The beauty of the slow brew…

beautyofslowbrew

I will never forget the way our house used to smell each morning after I brewed a pot of coffee. It wasn’t just any old brand of coffee, either. This was coffee made of rich Ethiopian beans that we would get through a company supporting fair trade and small business opportunities in developing countries. And, as an extra bonus, five dollars of every bag bought went to help fund our pending adoption.

B never really enjoyed coffee until I got him hooked on it –  mainly because of the smell, I think. I was always a bit envious that he didn’t seem to need the coffee to function that day.  He just wanted some because of the experience of drinking its rich goodness. He’d drink some coffee when I’d make it, but not be reliant on it for morning survival. On the weekends, he’d even put some in a mug in the fridge, to cool and drink later in the day. I had built a habit of loading the coffee grounds into the pot the night before, using the fun timer function, so the smell would wake us the next morning with new vigor for the day ahead.

Now it’s all fast brew and K-cups around here, because I’m the only one drinking it. I don’t have much time in the morning, so much like many other facets of my life, it’s often all about function and productivity around here. I want my coffee with my morning quiet time first thing in the morning, and I don’t really want to take the time afterward to clean out the coffee pot. Furthermore, I guess I would feel wasteful if I threw any brewed coffee away.  So for now anyway, K-cups will have to remain.

But K-cups are seriously so very boring. As much as I love my Keurig’s functionality, I’m really not a big fan of it deep down. My coffee isn’t as fresh and there is no real aroma that permeates the room.   There’s nothing really all that great that brews into my mug, showing me that the fastest way isn’t necessarily the best way to brew coffee.  And it’s certainly not the most fragrant.

In the same way, a life thrown together, busily moving to and fro, isn’t always the most beautiful either. Some would stress that productivity is more important than beauty. That the completion of the “to do list” each day is what matters. Quantity over quality. But I would disagree. Because I’ve experienced the sweet smelling aroma of days that are fully lived – senses open and alert to the beauty around me. Fully alive to the smells and sounds and sights of creation that draw me closer to my beautiful Creator.  And other days, more often than I’d like to admit, I’ve taken the fast road and focused only on function and checklists. The difference is quite noticeable.

In this fast moving culture we live in, it’s easy to get caught up in the rat race and constantly live in the mindset of pursuing the fastest way to accomplish things. But is the quickest way really the best way? And does it truly bring us joy?

Maybe a lot of the joy we say we’re missing in our lives can simply be found by just slowing down a little. By breathing. By taking in all that’s around us and letting it slowly brew in our hearts and minds – this slow savoring  of thoughts, prayers, and ultimately – of beauty.

So today, I choose the slower, more savory way to live. I choose to slow down and see what’s around me. I choose to take the longer road when I can, instead of rushing through  the fastest route.   I choose to soak up this one life, and this one day, well. And hey, maybe I’ll even choose to get the coffee pot back out soon just so I can soak up that rich smell again.

Or maybe… just maybe… I’ll even challenge myself to learn to use a French press.  After all, I’ve heard that it’s even slower but more exquisite?  🙂

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Why we should all keep walking…

I don’t know what it is about walking, but it’s really enjoyable for me. And I feel like I don’t do enough of it. Walking is an easy task in and of itself, but it can sometimes be laborious too. You can set out for a walk eager to get some exercise, and come back home exhausted due to the length of the walk you took. Of course, now that I’m trying to train for a half marathon, I feel like walking is a piece of cake. 🙂 I’ve taken the walk for granted until I can’t just walk any more because of a more daunting quest. And then I long for the days when I used to just be able to walk, because running is so much more difficult for me.

I think it’s the same way on our spiritual journeys. I’m out for a long walk and some of the paths I’ve been led down feel like they will never end.  My feet are tired and blistered.  I press on because I know that’s what I’m called to do, but I whine about the steep path I’m on, when sometimes, that same rugged path is really also so stunningly beautiful. Other times I’m walking through thorns and weeds and overgrown bushes, or through never ending flat land where every step feels the same. I don’t feel like I’m getting any closer to my destination in places like that. But the truth is, every step I take gets me closer. And every step I take can bring more adventure ahead. I could come around a corner and see that the landscape has totally changed in an instant. I’m trying to remember that.

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The truth is, I need to appreciate the journey, and some days I honestly just don’t. I grow discontent because I want to see things I don’t have the ability to see, or experience things I can’t experience in that moment. But there is beauty in every step of this path if I learn to look for it. What may look like a weed to some can be shaped like a beautiful flower sticking up from the ground to remind me that there is color on days that seem gray. A dark sky filled with clouds that scream with the promise of rain can be a reminder that God loves to shower His children with good gifts, and rain is one of those gifts that I so often take for granted.

The walk can be a tool used to challenge me to give thanks. It can also keep me close to the ground when everything in me just wants to fly away and escape for awhile.

The walk gets lonely. But that can be a gift too. When I’m alone with my thoughts, I get the gift of perspective. I listen to what the Lord might be trying to tell me instead of to all the voices of the world that love to come crashing in around me. I am focused on what I’m supposed to be focused on in that moment, instead of letting myself get so distracted with  things that really don’t matter or worrying about future paths and destinations.

So I’ll keep walking. Not like I really have a choice, because that’s what He has called me to do until I reach the end of my earthly journey. Some paths are tougher than others, and I can’t always control which one I will be walking on today.  But I can choose my attitude. And my desire is to keep a good one. Not just on the pretty parts of the walk, but on the drab, arduous, and monotonous parts too. And I want to encourage you today to do the same.

Because they all can be a blessing.

And because every step we take on our walks gets us closer to Home.

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When birthdays become life lessons…

Calling all the mamas out there today… Yes, you, with the child you feel like you are constantly disciplining for the same old reason.  The one who wears you out with the way you have to stay on top of them with a balance of discipline and love, wishing you could just love without the discipline for just one day.  Isn’t disciplining so exhausting?  It wears me out and makes me long for a day … {…Read More}

Like a conquering hero…

  Last weekend, the kids and I got tickets to go watch our local orchestra perform for next to nothing.  We got great seats and sat back to listen to an amazing performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony… which, in case you didn’t realize, is actually more than the “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee” part we all know well.  70 whole minutes, in fact.  While the kids started squirming a bit, I tried to follow the … {…Read More}