Little Blessings (Pt. 61)

:) Catching up with some of my favorite friends.

:) Kidless trips to Target, the kind where you wander aisles aimlessly and buy $3 hats. 😉

:) Cookie dough and late-night chats.

:) The movie, Tangled. And the fact that, somehow, God has blessed me with the incredible ability to tolerate it multiple times in a row.

:) Road trips and extra time for just me and my girl.

:) Pinterest recipes. Tried a yummy one tonight.

:) Goodbyes that make me sad…I am blessed to love people enough to hurt when we part.

:) Salvation Army shopping and cheap, cute sweaters.

:) Laughter that reminds me of the precious gift of friends.

:) Watching God teach me some difficult things. (More on that tomorrow!)

Will be headed home to Illinois tomorrow with my girlie…please pray we have a safe trip. Thanks! :) 


My God-Sized Dream…in Words

It’s a gorgeous January morning.

For me, gorgeous means sunshine and NO snow, though if some of my friends were to read this, they’d be writing out an IOU for one snowball to the face.

Well, when there’s actually enough snow to THROW said snowball. 😉

I’ve got my coffee, too…always a prerequisite when I’m about to write something deep.

Deep, it is.

Big, too.

I’ve always been honest in this space; therefore, if you’re a frequent reader, the news that I’ve got a God-Sized Dream brewing in my heart and soul isn’t new.

And by now, you probably know that one of my deep desires is to publish a book and share the stories God has placed in my heart.

Eight years ago (goodness, has it really been that LONG?!) my husband and I were preparing to make a big move to the other side of the world. God had placed the burden in our hearts to serve in an international school, possibly even a Christian school, and He flung the doors wide open for that dream to come true in 2005.

We sold it all, said some tearful goodbyes, and moved to Indonesia.

It was five years of…everything.

Wonderful…the kind of wonderful that still makes my heart sing when I think of the people we grew to love and the ways He changed hearts and lives. So amazing.

Challenging…the kind that makes me sometimes-wish I could go back but then brings me to a place of trust because God can still work through imperfections. Thank You, Father, for that.

Life-Changing…I still think about it every day. Most days we talk about it. And once in awhile I’ll even write about it on my blog.

Just Hilarious…I’ve always been that girl; the one who doesn’t need to seek out adventure because it just finds her, and life in Indonesia was no exception. (Trust me…this book is worth reading just for the story about me using a squatty potty for the first time. Really. It’s a kick…I can’t believe I’m putting it in print. :D)

When we returned to the U.S. in 2010 to begin our family and put down some roots in a new place, I started to write.

Really write.

I need to process the change from life in Indonesia to life in Illinois, the transition from being a couple to a couple with a new baby girl, and, quite honestly, what it was like to go grocery shopping in a store that had a thousand kinds of salad dressing.

And as I began to write, it wasn’t long before a dream started to creep in.

That dream turned from creeping in to planting itself deep within my heart.

And that brings me to today.

Today I am writing it down, reliving each story, and it’s an insanely wonderful place to be.

It has taken me the better part of two and a half years to finally be able to express the many, many emotions that still emerge when I visit the Indonesia part of our lives.

My God-Sized Dream, right now, is to take this collection of stories and experiences and turn them into a…memoir? (Just being honest with you…I am not a fan of that word. I think it’s corny. Help, please? ;))

Stories that will make my readers laugh out loud, let a few tears drip, love a little more deeply, and see the goodness of God in a life that is continually in progress.

I would love to see my stories in print, and each day I’m getting a little closer to that.

That’s my dream. :)

I am so, so thankful to God for the paths He allows us to travel.

Each one never ends up looking quite like I think it will, but He is always there, always guiding me, always next to me holding my hand…and this book-writing journey is no exception.

I am so incredibly blessed to be a part of the God-Sized Dream Team…a team of women who are also busy dreaming and doing and trusting. They’re amazing…every single one of them, and I’m so thankful that God has given me the opportunity to join them as we all pursue our dreams together! It’s gonna be a ton of fun to watch what He does through all of us!

And thanks to each of YOU for joining me…it means the world to me that you are here.

Love to you, friends!

God-Sized DreamsAnd be sure to stop back every Tuesday…I’ll be sharing more each week about my dream and what He’s doing. :)


Those 12

This post should probably be otherwise titled, That Post When I Reflect Too Much.

However, I want you to actually read it. 😉

Exactly 364 days ago, I set some goals, which you can read here. (Or you can just scroll down, too.)

Time to see how I did! (And to look forward to all that 2013 holds…which I very much hope includes some brown and tan paint over some purple walls. Do I get bonus points for choosing the colors at least?)

Spoiler…oops. Sorry about that. 😉

Here we go!

1. Start…and finish…the canvas painting for Maelie’s room. Check. No drama here. I just painted it one Sunday afternoon, hung it on her wall that night, and that was that. :)

2. Redecorate our front living room. (The purple needs to go! Soon.) Well, friends, the purple still needs to go. We actually bought the paint in October, but between life and more life, the living room is still an unfortunate shade of purple.

3. Start an Etsy store so I can sell my jewelry. Ok, so I’m not selling jewelry. But selling hats on Etsy counts, right? 😉 

4. Take some kind of lessons…guitar, voice, djembe…still deciding, but leaning toward djembe. I went with guitar and started in April. It’s good…am learning a lot and even played a real bar chord, though it wasn’t pretty. :) 

5. Complete a marathon. (Edit…1/2 marathon.) Didn’t happen. Though a half marathon is on the list for this May, and then we’ll see. I don’t have any plans to run a full marathon yet…to be honest, though I love running, four hours straight of running does not really sound even remotely enjoyable. I think I need my marathon-running friends to give me a little push here. :)

6. Run a 5k in less than 30 minutes. This actually happened several times during the year, which was a boost. I broke 30 for the first time in May and am now running my regular 5k around 28:00 flat, give or take. My fastest clocked one was around 27:15…factor in a few stops for cars that don’t yield to pedestrians (or runners). I’ll take it. :) Would still love to hit the 26’s…we’ll see. :)

7. Continue blogging at least three times a week once January 24th has passed. Yep, got that one covered. :)

8. (Re)Learn how to sew and make a bag out of some of my Indonesian batik I still have. Nope. I thought about pulling out the sewing machine several times but never actually did it. I love to teach myself new things, but sewing scares me.

9. Finish the rough draft of my book, Lessons From Indo: On Life, Love, and Squatty Potties, and submit it to at least one publisher. Am late on this one, but the plan is to be done by May. Extremely grateful for the chance to be part of the God-Sized Dream Team…these women are such an encouragement as I navigate something that is really new. It’s one thing to write a blog…it’s a completely foreign place to write a book. Really praying it will happen in 2013!

10. Continue developing discipline in my life by spending time in God’s Word each day…whether two minutes or two hours. This one could be a post all on it’s own. I’m not sure why I even set this goal because for me, it was unattainable. Don’t misunderstand me…I love my Father and His Word. But, honestly, I didn’t read the Bible every day. I don’t know if that makes me a bad Christian or just an honest one. Maybe I’ll hash this one out more later. :)

11. Guest write for another blog at least once. (The Patch doesn’t count.) I didn’t pursue this one like I should have…I found myself most content just writing at my own place and linking up other places, which provided some new bloggy friends. To me, that’s worth it. :) But I do have a guest post coming out next month on (in)courage…not sure of the date but will let you all know when it’s up! This one, in particular, was really a blessing because one of the editors wrote and asked me if they could use something I’d written. I must be doing something right. Thank you, God. :)

12. Go on an actual vacation with Tobin (and no Mae) to celebrate our 10th. We stomped our feet (well, not really) through Marbella, Spain; Tangier, Morocco; and Paris, France. It was a crazy adventure, as all trips we take together seem to be. We missed Maelie, but it was good time to spend together, and we had a really memorable time. Spain gave us our time to relax, Morocco was an insanely crazy adventure that left me dying to go back and explore more, and Paris was a dream come true, complete with bread. (We even kissed under the Eiffel Tower!) 

It was a wonderful 2012, though not everything turned out as I had first pictured. In many ways, it was better.

Here’s to a wonderful 2013!

Blessings to each of you, and thanks for being part of my barefoot journey!

God is so Good.


Saturday Chatter

Laughing to myself already.


‘Cause I’m pretty sure the word chatter can be defined in more than one way today.

For instance, I woke up in Minnesota this morning, and it was eight degrees outside.

Yes, you read that right.

Goodness, it was C.O.L.D. And my teeth were definitely chattering.

We kinda half-looked at the weather forecast before we left on Wednesday, but it said nothing about snow or eight degrees. I guess we should have known, especially since we lived there for several years, that weather in that great state is far from predictable. Hence, we froze.

But I could use the word chatter and go on and on about the past few days, too. They were good.

Family, memories, laughs, lotsa food…it was a memorable Thanksgiving. Potentially the most memorable for me was Black Friday shopping. I’ve gone before, but I’ve never made a special effort to go right when a store opens for a certain deal. My sis-in-law was all about that, and so I tagged along.

AND got to watch.

Hee hee hee. 😀

While hundreds of customers at Walmart dove into piles of stuff, I stood back and watched a real-life commercial. Stuff really did fly everywhere. It was quite entertaining. After the chaos died down a little, I trotted over to the pajama section and scored myself a super-comfy pair of slippers for $6, found a couple of fun things for Mae, checked out in five minutes, and left as happy as a clam. (Are clams happy? Why do people use that expression?!?!)

Anyway, a few more stops with the definite non-highlight being standing in line at Target for 45 minutes. Thankfully the people in front of us were friendly and like to talk as much as I do. 😉

We got home at 2 a.m., and my incredibly cool hubby got up and ate pie with me at 2:30. Isn’t he great?! :)  Then, being the awesome wife I am, I went with him to Menards the next morning. (Read: later…no way was I getting up at five!) We actually enjoyed ourselves. 😉

So, that was my Black Friday, and it was…well, it was.

It was a good few days, but it’s always nice to be home.

We headed back today, making stops in St. Paul and Janesville to see friends and pulled into the driveway at 7 p.m…tired. I mean, Mae protested going to bed…for the whole sixty seconds it took her to fall asleep. 😉 I made myself do laundry and unpack tonight, but bedtime? Is coming soon. :)

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving…blessings, friends!


Scattered Musings

Ever have an extremely contemplative, yet scattered, day?

That’s me tonight.

I’m currently munching on a really bad protein bar. I told myself I had to eat all the ones in the house before I bought more. This current one I, unfortunately, purchased a large box of without considering the possibility that they might be bad.


It’s kind of funny how certain things start to clutter the pantry after awhile…for me, it’s protein bars and random boxes of crackers. I have no less than five different brands and probably ten flavors scattered throughout the kitchen. Oh, weird me.

So I put Mae to bed tonight and was all excited to run on the treadmill. Having one in our basement is a perk on evenings when Tobin is gone and I want to get a few miles in. So I resurrected the thing from it’s 8ish-month storage, hopped on, started running at the highest level it will go…and golly, this thing is shakin’! Feels like an earthquake!

After a couple attempts to stop/start it again, I realized an important little piece that holds the base together had popped out and was g.o.n.e.

No running for me.

I did some strength/cardio stuff instead. Not nearly as fun or as sweaty as running. (Did I really just say that?!)

At any rate, I’m sending hubby to the basement to hopefully fix the thing for me. Some days it’s just easier to run on the treadmill than run in the cold.

Though I have unofficially promised no one…ok, ok, myself…that I’ll do one day a week outside.

Ask me how I’m doing with that in the middle of January. :)

Tomorrow is a pretty crazy day for us. Gymnastics, a meeting, family pictures. Plus, my Bible study is SO lucky…I’m baking them my favorite cake. :) That, too, needs to be done tomorrow.


It occurred to me a few days ago that last year, I spent the entire month of November writing about the things I was (am) thankful for…and I (obviously) haven’t been doing that this year. It was almost a convicting realization.

It’s not that I’m NOT thankful…I guess I’ve just chosen to express that thanks in different ways this year…though I’m sure I will officially post something at some point.

I was talking to God about that, trying to explain that I really AM so thankful for all He’s given and blessed us with. In the middle of that explanation, it hit me…

Duh, Mel…He knows.

Perhaps because true gratitude is a reflection of the heart. Though that can be shown on the outside, and should be, the fact that I haven’t been talking doesn’t make me ungrateful.

It gave me something to think about for sure. :)

I can’t believe Thanksgiving is nine days away. We’re heading to Minnesota to see Tobin’s family and a few friends, too. It should be an eventful trip with an ever-wiggly, active toddler and two rambunctious golden retrievers. Yay for family bonding at it’s finest? 😉

Thankfully, I thought ahead this time. I got a steal of a deal on this, and while it has the potential to ensure that Tobin and I are singing Veggie Tales songs for the entire weekend, it will keep a certain little girl entertained during the 12-14 hours we will spend in the van. :)

Between that and her A-B-C Turtle, which is a favorite toy on long trips, and coloring, I’m hoping it’s an enjoyable trip.

And, hey, if it’s not, at least we’ll have grandma and grandpa to provide us with the sanity we lost on the way there. :)

P.S. If you have any tips for long road trips with two year-olds, I’m all ears. Please. Talk.


Well, I’m about out of words (yeah, right, like that ever happens!) and morning is coming way too soon. Off to bed I go so I can (hopefully) run on my non-earthquak-ing treadmill bright and early.

Happy almost-Wednesday, friends!



So, we’ll see how long this virtual coffee date (without the coffee) lasts tonight.

For now, it just feels good to sit down.

But, Happy Friday, friends!

I saw the BEST quote on facebook the other day. Something to the effect of…

Yay! It’s Friday! Oh, wait…I’m a mom.

So stinkin’ true. Most of the time I really don’t mind that, for the most part, my days get all mashed together and the general routine of them is the same, but about a week ago…

Well, this is tough to admit. Really.

My eyes filled up with tears, and I looked at my husband when he got home from work, and I told him I wanted to walk away from my life for the night.

Just a few hours.

I couldn’t believe how completely glorious it sounded to take a book to a coffee shop, order a steaming latte, crawl into a comfy chair (and probably cover up with a blanket…yes, IN the coffee shop ;)) and disappear into another world for a couple hours.

I didn’t do it…but it was a wonderful dream. One that I plan to make a reality soon. Blanket and all. 😉

But I did get somewhat of a break earlier in the week.

Mae had some awesome grandma time in Iowa, and I?

I had two days with my best friends. You know, those girls who know every single detail about me. It was wonderful and bittersweet and memorable and sad all rolled into a short 30ish hours. One of them is going through a valley so dark that I can’t even begin to imagine.

Yet, she shines.

She inspires.

She’s one of those people who reminds me, on days when I feel that there is no hope, that there is.


In every circumstance, no matter what. Will you pray for her? I know she’d be so thankful.

We had some good time together, complete with the misadventure of my van briefly going kaput, and as always, our time together was way too short.

But I always leave thankful for the time we do have. :)

Mae and I made the trek back yesterday, and she really was a very good traveler. The poor girl doesn’t like to be restrained, but she managed well despite being strapped into the evil confines of her carseat…she played with her toys, dolls, books, sang, talked, ate. It was good mommy/daughter bonding time, and I’m so thankful for her. What a sweetie pie. :)

It’s a busy weekend. Our church has a big day of serving in the community tomorrow. After six hours of my own personal concert (aka: the drive home) 😉 and two music rehearsals (last night and tonight), I somehow need to find my voice for tomorrow morning and Sunday morning. Hopin’ it’s there. :)

People from our church will be doing all kinds of things for people in the community…fixing up houses, cleaning yards, collecting food, making blankets and hats, putting together care packages for soldiers and shoe boxes of Christmas gifts for kids in need.

It’s so incredible to see the body of Christ at work in such a tangible way…really looking forward to tomorrow! :)

And even though there’s probably a lot more that I could go on (and on and on) about, I should probably end this for the night. My morning starts early, and life is just easier with a full eight hours. Ya know? :)

Hope you’ve all had a good week…have a happy weekend! Love you all.


Little Blessings (Pt. 50)

:) I’m back on Illinois soil. (Well, that’s a blessing to me…you can decide if you feel the same way.) 😉

:) Safe travels and memorable moments with a toddler who pours the on the sunshine wherever she goes.

:) Precious, best-friend time…complete with dressing alike in public, laughter, and remembering. I love those two.

:) Maelie/Grandma time. Mae chatted all the way back to Illinois about going to Grandma’s house. :)

:) GPS that works.

:) Just-because-I-want-to-say-hi phone calls.

:) Upside-down plans that turn out right.

:) Random Dutch bakeries…and fattening pastries. Plural. (Guess who’s goin’ running tomorrow morning???) 😉

:) Having a God who heals and provides and Loves completely.

:) My hubby…I don’t always add him to the list. But he’s a blessing. Love him. :)


On Making a Difference: A Letter to God

Dear God,

Do you remember him?

That little boy who stole my heart that summer so long ago? I can’t believe it’s been thirteen summers since I fell in love with the sticky heat of the Amazon and all that came with it.

Especially him.


He was one of hundreds we saw. Talked to. Loved. Those streetkids who just wanted someone…anyone.

But there was something about this particular boy…the way his eyes pleaded, the way he scraped the last bits of shoe polish from his can in his attempt to polish my sandals and earn a few extra soles for…well, I don’t know who exactly.

Was there even a family for him to go home to?

And do you remember how long I wore those sandals? I do…it broke my heart when I finally threw them away.

I was just a college student on what I thought would be just a summer adventure to write home about. I had no idea he would change me. That Peru would change me. That my heart would never, ever be the same.

I still ache today thinking about him.

Now he’s an adult…and I wonder sometimes. Did someone take the time to love him? Did he grow up healthy and strong? Did he grow up to love You? Did he grow up at all?

I really can’t think of that last question, God…because I’ll never know the answer this side of eternity. And even more-than-sometimes…I wish I had done more. Tried to find him…and maybe, somehow, sponsored him. Even a college student could have found a way.

God, you know Eladio never left my mind or my heart. And how often I still go back to look at his picture.

And then…you gave us an opportunity. Another chance to make a difference. His name is Putra, a nine year-old boy from our beloved Indonesia. I’m amazed at Your Goodness…how you brought our hearts to this place and showed us which child needed us. We already love him. We are anxious to see what You will do through him.

Thank you for him.

Sponsoring him makes me want another one. And another.

God, I pray that they will all get sponsors. Please. Whether it’s through my blog or another, please don’t keep them waiting longer.

And, God…be with Putra. Let him know, somehow, that we love him and are praying for him every day. We’ll be telling him that soon in our first letter, and I can’t wait to write it.


September is Blog Month for Compassion. I’ve committed to write blog posts for them to raise awareness for child sponsorship during the month. But I have to be honest here…I LOVE this ministry. I have a feeling I’ll keep on writing these posts for a long time. :) Should you feel led to sponsor a child, you can simply click here or on the Child Sponsorship button on my sidebar. Pray over the children you see, and ask God who he might be asking you to sponsor. You truly can make a difference! Thanks for being here!


Without a Connection

Tobin, Maelie and I spent the last few days up in small-town, out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere, Wisconsin.

The pros: fun people, games, good talks, (way too much) good food, coffee, beautiful house and location, laughs, new friends and old, too, 15-2 Brew…the list could really go on. Lotsa good. :)

The cons: not enough bathrooms, flies, an over-abundance of indoor taxidermy, and almost. zero. internet. 

For about a day, I thought a few of us, Miss Blogger Extraordinaire included, might die. Or at least suffer mentally. (I really hate to miss blogging, especially when I haven’t mentally prepared to actually NOT do it. I know I’m strange…get over it.) 😉

Eventually I had to wrap my mind around the idea that we WEREN’T going to have internet, that if I HAD to get in touch with someone, I’d have to call or text (cell reception was also extremely iffy…did I mention that?), and that if I NEEDED to blog, I’d just have to wait.

You know, that thing I do So. Extremely. Well.

Eventually I (and a lot of other people) had to get over the fact that, for the most part, life outside would have to wait.

I found myself thinking about it less and less by Friday (even though I did have time to blog during the window we actually HAD a connection), and time was spent doing a lot of other things that were more fun. Cribbage playing, catch-up talks, cookie-devouring, horseshoe games (though I just watched), bocce ball, a late-night in-law chat (but there were out-laws there, too. ;))

It was SO good…kinda to the point where I thought, hmmm…what if I try to use the internet less?

Like, a LOT less?

I honestly don’t know what that looks like. As it stands, I’m currently organizing a 5k with someone who’s in another time zone, so I can’t stay disconnected completely. But all that facebooking that I think is so necessary?

I’m thinkin’ not.

In fact, I’m gonna try something…like staying off the internet in the mornings. That’s the chunk of my day that is concentrated most on Mae. I wonder what life will look like if I focus fully on her instead of dividing my attention between her and whatever thoughts are begging to be blogged or the magnetic pull online life seems to have on me.

I don’t know how it’s gonna go.


And I’m not making promises…just talking aloud. :)

But I do know that I’ve got a daughter to love on, and if I let her, she can easily fill up my mornings. Not to mention, our summer days are ticking down quickly, and I’ve still got coffee to drink and friends to chat it up with while Maelie entertains us.

I’m not sure the blog will see less of me in the weeks to come.

But my daughter will definitely see MORE of me.

Because there are other connections I’d like to make besides the internet.


New Blogs, Bear Shopping, Princess Jammies, and Bad Internet Connections

So did ya notice something?

Yeah, I took my birthday off.

SHOCKER. (Really.)

Actually, I had no plans to do that. During our drive yesterday to our four-day family reunion in Wisconsin, I thought through several fairly deep topics, sure that I’d have something wise to share with you all.

I am 34, after all. 


However, beside the fact that we are completely in the middle of No. Where. with extremely iffy cell reception, the wi-fi at our rented house was completely out of commission. Therefore, ZERO thirty-four year-old wisdom to share…at least that particular night.

So, tonight, you get thirty-four and a day, which isn’t really all that bad, huh?

Like I said, we’re spending a long weekend up in Wisconsin with Tobin’s extended family. I think the total count is 40 people, and we rented a ginormo house. Yeah, it’s out in the boondocks, but it sure is cool. Tons of space, sand volleyball that has doubled as a huge sandbox for the kiddos, a seven-person hot tub, pool table, mini shuffleboard, the list goes on.

It’s like a vacation. :) 

I also discovered that one of my cousins-in-law (does that term even exist? It does now…) is a blogger! I know! Despite the fact that I’m being slightly over-dramatic, she really is a very good writer, and I’ve loved the bit I’ve read so far. I’ll have to link her up here sometime. That was a fun discovery. :)

Tonight, as we were waiting for dinner to be ready, I was chatting with Annie (also, the blogger) about the insane amount of stuffed animals (aka: taxidermy) inhabiting the house we’ve rented.


I cannot even begin to describe to you how CrAzY is is to be stared down by a mountain lion or to be greeted by a bear when you walk through the front door.

It’s sorta creepy.

I was sharing this with her (and she agreed), and Maelie heard me say that I thought the bear was “shocking”.

A few seconds later, she looked at Tobin. “Bear shopping! Bear shopping!” 

Haha…I suppose it DOES make sense. It gave me a good laugh, anyway.


After a busy (and napless) day of playing in the sand and running everywhere and swimming and even decorating a cardboard playhouse, Maelie had HAD it tonight…and we experienced the worst temper tantrum from her we’d had EVER.

Gosh, it was bad.

Lesson to be learned: Mae will always want her princess jammies. Always. Therefore, even if she is NOT dressed IN her princess jammies, she does not need to know this piece of information.

Either that, or we need multiple pairs of princess jammies.


Despite temper tantrums and cell reception that hates me, it’s good. Nice to be away for a few days and spending time with people we haven’t seen in a long time. (A few we hadn’t even met yet!)

Good memories.

I should go be social…g’nite, friends!