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. It 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. Somehow it helps the awkward beginnings to have a hot cup in your hand and be able to sip through the thoughts and stops/starts of new conversations.
If you are meeting with new friends just take your time. There is no rush. 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.
Love looks like something. It is a gift to be able to gather. Making time and space for each other is priceless. Having coffee (wether it is at your kitchen table, across the country, or in a coffee shop) is a great way to gather.
If you are interested gathering people we have more reasources for you. College students are a wonderful group to reach out to and you can read about it this article. We also have one about hosting teens and one about connecting with children.