It started with five words.
“We are writing a book!”
And it ended with something I did not expect.
On Saturday, April 2nd, I stood in a room in Sacramento, California, with over 150 people who were there to celebrate Coffee + Crumbs and the humble words we have offered to the world every month. I got to see my friends from Sacramento loved on by their people, and I got to hug and laugh with the writers who have made me better in more ways than I can tell you. We gave hugs to readers and thanked them for coming, we tried our best to read essays without crying and we failed miserably, and then we stayed up until 1:00 in the morning eating In ‘N Out Burger and talking about the future of Coffee + Crumbs with literal tired eyes and full hearts.
It would be impossible to name a favorite moment of the weekend, but one of them had to be a walk along the river with Sonya. We had the latest flights out, with two hours and a sunny day we had to take advantage of. We talked about politics and social ills, she shared about her three months young adoption of a beautiful three-year-old girl from China and what that has meant for her family dynamics, and I talked about Cannon and what he has meant for my faith and my marriage and my heart. And as I chatted with Sonya about so many things, I was reminded that our best writing does not come from the easiest things in life, but the hardest. And you know, the hardest things are also where I have met Jesus the most—so there is certainly something to that. Shauna Niequist once said that all writers want good stories to write, but God is going to make you live them first. This, friends, is one of the truest things I know about writing.
Less than a week later, back home in Spokane, we were getting ready for one more launch party to book-end a week of celebration. Around 12:00pm on Thursday I heard a knock at my door. My husband went to answer it and immediately I heard “surprise!” and yelling and hugging and laughter. When I walked around the corner to the front door there was Emily, my best friend who had flown in from Atlanta (!!!) with her precious duaghter to show up for this little local book launch.
Cue the ugly tears.
This is the same woman who got three kids under five years old in the car and drove five hours by herself when I was in labor with Cannon to make it to the delivery room in time for his birth, so I should not have been surprised. But I was. I was totally shocked and speechless with gratitude. Showing up for people is the greatest gift we can give them, and I know that not because I have done it perfectly, but because Emily has done it for me.
Ashlee Gadd flew in Friday night, we splurged like rockstars and got our makeup done by my favorite makeup artists on Saturday, the books never made it off the UPS truck for delivery so my sweet Dad drove around Spokane buying every copy he could find, and then we got ready to party thanks to my mom and Tannya and my talented MIL who handmade all the gorgeous desserts.
And one by one, people started filling in. I wish I could articulate what this felt like.
You’re here! You’re really here for us, for this book! You showed up! I felt underserving the entire time, like all these people got duped and were really there for the wine. But they weren’t. They were there to celebrate something with me and Ashlee, and they did just that. I want to name every single woman who came and tell each of them how truly grateful I was for their presence, but just know this: I will never, ever forget the night that 70 people gathered together with delight in their eyes. Never. I was on the verge of tears for two straight hours because of them, because of people. It was love in real life, and it was perfect.
It makes total sense to me that Jesus is all about people, and all about showing up.
So now I sit on the back end of this amazing experience, reflective and introspective and humbled all at once.
Writing a book is, with few exceptions, every writer’s dream. Just ask them. Often times the content of said book is only loosely defined, but most of us have allowed ourselves to think about it—to picture a cover with our name on it, imagining it on shelves at Barnes and Noble and ourselves sitting at a table signing hundreds of copies.
So when an email came into my inbox from Ashlee Gadd with those five words in it, I saw the first step towards every writer’s dream handed to me.
And y’all, it has been a dream. It has been the sweetest gift to write a book with a team of women whom I both admire and love, who have made me laugh hysterically and cry uncontrollably, who have taught me and challenged me and encouraged me and loved me. I have a new respect for Ashlee, who has spent countless hours working on this dream and sacrificing so much so that we could all have a small piece of it.
But what I did not expect, and maybe I should have, is this: nothing about my real life has changed.
We wrote a book, and so far, people really like it. (All the praise hands!) But I feel the same today as I did over a year ago, perhaps slightly more humble. I struggle with the same sin. I fail at parenting in many of the same ways. I get my priorities mixed up in the same manner I always have. I got something I always wanted, and the best thing it did for me was remind me that it is not what I needed. Not the book or the applause or the attention, anyway.
But isn’t this the very thing we fail to believe all the time? That when we get what we have always wanted our lives will change; that we will be content, accomplished, we will be someone.
To the only audience that matters in the end, we won’t. We will never be more or less than we are right now, because the most important work in our lives is what Jesus did on the cross and that was finished long ago. This is a paradox that used to baffle me, but not just leaves me grateful.
Still, book launch week has also given me something I did need: a whole lot of perspective and whole lot of amazing people. And in the end, this is a story about people; about the gratitude my heart feels when I think about them, and about how, if I have learned anything in the past two weeks, it is that I want to be for people, I want to be someone who shows up.
We hope you love the book, because we sure loved writing it, and we are very proud of the hard-fought words that fill up its pages. It would be all we could ask for to know that those words made a small, meaningful difference in the story of your motherhood. But when this work is a distant memory, when we are all reading and celebrating the next thing, we hope you remember Jesus and people, and what love for each of them looks like in real life.
I leave you with this memory from an amazing two weeks of book launches, because it perfectly captures so much of it.
I mentioned that the books we ordered for the party in Spokane did not arrive in time for the party, but we really wanted to at least fill the pre-orders that night. I called my Dad, who had already offered to help in any way we needed, and asked him if he wouldn’t mind spending a few hours in the car and grabbing every copy of the book he could find around town. Without hesitation, he said yes, hopped in the car and was on his way.
Ten minutes later, as my Dad was on the freeway headed to the northside of town for the first stop, I got a text from him:
“Katie, what is the title of your book again?”
Stay small, friends.