Thoughts and Favorites (+ a Giveaway!)


Or, we could just call this piece the everything-all-at-once post.


As usual, it’s been too long since I’ve found this place. Life just keeps zipping by, and I can’t believe it’s almost March and that I have a seven month old.

Time can slow down Any. Day.

I started writing a pretty deep post last night…and when I hit 1,400 words and was still only about half there, I decided maybe now’s not the time for (too) deep thoughts. Though there’s plenty of rambling going on here.

You’ve been warned. πŸ˜€

But occasionally I have a day when there are a zillion thoughts swirling that aren’t as deep, and so why not hit the blog? Mac is napping, it’s a beautiful sunny day, and I’m basically killing time until we can sneak out for a walk. (And last week when we had those gorgeous, basically-spring temps? It was Mac’s first time sitting up in the stroller and…OH. MY. HEART.)

Mac in stroller

But back to writing…the honest truth is that I’ve been pretty quiet the last year. It felt like the internet was so, SO noisy, and I just felt overwhelmed even entering conversations. And so I’ve hung back and learned to be still and listen more…and it’s been really, really good. Mostly.

But writing is the one thing I don’t want to be too silent on. Sharing words gives me life. I’m not ready to hang up this place yet.

So I’ll keep running back to it and finding words when there are some.

I also haven’t done a favorites post in forever, so I thought I’d do that, too. You know, because sometimes it’s just good to catch up on life, if not for the good of everyone else, at least for me. And how about a giveaway? Cause I love a good one. (Keep going.) :)


I’ve been reading a lot.

Mostly the Bible…I started the beginning of the year in 1 Samuel, and I decided to just read straight through. Some days it’s eight chapters (usually not, though) and some days it’s two. I’m just trying to open my Bible more…and I’m finding that, for the first time in my life, I’m enjoying it. That sort of makes me sad to say, especially after five years of Bible college, but it’s pretty true.

I’m thankful that God doesn’t give up on us.

He’s renewing my heart and showing me a deeper relationship with Him.

I’ve been reading through a couple other books, too…slower than normal, but sometimes I can’t process it all at once, ya know? πŸ˜‰

The Broken Way (Ann Voskamp) is amazing. I got so excited when it came out that I ordered a few copies. And the study guide. And the DVD. So if you’re local, there might be a Bible study coming up sometime. :)

Uninvited (Lysa TerKeurst) This one just speaks to the season I’m in right now. Some relationships are a little up and down/confusing, I’m not sure where I fit anymore, and I need the reminder that God wants me…even on the days when no one else does. Maybe we all need that reminder?


I’m a sucker for cute hoodies, and I’ve loved Evy’s Tree since I first heard about them. Their hoodies are awesome quality but a little on the expensive side…but once in awhile, I splurge.


I spent some of my Christmas money on this beauty, and I think it was worth the splurge. :) It screams spring, and I love that, until I tone the last bit of my baby belly, it hides it all…well, when I zip it up anyway. πŸ˜‰ Plus, it’s just cute. If I had an endless cash flow, I would buy ALL. THE. HOODIES. But I don’t and that’s probably better for everyone. :) And yes, yes I do take pics late at night with messy hair and smeared makeup and a wrinkled shirt. That’s just how I roll.

Speaking of toning a baby belly (and not speaking of hoodies) I finally, for the first time ever in the U.S., joined a gym. I’ve been doing a 5:45 a.m. spin class twice a week…and oh, boy. Once I get there, it’s actually enjoyable. (And sweaty) The dragging myself out of bed at 5:15? Notsomuch. But it’s good for me, and it’s one way I can take care of me.

Another thing I’m still loving…earrings. ALL the earrings. πŸ˜‰ And though I typically gravitate toward the bigger-and-more-dangly-the-better, kind, my most recent pair from Fair Trade Friday kind of has my heart. And the story behind these brings tears to my eyes, too.

FTF earrings

So I’m breaking my rule and wearing them anyway and totally loving them. :)

And should you want a cute pair of earrings in your mailbox every month, go here. It’s the best $13 I spend every month…and every pair comes with a story of redemption. That’s just cool. :)


Other than This is Us (and we’re two episodes behind, so SHHHHH!) or some HGTV here and there, I’ve barely turned on the TV in weeks. I go in spurts…lately I’d just rather read or create or get something done around the house.

Maybe I’m getting old. πŸ˜‰

The truth…and this isn’t the first time I’ve shared this here…is that the “older” I get and the older Mae gets, the more there’s a filter on what comes into this house.

I didn’t always filter what I watched, but especially now it just seems like there’s so much garbage out there. I don’t need all kinds of bad language going into my head, and I don’t need sexual references in just about every show there is. Sometimes I feel like an old prude for voicing all of that. And some days I miss watching Friends, too. (Honesty here.)

But God has been working on me in a lot of ways, and one of those is praying for the strength through Him to make choices that honor Him. So I don’t apologize for trying to do the right thing…the right thing for me and my family. I’m definitely not perfect at it. (No judgment here on what’s right for everyone else.) It’s tough some days, though…and I think it’s ok to admit that, too.


I’m itching to take a trip…it’s been a few years since we’ve left the country, but it’s not gonna happen this year. We’re currently having our garage door replaced, and that desperately needed to happen. (Ask me sometime about the morning I spent three minutes, when we were already late, trying to get the stupid thing to stay down.) πŸ˜€

AND…since Mac was a boy instead of a girl, we need another bedroom. πŸ˜‰Β  And I LOVE that he’s a boy, but facts are facts. So we’re (hopefully) adding a two-story addition to our house. I’m super excited for an extra family room, a bigger bedroom for him and us (with a walk-in closet and little sitting/writing/drinking coffee area overlooking the river) and just more space.

I guess we finally dug those roots down deep. It feels good.

And also, we’re never moving. Ever. :)

indo green

And the truth is that, most days, I’m sure of that. I don’t usually miss Indonesia anymore.

But I did today. I saw a picture that brought back a memory, and it was hard and the ache was deep. And, again, I had to breathe and wrap my mind around the fact that the Indonesia part of our life is over.


It won’t ever be again, even if there are trips back to visit. Life there has changed and gone on and morphed into something that isn’t the Indo we lived. It’s good because life has to keep going and kids need to know our Father, but sometimes it hurts that we aren’t there for it all.

But we know we’re where we need to be, and so…hello, house addition. :)

As I look out the window and see the sunshine coming through bare branches, it calms my heart and reminds me, once again, that my God is so very good.

Even in the changes and the unknowns and wonderings. Even if, sometimes, we have to stop and just give thanks for what was, what is, and what’s to come…even if, and especially when, we don’t feel gratitude.

I wonder how many times I can share this song on one blog…but it’s a perfect metaphor for life and it resonates so much right now.

And everything that’s new has bravely surfaced,
Teaching us to breathe.
And what was frozen through is newly purposed,
Turning all things green.
So it is with You and how You make me new
with every season’s change;
And so it will be, as You are recreating me…
Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring

And how ’bout a giveaway? Nothing like changing the subject. πŸ˜‰

Presents are my love language and I just feel like brightening someone’s day. So I fell in love with this Pioneer Woman mug at Walmart a few weeks ago. (Yes, you read the Walmart part right. I’m currently on a stay-out-of-Target-for-the-sake-of-our-budget kick. And I’m doin’ good.) πŸ˜‰


So I’m giving away this mug, some of my favorite coffee (try it with some vanilla almond milk…YUM!) and this chocolate because duh. Chocolate. And a cute pair of fair trade earrings that came in my box last month…they weren’t as much my style, but they’re still stinkin’ cute and someone out there needs them. :)

Wanna win?

Leave me a comment here or on facebook and tell me something. Anything. A blessing, a smile, a way I can lift a prayer for you. I’ll pick a winner Wednesday night.

That’s it.

I hope your week is overflowing with blessings, friends. Happy Monday!



  1. Welcome back to writing! :) How I have missed you!!

    • Thanks, friend! You’ve always been such a sweet blessing…I’m thankful to have you in my life. (And we need a reunion very, very soon!) :)

  2. Reading this made me so happy. I love hearing what’s been going on in your world. Thanks for sharing your journey. XOXO

  3. Eleanore Henry says:

    I just love reading your blog. You inspire me.

    And if you are itching for a trip, you know you can always come back to Iowa. I love to see you and your family. It is ALWAYS good to catch up on life and count our blessings!

    Love as always,

    • We are overdue for an Iowa trip…I’ll let you know when we’re in town. It would be great to see you. :) And thanks for reading…it means so much. Love you!

  4. Rama Gomez says:

    You are an encouragement to me! Thank you!! :)

  5. Mel,
    You have a way with expressing your feelings and putting your words on paper that not very many people are able to do. I love reading your blogs! Keep writing my friend. I am thankful for our almost 40 Year friendship . ( Not sure anyone else can say that ) ???? You are a blessing and encouragement to me. I’m also thankful for God’s provision daily . Love you Mel and miss you a ton !

    • Ha…you’re making us sound OLD! (Maybe we are?!) πŸ˜‰ So much of it feels like yesterday…I’m not sure where the years went, but I’m so thankful for your friendship. Love you tons and looking forward to hugging you soon! :)

  6. Kirsten Esswein says:

    never say never. I am just saying.

  7. Kathy Johnson says:

    So much fun to hear from you again! Your words have been missed (and the ????). I went through the same TV experience. I heard someone say “garbage in–garbage out” and it made me really evaluate what I watched. So HGTV and Food Network are my go to places now when I watch at all. Mac is adorable and I am so happy for your family.

    • Food Network is pretty awesome, too, but it always makes me hungry…and, well, see above. πŸ˜‰ Thank you for your sweet words…our little guy is definitely a blessing we are so thankful for. Hope you’re doing well, friend. :)

  8. So good to get to know you a little more, Mel : ) Your little guy is adorable!! There’s a Mac dear to my heart too! I also just started reading through 1 Samuel. Looking forward to any thoughts you get to share as you dive deep!

    • It’s definitely a part of the Bible I can’t remember spending much time in before now, except for required reading in college. πŸ˜‰ I ended up journaling and writing a lot of notes in the margins…there’s so much history that came together for me when I actually read it all. :) Though I’ve gotten through Ezra so far, and I think I may backtrack and start in Genesis again. I feel like I missed too much. We’ll see. :) And thanks for being here, too! Blessings, friend.

  9. Jennifer Tamburrino says:

    Prayers for peace always, dear friend. Some day, you might find me in your tire swing. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  10. Linda Thompson says:

    I am so excited that season 3 of When Calls the Heart (former “favorites”) is on Netflix! Also, did you know that in Saskatchewan, Canada hoodies are called “bunnyhugs”. I love that! That little Mac is so stinkin’ cute! Love to all!

    • That’s great…I love it, too! :) Yay for When Calls the Heart…and I’m recording season 4 so we have it when we’re ready! We’ll get together soon. :)

  11. Hi, friend. I’m glad to hear your words today. Also? My mom wanted new dishes for Christmas, so I survived Walmart for the sole purpose of getting Pioneer Woman ones that coordinate with that mug. So, of course, I got her some mugs to go with them. So pretty! :)

    • Aw, thanks, friend! And, I know…I was so surprised to see it all at Walmart…I could definitely be persuaded to buy new dishes from there. Who knew?! :)

  12. I love words and gifts too! Yay.

    Love, Traci

  13. Hi Mel, so glad to see you writing on the blog! Your words are encouraging and uplifting! Love the pics of Mac – he is such a cutie! I love the lyrics from the song as well – so fitting for the season I am in! Have a wonderful week :)

  14. So fun to read this post probably because you were one of the first bloggers I enjoyed reading :) Yes, that is true. This was just a fun post and one that will make us all think a little more in the best of ways. Thank you for sharing about life changing and not being able to go back. I needed to read those words and realize that it is not always a bad thing. Sometimes it is the Lord’s way of saying He wants us to root in a new place. Just like a plant that is repotted in order for new growth to take place. So anyway, thank you for sharing all this good stuff. Especially the photo of Mac, who is just adorable!

    • That’s so sweet…thank you for that, friend. I know we connected and read each others’ words back when I wrote a LOT more often! It’s fun to see how our paths have crossed again. :) Blessings and hugs…thanks for being here.

  15. Becky Nissen says:

    You are a kindred spirit and I am so thankful for you. ?
    Your blogs make my heart happy. ???? And your friendship!

    • Becky Nissen says:

      Why did that make question marks lolol

    • Aw, I love you, girl! Our friendship is one of the best parts of my life. :) And I think sometimes if you use an emoji that my blog doesn’t recognize, it will do that. Those aren’t the first question marks I’ve gotten. No worries! (But I am curious what you used…) πŸ˜‰

  16. Angie Pearson says:

    Ashley and Megan introduced me to the pioneer line of products at wmart..cute! I enjoyed your blog and love being able to peek into your heart and life. Hugs from us all at the Pearson Zoo. Keep writing…..we will keep reading (:

  17. Please do the bible study friend and I will be there! I’ve missed your writing. I can’t wait to see your addition. Oh and can I come and have coffee with you over looking the river, please? :-) Love you!

  18. Friend, reading your words today was a HUGE blessing. I have just missed them so much. I love all the depth and the fun you can pack into one post. It had me teary and laughy and well missing you!! you are amazing and i would love to see you again sometime soon

  19. shanna mitchell says:

    Prayer request is my husband and I have made a HUGE decision. We do not know all the details but excited to see how God will do it.

    • Thanks for sharing that…I just said a prayer for you, your husband, and your family. Blessings as you look forward to all God is going to do! Thanks for reading. :)

  20. Love to hear from your corner of the world!!!
    Maybe we can hit the bike path together sometime soon!

    • That sounds great…let me know when there’s a time that works for you. :) And maybe once this bipolar Illinois weather figures itself out, too! πŸ˜‰

  21. Mel,
    Oh I loved this and how big your baby is!!! Let’s schedule a play date with these little boys soon ?
    Ps Ezra is almost walking! What? Stop growing!!

    ? amy

    • What?!?! So Tobin said he saw Ezra walking with a push toy, but actually walking? How has it been that long? A play date/coffee date for the mamas sounds awesome. Let’s find a time soon. :)

  22. I love how open you are able to be in your writing. You inspire me.

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