Tag Archives: coffee

Coffee for One

This Labor Day holiday morning is unusual as I prepare coffee for one. My husband is away with the teen girls visiting adult siblings in Richmond. I am home with a sick child and teen son who had to work. We are divided.

Instead of brewing a full pot, I take down the red single-serve coffee press, purchased the summer of ’89 to take with me to college that fall. I was inspired recently to forage through my parents’ china cabinet to see if it was still there. And it was.

This summer has been nostalgic in ways both good and hard. Mostly hard. The coffee press is good, bringing memories of preparing to leave home for the first time, albeit to a very controlled environment.

I remember wondering how I would make my necessary coffee and choosing to purchase a hot pot and this coffee maker. It bears witness to the importance of coffee to me, even then, much like this post does.

I grind beans and dump them in, boil water and pour, wait several minutes and press, transfer to a favorite mug and savor.

There is goodness and sadness. I miss my coffee friend. Slow mornings are a rarity in this season. I wish we were together in the slowness. I choose to enjoy my coffee for one as I read and write.

Grateful for a witness-bearer in vintage coffee pot form, I give thanks that it didn’t go the way of the Gucci bag. Protected from me to be found at just the right time, it now lives in safety on top of the Hoosier.

Welcome, home, Dear Friend.

Recycled Coffee

It was the last time I cared for the cats at my parents’ house. The morning routine of showing up, sprinkling treats, sifting litter, washing out the water bowl, and freshening the food dishes had ended. There was time left to relax with the cats.

I had yet to have a second cup of coffee and thought it the perfect time to fill the eco-friendly Keurig cup with fresh coffee grounds. I had been to my parents’ house countless times and drunk numerous cups of coffee. I knew the routine.

Or so I thought.

There on the counter was an open container filled with coffee grounds and a scoop. I scooped some of the grounds into the refillable Kerurig pod and inserted it into the dispenser. Pressing start, water began filtering through, filling my cup with fresh coffee.

Almost.

I cannot say exactly when I realized what was off about the situation. Maybe it was when I went to close up the coffee grounds and found this.

That is when I realized that I had just drunk a recycled cup of coffee. It had not tasted too bad. Which is also when I realized that in my world, even used coffee grounds make better coffee than some people get to drink in theirs.

First World Problems.

The thing is I know where the fresh grounds are kept. I make coffee from that canister all of the time. I think seeing the open container of used grounds on the counter suggested to me to fill the dispenser from there.

This time when I watch the cats the used coffee grounds container is empty and closed. I took the pictures for this post from that current situation. I still laugh about drinking my recycled coffee, though.

Really, it wasn’t that bad!

Love in a Cup of Pens

On an ideal morning I rise early, gather my Bible, devotional book, and prayer journal and head for a quiet space to read, think, and reflect. My favorite destination, the TV room couch. The trick lies in rising early enough to get there before it is taken over by a child or pet.

Shuffling out of bed, pouring coffee, hunkering down, I begin my morning reading routine. Sitting across from me is my love, doing his own thing. We are together in the early morning silence. On an ideal morning.

I wonder what it is like from his perspective. I imagine it is not ideal to be interrupted by conversation surrounding the random thoughts that pop into my head. It might not be easy to have me hunker down to begin journaling only to discover I have no pen, a common occurrence. (The need for tissues is another.)

He is always kind and patient with my interruptions and random thoughts.

One morning I felt overwhelmingly loved as I plopped down in my usual space and discovered a full cup of pens waiting for me on the end table. It was such a kind, generous act. I was seen and cared for, and I was grateful.

I have fallen off of my early-morning TV room wagon and cannot seem to climb my way back on. It has been weeks since sitting in my favorite space, and most mornings my mind shifts into overdrive as soon as my eyes open. I think of all the things all at once.

Then I turn off my alarm and fall back asleep.

The pen cup came to mind today. I walked into the TV room to see if it was where I had left it and if there were any pens remaining. Yes, it was, and yes, there were (three of them!).

Maybe I will put my early- morning book stack back in the basket under the coffee table next to the cup of pens. Maybe I will try to rise early, once again, and inhabit that quiet space with my coffee and best friend.

Maybe it is okay to push the reset switch on my early mornings and start over again, cheered on by a sunny cup of pens. Where are you feeling the nudge to push reset, these days, Dear Reader?

A New Grip

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen. It gives us assurance about things we cannot see. . . So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong. Hebrews 11: 1,12,13 NLT

I sat across from one of my adult children in a local coffee shop, steaming mugs of cayenne mocha in our hands. The invitation extended to me resulted in conversation about hard things. This is the part of parenting I did not anticipate when, by faith, I opened my young self to accepting any blessings that God gave to me ~ because children are the greatest blessing.

Listening intently to words being spoken, truth being told. I affirmed that speaking the reality of growing up in our home was not dishonoring, but necessary for healing to happen. How I long for healing.

My journey with mothering closely mirrors my walk with God. I struggle with shame over choices, and seeming lack of choice, that resulted in eight humans birthing from my body. Yet I am not the author of their lives. I am part of the means by which their lives came into the world, the unseen.

It is deeply painful that what I viewed as an act of faith and trust in God resulted in harm to hearts in my home. The shadow was not lurking outside. It was within the walls.

My husband and I wounded our children by our inability to shepherd and parent well. We set up scenarios that caused the weak to fall rather than grow strong. Our ideal selves collided with, and were overtaken by, our real selves.

Twenty-eight years ago when I was a young engaged woman looking forward to a wedding day as the solution to all problems, dogma came not with the click of a mouse, but in the form of passed books and live conversations. It was perpetuated in community with others, gathered around the same ideals. It flourished behind locked church doors before fear of terrorism was a thing.

I was young and deeply impressionable. I was full of faith, however misguided. I had hope for a future better than what was in my past.

The same faith that believed if I only opened my life and womb to God, blessings would flow, now opens my heart to coffee and hard questions from the fruit of those ideals. I realize that this is a blessing, the ability to hold the tension of sitting in truth when everything inside of me longs to bolt.

Faith is a mystery. Sometimes I ask myself, Am I walking by faith or living in denial? Because faith and denial can look awfully similar. I know it is faith when I look at, instead of away from the pain. Looking into my child’s hurting eyes is an act of faith.

In doing so, I take a new grip with tired hands. My weak knees are strengthened by these redemptive conversations. Talking through hard places in our family story allows for new paths to be marked out, ones that are straight, direct, and true.  

I long for my children to rise up with this strength. I have confidence that they will the more they engage the truth of their childhood stories. The young woman in me also rises and grows stronger as she speaks her truth and names her harm.

This is the mystery, the unseen, the confidence, the faith that I hold. I do not know why I still have faith. I cannot explain or define it, but it is real. It is a part of me that should not be viable, yet it grows. It grows over coffees and breakfasts and phone calls and text messages. To this confident mystery, I cling in hope.

Church Coffee

It comes to me mid-service in a paper cup with plastic lid. The flavor is urn-style bulk ground coffee mixed with powdered creamer and sugar. Sometimes my coffee friend hunts down and finds real cream, adding a splash. Those occasions are rare, though.

This holiday season there was flavored creamer on the table in the narthex. Usually church coffee isn’t fancy. I love it that way. Plain. Simple. Full of love by the one who prepares it for me.

Getting out of the house on Sunday mornings is a feat in itself. Every week. I used to think it was because of small children and all of the work that moving the troops took. That is partly true. The other part is that we take ourselves with us. It is not all them. It is all of us. Sunday coffee becomes a dangling carrot.

This morning found us seated together in the front row of the overflow section. We were early late-comers. All of the best people soon surrounded us. I love that. We sang out loudly in the sound-absorbing vacuum multipurpose room and endured the half-hour following the service that our fearless leader requires to socialize.

In between singing and socializing, church coffee came to me in a piping hot cup, reminding me, once again, that my large bag carrying everything else did not carry my coffee cozy. I add it to the running list in my head titled things to pack for next time.

Makeshift Mocha

Returning from half of my usual morning drop off, I carry breakfast up to a sick child, only to find her fast asleep. She is sleeping so hard that the sound of the door opening, the clinking of dishes, and the barking of an unruly dog cease to wake her.

This is how I know it is not a ruse, the hope of a day off, a continuation of the holiday. It is the real deal.

Back in the kitchen, not wanting to waste her cocoa made with warmed milk and Nesquik ® powder, I pour it into the remains of my black coffee, creating a makeshift mocha. I take this warm beverage into my room and open the laptop.

I want to write something. The sound of another daughter’s fingers flying over a computer keyboard inspires me. I want to mirror that diligence, transfer chatter in my head to the screen and then into cyberspace.

The problem lies in where to begin.

Lately, things have felt heavy and hard, the act of opening the laptop, a chore.

I am not alone in the heaviness. Even as I ponder what to write, dear friends face greater health issues with their daughter and head to the hospital, hoping for answers. I say I will pray, and I do.

It feels so small, so helpless, prayer, yet we are to do it without ceasing. We are told it avails much. So I pray, trusting that the same spirit that nudged me to text my friend is with her now in her uncertainty.

This morning I read Psalms 137-139. If you haven’t spent time in the Bible, lately, or even if you have, it’s a great place to visit. These verses especially met my heart in its struggle.

As soon as I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me strength. Psalm 138:3, NLT

The Lord will work out his plans for my life ~ for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made me. Psalm 138:8, NLT

You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single one had passed. Psalm 139:16, NLT

In the space of my own uncertainties, I am reminded of God’s faithfulness to answer prayer. Encouragement comes in the form of strength for the task at hand ~ whatever that may be.

God created me. He chose, named, and wrote down my days. There is a plan, a method to the madness, even if I cannot see or understand it. Especially then. I long to remain curious and open to what has been written for this day.

I want to step fully, confidently, faithfully into the life written for me. What if I truly believed God’s unfailing love? What if I openly embraced his encouragement?

He says I can ask for things. I ask now.

I ask for light, guidance, direction. I ask to be led into truth, for a way to be opened. I lift up requests both known and unknown. I thank.

I thank him for where I have been led this year, for faithful love generously given.

My makeshift mocha is almost gone. Cold dregs remain in the bottom of the mug, signaling that it’s time to wrap up writing in my corner and get on with the day.

Thank you for being with me in this space this morning, Friend. May you be blessed as you walk out this day written just for you. No one else can take your steps!

Morning Joy

Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.
Psalm 30:5, NLT

I cried myself to sleep last night. Sitting in bed at the end of the day with journal in hand and tea on the nightstand, I began writing.

Where to begin I don’t even know. 

Words poured honestly and incoherently from my pen. No editing, no polishing, letters on the page strung together finding their place. I ended with a final question.

What do I need to just grieve?

Tears flowed from somewhere deep inside. From the heart of a much-younger me, cries of loneliness and pain began to escape, first silent, then sniffles, then sobs. I could not be comforted, as much as my dear husband tried. I just needed to cry.

Sleep finally came and with it the dreams. Tornadoes, crowds, a pack of dogs that all looked like Dewey, these were the themes. My overloaded brain downloaded and sorted and shuffled. I woke puffy and groggy and rested.

Coffee left by dear husband in my Seattle School mug replaced the empty tea cup on the nightstand, reminding me of where I was not. It also reminded me of a journaled prayer from earlier in the week,

God, You are faithfully loving me through the work you have given me in this season even as you faithfully love my friends through theirs. As the new group of externs comes together, help me to be content that I am here in H’burg and not boarding a plane to Seattle. Help me to be fully present with my family. I don’t know what you are doing, but I am trusting the work to be so good and kind that you can make a way for me there in my absence.

Shortly after waking, I saw my writing on the Red Tent Living blog. Overwhelmed with joy I linked it to my blog wall with the comment  I’m not in Seattle or Austin this morning, but I AM in the Red Tent today. Such kindness for my heart. Stop by for a read. Happy Friday, Friends!!!!

It is a happy Friday. I am thankful for new mornings, new mercies, and for joy that follows the tears.

Changing the Narrative

Julie, Hi!

Her smiling face sits down across from me in the coffee shop. She wears a colorful print top in shades of blue tied with a loose bow at the scooped neckline. A dragonfly pendant accents the look. With all of this loveliness, it is her smile that draws me in, open and kind.

You’re hard at work!

Actually I am attempting to work, but I am not succeeding. Not yet, anyway. I am using a window of time in between band camp drop off at 7:45 and a 9:00 snack help shift to collect my thoughts. I say as much as I close notebook and planner, creating more room on the surface of the small table for two.

I’m trying to atone for all the years I couldn’t help when my older kids were in band and I was home with the littles.

I think you need to change that narrative.

Her smile remains open and kind, but her eyes pierce through to my soul. I steadily continue engagement, feeling the pain of that truth landing somewhere deep. Laughingly I agree, trying to explain how I am somewhat kidding.

No, I’ve heard you speak that way before. I think it really needs to be kinder. We do what we can. The guilt is thick there.

In two minutes she has heard my sound bite and nailed it to the point that tears come to my eyes as the conversation comes to mind. I am reminded of why I love this woman and am grateful for her presence in my life whenever our paths intersect.

She is on her way to work, waiting for coffee to brew, a treat to herself on this first day back. We have precious few minutes to connect, but they go deep and real. Quick summer updates from each of us follow until I see her tall to-go cup placed on the counter by the barista and know our time is up.

She rises to collect her order and continue moving through her day. Pushing open the coffee shop door, she turns and says, Give the band kids love from this mama.

We do what we can when we can. Today that is what I will do.

Sunday Cookie Making

If you are looking for something to do this rainy Sunday afternoon, consider mixing up a batch of cookies!

I just finished a recipe of Cocoa Oatmeal Treats found in the Hershey’s Homemade cookbook. This little gem filled with dessert recipes has been in my cupboard since the early 90’s and sustained many a declutter rampage. Now it is considered vintage.

I needed a dessert to send to youth group tonight. Rather than baking my go-to chocolate chip cookies, I mixed up these no-bake ones. They are my oldest son’s favorite type of cookie. I remembered this as I was making them.

During one of his birthday celebrations, my dear friend Heather helped me make them in the kitchen as his party was happening. She stood at the stove stirring and mixing and dropping onto pans to cool. I bagged them to send home as party favors. 

This time, my daughter, Coco, helped me with the cocoa cookies. Here is the recipe we used as found in the Hershey’s Homemade cookbook before she ran out the door on an errand with her father. He and I will drink coffee and enjoy a cookie when they return.

Cocoa Oatmeal Treats
2 c sugar
1/3 c Hershey’s cocoa
1/2 c milk
1/2 c (1 stick) butter
1/3 c creamy peanut butter
2 1/2 c quick-cooking rolled oats (or regular oats if that’s all you have)
1/2 c chopped unsalted peanuts

In medium saucepan stir together sugar and cocoa; stir in milk and butter. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil; boil 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in peanut butter. Add oats and peanuts; stir to mix well. Quickly drop mixture by rounded teaspoonfuls onto wax paper or foil (or parchment lined pans). Cool completely. Store in a cool, dry place. About 4 dozen.

These are so good. Truly like butter because, well, butter! I enjoyed my quota before remembering I was supposed to have cookies and coffee with Steve when he returns. Oops!

(They contain peanuts and peanut butter, so be mindful to label for allergies.)

Final Destination

Stay in the left four lanes of traffic.

The friendly GPS companion voice alerts me to a fact of which I am well aware. There are a lot of lanes of traffic to navigate. I stay in lane two of four. Traffic zips past me in spite of the 55mph posted speed limit. I keep checking.

Pain calls me to tension in my wrists, and l realize I have a death grip on the steering wheel. Deep breaths in and out and a growing trust in the vocal cues of my virtual co-pilot allow me to relax just a little.

I drive regularly on 81. There are a lot of trucks there, too. I am familiar with truck traffic, just not the kind outside of Chicago in more than two lanes. I strain to hear the next exit number and almost miss it. A last-minute swerve of faith puts me in the right direction. I breathe a prayer of thanks.

If there’s a traffic jam, you sit in it.

Choosing to move from the middle lane jammed with trucks to the left passing lane that is zipping along, I cut some travel time and break free of the congestion. Now to find a gas station with restroom facilities. I am still learning to stop at the last rest area before transitioning to a new traffic pattern, even if I don’t think I have to go.

Only I can know if I have to go to the restroom. No one else can do it for me. Here is a formula for me to remember from this day forth. 8 children + 46 years old = always stop

Today’s leg of the journey is short, only four hours compared to yesterday’s eight. Four hours is still a long time, though, and I am grateful for the coffee break provided by a friend and for an Allpoint ATM, since the tolls are taking a toll on my cash stash. I failed to thoroughly research that part of the trip. There are a lot of toll roads.

I should really look into EZ Pass.

After finishing the audio book, I caught up on podcasts for the remainder of the trip. Arriving in Batavia at my AirBnB, I was pleasantly surprised.

This is a restful, gracious space, kinder than I could have imagined. When I booked my (closer) location in December, I had no idea that the weekend before departure I would receive a message that my host had unexpectedly died (which is never expected), and my reservation was cancelled. This reservation was made last-minute, and is exactly right. I feel so grateful.

Exhausted from the drive, I plan to hunker down for the evening. There is a jacuzzi tub to soak in and a yoga studio on the third floor. The house is large and quiet and so right for this trip. Am I in denial about an early morning tomorrow and the beginning of three days of training?

Hmm . . . maybe?

Goodnight! Especially to the homefront. You are loved.

And missed.