A Moment of Love: I Need Your Vote!

Hi, friends! :)

So a pretty cool opportunity came up about a week ago. One that I am already so in love with, I hope it’s something I’ll be able to participate in often in the future.

CausePub is an organization that is putting together a crowd-published book called Couch Rebels…meaning lots of people contributing stories for one publication.

If you have ever traveled abroad or placed yourself in an environment that is uncomfortable from what you are used to, you’re a Couch Rebel. It is within those times of choosing to be uncomfortable that we learn, grow, and experience the incredible things life has to offer… and then tell those stories for the rest of our lives. (causepub.com)

The sale of this book will benefit Blood:Water Mission in Africa, which I think is beyond awesome.

320 million Africans are without access to clean water. For every copy of Couch Rebels sold, the organization, Blood:Water Mission, will be able to provide three people with clean water for one year. The goal of this Cause is to sell 15,000 copies, which means that 45,000 lives can be directly impacted through your participation in this CausePub project! (causepub.com)

And I’m thrilled to have the chance to participate!

I’ve submitted the following story, but in order to be part of this publication, I need your help! Would you consider stopping by here to read and vote for it? Thanks so much! :)


There are those moments in life that leave an imprint forever; this is one of them.

My husband and I spent five years living and working in Indonesia. Life there…well, it differed drastically from what we’d always known, and many of those differences were good.

They were differences we embraced.

But there was one…one that was so in-my-face and obvious; wherever we went, there were so many people in need.

In every facet of life, it seemed, there were people hurting…from those with housing needs to being hungry; and others unable to send their children to school or lacking the funds for desperately needed medical care.

And then there were people in the kind of need I’d never seen before…

To read more of this story and vote for it, please click here.



Embracing the Chaos: A Guest Post

Hi, friends!

Today I’m super excited to be writing over at my sweet friend, Kristin’s place, The Riches of His Love.

I met Kristin through the God-Sized Dream team, and she was kind enough to let me share a piece of my heart in her space. I hope you’ll take some time to hop over here to read about the crazy and the chaos (and also the lessons) that came from driving a motorbike in Indonesia. 😉

And maybe from crashing into a few bushes, too…


You’re totally curious now, aren’t you?



Five-Minute Friday: Comfort

Today I’m linking up with Lisa-Jo for Five-Minute Friday.

Join me!

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

Today’s Topic: Comfort


I remember the first time I left my comfort zone for parts unknown. (Oh my goodness, did I just rhyme? I totally didn’t plan that. AT ALL.) 😉

I was twenty years old and dying to get out of the country…Peru was my destination, the northern Amazon region. For three weeks, several friends and I spent our days teaching Vacation Bible School, singing for different groups of people, hanging out with streetkids…and our nights on a houseboat on the Amazon. All of it was out of my comfort zone, and I

Loved. Every. Single. Second. Of. It.

I was completely smitten with every aspect of the adventures I had there…and realized only when I returned home that I hadn’t really missed my comfort zone.

In fact, I kind of didn’t want to go back to it. True story. 😉

That trip taught me so much about the things He can do with this heart and life when I’m willing to step out and do something new, sometimes-crazy, and almost-always scary.

And it led to some other pretty big steps of faith…marriage, five years in another country, more crazy adventures than I can count, having a daughter, moving “home” to a place when I didn’t know a soul, making a home in that place, beginning the writing journey…the kind where I’m not sure how it ends.

Or if it does. Probably not. (Will we have laptops and Five-Minute Friday in heaven? I’m thinkin’ so…) 😉

Life is full of those steps out that make my heart pound with fear and anticipation…may I always be brave enough to take them, knowing that He is all the comfort I will ever need.

And when I remember that…well, He can do anything.

That’s pretty awesome.

Five Minute Friday


My God-Sized Dream: Deep Breath…

What do you really want more of in your life? Will you dare to say it out loud?

Well, since you’re asking…I really want more coffee and sleep. (Strange paradox, I know.) :) And, silly, but I’ve kinda been hoping for a pair of these…I can’t believe this world traveler has stomped her feet in so many places without a pair of TOMS. 😉 

But since those probably aren’t acceptable (or inspiring) answers, we can talk a little longer.


This was another question I wrestled with over the last week, but I think that wrestling and battling was so much against my own fear…and I think what’s coming out of it is good.

Scary, but good.

Though, up front you need to know that this. is. the. scariest. post. I’ve. ever. written.

Please be gentle with my heart.

Deep breath…here we go.


In the fall semester of 2007, over our Idul Fitri break from school, some friends and I flew up to Sumatra to visit Bukit Lawang, an orangutan preserve. Included in that long weekend was a day-long jungle hike.

Forgive me here for not sharing too many fun details. This may, or may not, be a chapter in my book. :)

At some point during that hike, we stopped for a water break, and I took the time to really look around me.

Vines everywhere…it was totally like the movie Tarzan. And I’d kinda had this dream to be Jane at one point in my life. :)

It was at that moment I realized there was an opportunity in front of me…one that, if I didn’t take then, I might never have again.

So I asked our guide to cut me a vine so I could swing.

He looked at me, laughed a little, and then obliged. He was even kind enough to test it out for me.

I was scared for a minute, but I reminded myself that now was the time…and if I ever wanted to be jungle-swinging Jane, this was the day.

Deep breath…whoooooosh. I sailed through the jungle.

Ok, ok…so maybe sailed is the wrong word. :) Gotta be honest that my awesome vine-swing was not exactly like it is in the movies.

Definitely still a dream come true, but it wasn’t quite so dramatic. :)

My point?

Is that sometimes dreams take a deep breath and bravery, but they can turn into something truly incredible.



I’ve been reading (and re-reading parts of) a fantastic book that I think maybe some of you have heard me talk about. 😉

It’s pretty much amazing.

And as I’ve been chewing on the first part of the book (no, not literally…though I may have chewed off a few fingernails!) I’ve realized something.

When it comes to dreams and saying them aloud, I’ve been safe.


Maybe it’s because I am an ENFP through and through…very much a talker, processor, people-lover, sky-high dreamer, and I thrive on it all.

So when I shared my dream for the first time, it didn’t scare me, at least too much.

The prospect of writing a book, in general, doesn’t scare me because I’m not afraid of words and stories.

Don’t get me wrong, there will definitely be butterflies that will most likely be doing backflips off of my stomach lining when (and if) my book is published, but this kind of dreaming makes me want to jump up and down and do cartwheels.

At least right now. :)

All that to say, for me, there is safety with words.

God has given me this dream, and I know it’s for me…and because He gives good things to His children, I know He’s got this. And I can’t wait for His plan to unfold.

However…ya had to know there would be more, right?!

What do I want to see more of in my life?

Deep Breaths.


Leaping out of my comfort zone with my arms outstretched, ready to embrace whatever He has for me.

Last week a Dream Team sister and I were exchanging facebook messages, and I let something slip. Sort of…I really did want her to know. :)

My other dream.

There is another one…that long-term one that really seems out of reach right now.

For a long time I wanted to keep it hidden, preferrably behind a door with twelve locks, but that’s not being brave, now, is it? 😉 

I want more bravery…more courage…to let go, and trust completely that my Father has all of these dreams in His hands and that He’s going to make them beautiful.

And not only the bravery to dream them but the heart to accept His answer, whatever it is.

So we’ve come to the part of the show…ahem, post…where I take a deep breath.

Deep breath…

Deep breath…

Deep breath…

and tell you another deep desire that has been rooted in my heart for quite some time.

There’s a pretty fantastic online space out there…maybe you’ve heard of it? 😉

I’d love to be one of their regular writers.

Big exhale.

Father, you are the Giver of all dreams…and I trust You with this one, too.

Amen. Amen. Amen.

Friends, we are linking up! Every Tuesday at amazing, Holley Gerth’s place. Click on the button below and join us!

God-Sized Dreams


Just Some Thoughts…

Hey, friends…so, I was thinking about Indonesia today and trying to get back into book-writing mode, and this story just clicked with where I am right now…I’m sure it will make it into the book, but I thought I’d share anyway. :)

When we lived in Indonesia, there was something I had to get used to in order to survive there. (Both mentally AND physically.)

I had to resign myself to the fact that when I walked along a street…which was most often a busy street…there would be motorbikes, angkots, cars, buses, carts, and sometimes even horses :) right next to me…often, whizzing by me. (Well, minus the carts and horses.)

And I mean right next to me. Like, within inches. Or less than that.

For someone culture-shocking…which was me the first three months we lived there…it can be overwhelming and scary. But eventually, this extrovert who cannot stay home and never go out accepted the fact that it was just life there.

And it became a normal part of life there as it does for everyone…but potentially a little too normal.

Fast forward two-plus years.

Several mornings a week I get up to run. My route is pretty set…I’m not a creature of habit; it’s just that my mornings are my time, and I’d rather lose myself in my world of worship than pay attention to where I’m going or potentially get lost. :)

One thing that bugs me…and I mean really bugs me…is the fact that when I’m running on the street, drivers go around me by, like, TWELVE feet. (I’m really not exaggerating here.)

I’m not a selfish runner. In fact, if I can get off the road and run in the grass, I usually will. I don’t want to be that pain-in-the-butt runner who hogs the road and makes traffic stop simply because she won’t move.

Recently I caught myself becoming annoyed with drivers who would either stop and wait ’til I passed or move waaaaaaaaaay over…because, to me, it’s perfectly acceptable for them to whiz by within a foot or so.

Oh, how Indonesia has altered my perspective.

As I was running this morning, I started to think about how easily I became accustomed the closeness of vehicles in Indonesia…despite the fact that the situation could be dangerous…or even deadly.

For me, it was just Indo-life, and I learned to make it part of the adventure rather than stress over it.

But as I thought about that more and more throughout the day, I started to wonder…

What kinds of things do I allow to become close to me? Are they things that don’t belong there?

It’s so easy to let that little sin that’s “really no big deal” creep in and become a normal part of everyday life, almost to the point of excusing it because that’s just the way it is…or, worse, not even realizing it’s there.

And while Indonesia driving might be an exception to the rule, there should never be an exception for sin.

I know I’ve got a few (or more) of those little things…things for which I make excuses because it’s just how it is. How I am. Wrong.

That was a challenge to me this morning.

So as I laugh to myself at the drivers who feel the need to put a football field between them and myself, at least I’ll have a good reminder…

To keep those things that are dangerous at a distance.

But, should you be one of the people who pass me in the morning, (hey, admit it, we’re practically friends by now!) just know that you can drive a little closer to me. You can even stop and say hi if you want. :)


Something Fun

So I’ve been having an I-miss-Indo month.

Lots of reminders here and there, I guess.

Anyway, I decided to look back through pictures, and I had totally forgotten about this.

In September ’09 we took a day trip to Jatiluhur, a lake that was about an hour from our house. (Lakes that are used for recreation are pretty uncommon in Indonesia.) It was a fun trip, and potentially the highlight (?) of the day was this.

A pedal-yourself roller coaster.

Seriously. You literally pedal yourself around on this teeny-tiny (really) track that wobbles a little too much for it’s own good.

Here we are…right before we started pedaling. I was convinced we might die. And had I known that Maelie was in my belly at the time (’cause she totally was!) I may have never done it.

This one is my favorite. See that group of people in the bottom right corner of the picture that seem fascinated with the coaster?

They’re really not.

They are, in fact, fascinated with the shrieking bule (white girl) who is convinced that this may be her last moment on earth, as she teetered helplessly far too high in the air. (Ok, so maybe I’m a tiny bit over-dramatic. ;))

At any rate, it sure made me smile to see these tonight…and say a thank-you prayer to God that I’m still alive. 😉


Five-Minute Friday: Look

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: Look

I’ll never forget the day.

The day that I. Just. Couldn’t. Look.

We’d been downtown shopping for jewelry supplies. It was the rougher part of town…the part where you’d see far too many children begging and the people who’d miraculously survived debilitating conditions…and he was one of them.

This man…the one I couldn’t bear to look at.

We’d just finished our purchases at the final store and were heading back to catch the city bus.

He was sitting…somewhat slumped…against the edge of a cracked and rotting pillar.

I’m sure I gasped audibly, for he was damaged. Scarred for life. Perhaps a fire or explosion. Whatever the case, it was bad.

And I just couldn’t look…couldn’t allow myself to see past his scars.

It broke my heart and made me question my Father at the same time.

Why him? Why? WHY, WHY, WHY???

He needed money, and my heart ached…shame mingled with sorrow…as I passed him by.

Not allowing myself to look.

I prayed for the next week, unable to shake his image from my mind.

For some reason we were back in the same area of town the following Saturday. I knew he would be there.

And he was.

And though it hurt and made the tears drip as I allowed myself to look at him, I reached into my purse. Took a bill large enough to feed him for the day. Gave it to him, making sure that my hand made contact with his. Whispered, God bless you. In English, not Indonesian.

A quiet, terima kasih, uttered from his lips.

And that was it.

A small moment of time, but a very powerful lesson.

The lesson that no matter who we are, where we come from, or what we look like, we all deserve to be noticed. Loved. Cherished.

I hope all of these things for this man.

Five Minute Friday


Morocco Love

Ok, thanks for being so patient!

Here are the long-awaited photos from our quick jaunt to Tangier, Morocco.


Our transportation from Spain to Morocco, across the Strait of Gibraltar. (aka: the ferry that made me sick. ;))

Me on the ferry…smiling and determined to not lose my breakfast. It was kind of a bummer that the ferry was pretty sweet…it had a bar and cafe and tables so we could play games…had I been able to actually sit up. 😉 However, I can’t complain too much. The Dramamine worked and I got to enjoy Morocco.

Us at the northwestern most point in Africa. Interesting travel fact about us…we’ve now been to the northwesternmost and southernmost points in Africa, but nowhere in between. I’m thinkin’ another trip to Africa should be in our future. :)

Baby camel love. I wanted to bring him (or her!) home with me. So soft and cuddly. :)

The obligatory camel ride…that was pretty cool. Something to cross off the bucket list that I haven’t yet written. 😉

Just a cool shot from the coast.

And another…cause I couldn’t decide between them. :)

This was, I think, taken at a different place along the tour. The water was so incredibly beautiful. (But COLD!)

Since living in Indo, I am largely unimpressed by snake shows/charmers. And, to be honest, cobras bring back memories I don’t want to revisit. However, this stop provided a cool opportunity to share with our tour guide that we’d been missionaries, and he was especially intrigued with my snake stories…never thought those would come in handy! 😉

And…we begin the obsession with doors. :) Morocco had cool doors. This one is famous, but I can’t remember for what. But if you Google “green door Tangier”, I’m pretty sure you’ll find out why. 😉

I’m such a dork…no idea why I was laughing. But the door is cool. :)

I like this one. The door AND me. :)

Included in our tour was an authentic Moroccan meal. The soup was ok and the bread was good. The meat was just ok. The couscous was really soggy. But this? I suppose when you cover any pastry with gooey, sugary, caramely yumminess, you’re bound to come up with a winner. Dessert was GOOD. And definitely worthy of making the blog. 😉

So, Morocco was good…the tiny part we saw of it. Truthfully, I can’t wait to go back and explore more of it…the part that doesn’t include pushy sellers and snake charmers. I knew that once I got a taste of it, I’d want to explore more of it…so we’ll see. Maybe for our 15th, honey? 😉

I honestly feel so blessed that we’ve had the opportunities to travel that we have. The world is so incredibly beautiful…and we highly recommend seeing it! (Well, the parts we’ve seen, at least! ;))

Thanks for looking, friends.

Coming soon: Pareeeee…and a few more from Spain.


A (Poor) American in Paris

At the end of our trip we stopped in Paris for a day.

Since I was a little girl, I’d dreamed of seeing the Eiffel Tower and all of the things that made Paris so magical.

The Eiffel Tower was cool…and when the lights twinkled at night, it was magical. Like seeing something I’d only ever imagined…and it didn’t disappoint.

But Paris…I have to reflect on this city, and here’s why.

I couldn’t believe the amount of Gucci and Chanel and Prada and expensive purses and coats and boots I saw. It seemed that everyone around me was just a walking advertisement for Vogue…and I looked down at my Target jeans and $5 combat boots that I wore while tromping through Paris.

And I felt poor.

We’d see people lounging in the late afternoon sun having a drink and a chat with friends at an outdoor cafe…and a quick peek at the menu told us exactly what they were paying to have that drink.

I felt poor again.

We wandered a bit around dinner time, looking for a place off the beaten path, but the prices just killed us. (Obviously, figuratively ;)) We could have paid the money and eaten that food, but we just couldn’t do it.

If that makes any sense. :)

It was a reminder, once again, that I felt poor.

As the evening wore on, Paris crept into every part of me, nagging and whispering to me exactly what I didn’t have. Lots of money, expensive things…

And then I caught myself.

And as we walked back through the narrow, cobbled streets and passed bakeries and bought bread…what we could afford…I stopped.

Thought for a moment.

And smiled.

Eight days of adventure with my honey, courtesy of some hard-earned frequent flyer miles. 😉 Going to places we never thought we’d see. Exploring and having adventures that didn’t require emptying our savings account. Riding a camel and suriviving the Tangier market. Basking in the beauty of the Mediterranean and the mountains and the sunshine. Laughing, mostly. Learning to love more deeply. Knowing that when we went back, we’d have our amazing daughter waiting for us in a place that is home…full of friends and family and community and love.

So I tromped through Paris feeling very, very poor.

And when we arrived home…had a precious reunion with our girl, saw some dear friends, started feeling a bit jet-lagged…I opened my purse to see a small paper bag containing my Eiffel Tower key chain, my lone souvenir from Paris that I paid half a Euro for.

I clipped it onto my keys and stared at it for awhile, thankful for the reminder.

The reminder that I am very, very rich.


Mel’s Rules for Moving to Illinois

I came across this today as I was sorting through old documents.

According to the last time I updated it, it was written two days after we moved here, on July 30, 2010. I suspect I was feeling lonely, Maelie was napping, and I needed something to do since we had no internet.

I smiled as I read through it…felt a little guilty, but mostly happy.

The way God provides is amazing…and reading this made me so very thankful for the blessings He’s given.

Oh, and I added my commentary ’cause I knew you’d want my reflections. 😉

Mel’s Rules for Moving to Illinois

1. Spend money on the bedroom. It is the place Tobin and I connect and share our most intimate moments. It is worth every single penny. Ok, ok so this one took quite awhile. But we did eventually follow through.

2. It is not wrong to have a most amazing kitchen, especially if it was already that way when we moved in…so don’t feel guilty about it. Success…I feel zero guilt and mostly love for my kitchen. Especially since there are no cockroaches hiding in the silverware drawer. :)

3. Take walks every day and meet my neighbors. (Plus I have that annoying baby weight I need to get rid of anyway…) We did take a lot of walks but that wasn’t really how we met our neighbors…they mostly came to say hi if we were outside. And the baby weight? Well, it took a lot more than walking! 😉

4. Don’t hide behind a closed door and wish for what I can’t have anymore. Thankfully this only happened for a few weeks before I was rescued by an incredible friend. I learned that, having an infant, it was very easy to hide but that I didn’t want to. And once I had a way to not hide, it was pretty easy to open the door.

5. Allow myself a Starbucks or Caribou once a week. Take Maelie and go, looking for someone to talk to. Don’t wait for someone else to initiate the conversation. I’ve definitely made a few friends in coffee shops…and I’ve probably allowed myself more than one coffee a week, too! I maintain that a coffee shop is a great place to find friends. :)

6. Make finding a good church a priority. Don’t sleep in on Sundays and “wait til next week”. (I laugh because there was no such thing as sleeping in ever with Maelie. I’m thankful that, after trying out a few places, God provided the best place for us. We love our church. :))

7. Post pictures of life for friends back in my other “homes”. I’m not a big picture-poster, but I do a decent job through the blog, I think. I’m still not great at keeping in touch, but if someone writes me, I will almost always respond.

8. Update my status on Facebook more often. Epic. Fail. However, I am not a person who wants the world to know what I ate for breakfast or who I’m currently annoyed with. I update it when there’s something to share. :)

9. Find a mom’s group, preferably one that meets at parks so the kids can play. Sunshine is good…especially when I haven’t seen it for several weeks.

LOVE. My mom’s group kinda found me…and I’m forever grateful. Bonus…it’s a mom’s Bible study, which I needed and wanted and was scared to hope for. AND they meet at parks in the summer. :) I love how God gives us desires we’re scared to admit we have.

10. Crying is ok…for a little while. But part of moving on is accepting that things have changed. I did cry for awhile…and the day I decided to like it here was the day I wasn’t sad anymore. I decided that change can bring some of the biggest blessings God has for us, if we’re willing to accept it.

11. True friends will always be there, whether I live down the block or across the world. Don’t be afraid to make some new ones—the old ones aren’t going anywhere. Enough said. :)

12. Give myself some grace in this time of transition. Stop expecting perfection from myself and others. I don’t know how I did on this one…but I know I’m thankful for the people who love me despite my imperfections.


God is GOOD.