Monday, July 16, 2012

Coffee, Anything, and the Soli Deo Gloria Party

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photo credit
I stir my coffee and I think about Grannie.

I've only begun to drink coffee over the last few months, finally trading in my chai lattes for something a bit less...caloric.

I stir my coffee and I think about Grannie, even though she probably wouldn't come near my cup with a ten foot pole.  I use honey instead of sugar, half and half over evaporated milk.  I brew mine in a Mr. Coffee pot, while she used her percolator from the 1950s.  And mine is probably one tenth as strong as hers.

But I stir my coffee and think of how I fixed hers when I was a little girl.  "Two spoonfuls and a smidgen and enough milk to make it caramel brown."  Even though our ways are totally different, I can still relate.  I am bound to her in this coffee-fixing tradition, different but still the same.

What does fixing coffee have to do about a book review of Anything by Jennie Allen?  Allen conveys that even though our "anythings" can look totally different, we are still bonded by the common cause of surrendering it all and serving God out of obedience.

Anything is full of life and hope.  Through her own personal journey, it is clear that the act of praying "anything" can turn your life upside down, but in a way that gives us access to more joy and fulfillment than we could ever imagine.  It is not easy to tell God that we are willing to do anything He would have us do, nor does this act of trust ensure a road that is easily trod.  However, even though there will be hard places, Allen stresses that this life is not supposed to be about easiness and comfort.  But it is when we abandon these false securities, we trade up for ultimate security for our eternal lives.

The book begins with Zac and Jennie praying together, "God we will do anything.  Anything."  They put everything up for the taking -- their house, their cars, their church, the empty bed in their son's room.  Even when things didn't make sense, either to keep or give away, they pushed forward, their road lit by the light of God.  They trusted, even when they could only see five feet in front of them.

I would recommend this book to anyone (plus, I like to support my Austin peeps, even when I don't know them personally).  In my own journey, though, as I talked about before here and here, God has used this book to remind me that when I say anything, I also must be willing to give up anything.  If God points to this, I cannot say to Him, "Oh, why would you want that?  It's so small?  Surely, you don't want that?"

It's the small things that I've realized I cling to most fervently.

I tried an experiment the other day.  In the early morning hours, I wrote down everything I wanted to accomplish in the next sixteen hour period.  I wrote out my whole agenda.  Then, at the bottom of the page, I jotted down this:

But I surrender my agenda to You and I will walk the path YOU have for me today, even if it means deviating from my own.

During the day, not only did I checked off what I did, but I also wrote down things that I was able to do that I didn't even put on the list.

God reminded me that I needed to go to the grocery store just at the time when I realized I could go without kids.

When the kids asked if we could start our family painting that we are creating for the mantel, I said "yes!" because guess what -- spending quality time with the kids was something I forgot to put on the list.

I finished up another project that had been hanging over my head and called back a friend that I neglected the day before.  I got the guest room ready for my nieces, renewed my library books, and took all the kids to the pool.

There were things that were initially on the list that didn't get done, but you know what?

The world didn't topple over.  I didn't even regret not having everything crossed out because there were so many more life-giving events that I got to be a part of that got ADDED to the page in my journal.  What if I had been so focused on my needs, my world, my agenda, my life that I forgot about everyone else?  Sadly, I think it might happen more than I initially thought.

For me, surrendering the small is so new that I think it might be a neat experience to, every day in my quiet time, write down my agenda, and then offer it up.  See what God does?  See what He asks me not to do?  To hand Him the list and let Him become the list -- seeking after only those things that He wants me to paint on my canvas?

Does anyone want to do this experiment with me?  A few days or weeks, writing down our agendas, giving them to God, and chronicling what happens?  I'm a bit excited!  If you want to hop on board, maybe you could email me over the next few weeks about what happened and I can share some of our stories here?

(Disclosure:  I received the book for free from Thomas Nelson Publishers, but all opinions are entirely my own.)
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  1. Welcome to the world of happy coffee drinkers, Jen. We're so glad you're here! And, someday should the Lord be so gracious as to give me grandbabies, I desperately want to be called Grannie!

    But seriously. The idea of praying anything sort of scares the living daylights out of me. I'm a list maker, and I totally get the idea of making a list and then seeing what God adds to it. But anything? That only works if I am utterly convinced that God is good!

  2. I love this idea! I want to live more in the moment, in His moment, the one He wants me to live. Thanks for this challenge! I will be taking you up on it!

  3. that scary moment you realize you got exactly what you prayed for.... coffee helps me through these moments too :) xoxoxo

  4. Hi Jen...I really enjoyed reading your post here! I understand missing your Grannie~ I miss my grandmother more as life goes on, and now that I'm a grandmother. I pray my grandchildren love me as much as I love them! What a special relationship between Grands~ It is a gift from God! ♥♥♥

  5. Ooh so on my list to read! I'm a little scared's a brave prayer to pray.

  6. Oh, how I want to live anything belief - and be brave and courageous and faithful enough to relinquish anything!

    I've never heard of honey in coffee - but what a sweet memory full of precious meaning!

  7. Just picked up ANYTHING today. I agree with Jenn.. I'm a bit scared to open that first page! Love how you are surrendering your agenda- I'm always shocked at how His is different than mine. Your family painting project sounds fun :)

  8. Ah, those pesky small things. I find them harder, too.

  9. Surrendering my agenda to you...
    That is always a hard one, as I cling stubbornly to my to-do list.

    Last night, I spent from midnight to 4am doing Fire Safety Watch at the local school where 400 volunteers are spending the week for our church sponsored work camp.
    Inconvenient? Uncomfortable ?
    Was it the right thing to do so the core group of volunteers could get more sleep?

    When we hand off the list to him as you noted, we do see more clearly what he is asking of us.
    Thank you for the reminder!

  10. **I'm new** :)

    Oh I love this post, just recently I have started to write my to-do list down in my journal BEFORE I have my quiet time because I find that I can then focus on my quite-time without worrying about the things I have 'to-do'. Now I will take it the one step further and hand Him my list ... so inspired ... thank you!

  11. Love both the taste and smell of coffee. You know they say we only have to smell it and it wakes us up. powerful stuff.

    Hey i am in with your experiment. I made a weekly to do list with Ical on my Mac. I copied and pasted your sentence: "But I surrender my agenda to You and I will walk the path YOU have for me today, even if it means deviating from my own." at the top of everyday the next few weeks. Will let you know how this new adventure works.

    I am a list maker but it is MY agenda that I ask God to bless in hindsight - Not His agenda that I have the honor to participate in. backwards, isn't it?

    Good thoughts today, Jen. Hope you are enjoying your vacation

  12. Love the look of your new site... Blessings!

  13. I love the intentional practice of making an agenda and then handing it over to God. As you know, I am constantly working on the act of surrendering (daily, hourly, minute by minute!).

    Love your fresh, new look around here, too!

  14. Wonderful post, Jen! I have Prov. 3:5-6 over my desk " all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths." His plans for us are so much better than our own, if we can just let go!
    Thanks for the great post & for hosting the linkup, and God bless!

  15. we are right in the middle of "anything" now, dear Jen. we do not know God's plans or his reasons for what He allows, and man is it scary. but trusting Him, clinging desperately to Him.

  16. I love your heart...and hoping to share coffee with you soon :)

  17. Why is that I can say I trust God but the "anything" ties my stomach in knots? Why is it easier to say the words than to actually live the words? Why can we give the big things yet hold on to the insignificant? These are the questions I've been asking myself while reading this book. Those and so many more. Your idea of offering schedules to God will bring me one step closer to the "anything." I do like my lists, {sigh} and the completely checked off items is very important in how I view myself as productive vs. unproductive. I have a feeling I'm in for quite a ride!

  18. I love this idea. It may be just what I need. I'll let you know how it goes.


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