to run,

am FREE to dance,
I am

FREE to live for You.

I am FREE.

..I am FREE.

We sang this song at church this morning…and as we were singing it, I couldn’t help but realize how well it sums up the past year of our lives.

While we have chosen to look at the positives in the past (well, mostly ;)) Tobin and I will both admit that, at times, being a Christian felt a lot like being a slave. So many rules and do’s and don’ts…it felt like there was no freedom to be the people God created us

to be.

“For freedom in Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

Galatians 5:1

“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”

Galatians 5:13

I love these verses…THIS is exactly what I’ve been trying to figure out all year.

Christianity is about living for God in the freedom we have in Christ. The things that used to bind us DON’T anymore. We’re not held in bondage to sin any longer because of the gift of love from our Father in the form of the greatest sacrifice the world has ever seen.

Does being free mean that I can use the grace lavished on me as an excuse to do whatever I want

? No…it’s not about self, but about loving others, something my husband and I have tried to be so intentional about. We’re not there yet, but God is teaching us.

And we’re trying to learn.

Today, I am FREE…

To live for Him!

And I might just do a little dance while I live.


Not Knowing

I let myself stress out over something over the weekend.

This week is VBS at Immanuel, and I volunteered to do games

for the 2nd-4th graders.

I know some of you are groaning right now, thinking, that sounds like about the most UNfun thing ever.

But you need to understand that I truly do enjoy things like that…and especially that age of kids.

They just crack me up…they live and act with complete abandon, not caring who might be watching. (5th grade? That’ s another

story. :))

And so I was really looking forward to the chance to hang out with kids that age again and be a “teacher” again.

But the one thing stressing me out was that I didn’t have a clue what was going on.

Part of that came from the few Type A tendencies that I have and part because I’m still kinda new and figuring things out…and it’s been over a decade since I’ve helped with VBS, too.

While I love to be spontaneous, I cannot be put into a situation where I have responsibility and not have the details planned.

But because of the circumstances, I literally had to go into things this morning semi-blind.

I guess we call it trusti

ng, huh


I woke up a little earlier than usual, spent some time reading my Bible on the porch, and felt A LOT better.

And then I had that moment…duh, Mel. Did you pray about it?

Not enough.

Those few moments spent with my Father

? Were worth so much more than the days I spent worrying about something that, in the end, was no big deal.

I showed up, hung out with some cool kids, played some games.

And I decided today that sometimes it’s ok to not know… but simply to trust.

And? I get to go back tomorrow.



A Journey, Part 2

Denomination: a name or designation, especially one for a class of things.


The word bugs me on so many levels.

Mostly because it creates distinction and designation within the body of Christ,

something I don’t prefer. There is nothing wrong with people who call themselves Baptists, Lutherans, Catholics, etc. It bothers me when those distinctions lead believers to elevate themselves over another body of believers.

I don’t think Christ would have wanted that.

Having a denomination or labeling ourselves is something that Tobin and I have chosen not to do…but we don’t judge those who do. We just prefer the term follower of Christ.

And that’s really where our journey begins. But before I dive into more deep thoughts I want to clarify something.

You might think from some of the things I have written that Tobin and I have disagreed with every church we’ve attended, and that’s not the case. Our last one was Baptist and we loved it.

I’m more referring to the churches preceding that one. On the whole, we disagree with certain things being taught in some churches. ABC…we loved. I simply have nothing negative to say about it, and that’s the truth. And I also can’t lay blame on any one church or college…because life is a series of experiences. There are many good things that were taken from those churches and that college I attended…and also some things that I am choosing to not take away. So please don’t see this as Mel’s bitter revenge but rather as a piece of the journey.

At one time there was some bitterness, but I am choosing to move on from that.

Ok, deep breath.

Tobin and I have said over and over that the most valuable thing we took away from Indonesia was a more open mind. Don’t misread that as us being tolerant of all things now…we simply view life from a different vantage point. We have seen how preferential differences in the body of Christ can be something positive rather than negative. Too often, many Christians believe that anyone who is different is wrong…and that’s not the case at all.

Tobin and I had quite the conversation about LOVE last week, which I eluded to in a previous post.

We’d been talking about how important LOVE is…how we can have so many things, do so many things, believe so many things…but without LOVE, it’s nothing.

LOVE was what Christ showed when he walked the earth, what he demonstrated when he went to the cross, what God showed when he let him

go to the cross.

But I think LOVE is lacking in some Christian circles.

My husband made a comment that has stuck with me for the last week, one that drives home the need for me to continually keep my attitude and mindset in check.

He said, “Because of the way I was raised, my first instinct is to judge rather than love.”

He is trying desperately to change that, and I’ve seen what can come from a human being making that decision.

It’s a blessing to me, my marriage, and my family, but I also thought, Wow. What if we all had that mindset?

Am I loving first


Most of the time, no. But I am seeing, firsthand, what it looks like when someone chooses love over judging.

It’s incredible.

So, armed with that LOVE…through, and only through, the power of Christ… we are trying to be follo

wers of him.

Because we’re no longer calling ourselves Baptists, does that mean that we’ve abandoned everything we were taught?


In fact, our core beliefs have not changed.

However, are we following the expectations we experienced as children/teenagers/college students/adults?


We’re learning what it looks like to walk the fine line of finding freedom in Christ without using grace as an excuse

to do what we want. Of being in the world without being like the world. Of making sure that our preferences still follow what God’s Word has to say.

Some of you are probably wondering why I’m even blogging all of this. At times it probably seems like too much information. And maybe I’m doing it more for myself than for others. But I did have the thought the other day that

If I had known me for years and read some of the things I’ve written lately, I’d wonder.

So maybe it’s my attempt to tell you that while some things have changed, I’m still following Christ. I still want that with all my heart.

And I’m trying to love others through it, too.


A Journey, Part 1

Today I’m going to open up my heart

in a way I never have before.

There will be some raw, tender moments…and I ask that if you choose to read this that you are careful with my heart.

It can’t take being ripped apart right now, especially by someone who has not been in my shoes.

But I do ask that you read what I write…cause that’s why I write it after all!

But if you don’t want to, that’s ok.

And now that I’ve completely contradicted myself? Let’s go.

I once read a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Life’s a journey,

not a destination.”

So profound, and at the same time, so incorrect…at least for me in the place I am right now.

There is nothing wrong with a journey.

In fact, that’s what I’m going to write about today. I want my journey to be important, to matter, to be life-changing.

But as a believer in Christ, I must never, ever forget that it is the destination that is what’s important. And my destination, my true home, is Heaven. But there is plenty to be said for a believer’s journey and the impact he/she can have on earth.

God has taken me (and my husband) on quite the journey this past year, and I want to share it…truly share it…with you. I would be writing for hours upon hours if I attempted to fit it all into one blog post.

So, instead, I’m breaking it up into who-knows-how-many days.

We shall see. :)

This journey is one of faith, of validation, of assurance, of a search for Truth.

You see, my husband and I have been what the world would term Christians for most of our lives. We were both taught at an early age that Jesus died for our sins, that he rose again, and because of this, we could have eternal life in Heaven someday.

We know that…it has been ingrained and implanted in us for years.

We can give you the plan of salvation in a minute flat, Scripture included.

We know the answers for most situations and how to back them up with verses.

We can even flip our way through the Bible faster than most of you can. Ok, ok…so that’s not a fair judgment…I’m just sayin’. :) It’s pretty stinkin’ fast. It would be fun to have a contest sometime, though!

However, a few years ago, things started to shake a little…figuratively. And looking back, we see this shaking as a blessing in disguise.

We realized that we knew SO MUCH…but had no idea why we believed it.

We had been living in a more non-denominational community and were amazed by the things we learned. Forgive me for what I’m about to share…but bear with me.

Because I’m not lying.

The crux of it is that we came to a quite sudden realization that not just Baptists would be in Heaven.

Go ahead and pick yourself up off the floor…it’s ok. So we were kind of (or completely) raised to think we were right, and no one else was.

And before continuing with this thought, you need to know that the idea had been in our minds for quite awhile, though we’d never really talked about it.

The last church we attended in M

innesota was a Baptist church that was balanced and very Biblical. (And pretty amazing, too. Love you all at ABC. :))

However, suddenly we were around Christians from all types of backgrounds and denominations…and these people believed just like we did.

(Well, maybe without all the stuffy rules that we’d been guilted into following for years.) These people were passionate, on fire, and dedicated to loving the Father.

They put me and my rule-following to shame.


As we got to know them and realized how much they loved God, we began to feel that we’d been deceived but didn’t know how to communicate that. And so, to a certain extent, we shut down.

And then after Indonesia, we moved to a new place. We knew no one…and we also knew that there was no better place for us to continue this journey.

Because here we were…in our 30’s.

And searching.

For what, we had no idea. But we knew God would show us in His time.

Part 2 tomorrow: Losing the denomination and following Him.


Christ is Risen Indeed!

We sang this song in church yesterday at our Celebration Service. (I haven’t mentioned it, but I LOVE it that we are still celebrating Easter at Immanuel!) I can’t get it out of my head…in fact, I’m expecting my daughter to break into singing it at any moment.


Have a listen.


Chr ist

is Risen Indeed
Matt Boswell

What a morning when the silence turned to singing;
What rejoicing on the third appointed day.
The cross exhausted all its cruelty and its power,
But love declared its victory and rolled the stone away.

Christ is risen, he is

risen indeed!
Death has been defeated, and the grave has lost its sting;
Hallelujah, with the angels we will sing;
Christ is risen,

Christ is risen indeed!

Such a hope we have in Christ, the resurrection;
Such a joy to know by grace we’ ve been redeemed.

Through Christ we died a death to sin and all its folly,
But glorified, we will rise, to live eternally.

Christ is risen, he is risen indeed!

Death has been defeated, and the grave has lost its sting;
Hallelujah, with the angels we will sing;
Christ is risen, Christ is risen indeed!

Salvation and immortal praise to our victorious King,
Let the heavens and the earth with glad hosannas ring!

Christ is risen, he is risen indeed!

Death has been defeated, and the grave has lost its sting;
Hallelujah, with the angels we will sing;
Christ is risen, Christ is risen indeed!


The Importance of Community

The word ” community”

came up a lot when we were living overseas.

Over and over, it was stressed to us that living in commun

ity was important. I didn’t always exactly understand it…or do it well…but in the past few weeks,

the concept has come up in my mind again.

When you’re the new girl in town, “community” can be tough.

When we first moved here, I wanted nothing to do with the community in which I was being forced to reside.

But before long, I loved it. Really, truly loved it.

I live

in the “Old” area of Carpentersville, Illinois.

I love it…it’s like this “oldish” neighborhood with homes that have tons of character.

Personally, I love it that my house does not look like every other house on the block. The neighbors actually come out of their homes and talk to each other. Kids in the neighborhood ride

their bikes and stop to play with our dogs.

The couple diagonal from us hangs with the neighborhood kids and bakes them cookies. (And sometimes they share cause they’re just cool like that.) The older couple next to us are so sweet and love our Mae…they even brought her the cutest little furry stuffed bunny for Easter. Our neighbors across the street have become some of our closest friends and Aunt and Uncle to Maelie.

I love my neighborhood/community…really, who wouldn’t?

Beyond my immediate community, there’s the general area in which I live.

It’s several smaller villages (Seriously, that’s what they’re called…no idea why. Anyone?) that make me feel like I live in a small town…but with everything we’ll ever need within ten minutes of our house.

A few months ago some friends and I discovered a little coffee shop that hosts open mic night every other week. Yours truly is lending her vocal cords and guitar strumming to them this Friday…and hoping she doesn’t scare away the entire place or get banned forever. 😉 I was in there just chatting with the owner yesterday, and I love how I walk into her shop and we start talking like we’ve known each other for years.

I love, love, love my community.

Then there’s the aspect of church community. This one took a little longer.

We tried a few churches in this area when we first moved here and were very disappointed…maybe our expectations were too high? I don’t know. We ended up going to our current church because it’s where I attend a weekly Bible study…and we found an unexpected home there.

Wonderful people, great worship, and we’re being challenged and fed…which is so important to us.

In the past few months I’ve slowly joined a little of the blogging community, specifically through a few websites where I read and comment often.

Today, one of those sites posted this video that I just thought was amazing. It is so, so, exactly what the (in)courage community is all about. It’s worth your time to watch, but if you don’t have the time, at least check out

the site. I love it.

Last week one of the regular writers for this blog lost her daughter.

It was a beautiful thing to see the (in)courage community come around her family to support them, love them, and pray for them. It was also a reminder that community doesn’t always have to be physically present…that we can support and love each other online, too.

And…I’m excited to announce that in a couple weeks, I’ll be the daily guest blogger for this site…which I am so, so pumped about!

(But what I’m writing about? You’ll have to wait until then. :)) I so admire the (in)courage writers and am humbled that they are allowing me to share a piece of my heart with them and with all of you. I can’t wait!

I’m so thankful for community…and the many ways it has blessed me.


Easter Blessings

This morning was: 1) the first time we’d been in church on Easter in six years; and 2) the first time we’d been in a Lutheran church for Easter.

I have to say Amen! to both.

Here’s why.

The six years thing was our choice and boiled down to several reasons which I will not go into here.

We have always celebrated Easter, just not always in a church. Today, being among hundreds of people who were worshipping and celebrating the glorious Resurrection was so, so wonderful.

My heart was ready for that celebration, and I can’ t begin

to describe how emotional it was for me to watch the cross being carried down

the aisle.

Each church and denomination has its own traditions regarding Easter, and each tradition is a blessing

in its own way…today just really spoke to my heart.

Watching the cross being carried in and out of the church while we sang. Responding multiple times to Pastor’s He is risen! with He is risen, indeed!


Each time we said it, I felt love rising up within me more and more.

He is Risen!

Because of that, sin no longer has power over me.

I can live with the full knowledge that I am Forgiven…and I am His. Forever.

That’s incredible!

Today was such a blessing.

And even aside from church, the blessings just flowed over the weekend. A spur-of-the-moment movie night with friends and chocolate chip whoopie pies…mmm. :) Our dear neighbors brought over a little stuffed bunny for Maelie.

Our sweet friends across the street gave Mae an Easter basket that brought me to tears.

(And if she was old enough to understand, Mae probably would’ve cried, too. Well, if she ends up with her mommy’s emotions.) :) A last minute invitation to join some friends for dinner today…great food and good conversations…and even an evening swim for me and Mae…her first time in a pool. And she LOVED it!

So blessed.

He is Risen! He is Risen, indeed! Alleluia!


The Napless Wonder

I affectionately refer to my girl as the above title.

Oh, she is a wonder.

One who has the most irregular sleeping patterns I’ve ever seen.

For the first two months of her life, she napped like an angel.

I swear there was a halo floating over her precious little head.

Then around the middle of August, she decided, Nope. The world is much too exciting for me to sleep.

You can only imagine what this did to mommy. And? It continued.

For three stinkin’ months.

Then, just after Thanksgiving, she decided that naps were a wonderful thing, and she made a regular habit of taking a daily three hour afternoon nap.

To say that was awesome is completely understating it.

It. Gave. Me. My. Sanity. Back.

This continued for a couple months.

Sometimes? She’d even give me a morning nap, too.

Then around the middle of February, she decided that naps were for wimps.

We went a few weeks

with maybe one nap a week. And Mel, of course, is ready to pull her hair out during all of this.

And then a couple weeks ago, she decided, Yeah, I’ll nap again. Sleep is goooooood…Momma likes it, so I should like it, too!

And she’s been a pretty good napper for the last couple of weeks.

Except on Sundays. Oh, Sunday morning services make me want to cry, laugh hysterically, and crawl under the pew. (All at once, if possible. ;)) She just won’t nap at church.

She coos and giggles her way through the class we go to at 9:30. (I spent half of it in the hallway today.) She’s usually ok during singing, but then she gets cranky and almost never makes it through the sermon.

And then one of us ends up in the hallway with her. Today it was Tobin, and he brought her back in during communion because there was a lot of singing, which usually keeps her happy (and quiet).

Not today.

She was just not doing it and was a crying mess by the end of the service.

Part of me felt bad for her…really, to be so tired and not be able to sleep would be frustrating. I’d cry. But she did redeem our less-than-pleasant morning at church by taking a 2 1/2 hour nap as soon as we got home.

When I went in to get her after that glorious nap, she looked up at me, grinned, and the frustrations of the morning melted away.

I love this girl.


Really, how could anyone not love my little napless wonder? 😀

Oh, Maelie girl, you give me such great stories to tell.

I love you!


Bella Notte

Ha, ha, now I’m quadrilingual. (Is that even a wor

d? Actually it is, I totally googled it.


We had a good night…a night out with (sort of) no baby.

A couple weeks ago we decided to go

to a fundraiser at our church

that benefits their school. A five course Italian dinner, entertainment, and FREE babysitting.

Really, what’s not to love


And then last night I looked at the time the event was scheduled to begin.

7:30 p.m.


I. almost. cried.

Instead, I called a friend for some help.

(You can tell I’m still new at this mommy thing.)

How on earth were we going to leave Maelie in the nursery for a few hours that lat

e? Um, no. We know our daughter…this could not even possibly end well. She just doesn’t do evenings…and is almost always in bed by 8:15.

Thankfully we came up with a plan that actually worked.

I love it when that happens.


So Maelie got to hang out in the nursery long enough to play a little and have a bottle, and then she went to sleep in our friend’s office at church. It took her awhile to fall asleep, but once she was out, she was out.

😀 And we got to have a date. 😀 Complete with Mel singing cheesy love songs to Tobin.

So, five courses and way too much Diet Pepsi and decaf coffee later, we are home.

And happy. (And really, really full, but that’s a given. ;))

Every couple needs a night out without kids once in awhile.

Bella Notte…and Good Night.


I Love Thursdays

It’s Thursday. One of my favorite days of the week.

I really, really love Thursdays.

This is the day of the week that life is a little different for me and my girl. Oh, sure, at random times during the week we will get out and do different things.

But Thursday is the day I go to the Mom’s Bible Study at Immanuel.

To say that it is a highlight of the week is an understatement…it is THE highlight.

One of the biggest reasons I dreaded moving here is because we didn’ t know anyone.

That left me with two choices: shut down and never make any friends; or, get out there and make some new ones.

Neither of those choices really appealed to me. I’m not the type to completely shut down and never be social…but go knocking on someone’s door looking for a friend

? Especially in a new place where I don’t know my way around

? Yeah, that’s not me either.

Thankfully God met me where I was and sent me a friend, who knocked on my door instead (literally) and introduced me to a bunch more friends through her Bible study.

The first time I went, I wasn’t sure. My small, narrow mind had never been around a group of women from a Lutheran church. (If you know my background, you’ll understand this…no offense taken, I hope!) But after the second time, the walls started to come down, and I realized I’d been judgmental for far too long.

What I found when I let those walls crumble

? The most amazing group of women who are so Christlike…and real. I need real…not superficial.

This group of women, in every sense of the word, saved me. They scooted over and made some room at their table, accepting me for who I was, exactly where I was…which basically meant they were dealing with a lonely, emotional, sleep-deprived, new mommy in the middle of the biggest changes of her life. And they were cool with that.

And? They even took time to ask me about it all. That meant so much to me.

I so look forward to our study every week. Sometimes we spend more time talking and laughing than we do studying…and sometimes it’s the other way around. But we all need that laughter and conversation as much as we need to gain insight from God’s Word.

That’ s called being human.

I feel so blessed that, at a time where I had no idea what life would look like or how my intense need for social interaction would be met, God had it all figured out.

“Mel, you have no idea, but I’ve got some great people waiting for you…you’ve just got to trust Me.”

I’m so glad I did.

I think it’s funny that at Bible study today, a few women were talking today about reading my blog. (I am so glad someone read that ridiculous post about my hair a couple weeks ago. :)) I had already planned to blog about this today…and I almost changed my mind.

But when God does something cool…it’s worth writing about.

I love stepping back and seeing how God provided something I never thought He would.

I am beyond blessed… and so thankful.

Yeah, I love Thursdays. :)