French Press

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“French Press”
9×12; mixed media

It’s been a long week here. The children staying home from school 4 out of 5 days this week completely derailed my plans. Plus, I have a willful first grader at home and it appears that she is six going on sixteen! We are facing the sobering reality that as parents, we can do what we can to teach our children what is right, but a lot of what they decide to do is out of our control. Terrifying. All at once I want them to be self-sufficient but also do exactly what I say. I guess it doesn’t work this way.

Enter: God…

…and faith that the big stuff that’s out of our hands is in His. It’s hard to do what you can and detach from the rest, but I am learning that it’s essential to sanity and survival.

In any case, amidst the hard work of parenting, there was magical snow…waking up to snow on Wednesday morning, the entire yard covered in smooth and unsullied white. I remember drinking my first cup of coffee that morning standing at the window, looking at the beauty just beyond the glass, life seeming to stand still for just a moment.

Life is such a blend of struggle and beauty. I suppose we are always bouncing between the two and grappling with where to land amidst the polarity.

The above painting is one that I did a few months ago, but it felt appropriate to share it today. Coffee and poetry in scripture have helped sustain me this week. Trusting in Him…pouring out my heart to Him. I am thankful for faith–for freedom that comes in trust–and for creative endeavors that bring me peace and calm even when life doesn’t go as planned!

meet for coffee

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I was talking on the phone with a great friend of mine last week. It was a chilly autumn day, the first week of November, gray skies and orange leaves. She said that days like these remind her of when we were single, twenty-something, college students. We used to drive around in our cars and blare David Gray from the stereo, the perfect compliment to the moody weather. We used to get coffee together and talk for hours. She asked,

“Who gets coffee anymore?”

We are both thirty-somethings now. We live thousands of miles apart. Life has changed and suddenly caught up to us and we find ourselves perplexed by these changes and wondering how we got here. The twenties were so fast paced. We took our freedom for granted. We could spend hours at a time in a coffee shop talking about life and how we fit into it. Aging was not even on our radar. Yet now, here we are, with full-time jobs or children or domestic duties. Responsibility has entered the picture and we are suddenly appreciating the days when we could drop anything and meet up at the local Caribou for a couple of hours.

Who meets for coffee anymore?

Surely, not me, a mother of three. If I took all my kids to a Starbucks I can visualize the amount of damage they’d accomplish within a two minute period, the number of disapproving stares we’d summon from strangers, the kind of spectacle we would be. Meeting for coffee would require some forethought and planning–two things that aren’t my strong suit–not to mention a babysitter. It kind of kills the charm of it, I suppose. Spontaneity is part of what makes coffee time so much fun.

I still have coffee with friends, though now I invite them over to my house. I make us a pot in my faithful drip machine and we try to have meaningful conversation amidst a plethora of interruptions–fighting children, whining children, children who need help wiping, children who need a snack. Such is life in this season. It looks different than it used to, but there is still a lot of sweetness there.

Do you still meet up with people for coffee? Is this something that is passe, or is it just a reflection of the season of life you are in? What does meeting up for coffee look like for you?

french press saturday

I started French Press Saturday on my last blog and I thought I’d bring it back. Now that our family has transitioned out of survival mode and into what feels like “normal” life, our days have taken on more structure and stability. Chris has resumed his usual routine of taking the kids to the YMCA each Saturday morning, which means that this is one of my most savored times during the week–the perfect moment to sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee and some solitude.

Since I’ve been revisiting our time in China, I thought I’d do a China themed French Press post. After all, the topic of coffee during our China visit deserves a post of its own. Coffee is that important in my world. My life is measured out and categorized by cups of coffee. Like music and scent, my memories are strongly attached and provoked by the taste of it.

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I was anticipating that the coffee in China would be awful. One thinks of green tea when one thinks of China, not a steaming cup of dark, bold espresso. I love tea, but only when it is a compliment to, not a replacement for coffee. Therefore, I’d packed liberal amounts of Starbucks Via packets to get us through the sticky parts. We always had an electric tea kettle in our various hotel rooms, so Chris and I were able to make our own instant coffee during the afternoons when Ren napped, or sometimes in the morning too, if we couldn’t wait until our first breakfast dose.

We spent the first week of our trip in the city of Zheng Zhou, which is the capitol of Henan province, where Ren is from. Our hotel in Zheng Zhou surprisingly served some of the best coffee I’ve ever had. Breakfast was the best part of our day (another post about that), mostly because of the coffee–cafe americano, hot and velvety, served in limitless amounts. I drank about three cups each morning. Shamelessly.

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We spent the second week of our trip in Guangzhou, which is where all of the American families pass through before returning to the States with their children. Guangzhou is in the south of China, near Hong Kong, and is more westernized than many other parts of the country, which means there was a Starbucks right across the street from our hotel. I tried my standard tall americano at the Chinese Starbucks. It was great…until I added some half and half…and dairy products are an entirely different topic in China. That was my first and last Starbucks coffee in Guangzhou, but I did buy this commercial mug as a souvenir.

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I am drinking my second cup of Saturday morning coffee from this mug as I type. Each time I use it, it reminds me that God provides for our daily needs. Sometimes, I experience His love most tangibly through a proper cup of coffee.