Just a Thought. A Good One.

Not mine…but definitely worth thinking about.

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.

Ronald Reagan


So Many Blessings (Pt. 38)

You know those lists of blessings that I post about once a week?

Now that I think about it, it should be time for another one soon. Maybe I’ll add it at the end of this. :)

This is why I write them down…

Often, when those lists are compiled, I’m not having a great day. It’s my way of looking beyond the things that don’t necessarily make me smile to see the beauty and love surrounding me. A way to choose that JOY that I so desperately desire in each day. A way to find the small things that truly make up the big moments in life.

If I were making a list today, I would probably sit for quite awhile and think about the week. It’s been up and down, definitely…but taking that time to reflect makes me thankful.

One of Maelie’s favorites lately is Veggie Tales, and she almost daily requests the episode, Madame Blueberry. It’s a lesson in thankfulness, and while I’m getting sick of the story…the message is something that’s good for anyone to hear.

Things don’t make us happy and money doesn’t buy a fulfilled life. It’s all about being content with what God has given and choosing JOY in all things.

As Maelie watched that episode tonight before she went to bed, I felt myself tearing up at the end (I know, I know…over an animated movie. Golly, Mel.) when Madame Blueberry says that she finally figured out what she wants…A happy heart.

Because a thankful heart IS a happy heart.

As I think through life and marriage and Maelie…that’s my prayer for us. That we will learn to be thankful no matter what He gives…and that thankfulness will produce JOY in all circumstances.That we’ll have happy hearts and be able to soak in the many blessings that surround us.

God is so GOOD. Even if things in life are hard, we never have to look far to see the goodness He’s showered down.

Here are a few for today. :)

:) A spur-of-the-moment date with my hubby and daughter tonight…one where she sat still in a restaurant, colored on her kiddie menu, ate her dinner, and didn’t cry or fuss. We had a really good time together.

:) Afternoon naps.

:) Friends that make me smile.

:) Cookies (or just a cookIE) for breakfast.

:) A random day to wear my combat boots again.

:) Cute, little-girl clothes from a rummage sale.

:) Reading new books and being amazed at how much my girl is soaking up.

:) Being reminded of God’s perfect plan again today.

:) Weekends and summer and hopefully some warmer temps on the way!

:) Polka dots and stripes and flowers.

:) Hugs. I love hugs.


Photogenic Paris

Hi there – Tobin here. I was supposed to post these photos on Sunday, but me being me, I totally forgot. Imagine that.

Anyhow, these are a bit overdue either way. Our stop in Paris was less than 24 hours total – as you’ll be able to see from the following photos, our main objective was to see the Eiffel Tower. So we took a lot of pictures of it. We packed in a lot of walking – by our best estimates using Google Maps, somewhere around 6-8 miles as well. It was interesting, but if we were going to live there, I’d have to make a lot more money. :)

Enough of that – you didn’t come here to read what I have to write. On with the photos.

This was our first view of the Eiffel Tower when we walked there from our hotel. I’m not sure anything prepared us for actually seeing it in person – it’s another one of those famous landmarks that I never thought I’d see.

This is the Eiffel Tower again (yes, really!) after we walked under it and across the Seine River.

This is just a picture of us. Nothing extraordinary to see here.

Mel texting a friend in the US. With that same structure in the background again.

This is one of the reasons we walked so far – it looked a lot closer on the map.

This is probably one of my favorite photos of the whole trip. We lucked out on the timing – the lighting was perfect.

I’m pretty sure Mel has documented her adventures with European bread elsewhere, so I won’t say anything more.

So that’s Paris, at least our 20 or so hours of it. Yes, the photos lack variety. But out of the 77 pictures we took there, a full 50 of them have the Eiffel Tower somehow.

Coming tomorrow…I have no idea. But it won’t be me – rejoice!



Six Minute Saturday: Goodbye

Once in awhile I link up here for Five Minute Friday.

I love her, I love her blog, I love how what she comes up with in five minutes stirs my heart for five days and inspires me to open up rather than to guard myself.

Unfortunately (or, not so much) yesterday was epic and needed to be blogged. 😉 (For those of you interested, there was another ponytail today. If possible, she was even cuter. ;))

So, today…in keeping with the necessary alliteration…I bring you “Six Minute Saturday”.

The rules are simple: Write for five (today, six) minutes on the given topic. No editing or changing anything. Just write from your heart.

Six Minute Saturday: Goodbye

Goodbye is a word I have said over and over, more than I ever thought possible, in the last decade.

It’s a word I know extremely well.

It brings with it tears…promises of keeping in touch, of visiting, of always being there for the other person despite the miles, possibly oceans, that will separate us.

It also brings heartache…the kind that comes from knowing that something has ended. Things will never be again as they were, and while there is always hope for a future, there is a grief that comes from an ending.

It brings with it anger…I. Don’t. Like. To. Say. Goodbye. Ever. In the changes and spins and circles of life, I want to continue packing my suitcase…allowing it to grow bigger with each goodbye. I want to take each person who is so loved with me to that next phase. But that’s just not how it works.

But the word “goodbye” also brings something else…something that gives hope for new beginnings and friendships and love. It’s called


That one little word that can make a new beginning really, really beautiful.

So I’ll say goodbye for a chance at hello.


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.


Little Blessings (Pt. 27)

:) Paris!!! A wonderful city to see but I wouldn’t want to live here. Really.

:) Twinkly Eiffel Tower lights.

:) Buying bread from people who don’t care that I can’t speak a lick of French. They just smile and take my money ’cause (I think) they know how much I just wanna stuff that baguette in my face!

:) Adventures that catch us by surprise but make us smile.

:) Having a tan in March.

:) Anticipating reunions.

:) Being loved. And being in love, too… 😉

:) Time to visit one more bakery before we come home tomorrow. (I know you will all be so glad when I’m not talking about bread anymore!!!)

:) Good talks about tough stuff.

:) Time to reflect and appreciate blessings I’ve forgotten I had.


Jet Lag JOY

Maybe there is a teeny bit of sarcasm in that title…or maybe more than that.

But it´s true…jet lag kicked my butt today.

It´s to be expected when your days and nights get all mixed up…but this time it hit a lot harder than I was expecting.

We slept like rocks our first night here. And last night we went to sleep around 10 pm, planning to get up at 6:00 to catch our first bus at 7:45 to Algeciras, to catch another connecting one to Tarifa, to catch the ferry to Tangier.

It never happened.

I´m not sure exactly what happened…other than the phone rang just after midnight. I´d slept for just long enough for my body to feel like it had gotten enough rest, and that was it.

After (both of us) tossing and turning until 2 a.m. or so, we had a conversation that went something like this:

Mel: Honey, I´m fine if we wait til Saturday to go to Morocco.
Tobin: Huh?
Mel: I cannot go to Morocco tomorrow…I´ll be a wreck.
Tobin: Why are we having this conversation now?
Mel: Because it´s 2 a.m. and we´re both awake. Why not?
Tobin: Should we check into a different trip?

So we both got dressed, went down to the lobby to get on the computer and reserved our spot on a tour for tomorrow.

Yeah, that´s what we did in the middle of the night. :)

Then we went back to our room, fell asleep around 3 a.m. and slept til 9 or so.

It took me two cups of coffee, a hot shower, and three ibuprofin before I was even able to function, but we tried to make the most of our day.

It was cooler, so we took some time and walked through the old part of town, had lunch, walked more, had coffee, walked more. I like exploring and seeing new things so it was a good way to spend the day. :)

I had expected to be in Morocco today, which was a bummer…and the gray clouds didn´t help. But tomorrow we´re going on an organized tour, and as much as neither of us like structure on vacation, with a trip like this, it´s almost better.

At least I hope so…at least all of the travel plans are made FOR us. :)

So tomorrow will be a long day, but we´re both looking forward to it and will, I´m sure, have a lot of pictures and stories to share.

And hopefully the jet lag will be gone by then, too.



The Caffeine is Flowing…

It’s Monday morning, and my humongo mug is full of caffeinated brew.

So. Good.

I am packed…as packed as I can be until tomorrow when I throw the last few bits into my suitcase, zip it up…and that’s that. Maelie is packed, too…though I am sure we’ve forgotten a thing or two. It’ll be ok, though.

I clearly have learned a few things from the multiple trips for which I have packed in five minutes.

Paperwork is done for the girl. While we don’t want to think of anything happening (to her OR us) while we’re gone, we have to be prepared. Just in case. Ugh…kinda makes my stomach twist. Thankfully, we have been blessed, over-and-above-times-a-million, with amazing friends who love our daughter and have our complete trust.

She’s gonna have a good time. :)

And so are we.

So I haven’t really talked about the trip much ’cause I didn’t want to make you all jealous ’cause I haven’t taken much time to actually think about it.

We leave O’Hare tomorrow afternoon and fly into Malaga, Spain, where we’ll take the bus to Marbella, a coastal city about 45 minutes from the airport. I chose it because it’s on the coast and decently near ports to travel to Morocco. When we did a little research, we discovered that Marbella seems to be how we travel.

Beach. Coffee. Surfing. Sun. Making friends. More beach. Definitely more coffee.

And I really can’t wait to surf again. I hope I don’t kill myself. 😉

We’ll check out Marbella on Thursday and then take the ferry to Tangier, Morocco Friday-Saturday. This is my dream. I have always wanted to go to Morocco. I don’t know why…except other cultures fascinate me, and I have a few friends who have been there and loved it. Enough for me. And a big thank you to my hubby for obliging. I know Morocco doesn’t excite him nearly as much.

And we are both definitely looking forward to the food there.

We’ll hop back to Marbella Saturday night and stay til Tuesday morning, when we fly here for a quick 22 hours and 50 minutes. 😉 We hadn’t planned on it originally, but the stopover was free and the opportunity to kiss under the Eiffel Tower was too much to pass up.

Oh, and a random confession…I kinda hope it rains a little while we’re there.

Kissing under the Eiffel Tower in the rain?

Right out of a movie.

(Hey, I can hope.) 😉

We’re so thankful for frequent flier miles so we can do this…it seems like a dream.

So, trip aside, it’s been a wonderful Monday for other reasons.

Going to bed early and getting good sleep…even if I woke up at 5:45 a.m. and wanted tea. So I made some and drank it. 😉

Two wonderful chats with friends from Indonesia. :)

AMAZING news about a former student accepting Christ! :)

Encouraging words from a friend. :)

A couple good ideas passed on from a friend about books to read on our trip. :)

Workout tonight…I’m gonna need it after my calorie binge this weekend! :)

Today Mae and I are just home…finishing up a few little things, hanging together, and just enjoying being mommy and daughter. She is full of sunshine and love…and she blesses my heart every single day.

I’m going to miss her so much while we’re gone.

But I also believe with everything in me that Maelie needs a mommy and daddy who invest in each other, too…and this trip is giving us time to do just that.

So I’m gonna spend my day enjoying the most precious little girl…cry a little when we say goodbye to her tomorrrow…and enjoy every single moment.

Well, my mongo coffee mug…the one I refilled once already…is just about empty. 😉

And I should get back to my girl…Elmo is almost over. :)


Reading List

A few months ago I told you my husband bought me a Kindle.

Since then it’s turned me into a bigger reader than I’ve ever been before. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that all the books I’m reading are miraculously squished into one skinny, handheld device that fits in my purse. (Ok, that was dorky. ;)) Though, if we’re being completely honest, all of these books…in their paper forms…would fit into my purses. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

I said it so one of you wouldn’t! 😀

Lately, I’ve been “prepping” for our trip by watching for freebies and cheap buys that pop up occasionally. I mean, I need something to read on the plane, right?

So far, I’ve nabbed…

This one, I’ve wanted to read for awhile. I’ve actually started it and need to get it in my head that it’s ok to read about a dog dying.

Then I’m sure it will be a fantastic read…enough people have told me so. :)

I was excited to score this one for free. Tsh writes for one of my favorite blogs, which also happens to be the one I guest posted on last year. Plus, organization is something I need to incorporate into our lives so we can actually walk through the basement. Purging is high on my list of priorities for the near future. This one will definitely be an airplane read. I’ll probably be dorky and take notes, too. (I really, really hope that last sentence didn’t offend a certain reader…she knows who she is. ;))

This was a recent free find that jumped out at me. I don’t know anything about the author, but I love true stories and history. And in a non-violent sort of way, the WWII era fascinates me.

I also splurged and purchased my most expensive Kindle book to-date a few weeks ago.

(I think it was a whopping $4…something. ;)) I’ve wanted to read this one for awhile. I don’t think it’ll make it to the trip…I know once I (virtually) open it, I’ll read it ’til three in the morning.

Amazon Prime members get a free read every month. This is gonna be my freebie for February, which I can borrow starting tomorrow. I told myself I had to read the book before I see the movie. I’ve heard it’s excellent.

There are a lot more I want to read, but these are just a few. Man, books are awesome…I love to read. :)

What are some of your favorite reads? Anything good I’m missing?


Andre & Mae

This picture is really precious for a lot of reasons.

Mostly…because it’ s taken Andre thi

s long to love Maelie.

I can’t describe how much it makes me smile to see these two playing together.