Going out with JOY… and a few other emotions too. ;-)

Yay Grad! SmellingCoffee.com

Well… it’s been silent a while around here, hasn’t it?  If we’re friends through the Smelling Coffee Blog and TV Facebook page, or on Twitter, (I’m @SmellingCoffee, btw) or on Instagram (where
I’m @JenniferCrawfordWalker)  {and I hope we are!… if we aren’t, will you please go out there and friend me now???}  you’ll have seen pictures of why.  Our youngest graduated from High School last week.  {Youngest human, that is.  Haha!}

Abigail. SmellingCoffee.com

It has been a crazy but oh so joy-filled last few weeks around the Walker household.   In fact, I started writing (or more like pecking-out on the phone) about it 9 or 10 days ago and I literally never had the emotional energy to finish the pre-graduation post.  So with your indulgence, I’d like to share those thoughts and some favorite pictures from graduation that I’ll be storing up in my heart (and on this blog) for years to come.

The original post was entitled Thoughts Too Precious to Share (or too difficult for his mama to put into words until now)   {I know… a little long and overly dramatic… but hey – it was in the middle of the night when I wrote them! ;-)}

It’s 3 AM. My body is begging for sleep, but my mouth is smiling while my eyes are “watering” (yes, that’s what we’ll call it) and my mind is swirling with a mile long list of what must be marked through between now and Friday night when our daughter graduates from High School.

Abigail - Young/Old Sr. Pic. SmellingCoffee.com

It’s a special time indeed! One I am soaking in and trying to treasure every moment. {Hense the few and far between blog posts. I know you don’t mind, though, and I thank you for your grace. ;)}

The thing is, I have so many mixed emotions right now. Others tell me this is normal, so I’m trusting it to be so… There is great great Joy in and for Abigail, this tiny precious gift from God all grown up into the young woman He is preparing to embark on a brand new life journey!!

She has had a tough Senior year and has persevered to the end in a way that has made her dad and me proud.
We couldn’t be more happy for her and for what God holds for her future.

Abigail - Sr Pic MC. SmellingCoffee.com (She’ll be attending Mississippi College in Clinton, MS.)

As we are on the knees of our hearts (and often our physical knees too) praying that she will remain focused on loving, obeying, and seeking the Lord, we know she is under His Wings (Psalm 91). My mother HEART is at peace over watching and helping her move to her next.

Abigail and Jen in Nashville. April 2016. SmellingCoffee.comIn front of an iconic wall in Nashville during a Senior fun trip back to Abigail’s “roots”

Yet at the same time, my mother ARMS want to grab this child and hold on so tightly to her that air can hardly escape. Does that even make sense?

wall of pics. SmellingCoffee.com Celebrating Abigail through her growing up years – we started this tradition last year with Nathan.  All summer long we will keep swags of snapshots hanging across our mantles.  It’s helping me cherish both those past, and these present days of our lives.

wall of pics 2 SmellingCoffee.com
pic swag SmellingCoffee.com

How can two strong body parts be at such
opposing-yet-good desires?

When my children were little and would sit in my lap with my arms wrapped around them I often wondered how moms of older kids (kids who had moved out of their parent’s laps and on to “bigger and better things of the world”)  got used to not having their arms full of their babies anymore. For me, I never did get used to it… It just got to the point that it would have become a little creepy and socially ackward, so I just stopped making them sit in my lap all of the time one day. 😉

I guess this is what motivates us to love on and serve other people’s children… and our grandchildren… Or serve in the church nursery… Or in volunteer programs… And get empty nest dogs!

SmellingCoffee.com Me and my three… Nathan, Abigail, and Zoe {my empty-arm-and-nest-filler}. Mother’s Day 2016.

Since our son just graduated and left for college last year, the graduation emotions have been a bit more even keel this go around. I realize now that they aren’t gone forever, they do come home, they do still need and value their parents, and there is a sweeter friendship dynamic I’m seeing in this college-student-parent thing that we didn’t have before. We are looking forward to knowing that with both of our kiddos now.  ***Plus everyone tells us that after the initial shock wears off, empty nest is awesome!!!

Bitmoji - Nice. SmellingCoffee.com

My goal for these last days with Abigail fully at home: it’s the same goal I’ve tried to keep set before me for most of my parenting life:

TREASURE THESE MOMENTS. They will pass like a vapor. Here today and gone tomorrow. No matter how old our loved ones are, we can pause with eyes of gratitude, and soak them in today.

In MOPS this year we called it Noticing Goodness, Feasting on it, and Celebrating it.

Oh please, younger than me mamas, please soak in your children still at home with you!!! You’ll never get to graduation day or move-out day and regret it!!!!! 🙂

 

And then… I went to sleep.  😉  Who knows what “middle of the night wisdom” was left unshared… haha!

Lest you think those were my only pre-graduation droplets, I’ll go on and admit it now… I did have my 2016 graduate-mommy-break-down on Tuesday, May 3rd.  We had been through a beautiful Senior Sunday at church on May 1st… and no tears.

Senior Day FBCC. SmellingCoffee.com

{Everyone was expecting a mommy meltdown from me… but I disappointed them all! 😉 }  I was cruising right along when that Tuesday’s primary election results were being posted on the TV.  All of a sudden, when Ted Cruz suspended his campaign for president, a dam burst in me and I did the ugly cry for hours!!!

You should have seen the family’s faces when I couldn’t stop crying!  Nathan’s was shock – as in “What in the world???” Abigail’s was understanding – as in “There it is!  I knew she couldn’t keep it in forever!” And James’ face was fluctuating in between the “instruction mode”to the kids – as in “You kids, don’t say anything to mess with your mama right now… Go on and finish supper.” and compassion for me making sure I was ok and stable. Bless my family.  They are kind of used to my Mommy-breakdowns.

Bitmoji - Crying. SmellingCoffee.com

Abigail finally said, “Mom, we know you are crying for more than Ted Cruz.” – and when she said that, all water broke lose and I sobbed.  And sobbed.  And sobbed.  Then I cried no more.  Except for a few trickle of tears here and there.  😉

But when Graduation Day came I genuinely felt nothing but J.O.Y!!!  We had the most fun getting Ab ready, the weather was beautiful, and the Lord was so gracious to us all!  Here are a few of my favorite pics from the day:

2016 flowers. SmellingCoffee.com

Abi in her Lilly Dress. SmellingCoffee.com
Waking in. SmellingCoffee.com
Diploma. SmellingCoffee.com
She’s officially a graduate now…

and on her way to Mississippi College with her brother… haha!
Brotherly Sisterly Love. SmellingCoffee.com (I guess they don’t grow out of having to make the siblings stand up straight and act right for pictures???) haha!

Speaking of brothers… My brother, Chris, and his family came for the graduation.  They helped make it special!

Crawfords. SmellingCoffee.com


Abigail and Ella. SmellingCoffee.com This is one of the sweetest pictures of the night.  I love the look on my mom’s face as Abigail hugs her…


Abigail and Nanny. SmellingCoffee.com
I also love this one too!
Daddy Daughter. SmellingCoffee.com
This picture is pretty special to me as well.  Three generations together is a cherished treasure indeed.

3 Generations. SmellingCoffee.com
About a month ago God gave me a verse to pray for Abigail as she moves from this stage of life into the next.   It truly makes my heart happy as I pray this for her:

“For you shall go out in Joy and be led forth in peace…” Isaiah 55:2.

Isaiah 55-2 verse.

Walker Family Graduation Party. 2016. SmellingCoffee.com

For now, there are no more tears… Just smiles, gratitude, and joy as I soak in these days of Summer and this season of mothering as the nest is emptying.  And, with the Lord’s guidance, I’ve determined that I, too, will go out of this season into the next in the Joy of the Lord, and be led forth in His Peace…  

Any other mamas out there wanna go forth that way with me?


 

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When Mother’s Day is Hard

Ok – I’ll just admit it right now… I’m having a tough time.  Tears are already streaming down my face, and I haven’t written anything but a Facebook Post to my mom and the title of this blog post.  And it’s not because I don’t have a wonderful mom or that my kids are in a bad place right now… it’s just because sometimes  no, a lot of times, well… sometimes being a mom is HARD.  It’s hard on the heart, mind, body, soul, spirit.  But who would trade anything for it?  I know I wouldn’t!

I cried all day last year on Mother’s Day.  My oldest was heading to college, and my youngest would follow the next year (this year).  And I cried because I realized that thought that my days of mothering influence were over.  That horrible mother-guilt that incessantly plagues us overwhelmed me and screamed “Did I teach him enough? Did I do enough with him?  Did I pray for him enough?  Did I ____ and ____ and ____ and _____ and on and on and on… until I was crumpled over in the unconsolable ugly cry.  Let’s just say that it didn’t make for the sweetest Mother’s Day memory.  haha!  (But it is quite a funny one now!)

On top of the guilt over my own parenting failures came the guilt of “now that I’m a parent facing the “end of my parenting” (as I saw it then), look at what I put my own parent’s through – and what saints they were… and I’m SO sorry!!!”  Boohoohoohoohooooooo!  Mother’s Day Meltdown of 2015.  It was epic.  (Guilt?  We’ll have to talk about that later!!!)

I’ve learned a bit since then, and realized that what the older and much wiser moms ahead of me who have “been there and done that” have said is 100% true – Mothering doesn’t stop when the kids start college.  In fact, what caused my tears this morning is what I wrote to my mom on FB:

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! You are the best example of a Proverbs 31 woman I’ve ever known. I’m so thankful that you are still guiding and teaching me by your words and by how you live your life. I love you SO much and can’t thank God enough for our friendship and the years He has blessed me with as you continue to selflessly pour your life into others. I’m so grateful to call you both Mom and Friend!

Mom and Me 2016. SmellingCoffee.com

I’m almost 50 (gasp – 1st time I’ve ever written that!!) and my mom is still guiding me and influencing my life.  As Abigail prepares to graduate in a few days (we’ll talk about this later, too!) I’m so thankful to finally get it through my thick head that my mothering doesn’t end on college move-in day!

But here’s the thing about Mother’s Day – and why I believe that so many emotions tend to rise to the surface especially on this occasion:

(I wrote this part last year) To me, on three of the most special and heart-expressing days of the year it’s easy to be extremely either joy-filled if you have what is celebrated or sorrow-filled if you don’t. Either “Yay Me” or “Poor Me.”  For these three days, if we’re not intentional, what we have or don’t have, and what others have and/or don’t have can totally rob us of our own joy and gratitude for the many blessings God bestows upon us daily.  Can you guess which three days I’m talking about?

Now I’ve not done any scientific research or anything like that… but from observation of myself and life around me, those three days are:

Valentines Day 
Mother’s Day 
and
Father’s Day  

In year’s past, I’ve shared on the blog how God is our Divine Valentine, meeting our deepest need for Love, and how He is the Father that we all wish we could have, the One we long for.  But did you know that He is also described in the Bible as a Mother-figure?

In Isaiah 66, God is talking about His people, His rebellious children whom he dearly loves… those for whom He is waiting to turn back to Him.  And He offers this promise of comfort for the time that they return:

As a mother soothes her child,
so I will comfort you.

Isaiah 66:13 (The Voice)


I will comfort you there

like a mother
    comforting her child.
Isaiah 66:13 (CEV)

This offers us a beautiful three-fold truth for this Mother’s Day.

1.  If you need comfort today, God longs to give it to you.  No matter what.  Read on.

2.  God doesn’t give up on US – you and me… those of us reading these words right now.  No matter how old we are or how far we’ve strayed, God continues to wait for us to return to Him and longs to comfort us like a mother longs to comfort her child.  Verse 12 talks about being nursed and carried on the hip, then vs 13 talks about a mother longing to comfort her child.  If we connect those two, think of how a nursing mother longs to comfort her child in both emotional AND physical ways.

This is the maternal love of God toward YOU.  We see Him most often as Father, but if you are missing a Mom today who loves you and comforts you, you have one in God.  And you can gratefully and joyfully celebrate Him on this Mother’s Day!!! 🙂

A Mother's Love. SmellingCoffee.com


3.  God doesn’t give up on OUR KIDS.
 If they are in a place of trouble right now, re-read the paragraphs above and be encouraged.  And pray scripture for them like crazy.  Stormy Omartian has some excellent resources on praying scripture for your children at different ages and stages.  But just know this: When you can’t mother them, God still can.  I’m banking on this for the near future as my nest empties.  God’s arms are longer and stronger than ours, and His love and wisdom are endless. Praise the Lord!

If Mother’s Day is hard for you for any reason – Kids, no kids, difficult kids, Mom, no mom, difficult mom… I am praying for you and asking that today you and I would be very aware of the MANY blessings the Lord has poured upon us through Himself and HIS PRESENCE in our lives.  No matter what, let’s choose to find lots for which to be grateful on this sentimental and emotional holiday and turn it into a celebration of God, who always loves us so. 🙂

Happy Mother’s Day to you all~
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If you have time, this post from 2014 might bring further encouragement. 🙂

The thought of “Mother’s Day” carries so many different emotions, doesn’t it? For me, there is the deep and humble gratitude for 1) having a Godly mother who loves and sacrifices (even now) for her family and children; 2) the fact that she is still very much alive, is my friend, and has an active part our lives; and 3) the undeserved blessing of being able to be a mother to two teenagers of my own.

I do not take these gifts lightly, because right on the heels of those grateful thoughts about my own mother and life, my mind flashes to dear friends of mine who can not claim one or more of the blessings named above. With a tender heart, I am praying for each of them this Mother’s Day. I’m also praying for those of you who can relate to the ones on my heart.

I think of my friends whose Godly, beautiful mothers now live with Jesus. They miss their moms so much! I think of my own mom missing her mom. If this is you on this Mother’s Day, I pray that God pours His peace and joy over your heart as you celebrate the gift He gave you in your mom, and that sweet memories of her will overtake the sorrow of her absence with you this year. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)

My heart is breaking for mothers I know who are missing and grieving their children, especially those moms with children in both Heaven and on Earth – experiencing that everyday tug-o-war between sorrow and joy. For you dear sisters, I pray that God will keep you in His perfect peace as you settle your minds on Him through your trust in Him, even when you don’t understand (from Isaiah 26:3). May God give you His joy this Mother’s Day, His unexplainable and peace-filled joy!

I think of mothers grieving their very-much-alive children who are living a life no mother ever dreams for her baby. For those knowing their children are not walking with the Lord, and for those who have no idea where their children presently are or what they are doing, I know you are praying relentlessly! I join you and pray that Psalm 126:5 will be a reality in your lives: “They who sow in tears shall reap in joy and singing.” A men!

I’m thinking of loved ones who are desperate to be mothers, yet for some (only God-known reason) God has not answered their pleas with a “yes”. This is usually a tremendously hard day for these ladies. I also think of the beautiful women who long to be wives, so that they can, one day, be mothers. For all of you lovely ones, I pray that God will strengthen your heart as you hope in and wait upon Him. (from Psalm 31:24).

I also think of precious children (young and adult) I know who do/did not have mothers who sacrificially loved them and tirelessly, yet joyfully, invested in their lives. Some dear ones grow up with the full awareness that they were not planned nor wanted. Some are abused, ignored, and used by their own mothers. Some have had to act as mothers to their own moms. God has had and will have to do a lot of healing in the hearts of these precious ones, and finding a Mother’s Day card is never an easy or enjoyable task for them. To these loved-so-much-by-God souls, Rick Warren, in Purpose Driven Life, reminds us of this:

“You are not an accident. Your birth was no mistake or mishap, and your life is no fluke of nature. Your parents may not have planned you, but God did…

Regardless of the circumstances of your birth or who your parents are, God had a plan in creating you. It doesn’t matter whether your parents were good, bad, or indifferent. God knew that those two individuals possessed exactly the right genetic makeup to create the custom “you” he had in mind. They had the DNA God wanted to make you…God’s purpose took into account human error, and even sin. God never does anything accidentally, and he never makes mistakes. He has a reason for everything He creates.”   
Rick Warren, Purpose Driven Life

If you haven’t felt loved by your mom, I’m so so sorry! But I’m also so thankful that she chose life, and that the DNA God placed within her was exactly what He needed in order to create YOU!

For those of you who are joyfully and gratefully celebrating this Mother’s Day, I joyfully celebrate with you! And for those of you who will struggle a bit this Mother’s Day, I’m praying often for you.

On this day, and on every other day, as we reflect on what we have and/or what we’re missing, may each one of us cling to the comfort and presence of the Lord – who loves us more than any human being could ever dream.

 

Ann VosKamp - Happy & Grateful

Happy Mother’s Day to each of you, with love and prayers~

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The LORD helps the fallen

and lifts those bent beneath their loads.

The eyes of all look to you in hope;

you give them their food as they need it.

When you open your hand,

you satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing.

The LORD is righteous in everything he does;

he is filled with kindness.

The LORD is close to all who call on him,

yes, to all who call on him in truth.

He grants the desires of those who fear him;

he hears their cries for help and rescues them.

The LORD protects all those who love him,

but he destroys the wicked.I will praise the LORD,

and may everyone on earth bless his holy name
forever and ever.
Psalm 145:14-21, NLT

 

 

 

 

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A MUST HAVE Book for moms, grandmas, parents and caregivers of kids in all ages and stages of life!!!

You know how I love a good book… Right?  Well, my friend, Melanie Redd (whom you have met before on this blog here, and through the Smelling Coffee TV show here) has written an excellent parenting/grand parenting resource that I think is going to be one of those books you’ll read, and re-read through each season of child-rearing… even into the golden grand parenting stage.

It’s called “How to Win Your Child’s Heart for Life – 8 Proven Strategies for Parents”

How to Win Your Child's Heart for Life. MelanieRedd.com SmellingCoffee.com
I wish I had known some of the wisdom she shares when my college-aged children were growing up.  But even now I’ve gleaned some guidance that is working and tying our heart strings tighter together as the apron strings snap apart more and more each day.

 

Her book releases THIS WEEK – in paperback and in ebook form.  The chapters are short – so that busy parents can read them quickly (Good thinking, Mel!).  The book even has discussion questions at the end of each chapter – great for the reader to ponder or to discuss with a reading club or Bible study group.  This would be a great resource or addition for a Mom’s group, MOPS group, or parenting class.

 

How to Win Hearts Promo

~ The paperback version will be ON SALE for $9.99 on Amazon.

~ The Kindle version will also be On SALE for $6.99 on Amazon.

~ Also, the Kindle version will be FREE to everyone who purchases a paperback.

(The sale will last for 2 days – May 4-5!)

I can’t say enough good things about this book.  I’m not promoting this book just because Melanie is my friend (though she is, and I’m SO proud of her for writing and publishing it!), nor am I receiving a thing, kickback, etc from doing so.  I’m sharing this resource with you because I KNOW that it will be an encouragement to some of YOU as you press on in the difficult and scary (but incredible and awesome) calling of parenting.

And… I’m especially passing on this book for the sake of those of you who still have “sweet” preschoolers and elementary school aged children… those of you who have heard the horror stories from those of us who have gone before you… those stories of the day that our precious sweet ones went to bed as angels and woke up as monsters and stayed that way for the next 5-is years… This book will help you navigate that stage.  😉

Melanie calls it the season of “The Dark Side” – and with her 8 proven strategies, you can learn to win and keep your child’s heart, even while they float on the dark side for a while.  Sounds good?  Trust me… You will want to read and re-read this book!

How to Win Hearts 3 Promo
You can get the book or e-book by clicking here.  You might even see my Amazon book review while there:

AWESOME BOOK ALERT: Melanie Redd (MelanieRedd.com) has written a WONDERFUL book on “keeping” your children’s hearts- especially through those *ugly* years. Wish I had read it when I was a young mom… but it’s full of wisdom for moms & grandmas in ALL stages of parenting, and I’m gleaning wisdom & seeing results from it with my college age kid. Trust me – you will want this book! Get it, apply it’s principles, and keep (or begin to win back) the heart of your child. ‪#‎WinHearts‬

Thank you, Melanie, for writing and sharing with us what God has shared with you! I know that many will be blessed and families will be strengthened through this resource. I’m excited to watch how God uses it as parents/grandparents learn to win (and win back) the hearts of their children. 🙂

PS: You’ll also want to be sure and check out Melanie’s encouraging blog at MelanieRedd.com

Let me know if you get the book!  I’ll be so happy for you, your family, and for Melanie, too. 🙂

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To Boycott or Not – What to do with Target? – and 6 Guiding Principles to Consider

To Boycott or Not. SmellingCoffee.com What to do with Target?

I’m sure you’ve seen and read and heard it all… and those who are believers in Jesus Christ are finding themselves on both sides of this “Targeted” issue. Before I share what God has given me, if you aren’t caught up, read these two short articles: Read this article from the American Family Association – […]

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Throwback Thursday: What ARE You Doing, Lord?

When you don't understand what God is doing. SmellingCoffee.com

I was having sweet conversation with a friend last night when she reminded me of this blog post from six years ago.   It’s a question we often ask (or at least think to ourselves) and I’ve been blessed and encouraged by re-reading the timeless answer God gave.  We rarely understand all that God is […]

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Pressing On in the Climb Through God’s Word – Especially When It’s Hard

Pressing on in the Climb through God's Word - especially when it's hard. SmellingCoffee.com

Hi everyone! If we are Instagram or Twitter friends, you’ll know that I’ve been on a trip with my mom to visit my sister and her family out in Castle Rock, Colorado. We just got back after being gone for 10 days – and had the sweetest of times. Though it was hard to leave […]

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16 Years Ago Today – The Day The Lord Healed Me

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I still can hardly think of it without my eyes growing heavy with grateful tears, and my pleas lifting to the Lord on behalf of those longing to have a similar story…      Why me? I still wonder. Only God knows, and I remain humbly in awe.      Today I’m on a trip […]

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It’s After Easter… Now What?

It's After Easter.... Now What? How to grow in your new Easter-found faith. SmellingCoffee.com

So, the grave was empty –  Praise the Lord!  Death no longer has the victory! Jesus has conquered the grave forever!  Satan and his minions have no authority over those who belong to Christ Jesus!!! A men!!!  The enemy came to steal, kill, and destroy, but Jesus… He came so that we might have real and […]

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