Sprinkles in My Coffee and Tea at Midnight

The other night, I could not fall asleep. I laid in bed and was completely unable to turn my brain off. It raced and raced and raced and…well you get the point. My thoughts bounced to my family back home, what I want my future home to look like, the times my Granny would stack the deck playing Solitaire, to praying for my husband and children and grandchildren. I thought of what life in the Middle East will look like, what all my friends will look like when they grow old, and new kinds of food and dinner parties and creating spaces for comfort and hope and restoration. I decided around 4:30 a.m. that if I was awake at 5:30, then I would get up for the day. Thankfully, I fell asleep at 5.

A few hours later I woke up and made a decision. A life-altering decision, for that matter. Before my feet hit the floor, I decided that I would not let the lack of sleep affect my day, my attitude, my emotions. My friendships would not be altered, my thoughts would be steadfast, and my spirit would be full. The joy of the Lord is my strength, I sung to myself as I shuffled across the room and opened the door.

I went into the kitchen and poured some coffee. Normally, I just put sugar in my coffee, but this was a different day. A little dash of sugar and a little dash of cinnamon. A tiny splash of milk to top it off. But it wasn’t finished. Although I do not like my coffee too sweet, I looked around the kitchen for that missing piece. Next thing I knew, I was pouring sprinkles in my coffee.

Excuse me, what?? That’s probably one of the strangest things I’ve ever heard or done myself. They don’t even float. They sunk straight to the bottom of the mug and mixed in with all the other yumminess that was in there. I couldn’t even see the reds and yellows and blues that went in. But as soon as I took a sip, I knew it was what I needed. The joy of the Lord is my strength. I felt so alive, so awake, so sensitive to the goodness of life.

20140126-183128.jpg

I was beyond ready to sleep by the time I crawled into bed for the night, but my body would not shut down. I had far surpassed being tired and had quickly become delirious. After a few hours, I reluctantly went into the kitchen as a friend followed and shut the door. The house was still, save for a few people talking in the living room. With exhausted tears welling in my eyes, I boiled some hot water and poured a cup of tea. I sat with my head in my arms as my friend silently scratched my back and the tea steeped. Once the tea had cooled enough for me to drink, it happened. That first sip broke the dam and tears flooded my face. The peace of God surpasses my understanding.

There’s something about drinks that reveal a tangibility of the Triune God. When God established the various offerings in the Old Testament, He instated the drink offering, which was typically given with another offering, and symbolized restoration, devotion, and sacrifice. Jesus used wine as the outcome of His first miracle, as well as a representation of His poured out blood in the Upper Room. The believer is filled with Holy Spirit, and out of him flows rivers of living water, getting everyone around him soaked with the Spirit. Sprinkles in my coffee fills me with the joy that indwells me, and hot tea at night embraces my soul with the peace of a warm hug.

At the table of God, there’s always enough to drink, whether water or wine or juice or coffee, love or patience or gentleness or joy. The woman at the well in John 4 knew that the well is deep. Do you?

Consuming Fire

Over time, I have been unofficially designated as the fire maker in my house here in Spain. Which is actually humorous considering I grew up with a gas fireplace in Texas, where I was afraid to even turn it on from fear of blowing up the house. Before I came to Spain, I had only ever started maybe two real fires in my life, and now I make one here almost on a daily basis. I guess my inner Girl Scout (which I never was) is coming to fruition.

Recently, God has been speaking to me about the spiritual realm through the physical realm in very strong and obvious ways; most significantly, through fire.

There is power in fire. It brings light into darkness, cultivates heat in cold, sends people into deep thought and deep laughter. Fires can be a small flame that barely flickers, or a roaring lion in the corner of a living room. There is something beyond mesmerizing about fires. I think it is through the dynamic power of fire that God has chosen it to teach me.

The last few weeks of 2013 and first week of 2014 was a challenging time. I would wake up in the middle of the night, spinning in my bed, tangled in my comforter, as if I was fighting something. Turns out, my spirit was wrestling with the Spirit of God. I had stepped back into the forest of my past and was still clinging to others’ love as priority in my life. My spirit was wrestling Holy Spirit because I was not ready to completely give up my desire for love from man in order to receive God’s complete love in my life and to have it as number one.

For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God. -Deuteronomy 4:24

God invaded my dreams one night and came to me in a beautiful way, where I watched the lies, the insecurities, the weaknesses of my past die. He then romanced me as my groom and His bride, opening my heart to start to receive His love for me. However, the next day, something happened. I was making a fire for the evening and bumped my hand on the inside of the fireplace. Sizzling and smoke radiated from my hand, and I ended up with a quarter-sized burn.

Are you done playing with fire? Are you tired of getting burned?

I couldn’t contain the tears that welled up in my eyes. Not from the pain of my burn, but from the pain and longing in my heart.

Yes, yes, yes! I’m done playing with fire. I’m exhausted from getting burned. From seeking unhealthy relationships. From seeking the love of others. From finding my identity in what people think and say. I’m done. I’m tired. I just want you, Jesus!

The healing process of a burn is painful. Anything that touched my hand would send throbbing pain up my arm, and it felt like a never-ending cycle of Neosporin, Aleve, and prayers for no scarring. Sometimes, my hand would throb from the heat and pressure of healing. I learned from my mother that whenever something is broken or sprained, it is best to keep it elevated above the heart so blood flow can decrease the swelling. I found that when my hand would start to hurt, the best thing to do was hold it against my heart. My burn would instantly stop throbbing and relief would come. Wounds and burns are healed only when we press them against the heart of the Father, as His pure love draws tenderly against us and redeeming blood flows in.

Last night, I had a close call again when starting the evening fire. The wood had been sparking when new flames ignited; however, I kept blowing and wanting the fire to grow. As soon as I stood up and started walking away, a flame shot out of the fireplace and bursted like fireworks on the 4th of July. My housemate was with me and saw what happened. We both froze, and as he let out a laugh of unbelief that I didn’t get burned, I sat on the couch and teared up with gratitude that I didn’t get burned. It was as if Holy Spirit drew me away from the flames and the love of God protected me from getting burned again.

And I think that’s what God does. He doesn’t put us in situations that will force us to get hurt; we do it to ourselves and to each other. When we listen to His voice and leading, His Spirit guides us, causing us to flee from sin and danger, death and destruction. But if we’re not careful and attentive, we will get burned. Thankfully, God’s love for us never ends, never runs out, always wants to permeate our dreams, our lives, our hearts. It’s when His love invades that our wounds are healed and the fullness of our hearts’ desires are fulfilled.

But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angles, nor principalities, not things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. -Romans 8:37-39