Can you smell it? I sure can.
Strong and black. It was permeating through the station wagon in the wee hours of the morning. Even though it was still very dark outside we were excited knowing that MANY hours later we would be at our grandparents' house. My parents talked and played 8 track tapes as they sipped their coffee. I would cuddle under my blanket and smell their coffee. That smell will forever take me to those memories..
My grandparents were coffee drinkers. They drank out of cups and saucers. (A missing piece of our heritage that needs to be brought back.) Grandaddy would make me a saucer of coffee that looked like the color of sand because of all the milk and sugar he added. I would sit right beside him at their kitchen table and we would drink our coffee. Our coffee was warm and sweet. Oh to be sitting at that table with him right now... (tears, but I know you are not surprised.)
Hey Grandparents...please know that one day your grandchildren will be 44 years old crying over the times you took to just sit at the kitchen table and drink milk/coffee with them. It doesn't take a fuss to connect. It doesn't even have to be out of your own schedule. He did that everyday...he just made space for me to do it with him. I can't remember what we talked about, although I really wish I could. What I do remember is the time and the love.
While on our first international mission trip, to Malawi, Africa, I had my first African coffee from a French press. Our leader was a coffee drinker and came prepared with the french press because he knew this was our only way to have coffee without having to depend on electricity. I have never tasted better coffee. The memories with that coffee were some of the funniest ever. We were with people who were complete strangers. Crammed in a small den, we became friends waiting for coffee. We took turns making it and it took several makings to brew enough for all the coffee drinkers. Looking back that time that started out as awkward, was actually invaluable. We developed personal jokes, we shared encouraging and heartbreaking stories...all while waiting for a cup of coffee. At the begging we drank slowly because we wanted to savor every sip. But by the end of that trip we drank slowly because we wanted to enjoy every bit of time we had left together.
This morning I brewed a pot of coffee in my new French press. As I sat and sipped my coffee I began praying for our oldest two who are on a mission trip across the United States. I thought of the French press and our team from the Africa trip. I thought of the obstacles and the blessings that came from that trip. My eyes fill with tears as I pray that they too will be blessed on their trip as their dad and I were on ours. I pray that they will enjoy the ministry time as well as the down time--knowing God can work in all of it.
We can care for people and make connections anywhere.
My husband (who doesn't drink coffee) is meeting with a young man named Caleb this morning at a coffee shop to talk about life goals and the goodness of God.
Mom has an elderly friend who is lonely. Mom takes her to the store and patiently helps her maneuver around. Sometimes they just play cards. What Mom offers is time and love. I am not sure that coffee is this lady's favorite but she LOVES spending time with Mom.
I met two moms at a park today. Our children ran and played and we talked about marriage, parenting , cooking and homeschooling. One of the ladies remarked that she never has adult time and how she had really enjoyed our hour together at the park. We had kid snacks and water bottles.
The opportunities to connect are endless.
- You could meet with a co-worker during an office break.
- Maybe there is a person who needs encouragement as you wait for an appointment.
- Your neighbor across the street (or a delivery person) could really use a kind word.
- A quick phone call to someone on your heart could shift someone's whole day.
But if you don't like coffee (or don't have coffee) just make do. Make your gathering be what would work best for you. The point is making space for others.
If you are meeting with new friends just take your time. Spend the time you have getting to know each other. If it is a relationship that is going to grow you will have more time. Even if it is friend you are planning to start meeting with regularly (for encouragement or a study) just allow yourself grace for the process of getting to know each other.
If this is a coffee break with someone you know you may not meet again...listen intentionally to the Lord to lead your conversation. I could write many stories about single conversations that made a big difference. You don't have to try and save the world...just love the one in front of you. You may be sowing a seed or reaping the harvest of another. Your part to play is all that is needed.
When Taylor and Caleb started meeting I am sure that the first couple of meetings might have been just a bit awkward until they found some common ground. But meeting with others gets so much easier even after your first visit. There are questions you can come back to on your second gathering that build off your first meeting. After several times of getting together you will begin to have shared experiences to laugh about.
If you are meeting at the park with other moms, go in knowing that all conversations are subject to children. Do the best you can and offer yourselves a great deal of grace. Realize that you can always try again if the first time flops. Moms are super good at stopping and starting, amid questions and bathroom trips.
Love looks like something. It is a gift to be able to gather. Making time and space for each other is priceless.