I’m Over At Coffee + Crumbs!

I have been obsessed with coffeeandcrumbs.net for a few years now. I found this collaborative blog for moms a few months after my daughter was born and it was almost as if my Mama’s soul exhaled. This blog is full of words that will resonate, inspire, and encourage you! What’s more, they have a wonderful podcast, a new book, a monthly newsletter and so much more! With my adoration for this blog in mind, imagine my excitement when I found out that they wanted some of my words on their page!

Today, I get to share a little piece of my heart for other mom’s in a little corner of the internet that feels a bit like home to me. I hope that it encourages you to remember those dreams that once lived in your heart and are begging for some time in the sun! Here’s a little preview!

“It’s the same realization that mothers have all of the time. The realization that, like a tutu whose circumference looks wide and full, all of those ambitions and dreams that we had for ourselves are fragile and delicate.

We spend our childhoods twirling and dreaming of what we might become, basking in the glow of our own future and the bright promise of hope. In those days, our minds couldn’t comprehend anything but becoming exactly what we wanted to be.

Life can drop big, dark stains on those dreams, leaving them soiled and soggy. When reality challenges their fullness and beauty, we’re left to tend to them, to wash them clean and restore what once was.

The problem is, there’s no ‘handle with care’ tag on that tutu in our mind’s eye, the one that we wore when we were dreamers. The one that fit us when we were confident and young.”

Click here for more!

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Back To School

Photo by Kelli Tungay on Unsplash

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We need to leave the house for Kindergarten Orientation in an hour. That moment that everyone talks about when they come to visit you in the hospital after giving birth has arrived. People peek into your hospital room and look at you, soft and cracked open, eyes red and scratchy from the marathon of carrying and delivering life. They see your heart in your eyes and on your sleeve and laying swaddled in the basinet and they say, “Before you know it, he’ll be going off to Kindergarten.”

I remember those words, I remember nodding and saying, “I know,” like I actually knew and then smiling and snuggling him close. I remember so many days where those words came to mind like the promise of rain on a hot day and others when they came to mind like thorns trailing beneath the bloom of bright childhood.

They were true, though.

Before I knew it…

The school supplies are ready and waiting by the door. Pencils and folders and something called Velcro dots that were harder to find than gold at the end of the rainbow but all I can think about are the footy pajamas he used to wear.

They were blue with bugs all over them and were made from fleece as soft as baby skin. I loved them because of the bugs. Bugs for my Judah Bug. He wore them when he was six months old and I loved how his sleepy, dead weight felt in them. Every part of him was soft and squishy.

I spent hours looking at those jammies wrapped on his baby fat, hours holding him in them while I nursed.

There were so many nights when the feel of them comforted my tired hands as I carried us through another midnight feeding…

Now he’s going to Kindergarten.

I made it through a year of not sleeping so I can certainly do this.

Well, maybe I could if it wasn’t for the fact that his sister is starting preschool in a few days too.

When I look at her, with her backpack on, preparing for her first day, I can’t help but fight the urge to run upstairs and stare at the onesie I have stashed in the back of her top dresser drawer.

It’s the first thing she ever wore and it didn’t come from me.

The hospital found it for her in the NICU because we didn’t have any clothes with us that would fit our 4-pound baby, the perfect one with rose-bud lips that came a month early.

An angel-nurse brought it to us and it looked like doll clothes. She slipped it on our tiny girl’s body and fit her better than her own skin, that skin that hung on her wrinkly and empty where it should have been rolling with fat.

I remember being so touched by the kindness of the nurse. She had brought it to us, saying she had dug through the drawers of the NICU so we could have something pretty to put on Annabelle. My heart was tender and raw from the fear that had gripped it during my delivery, when we had almost lost our little one and kindness has a way of stroking those exposed places like balm.

I have left that onesie in her drawer since then, always nearby, ready for me to pull out and hold in the palm of my hand, ready to remind me of how far our girl has come.

Far enough to go to school…

I made it through life with a preemie, with its oxygen and triple feedings and colic and fear so I can certainly do this.

I can do this.

I can send them off and let go of a little more. I can let them grow and learn and create a little more space for themselves away from me.

I can trust them with the lessons I’ve taught and the love I’ve buried in their hearts. I can be confident in who they are.

I can be brave.

I can hold these pieces of my heart loosely.

I can do it because they’re ready. This is how it’s supposed to go. This is the point, after all, to raise them so we can send them out little by little.

These are the moments that everyone talks about, the milestones that you look towards and prepare for and, with a sigh, I can say we’re ready. I’ll send them off with their school supplies and back packs that look larger than life on their little bodies. They’ll take their lunch boxes and folders and wave good bye and I’ll come home. I’ll probably cry and then pull out those pajamas and onesie and remember how far we’ve come.

I’ll hold those pieces of their past, and I’ll hold them good and tight but their future… that I’ll hold loosely. I’ll let it grow and breathe and spill over and out of my hands and trust that it will be blessed by my touch.

Feed Their Belly Feed Their Heart

daria-nepriakhina-69841            I’ve been a mom for almost six years now. Six years and three kids. I don’t think there’s a conversion chart for “number of years mothering to lunches prepared” but it seems to me like there should be. It would be nice to quantify those years somehow without having to actually apply my math learnin’ from way back when. Aint nobody got time for that! I have lunches to make.

All that being said, I have only just now actually arrived at “mom level” for lunch packing because, I recently made a very significant purchase on Amazon. Bento boxes. My pinterest failing self bought some bento boxes for my children and I basically feel like I have now arrived at professional mom status.

I mean, things were ok before. We would get invited to the park or the pool for playdates and I would bring along lunch plus snacks plus the trillion and one other things that you have to bring when you go places with kids. My little loves would be happily fed but embarrassment would begin to creep over me when it was time to pull it all out of the lunch bag. All the other kids would sit there in the grass with their organic, nut free lunches perched on their little laps contained in neat, shiny, compartmentalized, BPA free bento boxes.

My kids? Well, they’re digging their little fingers into sandwich baggies like a bunch of chumps. Baggies were fine when I was growing up but now they seem to result in crumbs coating kid’s hands as they reach in, squished sandwiches because the baggies certainly cannot protect mere bread and turkey from the crushing weight of a banana or thermos, and terrible environmental faux pas like extra plastic use. Not to mention the game of “chasing the empty sandwich baggie as it blows away.”

Mid way through this summer, I finally got the message. If I was gonna be a mom who had my stuff together, I needed bento boxes. Stat!

Now that I’ve finally elevated myself and my children to this accomplished state of existence, things are…relatively the same as they were before.

I still have to pack a lunch and they still eat it. Different packaging, same result.

In all actuality, it really doesn’t matter what the lunch looks like, just that I feed my kids.

In all actuality, our job as mothers isn’t always about making things look pretty and nice but about providing our kids with what they need to grow and thrive and impact their people.

This hit me hard when I was reading about when Jesus fed the 5,000.

“When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, ‘Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?’  He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.

 Philip answered him, ‘It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!’

Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?’” John 6: 5-8

Here we have throngs of people hanging on every word of Jesus’, to the point that they don’t even want to leave to go grab some food. Now, I’ve often wondered why more of them didn’t think to pack a lunch, some crackers, an apple maybe, but, alas, only one little boy did.

Scratch that. I’m almost positive that his mom did. I would bet my bento boxes that there was a woman with a heart full of love that sent her boy there prepared.

She was probably a mother of strategy. The kind that plans ahead for her sons needs both physically and spiritually. She probably sent him there that day, hoping, praying that he would fill his mind and heart on the words of this man that walked on water, confounded the Pharisees and raised the dead. She probably longed for his life to be changed and his heart to be turned so she did what any mom does. She planned ahead. She probably knew that kids learn best on a full stomach and she didn’t want him to have any reason to want to leave so she packed him a lunch.

She packed him a lunch and miracles happened.

“Jesus said, ‘Have the people sit down.’ There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there).  Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.” John 6: 10-11

It was a simple act. One that every mother does time and time again but in the ordinary service of motherhood, she provided the makings for a miracle.

It wasn’t just the food that she sent, though. It was the boy. The boy with the heart to give and share and speak up when needs arose. The one that had empathy enough to sense the wanting of those around him and who had kindness enough to offer what little he had.

She probably packed all those goodies deep inside of him too, fed him those lessons like they were food.

In her mothering, a miracle was teed up.

School will be starting soon. Lunches will need to be packed, back packs loaded up, and hearts prepared. You, Mama, will do it all. It might seem ordinary, you might feel like at times you fall short or go unseen but never forget that the things you give your kids, both the tangible and intangible could be setting the stage for a miracle to happen.

Every hug you give plants a seed in their hearts that will grow large and full like a tree, bringing comfort and shade to others around them. Every lesson in sharing will result in bridges built and love given. Every moment of instruction will produce righteous action and yes, every lunch could provide food for the hungry, an invitation for the lonely, or simply a moment of food filled friendship.

It doesn’t matter what you pack it in, just that you pack it. Bento boxes are nice but it’s what inside them that nourishes and fulfills. Sure, the frills look good but it’s what we place in their hearts that invites the divine.

Feed their bellies, feed their hearts and watch eternity show off with the results.

 

 

 

Dawn

His cry woke me. It was ten minutes before my alarm was scheduled to sound but there it was, my son’s voice, crying to be heard. I gathered him up out of his bed and gave him what he wanted, food and comfort all at once. I blinked the sleep from my eyes and they adjusted to the pink-tinged darkness in the room. Actually, that’s how a pessimist would put it. Pink tinged darkness.

Really, it was pink-tinged light.

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If light could be a scent, this would strawberry-soft and juicy and full of brightness and promise.

If light could be a feeling it would be settled calm and buzzing excitement all at once.

Sunrise.

Sunrise and a baby.

Newness upon newness. Promise upon promise. Fresh. Pure. Begging to be indulged and held close.

I breathed it all in, gazing at the watercolor sky and then the roundness of my son’s cheeks. Only a moment before, I had lingered in sleep, wishing the blankets could stay tucked around me a few minutes longer. I had slogged myself out of bed resigned to my day being ten minutes longer than I wanted it to be but then, then this.

This beauty.

If not for the discomfort of waking early, I would have missed it. If not for the demands placed on me because of motherhood, I would have slept right through it. But God knew that glory demanded my attention.

We scoff at discomfort. We avoid it and spit at it and bemoan it at every possible opportunity. We hate it don’t we? We rearrange and plan and sidestep to miss it but what else are we avoiding?

If not for the discomfort, I would have missed the beauty.

If I hadn’t been woken from my sleep and roused from my place of comfort, I would not have seen the majesty of a grand sky the whole earth wide painted for me and the tiniest little hands that fit inside mine reaching out for me.

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Photo Credit: Melissa Yocum Photography

The discomfort is unavoidable but so is the beauty of it all.

This is our God.

This is how He works. He stretches us so we can find out how good it feels once it’s over. So we can appreciate how much faster we can run when it’s done. He rouses us from the things we think we want so that we can gaze at something far more beautiful.

So, this is the refrain of my heart. “The Lord does all things well! I will delight in Him and whatever he brings because he paints the sky for my pleasure and draws me out to see it. In Him is fullness of joy. In Him, lies the hope of a newness. I can trust His ways for they are good.”

My God does all things well.

This Week, I’m over at “Hello, Dearest”

This last week, an article I wrote was featured on MOPS International’s blog, hellodearest.com. This was originally published in their quarterly magazine and has been in the hands of the amazing MOPS Mama’s for a few weeks now, but here it is for your screen viewing pleasure!

Head on over to hellodearest.com and have a read. Here’s a sneak peak for you and just an FYI, this idea gets my blood flowing faster and makes me super excited to be a mom! What a gift it is to mold the hearts of little people! What a difference we can make! What a world we can shape!

“Moms have the power of empathy. It’s a power because we have the opportunity to do something with it. We can teach our kids to look at others like the treasure they are to someone else…We can turn that soft spot deep within our hearts into a place of strength because we are the people-makers, the heart-molders, the generation-shapers.”

Hope you enjoy!

Kelsey