you, sweet baby S…we couldn’t wait to meet you. And now, instead, our hearts ache for the day when we will hold you. We’ll have a lifetime of cuddles to make up for.

Photo Credit: Lennart Tange


Pieces That Make a Story

Fifteen years ago…and I can’t believe it’s been that long…I hopped a plane with some friends. Our destination was the country of Peru, a place that, at the time, seemed about as far from home as one could possibly be.

And it was great…it was three plus weeks of laughing, learning, memory making…and most of all, getting my first glimpses into the heart of my Father and how He was at work in another place.

I’d grown up with missions…at least from the perspective of missionaries who’d visited my church. I’d come to understand that missionaries were people who planted churches, preached sermons in another language, and started Bible colleges. Therefore, I knew I’d never be one.

But Peru changed that.

It was on that trip that my Father began speaking to me and opening doors in my heart that had always been closed. It was during those weeks God told me that if I was willing, He would give me a place. Somewhere.

Where that was, I didn’t know, but I was sure that God was calling me to be a teacher, and I made plans, almost immediately, to return to the place that had captured my heart.

Enter: a year and a half later and a boy. 😉

His name started with a T, he had an amazing smile, and I fell head over heels within minutes. (That’s kind of embarrassing to admit now.) He was settled, had a good job, and there was no way missions was even on the horizon for us. Oh, yeah…us. We became an us pretty quickly. 😉

There was a part of me that was devastated to give up Peru…but by then, well…love. I was heart-deep in it.

A ring followed, and then a house…before the wedding, even. Don’t worry…he was the one only who lived there. 😉

In the tiny part of my brain that is logical, I knew. His job was stable, we’d just bought a house…we were staying. Or so we thought. 

So we said our I-do’s, ate pie, and jetted off to Jamaica. We came home from our honeymoon, I started a new job as a nanny, and BAM. He called me on a Wednesday morning. Mel, I got laid off.

Total shock. We had not expected this…especially not to him. Tobin is good…and he’s good at what he does. And there’s a whole lot more to the story, and it has nothing to do with his abilities and talent and everything to do with his name being randomly chosen from a list in order to downsize.

But, really…that was the door we needed to close in order for more doors to open.

For the next nine months, he searched like crazy and interviewed like crazier. The job market was horrible, money was tight, and we started to wonder. More, if that’s even possible.

We prayed over it before emptying our bank account to purchase two plane tickets for Nicaragua and Honduras. Two weeks in March were spent with missionaries we knew. We were hoping…praying…wondering…was this it? Was God calling us to something else?

We came home from that grand adventure…and we were confused. There were no strong pulls for either of us to Central America, we were teetering on having about no money, and we were starting to lose faith.

And then came a job offer that would at least pay the bills. Buy us some time until we could figure this out.

But by then, we knew. We knew the call, and we knew that saying no wasn’t even an option.

And so…we prayed. And waited. Pushed on a few doors. Cried when they slammed back in our faces.

Finally, two years later…His answer. Indonesia.

Really, God? A country that really IS about as far from home as we can get?

After locating it on a map 😉 and praying it through, we knew our answer was an overwhelming YES. Less than six months later our house was sold, our cars about to be sold, most of our belongings were gone, we’d sent our dog on ahead to Jakarta (yes, yes we did…), our bags were packed, and the monsoon of goodbyes began.

And we went…and it was life-changing. It was the best and worst, it was life-altering and felt strangely like a piece home…it was His plan. I don’t paint a picture of Indonesia that is all sunsets and beauty…though the sunsets were spectacular and the green about as beautiful as anything can be.

Indonesia was a paradox of joy and struggle, of hope and heartbreak, of embracing and longing. It was all of those things, often all of them at the same time.

And like any good piece to the journey, it ended, and we said goodbye to people and a place that had embedded themselves so deeply into our hearts that we were forever changed.

And now we sit in the middle of what came next. Ok, ok, so maybe we’re not exactly sitting…who has time to sit with a toddler running around?! 😉 We’re doing our best to trust His plan and embrace each moment as it comes, knowing that our Father always, always has a far greater plan than we can ever imagine.

Tobin and I will celebrate twelve years in just a few weeks, and as I look back, I see so many pieces. I see pieces that didn’t always make sense…

And yet…He took them. He is still taking them. And He is writing our story with them.

And I might not know what He’s making out of the pieces of the now, either…but I know it’s going to be good.

Because He is good. And He writes some pretty incredible stories.

Photo Credit: Nomadic Lass


Just Keep Running

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. :)


The Cost of a Dream

I’ve talked here and there about the piece of my story that involves Indonesia.

The short version is that my husband and I spent five years there…serving, living, loving.

It was good, and it was full of lessons.

It was hard, and it was full of tears.

It was long, and at the same time, it went by too quickly.

I’ve been back in the States for about four years, and I mean it when I say not a day goes by that I don’t ache for Indonesia.

But something God has had to teach me is that the ache isn’t a bad thing.

Rather, it means that it meant something.

Nearly nine years ago we were selling off our lives…the tangible parts at least. Except for putting some things in storage and packing eight suitcases/containers, it was all going away…to friends and family, to strangers, some of it even to the curb.

It was what we had to do to follow the dream of Indonesia, and we were okay with that. Mostly.

But following a God-sized dream like Indonesia came at a price.

Today I’m over at God-sized Dreams, talking about the real of following a dream…and the beauty that He brings when we choose Him. Join me? :)



On the Little Things, Too Many Selfies, and Hope

First of all, thank you to all of you who cheered for me last Wednesday when this new space went live.

That meant so much. It still means so much. :)

And I have to admit that I do catch myself coming back to read through the comments…and to smile at how pretty it all is, too. It feels like home.

Earlier this week, a friend shared that she loved the new look. And I joked with her…Yeah, now I need some words to go with the new look! 😉

Aahhhh…the words. Or, the lack of them.

But I’ve promised myself that this *new* space comes with no pressure. No comparison. Only the freedom to be Mel.

And yet, sometimes I just miss writing.

And it’s late and the raindrops are pounding the roof, and I’m wide awake because I accidentally took a power nap at 10 pm…and I’m smiling because sometimes God gives us the sweetest blessings in the little things. (And, apparently, in a lot of selfies…keep reading.) 😉

Last week Tobin took Friday off to get some work done in the yard. Mae and I were gone for the morning, and that afternoon the three of us went to buy some new bushes and make a stop at Costco. On the way home I mentioned that a Slurpee sounded good, so we stopped at 7-11. Mae’s first.

slurpeetonguesOf course, we had to document it. Here’s to Slurpee tongues!!! (Cherry for Mae, Watermelon Punch for me.) 😉

And then maybe…just maybe, it became the weekend of selfies because isn’t that just how life goes sometimes? Yes, yes it is. Especially when it involves a bucket of deep fried cheese curds for dinner. And a concert with Mandisa. (Who was AWE. SOME.) 😉

bucketofcheesecurdsBecause I feel this is important, necessary information…I did not eat them all myself. 😉

selfieMandisaYou have to look really close, but yes. Yes, Mandisa IS in the background. I’m so cool.
But do I have any pictures of my daughter dancing? Nope. Apparently I was too wrapped up in taking a picture of myself and the singer on stage.

And after a fun day spent with friends, too much fried food for dinner, and (of course) a record number of selfies taken (for Mel, at least) 😉 we headed home and pulled in well after midnight.

And then there was Sunday, and God gave me a gift. And another selfie, but this one was purely for memory’s sake…I mean, if YOUR BFF was in town, wouldn’t YOU take one, too? See…I thought so. 😉

beckymelselfieI love her. A lot. And that’s all that really needs to be said.

And I look back over these pictures, and I smile because God knew. He always does. He knows what we need, even on days that just don’t make sense.

And there have been a few of those lately.

Last week I came home and found this on my porch…and while it doesn’t seem like much, that sweet daisy and the few words and the love that came with it brought hope to a heart that was hurting. There’s more to the story, but that’s for another day…for now, this. The reminder that I’m loved and very, very blessed.

daisyI just smile…because God has the best ways of taking care of us, doesn’t He?

And the truth is that it has been a bit of an up and down week, and I’m not even sure how I feel about things even at this (ridiculously late) moment, but then I see this…

maeshoulderride…and I’m reminded of the beauty that He can bring in the messy, broken, imperfect.

He’s always got us…and so we can breathe thanks for that Hope.

So glad to have your here, friends!

Photo Credit: Justin Ried