Featured

Changing Routines

Changing Routines

Any morning perks up with a fresh cup of coffee, a comfortable chair, and a quiet place to begin the day. Over the decades my coffee-making routine has changed. Years ago, and I do mean years ago, my mom used a Corning ware percolator on the stove. Add enough milk and sugar and, oh, yes, it was delicious. One of my first lifelong loves. In college, I had a plug in pot, a vivid burnt orange color. That gave way intermittently to instant coffee. (Arghh! Coffee lovers usually balk at instant.) Again, with enough additives, it was tolerable. In the following decades I did my part to keep the Mr. Coffee Company in business, as the machines served, died, and were replaced. Twenty odd years ago at a yard sale, I picked up a coffee grinder in pristine condition. I shifted gears again, adjusted the prep time, and invested in a variety of beans—mild, medium, and flavored. True, it sounded like I was churning concrete, but the bonus of fresh-ground taste justified the extra minutes and noise. A few years ago I capitulated to convenience and now enjoy pod coffee. It’s a time saver and allows me to offer a quick variety to my friends and clients. I’ve adjusted my personal routine in a similar way. There was a time when I gulped coffee for the surge of energy so I could race off to school or work. I’d re-dose to keep going for long hours in my consistently hectic life. While I still stay busy, sometimes too busy, I’ve deliberately slowed down. I make sure that I have that cup in a relaxed state of body and mind to start each day. How about you?...

read more

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...

read more

Sip or Gulp?

Sip or Gulp?

How do you drink your coffee? More than the additives you may use, consider the quantity and pace with which you consume it. I tend to take my time to sip while I read or socialize, but my slow pace results in cold coffee. Recently I had dinner at a restaurant with a new friend who made an interesting request of the waiter. “Could you just bring me a half cup of coffee? I drink slowly, and if I have a full cup it gets cold.” He was happy to comply and I gained an unexpected bonus, a way to enjoy coffee and avoid those final tepid swallows. I’ve tended to be the same with my Bible reading—slow and methodical. I’ve enjoyed writing in the margins and a spiral notebook. But every time I’ve attempted this, my life got crazy somewhere around spring, and by early summer I was woefully behind. In the past, I’ve attempted several solutions. I’ve set aside an entire weekend and read on and on, covering dozens of pages, making few notes and catching up, but with a sense of speeding down the interstate and missing the sights. I did more on those marathon sessions to get it done, than to absorb the message. I’ve also skipped ahead to get back on track, knowing that over the years, I’ve read the entire Bible many times. This coffee comment paralleled a decision I’d already made. Having a half cup meant hot coffee wouldn’t be rushed. This year when I decided to read through the Bible, I got realistic and set myself up for success. By starting a month early, on Thanksgiving weekend, I planned thirty-five extra days to make time for going slower and still finishing. Some sip. Some gulp. What will you do...

read more

The Reusable Filter

The Reusable Filter

Before my individual pod coffee maker took over my morning routine, I used a standard, inexpensive twelve-cup machine. One year I decided to save a tree, or maybe just a limb, and got a reusable coffee filter to replace the paper ones. My Bible is like that—reusable. I’ve read it year in and year out for decades and it still works to filter the brew in my soul. The Spirt of the Lord works through it to keep out the stuff that shouldn’t get into my cup of life. The more I used the coffee filter, the more I began to see a gradual stain build up. The more I read my Bible, the more I became aware how little-by-little stains of uncleansed sin accumulated, tainting my attitude so subtly that without careful examination, the residue remained even while blatant sins were held in check. Jerry Bridges wrote a wonderful book called Respectable Sins. It was a wake-up call to attend to the overlooked and often excused sinful attitudes and behaviors in life. I discovered that each rereading jolted me back to self-reflection. In a similar way, thoughtful, rather than hurried, Bible reading opens my eyes to things in my life I overlook. The wake-up from a cup of coffee is like our “good morning” from the Word of God. Continual use of the same filter will catch the debris of life. But cleaning a reusable filter is also a reminder of the need to be purified inside. If you don’t have a filter to prompt you, consider other repeated cleaning tasks—like dishes or laundry. In Hebrews we’re encouraged to “draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience.” What’s the reusable filter in your...

read more