Blog

“Hands On”

“Hands On”

I have a few friends who are unfamiliar with my pod coffee maker because they’ve never used one. They’ve seen them, but don’t own one, and have had no occasion to put their hands on one, so the process seems a bit of a mystery. My brother, a very capable techie person, recently stood in front of mine, “How does it work?” This is probably the only time in my life where I knew how to operate something and he didn’t. Should have taken a picture! “It’s not difficult.” I echoed the same words he had said to me dozens of times regarding the computer and relished the way it sounded on my tongue. But as simple as the familiar is to a user, it’s equally not as simple to someone unused to it. A few other friends don’t drink coffee—that’s right, don’t drink coffee—I love them anyway. They’re completely at a loss regarding water to grounds portions for brewing a pot in a standard coffee maker. The same goes for making a drinkable beverage in a large, spigot-dispenser kind. It’s simple. Unfamiliarity stumps us. The Bible is like that for many people. Like my inexperienced, coffee-making friends, they know about it, may have tasted it, but are baffled when faced with reading it themselves. If they attend church, they drink their “cup” of Bible there, but avoid the intricacies of opening the Word and filling up at home. Those of us who have gained some proficiency in the Bible, can have the delight of sharing how we read and study our Bibles. Peter encourages us to employ our skills “to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” Let’s take what we know and share the knowledge. Who would you like to learn from or share...

read more

Reheated

Reheated

Lukewarm coffee. Yuck! For years I drank mine hot, not scalding, mind you, but comfortably warmed. The microwave was a great invention, allowing me to reheat that half cup by pressing a few buttons. Then iced coffee debuted. As a southern girl, I grew up with iced tea as a standard mealtime beverage, so trying out iced coffee was an easy experiment to make. Living in Florida with its seven-month summers, this new twist was a welcome addition to other heat-beaters. Hot. Cold. Opposites. Both palate pleasers. But lukewarm? Flat. Tasteless. Even God isn’t pleased with tepid. In Revelation he addresses the church of Laodicea with the words, “I know your works, that you are neither cold or hot. I wish that you were cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of my mouth.” Lukewarm believers present a bigger problem. Beverages cool quickly, but decreasing faith takes longer. Just as the Lord invites us to taste him and see that he is good in Psalms, so he tastes us to see if we are good. An interesting thought. We bring pleasure to the Lord with the fervor of our souls. But why would he say be hot or cold? If you’re cold, you know it, and have the choice to do something about it. Lukewarm, on the other hand, is sneaky. It’s a slide into pew perching, looking okay on Sunday, not being okay the rest of the week. When my delight in the Lord cools off, not only do I not taste good to him, but my life loses its flavor. I drift into seeking savory refreshment in temporary things. The best thermometer for our souls is the Word. No matter where we read, God speaks, bringing truth to us from all parts of the Bible. If we look and listen, he’ll ignite our souls again—the best “re-heater” ever. What’s your temperature...

read more

My Favorite Cup

My Favorite Cup

I have a favorite cup for my coffee, a gift from a friend several years ago. The thin ceramic isn’t as delicate as fine china, and requires less careful handling, and it’s less clunky than diner mugs. My favorite shades of aqua and teal dominate the pattern. The size is perfect for eight ounces. Inside the rim in black script on a white background, words from Jude 2 remind me that intangibles are more important than the beverage I choose. “Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.” I like the silent reminder with each sip. In the same way, I need regular prompts to hold onto correct priorities. We each have ideal fits—in jobs, friends, in goals and activities. We’re like Goldilocks, trying one thing and another, looking for the fit that isn’t took big or too small, but just right. By starting each day with the Lord, we acknowledge the eternal in the midst of our lives. If I begin with Him, my cup holds the right amount of activity, neither too much nor too little. Some goals will take part of a day, others weeks, and yet others the rest of my life. But pursued properly, each one is like a cup at a time, the right amount to tackle, so that I’m busy, not overburdened, making time to work and to relax. Your favorite cup can remind you to create life-enhancing habits, beginning with a mental and spiritual boost each morning. Your point of balance may be a favorite cup or chair. Choose things that start your day well, whether rising for a quiet few minutes before the rest of your family, reading a well-loved devotional or your Bible, or using a journal with scripture prompts to focus the hours that stretch ahead. What favorite things help begin your...

read more

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...

read more

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...

read more

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?...

read more