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Category Archives: Lotsa Latte

Love Knocked: It’s Time to Answer

I opened the door to find her standing there in thepouring-down rain, hand outstretched toward me with a Peppermint Mocha and Salted Caramel Square just waiting to delight me inside a paper bag. I greeted her with bedhead, three-days-worn pajamas, and a defeated face. Not sure when I had last showered. She doesn’t even drink coffee from my café of choice, but she had the barista handcraft a beverage just for me. She didn’t come in. She took her soaked self back to the van, having delivered friendship in a cup. And it was the real deal in every way:Love Knocked

friendship

and

good coffee.

Before that knock came, I got an email:

“You home right now?”

Me: “Yes, upstairs resting.”

Nothing mattered to me right then. I had tried to drag myself out all day to get a coffee just to be somewhere and exist outside my own grief, but I couldn’t. I listlessly made three breakfasts, packed three lunches, sent three kids out the door to three different buses, and went back to bed. All I knew was that Dad was dying several states away, and that phone call was coming in any minute. I was in some kind of nightmarish limbo—stuck and free-falling.

Then, that knock!

I wanted to but could not in any way will myself to answer it. I simply couldn’t leave my bed. I didn’t know it was raining. I wasn’t even sure who it was. But the knuckles rapped a bit stronger and then my phone burped. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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An ADHD Child and His Not-a-Morning-Person Parent

IMG_3747“Hello. My name is Bonnie, and I am not a morning person….Oh, and I have an ADHD child.”

Notice which order I put those in?

I didn’t define myself by my atypical child.

I took ownership of my own issue. = First step to getting honest and dealing with the core issue: me, not my son with ADHD. (For more on my family’s struggles to make sense of ADHD, refer to the section of blogs dedicated to this subject matter and scroll through to see if anything interests you. My Reading List page also has a list of books that I found helpful.)

This blog is about the little morning explosions that happen when you take a very exuberant ADHD child straight out of bed in the morning and combine that with a sleepy mom who hasn’t had her coffee yet and barely got the first two kids out the door on their earlier buses. The Not-a-Morning-Person Mom. That one.

And it’s also about why I’m the one who has to change.

My almost-nine-year-old Tigger bounces out of bed like a ping pong ball shooting aimlessly around to eventually make it into the right slot—except that, in his head, he isn’t aimless. He’s accomplishing (or attempting to) about 12 things and processing many new ideas at once.

And…he’s eager to share them.

At 7 AM.

Contrast that with my sleepy mind that floated through the past 40 minutes getting the secondary school kids in my house out the door, and I’m still trying to retrieve the thought as to whether or not I packed both of those lunches, and did I tell them I wouldn’t be here right when they got home today?

I might even be thinking about the laundry. The pile of dishes I left last night. The fact I still have yet another lunch and snack to pack. And have I even stopped to use the bathroom this morning?

Is the coffee machine on? Did anyone turn it on yet?

While I’m still on Thought One and a Half, along comes my delightful, hyper, mostly happy youngest son who wants to share every thought in his head.

Right now.

Before coffee.

And I’m an introvert who not only hates morning but thrives on quiet in order to function and process.

“Oh, God, this is where I always feel like I fail.”

And I can get all grumbly, whiny, snappy, snarly, and inward right now. I can certainly get my selfish on. And I regularly do. But his disorder is here to stay. He can’t wish it away. He can “work on” coping skills and body regulation,

but he can’t stop having ADHD.

But I can find ways not to be grumbly, Not-a-Morning-Person, impatient Mom. I can go to bed and get up earlier. Start the coffee sooner. I can ask God to help me handle the bounce of life, energy, and mind from 7 AM until school drop-off. I have the warm hand of Jesus to hold. I can consult Him. I do not have to fail if I ask for His help. The thing is: I will fail if I don’t. I might stumble along and get a few things right now and again, but without the faith that God is carrying us both through these moments without wounds and fallout, I will not be whom I need to be for my son.

Since I pretty much analogize in coffee in my sleep, I will now share one here. (Aren’t you glad I don’t express these analogies in every blog?–wink!) I was thinking that my Little Man is like the air bubbles being blasted into the milk to make a nice frothy topper to the espresso drink. He comes in with full force and makes something flat and boring like milk burst into foamy, airy bubbles that soar above the dark espresso.

I’m the dark espresso…melancholic and weary, heavy and pensive in the morning, and in comes Mr. Bubbles of Life to make the drink more interesting, more varied, lighter. I am the strength under the foam, perhaps, but my strength can either encourage and support that lovely foam, or I can flatten it back to ordinary hot milk, with no vim and vigor—How boring!

My words and my attitude are choices. I can choose to see him as a complement to my personality and embrace the gift of us blended together in the wee, challenging hours of the morning, or I can squash his spirit, his mind, his heart.

It helps to get honest. I hope, if you have similar struggles as a parent (with either typical or atypical children), that you can feel some camaraderie in the struggle in my “get real” moment. I find that being honest about the journey brings me fresh perspective and offers hope that I can do better—not perfect, but better.

I want to “delight in blessing” every chance that I get. I want to “spring forth fresh water” and not muddy it up with my own salty murkiness.

How about you? How do you cope with these struggles? I’d love to hear from you.

James 3:9-12, James, brother of Jesus speaking, ESV

With it [tongue] we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

Psalm 109:17-18, David (not yet king) speaking, ESV

He loved to curse; let curses come upon him!
He did not delight in blessing; may it be far from him!
He clothed himself with cursing as his coat;
may it soak into his body like water,
like oil into his bones!

 

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Keeping the Strength in Our Lattes—and Character!

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A dear friend of mine recently met me for coffee and delighted me with a “publishing congrats” gift: a coffee-bean-shaped ice cube tray to keep some iced espresso on hand so that when I chill out my iced white pumpkin mochas at home, my ice cubes will offer espresso instead of watering down my coffee joy. If you’ve read a blog or two so far, you probably know how much coffee and I get along. We are companions of the sweetest sort. The sounds of my coffee machine grinding beans and whirring foam in the morning really do motivate me to not just go straight back to bed after the school buses roll away.

So, as proud as I am to have these awesome ice cubes keeping the coffee strength and love fully rocking my espresso drinks, I started thinking about how much we each need to keep the strength in our character. What does that look like? How do we do that? Where can we improve (because we all can)? Some of the things that make me question someone else’s character are exactly what I should be keeping in check in mine (your list may be different, but this is mine):

Gossip
Critical spirit/negativity
Lies
Malice
Sneakiness/deceit
Passive-aggressive behavior
Conflict-avoidance (which is different than drawing boundaries in toxic situations)
Favoritism (preferential treatment of certain groups of people over others)
A need to control/dominate
Selfishness or chronic self-absorption
Anger/bitterness that shows a lack of self-control
A competitiveness that is so extreme it hurts people to get to the top
Taking advantage/using people
Fair-weather friendship
Jealousy
Manipulation

So, when I think about this list, I consider how frequently:

  • I try to steer my kids away from attitudes that come too close to the extreme negative end of the spectrum where you find these traits.
  • I tend to look for friendships that don’t lean heavily in these directions.
  • I desire to right or improve places in myself that veer too close to these characteristics.

I think about how we each have seasons of life where, of course, we are more angry, self-absorbed, bitter, tempted to lie or criticize. The tendencies are human. But if we stay stuck in these places and don’t work on leaving them—and don’t ask God to help us find our way out—we end up perpetually circling the drain, unable to un-do who we’ve become a ways down from our initial stroll at the start of Negative Lane.

Maybe last year nobody would have defined us as bitter or critical, but this year we are the poster child, and people are heading the other direction?

Maybe we have a few close friends willing to keep a hand out for us to grab, but everyone else is running for the hills?

When this happens, we need help.

The Bible says the fruit of the Spirit is:

Galatians 5:22-26, Apostle Paul speaking, ESV
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

That’s lovely, and it truly is an awesome way to live, but if we’re currently chomping regularly on the bitter apple, how do we get from the opposite of “Spirit fruit” to a life that bears that positive fruit, that draws people toward peace and hope instead of offering them darkness? How do we get back into the Light?

Good friendships hold us accountable. Trusted people in our lives can call us out and lovingly remain alongside us as we try to find fresh air again. But Who and what has the power to turn us around, to change us?

Prayer. Asking God’s help (conversation with God, which is prayer). If you put your faith and hope in Christ, confessing your need for Him as your Savior, you have the Holy Spirit within you. “Keeping in step with the Spirit” means to listen to how He guides us.

Romans 12:2-3, Apostle Paul speaking, ESV
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

Paul talks about not conforming to the world. The world—the news being one example—shows us darkness all of the time. It’s easy to take up residence with parts of it and become regular companions. It’s also easy to think of ourselves as “more highly than [we] ought to think.” That is often what is behind a critical spirit.

2 Corinthians 10:5, Apostle Paul speaking, ESV
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.

We have to regularly ask God to cleanse our hearts, to remind us to practice thankfulness, and to take each of our negative thoughts captive and submit them to bow to the reign of Christ in our lives.

For me, asking God to purify my heart is like asking Him to take the watery ice cubes that weaken who I am and replace them with His strength. I like my lattes strong, for sure, but even more so, I love my character strong in Christ. And the only way to do that is to ask Him to take me out of the muck and mire and give me His heart.

How about you?

Psalm 26:2-7, King David speaking, ESV
Prove me, O LORD, and try me; test my heart and my mind.
For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness.
I do not sit with men of falsehood, nor do I consort with hypocrites.
I hate the assembly of evildoers, and I will not sit with the wicked.
I wash my hands in innocence and go around your altar, O LORD,
proclaiming thanksgiving aloud, and telling all your wondrous deeds. 

More on how to renew our minds and live more days outside of the negativity whirlpool than inside can be found in Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day.

 

 

 

 

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Putting the Margins Back into Life, One Latte at a Time

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See this latte? If you’re a coffee drinker, it looks awesome, right? Very inviting. Foamy. Caramel drizzle. Love in a cup, no?

See the mess behind it?

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I left it in the picture on purpose. Because lately, that’s just how I roll.

This little story is about more than a steaming vanilla latte on my counter waiting for me.

It’s about mess.

It’s about rest.

It’s about life with no margins versus life with margins.

As a book author, just days away from Not Just on Sundays hitting the public, I am learning a lot about margins. For formatting reasons, I have to have inside and outside margins, so that there is room for the paper to be cut as needed to make a neat, perfect 6 x 9 book. I also need a gutter margin so that there is space in the binding; when someone opens the book, he/she doesn’t want to try to read my words sinking deep into the middle. Needless to say, without margins, books are an epic fail, a mess. They need clear boundaries: distinct “start” and “stop” places for the words. Even the headers and footers need space in-between themselves and the main text. Otherwise, everything lacks clarity.

It turns out life is that way as well. It needs margins. If I plan back-to-back events with my kids, there is no driving time, no accounting for traffic delays, no time set aside to eat. If I overplan our schedules, I can’t pick three kids up from different locations at the same time. Likewise, if they don’t have any time outside of school, cross country, dance, marching band, and karate, they will not be able to do homework, to get rest, to unwind, to restore themselves.

As it turns out, I can’t publish a book and keep my house clean and meet every need in the kids and finish important conversations and remember people’s birthdays and return phone calls within respectful amounts of time and grocery shop. Nope.

For a while, I was putting pressure on myself that I could do all of those things well. Not long after, I quickly swirled into a tunnel of not only can I not do them, but I suddenly couldn’t remember to stop to take my vitamins, shower, read, eat regular meals, etc.

I started living life without margins.

And, like the text of a poorly formatted book, I bled into the margins.

Publishing term for you. Bleed (blēd) (n.) Text or graphics that extends all the way to the edge of the paper it is printed on. Bleeds are used in publishing for graphical effect and for printed tabs. Most printers cannot print all the way to the edge of the paper, so the only way to produce a bleed is to print on paper larger than the final page size and then trim the paper. (v.) To run to the edge of the paper, thereby producing a bleed.

What did living without margins do?

It bled into my relationships (no time to meet).

It bled into parenting and marriage (a lack of patience).

It bled into my sleep patterns (a screen right before bed and a 1:30 AM bedtime).

It bled into my health (one should get regular rest, meals, exercise).

It bled into my prayer life (quickly zapped-off prayers instead of more time listening to Him and dialoging as if we were at coffee together).

But unlike the cover art of a book that is supposed to bleed over the edges for printing purposes, the text of my life was spilling out of the margins. Text needs con-text. And the con-text of my life was living, breathing, eating time up in blog-writing, book pre-launch and launch, and publishing. There was no margin in my context.

So, the latte on my counter? The one with the trash behind it? Today that is my built-in margin. I’m trying to get them back, one edge at a time. The countertop can remain messy for a few days. I’m not superwoman, after all. The laundry is probably not going to make it upstairs, but it’s folded to be pulled out of the basket. The book will be published. It’s just a matter of days now, hopefully.

But I need to get my edges with a little wiggle room again. Otherwise, I’m, well—edgy. And that’s not only not fun to be with, but it’s a hectic way to live…on the edge.

Margins in books are boundaries for the eye to know where to read without too much busy. They are how the mind sorts out headers and footers, but the printer needs the area also to keep the edges clear for paper being cut without taking text with it. I don’t want to have my text removed—either in my book or my life. Without margins, something gets cut out. It has to. We can only do so much.

Margins in life are boundaries too. They are healthy spaces where we are just still. Where we don’t have something scheduled. Where we have down time. Where we say “no” so we don’t lose our context—or the “text” of who we are.

Today the latte mug sits on the counter, happy to be accompanied by trash that will eventually be thrown out. It represents a choice to respect myself and others around me enough to insert margins again.

Is anyone else also needing some?

I want a “rebuke the wind and waves” of life kind of moment. I want to find “completely calm” again in-between the frenzy. Who’s with me?

Mark 4:39, Apostle John-Mark narrating

He [Jesus] got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

Psalm 131:1-2, David speaking

My heart is not proud, O LORD, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.

*Update since this post was written: Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day published October 1, 2014. It is available in paperback and as an ebook.

This post has been shared with Christian Mommy Blogger, Blessing Counters, and Tell His Story.

 

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Parenting in a Coffee Shop [Excerpt from “Not Just on Sundays”]

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Espressos of Faith offers another excerpt (below) of Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day. One section of the book focuses on coffeehouse stories where life slows down to observation mode, and much can be reflected upon in both the quietness of being still and the white noise hum of sitting in a public space. A great amount of parenting is also done there—both my parenting of my own children and my listening to the Father parent me. Pull up a chair with me for a minute, and imagine (or remember) these moments with your own children. Take a minute to find some rest in your day. Thanks for joining me!

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I enjoy being in a coffee shop for various reasons: to write, read, observe people, talk to a friend, treat someone to a pumpkin latte, etc. Of course, I can come up with almost any excuse to sit in one for a few hours. Really, just smelling the coffee alone calls me in like a beacon. I feel like I’ve finally made it to the mother ship when I smell fresh beans grinding or brewing. But some of my very best parenting moments also happen there. When a child has a particular issue to talk out, we can focus on each other better, away from home, in a different setting. If one of them has a challenging project, I will take that child for a muffin or decaf iced latte to help him or her focus and break down the task into smaller pieces. Several years ago, I took Chickie to a local coffeehouse to plan out her report on fairy tales. On other occasions, we have come just to de-stress and play some Skip-Bo®. During those times, the kids tend to share more of their lives with us.

Read the rest of this entry »

 

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