Looking Beyond the Bells and Whistles

My favorite place to get coffee is not a major chain.

It doesn’t have couches to sit on, no artisan bread, no CDs to buy, no internet access, no music playing and they don’t take plastic. Cash only, please.

So why is The Whistle Stop Java Shop my favorite place when the perks are few?

The coffee.

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I LOVE the coffee and I love lingering over it with no distractions.

Maybe its age or circumstances in my life changing, but lately I’m examining the choices I make a little more carefully. What do I ultimately want? I can have a great experience at Starbucks or a locally owned coffee shop that’s on trend but ultimately that’s not what I’m looking for.

What I’m looking for is one of two things: 1) a great coffee beverage and 2) the opportunity for relationship. For me, and a lot of people, the phrase “let’s get coffee” isn’t just about the coffee. It’s about getting together with a friend to talk. REALLY talk.

I find that trendy places can’t offer me that and I didn’t realize that until recently when I met a friend at The Whistle Stop and had one of the greatest conversations (and raspberry white chocolate mocha) of my life. There were no distractions. Just me, my friend, two cups of coffee and a quiet patio all to ourselves.

The “extras” aren’t bad, per se but they do distract and take away from the purpose. Everything else is just noise and distracts me from what I really want…coffee and relationship.

Bells and whistles exist in many areas. They try to draw our attention, our time and our wallets. Before you invest, might I suggest taking a few moments to look beyond the bright lights and see if it’s what you really want? You may find that the “coffee” isn’t as good as promised.

I Don’t Think That Means What You Think It Means (a rant of sorts)

I love Story.

Most people would say they love a good story. Not me. I love Story. With a capital “S”.

Story is more to me than a narrative or a retelling of events.

Story is heroes, villains, obstacles, challenges, quests, love, hate, lust, power, money, revenge, mistakes, and fantasy.

Story is an experience.

Story makes you think and challenges what you believed to be true.

Story makes you laugh, makes you angry, makes you uncomfortable and makes you weep.

Story is life. We’re all living our own Story.

As a Christian, the greatest Story ever told changed my life. God is the Author of my faith.

I resonate with and love Story.

My passion for Story often does not bode well in church or with other Christians. I love the television shows Mad Men and Breaking Bad  and have known very few Christians who would admit to watching these shows, let alone liking them. Now I’m not going to fault or criticize anyone who chooses not to watch these shows or any other. Everyone has their own line they do not want to cross and I have mine. Game of Thrones is a show I will not watch. Walking Dead is another. Those two shows cross a line I have drawn for myself.

This is not a post about judging people for where they draw their own boundaries.

I find fault with one specific reason I’ve heard Christians use for their entertainment choices. It boils down to one word.

Glorify.

As in, ” I won’t watch Breaking Bad because it glorifies drug dealers.” or “I can’t believe you watch Mad Men. It glorifies adultery and drinking.”

Umm, no. No, it doesn’t.

Glorify means “to cause to be or treat as being more splendid, excellent, etc., than would normally be considered” (Dictionary.com).

This is where I get frustrated. Breaking Bad is the story of Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with an inoperable lung cancer. His life wasn’t that great to begin with. He works two jobs, lives in a house he can’t afford to make necessary repairs on, his teenage son has cerebral palsy and his wife is pregnant. Now he has cancer. This is a man who is at the end of his rope, knows he’s going to die and makes a decision to secure his family’s financial future after he dies…by cooking meth. Throughout the series, we see Walker make choices he never conceived he would have to make. He has opportunity after opportunity to get out but he’s blinded by his goal and lies to himself to get there. Many people are hurt along the way.

There’s no glory here. This is a story of a good man going bad. A man who makes one decision that casts his life on a spiral downward. Something that many of us do every day.

Mad Men is similar. Don Draper is an advertising executive in the 1960’s who has it all. The job, the wife, the kids, the house, the money. But he’s a tragically broken man. Initially, I couldn’t stand the show or the character but the more I watched and learned about the character’s past, he became more sympathetic to me.

Sometimes.

He still angers me. He hurts those closest to him and makes awful choices. He seems to be incapable of being faithful to any woman and given his back story, I can understand why. I haven’t seen the latest season yet but I wonder if Don Draper wants to die. I think he’s in that much pain. I think most of the characters are in so much pain, they are subconsciously trying to destroy themselves.

Or at least dull the pain.

Just like a lot of us do.

They experience the consequences of their actions. There’s no glory here either.

I guess my point is this: watch what you want to watch. Draw your own boundaries. You’ll get no judgement from me. But, please, PAY ATTENTION to Story. There’s a lot going on besides what you just see with your eyes. Do the work and think about what the writer is saying.

Those skills can then be used when living your own Story and learning the Story of others.

Update: And The Winner Is…

Update:  I had selected a winner for this book but the winner also entered another giveaway I had on my Facebook page under another name. She agreed to only one giveaway but still did not give me her actual name or an address to send her prize to. I am not disparaging this person’s character or intelligence, but something just isn’t sitting right with me on this and I’m going to have go with my gut and select another winner. I had doubts about this but now that the previous winner’s friends are sending me angry emails, I think I made the right decision.  

The new winner of “Hey God, I’ve Got Some Guy Named Jonah in My Stomach and I Think I’m Gonna Throw Up” is…Michelle K. 

 

Michelle, please contact me with your name and mailing address so I can have FlyPropeller send you a copy of this book. Thanks for reading. 

 

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When a Little Is All You Have

I’ve been saying “no” on a daily basis for the past several months.

No to the women’s retreat.

No to the staff and spouses event.

No to the Girls Night.

These “no’s” were just this month. I’m sure there are more if I stopped to think about it. Up until last week, I gave what I thought were socially accepted excuses but then I decided to be honest. I’m saying “no” because I just can’t. I was never any good at playing the part of a good church wife even on my best day but I tried.

Boy, how I tried.

But I don’t have it in me anymore. The well is almost dry. I say “almost” because I do believe I have a little bit left in me.

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I’m hoping whatever small amount of trust and faith I still have left will be enough for now.

In my wounded and jaded heart, I’m still clinging to the hope that Matthew 17:20 is true. “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move.”

I’m hoping that time and God are the healer of wounds. Right now, both are helping me get enough distance and perspective to see that people are…people. I hold people to too high of a standards and when they hurt me (because if you’re alive and not alone in a cave, people WILL hurt you), it hurts more. I’m also seeing that I didn’t do everything right. In some cases, I’m reaping what I sowed.

I’m still saying “yes” to church (and you have no idea how hard that is) and I forced myself to say “yes” to a small group. But that’s all I can do right now.

And that will have to be enough.

Where We Are

We had our family pictures taken last month.

My initial thoughts were:

  • I’m glad I lost some weight before we did this.
  • Rick looks hot.
  • I love Josh’s hat.
  • My goodness, when did Jacob get so handsome?
  • Ben has had a growth spurt.

The pictures have been framed and are hanging on the wall and now other thoughts are generating.  I think this picture demonstrates where we are as a family.

Jacob is kneeling on one knee. He looks like he can spring into action at any moment. And that’s where he’s at in life right now. Almost ready to stand on his own two feet and leave us for wherever life takes him.

Josh is on both knees. Not ready to test his sea legs and leave, but testing the water. Pulling away from us a bit, but not so far that he can’t get back to us in a hurry.

Ben is right next to Mom and Dad. Exactly where he needs to be.

Rick and I…we’re leaning on each other. Just like we’ve done for the past 18 years.

I have a friend who gets irritated with me when I do this and asks, “Why can’t a picture just be a picture?”

Because sometimes it’s not just a picture.