The Forgotten Letter & How Jesus Made a Way

Y’all. Jesus is so cool.

You might remember me talking about a male pre-op nurse who was with me before my D&C when I miscarried last September. His name was David and he (without even knowing if I was a believer) got down on his knees beside my bed, held mine and Grayson’s hands, and prayed one of the most beautiful, sincere prayers I’ve ever heard. It was the most beautiful, spirit-filled moment in the midst of such a hard, heartbreaking day and just had such an impact on me. I’ll never forget it.

I couldn’t stop thinking about it, so I wrote him a letter a few weeks later and was trying to figure out how to get it to him (I was afraid to mail it to the hospital because I was afraid it would get lost or just never make it to him) when I met a mom at the park while our boys played together. We got to talking, she told me she was a nurse, and come to find out, she knew David and worked with him a few times a week! I couldn’t believe it, and I told her that I’d love to give her the letter to give him, and she said that she absolutely would, and she knew it would mean so much to him (this happened sometime in October).

Well, time passed and although we exchanged numbers, we never got together for me to give her the letter and I eventually just kind of forgot about it.

But last week, I was cleaning out my van and found the letter under my seat. So, I started praying that I would find a way to get it to him and tucked it into the glove box.

Meanwhile, I was selling some things in a Facebook group and a girl messaged me to buy one of the dresses. I recognized the spelling of her name and realized it was that nurse I had met at the park all those months ago! So, today when she picked up the dress, she got the letter to give to David and we just laughed in wonder at how amazing our Father is to work things out in His perfect timing. I don’t know what David is going through right now, but maybe there’s a reason God allowed me to get this letter to him at this specific time.

All this to say, that Jesus cares about the details and I love to see a prayer come full circle like this. He’s a God who makes a way, who goes before us, and who works all things together for our good and His glory 😭🙌🏻

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Dusty Ceiling Fans + The Unseen Work of Motherhood

My husband and I are ceiling fan people. We never turn it off; let alone try and sleep without it. In fact, there is only one light switch panel on the wall in our bedroom, and it doesn’t even have two switches – which is fine… because it’s not like we’d use it and give the poor thing a break. The only time we turn it off is once in a blue moon when I decide it’s time to clean the blades – something I, admittedly, don’t do nearly often enough.

I am here to tell you, that if you leave a ceiling fan on 24/7/365 and then turn it off, it’s going to resemble a wild animal. Dust somehow clings to the blades that are spinning around at a thousand million turns a minute and it grows and leaves you with quite an ugly mess that, if you’re like me, kind of makes you wish you’d never turned it off to begin with.

So, a few days ago, I climbed up on our queen sized bed, pulled the string, and watched the blades as they slowed to a stop. Sure enough, the blades were covered in sticky, fluffy, grey stuff that was enough to embarrass me even though I was alone. We have the kind of fan that has removable blades (praise Jesus), so I took them down, one by one, let them soak in our bathtub filled with cleaner, gave them a little scrub and rinse, and laid them out to dry. As I was putting them back up, it dawned on me that this little task sure was a lot of work for something no one would even notice. I mean, if I hadn’t turned the fan off, no one would have been able to see the dust and it would have just kept spinning and everything would have been just fine, right?

I also hate getting the oil changed in my car. It takes time, sometimes you have to make an appointment, it’s expensive, and you can’t even tell you’ve done it. It’s not like a car wash with color changing lights and pretty soap where after $6 you come out in a sparkly silver Honda Oddessy ready to hit the Chick-fil-a drive thru in style. If you know, you know.

But, you know what? If you don’t clean your ceiling fan, you’ll be breathing air that’s less than fresh and eventually it will probably burn out the motor. If you don’t get an oil change… something bad will happen… I’ll ask Grayson and get back to ya on that one (haha). But, my point is that sometimes, I would even argue that most of the time, the unseen things matter far more than we can see in the moment.

Because I’m a visual person in an age of instant gratification, it’s hard for me to grasp the concept of doing things that don’t seem to make a difference. I couldn’t be more different than my sweet Mama in that way – because my idea of a “clean house” is everything looking spotless, and not giving a second thought to closets that erupt like volcanoes if you open them too swiftly. My Mama, who is full of wisdom and quite the perfectionist, has a much different idea of “cleaning.” For her, it starts in the silverware drawer, takes her to a perfectly organized linen closet, and so on and so forth. She does things from the inside out, and my tendency to do the opposite is something I have a feeling I’ll spend the rest of my adult life trying to overcome.

But like many wives and mothers who have gone before us, wisdom is earned and comes with years of experience. The unseen work of motherhood has paid off for those who have gone before us, and it will for us one day, too. Because although right now it may not seem to matter how many times a day we correct our children by saying, “yes mam” every time they reply with, “yeah” or how many times we practice the ABC’s in the car with our four year olds when we’d rather be getting lost in our favorite songs or how often we wipe little hineys and clean soiled sheets… it does matter. Motherhood is holy work and the unseen parts of it are meant to sanctify us and reveal to us even greater depths of our dependence on our Heavenly Father and how much He loves us, His children.

So, here’s to clean ceiling fans and holding tight to our Savior’s promise that He began a great work in us and will see it to completion. If He has called you to be a Mama, He will equip you and use you and the small seeds you’re planting right now will make a difference in the years to come.

My Favorite Spinach + Artichoke Dip

I just realized that I’ve somehow never shared this recipe here on Coffee Date With Kate before, and it has been a long-time favorite! I’m talking, I’ve been making this for at least 10 years and it never gets old! This hearty, warm dip is so easy to throw together and such a crowd pleaser!

Ingredients:

1 box of frozen spinach, thawed and drained

1 can of artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

1/2 container of chive and onion cream cheese, softened to room temperature

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 clove of minced garlic

1/4 cup onion, finely chopped

salt and pepper to taste

onion salt, seasoning salt, everything bagel seasoning (whatever you want) to taste

1 bag of mozzarella cheese (most of it goes inside the dip, but save a little to go on top)

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Instructions:

Mix everything together in a large bowl, reserving about 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese to add to the top just before baking.

Spray baking dish (I use a round pie plate) with cooking spray, add mixture to dish, and top with remaining cheese.

Bake at 375 uncovered for about 20 minutes until cheese is melty and golden around the edges.

Serve immediately with tortilla chips or crusty bread. Yum!

End of year thoughts // 2020

My dear friend Meredith, who is a very talented photographer, takes our family pictures every year and I’m so grateful! It blows me away each year how much the kids grow and change in just 12 months, so I think it’s important to document and capture each season for us to be able to look back on one day.

Landon and Harper are about the same size, although 24 months apart, and we get asked if they’re twins all the time. They’re at a sweet spot in their relationship, where they love playing together and really just adore each other. They beg to sleep together at night, ask where the other is over and over if one is with the grandparents or if Landon is at school, and they love to snuggle up for morning cartoons or bedtime stories. I am so grateful for their closeness and I pray everyday that they’ll always feel a special bond and that Jesus will protect their hearts from unforgiveness, competitive spirits, and comparison as they grow older.

This has been a long, hard year – not just for us – but for so many families we know and love. So many of us have lost loved ones this year, watched people suffer from depression and loneliness, and watched beloved small businesses close their doors because of this pandemic and the economic shut down. There has been so much hate and division between the American people – because of racial tensions, opinions about the “best way” to navigate this pandemic, and of course… over the infamous 2020 election that has left our nation in limbo and left many of us frustrated and skeptical. People have struggled financially, carried more burdens than ever, and felt so much fear and uncertainty.

In so many ways, I’m thankful to see 2020 go. It’s not that I believe the calendar rolling over to January 1, 2021 will bring about any magical clean slate, but I do love the turning of a New Year because it’s a subtle reminder that it’s never too late to start over, that we’re never “too far gone” to begin again, and that His mercies are new every morning. I’m looking forward to 2021 with confident expectation of what the Lord will do. He’s a good, good Father – in the midst of the heartache, in the midst of the disappointment, and in the midst of the unknown.

I haven’t spent as much time writing as I’d have liked to this past year and so that’s one (of many things) I’d like to begin making time for again as we start a fresh, new year. I’m not a big fan of resolutions, but I do believe that it’s important and healthy to look back on the past year and assess areas where we can do better, for our mental, spiritual, and physical health.

Best wishes to you and your family as you finish out 2020 and welcome 2021, friends! And as always, thank you for reading and keeping up with my little family through the years.

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

Isaiah 43:19

Matching Christmas Pajamas

Since we all need a little extra Christmas cheer this year, we decided to get matching pajamas and ya’ll… it’s just so much fun! I love these red and black buffalo check pajamas from Iffei. They are so soft and fit true to size. I was really pleased with the quality of these pajamas – they are made well and just perfect for lounging around the house, opening presents on Christmas morning, or snuggling up and watching Christmas movies!

Iffei offers so many cute pajama sets, it was hard to choose a favorite! Click here to see the wide variety they offer on Amazon.

Some of my other favorite styles:

These Christmas Vacation pajamas

These Elf pajamas

These “Mama Bear,” “Papa Bear,” and “Baby Bear” pajamas

Thanks so much to Iffei for providing the pajamas featured in this post. As always, all opinions are my own.

Count it all joy

Theres a big bulletin board hanging in my kitchen that holds so many memories… both recent and from what seems like a lifetime ago. I’m feeling so thankful for each of these people today- family and friends who feel like family- and for frozen moments in time that we get to remember with them forever ❤️✨

But, I wouldn’t be telling the full truth if I didn’t say that I’m feeling a little sad too. You see, this bulletin board hangs right beside our back door and the sunlight from the window has, slowly, over time, faded the ultrasound pictures I had hanging on it from when Landon and Harper were growing in my belly. I don’t mind that they’ve faded, I have more in baby books and between the crinkled pages of my Bible. But, as I was taking them down and rearranging and making room for new memories to go up on the board, I couldn’t help but wonder if I’ll ever have another ultrasound picture of a sweet little profile. I couldn’t help but remember the sound of Landon and Harper’s heartbeats and think about the hours I spent studying every curve on those little black and white images and praying over the people they’d one day become.

Grief. It hits you when you least expect it. When you stop to do a simple task between unloading the dishwasher and folding loads of laundry. When you haven’t even had time yet today to stop and think about the hurt in your heart. It creeps up quietly and suddenly, you’re thinking more about what you’ve lost than what you’ve been given. I stopped, stood back, and looked at this beautiful reminder of friendship and loyalty and growth and change and the Lord’s faithfulness and provision, and I chose joy. Of course, part of me is still sad. Part of me still has questions that will probably never be answered. But in the midst of it all, I choose joy. And whatever you’re going through today, you can too. Because just look at all we have to be thankful for. Let’s not miss it, friends ❤️😭🙌🏻 He’s a good, good Father.

Count it all joy and let Him carry you through.

From Shadows of Sadness to Warmth of Hope

It all feels so complicated. There are so many layers to grief. Today is the first day of October and for a few weeks in early spring, I thought we’d be welcoming baby #3 this month. Grayson was so sweet and so excited. He wondered if the baby might share his birthday. We talked about names. And then, I lost the baby. I suppressed the sadness and disappointment and just moved right along, justifying it by deciding that if I hadn’t taken a test so early, I might have not even realized that I was miscarrying and that it was so early, I didn’t even need to go to the doctor to be checked out. Fast forward several months and we were filled again with hope and excitement and awe and wonder over who the little person growing in my womb might be- only to lose yet another baby, twice as far along, and be left with far more questions than answers. I decided keeping it all to myself wasn’t the healthiest route, so I shared my story and was blown away by the outpouring of love and encouragement we received and by the number of women I know and love who have suffered in silence for years over babies they too have had the opportunity to carry in their hearts, but never in their arms.

This kind of grief is confusing and complicated. We can be so filled with joy, yet be angry and frustrated at the same time. We can ask God, “WHY?!” while in the very next breath, thank Him for what He’s given us and for His perfect plan that we know is for our good and His glory. This kind of grief is complicated because one minute we can be laughing and pushing our babies in a swing at the park, and the next minute completely overcome with the kind of ache only a mother who has lost a child understands when we see another mom nursing her newborn on a bench while watching her older kids play. We wonder if we’ll ever have that privilege again and feel heartache. And we thank Jesus that we’ve had that privilege before and feel honored. It’s complicated. It comes in waves and sometimes, it can be hard to see the sunshine through the trees. It can be easy to miss the joy because of the hurt. It can be easy to become more focused on the gift than the Giver. And that’s when we have to step out of the shadows of sadness, into the warmth of hope. We have to preach the Gospel to ourselves and remind ourselves that our Father loves us and can use heartache for good if we let Him. We have to talk about the complexity and overwhelming nature of the grief we’re sifting through and do the messy work of tilling our own hearts because it’s our own hearts that Jesus has entrusted to raise little disciples. Motherhood is kingdom work, and like grief itself- it’s complicated and messy and hard. But trusting Jesus to hold our hand and walk with us through it makes every step of the journey worth it. Step into hope with me today, friends. Whatever season you’re walking through, choose hope and cling to the Father.

Healing

I still get a little teary-eyed on our walks to the grocery store. We walk to the store now because we want to, but there was a time not long ago that we did it because we had to. We were a one car family for two years, and it was a hard season. But during that time, I learned so much. I learned that it’s okay to ask for help. I learned that sometimes doing things the unconventional way makes for some unforgettable memories. I learned that when they’re that little, your kids don’t know that you have less than other people. Especially if you can find a way to make the struggles feel like an adventure. I learned the meaning of “this too shall pass.” And most importantly, I learned that Jesus was (quite literally) walking with me every step of the way.

Today, it started raining just as we got home from our walk to the store and I couldn’t stop the tears of thankfulness from flowing- partly because I was glad it held out til we got back- but mostly because I couldn’t stop thinking how Jesus washes away the hurt of hard seasons over time if we let Him. Just as we can’t miss the beauty in the midst of pain, we have to trust that healing is possible.

We’re in the midst of a very different hard season right now, but our walk this morning reminded me not to wish it away, but to instead ask, “Jesus, what are You teaching me through this? Don’t let me miss it.”

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
and He will make straight your paths.”
Proverbs 3:5-6

Beach Recommendations (food, treats, shopping) // OKI + Southport Area

I haven’t been blogging much lately because to be quite honest, I’m out of media space and it costs an arm and a leg to upgrade my WordPress account (that I already pay a small fee per year for my domain name). Somehow, blog posts just seem a little less magical with only words and no pictures, but maybe that’s just because I love a good photograph and also, I’m a very visual learner.

Anyway, I decided to share a little bit about our favorite places around the Southport and Oak Island area so that if you’re ever vacationing there, you can enjoy the same places that we love!

I have been going to Fort Caswell with our ladies’ group at church for years, so I have been familiar with Southport for a while, but this past week was my first time ever staying at Oak Island and honestly, I think it is my favorite beach I’ve ever stayed at. I have stayed at Holden Beach, Myrtle and North Myrtle Beach, Garden City, Morehead City, Cape Carteret, and Folly and Isle of Palms (Charleston) and out of all of those, Oak Island is my favorite.

Restaurants:

The Frying Pan

Location – Right on the water in Southport (319 W Bay Street, Southport, NC 28461)

Atmosphere – The entire wall facing the water inside is glass so you have a beautiful view of the ocean facing Bald Head Island and Fort Caswell and you can also eat outside and it’s shaded which is nice during the hottest months. This is a great place to go for a date night or to get dressed up and go with your girlfriends… not as casual as other places but not too fancy, either.

What I love – The blackened shrimp wrap, the shrimp po boy with thai dressing, the shrimp and grits (you can get grilled or fried shrimp!), their homemade chips, and best of all… their sweet potato biscuits (an appetizer… they are melt-in-your-mouth delicious and I never go without getting them!)

Provision Company

Location – Right on the water in Southport (130 Yacht Basin Drive, Southport, NC 28461)

Atmosphere – So casual, it’s not even funny! The entire establishment is pretty much just outside with a cover, and lots of people pull right up to the dock, hop out of their boats, and grab a quick bite to eat. Don’t let the line turn you away; it moves more quickly than you’d expect. There are plastic chairs and tables and drinks are self-serve. You have a beautiful view of the water!

What I love – I can never decide between the crab cake sandwich or the blackened yellow fin grilled tuna sandwich, so I usually make whoever is with me get one and I get the other and then we split! You also can’t go wrong with “thee special” or the blackened yellowfin tuna on a salad! I also tried a bite of my sister-in-law’s grouper salad sandwich (think chicken salad, but made with grouper instead) and it was amazing!

Note: I have been to the Provision Company at Holden Beach… and it’s not nearly as good! I realize this is a bit of an unpopular opinion (ha!) and I’m not sure why I feel this way, but ya’ll know I just tell it like I see it and Southport’s Pro Co is better… hands down!

Kai Joes

Location – 4722 E Oak Island Drive, Oak Island, NC 28465

Atmosphere – Super casual, outdoor seating at picnic tables

What I love – The avocado bites (fried avocado slices with spicy ranch dipping sauce… so heavenly), buffalo cauliflower bites (also comes with spicy ranch), the “Uncle Swilly’s Quesadilla” (a huge quesadilla big enough to split with spicy chicken, tater tots, grilled onions and peppers, spicy ranch, thai curry BBQ, and cheese).

Desserts:

Sunset Slush

We fell in love with Sunset Slush when we stayed at Holden Beach and we were so excited when we found out there is also one at Oak Island! If you buy a koozie, you can take it with you and get it refilled for $5 (and we usually split that). Also, they have a cart that comes down the beach (and it tastes even better when you’re hot and need a break from boogie boarding haha) so we keep a koozie in our beach bag as well.

Location – 6006 E Oak Island Drive, Oak Island, NC 28465

Burney’s Bakery

I fell in love with Burney’s years ago and I still think the croissants are even better than a fresh Krispy Kreme doughnut. They have a huge selection of croissants that are made fresh every morning (and ya better get there early because they sell out sometimes). My all-time favorite is the chocolate but we also love the german chocolate, orange creme, raspberry filled, cream cheese, Bavarian creme, apple, and cinnamon sugar flavors.

They also have all kinds of baked goods and pastries that I look at every time and have still yet to try. We always make at least one trip to Burney’s if we’re close by and usually leave with a dozen to bring home.

Location – 808 N Howe Street, Southport, NC 28461

Note: A Burney’s Bakery did open a year or two ago in Charlotte but I won’t go because first of all, I’ve heard it isn’t as good, and second of all… some things just need to be special while you’re on vacation, ya know?

OKI Scoop Shop and Donuts

This little gem has the best ice cream and the best donuts. Everything is good.

Location – 4922 E Oak Island Drive, Oak Island, North Carolina

Shopping:

I’m not a big fan of shopping at the beach (you’ll probably never catch me dead spending a day at the outlets or anything like that when I could be on the beach) but there are a few little locally owned shops we love to visit when we’re in the area!

Ocean Outfitters

This might be my husband’s favorite store in the entire world. They have everything he loves (brands like Chubbies, Patagonia, Old Row, Columbia, Hey Dude, Yeti, etc.) and I love it too.

Location: Downtown Southport (21 East Moore Street, Southport, NC 28461)

Strands

This is where we bought our Shibumi Shade and the kids Yeti cups. They have a great selection of clothes, beach gear, and sun protection (we also buy Sun Bum products here).

Location: 5319 E Oak Island Drive, Oak Island, NC 28465


Grayson, my father-in-law, my brother-in-law, and Landon took a backwater fishing charter one morning and caught several flounder and a sheepshead (which Grayson cooked us for dinner and it was delicious!) and Landon caught the first fish of the day – a six pound flounder – and it was a highlight of the trip! Unfortunately, they weren’t able to keep the flounder (thanks a lot, Roy Cooper) but it was still a sweet memory (and you can see a picture of my proud four-year-old-fisherman on instagram (@coffeedatewithkate). They took Angry Pelican Charters and had a great experience!

On our last night, Grayson and I took the kids out to the point at the end of the island and it was so peaceful and beautiful at sunset. It was one of my favorite moments of the trip!

I also spent more time with my nose stuck in a book than I’ve been able to in years, which was so nice! I read a book called Sea Born Women (by B J. Mountford) that I found on a bookshelf in the beach house we stayed at and it may be one of my favorite novels I’ve ever read! I never wanted it to end!


I’m sure there are a lot of other great places in the area that I don’t know about yet and I look forward to going back and visiting the spots I already love again and trying new ones as well! If you have a favorite spot nearby that I didn’t mention, leave a comment below!

Brown Shugga Oat Cookies

Okay, first of all… I wish I could take credit for this delicious recipe, but it’s not mine. I didn’t even tweak it a little, like I usually do, because nothing Ree Drummond does needs tweaking. She’s pretty much my foodie crush, and I’m almost positive that I’ve seen every single episode of Pioneer Woman, like ever.

These cookies are thin and chewy and buttery and just delicious. The edges have a satisfying lacy texture and you literally can not eat just one!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 cups old fashioned oats

Instructions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 and line your baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer (or using a hand mixer) beat together the butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add vanilla, then add eggs, one at a time. Be sure to scrape the bowl as you go!
  • Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda in a medium sized bowl. Add it into the creamed mixture slowly until just combined.
  • Stir in the oats until just combined.
  • Use a cookie scoop (or a regular spoon) to drop dough onto baking sheet, spacing them a couple inches apart. They do spread out when they bake, so keep this in mind when you space them out.
  • Bake for 11 minutes.
  • Yum! Serve with ice cold milk or coffee!

To see Ree Drummond’s post about these cookies, click here