On Coming Out of Hiding… {and a GIVEAWAY}

fair trade friday final(Ok, so I wrote this yesterday. Words are still good a day later, right?) 😉

It’s been a long time since I’ve had the urge to just sit down and write.

Write with no plan, no agenda, no pressure of publishing something.

It feels really good.

I think part of it is that we’re hunkered down on a below-zero day with no school (I think this is day FIVE in 2015?) and there’s not a lot to do. We’ve built a fort and played games and it’s already the incredibly late hour of 8:30 in the morning. I finally talked my girl into finishing her breakfast inside the fort while watching a movie. (Don’t judge.)

And, in a strange way, I feel like I’m coming home when I sit down at the keyboard and tap out thoughts. I’m not sure where we’re going with all of it exactly, but I’m good with that. Sometimes coffee and a few free moments is all I need to just…be.

The truth is that I’ve hidden myself somewhat in the last month or so. I’ve made it to the blog on Mondays long enough to dash off a few thoughts and copy/paste a chapter of my Indonesia story. By the way, thank you for reading. Seriously, from the bottom of my heart. It brings tears to my eyes when someone tells me they’re enjoying my words. This process has given me a whole new kind of respect and admiration for authors who hand chunks of their heart on paper over to people to critique. Scary.

So it’s been easy, in this season, to hide and pretend a lot of things. So many of my dear friends know me more through computer screens than they do in real life…and so I can easily share what I want to and leave the rest buried somewhere, probably under a pile in my messy house. (Why is it that with a four year-old, my house is never clean?)


I don’t necessarily want to hide…I just want to figure out when it’s ok to share and when it’s not. That’s something I’ve been trying to do for the last year. Pretty sure I’m still in the figuring-out mode.

But, in no particular order…a few things. An update. And maybe a giveaway because I love you all…just for being here and reading my really, really random ramblings. 😉

Maelie is growing up so fast. People warned me, and I always knew it in the back of my mind. But, seriously. I’ve got an almost-five year old on my hands, and it’s wonderful and heart-wrenching all at the same time. Seeing her become the person God intended is awesome…and knowing that the years are flying makes me cry. Right now, we’re just trying to soak up the sweet moments and beauty in the normal days. She’s wonderful. Well, most of the time. Let’s not forget that she IS four. 😉

Our hearts are finding a new normal. Not gonna lie, it’s been a rough year…yearish. Whatever. I’m not even sure what constitutes a year anymore. Our house is just a lot quieter now. It’s amazing the change and silence that two dogs to one brought. Oh, we miss our Andre boy and the way he loved winter and snow…and life. His doggie dish still sits in its place in the corner, and I sometimes wonder if it’s time to put it away. But it hasn’t been that time yet, and so we just leave it and smile at the memories when we see it. The tears are fewer now, and while that hurts, it’s right. He wouldn’t want us to cry forever.

And along with loss, her due date is coming up. Too soon, and it’s always on my mind. I find myself wishing for a hugely swollen belly and the hope that would have been here so soon. It’s hard when there are so many reminders of what would have been…and instead we still try to wrap our minds around what won’t ever be, at least here on earth. It’s a tough season and the tears really aren’t fewer right now. Not when it comes to the little one we ache for so much.

And yet there’s still joy…truthfully, it’s been tough to believe that God is good this year. It feels like His goodness has been wrapped in pain and we’re struggling to see purpose. The one thing we do still see is the little joys He brings…through a silly-sweet girl, a doggie cuddle, words from a friend, a moment that brings a smile. We’ve had to be intentional about finding joy…and maybe He wanted that for us.

Our family is doing ok. Even better than that, most days. Sometimes I think Tobin and I are at a better place than we’ve ever been…and I have to be careful saying that because I know we will always…every single day…have to work at this thing called marriage. It’s not easy, and neither is this journey of parenting. But it’s a tough kind of wonderful, and though life doesn’t look at all like we’d dreamed, we’re finding some pretty incredible beauty in what God has given.

Finding the gifts in today…that’s what we’re trying to do.

And I just feel like giving away a gift. Because I’m Mel, because it’s what I do, and because this is really, really beautiful. (I’m not sure why I’m not keeping it for myself, but I’m not.)

About a month ago, I ordered a box from Fair Trade Friday. I ordered the trial box (just a one-time), which you can find here…and then I loved it so much that I signed up for the monthly subscription (which is even cheaper with free shipping!), so you can bet that there will be more goodies on their way to me! For $35 + shipping, I got a bag of fun surprises. (Picture at the top of this post.) :)

The yellow and white key fob, I gave away to my dear friend. :) The little bracelet I kept for myself. The necklace…I have to confess, it was a little funky for me (which is surprising because I breathe funky) but I adore the beads and the colors, so I’m restringing it so I can wear it and be reminded of some amazing women around the world and how God is reshaping their lives and teaching them that they have value.

And the last thing? This gorgeous, gray hat with a flower…seriously, I adore it. But since I crochet, I also have A. LOT. OF. HATS. And so I’m going to give the hat away, along with a $10 Starbucks card, because it’s cold right now, and all I can think of is being warm and drinking coffee.

fair trade friday hat final
To enter…leave me a comment. Tell me something that brings you joy. I’ll pick a winner on Monday and email you. And that will be that…cute hat and a gift card on its way to you. (U.S. residents only, please.)

I hope this mass of words finds you all well…sending virtual hugs. Thanks for being here. :)



  1. friend.. I just love reading your random words. They are so honest and yet so full of hope and joy. It brought tears to my eyes several times. Thank you for letting us in! and everyTIME i read your words I pray Lord help Mel and her family sense God’s call to move to TN … :)
    What brings me joy.. right now it is the hot water bottle I found that I had brought back from nepal.. it is amazing how warm it keeps me in this 14 degree weather we are having. I live in a garage turned into apartment without a heat thermastat just heat flowing from upstairs…so hot water bottle makes me happy

    • :) Thank you, my sweet friend…there have been so many times when I’ve wished we lived closer! But I’m still counting on God to make a way for us to have that (in)RL coffee this year…in IL, in TN, or somewhere between! And that hot water bottle sounds wonderful…I’m freezing. Still. And convinced I may never warm up. 😉 Hugs and happy weekend!

  2. Mel–I love that you are opening your heart and sharing the hard things. Keep writing! I so enjoy your Indonesia posts, too. What a blessing to get to know you through Kristin and HelloMornings. You don’t need to enter me in your giveaway, but wanted you to know you and your words are appreciated.

  3. Mel, I love you and your words. I can so relate to this – “truthfully, it’s been tough to believe that God is good this year. It feels like His goodness has been wrapped in pain and we’re struggling to see purpose.” It’s been a rough few years for us and still somedays I’m not sure why we are walking the way we are. But GOD is GOOD! Something that brings me joy these days? Coffee with friends. Always laughter. I may have to try out a Fair Trade box!

    • I’m wishing I could reach through computer screens and hug you right now, my friend. I know it’s been so rough…and I wish I could make it better. But I agree…coffee dates with friends are just about the best thing ever. So good for the soul. I hope you can have one soon. :)

  4. Laura Pratt says:

    Wonderful friends and impromptu dates bring me joy. And also being able to read the words of someone’s heart on blogs. ????

  5. Oh how much I love when you are open your heart and sharing ALL things. Your reminder of “And yet there’s still joy” is so true yet I so easily forget to look for the joy that is all around me. Today my joy has come in taking a few minutes in between the job searching to just visit with a few of my favorite people. Some I have lingered at their blogs, a few I have sent out text messages to and other I have called just to check on them. My joy comes in realizing that it isn’t things I need to accumulate but rather relationships that I need to lean into. You are in my thoughts and prayers in that the days to come.

    • Thank you, sweet friend…for being here and for sharing your joy. :) You’ve been on my heart so much lately, too…I’m praying and sending hugs! Love you.

  6. Mel, I truly just love the honesty found in your words. It’s what I love most about visiting you here.

    I so got what you said here: … “I just want to figure out when it’s ok to share and when it’s not. That’s something I’ve been trying to do for the last year. Pretty sure I’m still in the figuring-out mode.” I’m still figuring out too. And the figuring out seems to be leading me to less writing. Really in need of more tangible connections. So wish I could have a big ole’ dinner party with all my writing friends.

    Many blessing to you.
    Love your heart.

    • Oh, a dinner party sounds fantastic! Seriously, I hope we’ll get that chance to meet someday soon. :) One thing I’m finding in this season is that there ARE quiet moments…sometimes a lot of them. And that’s ok. God can still move in the silence…and He often does. Thanks for your sweet encouragement…blessings and hugs right back to you. :)

  7. Mel,
    Love how real you are in posts all the time. Life it self in not easy to talk about out loud to people but, sometimes those experiences help other that may not be able to do that on their own. So Thank You!!..I truly get joy out seeing my family happy laughing, being kind to others. We also lost a baby and then we had a our son..(who had a twin and vanished at almost 4 months) So he brings me joy in a whole different level! My family=joy!
    Keep inspiring!

  8. Loving on others brings me joy! I don’t always have much to give, but I like to find needs that need to be met, and give. It makes me a million times over happier than being a millionaire.

    • This just makes me smile tonight…it isn’t always about having a lot to give but being able to meet a need. And, honestly, so many real needs don’t require money…just time, heart, prayers, love. Those things are really what matter, aren’t they? I love your heart, my friend…thanks for sharing today. You are such a blessing to me.

  9. This is probably the strangest response ever, but here goes … spare time bring me joy. Because right now I’m in a season of spinning busyness and it feels like the only time I’m still is when I’m sleeping and there isn’t nearly enough of that happening either. So I’ve enjoyed just stealing a few minutes of my own to write today and read (and not clean toilets or vacuum) and just have some spare time – pure joy! Really enjoyed your words and your update, Mel – I know the wondering about His goodness feeling and then seeing it all around me – well, that’s pure joy too. Blessings to you!

    • Oh, friend…spare time IS a joyous thing! You go right on ahead and enjoy it! :) And it truly is so precious when life is just crazy…blessings and hugs to you. :)

  10. My kiddos bring me the most joy…they’re everything to me <3
    Thank you for such a generous and fun giveaway!

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