Posted tagged ‘Maxwell House’

The Unsettledness of Settling

December 29, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                    December 29, 2014

                                           

Growing up in a southern family living in the Appalachia I was “wised up” by many aunts and uncles about things I was not aware of. Many of those things became suspect in their truth years later. For instance, anything that one of my aunts felt I was not yet old enough for they would attach a Surgeon General’s warning to it: It will stunt your growth! I’m sorry that I did not make a list of all the things that had “growth stunt hormones” as part of their chemical make-up.

My mom was big on “settling.” That meant I needed to let dinner “settle a little bit” before I ran like a wild six year old around the backyard. Settling was like a punishment for a young boy…worse than having to do homework! I would rather have read about Dick, Jane, Sally, and Puff than settle. It never occurred to us in those days that reading and settling could be done at the same time. I could have been multi-tasking before we even knew what it was!

“Settling” was a brief time period where we evidently needed to let the mashed potatoes head to one part of our stomach, green beans to another, and the meat loaf to another. It was like a time of “sorting out” for the food creatures in my tum-tum, like they were in a logjam at one of the intestinal curves. Knowing how much Velveeta Cheese we were consuming in our Kentucky-recipe casseroles there was a better than even chance of that happening!

I’ve never been a good settler. My Aunt Irene would look at my fidgeting body and ask me, “Well…Billy Dean, do you have ants in your pants?” And then she would chuckle, and her chuckle in some odd way had a calming effect on “the ants.”

I remember those days like they were yesterday. They were good days…days when a kid felt fully alive and carefree, when an afternoon was going to be punctuated at some point with a sugar cookie that was carefully “lifted” from the cookie jar when no adults were in the room.

As I age a little less gracefully than fine wine I find myself thinking about the past perhaps even more than the future. I suppose it is an aged form of settling. I sit and remember and am thankful. I sip coffee and think of the aroma of Maxwell House that was always percolating in my parent’s kitchen in the morning.

I settle into a time of writing and get pictures of my dad, sitting at the kitchen table, preparing the Sunday School lesson he was to teach, the carefulness of detail, the importance of imparting scriptural truth to a class of moms and dads that needed some insights to help them travel through another week.

Settling has new meaning for me!

My six year old grandson is a the reincarnation of his granddad. He often has ants in his pants…and the ants have mutated into a more hyper form since I was six. I find myself starting to say to him, “Jesse, let’s settle down a little bit!”

And then I bite my lip, and here the chuckle in my head of my Aunt Irene!

 

Coffee Follower

April 29, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                April 29, 2013

 

It started when I was in seminary. One semester I made the foolish decision to sign up for Hebrew. I knew how to say “Shalom” and “Kosher” already, but thought I would be more spiritual if I could say a complete sentence in the Hebrew language. Hebrew agreed with me about as much as a late night taco pack from Jack-In-The-Box. In the midst of trying to figure out how the weird looking letters I started going out to a 24 hour restaurant near campus with two of my classmates, Steve Wamberg and Steve Shafer. We studied our Hebrew flash cards and drank coffee.

The coffee stayed with me, but the Hebrew didn’t.

The coffee began slowly…cream, sugar, and a little coffee with it. I was an Folgers follower, which is kind of like being a Chicago Cub’s fan…the flavorful moments are few and far between, but the person doesn’t know any better. Folgers was it!

I followed Folgers for a number of years, accumulating coffee mugs to wrap around the product. Once in a while there would be a cup of Maxwell House thrown in, but not often.

Then I discovered Nescafe Instant coffee, and my commitment to Folgers was compromised.  There was something about putting those glimmering coffee crystals into my mug and seeing them disappear, unlike the unsightly coffee grounds, as the hot water filled the cup. Nescafe was the bomb!

But bombs don’t last! My caffeinated spirit soon was enticed by Gevalia, which offered a free coffeemaker when you became a new customer. I was drawn in like a Black Friday slobbering shopaholic waiting outside of Best Buy for a half-price blu ray player.

Gevalia may have forced me to grow as a coffee follower more than anything else, because a new shipment was coming to my office every two months. If I didn’t drink it fast enough I was going to have to build a coffee warehouse for my excess. Sometimes commitment comes because we’re forced to go to a deeper level of consumption.

Drinking coffee became a natural part of me, a part of my routine. Saturday nights as I put the finishing touches on the Sunday sermon, I would go through the McDonald’s drive-thru and get two large coffees…two creams and two sugars in each. If McDonald’s would have had a power outage I’m sure the Sundaty sermon would have been adversely effected. It was a sermon prep superstition- two large coffees from McDonald’s. Like the opening prayer in worship, McDonald’s coffee was required for the routine.

After a few years we moved to Colorado Springs and I was introduced to an actual coffeehouse called Pike’s Perk. I started paying close to two bucks for a large coffee, but every tenth cup was free! What a deal! When I didn’t think I could drink any more coffee I discovered that I had another coffee gear that I could crank my fluid intake to. The quicker I consumed the daily featured medium roast the faster I could get to my earthly reward of a freebie! Pike’s Perk took me to a new level of different types of coffee. My coffee education deepened. I learned about Kona and Blue Mountain. I couldn’t believe that I had let myself settle for Folgers all those years. I was now devout, experienced, someone who could tell the difference between bad coffee and heavenly brew.

But then I discovered Starbucks! To begin with it seemed that Starbucks was too bitter, too strong. I reacted against it, like an environmentalist protesting off-shore drilling. Then someone gave me a Starbucks gift card. Like a free ticket to a Dave Matthews Band concert, it had to be used. Saturday night McDonald’s became a distant memory, like a percolator.

I started using my GPS to find Starbucks in unfamiliar cities I happened to be passing through. Once I jumped over a fence to get to a Starbucks in Prince George, British Columbia.

I look at my journey from late night pretender to consuming follower. I’m reading Onward by Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz, about how the coffee giant fought for its life without losing its soul. I’m sure it will bring some new kind of sustenance to my java journey. Perhaps I’ll be able to get back to the root of the different blends.

Who knows what the next step of my pilgrimage will be! I look at all the old mugs in my office that remind me of my past.

It’s interesting how coffee has infiltrated all of my life. It has enabled me to write sermons, keep me awake in the midst of dull conversations, given me something to hold on to as I drive to an appointment in Denver. What would I do without coffee?

STOP! Now I want you to ponder what I have just written, but replace coffee with Jesus. I am a Jesus follower, who happens to like coffee. I confess that I did jump over a fence in Prince George, but please know that I would climb a mountain for Jesus.

Sometimes there are things that we allow to take priority in my life. Interests become obsessions. Likes become imbalanced behavior. A liquid substance becomes a requirement.

I strive after a Jesus who is in love with me. Hard to believe, I know! Coffee stains and all, he still allows me to be identified as a follower.