my prayer for coffee + crumbs in 2016.

Use Your Gift-2Coffee + Crumbs is not a “Christian” blog, and that is by design. While you may find faith-based content throughout our site, religion is not part of our official brand.

That was an awkward decision to make in the beginning, but I made it, and I stand by it to this day.

There are a lot of people in this world who hear “Christian” and run for the hills. Maybe the Christians they have encountered are overly judgmental. Perhaps they witnessed one too many Christians spewing hate in the name of Jesus. Maybe they had an awful experience at church. Maybe they went through a hard season, and their Christian friends were the last to show up.

I have seen this in action; I understand why some people run away from that name.

The way I see it: branding Coffee + Crumbs as a Christian blog would have been like inviting all the moms on the Internet to come to church with me. That would have been a big ask, you know? Some people are terrified of church. Some people straight up hate the idea of church. Some people (including myself) have scars from a complicated church past, and some people have anxiety over the mere thought of hanging out with church-goers.

I didn’t want that for Coffee + Crumbs. I didn’t want people to turn away at the very beginning without even walking through the door. I wanted people to give us a chance, to see who we really are, to see who Jesus really is, to see this love, this grace, to let these stories unfold.

So I decided to make Coffee + Crumbs…..a beach.

(We all love the beach, right?)

Everyone is welcome and encouraged to join. Nobody is scared to come to the beach. It’s pretty here. We’re all just chillin in our swimsuits, practicing the art of vulnerability, watching sunsets together. You want to talk about c-section scars? Have at it. You want to cry? It’s nice to cry at the beach. You want to swap warrior stories, and talk about the hilarious thing your toddler said yesterday? I hope you do.

And if you want to talk about Jesus? Well….I’d love that, too.

When I first launched Coffee + Crumbs, I gave my writers the following charge: You are allowed and encouraged to write about your faith in whatever capacity your heart is inspired to do so. Over time, we might all share bits and pieces of our testimony in that space. Because, well, Jesus is part of our motherhood story. It would be an injustice to keep Him out of our writing.

I started a tradition last year around this time to write a prayer for my writing at the beginning of the year. For 2016, it felt right to make that prayer for Coffee + Crumbs. Whether you’re a believer or not, I hope you always feel welcome there.

***

My 2016 Prayer for Coffee + Crumbs

Dear God, thank you for instilling in each of us a love and talent for writing. Thank you for giving us voices and a significant platform to reach others. We know every ounce of success that Coffee + Crumbs has received was given to us straight from you, and we are so grateful for that.

Lord, I pray for the ministry of Coffee + Crumbs—that you would use our words to plant seeds of the gospel among unbelievers. I pray that you would use us as beacons of hope and light and truth on the Internet, where darkness and evil can often be prevalent.

I pray that you would use Coffee + Crumbs to encourage mothers around the world, and that the right people would find the words they need to read when they are feeling alone or desperate. I pray that our words will always represent motherhood in all of its beautiful and messy glory, and that the collective picture we paint will always be accurate and honest.

God I pray for a layer of protection around our writers, that you would shield us from hate and harsh criticism. When we encounter negativity, I pray for the strength to ignore it, to persevere, to remain unshaken in the calling you have placed on our hearts.

I pray for boldness, for braveness, for vulnerability of the deepest kind—that you would open our hearts to the messages you want us to share with the world.

I pray that you would keep our eyes on the message, not the numbers; on the mission, not the financial success; on You, not on us. We hold Coffee + Crumbs as an offering to you, and we know there is no better place for it to be than in your hands.

We know you have placed these gifts in our hearts and we know you want us to use them for your glory. I pray that you will continue to affirm us in these talents and that you will continue to open every door that you see fit for us to walk through. We pray for wisdom and discernment with all opportunities that come our way.

I pray that each of us will use these gifts as faithful stewards of your grace, today and everyday, both in our Coffee + Crumbs endeavors and in our own personal writing.

In Jesus’ name we humbly pray,
Amen.

***

After I wrote this post, a girl named Konnie reached out to me and told me all about her dream – an Etsy shop filled with beautiful art created from bible verses and song lyrics. And then she did it! I asked her to design this “Use your gift” print to include in my Christmas gifts for the C+C writers. The print is based on one of my favorite verses, 1 Peter 4:10 – Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 

Konnie is based in Australia, but she offers lots of digital downloads. I especially love this one and this one

p.s. We’re doing our annual reader survey this week! This is like our yearly report card, and we’d love to know your thoughts!

Posted in be | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

on splinters, tonsils, ear tubes, and trust.

Everett-1

“Mommy, I got some-fin in my foot!”

It was five minutes till bedtime, not like I was keeping track. (Okay, let’s be honest: I am always keeping track).

His dirty blonde hair was still wet from the bath, and a post-dinner belly protruded from the top of his spaceship pajamas.

“What’s in your foot, buddy?” I asked.

I pulled him towards me, and he sat down in my lap as we both examined the foot in question.

“I dunno! Some-fin!”

Upon further investigation under his teepee twinkle lights, I spotted a splinter. No doubt, the result of him playing barefoot at the park a few hours prior.

“Sorry, buddy, you have a splinter in your foot. Mommy’s going to have to get that out for you.”

He looked at me, wide-eyed, unsure how to respond. I cautiously explained the removal process: that I would have to use tweezers, and that it would pinch a teeny tiny bit, but it wouldn’t hurt. He seemed skeptical.

We migrated to my bathroom for tweezers and better light. Panic set in.

“No mommy, I don’t want to!” he cried.

I reassured him over and over again that I was going to help him, not hurt him, but as things like this normally go with three year-olds, he was quickly flailing about on the bathroom floor like a fish out of water.

I looked to my husband for reinforcement, and within seconds he was contained in his daddy’s arms. I grabbed the affected foot and gave careful instructions, “Everett, mommy is going to take the splinter out. Be very still. This won’t hurt, I promise. You have to trust me, okay?”

He looked suspicious. Slightly terrified. The weight of my own words echoed in my mind. Does my own son not trust me? Have I ever given him a reason not to?

Just when I thought I had screwed everything up, counting the number of times I’ve said, “this won’t hurt” or “we’ll do that next time”, a single tear rolled down his cheek and I watched his body exhale.

He relaxed into my husband’s arms, and waited for me.

I squinted, and carefully removed the splinter in one quick motion. He didn’t even flinch, my brave boy.

“All done!” I exclaimed proudly.

He smiled as a wave of relief washed over him, a fish falling back into water.

My husband released him to the floor, where he immediately ran his fingers over his foot and looked at me, bewildered.

“It’s gone! My foot is all bed-der!!!”

“I told you, buddy. Mommy will always take care of you, okay?”

“Oh,” he smiled.

I gave him a kiss on the cheek and that was it, a lesson in trust.

***

Everett is having his tonsils and adenoids removed this morning, as well as tubes put in his ears. We are all up before the sunrise. This is early, even for us.

I’ve packed his Elmo and blue blanket carefully in his backpack. I bought him a new Lightning McQueen sippy cup so he can stay hydrated in style after the procedure.

I know he needs this. But when I picture the needle, the anesthesia, the cutting, the blood, I can’t lie—I get a little lightheaded. I’m not an anxious person by nature. I’m the “relaxed” one in our family. But this morning, I can’t help but feel a tiny bit panicked. On the outside, I’m cool and calm and collected, but on the inside, I’m just like Everett staring at the tweezers. Suspicious. Slightly terrified. A fish out of water.

The doctor said he will be fine afterwards. “It’s a very basic procedure,” he told us. He’s probably done this hundreds of times.

So here we are.

This morning I will sit back, and I will try to relax, and I will be brave for my boy like he is brave for me. I’ll say a prayer. I will kiss his cheek before they wheel him away, and then I will wait. Wait. Wait.

A lesson in trust.

Posted in love | Tagged , , , , | 14 Comments

all the things.

Calendar-2It happens every year in December. The hustle and bustle. The Christmas cards, the parties, the cookies, the gifts, the menus to plan, the places to go, the people to see. On top of normal December chaos, I am up to my eyeballs in Coffee + Crumbs projects. I started a blog post a few weeks ago about splinters and trust, but never finished it. Then I started a post about a few new brands I love, but never finished it. Then I swapped out my fall capsule and replaced it with a winter capsule, but never got around to photographing it. Then I started a post all about what I learned at a photography workshop in October, but…..shockingly…..never finished it.

This poor blog. 

I have big dreams of finishing all of those posts in the new year, and also writing about my one and only resolution for 2016 (is the suspense killing you?), but in the meantime, may I direct your attention to all of the awesome things that Coffee + Crumbs is doing this month? This is my heartbeat, friends. This is the thing I think about before I fall asleep each night, and the thing I get excited about first thing in the morning. God is opening so many beautiful doors for us, and I have no choice but to step through them with absolute faith. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again because it always bears repeating: this is my dream job, and the magic of that is not lost on me.

1. We made a calendar! And not just any calendar, a calendar for moms. Each print features a gorgeous watercolor illustration and a quote intended to make you smile and remind you that you’re not alone. This is the perfect Christmas gift for yourself, or for your momma friends. If your husband needs a nudge, I am happy to send him the link directly.

2. We are hosting an online fundraiser for Carry The Future, a group committed to serving refugees traveling toward asylum by providing a baby carrier for their youngest ones to safely travel in. When you make a donation, you will receive a beautiful “Be Brave” printable. It takes bravery to be a mother no matter where we are, but right now, we can honor the extraordinary amount of bravery our refugee sisters are displaying for their babies.

3. We are launching an online writing workshop! This is something I have been dreaming about for…..exactly four weeks? You know how I do. The storytellers of Coffee + Crumbs are crafting a six-week course to breathe fresh air into your lungs. We’re prepping lessons on creativity, vulnerability, writing with an X factor, and more. Look out for an announcement soon!

And, well, what do you know? My essay is up today. Click here to read about that one time my three year-old boycotted his bed for an entire year. Good times.

Posted in love | Tagged | 3 Comments

for the mommas who make stuff.

Coffee + Crumbs Calendar-1

Before I had kids, I wasn’t sure how motherhood would affect my art. The realist side of me wondered if I would still have time for art. The pessimist side of me thought I might have to give up my art altogether. The optimistic side of me thought I would seamlessly integrate motherhood into my art, and my art into motherhood.

3.5 years later, I think we all can agree that nothing about motherhood is seamless.

But the good news is: I am still a mom, and I still make art. The two do not coexist perfectly, but they coexist and that’s enough. There is tension there; sometimes it pulls lightly and sometimes it’s a full blown tug-of-war. I am only one person with two hands and there are only 24 hours in the day. I wear all my hats as best I can, sometimes layering a few on top of each other and sometimes swapping one for another as I run out the door, trading a loose diaper in my purse for a computer charger.

Today is the last day of a long weekend filled with shopping discounts. Maybe you’re on top of things this year and have already finished Christmas shopping. Maybe you’re like me and just getting started. Maybe you haven’t thought about it at all.

Can I ask you something?

Are you buying anything from your fellow mommas this holiday season?

You know the ones I’m talking about. The mommas making coffee mugs and art prints and t-shirts and jewelry. The ones with dining room tables full of shipping supplies. The ones who sit down after the kids are in bed to design and dream and create things with their hands and run full blown shops from their beds.

Just look around. We’re everywhere.

We have this thing in common, us momma makers, because our go-to mode is hustle. We know how to hammer out eight e-mails over breakfast and how to type a blog post into our phones while we nurse our baby to sleep. We know how to brainstorm under pressure and how to dream in the shower. We know how to make the most of every minute, every hour, every second that our hands are free. We know creating is our gift to each other, to our kids, and to the world.

We also know the uneven balance of creating art while caring for our children; it’s a constant see-saw, that tension between honoring our family and honoring our talent and allowing both to coexist and breathe.

We know the perseverance and dedication it requires to open our laptops night after night after the kids are in bed instead of falling on the couch with a Netflix binge. (But damn, it feels so good to do that sometimes, amen?)

We know the guilt, the stress, the tiredness, the overwhelming nature of being moms and wives and makers and shop owners.

Can I ask you again….?

Are you buying anything from your fellow mommas this holiday season?

Maybe this year we could do more of that, and less of Target (and you know I love me some Target). Maybe this year we can cheer each other on and pin each other’s creations. Maybe this year we can support each other with both our words and our dollars.

Join me, won’t you?

***

A few mommas to support this holiday…..

June & January

Chewable Charm

The Caramel Jar

Dear Mushka

Get To Work Book

Brim Papery

Gold Press Paper

Max & Moose

Rainy Day Colors 

Riley + Co

The Bee & The Fox

Bubby & Bean

Bitte

Highsmith Lettering

Lindbergh Candle Co

Oh Sweet Joy!

The Wild Kids Apparel

and of course, yours truly,

Coffee + Crumbs (our calendar launches tomorrow!!)

***

*These are just a few shops I follow on Instagram. If you’d like to recommend any momma makers for this list, leave a comment and I’ll keep this post updated throughout the day.

Posted in get | Tagged , , , | 12 Comments

taking a leap.

a leap-2Once upon a time, I sat down at my computer and started a blog.

I had no idea what I was doing.

Over the years, writing here became exhilarating, calming, necessary for my mental health. If I felt stressed out, I blogged. If I felt confused, I blogged. If I felt sad/happy/depressed/anxious/torn, I sat down at my computer, poured my heart into the keyboard, and hit publish.

This blog became home for me, in a lot of ways.

It’s been a wild journey, this writing-on-the-Internet thing. I have been exposed in front of strangers and that has been both terrifying and wonderful. At times it has felt brave. At times it has felt stupid.

But make no mistake at all: it has elicited feelings.

I have grown here. I have grown up here. Undoubtedly, I have learned more about myself through this blog than any other professional endeavor I have pursued up until this point.

***

I am writing this post quickly. At the coffee shop, I am sitting at the same table where I always sit, drinking the same coffee that I always order and yet, it is different. Because for the past six months or so, I have forgotten how to do this. I have forgotten how to spill, how to allow myself to be free here, how to dump words and not obsess over them. For the past six months I have been a perfectionist. I have agonized over every comma and every word and it has suffocated me.

***

Two years ago, I had a book idea.

The book was called “Twenty-Something” and it was going to be a collection of essays—things I’ve learned in my twenties, lessons on marriage and motherhood and friendship and faith. I typed a bunch of words and printed a bunch of papers and stuck them in a white binder and put that binder in my closet.

The binder stayed there for two years. It was in the closet when I got pregnant, and it was in the closet when I launched Coffee + Crumbs. It was actually transferred from one closet to another closet when we moved last summer.

Over the past couple of months, I started thinking about that book idea more and more. I blame my 30th birthday around the corner. Turning 30 feels Big. Saying goodbye to my twenties feels Bigger—worthy of a celebration, a tribute, a book perhaps.

So I decided, one day at 3:27am while I nursed the baby in the rocking chair. I am just going to write this book. Why the hell not? Who is stopping me? I decided I would write the book, and I would self-publish it. And I would launch this book on my 30th birthday, to be released into the world as I bid farewell to one decade and welcomed another.

It was going to be a birthday present to myself.

***

A lot of my friends are writing books. They have finished manuscripts and book proposals and sample chapters. They know how to write query letters and have lists of dream agents. They know all the proper steps to take and they know all about the process. It’s impressive. Really impressive.

I never went down that rabbit hole. Self-publishing has always appealed to me, in the same way that starting a blog has always appealed to me. I love indie artists, I love grassroots, I love organic growth. I love the thrill of starting something from nothing. I love being in complete control of the creative process.

Also? At the risk of sounding self-deprecating (which I do not find to be an attractive attribute), I never thought I could write a book through traditional publishing. Because I never thought I was that good of a writer.

Sure, I was pretty good at writing on the Internet. I can admit that. But writing a book—a real book that you hold in your hands, with an actual cover and dedication page and acknowledgments, a book that is sold in bookstores—that was Too Big. Too far-fetched. That was crazy, outrageous, too difficult, too much work, too impossible for someone like me.

I am one of the biggest dreamers I know, but that dream was off the table.

“No, no,” I said, “If I ever write a book, I will self-publish.”

Self-publishing is safe. I can sell my own words on my own blog and probably the only people who would read it would be my husband and my parents and my friends and the loyal blog readers who have been here from the beginning. They would probably like it. They would probably think it was worth something.

I hoped.

***

Two weeks ago, I received an e-mail from a publisher.

It said, “Have you ever thought about writing a book?”

Huh.

***

A few days ago, a literary agent asked to sign me (and Coffee + Crumbs). We spoke for one hour on the phone and everything just…..clicked. I laid out my entire vision for myself and for Coffee + Crumbs and she said, “I get it.”

And suddenly, that dream that felt Too Big wasn’t too big anymore. Suddenly, it was on the table, right in front of my face. Maybe this isn’t outrageous after all.

Maybe this will happen for me, for us.

Maybe starting this blog was the first leap. And maybe launching Coffee + Crumbs was the second leap. And maybe this? Well. What do they say about the third time being the charm?

Maybe this is the biggest leap of all.

***

If you’ve made it to the bottom of this, thank you for being here. There are a lot of people in my life who believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself, and you might very well be one of those people. If that is you, there are no words to express my truest gratitude.

I should warn you: This is only the beginning. There is a good chance I could fall flat on my face, but I think I’d rather leap and fall than never take the leap.

Here’s to writing, to dreaming, to every leap of faith.

May your biggest dream find its way to your table. That’s all I’ve ever wanted for you.

Posted in be | Tagged , | 49 Comments