Your parenting storiesWhile I’m on a bit of a summer blog break I’ve invited friends in different ages and stages of parenting to come and put their feet up on my Cheerios-strewn sofa and share a few of their stories with us. On Monday we heard a mother’s advice to her daughters. Today I’ve invited a daughter to share. My (blog) sister, Hillary, who is a poet, a new wife and magical weaver of words. I want to study what her mother did to raise a daughter with such soul beauty.

In the past three years, my mother has given me the gift of 421 lattes together.


We have memorized the morning drive to Starbucks: turn right, drive through three lights, the last one watch the people turning left for Dunkin’ Donuts, hang a left and hope you get a green arrow or you’ll be stuck another five minutes, through the winding beauty of abandoned farmland turned wildlife reservation. For years we have been driving these roads, watching the chaos of summer turn into flames on the trees and the quiet of winter give way to the rainy cheerfulness of spring.

There is one particular bend in the road where I would reach over for my sunglasses to find my mother offering them to me. We would laugh at how we traded seats, pilot to copilot, handing out the morning sticks of gum or the sunglasses or the half of the chocolate coconut doughnut we both love. We were a quiet pair some mornings, watching the world wake up with us, and on others we talked, conversation rolling through the car around each turn.

And when we got to Starbucks, day after day we ordered the same things, chai latte for her, hazelnut latte for me. We relished choosing a pastry or a yogurt, or buying a bottle of water or Naked juice. She made me promise I would eat breakfast at my desk when I got to the office, and I made her promise the same. She would leave for the train and I would head back into the car and drive to work.

At first it was only a routine, the ordinary way life repeats itself, the gift of knowing exactly what is coming and what to expect. It was our way of pausing in the day, gifting ourselves a small treat. I don’t think most mornings I noticed us doing it, the same way you forget to notice making a lunch for someone or making a bed or putting gas in an almost-empty tank.

But Jesus taught us that the Kingdom of Heaven grows from the smallest of all the seeds, and becomes a mighty tree where the birds of the air will come and make nests.

Every morning with my mother at Starbucks was a seed of that kingdom.

Every morning with my mother was a seed of kingdom love and kingdom grace deep in the soil of our hearts right next to our laughter about the fact that we couldn’t eat a blueberry muffin without spilling crumbs everywhere.

This is the miracle of the kingdom: it grows from the least likely places where we spend our love. It grows from moments that we so often take for granted inside our families: from movies and spilled popcorn on Thursday nights and from weekend arguments over who ate the last Pop-Tart and from the thousand hidden things that make up life in the same home. It grows from every ride to and from the airport when you’re traveling and every bookmark or postcard you bring home and it grows from laughter at the same episodes of the same TV shows you’ve always watched together, from remembering that Cedric Diggory was a Hufflepuff.

The day before I got married, in the sweet June sun, we got our 421st latte together. It was iced, an unusual deviation from our routine, but it seemed worthwhile in the hot afternoon sun. I was scared, stamping the ground like a nervous horse, running my hands through my hair.

And my mother, buying us those lattes, wrapped me up in a hug the size of the full grown mustard tree, and, laughing, told me, “This is a good thing. It’s going to be great.” And she laughed.

Hilary and her mom

And I laughed, too, because this is a good thing – giving each other gifts as small as mustard seeds, gifts that we think are just routine or just ordinary or just uninteresting.

And from those gifts Jesus teaches us to bring forth the kingdom of heaven on the ordinary bends in the ordinary roads in our ordinary mornings.

This is how the Kingdom comes in.


Hilary Yancey is a twenty-something looking to love with a wild love, loves iced coffee and all kinds of stories. You can find Hilary writing about everyday life and faith at her blog, The Wild Love, chatting on Twitter and Instagram at @hilaryyancey. She and her husband, Preston, live in Texas, where she studies philosophy at Baylor.

{Top photo credit: Sindisiwe Photography; Bottom photo credit: Jeri Mahurin.}