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MOM Series: Coffee and a Calling

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Kelly Willetts and family

Have you ever gotten the feeling when you first meet someone that you could become best friends? Well that's the feeling I got when I met Kelly Willetts for the first time. As part of our MOM Series we like to share the experiences and perspectives of moms that we can all relate to and perhaps learn from.

Kelly is a pastor's wife and mother of four, who graciously accepted to meet me for coffee and share her story. Wearing a t-shirt that reads, "All I Need is Coffee and Jesus," I smiled as I began to listen to how her life really echoes her outlook and what she believes is her purpose on this earth.

Kelly and her husband, Jeremy, met in college at Cedarville University in Ohio. When I asked what brought them to Kalamazoo, she replied, "God" and she meant that quite literally. She went on to explain that Jeremy studied ministry and she was a communications major, later changed to ministry. Towards the end of Jeremy's schooling, Kelly was working in Career Services at the university. It was there that she met the Youth Pastor from Calvary Bible Church in Kalamazoo who was seeking out someone for that position. She knew Jeremy would be the perfect fit, and even though she had never been to Michigan she felt the connection. Eleven years and four children later, Kelly and her family are thriving here in Kalamazoo!

Willetts' husband is the youth and family pastor at Calvary, with a focus on middle school ministry. "When Jeremy and I were married and preparing for full time ministry I assumed he would land in a high school ministry job somewhere. Instead, we found ourselves in ministry surrounded by a hundred middle schoolers in Kalamazoo. Turns out God knows what he's doing!"

Willetts went onto share, "Middle schoolers are incredible thinkers- they can (and do) think deeply about God and the world and are starting to formulate their own thoughts on Him and not just take what they have been taught leading up to this point. I consider it a total joy to walk alongside them at this stage."

One of the biggest challenges she sees is the fact that children today are growing up in a digital world. Extremely passionate about helping these young people navigate through this world Willetts shared that 80% of teens use smart phones and 90% of teens have either been bullied, cyberbullied, or watched it happen online. And girls are twice as likely to be cyberbullied. She went onto recommend the website www.cpyu.org for parents to learn more.

Although it's hard to think that Willetts has time for anything beyond work she and her husband combine family time with programs at the church keeping everyone together enjoying children's choir, and an Awana program. They also take the time to embrace what makes Kalamazoo such a great place to raise kids. "Some of our favorite activities have involved berry picking, apple orchards, watching hot air balloons, mini-golf, walking on the paved paths, etc."

For that ever needed 'me' time, Kelly has her go-to spots. At Barnes and Noble you'll likely catch her reading and having a coffee. On her favorite read list, she recommends that 'Good Book', The Magnolia Story about Chip and Joanna Gaines from the HGTV series Fixer Upper. And currently she's reading "Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World" (Kristen Welch) and "Pioneer Girl" (Laura Ingalls Wilder).

Interestingly, Kelly shared how she prioritizes her days with children and how it differs than before. "Ya know- I truly believe how we look at the world 100% changes the way we prioritize everything (before and after kids). Our family has a motto we find ourselves saying often, probably daily: This World is NOT my Home. We remind our kids that Kalamazoo is like our tent, Heaven is our home. When this perspective settles in, you realize every day is a gift. You invite people into your messy world and you grow together. Our kids join us on the journey."

Curious to know if Kelly had any advice for new moms, or moms in general, she highlighted the diversity of what being a mom is to different people. "Some of us are full-time homemakers, some are in careers while being active mamas. We are all volunteers, homework assisters, teachers, chefs, house-cleaners, organizers, chauffeurs, playmates, and more! I love that I GET the opportunity to embody so many beautiful callings all rolled into one."

As our conversation closed Kelly shared that her strong faith allows her to trust that what she does with her children is more important than what she does for them. "I trust that He has my hand in it all, and sometimes that leads me to embrace moments of play and letting the laundry wait. Moments are priceless, and we have so many teachable opportunities to raise our children to see what life is really about."

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