The Birth of Drinking Cafe Latte at 1pm

Originally posted to Blogspot on:

November 6, 2005:

Well, I’ve known about this blogging thing for awhile, but since I don’t journal that often, I haven’t really done much to take advantage of it. But for some reason in my half-awake state (at 1pm on a Sunday), I feel like doing something different. Maybe it’s just the fact that I still don’t have any new emails to appreciate, or that the other site I visit from time to time hasn’t had much activity in the last couple days–I can’t really blame it on boredom because I haven’t been up long enough today to blame it on boredom. But, whatever the reason, I thought I’d look up some information about setting up my own webpage (which I also have been meaning to do for the last year or so ever since I put my first book online for preview purposes), and somehow I came across this again. Probably a strange time to all of a sudden decide to take a look at how this thing works, but then I think there’s enough to think about lately that it’s worth writing it all down.

The first thing I discovered just now is that highlighting any block of text on this site while I’m typing is bad. Evidently when I press any directional key while a word or segment is highlighted, it deletes it. Good thing I know how the copy function works (Ctrl+C to copy, Ctrl+V to paste for those who are savvy enough to write a blog, but not enough to know about the copy and paste functions). So, just thought I’d mention that.

Well, now that I’m starting to wake up a bit from this caffeine shot, maybe I can start writing about some pertinent issues–at least enough to get me to the point that my sister will start bugging me for the telephone (I’m still on dial-up). Something tells me that won’t be long from now. She’s 13.

The biggest thing I’ve been thinking about lately is the issue of prioritizing. A few months ago I listed a series of projects that I would like to finish over the course of the next three years, and listed them in such a way to give old projects priority over new projects. I decided I had to do this because I just kept adding too many new things to my already extensive plate, and I just wasn’t getting anything finished. So, now that I’ve written out this planner (back in April), I’ve already finished some outstanding projects that I started way back in 2001, though there are others still on the waiting list.

So far the plan had been working out nicely, but then something happened around the third week of September. An outstanding idea came to me for a novel, and I thought it was something I had to write now, not at the end of my list. The idea was too fresh, and too important to let it sit, so I knocked everything else on the wayside and started working on this novel…about panhandlers.

Yes, I’m writing a novel about panhandlers. And it’s important. I’m not going to discuss the book itself any further because I’m only on Chapter 9, but it’s something that I can’t wait three or four years down the road to write–especially with my ten-book epic in the planning stages. Once I start working on the epic, that’ll be my writing life for the next several to many years, so I’d rather get my other stuff finished first.

But back to the priorities–the hardest thing about keeping them is knowing that new ideas keep filtering in, and somewhere along the line I have to cut the new ones off and keep whittling away at the old ones. That can get a bit unnerving when it means going back to projects that I haven’t touched in several years. Figure, the spirit behind my reasons for writing them in the first place had changed over the break period, and I’m not sure that I can go into the stories with the same heart that I originally began them with. Sure, I can finish the stories with some feeling, but after three years the risk is higher that they’ll be more objective. That doesn’t mean they’ll ultimately suck, it just means that they’ll be different than what I probably intended them to be.

But that’s all up for debate I guess.

So, what am I doing now, now that I’ve put my planner on the backburner (which I suppose defeats the purpose of having a planner)? I’m typing in all the handwritten content I wrote for my book during the massive power outage we had a couple weeks ago. Before the power went out Monday morning at 8am on October 24, I had written up to the 4th page in Chapter 6, which scaled down to book size will equal page 7. Pretty sizable accomplishment given that I just started the thing about four weeks earlier. Once the power went out, I stayed awake for three hours watching the news on a battery-powered television, and then I fell asleep about ten minutes after the eye of Wilma passed through and slammed us with the back eyewall, which kicked up our winds from about 15mph or so to more than 100mph in less than 30 seconds. For those who have never experienced that, it’s pretty cool (I’ve always imagined the Rapture to be something like that). But obviously the sudden increase plays havoc with your backyard, and the turbine on your roof will eventually fly off after the plastic bag covering it (to keep the rain out of the attic) rips apart. And that’s after you decide to bring in the stray cat who had been riding out the first half of the storm underneath the metal desk that you used to have in your bedroom before you picked up a better wooden desk with a hutch from Best Buy a little more than a year earlier, because the back side of the storm will bring in winds from the opposite direction, which would ultimately mean smacking the poor helpless feline right in the face with 100+mph winds, and no stray cat wants that, and neither did we. So we had our turbine fly off and we brought in a stray cat. But that’s derailing the point that when I woke up to the gentle cold front that followed the hurricane, and after I took my pictures of the damage (which I did after Charley and Frances last year, but not for Jeanne because I really didn’t know which damage belonged to her and which belonged to Frances), I ate a nice cold meal, read a few chapters of Douglas Adams’ s last book called The Salmon of Doubt, and then went on to write by hand on line-paper my own chapters. Over the course of a week I managed to write 55 pages stretching from the 1/3 point of Chapter 6 all the way to the 1/3 point of Chapter 9. Then last Tuesday I went to have a family dinner with friends of my mom’s, and managed to start my lengthy typing session over there, which thankfully I was able to resume in my own house the next evening when our power finally came back on. So now, after several days of hunching over my computer keyboard, I’m finally at the point that I can transcribe Chapter 9, which means I’ll be back on pace with the novel by the end of the day today. And that’s good to know because I hate having to write the same thing twice, especially when it involves nearly 20,000 words.

On another note, I just discovered that if you click an area of the page with your left mouse button after highlighting your text, you can save what you wrote. Interesting.

So, that’s the start of this blogging journey. I don’t know how often I’ll keep up with it because I don’t journal often, and I hate having to combat for the phone, but I can see why people are addicted to this, so I don’t know. Maybe next time I can talk about why I liked the new Batman movie way more than the last four. I don’t know…we’ll see what happens. I just know that I need to get a website soon so that I can showcase my books, so that people might actually want to buy them. That would be nice too.

Well, here I go back to the typing thing.

Complacency

This is another journal I had written before starting a blog, so I’ll be posting it to the current timeline rather than backdating it. It’s about the things we try to get away with in our hearts, minds, and spirits, even when we know better. Again, it’s an old gem worth sharing with anyone who is looking for a challenge.

Edit: Actually, as of March 23, 2014, I’m creating a new category for journals written “Before Cafe Latte,” so this will be moved there.

Originally written on March 8, 2005:

On a Friday afternoon about a week-and-a-half ago, a guy at work discussed the chapter in Colossians about Christian living. Specifically he brought up the issue about coarse language, and the Bible’s instruction regarding its use. I was a bit surprised at first because I didn’t realize anyone at my job actually read the Bible. But after the initial shock passed about a second or two later, I started thinking about what he was saying.

I went home that night to read Colossians 3 again, since it had been so long since I read it last. The context of the chapter involved putting the old self behind us as we embrace the life Christ restored in us. This means putting away all forms of idolatry, and those ugly things that disgrace the Lord. The one verse in particular that the guy at work had brought up to another coworker was Colossians 3:8, which states (according to the New American Standard), “But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.” He brought this up because the workplace is a haven for “abusive speech,” and he wanted to show that there is in fact a verse that addresses that.

Now, I walked in on the middle of this conversation, but I caught enough of it to get me thinking about some things. It seems that most of us these days take God’s grace for granted. I know my biggest weaknesses involve anger and endurance. I know other Christians who deal with slander and abusive speech. Some Christians even struggle with immorality. Some of us recognize our struggles and do what we can to fight them. Others take the grace of God for granted and continue to live life however they feel like.

I wanted to write this down in my journal because I know I struggle with complacency. When I find my endurance failing, I find myself giving up on the fight and I just cave into whatever I tried resisting. It sucks because I know Christ saved me, but I feel as though I’ve done nothing to really appreciate that. I mean, He lived thirty-three years free of sin, endured an immense amount of pain on the cross to give me an eternity worth having, and I can’t even do my part to at least try to emulate His love. In twenty-eight years of life, I managed to defile my heart with anger, lust, destructive feelings, backbiting, and worse of all, complacency many, many times—sometimes even on a daily basis, and I’m still five years short of living Jesus’ life span. And though I know He struggled with all the same temptations that I struggle with at one time or another, I don’t put up nearly as strong of a fight as He did. In the end I feel like I failed twice.

I realize that my imperfection is greatly stacked against me. I suppose one of the greatest side-effects of having partaken in the knowledge of good and evil is knowing that I’m not perfect and that my propensity to sin is just as strong as my propensity to righteousness. I find that knowing my imperfection makes it much easier to justify anger, lust, destructive feelings, etc., which in turn makes my complacency so much more damaging than anything else I struggle with. And that’s the heart of my greatest concern because complacency is the weight that can knock a Christian off his feet and hold him in that defeated position indefinitely.

I’m writing this because I don’t think I’m alone here. As I stated before, I’ve known Christians who have willingly submitted to various problems that Colossians 3 warns us about. I think bad language is the one that most Christians seem to tolerate the most—I guess because it seems the least harmless, but I still find myself asking why. Why do we think it’s okay to speak a little fouler? Why do we think it’s okay to get just a little bit angrier? Why do we think it’s okay to hold back on loving others? Why do we think it’s okay to take God’s grace for granted?

I’m not writing this to instantly fix my own issues with the things God has told us to steer clear from. I know stuff like that takes time to repair. I’m writing this because I need to draw attention to the fact that they do exist within me because if I forget they’re there, I’ll just keep taking my life for granted. I figure I take enough things for granted already, that I don’t need to take grace for granted, too. Just because the Lord forgave me doesn’t mean I have a green card to do whatever I feel like. A forgiving God doesn’t always make for a happy God, and I know that even though I can forgive a wrongdoing against me, I still get upset when it happens. I just don’t think living complacently is a responsible way to live—with or without grace.

Let this be my prayer to overcome complacency because when that’s healed, the rest will eventually fall into place.

Breaking Conditioning

Another journal that predates the beginning of Drinking Cafe Latte at 1pm, this time written on:

November 17, 2004

It’s been awhile since I last posted a journal entry, but I suppose that’s largely because time constraints and lessons learned have been at odds with each other. I suppose it’s safe to say that I find more joy in writing fiction than jotting down my thoughts in this season of life. Since I’ve been trying my best to get various writing projects edited and completed this past year, other projects, including my written lessons, have been taking a back seat. But today I feel like I’ve discovered something about myself that’s worth remembering for the days, weeks, months, and years to come. Who knows? Maybe I can look back on this some day and actually feel like I’ve grown an inch or two.

First of all, I know that patience has been an ongoing struggle with me. It really doesn’t matter what I have to wait for; I just hate waiting for it. I get antsy, I get nervous, and odds usually lean in the favor of me getting stressed. It’s just something I’ve dealt with my whole life, and I don’t suppose it will ever fully go away. But that issue seems to conflict with a lot of important things in my life.

I suppose the best thing to do here is to jump right into the lesson because realistically any aspect of my life can fit into this equation.

I recently started a job waiting tables, which I’ve been curious about for awhile, but never really had the option to try until now. That’s all fine and dandy, but on the surface that doesn’t really seem like anything relevant to remember. But today I discovered something about myself (or at least found refinement in a discovery I had made some time ago), to which I think reveals my difficulty in trusting the Lord.

I need to clarify that there are some underlying things that I don’t question. The Bible says it’s true; therefore I believe it. My salvation is the primary area of my life that I just don’t question. If the Bible says I’ve been saved through Christ, then I believe it. I know that I have no power over such things as saving souls, including my own, but I believe Christ does. Because that is such a massive thing to believe, and yet so simple if I just accept it, I find it odd that I have a hard time believing Christ to take care of the lesser things—the things that I have some ability to work with on my own.

Now to get back on track, something I’ve known about myself for a little while is that I’m a conditioned individual. And this is partly to do with what I had started talking about in regards to serving tables. Essentially, I develop a mindset of things according to what repetition teaches me. Today I found myself getting in over my head with things that should have been simple because some of my customers wanted variations to items and requests that most people accept as they are. In other words, people wanted changes made to certain meals, to which I found myself in a situation where I had to correct mistakes and ultimately slow down my service to other tables because I didn’t catch my bearings long enough to process the variations.

So far I’m still being a bit vague, so I’ll try to narrow it down further. On a given day, I serve my tables through a sequential process that involves drinks, then sides, then meals. Pretty straightforward. When the restaurant is slow, I find it easy to pace myself, and my mistakes are few. However, when business picks up, I find that my pace has to speed up as well, and thus my thought process moves into autopilot. Now, there’s nothing wrong with autopilot when a customer wants his or her order to conform to the standard that both the majority and the restaurant expects. I know my routine, and I know how to get through it as painless as possible. But once the first difference is expected, that autopilot can ultimately cause a lot of problems for me.

And that’s what had happened today. When I made the first mistake of the day, I had to go back and fix it, which slowed down my pace, which my mind and body turned to flight mode, which invariably created a chain reaction of further mistakes, which slowed my pace down even more, which eventually caused me to get so far in over my head that I ended up losing tables to another server just so I could get caught up. All this because I kept myself wrapped up in a conditioned state of mind. Despite what differences the customers ordered, I still brought things out the way I’m used to bringing them. And it messed up the course of my day.

Where this relates to my spiritual life is that my faith has been shaped by condition. I find it difficult to hope for certain prayers to be answered because I’ve conditioned myself to doubt them. If I’ve been disappointed 99 out of 100 times, what’s to stop my dreams from disappointing me again? Even when I ask in prayer for something important to me, or when I work hard to get it, I find myself struggling to find good fruit in the outcome because most of the time I expect to be disappointed. It’s a pattern that began long ago, and it seems that I’ve gotten myself in over my head in this sea of doubts.

I’m writing this down because I think the key to recovering my heart is to slow down and take a new approach. At work, the key to break the condition is to slow down long enough to think about what I’m doing. I take the notes I need, I decide on how I pace myself throughout the day; there really shouldn’t be any reason for me to make brainless mistakes. If I accept the fact that there is no set standard in waiting a table, then maybe I can adopt that to even greater things. Maybe I can somehow find a way to break the conditioning and no longer expect failure in my life.

That’s the base of what I’d learned today. Obviously there’s still room to grow, but it’s helpful to have an idea on from where to launch.

Searching for Something

Another note I had written (to someone, maybe?) about spiritual matters that predates the birth of Drinking Cafe Latte at 1pm. Like my other early journals I’ve posted in the last few days (from March 17-21, 2014; if you haven’t been keeping score, I’ve posted just over 40 backdated blogs in the last three days), I thought this one has a message worth thinking about if you’re reading this and are the kind of person who likes to think about things.

Originally written on March 26, 2004:

I can’t think of any news off hand to share, but I’m sure something will come about soon enough. On a spiritual note, I realized this week that I feel as though I’m searching for something that is otherwise unfulfilling. As you’re probably aware, I’ve been stressed out for the last few months because I wasn’t sure when I’d get an income again. I never lost hope that it would come, but I got tired of all the fruitless searching that I felt like I had invested in. And even though I finally got that income again, and it’s coming from a place that I’m honored to be a part of (where many jobs in the past were not as rewarding), I still feel a bit unsatisfied. In a nutshell I feel as though the things that I’m asking God to provide are ultimately not what I truly need. Of course I need a job and so on and so forth, but something else has been missing, so it’s been a struggle to figure out what it is that I need and desire. To some degree I feel as though I’m spending way too much prayer asking God for needs and desires to be met, and not really concentrating on the relationship. And the argument that follows is that God takes pleasure in any contact I make with Him, whether I’m making a request, or just using and enjoying a gift that He’s given. But something about that seems limited to me, as if I’m just using Him for my advantage. I’d rather know God in a different light, coming to Him in joy and hope, rather than in doubt and condition. It’s a lot to process in my opinion, but I’m just tired of feeling out of place or disconnected from truth. I’m also tired of my deepest conversations being based around something I’m despairing over. I’m also tired of the fact that when happiness comes about, the sensory overload distracts me away from intimate fellowship with God and I end up caving in some area of my heart, falling into despair once again. My hope is to change my thinking so that the Lord will be my strength more than my Santa Claus.

Passionate Balance

In an effort to create a more complete blogging experience on WordPress, I’ve been porting over old blogs (written before March 15, 2014) from earlier sites and exploring my old journal folder for previously unpublished gems to include here. Most of these journals were written between November 2005 and the present (including the original 16 blogs posted to the first Cafe Latte site on Blogspot). But in scouring old writings, I’ve discovered some important relics predating my earliest blogs that deserve their time in the sun. In the interest of keeping my blogging history true to the calendar, I won’t be backdating anything before November 2005, so this journal, though written a couple of years earlier, will maintain the current time stamp, though I will still categorize it as a “Cold Blog” since I wrote it before March 15, 2014.

Edit: I’ve changed my mind. I’m creating a new category called “Before Cafe Latte” for everything I’ve written before November 2005. This will go there.

The following journal, which never before had a title until now, was originally written on December 11, 2003:

A couple of weeks ago, I finally finished reading the book, Journey of Desire, by John Eldredge. I had started it shortly after moving back to Orlando in September and had been periodically reading it chapter by chapter ever since. Just like the other two Eldredge books I had read throughout the course of the last two or three years, this book challenged me to walk in the Spirit with a greater joy and attitude than I had in the past. It essentially reminded me what God created me to be—a man with passions and gifts that long to be used, not forgotten. And yet, somehow prior to the awakening, I had forgotten these things.

Now it’s too late to go into all the fine details that I’ve been rediscovering about God, Genesis, and my own personal passions, but I’d like to go back and revisit those things as the days go by and this journal increases in size. But for now I want to at least initiate the decision to keep a record of some of the things I’ve learned about myself and my walk with God, and anything really that bears a need for remembrance. Unfortunately, there is much already from the past that I would’ve liked to have remembered over the years but simply forgot them (lessons and events), but hopefully as I relearn them for the second, third, or tenth time, I’ll be quicker to jot them down so that I won’t forget in the future.

The one thing I do want to write down though before I go to bed is an illustration a friend of mine shared with me last night about a rose. Simply put, a rose is most beautiful when it’s allowed to blossom in its own way and in its own time. The person that decides not to wait for it to bloom, but rather chooses to open it by force, will ultimately tear it to pieces and will therefore cause it to lose its beauty.

I know I’ve let certain desires get the best of me, so much in fact that I’ve wrestled with obsession countless numbers of times, and often made myself crazy over circumstances that threatened my desires to bear fruit. On the relational standpoint, which most people who know me well know that it’s the area of my greatest weakness and fiercest doubts, I find my greatest battle is to accept the very thing that I desperately want, which is for love and friendship to grow in its own natural time—not through fearful manipulation or unbending scripts.

I may have to go into greater details (as a reminder to myself) tomorrow or the next day simply because I need to sleep, but to sort of get the point out in the open, I’ve been afraid of losing any existing chance of finding a woman that I would like to love because of the constant threat in my mind that other men who have no patience toward finding girlfriends and such are hovering around the very soul that I desire to know, trying to dig their own claws into her, allowing me very little chance to grow close to her over time. In retrospect it seems like an irrational fear since this thing called love bonds close friends together all the time. But I think the roots of the issue go further than that, and they certainly take root in circumstances that stretch way back to the early years of my life.

Before I get too lost in this thought, I need to remind myself that God desires me to desire Him more than anything else in existence. Granted that is in no way in easy thing to keep in my heart because so much in this world distracts me. My own desires often turn into distractions when I allow them to take control of my heart and soul to the point of obsession. And yet a passionate heart risks that, so part of the struggle I’ve had (in this area especially) is trying to find the right balance between giving God my all and paying healthy attention to whatever it is that I’m panting for. It almost seems like I can’t do both though because often times the desire feels like it’s drawing a very fine line between worshipping the Lord and serving an idol. What may look like healthy panting at first, may in fact turn around and consume me. And my worship of the Lord, on the other hand, may in effect become contrived, dutiful, and downright lukewarm. Needless to say the tears I’ve shed over the years in reference to this particular desire has left me afraid of it because for all I knew I had already given myself over to obsession.

But then comes the great contradiction. It seems that when my desire transforms into obsession, all of a sudden God is both my accuser and my only ally. The accuser part comes from this impression that I occasionally have of God as the jealous lover who purposely sabotages my dreams because I’m dealing with them too intensely, or because I want it so badly and it just can’t happen that way. On the other hand, the ally part comes into play when I realize that God is my only hope for discovering any of my dreams to come to pass and I often fall on the floor begging Him to provide what I’m asking for—the very thing that I feel he rejects and sabotages. In any case, the brokenness that comes from feeling hopeless or confused somehow brings me into the very heart of the God that desires me, so in a way it becomes highly bittersweet.

And frankly I’m not sure I like that.

The stuff that keeps me awake at night.