Monday, August 17, 2015

As simple as a cup of coffee.....

I have been drinking coffee since I was a little girl.

It's a bit of a ritual some would say.

I have fond memories of going to my grandparents house and drinking coffee (which was essentially milk, sugar and a splash of the real thing) with my grandpa while he read the paper and I read the comics. I felt sophisticated and all grown up.

I also have the best memories of my mom in the coffee context. When I was old enough, I woke up early on the weekends to make the coffee for the house. In high school, I would pick my mom up from her teaching job and we would head to the local Cracker Barrel for afternoon coffee and dessert. In these moments we talked about life, love and the future. Towards the end of her life these particular coffee dates became more and more important to me.

I meet my girlfriends for coffee to unload the burdens of common life and my dad and I schedule coffee as often as we can spare. Just like those coffee dates with my mom, I cling to these times with my dad as times when I can glean wisdom and life lessons as well as some old memories.

I happened to fall head over hells for a non-coffee drinker (how did that happen?!?!?!?), but our kids both enjoy a good cup of joe. Both were thrilled that we went on mission trips to 2 coffee-heavy continents (Africa and Eastern Europe). We have moved from drip coffee to a daily press and have sampled different balances and undertones, much like wine tasters in Napa Valley.

So, what is the point of this? Well, I realized today that coffee itself plays a large role in my daily ritual. First thing in the morning, I share a cup of coffee with God as I dive into His Word and talk to Him through prayer. We keep the coffee flowing on Sunday mornings in small group as we live life together and share our heartaches, triumphs, prayers and praise. A call from a friend in need has resulted, more than once, in an impromptu trip to the local coffee shop for fellowship and encouragement. You see, this simple yet complex drink has played a role in the giving and receiving of many blessings.

Knowing that something so small can be profound in our lives, why not use it to bless others?

Start with using your daily cup as a signal to open the Word. Even if you don't normally have quiet time, or struggle to find the time, try sitting down with God's Word just for a moment. Come into it with an expectant heart and you will not walk away empty handed.

Next, you can take it a step farther and send an encouraging note to a friend. I suggest email as a phone call or text could be a bit too early for some :). You could even send some encouragement to the whole web in the form of a picture on Instagram (this happens to be my favorite way to end quiet time). It can simply be a few verses from your morning reading or a quote you enjoyed. You can even repost encouraging pictures from others pages as well. Just focus on the positive in these pictures to help spread hope and encouragement to others.

Now it's your turn....

Think about the ways that your morning rituals impact your life, then think about how you can impact the lives of others. Maybe coffee isn't your gig and we coffee lovers won't hold that against you! But we all have something to contribute and lend to others each and every day. It is the accumulation of these daily impacts that make up our legacy. What will yours be?


Thursday, August 13, 2015

Pray for Marriage

When was the last time you prayed for your marriage or a friends marriage?

In my small group this past week, we spoke a little about praying for marriage. I'll be honest and tell you that I take my marriage for granted many times. My husband and I have had the rough and tough times (any newlyweds feeling me?) and at this moment we live content. Now, contentment is a wonderful thing, but I find in my own life that it can make me lazy as well :).

The consequence of this is that I can tend to put my husband in the wrong place in life. I work hard, I also workout hard, and I deal with home and kids, not to mention the counseling and client issues. So, at the end of the day, I have found I quite enjoy lazy, sweat pants, couch potato time. This places my husband somewhere under what I have deemed most important but over that which I simply don't want to do.

The truth is that my husband is a gift and I should treat him as such. That doesn't mean I should be at his every beckoned call or fulfill every whim, but I should make the time to show him I am grateful. One way to accomplish this is by knowing your spouse's love language. My husband and I have totally different love language: I am acts of service (pick up your clothes and help with dinner) and he is very much physical touch. In fact, him AND the kids believe a hug can fix anything. I believe this hug is wasting valuable time you could use to pick up your clothes. See the struggle :)

Another way to put your marriage first is by scheduling dates. My hubs and I love to go to movies, especially the theaters that serve food. We have smaller dates as well. Every week we go grocery shopping together and treat it as a date. We hold hands, share dreams, plan meals and will get a treat to munch on the way home. There are other times we send our teenagers upstairs so we can have a little time to ourselves. These dates are vital to keeping our marriage healthy, and like keeping your body healthy, it takes work.

The best way to help a marriage is through prayer. I have started to pray over my marriage more and over the marriages of my small group gal pals. What are some things to pray over a marriage? There are no hard and fast rules, but here are a few things I pray:
  1. That Satan be bound from our marriage and that he be given no foothold.
  2. That God would open up times for real communication.
  3. That my heart would be softened to my husbands needs.
  4. That our passion for one another be rekindled daily.
  5. That we both strive to make an effort in this union that will last a lifetime.
As I said, we have been through tough times and I am sure there are more to come due to the fact that we live in an imperfect world...however, we can strive towards a WHOLE marriage by putting in a little elbow grease and a lot of prayer.

Now it's your turn: share the things you do to keep your marriage fresh in the comments below. Those who have been married for a long time (Alan and I have made 17+ years so far!), share the lessons you have learned so others may grow. We all have a story and yours can help others!