Posted tagged ‘Starbucks coffee’

Acquired Taste

January 31, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                       January 31, 2018

                                              

There are certain things in life that we partake of because…

Because of family tradition. Because we’ve always done it that way. Because it’s all we have. Because someone does it. Because we were told to.

For a few years at Thanksgiving I’d make oyster dressing. No one else in my household- spouse or any of the three kids- would even get close to the oyster dressing. I made it because…my mom always made it for Thanksgiving! I didn’t even realize that dressing/stuffing could be eaten without oysters! Christmas featured fruitcake. I don’t even like fruitcake, but we always had one for Christmas, so I’d munch away, pretending it was a natural act of mankind.

I acquired a taste for coffee during my last year of seminary when I decided to take a  Hebrew class. Late at night Steve Wamberg, Steve Shaffer, and I would drive over to The Golden Bear restaurant, drink coffee and study Hebrew flash cards. The Hebrew never stayed with me, but the taste for coffee did. Forty years later I’ve acquired a taste for Starbucks coffee, a brew that grew on me!

In recent years I’ve acquired tastes for Brussel sprouts, yogurt, and grits. Such notions would have made me break out in fits of laughter a few years ago.

There also seems to be “acquired tastes” of cultural ideas and trends. Last year the middle school where I coach was saturated with “fidget spinners.” Spinners were those handheld devices that were held by two fingers and spun. They became a “thing” that became classroom distractions. Teachers had nightmares because of fidget spinners. When they thought of the word “annoying” a picture of a fidget spinner would pop up in their minds.

What I noticed about “acquired cultural tastes” is that people sometimes follow along and partake simply because of others. It’s simply peer pressure shaped differently. There are issues or situations where following along is a good thing, a wise thing; and there are issues and situations where following along is ludicrous.

For example, towards the end of the 1800’s the overwhelming opinion in the United States was that Chinese immigrants were to be despised and discriminated against. Many businesses and corporations had policies that prohibited the hiring of Chinese. In fact, a person would be hard pressed to find someone who was sympathetic. The government sure wasn’t! People followed along in that “acquired taste” of hate and racism.

In the turbulence of our present culture recent “acquired tastes” have included national anthem protests, reefer gladness, consuming laundry detergent pods, and openly hoping that certain elected officials meet untimely deaths. They are like opinionated tsunamis that years from now will be looked upon, like the discrimination of Chinese immigrants, as making no sense whatsoever. For now, however, like flags blowing in the wind, people wave in the direction of the spouted opinion.

If a Hollywood starlet or recording artist makes a statement in the midst of one of the many award shows on TV you can be sure that numerous people will acquire the taste of that stance soon after. I guess that sounded somewhat opinionated, didn’t it?

Well, here’s another opinion! Most acquired tastes, with the exception of Starbucks coffee, should be un-acquired!

The Last Stool On the Right

January 21, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                              January 21, 2018

                               

I sit on my stool this morning drinking my Pike Place medium roast and staring out at the snow flying past the window. The storm obscures my usual view of Pike’s Peak, but there is still a sense of peace in the scene in front of me. My earbuds bring soft music to my ears and I sip my morning brew with an attitude of gratitude about God’s hand of grace and abundant blessings.

The last stool on the right at the Starbucks on the corner of Union and Briargate Parkway is my sacred place, or perhaps better phrased, my sacred seat! Some spiritual pessimists may question my choice for where I sense the closeness of God, but I’m okay with that…as long as they stay off my stool! Strange as it may sound, it is from this perch that I have my deepest spiritual ponderings and quiet (with music in my ears) moments with God. Perhaps I should call it “Coffee With Jesus”!

Each one of us needs our space, but we too often neglect to look for some sacred space. We minimize the urgency of holy whisperings in the midst of the culture’s noise. As I sit here this morning God brings people to my mind even as I’m pecking out the words of my blog post.

Ray Stromenger, having a heart procedure tomorrow…my dad passing blood in his urine…one of the young ladies I used to coach in basketball, Autumn Boyles, who torn her ACL in her game last Thursday night…Diana Stucky, who I know will be dealing with a health condition she has in the midst of the change in weather we’re dealing with…my niece, Jennifer Graham, recovering from surgery…Henry McIntosh, in his journey of loss as he grieves his wife’s passing…our neighbor’s, the Nash’s, who lost their eighteen year old grandson back in late October…Nate and Alyssa Price, celebrating the birth of their son. The longer I sit here the more names and faces keep passing through my mind, many because of the down moments of life, but some because of the mountain top events they are shouting about.

Psalm 16:11 says “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence…”

 

That Psalm is referred to as a “miktam”, a term that many believe is unclear or untranslatable, but some believe it meant that the Psalm attached to it was of such importance that it needed to be engraved in the hearts and minds of the ones saying it.

I sit in his presence experiencing the quiet joy of the morning, and reciting those words once again…”You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.”

My sacred spot usually runs through three cups of coffee, one blog post, about fifteen recorded songs, and then it’s time to journey back to the rest of my day. It’s an intimate time, oddly enough, in the midst of a gathering crowd of coffee drinkers.

I’ve warmed the stool for the next journeyer as God has warmed my soul. Amen.

The Complications of Living An Uncomplicated Life

May 25, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                       May 25, 2016

                         

Just when life seems to be less complicated, procedures dot the schedule that make me bite my fingernails. I’m sitting in a waiting room of a medical building where Carol is having a colonoscopy. Oh joy!

She has informed me that I’m next! I heard it kind of like when the school secretary at Victory Heights Elementary In Winchester, Kentucky, told me I was next in the line of condemned students to see Mr. Sterling, the school principal with a strong forehand. I had thrown wet paper towels in the school restroom the previous day…and been caught! A night of no sleep had preceded my waiting room experience. I had tried to feign sickness that morning at home to no avail, kind of like trying to find a reason for canceling a colonoscopy!

Now Carol was looking at me like I had late homework that i was trying to turn in.

“You’re next!” her eyes shouted.

“ But what if I don’t wanta’!”

Not a safe and healthy response.  As Carol goes through her procedure, refusing to have one myself is not an option.

As we age life takes on a different kind of “complicated” to it. I played basketball with the boys on my seventh grade team a couple of days ago. As I climbed the steps from the school gym on the lower level back to the man floor my right knee protested. “Protests” by various parts of my body seem to be as numerous as protestors at Trump and Clinton rallies.  Acid reflux protests against the spaghetti with meat sauce I ate for lunch; my back protests at the bags of weed and feed I carried in; my teeth protest against the Enstrom’s almond toffee candy that I love to bite down on; and my bladder protests the amount of coffee I consumed, but then I’m the victim of a conspiracy protest as I stand at the urinal and can’t…you know!

Life is going down a different aisle of crowded and congested nowadays. When I was pastoring it seemed that each day was filled with appointments, deadlines, visits, meetings, and mad rushes. I longed for quiet moments and an empty schedule. Now many of my days are filled with…the complication of no complications. That means, I have so many possibilities of how the day might proceed, so many books that could be read, people that I’’m thinking about seeing, projects that I’m thinking about beginning…that I sometimes get frustrated for not achieving any of the possibilities. Dinnertime arrives and I shake my head over the fact that I wasted the day.

Don’t get me wrong! I enjoy the freedom of retirement, but I’m still adjusting to the life schedule changes. When you pastor for a long, long time everything revolves around it. Transitioning from ministry, many days, feels like trading in our Honda for a Schwinn (Do they still makes Schwinn bikes?). It’s a different pace that requires a different kind of energy.

Mondays used to be my day off. Now Monday is the day after Sunday, which has been the day…twice a month, I’ve preached at a small church forty-five minutes away from us. It used to be that Monday was my day of recovery from a week of ministry before starting the next week of ministry. Now Monday is the day I don’t need to recover. It’s the day I go to Starbucks at 7:15 in the morning, sit in my favorite seat at the end of the counter that looks out at Pike’s Peak, and write for a couple of hours as I drink a few cups of Pike Place…and then endure the protests at the urinal!

The complications of an uncomplicated life!

Carol is now out of her procedure and is giving me the look…the “You’re next look!” Ugh!

New Year Stuck in the Same Place

January 1, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W. January 1, 2013

Airline carriers are teasers. Last night I sat on the plane that would take us back to Colorado Springs…except we were going to have to make a stop in Des Moines to refuel due to strong head winds. We sat on the plane, got settled, prepared for the safety instructions from the flight attendant, but right when hope raised her head the pilot came on to give us the news. Flight canceled! The new flight adjustments and delays would have meant that the flight crew would have been over their mandated flight hours limit. No go! It’s always a weird feeling to be sitting on a plane that you know you won’t be flying on.

Thus, New Year’s Eve was spent in the United’s customer service line. (Want to be around happy people? Stay away from any customer service line!)

I’ll be okay…probably! I’m scheduled to arrive New Year’s Day afternoon…probably…if things go okay…maybe! What occurs to me is how we react to plans that get changed or detoured? What happens when you set the course ahead and you blow a tire on a speed bump? What happens when your plan for life has to duck because of an unexpected illness, or a loss of job, or a traumatic experience? For example, what happens in the midst of all of the Newtown, Connecticut families that suddenly and cold heartedly had their lives thrown into a whirpool of grief and confusion? What happens to the whole community?

Everyone faces disruptions and tragedies differently…just like the reactions I witnessed from different people in the customer service line last night. Some went with the flow and blow. Others went ballistic! Others were just in shock. Still others looked for a solution that wasn’t there…until the next day. In every difficult situation those reactions…and more…will be encountered. And sometimes we just have to stay stuck for a while. Progressing may not be possible, like nothing has just happened.

Spiritually it seems that God sometimes says “Not Yet.” We must believe in his timing and ways. Our reactions to a “no” from God, or a “wait a while” from him, range from outrage to puzzle solving. We’re very much like Abraham, not in terms of faith, but in terms of trying to populate a generation through Hagar instead of Sarah. Abraham was just one part of the equation, but he thought he was the sum of all the parts.

Meanwhile, I got a food voucher from United and was able to get my Starbucks coffee free this morning. What a deal!

Happy New Year!