2015: Open

door final
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


Behind the Scenes: Insignificant

IMG_0715I’ve shared this photo in this space a few times.

I think it’s cool, and it’s one of my hubby’s favorites, too…in fact, the first time I posted it (the first of about six times…) he commented that he was glad more people were going to see it. 😉

I like it for lots of reasons. Let’s see…I’m sitting by the ocean watching the waves.

I’m in flip flops. :)

Oh, and I have a TAN. (Sorry, it’s January in the Midwest…aren’t we ALL dreaming of the tropics by now???)

Anyway, there’s actually a story behind this photo, too…one that I love to think about, especially when I realize that it’s been FIVE YEARS since this photo was taken. Wowza, time flies.

We were living in Indonesia at the time and had escaped the hustle and bustle of the city for a desperately-needed Thanksgiving break at the beach.

Now some of you might think, Oh, Indonesia. Lots of islands. Lots of beaches.

Yes, that’s true…but it doesn’t mean those beaches are easy to get to, especially when you also live in the middle of mountains. 😉 This particular beach was about a five hour drive…with a little stop to fix a flat tire on the way, too. It was also about 80-100 miles from our home in Bandung…how’s that for travel perspective? 😉

Our time at the beach was full of the kinds of things I like to do on vacation…sunshine, swimming, resting in a hammock, reading, playing games, eating seafood, more sunshine.

It was a good few days to just be.

And I remember, as Sunday afternoon rolled around and we faced leaving and going back to life…a life we loved, but also a life that was exhausting…that I needed a few moments to think.

And so I wandered out to the beach by myself, sat down on the (really, really toasty) sand, and watched the waves crash.

I didn’t know hubby was behind me with the camera, and he snapped a few shots of me as I just sat there and thought.

And what I love about this picture is that I look insignificant.


So very small, compared to the vastness of my Father’s creation.

And that’s exactly how I felt that day, too.

He was doing something so big all around me and in my heart. You wouldn’t know it by looking at that picture, but in that season of life, Tobin and I had finally decided to move forward with adopting. It was scary…a dream we were almost afraid to dream.

And as the mongo waves crashed and I sat there, mesmerized by the stunning view of the rainy weather that would eventually roll in…I was reminded of the beauty that comes with soaking in all that surrounded me.

Just being in his presence was the gift at that moment…and it was almost as if He was giving me a hug, reminding me of His greatness...and reminding me that He can do anything.

Just a few minutes later, we packed up the Kijang and headed out for the long and winding drive home.

Occasionally I’ll look at this picture again…or, ahem…post it on the blog. 😉

I’ll reflect on that season with a sweet sadness as I miss what was and what happened and, also, what didn’t.

And, sometimes…well, sometimes I feel small. Insignificant. But then I remember how BIG He is. (<===Click to Tweet!)

And that I can trust Him with my dreams.

And I whisper thanks. 


Linking up with two of my favorites today!

On Tuesdays, I hang out with some of my favorite friends at Crystal’s place, where she hosts Behind the Scenes.

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.

And I’m also linking up at God-Sized Dreams, with my favorite dreaming sisters!

I hope you’ll join us for the sweet, sentimental, and silly stories that make up our days. :)



Justifying Grief

I want to warn you, friends, that this post may make you uncomfortable. And if you’d rather not read it, I understand.

It’s been a season of dreaming and doing…with a lot of reflecting mixed in there, too.

And since many of you walk this journey with me…the one of hopes and chasing dreams, of love and extreme thankfulness, of a bit of sorrow and more broken, but also of so much redemption and Grace…I want you to know.

If you want to know.

So read at your own risk. :)


There is a wound that’s been buried in a corner of my heart for more than four years.

Most days, it’s just there…but it never goes away. Occasionally it will tug and pull and ache and make me cry.

And then there are weeks like this past one where it slashes and slices and crushes and makes my body rack with sobs.

I thought it would go away, this wound of loss so deep, especially once our little girl joined our family.

But it hasn’t, and from time to time, the pain will resurface. And lately, it’s seemed to grab a hold and start to strangle.

Especially this past week, as it seemed to just make me cry more and more, I wondered…

Is it possible I never grieved it?

I don’t know.

All I know is that the month of March is one of the most painful for me…and when it rolls around, it feels as if a demon overtakes me.

The demon of depression…of anger, of hurt, of regret, of unknown. Of wishing and wondering and wanting to know so badly but needing to accept that I never will.

Most of you know the story, but not all.

For a long time, I’ve been afraid of it, but I can’t be anymore. For it is part of us…part of our family, and we need to acknowledge that it’s there and always will be. 

In November of 2008, while Tobin and I were living in Indonesia, we made the decision to pursue adoption. It wasn’t something we rushed into…it had been in our prayers and discussions for months, even years.

In January of 2009, we were approached about the possibility of adopting a baby. A mother in a nearby village who had a connection with a friend was pregnant with her third child. The father was in and out of the picture, money was almost nonexistent, and they wanted a better life for this baby.

Through our friend, they heard about us and asked if we would like their baby.

There are days I wish it had been that simple. And then there are others when I wish it had all never happened.

She was due end of April/beginning of May. It was January.

We flew into paperwork mode and, as soon as we could, scheduled a meeting with the head of the Yayasan (adoption CEO, for lack of a better term) in Jakarta. We met with her, and though somewhat helpful, we left feeling discouraged.

Despite the discouragement, our friend was convinced that this could work, that the hoops could be jumped through and the obstacles overcome.

We had a lot on our side, and I believed with everything in me that God wanted us to have this baby.

And I knew I shouldn’t have gone there yet, but I did. We were lying in bed one night, talking, and I told T how much I liked the name, Maria. We never talked about a boy’s name because I was certain it would be a girl.

I had dreams of a purple nursery with maybe some butterflies on the wall, of spending more years in Indonesia, of finally being able to be a family in my community.

In March, those dreams died when the mother changed her mind. We never heard officially what happened, other than we knew there had been some family pressure.

And my dreams for a Maria and a purple nursery with a cute, white crib turned to ashes.

I cried more tears that month than I ever thought possible.

What’s worse, I was convinced that my grief was unjustified. Not everyone had been completely on board with the situation, and one friend even passively said, Oh, you can just try again. It’s not like it was guaranteed anyway.

It was a grief I stuffed down deep. I was afraid of judgment, afraid of being caught crying over something others felt wasn’t justified.

I still had to teach…I still had nineteen 5th graders. I had a life and responsibilities…and the tears were pushed to the late night.

The kind when it was just me and heartbreak buried under a daisy blanket.

Alone, crying out to a God Who felt too far away.

People say that time heals wounds, and I half-agree with it.

Just half, though.

Eventually the exhaustion translated to sleep and sleep meant relief from pain.

Days somehow passed and life occupied hours…and it was what it was.

We returned to the States for the summer. Most never asked, we didn’t talk.

And while tears have dripped since, today the hole feels more like a pit of desperation…the kind that threatens to swallow up a life that needs to be lived.

About a year ago God laid it on our hearts to sponsor a child through Compassion. I pored through the pictures of children from Indonesia, looking for a three year-old. Somehow hoping that maybe…maybe…this child could still be mine.

I knew it was foolish, I knew the odds were millions to one, I knew…

I know…

I know I just have to let go.

To trust that God has a plan for this now-almost-four-year-old child, one that for whatever reason didn’t include us, one that is far greater than I could have imagined.

And so I need to say goodbye.

Goodbye, sweet one.


How Do You Choose???

Today, I went to this website.

Definitely not the first time I’ve been to that site, but the first time I’ve gone with the intention of finding a child to sponsor.

One of the missionaries we currently support is no longer on the field; in talking where we wanted that money to go, we decided that sponsoring a child through Compassion International was a good choice.

When I pulled up the website today, the child on the front page, waiting for a sponsor?

Was from Indonesia.

I had figured we would probably choose one from Indo, but seeing her huge, so-familiar, brown eyes staring back at me was almost too much. My heart melted, and I was sure she was the one. But by the time Tobin had gotten home from the store and we could talk a little more, she had already been sponsored.

Which is a very good thing, even if I was a little bummed. :)

So…I had the site do a search for all the kids in Indonesia waiting for a sponsor.

Big mistake.Huge.

Eighty-two. EIGHTY-TWO! 

How do you even choose between them?

I looked at ages, at names, at birthdays…and narrowed it down to two. I prayed, and I really can’t decide between them. My heart hurts…

So I’m going to pray it through tonight and wait til tomorrow. I’m hoping one of them will be taken so the decision will be easy. :)

So I know I have blog readers, whether or not you guys comment or not. :) If you’ve ever wanted to bless the life of a child who truly needs it, here’s your chance.

No pressure.

Just an opportunity. :)


30 Days of Thanks, Day 11: Seasons

Today, I’m going to give thanks for Seasons, by re-posting something I wrote a few years ago.

It’s thought-provoking and was a good reminder to me as I try to give thanks today for a migraine that has all but wiped me out. It will pass, too, though. :)

I love how endless tears and sleepless nights over a failed adoption turned into something so unexpectedly, amazingly beautiful…in the form of a little girl named Maelie.

We are so blessed.


Enjoy re ading

a little piece of our lives from not so long ago.

(from the March 2009 archives of the blog we kept in Indonesia)

I’ve hesitated posting for awhile because I don’t want to ramble on and on about the same things all the time. Sometimes God puts us in a season for awhile, and while things don’t change a lot, the lessons are still there to learn. And I am learning a lot.  Here are a few things, in no particular order.

Stillness. Why is it that we always want to move around and make noise? It seems like, in my mind, I’m always thinking of how I can do things better or how right I am about something.

God has shown me a lot about being still, resting, and being willing to be quiet and wait on Him. I can’t say that this period of being still has been easy.  There have been a lot of tears and moments of just not getting it. But learning to rest has brought peace.

Silence. (There is a difference between this point and the last one.) I am a Facebook, e-mail, communication junkie. But for the last month, I have all but stayed away from most forms of it. I check it occasionally, but I haven’t replied to most people, unless it was necessary. If you sent me an e-mail or a message, please don’t be offended if I didn’t reply. Your words probably made me cry or smile (or both) and gave me something to process. I appreciate your thoughtfulness and want you to know that it didn’t go unnoticed or unappreciated. When I can find the words, I will write you back.

Empathy. I’ve been following the blog of a friend of a friend. She and her husband lost their baby girl at 39+ weeks about a year and a half ago. I know that our situations are vastly different, but gaining her insight on grief has been eye-opening and healing for me. I, in no way, compare this loss to theirs, yet I feel that God has used her words over and over to show me that He is faithful, that He will bring healing, and that despite loss, He is still God.

Meaning. Processing this kind of pain has brought new meaning to who I want to be.

I am at an interesting point in life, anyway, with leaving the classroom, which has brought emotions that are difficult to explain. As I contemplate being a stay-at-home wife (not a mother, which I was hoping for), I have realized that I will have quite a bit of free time, and I don’t want to waste it. I have been praying and thinking about the abilities I have, and I think God’s next purpose for me is simple…spending time with local people, just building relationships. I love Indonesian people. They are beautiful and so kind. I have some options, so please pray for open doors.

I love the song Nichole Nordeman sings called Every Season. I feel like I’ve been stuck in winter, but I know that spring is coming–it may just take a bit longer than I was hoping for.

:) Thanks for your friendship and love…it means more to

me than I can ever express.

“Every evening sky, an invitation
to trace the patterned stars.
And early in July, a celebration
for freedom that is ours.

And I notice You in children’s games,
in those who watch them from the shade.

Every drop of sun is full of fun and wonder;
You are summer.

And even when the trees have just surrendered
to the harvest time,
Forfeiting their leaves in late September
and sending us inside.
Still I notice you when change begins,
and I am braced for colder winds.

I will offer thanks for what has been and what’s to come;
You are autumn.

And everything in time and under heaven
finally falls asleep.

Wrapped in blankets white, all creation
shivers underneath.
And still I notice you when branches crack,
and in my breath on frosted glass.

Even, now, in death you open doors for life to enter;
You are winter.

And everything that’s new has bravely surfaced,
Teaching us to breathe.
And what was frozen through is newly purposed,
Turning all things green.

So it is with You and how You make me new
with every season’s change.
And so it will be as You are recreating me,
Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring.”


In His Time

Today I started briefly sketching out

an idea for a painting I want to do for Maelie’s room.

It’s really simple, which is a good thing, because I am NOT an artist…just a person with random moments of artistic talent.

Just a flower with the words, “He makes everything beautiful in His time.”

She doesn’t know it yet, but that’s pretty much the story of her life,

the story I want her to know.


I am terrible at waiting.

I do not like to be waiting in line at the grocery store, standing around at the end of the bar waiting for my coffee, and in Indonesia, I really hated waiting for a taxi. (Mostly because I knew that it could be as little as two minutes or as long as two hours before one showed up.

And who knows what the weather would do while I waited?)

Although I am not really Type A, I tend to have a plan for my day…and my life. I know how I want things done, and while there is definitely room to be spontaneous, I like it when my expectations are met. Exceeded is even better.


My husband and I are in the middle of more waiting.

We made an offer on a house this past week.

It’s a house we love and where we see ourselves raising our family. Great neighborhood and location, close to friends

and church. Yeah, it’s the one we’re renting. I love it.

And I want it so badly I can hardly stand it.

I don’t want to wait…I just want an answer. I don’t even know how I’m going to sleep until we know. And the reality is, we may not know for awhile.

I think back not so long ago when we were waiting for something else.

A child.

At times it felt like it would never happen.

I watched as, what seemed like, everyone around me had babies. Multiple babies. Even some of my friends were adopting.

And I? Was just waiting with empty arms and a heart that was hurting more and more the longer we waited.

And in the middle of that waiting, I started wondering, “Is it really waiting if there’s nothing to wait for?”

Oh, Mel…such small faith.

Easy for me to say now, I guess.

At the time, it felt like God was always saying no. “No, I don’t want you to adopt this baby. No, I don’t want you to have this one.”

And then…He said yes.

I still smile really, really, B

IG when I remember the morning we got the positive pregnancy test. It meant about 7 1/2 more months of waiting, but I didn’t care one bit.

We were going to have a baby!

And then…the puking started. And didn’t stop.

I learned even more about waiting while I experienced 24/7 sickness for 18 weeks straight. My body was so physically weak and exhausted that showering and getting dressed were major accomplishments. My head hurt so bad that I could hardly look at a computer or tv screen or read a book.

Really, what does a person do with all of that time? I learned that there was nothing else I could do but pray…and wait it out.

And while it was horrible, we still knew that God was fulfilling His plan for our family in His time. There was comfort in that even though I felt absolutely awful.

And eventually, around the middle of the sixth month, I did stop puking and my head stopped hurting so much. I actually felt somewhat normal and was able to enjoy life…and begin to excitedly dream about the little girl we would be welcoming into our family so soon.

And before we knew it, June 14 was here, and Maelie arrived!

The waiting was long…and hard. But she was so, so worth the wait.

And whether I’m waiting for a baby or a house, I know that God will give us an answer in His time.

Father, remind me of this on the days I don’t feel like waiting.

In His time,
In His time,
He makes all things beautiful
In His time.
Lord, please show me every day,
As You’re teaching me Your way,
That You do just what You say
In Your time.

In Your time,
In Your time,
You make all things beautiful
In Your time.
Lord, my life to You I bring,
May each song I have to sing,
Be to You a lovely thing
In Your time.


A Powerful Mommy Moment

I’m not even sure I know how to write about this.

It took

me over a week just to put the feeling into words.

But I’ll try.

One of the hardest things my husband and I have gone through in our married life was in 2009 when our plan to adopt fell through. I blogged a little about it here and here.

At that time, I almost completely lost the ability to write…hence the reason there are really only two posts about the subject.

However, one thing I found solace in was music…it was like an escape for my soul. Whether drowning out the world with my iPod and headphones or belting out a tune while strumming my guitar, it helped me survive when life felt like it would never be ok again. And one Friday afternoon in my classroom, the words to a song just came to me. The chorus? Came in like ten seconds.

The verses took about an hour. The bridge…I’ m still waiting on.

Sometimes in the mornings, Maelie will play on the floor and I’ll pull out my guitar and sing to her. Last Friday, in an attempt to get her to spend more time on her tummy, I decided it was a good day for some music. I strummed through a few familiar songs and then played the one I wrote two years ago…a song I really hadn’t touched since then. I’m used to her cooing or bopping to the music, but when I started singing that one, she stopped and stared at me intently, almost as if she understood what I was singing about.

And then I realized, Now I get it, too.

It was a moment that brought tears…but so many reasons to smile, too.

I am so very thankful for my daughter…not just for her but for what I’ve learned through her. That my Father is so amazingly Good. That there is healing after loss.

That it is possible to love even through sadness.

I am just so filled with overwhelming gratitude to God for my sweet girl.

Maelie Naomi, I love you so much.

Thank you, Father, for broken dreams that turn into something more beautiful than I ever could have imagined. Thank you for holding my hand through it all. Thank you for seeing when I couldn’t.

There I Am

It wasn’t what she’d dreamed,
She’d always had a plan.

It wasn’t what she wanted,
And she didn’t understand.
Every night she prayed
For a way to make it through.
In the sleepless nights she heard His voice,
“I will carry you…


I was there, and I still Am.
I am right beside you holding your hand.

Though you can’t see,
Trust that I can.

No matter where you go,
There I Am.”

Disclaimer: So I did attempt to record this (it’s only part of the song), but my computer’s not the greatest for this kind of thing.

And I don’t really write songs. And I desperately needed to change one of my guitar strings.

And… I was really freaked out about posting myself singing on this blog.

So a little mercy, please. :) And…ok, just listen to it.