Magic, Mischief and the Grind (What I am into October 2015)


October was Thanksgiving (with so much gratitude), Halloween, short work trips, birthday partys for small people, and more. It was full…and wonderful.

So, what I am into?

I am into the fall burning up all red and orange, hot drinks back in my hands most moments of the day. I am into two jobs and really believing that we can corrupt systems that oppress us and find new ways to be human. That most of our suffering is the complete lack of authentic communities, ways of loving each other, hope deferred. How do we be the Hope People in even the most hopeless of contexts? I am not always exactly sure but I will spend my life chasing it.

I am into knowing, exactly what I am called to in this season of my life, feeling my heart breaking wide open for young people who just all appear so vulnerable to me. Again, I don’t know what to do always, but I know it involves showing up, loving well, giving up myself to serve.

I am into preparing to speak at a women’s retreat this weekend. I am so excited about it that I don’t quite even know who I am. The messaging I am preaching has been burning in my bones for months. I cannot wait to share it with you!

I am into new sports for the kids. I am sad that I have to be away while my son plays in his first basketball tournament this weekend. I cannot express to you the joy it brings me to watch this little person learn this game. He is the smallest boy on his team, he is one of the only first year players, but oh my word…the hustle. It is just the best.


I am into exploring with the family and getting into the woods as much as we can muster. The kids love it as much as we do so we have got out a lot in the fall air.


I am into my kids growing up and the wise and wonderful things they say sometimes. Last week Joel was flipping through the channels and stopped briefly on one of the James Bond films. It happened to be a scene with a lot of shooting. My son, who was building lego at the table said “hey dad? Are you sure that is a good show? Maybe you should think about guarding your gates?”. This phrase I adore and stole shamelessly from my friend Sarah Bessey. We have explained it to the kids that whatever we let in our lives is often there for keeps and so we are wise when we consider what we let into our hearts, when we guard it and fill it with the beautiful, noble, and hopeful. We fill our hearts with the future we hope for.

Speaking of41TJVoBrIsL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_ Sarah Bessey, did you know that she releases her new book TODAY!? I will be honest and say that I have not got to read it yet. I have had access to an electronic pre-release and I tried and tried but could not get it. BUT TODAY the hard copy is available! I have no doubt that this book will be as deep and beautiful as she is…and will be the story that I have watched her live through her blog. The story of easy answers that don’t hold the water you hope they will, the challenging seasons that make you question everything and then, still, always, Jesus.

Also Seth Haines has a  book releasing today…”Coming Clean” tells the story of his journey through alcoholism and he makes the assertion that many of us are addicted to something. That we are all coping the best we can but usually not in the best ways. I can’t wait to get my hands on that one too!

October brought some good reading my way as well. This month it was Erwin Mcmanus “The Artisan Soul”, Glennon Melton “Carry on Warrior” and Susie Larson “Your Sacred Yes”. All great. All recommended.

I am also into taking off for the weekend with my little family. We left our phones in the car. Do you ever do that? For us it is the bread and butter. We live in an idylic place, I know. But still, we end up working all weekend if we stay home. J and I both love taking off and hiding in strange hotels. We bring our kids, eat in bed, swim in the pool. It is so refreshing for us. What do you do when you hit that wall when you just need to get away? I encourage you to take your family with you..

What are you into this month? Best album? Best book? Best adventure? Would love to hear in your comments!

What I'm Into

Who me? Get carried away?

So. The truth is…I have a bit of an addictive personality. When I play tetris…I play for a week. Same goes for sudoku, solitaire, reading and…party planning. (I will never try heroine, in case you were concerned).

I love it.

This spring, the kids and I made a fairy garden. Then we made an ACTUAL fairy hollow. Then? Well we planned a tea party and just went crazy with all things toadstool and fairy like. We had a wonderful day with all of Emilys classmates, their moms, and a few special friends. I promised MY mom I would share the photos as she could not make it! Here it is!


The girls each got a little toy fairy and the moms and girls took one of the dollar store trays that I had collected some nature goodness in to make a fairy garden.

I overheard two little girls chatting and one said “I wish we could do this every day”. Me too…


Some days they eat you alive, don’t they? You are sure you are just dry bones…do you hear me creak? I wait for the breath…warm wind over me..I know all it will take is a soft breeze.

Some weeks you feast. I received three hand written notes in my mailbox…a bag full of notes on the stage. I feel like a glutton for all the ways I was loved this week. I feel bloated on it, puffed up, I will be saving that for days when I am starving. Some weeks we won’t forget. Thanks for all of you who were a part of it. You cannot know the ways it protected me. We are are responsible for each other…you know this? The way we encourage. Lets not forget about that.

My boy he said at bedtime last week that a kid from school had no dad. Another had a mean dad. He said, this boy of mine, with all his energy and attitude “I think it is just cause he has no hope”. I think thats it. Please God…let my theology boil down to this. Next time I am starving and my bones rattle and all I hear is my own voice of failure…remind me? How did I forget my hope?


We are in a hotel this weekend. The man is out at a conference. The kids
and I…we hit the water slide till we could no longer walk. We bought fedoras and smoothies and we ate popcorn in bed and watched cartoons and all the things…are just too good.


On the “Yes-es” (and an update on where I’ve been).

Photo 85

Samwise (my obscenely large dog) is vacillating between chasing the robins out of the yard and laying his giant face in my lap (which is currently full of computer).The solar lights just turned on. The sun is setting, quietly and without any fanfare. And that is where I have been too. Rising and falling beneath the cover of a small life. I rise with little people; cereal and books and fights and SO MUCH MESS. I cook, I clean, I craft and make. Today? We painted rocks to look like lady bugs and bumblebees and painted a tic-tac-toe board on a stump. Life is simple these days. Small.

And. I feel like I’ve lost my voice. Like I have laryngitis of my fingertips. I don’t know why. Every time I post more people than the last time read and I am silenced by the fact that I have no idea who I am writing to. Who do you expect to hear when you tune in and spend your precious time with me? The church lady? Mamma? Melissa? Something else? I don’t know. I start to freeze.

I want to find the voice again though so I am writing (and hitting publish tonight) in spite of myself.

Did I tell you this was the year of “YES”? In the months leading up to O’s birth I felt God calling me to a season of “NO”. Of small, of cocoon, of only spit clothes and diapers and I relished every moment of it. God fed me in those months, no YEARS, like never in my life. He fed me for the sake of myself and my babes and there was no demand that I process it and spit it back out in ministry again. No. He called me to still. To quiet. It was glorious. I learned who I am again. The things I love. What quiet sounds like. What an introvert needs to thrive in an extroverts life.

But. Now. And suddenly. This winter, God said….”Now Melissa, I am calling you to a few YESSES…BUT…not like before. No. Never again like THAT”.

So. I made a point of prayerfully considering what I would step into. Say YES too. Initiate. Plan.

And do you know what? Strange things are afoot friends. I went to a conference and got EXCITED about nursing again (for the first time?) and then within DAYS? I got offered a funded seat in graduate studies. I’ve thought about doing this for years, but was worried it was the wrong time, that I did not know the big WHY?! But now. I do. And I am excited.

Also. I told myself I needed to get moving. That I strangely felt that uncomfortable feeling of not being strong enough to keep up. Of not remembering how to ride my bike. Of just the plan old lazies. I told myself I would say YES to any offers to move. When a friend asked me to coffee, I would say lets walk instead (do you know how many coffees/muffins a pastor’s wife eats in a week…it is a serious concern). Anyways. I somehow started running. Someone said. Lets run this 5 km? I said why not 10? Another friend said…we could do that half marathon you know…I said “Why not?” (that question has subsequently been answered in the negative a thousand times since but still I keep going…16 km on Friday…what in the WHAT?). September 7 friends. For Reals.

And then. There is Thailand. Did I tell you I am heading out in under a month? Speaking at a conference in Pattaya. 3 nights in Bangkok and the world’s your oyster (I have always believed the lyrics were “makes the whole world tremble”…is my Christian showing?). I am trembling a little on this one friends. Flying across oceans from my babies is never a good feeling. But trembling has never been a symptom that you should stop, you know? Life is found on the upside down of fear. On the right side of courage, of selflessness and BRAVE. So off I go; In spite of my terrified self.

I know this sounds like I have a vicious case of the ‘braggies”. Maybe I do. But also, what if you challenged yourself to a few YES-ES!? What if, when you are invited into ministry or sport or challenge or job you stopped selling yourself short and just said YES instead. What would happen then? I would love to hear about it.

It is the quietest Switchback summer in the history of ever so Sam is still here with me. Alternating between whimpering in my lap and running around the yard. There are a few dogs barking tonight, one of the neighbors just shouted… and maybe there was a gun shot. There are few things Samwise approves of less than me being outside alone after nightfall. What a bozo. Also? I adore him.

You too.

Thanks for reading. Any tips on getting my groove back, writing prompts or what you like best about your visits here would be DIAMONDS for me.

Country Chronicles: What I’m Into March 2013

I’m into the church services that leave me speechless. Spell bound. Dissolved. I’m into the grief and the celebration of living in community. In one day I prayed with nearly weds and prayed for a wounded one. Life is like that when we tear down some fences. I’m into hanging out in the back where the story is still developing, where the mother grieving a lost son escapes to, where the boys with ADD hang out. 

Photo cred...Phil Collins

Photo cred…Phil Collins

I am into the bird calls returning, the woodpecker back. I’m into the stellar jays and the robins fighting and the swallows nesting in my bird house. I’m into the mallard pair who nest in the pond each spring and the way earth smells when it thaws.


 I am into her blond curls blowing in the spring winds and her dusty rose dress. I am into his construction projects, her endless art. I’m into the dams they build in the creek, the mud they sling, the trail they leave across my floor (well, ok I’m not exactly ‘into’ that, but it is what I am doing). 

wpid-20130401_124523.jpgI am into the sun finally creeping in through filthy windows and the motivation to get stuff done. I’m into cleaning out shelves, turning round furniture.wpid-20130402_191624.jpg

I’m into this book. There will be more to come on it (and I’ll even give away a copy) but it is feeding into my leanings and I am excited about it. I am back into Game of Thrones though I put it down for a time. I am into reading about marriage again and what it means and how to do it better. I’m into figuring this motherhood thing out, finding a rhythm wherein I still feel like myself. I’m into the poets, finding my attention span short. I think Mary Oliver and I would make fine friends. 




I am into feet gathered under my table, spring sun heating our backs. I’m into any excuse I can find to use fresh basil, tomatoes and reduced balsamic vinegar. I’m into risotto, salmon lettuce wraps, black bean salad, chicken fajita soup.


What about you? What is on your ‘best of’ list for March??? On the prowl for some new music…suggestions????

What I'm Into at HopefulLeigh

Country Chronicles: These days…


Oh Hi! Where have you been? I know…I know…It is me that has been MIA, right mom? Sister? Today is the day I return your calls. SORRY.

*RIGHT NOW: I’ve been working a bit too much this week. So this morning the kids and I are cuddled up in blankets, books, and now they are watching “Frosty the Snowman”. The perfect Saturday morning. I have missed them this week and I am excited to have them all to myself this weekend. *BEST RECENT INVENTION: O has hung a rope from the loft and is swinging on it…non-stop. He got blisters and so now he  wears green gardening gloves and camo water shoes…nothing else. I made him put a t-shirt on for a photo the other day though. I’m not sure that anything else in the history of our home has gotten more use than this rope swing, this last week. *The BEST thing in my kitchen lately has been this salmon marinade. I make a lot and then I marinade the salmon, broil it till it flakes off a fork. Then I make a simple salad, throw the salmon on it and add the dressing (unused marinade). Joel eats absurd amounts…did you catch that? JOEL EATS ABSURD AMOUNTS (translation? make this salad…your carnivore man will like it).



*I’ve started Christmas preparations over here. A touch of decorating (much more to come) and started to do some planning. A few traditions we do?



Our advent calendar is ‘event based’. That is, we put in something special to do each day. I was so excited to find these printable event ideas as sometimes it takes me days to think of all 24 events. This gives me a nice start to which I can add our personalized things (like the Living Nativity!!!).



I am also wrapping Christmas books today. We had exactly the right number in the Christmas decorations box so now we will wrap them up so that the kids can open a new one each night in December (idea stolen from pinterest…of course).


* We are of the strong belief that we don’t have nearly enough celebrations, festivals, holidays. So we started a new one last weekend. “Ranch-o-versary” celebrates when we moved up into the woods two years ago. All who currently or have ever lived in our basement suite were invited…and we expect them to be here for it every year until we are all dead. We are a little skinny on the traditions so far, but fondue with the Switchback family seemed to work out pretty well.



* Speaking of the Ranch…look what the boys have been working on! A rink. We need a bit more snow and for the temperature to drop a little before we can start flooding, but hope to have it up and ready to roll for the Aylard arrival home from Uganda!

Anyways…how has your week been? Best adventures? How are you spending this glorious Saturday???












The invitation for the party that never was (last year…)

I had a favorite book as a child. One of the clearest memories I have of kindergarten is my teacher, Ms. Davidson reading “WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE”. I was transfixed, mesmorized, I LOVED it. Two years ago when I bought it for my kids it had the same effect on them. They asked for it near every day for six months. The memorized near all of it.  Last year I planned a Wild Rumpus party for them, but then, my little boy was in the hospital for his birthday and I was too exhausted by the time we got home to think of doing anything like that. I just wanted to rock my babies in a sterile bubble so that they wouldn’t get sick ever again. A year later and I have recovered enough to let them play with other little germs children.

On account of the fact that I combine their birthdays AND I didn’t get to host a party last year, I felt more than entitled to get a little carried away. And so ensued the ROYAL RUMPUS. My daughter is a bit more into princesses than wild things so I ensured there was plenty of royal fun as well as wild boys. It worked out great.

A walk through our party. The entrance sign:

The decorations:

The goody bags:

Gummy contributed most of the amazing decorations, but our favorite parts were the boat for Max in which he sailed off through night and day. THANKS AGAIN MOMMY!:

Our little wild princess…

Party people sailing off

And the Max and Princess cut outs, also compliments of my momma:

We watched a movie (that E acted out…my favorite part):

Showed their TERRIBLE CLAWS…



We made masks and crowns:




And had such a fun WiLD RUMPUS:




I just hope the kids had as much fun at the party as we had putting it together! Thanks again for all your help everybody!!!


Resources we used for our Royal Rumpus:




Most posters/invitations EVERYTHING here to print! I downloaded the font here so that we could add our own details for the invites and goody bag labels.

Activity book/crown for goody bags from Harper Colins

Max paper doll for goody bag. From Toy-a-Day.

Bernard Paper Doll for goody bag. From Toy-a-day.

We showed this version of the story by Sendak. We found it in a discount bin for $3! Amazing I know.

More fun ideas here…if you want to get even more carried away then us!

An October Saturday

L. M. Montgomery – “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”


The man is out-of-town and we woke up to the first rain having fallen in ages. The shadows cast slightly differently across the ranch as the sun rose later. The clouds are hanging heavy in the valley and the leaves turned over to yellow. The children are refusing to leave the house and so, I suppose, it is time to admit the seasons are a changing…winter is indeed coming.

I don’t mind so much. Not when it means I can read for three hours, make pumpkin pie french toast, light candles, hush the whole world. Life can be such a frenetic rush, sometimes it is so beautiful to not make a plan, to wonder what I want to do with a day. A fort is built for the kids, they’ve moved in beds, snacks, and most recently asked if they could watch Cinderella in it. I may not see them until dinner.

So for me? This afternoon I am enjoying:

This. I don’t know why this translation is striking me…over the head…over and over today. I’ve kept it open all day today and I return and return. Do yourself a favor. Do the same thing tomorrow. Let it settle in deep.

My lovely friend opened a BEAUTIFUL etsy shop! Way to go Shelley!

THIS Josh Garrels beautiful video…RAD.

Possibly the funniest film to come out of the youth ministry department…ever.

Watched this trailer at least five times so far. Cannot wait…one of my favorite novels of all time. And then? This, and this, AND THIS? Might spend fair coin at the movies this fall, it is a book to movie extravaganza.


Finished book two of “Song of Ice and Fire”. Fighting the urge to begin book three.



And this little bit of Wendell Berry for you… (hosted by Suzannah who is writing out “31 days of Making Peace”. WORTH THE READ!)

Happy weekend friends!





one thing tuesday (on wednesday): summer reading

Every summer I splurge. The best day of the year, might be, when the summer amazon parcel arrives. WAHOOOO. 

The fiction: Because summer TV is the worst…

The poetry: Because when the children are around and the husband is away is prime time for little bursts of beauty…

The dream chasing: Because it is time…

The Jesus chasing: Because it is all…

The family loving: Because I do…


Looking at this list I realize it might take me clear through to Christmas…oh well.

What are you reading this summer? Have you read anything on this list (should I remove any before I even start?!)

Happy Saturday!

This morning I am:

Thinking this is fun.

Reading this. Amazing:

Planning for my favorite night of the year. Let me know if you want to join us…March vanished on me so expect a call from me this weekend if you’ve mentioned wanting to be a part of Generations Night.

Still trying to decide if we should keep the odd couple together. What is your vote?


Dreadfully happy to have a day of no responsibility stretching out before us. I’ve already big plans for a nap later. How are you spending today?