Posts made in June, 2015

Decaf Life

Decaf Life

I love early morning. First bird songs before dawn. Moments of solitude. Each day the gentle whir of the ceiling fan and the dependable click of the clock greet me in the dark. My mind springs to alertness and I open my eyes, ready to plunge into the day. Because I’m naturally wired, I usually drink decaf. My pop-up Jan-in-the-box temperament makes people suppose I choose caffeine as my energy source. Not so much. A few years back, I did drink the high-powered stuff. When my heart decided to abandon its natural calm beat for an erratic rhythm after that energizing brew, (making me feel more weird than normal), I weaned off my every day dose. I’ve been asked, especially late in the afternoon, “Then where does all your energy come from?” Easy. From my Designer, the source of who I am and how I run. With few exceptions, I start the day by reading my Bible, not to analyze, but to hear the voice of the one who loves me best. He has the right plan, guides me into growth, and remains faithful to me even when my life collapses. Every coffee buzz fades. But Jesus is the energy source that never diminishes, perfectly able to prepare and strengthen me for all that comes whether happy surprises or devastating disappointments. Time spent with him anchors me in a place where word by word, he builds the foundation of my interior life. He strengthens the walls and ceiling of my heart, furnishing his dwelling place, with peace and purpose. My decaf life draws power and clarity from a more reliable source than a beverage. Every java jolt diminishes, but not the Holy Spirit. Jesus explained that we shouldn’t live on bread alone but on every word of his. That’s how I access energy. What do you...

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A Cup of Commitments

A Cup of Commitments

What are you committed to do today? Every morning while having my coffee, I realize how much I need to accomplish. I don’t remember a time since college that I didn’t have more than enough to do. As a result, I’m a list maker. I like lists, have learned to rely on them, and advocate the practice to others. Knowing my to-do list is always longer than the day, how do I prioritize? In a 5×8 spiral notebook I record errands to run, people to call, a grocery list, and items to purchase for my business or home. It’s pretty much always two columns. When completing tasks not written down, I add them just so I can cross them off. You may use your cell phone to keep your lists, beep yourself with reminders of appointments and track your ever-filling activity calendar. While I prefer paper, my friends and I are on the same page and we’ve all reached the same conclusion. It’s all too much. We can’t just quit work or stop caring for our families. We don’t want to leave church or organizations, so how do we pare down our bulging schedules? When all else fails, read the directions. “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness.” I periodically review my schedule—how I invest my time, talent, and money against these words. If the end result drains me on every level without restoring my soul, I need to step back. Kingdom life brings strength for tasks and peace in the process. Some activities can be set aside so your life has breathing room. Sip your commitments and find those that sap your spirit. Pour them out and seek a refill from God. If you’re exhausted, how can you reduce your...

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The Chipped Cup

The Chipped Cup

My brother gave me a set of two coffee cups years ago. Etched designs gave texture to the rich blue and brown tones. He made sure to point out the marked bottom where the artist signed, so that I’d understand they were collectables, not merely mass-produced mugs. I saved them for special moments keeping them on the top shelf. Years passed, and I hosted a variety of short and long term residents in my home, helping people with personal and financial problems. One day I went into the kitchen to pour coffee and discovered one of the two cups missing. I hadn’t used them for a while, because they were special and kept them on the top shelf, out of easy reach for me, but not for some of my tall guests. My heart dropped a little when I realized another personal item had vanished, the breakage never acknowledged, the culprit difficult to identify. What was gone was gone. The other had a chipped rim on the side I’d normally drink from, so after a few uses, holding the cup by its body, not the handle, I decided it was too annoying to adjust to the rough edge. I put it back on the top shelf. Unlike the cup, I don’t put relationships out of reach even though personal habits may annoy. Our flaws mar each of us, unique people, signed by God, the designer. Continuing to engage with others requires knowing where the “chips” are and working around them. We’re like that cup, still marked by God as his new creation, “treasures in jars of clay.” It’s easier to spot flaw in others, more difficult to recognize our own. I tend to excuse my rough edges and believe that adjusting to their flaws is harder than them accommodating me. Sometimes it’s a good reminder to drink out of a chipped mug. Do you?...

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A Cup of Rest

A Cup of Rest

Have you learned to pace yourself? Some of us need a lot of time to get going each day, tired before we start with an unending list of things to do. Others, like me, practically hop up in the morning, ready to go. Either way, the day stretches ahead for all of us, with places to go and activities to do. I love being involved with people, enjoy talking with others on the phone or in person, appreciating good humor and laughter, and relishing a novel or book that lifts me up inside and challenges me to keep on going. With that kind of outlook, it’s easy to over-commit to excellent opportunities for service and joy. “Come with us.” “Join me.” “Help with this.” These words are like magnets to me, lighting up my soul. Over time, too much coming, joining, and helping dead ends in weariness and the pressure of not finishing things I started. It takes a certain ongoing vigilance to say “no” to good opportunities, to decline an invitation to help others, or simply to go somewhere that’s fun. Experience has taught me to step back and make my inner life the one that both thrusts me forward and holds me back. Some responsibilities won’t go away. Family. Work. Church. And the list goes on. On the fast-paced road of life, we unconsciously look not simply for a stop sign, but for a rest sign. Over forty years ago mine showed up in the verse, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” With my soul at rest, I make better choices. Before we can live our days fully, we have to determine how we fill them. It’s worth the time to analyze commitments and reduce the excess. We can balance our choices. Where is your rest stop?...

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Do You Trust the Glue?

Do You Trust the Glue?

If you break a special piece of pottery, like your favorite coffee cup, consider Super Glue. One afternoon, I basked in sunshine on the patio, talking on the phone to a friend and munching on apple slices in my favorite bowl. I wouldn’t have had a problem if I’d been inside where there’s carpeting, but with one awkward move of my hand, the bowl slid off of the wide chair arm and fell to the concrete. Why did I think sitting outside was a good idea? Immediately I blamed the weather and my choice of where to relax, defaulting to the blame game, the oldest strategy in the world. I collected, cleaned, and then carefully glued the pieces back together. Examining my handiwork, I decided it was almost as good as new—except for the visible lines on every side. Likewise, sin breaks us into pieces. Sometimes we fail and at other times people wound us. Yet God can be trusted to take our brokenness and mend our lives. Like the noticeable repairs I made, we retain scars from sin which remind us of our failing and his work. I still use that bowl, but rarely for hot liquid, because my glue job isn’t as reliable as God’s restoration work. I trust my repair under mild conditions, but avoid exposure to heat. When people fracture me, I look to God for answers and help. Paul writes, “But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.” It would please our adversary if our fractures worsened leading to devastation. When I’m wounded, my first reaction is withdrawal for self-preservation, an unreliable adhesive. Leary of potential attacks, I recall that the saying, “Once burned, twice shy,” comes from experience. Yet, because the Lord forgives and restores me, I remind myself to do the same. Whose glue do you...

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