I’m happy you’re here. I’ll go first: I’m a full-time journalist turned work-at-home writer. I’m hitched to a shaggy-haired pastor and we’re smitten with two wild + crazy boys: Joseph (4) and Asher (1). I drink strong coffee, I like pretty things, and I believe there’s beauty in the broken.
I hope this little space will encourage you to find worth and live a story worth sharing.
What is Many Sparrows?
This little corner of the Internet aims to encourage women, spurring them on to find worth and live a story worth sharing.
God tells us He cares about the little things — even down to a teeny, tiny sparrow. And if He cares about a little bird, how much more does He care about us — who are worth far more than many sparrows? Let’s dwell in the truth that He loves us with an arms-stretched-out kind love. Let’s rest easy, knowing we’re valued, loved, and worth more than we can even fathom.
I’m a person who’s blemished and blessed. All good things in my life flow from Jesus. My mission is to reflect his generous, grace-filled love with all my heart, soul, and mind. I’m passionate about shedding religious cliches and living an authentic, Kingdom life. Sometimes I get frustrated and often times I fail. I’m a work in progress.
Find Your Worth & Live a Story Worth Telling
My heart is to use this corner of the Internet to make much of Jesus. To use my words to reflect the creator of all things who gives extravagant grace, who radiates beauty and light in a very dark world.
I’m a mama of two little boys, and sometimes I just need a space to talk about things like shift dresses and wedge booties and dry shampoo. Let’s share our secrets, shall we?
Motherhood is messy. My hope is that my words + stories can be an encouragement to you in your parenting journey.
Community is so important. There’s nothing like sitting face-to-face, across the table, joining in conversation with someone. There’s an intimacy to the table — an insight that can only be gleaned over a warm cup on a cold day.
Which is why, in partnership with Old Factory Coffee Shop, we’re throwing open the doors of the giveaway and offering everyone — local or not! — easy ways to enter “The Way of Tea and Justice” tea prize pack.
We want you to remember, each time you sip out of this hand-lettered campfire mug, that you matter. That there are folks out there who are grateful for you. We want you to invite someone over for (some of the Old Factory Coffee Shop’s whole leaf!) tea and slow down, just for a minute, in the midst of holiday hustle. And we want you to read Becca Steven’s words about empowering women over a cup of fairly-traded tea and we want you to see how we’re all connected, even in this great big, messy world of ours.
As soon as you set off on the adoption journey , as you start walking down the path of pregnancy — you realize something. Your little one isn’t here yet, but this parenting thing? It’s already hard and there’s no map to get you were you need to go.
The path of parenthood is amazing and beautiful and really, really, challenging. It pushes and grows and blesses in the best ways, but being a mother or father is certainly not easy. Parenting is hard.
Today, I have the privilege of sharing my compassionate and intelligent friend Rachel’s post on parenting for National Adoption Month. Rachel is a family therapist dedicated to serving parents and children in the thick of it. She works for an adoption agency, but her counseling is far reaching and she walks alongside many families who are in the trenches, adoption-related or not. Soak up her words, friends.
This parenting gig is hard. I’d like to say that I am an expert — I have the fancy degree in Counseling Psychology and I get to (emphasis on the get to) work with the most remarkable families every day. I get to soak in their wisdom. Soak in it. Their words. Their laughter. Their heartfelt tears. At some point, I keep telling myself that someday all of this wisdom all around me just has to soak in my pores and embed itself in the deepest places…so that I can deliver the best results on autopilot and not have to feel the sting of all of the times that I, too, utterly fail my boys as their mom.
But then, I also tell myself that autopilot is not what human beings were made to do. It isn’t what we are made to be.
We are made for being raw.
We are made for being real. We are made for screwing up. Royally screwing it all up. And then owning it and coming back together.
Children come to us in the most vulnerable of ways.
Whether or not they come out of our bodies or are birthed into our souls through other means…this fact does not differ. Little ones need — demand — EVERYTHING from us. In those first moments when the reality hits us this that this little person is ours, an unconscious decision is made. This little person will and now does OWN my heart. My every fear, my every insecurity from this moment, every future moment, and every moment from my past is now OWNED by this little being.
He will bring forth from me my very best moments.
Those moments when I feel so alive just by gazing at his hair made wet from deep in sleep sweaty curls. Those moments when I catch him loving his brother with his words and his gaze…words that I know because they are mine. Those moments when I hear him laughing with delight as he discovers that he can make others smile with his deliciously precious grin.
Then…there are other times. The times when just looking at him, hearing him…hurts. Flashes of anger so palatable that I swear my words can slice through bone and marrow. How can I be so filled to the brim with such venom? How can I spew its vile poison at such a precious boy before I catch up to myself and shut my mouth up?
My heart is raw with emotion as he encounters the first moments of social pain, the not being chosen, not feeling good enough moments… and I reel. He sits on my lap and sobs the guttural tears from deep within and I do everything I can to hold him close and let him feel his own pain willing myself to remain emotionally present with him and let my arms be the container to hold it all.
Sometimes I can. Other times I utter the words that I know so much better than to say. But because I am shaken. That which I thought I was over and done with…becomes not so over and done. And I am not available. “Suck it up!” “Toughen up!” “Grow up!” I lob these words with ferocity. Not because I mean them. I say them because the feelings are too much. I need them to stop. I can’t help him because I am mired in the old junk.
Parenting is so hard.
It is this way because it is always an invitation to mire deeper in our places of shame and brokenness.
This is the easy way. We react from our subconscious places and we repeat our patterns of pain and imprint them upon our children. A cycle is perpetuated or established anew.
It is also an invitation to move our own stories toward redemption. This is the harder way. It is painful. It requires presence. We must feel pain. We must connect it to our own stories and release its sting. This is purposeful. This is NOT autopilot.
We journal. We pray. We learn the language of our own narratives which reside not only in our heads, hearts, but also in our bodies.
We learn when to lean in and when to walk away for a time in order to catch our breath and then return to complete what we began.
We allow ourselves to feel our own pain while we feel theirs and see how the marriage of both together can actually make all of us stronger. We learn to swallow our pride and say we are sorry when we mess up because we acknowledge that our children need to witness that their grown-up people do mess up and can model ownership of their short comings.
When we mess up and apologize, we acknowledge our commitment to our own growth so that we can also model learning to do things another way.
Parenting often feels as if I am wearing all of my insides outside. All of my soft stuff is most exposed to the hard edges of the world through my babies. The bumps and scrapes hurt so much more. But also, from the place of this inside out sort of living comes the most profound love and source of purpose.
May I never develop callouses.
I have to confess something: I’ve always been a coffee girl. Give me mug brimming with a fresh pour-over (hold the cream and sugar), and I’ll give you a hug and a coffee-stained grin. Coffee. It’s kind of my thing.
All that to say: I’ve been reading “The Way of Tea and Justice” with giant eyes as I’ve followed Becca Stevens on her beautiful journey of discovering the power behind a cup of tea…and wow. Coffee people, keep reading. There’s good stuff ahead. (And a local cafe collaboration, and giveaway, so really, keep reading. You know you want to know what #randomactofgratitude is all about!)
Becca is the founder of Thistle Farms, a co-op that comes alongside women recovering from trafficking and abuse. She also started Thistle Stop Cafe in Nashville, which helps those survivors heal as cafe workers, and connects them with women who harvest tea overseas, who are now finding freedom and dignity in fair wages.
Becca weaves her own stories together with the women she’s worked with as well as tea’s riveting history. I found myself surprised with how engaging tea’s history really is. It’s so big and global and yet nothing I’ve ever known…or maybe have ever cared to know.
I’m so thankful to have been able to curl up with this and soak in Becca’s wisdom and beautiful style of writing as she narrates her journey to justice by way of tea.
She shares the heartbeat behind Thistle Stop Cafe:
“Trafficking is a direct result of silence and ignorance by communities. It is rooted in the desire to keep the sickness of addiction and child abuse secret. The more light we can shed and the more we can help educate the population, the safer our whole community will be. The cafe would provide pastors and friends a place to bring folks who were abused and scared to speak their truth.”
In “The Way of Tea and Justice,” Becca beautifully takes us down paths and weaves us around corners — while gently holding our hands. She has a penchant for prose and a pastor’s heart (she’s actually ordained) — and that shines in her words. Her act-local, think-global perspective is a balm to the me-me-me culture we so often see.
“When we drink tea, we are connected to every other tea drinker in the world by the virtue of the common plant and the global trade. A woman who has taken off her burka in the safety of a friend’s parlor in Saudi Arabia is having a common experience of fellowship to that of a man walking into the famous London department store Harrod’s for an afternoon tea. A new mom leaning over a small stove heating water in rural Kenya is sharing the anticipation that a woman in Tokyo feels in a high-rise downtown after a long day of work.“
At that point in the book I was practically running to our cupboards to see what kind of old teabag I could cull out from beneath old Halloween candy.
In all seriousness, Becca’s profound paragraphs about the poverty of tea pickers in Rwanda — a country known for importing organic and fair-trade tea to the States — did get me thinking. What does the tea trade look like? How are we connected? How do we live a walk of compassion and grace?
“My time in Rwanda reminds me that we are all connected. We are connected just like all the tea plants come from the same roots. The women who grow and pick the leaves are connected to the consumers. The women who will serve this tea at the Thistle Stop Cafe will forever be connected to the growers of this tea. If we can remind ourselves of the connection, we can build a world of fairer-traded tea.”
“The Way of Tea and Justice” is one of those books that you want to hand-off to a friend so she (or he!) can dwell in the pages, too. And, most importantly, so you can gather around a table, making the pages come alive, giving thanks and dreaming together about little things to make our big world just a little better.
Becca writes often about gratitude and community, and I’m excited to share that this little blog of mine is collaborating with The Old Factory, a local coffee (and tea!) shop with #randomactofgratitude. Because we believe there is power in community, right where you are. And we really believe there’s power in giving thanks. And we think “The Way of Tea and Justice” is so good, we’re teaming up with the book’s publisher to give a copy away to one of you, too.
World-changing lies in whispered dreams shared in the corner booth of a local cafe. World-changing lies in giving thanks and breaking bread and hands grasped around a thick mug. World-changing lies in us with the power His spirit. Can you believe it?
I want you to know, my local friends and my online tribe, that I’m grateful for you.
So, join us with a #randomactofgratitude. Grab your phone and Instagram a photo of your #randomactofgratitude. Tag me (@kaylacraig) and The Old Factory (@oldfactorycoffeeshop) and you’re entered to win:
A hardcover copy of “The Way of Tea and Justice“, a gorgeous hand-lettered mug, and one ounce of hand-blended whole leaf tea.
Becca writes this, and it echoes my heart, too:
“What makes the tea of life sweet for me is the freedom to act on what I believe. It is so sweet to have a dream of community and then to find a space and a group of people who offer one another the resources to act on that dream. The cup we have been given is sweetened with prayer and also with walks in the woods that let dreams steep among old oaks and ancient rocks.”
Disclaimer: Affiliate links used when applicable.