This is a little piece of my heart. It might not right or helpful, but it’s in there all the same, and I guess I decided to share it.
My Favorite Latte
First, I want you to think about your favorite latte. What does it feel like in your hands? What does it smell like. Close your eyes… That first sip; just a little one as to not unravel the perfectly-poured heart floating beneath the rim. Oh, man. It’s comfortable. Comforting. A little indulgent.
My favorite latte is warm. Served in a white, ceramic mug on a cold day; holding it with both hands feels like vacation. The first sip: is that… real cream? Why, yes it is. Oh, and a little bit of salt, enveloped in flavors of rich, sweet brown sugar. I close my eyes. My goodness.
I never typically finish my coffee, even though I really love it, but I could never possibly leave a drop of my favorite latte on the bottom of that ceramic mug. Heck no! In fact, though it seems I enjoy it fully for a time, it is still gone too quickly.
I guess that’s life.
I stumbled upon my favorite latte. My husband and I visit a new coffee shop every Monday, and this particular Monday we took a hop and a skip over to Ann Arbor to visit Mighty Good Coffee. Drinking delicious coffee has been our secondary goal of these adventures; what we’re really seeking is quality time together, belly laughs, inside jokes, and inspiring conversation that pushes us to one another and helps us grow. But, on this particular day, (while I’m sure all that goodness was there, too) I found coffee. Mighty good coffee.
Our adventures together are not always perfect. They don’t always lead to a great latte. Some days it feels like we’re walking through an amazing place on parallel trails, but we forget to turn and look at one-another. Those days feel just the way they are: a trip, a new place, a cold winter trail.
Other days are amazing. I like to describe them as being “rich.” Like my favorite latte, these days are complex. They’re sprinkled with life-clarifying conversation, impulsive and authentic looks of adoration, surprisingly funny jokes, a warm hand in my hand. These days usually end with heavy eyes and a comfortable confidence that, “this is love.”
Before this post leads me on a winding (and perhaps gushy) trail of dreaminess, I want to say that I think there are a few things that make certain days, and certain lattes, different.
TAKE A SIP, TAKE A LEAP
My husband and I didn’t begin our marriage setting aside a day for us. We, through trial, failure, and frustration, decided that we needed consistent, intentional time together. We both have a tendency to slowly slip into a life of work - yes, we were (and are) workaholics, just dreaming of more time together, time to rest, to be thankful, and to feed our souls. It just didn’t seem realistic at first.
I remember when Misha came to me with the idea that we could travel every Monday, visit a new place, and just have fun. I think I laughed. I wanted to do it, but who does that? No one that I know! Where will we find the time? When we will do our laundry? How will we afford it? Even so, together we decided we would give it a try. We decided to be intentional with this little dream of ours, and friends, we haven’t looked back.
In so many areas of my life I still struggle with make-believe boundaries that separate me from running into my greater purpose; these are beliefs such as, “what is successful,” “what is acceptable,” and “what is realistic.” I would love for these ideas to be crushed under the truth that I can accomplish something meaningful. And, when I look at the lives of the people I love, I want so badly for their own false images and standards to be wiped away. I want them to chase their dreams to do big things, sacrifice in ways that demolish their former lives, find a greater purpose, and just take a leap! Make those changes, and don’t be held back things that do not really matter! Why would I want fear, resources, comfort, pride, or image to motivate me, when I could be motivated by “what is good,” “what is just”, “what life-giving?”
What are your biggest (or maybe even small-ish) dreams that you aren’t chasing because, that’s “not what people do?”
Now, I am not talking about splurging on the new car, or necessarily even doing what it takes to move up in the world in any way. I believe that those choices we make that really change our lives are those made with the intention to really change someone else’s life. And, while finding my favorite latte might not seem selfless, the truth is that my husband and I needed to put aside time together to prioritize our relationship, because we discovered that when we are good together, we are so much better to others. The wisdom and support that I have received from my husband has been life-altering, and has given me the confidence and selflessness to do things I absolutely would have never done without him by my side. And, together, we hope to do greater things.
I think that the days when our adventures are less meaningful, and we miss out on experiencing one-another, typically happen that way because we lose sight of what we’re trying to accomplish. We let our intentionality fall through our fingers, and sometimes we end up confused about how it happened. Those are the days we forget to take the leap.
Yes, perhaps the best dreams are the dreams we go after. And the best days are the ones we spend chasing those dreams.
I am not sure if that salted brown sugar latte is really the best latte I have ever had, but I am sure that it was the best latte I had ever experienced.
My friends, I indulged.
It wasn’t that I had ordered something crazy that I normally wouldn’t allow myself to try. Yes, it was made with real cream, but the latte itself wasn’t the indulgence. Out of the many amazing lattes I have sipped over the past several months, this was the one I allowed myself to really enjoy. I intentionally closed my eyes, blocked out my surroundings, and experienced it. I indulged in the moment and rested in thankfulness. And, when it was over, I was almost surprised to find myself sitting in a noisy coffee shop in the middle of Ann Arbor.
Whether we find ourselves in difficult or happy circumstances, I think God gives us little moments of light-heartedness, comfort, belongingness, kindness, and sentimentality. Oh, and moments of coffee. But, we have the option to acknowledge and appreciate them.
Thinking about this topic, now, the word that comes to mind is “rest.”
I melt at the thought of resting in thankfulness. I long to sit quietly and rewind the beauty that has been weaved through my story. But, I forget to do it. All. The. Time.
Every day seems like a fight to get everything done - even when I really believe in the importance everything I am doing. I need to connect with God and converse with Him daily. I love my job and want to serve my clients well, so my agenda is full of illustrating and designing tasks. I have a husband that I want to connect with every evening. I mentor high school students who I meet with throughout the week. I want to show my friends that they are valued. Each of these responsibilities is an important part of my greater mission in life, but I often feel like I am failing at one or all of them. Life is just so stinkin’ busy.
Especially as I chase my dreams - my greater purpose - I experience moments of difficulty and doubt, as well as moments of clarity and victory. I think that, for all of us, these moments offer an opportunity to be intentional about resting in thankfulness.
Perhaps that looks like closing your eyes, taking a sip, feeling the warmth, tasting the goodness. Perhaps that looks like remembering a walk, a conversation, a glance, his heart. I wonder how our lives might change if we were able to rest in the thankfulness of our beautiful and complex path of choices and circumstances. What if we tried to close our eyes, leave our busyness, and experience a moment or meditate on life's beauty.
We could remember the amazing things about the people we love. We could remember who we were made to be. We could remember the blessings of both the struggles as well as the victories. We could tear up at the thought of someone’s heart or generosity. We could recall the difficulty that brought us strength. We could see a struggle in a new light. We could find clarity.
When I think of the girls I mentor, I imagine a future for them. I hope for them to experience a life without regret or reservation from good - I long for them to wipe away the residue of cultural expectations and freely leap into a plan of intentional impact for the good of others. And, I hope every night when they get home from saving the world that they would reach into their hearts and pull out moments from that day that they treasure...and that they would feel truly blessed.
In all of that, I guess what I am really trying to say is that, perhaps the best life is one in which we risk for our dreams, but seek thankfulness through our circumstances. We strive to discover what we were meant to be, and appreciate each drop.
And, after all, good lattes only last a matter of moments.