A Pleasant Aroma?

Coffee

Coffee Snob

Sauteing onions. Anything tropical. Blankets dried outside. All smells I enjoy. Each one brings to mind a pleasant thought or memory. My favorite aroma, though, is coffee. It draws me in, and I find great comfort in its fragrance.

Those closest to me, and even many not so close for that matter, know I love coffee. They know it makes me a happier person, especially in the morning. I blame my mom. She began the addiction when I was 13 by bringing it to me every morning when she woke me up for school. (I’ve never really been a morning person.)

My youngest son likes to bribe me to take him places by promising to buy me coffee (It often works.) My husband knows the best way to keep in my good graces (and to romance me) is by having coffee with me regularly. In fact, he often lets me know when he’s having coffee even when he travels or is at work, and I’ll brew a cup just so we can have coffee “together.”

My husband and others closest to me also know the coffee must be high quality. Don’t waste my time with the cheap stuff or if the coffee’s been sitting for a while and has that burnt, bitter smell – and putrid taste – to it.

My pickiness with the coffee led my husband to affectionately label me a “coffee snob.” If coffee doesn’t smell fresh and isn’t of high quality, I want nothing to do with it. (Actually, much of the not-so-cheap stuff doesn’t meet my standards either.)

A Sweet FragranceCoffee 2

I wonder if my fragrance as a Christian draws people in like I’m drawn by the smell of good coffee or if it wrinkles noses like when I run into the aroma of sub-par or stale coffee. Are people repelled or drawn by my fragrance? Am I a “sweet, life-giving perfume” or a “hukster” unconcerned with quality (2 Corinthians 2:14-17, NLT)?

Even more importantly, what does God think about my aroma? He certainly desires to use every detail of our lives to illustrate His truth, to let His glory show through us (Colossians 3:17). He also uses that which we find appealing and that which repels us to help us better understand His desires for our living in relationship with Him and with others, to help us understand the impact of our aroma.

Even coffee, which a person usually either loves or hates, can show Scripture application in a way that not only sticks but that finds us regularly. For me, coffee provides a daily reminder to check my aroma, to determine whether or not I am appealing to others, to ask myself, “Do I have an aroma that pleases God and draws others to His grace and mercy or that repels them toward the world?”

DISCUSSION: How would you characterize your aroma?

Be Prepared

Prepared 1“Got your food bar and water bottle?”

“Yep.”

“What about your spikes?”

“Yep.”

So went the conversation just before my son left for school the day of his first track meet of the season. I wanted him to be prepared to do his best, and that meant not having to stress over forgetting something. This conversation really just represents one of the many I’ve had with my boys.

My husband, knowing I’m not a morning person, has told me more than once that he’ll see the boys off to school in the mornings while I get a bit more sleep. But, I just can’t release the need to make sure my boys are prepared for the day ahead. I remind them often to prepare the night before, but being teenagers and also boys, they usually don’t. While my husband is a terrific father, and good at many things, planning ahead is not his strong suit. Plus, he just doesn’t have mom radar.

Being unprepared can be frustrating and embarrassing. It can turn an ordinary day into a bad one very quickly. And too many unprepared days usually lead to an overwhelmed life as getting by consumes any best that might otherwise exist. A habit of unpreparedness eventually creates a reactionary, drama-filled life. And that sort of life comes characterized by relentless stress and exhausting overhwelm.

The Value of Preparedness

Prepared 2I want my boys to learn the value of being prepared because I know this habit sets them up for an effective and successful life. Vastly more important, though, is them knowing the concept of preparedness as it relates to their spiritual states. I want them to know that their heavenly Father also values being prepared and wants them to always stand ready.

Matthew 24 conveys God’s preparedness message aptly. In it, we have Jesus’ words telling us to not panic and to instead prepare to endure to the end. The idea of panic and endurance tells us the situation will be dire and feel desperate at times.

Jesus also tells us what to pay attention to and what not to let steal our focus. In that, he directs us to…

  • Know the Truth (His words, Scripture, prophecy, etc.)
  • Know what’s coming
  • Know what you don’t know (the exact timing)
  • Know your responsibility as these events unfold

This chapter in Matthew ends with a call to preparedness, to

“You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.” (Matthew 24:44)

Jesus gave us what we need to be prepared, and called us to a continual state of preparedness.

A Habit of Preparedness

Living with a habit of preparedness based on the information you have creates the mindset necessary to be ready for THE event of all time — Jesus’ return. This is ultimately why I teach my boys the mindset of preparedness. My hope is that doing so will create a way of thinking that flows into every area of their lives, from the small events like track meets to the big ones later in life, but most importantly to the only thing that ultimately matters — their individual relationship with their Savior.

Seeing the connection of everyday habits to our eternal perspective helps us better see the truth in how all we do can truly be to His glory.

“So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)

Preparedness is, for me, one of the most powerful examples of this principle.

DISCUSSION: How would you describe your level of preparedness, both in life and eternally?

How to… Survive Mornings if You’re a Night Owl

Friday’s post entitled Confessions of a Night Owl hopefully illuminated the perspective of individuals who struggle to function well in the morning. Today’s post looks toward helping night owls successfully live in an early-bird society.

A Guide Navigating Mornings Successfully2-25-13 navigate

Over the years, many techniques have increased my ability to become a morning person. Yet, no matter how much effort I put forth, being a morning person has yet to become easy or natural for me. Because of my physical makeup, mornings will always be more of a struggle for me than the rest of the day. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be productive and positive before 10:00AM.

The following suggestions have developed over many years of trial and error. Keep in mind that these suggestions work best for individuals adhering to healthy lifestyle principles. Also keep in mind the importance of individualizing your approach.

  1. Get thinking, but do it gently. For me, this means reading scripture, checking the weather, and drinking something warm. Find simple warm-ups that gently coax your brain toward action.
  2. Do what works. A warm drink, sometimes green tea and sometimes coffee, exists as an essential part of the first ½ hour of my morning. While I don’t like depending on caffeine, sometimes it is necessary for the sake of relationships. Oh yeah, I brush my teeth right away too. Just better for everyone that way.
  3. Don’t make decisions. When I worked outside of the home, I prepared everything the night before. This meant the coffee was ready, my briefcase was ready, my clothes were laid out, and my lunch was packed. Now, I make sure my boys have everything ready for the next school day before they go to bed. They also need to do any “asking” the night before too. No requesting extras the next morning. The fewer decisions to make in the morning, the smoother the morning.
  4. Don’t think about the day ahead. This means I just do what’s next in my routine, knowing that the prep work for the day is already done.
  5. Say as little as possible. For some reason, my tone is either sarcastic or nagging before 10:00AM without great effort on my part to sound otherwise. Even with great effort, I usually sound slightly irritated anyway. So, I simply say as little as possible in the morning. I listen, I hug, and I say goodbye. All are happier that way.

My kids and husband – who are all morning people, by the way – know that I struggle in the morning, and they do their very best to not push my very sensitive buttons. I promise to try not to scowl, and they promise to try to keep to the routine.

As I reflect over my life, I am thankful that my morning personality has gotten gradually friendlier. But, I also realize that the struggle for this to happen really has not gone away, lessened a bit perhaps but not gone.

Establishing a solid routine and developing positive habits can allow the night owls in this world to function and even be productive in the morning, and, dare I say it, even have positive conversations before 10:00AM.

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DISCUSSION: How does growing outside of our natural tendencies help our relationships? Why is struggling in these ways important for connection?

Related Reading: Please read the excellent article entitled “How to Become a Morning Person” by Michael Hyatt at Intentional leadership. He also has a podcast on a related topic entitled “Become More Productive by Reengineering Your morning Ritual.”

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Coffee Habit Chronicles

A habit that began at age twelve. One fed by my mother who brought me coffee in bed every morning throughout my teenage years.

An addiction. Something I needed to wake up every morning. Something I got withdrawal from if I didn’t get my fix.

More than just a habit or an addiction, though, coffee was a part of m, a coffee gene if you will.

My desire for coffee defined me like nothing else. The rich, creamy brew lured me to activity. It encouraged interaction. It simply had to be more than just a stimulating beverage.

Developing the Coffee Habit

Before this daily habit started, I sipped from my parents’ daily habits. My 6’4” dad used to say, “Coffee will stunt your growth. Good thing.” He started drinking coffee at age twelve too. The coffee gene runs deep in my family.

In sixth grade, we sang the “COFFEE” song. I remember being resentful of a song with which I did not agree. After all, how could I know “coffee is not for me” at age 11? Didn’t really matter anyway. I already knew I liked coffee.

In college, I worked at 7:30AM every Saturday morning. When I realized I never saw my co-workers until after 10:00AM and at least four cups of coffee, I finally fully realized the impact the beverage had on my morning personality.

Grown Up Coffee Habit

I remember needing a cup of coffee so badly at work one morning, I skipped cleaning out my mug from the day before. Maybe the hot liquid would dissolve the brown crust on the bottom of the mug and kill any lingering germs. Turns out coffee mugs are a major source of bacteria. Now, my mugs are usually clean.

At age 26, I got pregnant with my oldest son and lost my craving for coffee (along with a desire for food in general). Maybe I no longer needed to drink coffee every morning. But, when my son was six months old and stopped nursing, back to the addiction I obediently went.

Conceding the Coffee Habit

At some point, I gave up trying to give up coffee. I simply decided I could not overcome the power of that aroma that seemed to be everywhere. The mall, restaurants, church… I couldn’t get away. Time to finally admit I didn’t want to get away.

I was never shy about admitting my addiction to coffee. With the onslaught of coffee houses throughout the country, I realized I was not the only person living under the direction of a coffee gene.

Balancing the Coffee Habit

About 25 years after the addiction began, my body demanded I make some significant health changes. One of the culprits, you probably guessed it, was my coffee habit. With my adrenals in overload, I better understood the negative impact of a high level of caffeine constantly in my system.

The past five years have produced an amazing change in my health through a variety of factors, not the least of which is breaking the coffee habit. Drinking coffee is now a deliberate choice and not a need that controls my personality.

I think I actually enjoy coffee more now than when I drank it constantly. Coffee shop outings are a treat, as is an extra cup or two on the weekend. In fact, “Let’s Have Coffee” now exists as more than just an addiction-feeding frenzy. My coffee habit now serves to connect my life in many highly beneficial ways. And I’m glad for this evolution of my coffee habit over the past 30 years.