Going Forward: let’s be coffee beans

I almost didn’t go to my 11:00 class on Tuesday. I know, I know. I’m an awful student. But in my defense, I knew that we wouldn’t be doing anything in class, and its almost Christmas break, and I honestly just didn’t feel like going! That’s a lot of pretty pathetic excuses to give with the risk dropping a letter grade, isn’t it? Nevertheless, that is truly where my mind was when I woke up that morning. But for some reason, in the time that it took to walk to my car and drive to school (which is not a significantly long time), something changed and I bit the bullet and said “Tough crap, Caroline!” and went anyway. And boy am I glad I did because I heard a story in class that day that affected me on a very personal and emotionally triggered level and I want to share it with you. Why? Because, well, I think everyone could use a little bit of this—especially now.

You may have heard the story before. Perhaps in a chain-link email that your grandmother sent you, on another blog, or from a friend or family member, but I hope you’ll read it again with me and absorb what it has to offer. Here we go…

Once upon a time a daughter complained to her father that her life was miserable and that she didn’t know how she was going to make it. She was tired of fighting and struggling all the time. It seemed just as one problem was solved, another one soon followed. Her father took her to the kitchen. He filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire.

Once the three pots began to boil, he placed potatoes in one pot, eggs in the second pot and ground coffee beans in the third pot. He then let them sit and boil, without saying a word to his daughter. The daughter, moaned and impatiently waited, wondering what he was doing. After twenty minutes he turned off the burners. He took the potatoes out of the pot and placed them in a bowl. He pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. He then ladled the coffee out and placed it in a cup.

Turning to her, he asked. “Daughter, what do you see?” “Potatoes, eggs and coffee,” she hastily replied.

“Look closer”, he said, “and touch the potatoes.” She did and noted that they were soft.

He then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg.

Finally, he asked her to sip the coffee. Its rich aroma brought a smile to her face.

“Father, what does this mean?” she asked.

He then explained that the potatoes, the eggs and coffee beans had each faced the same adversity-the boiling water. However, each one reacted differently. The potato went in strong, hard and unrelenting, but in boiling water, it became soft and weak. The egg was fragile, with the thin outer shell protecting its liquid interior until it was put in the boiling water. Then the inside of the egg became hard. However, the ground coffee beans were unique. After they were exposed to the boiling water, they changed the water and created something new.

“Which one are you?” he asked his daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a potato, an egg, or a coffee bean?”

{before I go into fully talking about this story, I need to talk about something else first. Stick with me though, I promise you we’ll get back to it}

It will come as a surprise to those of you who know me well to find out that I have been internally struggling to look forward to celebrating Christmas this year. In fact, I want to take a brief moment to apologize for lying to you on some occasions. If you’ve seen me at all between October 1st and now I’ve probably been very high-spirited in saying how excited I am for Christmas. This was, unfortunately, not 100% true. I think the reason I kept saying it was because I was not only trying to convince you how excited I was, but I was also trying to convince myself that I could look forward to the excitement of the holiday despite what has been happening in and all around me.

With the fires in Gatlinburg consuming homes and livelihoods in flames, the never-ceasing and heartbreaking tragedies in Aleppo, the evil and lawlessness in the world and in our country that has invaded our timelines, newsfeeds, and TV screens for over a year now, and my own personal duals with anxiety and worry about almost anything and everything in my life, I feel as though I have all but been ripped apart at the seams. I find that I keep asking myself, “How can I listen to Bing Crosby’s Christmas album, and make gingerbread cookies, and put up a Christmas tree when people’s lives are being turned upside-down, twisted inside-out, and taken away from them in every corner of the world?”, “How can I rejoice in this story when it feels like anxiety, nervousness, and worry are running rampant inside my head?” I don’t know about you, but for me finding God in all of this icky-ness feels like the most impossible “Where’s Waldo” book ever. I’ve been pleading with God to give me clues as to where He is and how to move forward. How to have hope. I guess these are all questions that come with age. Thus far, year 20 of my life has seemed to be a little spicier and have a bit more bite than years past. But amidst all of these questions and in spite of all the spice, God—like He always does and always will do—has served up some truth, some love, and some hope to my table and I want to invite you to sit down because this couldn’t be a more perfect time to invite somebody to your table and tell a very important story.

What story you may ask?

The Christmas Story. The birth of a Savior. The birth of Jesus.

You see, when Jesus was born there was a cruel, power-hungry, and sadistic king on the throne of Judea. He was a tyrant who was so afraid to lose his power that he killed anyone who threatened to take it from him. So, when he heard that a savior was to be born in Bethlehem he told the Magi to go find the baby so he could “worship” Him. The only thing is, he was lying. He was scared about what would happen to his power when Jesus was born so he ordered that every child in Bethlehem under the age of 2 be murdered. At the same time as the horrid reign of Herod the Great, there was also Caesar Augustus. Because of Caesar’s tax census, Mary and Joseph were required to travel from Jerusalem to their home town of Bethlehem. A journey totaling about 70 miles of mostly walking and possibly riding a donkey. A journey that would have proven to be very difficult for a very pregnant Mary. And of course, as we all know, Mary and Joseph had some difficulty finding a place to stay.  Overall, the trip wasn’t easy. I imagine they were both exhausted and Mary was more than likely in a lot of pain. So what better way to relax than to give birth in the middle of the night surrounded by smelly animals!?

You know the story.

The reason I’m telling it?

To remind us that Jesus wasn’t born in the midst of a comfortable, nostalgic, and cozy life. He was born in the midst of adversity, struggle, and danger in the middle of the night.

The reason it has been difficult for me to think about celebrating is because all of these years I’ve assumed that I have to be happy and comfortable, and essentially snuggled up in a blanket next to a fire to take in the story. Reality check, Caroline! That’s not the way it worked.  Jesus, the Son of God, the Light of the World, wasn’t born on a warm and cushy bed with stuffed toys and a nice crib to go home to. He was born from a 15-year-old(-ish) virgin, in the hay of a smelly stable in the middle of night, in a country ruled by a king who wanted him dead. And now in a world where the water is boiling, evil festers, the Word of God is getting tossed out the window on so many occasions, we have a choice. Are we a potato? An egg? Or are we coffee beans?  In other words, in the wake of the current realities of the world in which we live, are we growing weak? Are we becoming hard-hearted and hopeless? Or are we telling the story and the changing the culture? (See… I told you I’d get back to it.)

If you’re like me and have struggled or perhaps still are struggling to get into the Christmas spirit for any reason, remind yourself of the truths and the promises that came with Jesus’ birth because there is hope in Him and it’s so much closer than we think.

I’ve decided I want to be a coffee bean (I know that sounds a little strange lol) . Not just for this Christmas, but for the rest of my life. I want to take the hope and the promises that were born into the world thousands of years ago in the form of an innocent baby and use it to change the boiling water that we live in today into something good. So as we all go forward and trudge our way through this muck I encourage you to remember two things.

  1. Remember to tell the story. Even though the Christmas spirit may not be the easiest thing for you to get into right now, the story of Jesus’ birth is something that deserves to be told over and over and over again. No matter what you’re going through, I promise it will give you hope and a reason to celebrate.
  2. Let’s all be coffee beans! It’s important to remind yourself that while we are going through a particularly trying phase of life, with the help from a God who is always fighting for us, He has given us the power to make something beautiful and inviting out of the hot water we face everyday.

Merry Christmas! I hope, going forward, your days will be filled with unfailing hope and wrapped in genuine love and relentless joy.

Matthew 1:23

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (which means “God with us”).”

2 Corinthians 2:14-15

“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.”

 

Some things that helped me…

The Birth of Jesus

Answers

Struggles of Our Life (& the girl who told the story in class. She deserves some thanks!)

The Bible

5 thoughts on “Going Forward: let’s be coffee beans

  1. OH, sweet Caroline (that should be a song–oh wait, it is:) Your words and thoughts are so beautifully written. I have always loved your heart for God and your teachable spirit. Thank you for reminding us to be more like coffee and less like eggs and potatoes 🙂 No, seriously, I love the imagery of the coffee bean. My hearts desire is to live more like Paul. Content under any circumstance (in plenty or in want). Because we know where our hope comes from. And it’s not from things of this world. Thank you for your message of encouragement. And for keeping faith real. I’m honored to do life with you…….Mama Sabs

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Caroline, thanks for this insightful blog. Christmas is a hard time for many and for reasons that are too numerous to mention but you are not alone. Coffee bean you are and you will always smell heavenly to those around you because you have put Christ first. Love that story and had just read it yesterday somewhere but the meaning behind it is so profound as you point out. Hangest thou in there and keep brewing and sharing. God has and will continue to brew you in to His beverage that will continue to delight others. So glad you and my precious Christina’s paths crossed at Wesleyan. Have a marvelous Christmas brewing and sharing His love with others.
    Blessings.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ah Caroline I may be a little late on this one, but I just read your post and am so amazed by your words. Thank you for using your vulnerability to shine His light and spread His love through this blog. I absolutely adore the coffee bean imagery (as I am quite a metaphorical person myself lol) and am so thankful that you shared this story. Here’s to a life striving to be more like a coffee bean and flavoring the world with Jesus ❤

    Like

    1. awww Kelsey! Thank you so much! I was just reading your blog the other day and absolutely ditto for you. you’re so amazing. your wisdom for your age as well as transparency to share what is on your heart is inspiring and thought-provoking. Thank you ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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