Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Church Coffee Has Moved!!!!

New Year, new blog site. Visit the new Church Coffee Blog at:


Friday, January 1, 2010

Friday Funnies: Ten Signs Your Church Might be Suffering from the Economic Crisis

1) The Pastor instructs the ushers to lock the auditorium doors at the start of the Sunday service and then threatens to keep preaching until the offering plates are full.

2) The Catholics and Anglicans switch from wine to grape juice and the Baptists and Methodists switch from grape juice to kool-aid for communion.

3) The Pastor's kids come to church wearing potato sacks.

4) The youth group resorts to busking on downtown streets for fundraising.

5) The missionaries take up a love offering for the home church.

6) Baptisms take a sharp decline due to the lack of hot water in the baptismal tank, except in July and August when the building committee dictates a moratorium on the use of the air conditioner to save money.

7) The trustees board tries to pass off church roof leaks as "Showers of Blessing."

8) The Mortgage-Burning Celebration is postponed indefinitely as financial goals are re-adjusted. A Parking-Lot Line Painting Party is planned instead to compensate. (Please bring your own yellow paint.)

9) All evening church services become Candlelight Services.

10) A Toilet-Paper Drive is planned after the janitorial supplies run out.

* * * * * * * * * *

A New Year is often more than just a calendar change. A New Year signals new beginnings, and Church Coffee is about to undergo its own changes beginning next week. Watch for those changes on January 6.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Cloud Quilt

We took a road trip just after Christmas to visit extended family a few hours from our Vancouver-area home. The better part of the trip is through a range of mountains, up to the top and down again into a semi-arid desert valley.

The sun was exceptionally bright for a December day. So much so, in fact, that even our boys, who are not prone to notice details of any sort, remarked at how the light glistened off the mountain snow.

As we began to descend into the valley near the end of our trip (I had dozed off and was half asleep in the front seat,) Rob remarked, "Look at that you guys, there's a cloud covering all of Kamloops!" There was a bit of awe in his voice, and I wondered why a mere cloud had caught his attention. When I heard the boys respond "WHOAAAAAAAA!" from the backseat, I shook off the sleep to see what the fuss was about.

The sight was truly remarkable. At age 39, I thought that there wasn't much I hadn't seen in my lifetime, at least when it comes to weather. It caused me to marvel at this mid-life "first."

The largest single cloud I'd ever observed lay unfolded like a gigantic quilt atop the mountain range. The very peaks of the mountains poked through the fluff like pointed arrowheads through a piece of fabric. The sun shone brightly atop the quilt in a pure azure sky, bathing the mountain peaks in effulgent light, making the snow shimmer as if it were bespeckled with millions of minute diamond chips.

We were descending, and as we drew closer to our destination in the valley the road disappeared into a gaping hole in the quilt. The cars in front of us looked as if they were driving into a grey, swirling abyss, or the mouth of some great, yawning giant. They may have been dropping off the very face of the earth for all we could tell, so dark was the opening.

Soon we too drove into the yawning cave, where suddenly the sun was completely hidden. A light snow was falling inside, in stark contrast to the blue sky we'd just left behind. It was almost as if we'd entered a completely different dimension or plane of existence.

And at that moment I couldn't help but think of this scene in relation to the coming New Year, and the year we were about to leave behind. I thought back to the dawning of 2009.... the year had held promise for me, personally, in a number of ways. I remember thinking of all the things I wanted to do and re-do in 2009. My business was thriving, and I looked forward to taking on new challenges. Ministry at our church was fulfilling, our family was happy and healthy. I had much to be thankful for and even more to look forward to.

But when 2009 came, a different picture began to unfold. We had left the cloudless blue skies behind and had entered a grey abyss, much like the one we were driving in now. 2009 turned out to be a difficult year for our family in a number of ways. Professional and personal challenges and some significant health issues made it seem as though we were driving in thick, swirling fog most of the time. As the year progressed, the cloud seemed to thicken rather than dissipate as I had so strongly hoped for, so that I had begun to believe that the sun had only been a distant fragment of a dream or maybe even a figment of my imagination.

But as we drove that day in the snow and fog, I thanked God for this very real and tangible reminder that the sun never really disappears. Imagine having a greater perspective, such as the one that our Heavenly Father has. While I can only see what is directly in front of me, He is able to see the whole picture. I realized that I needed to trust God, remembering that above whatever cloud cover I might find myself under lies the sun. Blocked temporarily, it never really disappears.

In fact, as we progressed through the fog, now and then we could see small holes in the clouds that allowed a few rays of sun to pierce through, another reminder that the sun is always there. My 2009 had many of these cloud holes, where even amidst the fog I knew that God was in control, giving me strength and light to proceed through the storm.

I doubt I'll ever have the mind of God. But I hoped that after that day I would remember what it was like to be above the clouds, looking down on what lay below. That I would remember that God sees what I cannot, and that I can take comfort in His omniscience and not worry when the road ahead seems to be obscured by fog. And that I will never overlook those little patches of sunlight that inevitably break through even the thickest and blackest of clouds.

So far I'm not sure what 2010 will look like. But if I remember all of this, then I guess it doesn't really matter, does it?

Monday, December 7, 2009

My Favorite Christmas

Whenever I'm asked to remember my favorite Christmas, it only takes an instant for the "Pepsi Thief" Christmas to jump to mind.

I was about 14 or 15 years old at the time. It was Christmas Eve, and a fresh, fluffy snow was falling as we left the Christmas Eve service at church and headed home. I was a typical teenage girl, so I had visions of Guess and Gucci dancing in my head rather than sugar plums. Other than that, it was a night a lot like that famous Christmas poem.

A few hours after going to bed, I was awakened abruptly by the sound of glass breaking. Startled out of a deep sleep, it took a minute or two to shake off the fog, and as I lay in bed trying to figure out whether I was dreaming or if perhaps the rapture was occurring, I could hear hasty footsteps coming from both ends of the house. Next came muffled but frantic whispers, and I began to realize that I wasn't dreaming, nor was I the only person in the house that was awake.

I stumbled into the living room, following the sound of the whispers, which had grown in decibel level to almost normal conversation tone, and were still rather frantic. I reached the kitchen just in time to see my Dad exit into the garage.

The garage of our rancher had been added as an afterthought, sometime after the building of the rest of the house. Because of this, the window over the kitchen sink, which I assumed had once borne a lovely view of the wooded lot next door, now looked straight into the garage.

My Mom had, only minutes before, gotten up for a 3:00 am glass of water. As she'd stood over the kitchen sink, glass in hand, she'd been startled nearly out of her skin to see someone... a stranger, poking around in our garage. She'd been so frightened she'd dropped her glass in the stainless steel sink. Now she and I both stood in the kitchen, near, but not in front of, that same window, stealing furtive, nervous glances out of it, hoping and praying that my unarmed father was not going to get beaten or shot at.

It seemed like we waited for an hour there beside the sink, listening for guns or screams but hearing nothing. In reality, it was probably five minutes or less, but eventually my Dad returned.

That snowfall had lightened up since we'd gone to bed a few hours earlier. It had left in its wake a perfect palette for capturing footprints. My Dad reported that the garage was burglar-free by the time he'd gone in, but he'd been able to follow a distinct trail through the freshly fallen snow and had tracked the thief, probably just mere seconds behind him.

From the looks of the prints, the thief had been just as startled to see my Mom as she'd been to see him. The prints leaving the garage were considerably less pristine than the ones going in. Clearly, he'd fled quickly and under some duress.

My Dad stayed inside just long enough to call 911, then headed back out to follow the footprints. By this time the neighbors behind us had been awakened too. It was clear that the thief had also entered their garage. However, he'd obviously encountered their dog, Jake, who slept in the garage. Jake's bark, which was piercing and deep-throated, was worse than his bite (which was non-existent,) and he probably wouldn't even chase a cat in the daytime. But loud and large, the sight and sound of him at 3:00 am after being so rudely awakened would have been bone-chilling.

Within minutes it had become obvious that the prowler had visited a number of homes in our small subdivision. Strangely though, this thief had only been interested in garages. Footprints, deep and perfect in the near gossamer new snow, led from garage to garage to garage throughout the neighborhood. He had apparently tested every garage door, entering the ones, like ours, that weren't locked.

Eventually the thief's footprints disappeared at the highway that ran alongside our subdivision. Snow plows and tire tracks had obscured any other prints, and it seemed as though the thief had made his escape.

My Dad returned to see if anything had been damaged or was missing from our garage. At first it looked as though nothing at all had been touched. Upon closer inspection, though, he realized something was missing after all. Oddly, a 6-pack of Pepsi, which my Dad always kept next to outside freezer, had disappeared with the intruder.

Soon other neighbors had awakened and were conferring over fences. Others whose garages had been unlocked began reporting similar oddities... there were missing Christmas turkeys and frozen apple pies, cans of cranberry sauce, bottles of wine and jugs of milk. Our burglar, so it seemed, wasn't interested in jewelry, cars or even loose change. He was looking for a Christmas dinner.

After the shock of finding a stranger in the garage began to wear off, the three of us.... Mom, Dad and I, began to chuckle at our predicament. Our feelings of indignance and violation were mixed with mirthful thoughts of little children praising Daddy the next day for the delicious Christmas dinner he'd provided for them.

My parents were still shaking, as much from laughter as from adrenaline and fear, when the phone rang in the wee morning hours of Christmas day. It was the police, who by then had been able to attend and exhaustively investigate the scene of the "crime."

They'd gone where Dad hadn't, crossing the highway and following tracks in the subdivision on the other side. The tracks converged upon a drainage ditch, the "rendezvous point," like the hub of a wheel, with footprints stretching outward in multiple trails like spokes on a bicycle tire.

At the bottom of the ditch lay the thief's booty: turkeys and pies and bottles of champagne that were by then ice-encrusted. But there was nary a trace of the bandit, who'd been in such a hurry he'd left his haul behind, perhaps to return later with a pick-up truck in which to carry it away.

Instead, the investigating officer was having a good laugh, and had called my Dad for a final statement. "And," police man said, "If you want to come across the highway and identify your Pepsi, you can have it back."

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Friday Funnies

Continuing on in the spirit of the season, here are a few more Christmas stories for you to enjoy:

Yes, There IS Room at the Inn....

Last Christmas the Travelodge hotel chain in England decided to repay the sins of the fathers, so to speak. They offered free lodging to any married couples named Mary and Joseph on Christmas night. Couples were required to supply proof of marriage as well as birth certificates or other official name documentation.
Travelodge operations director, Jason Cotta, said, "The phrase 'no room at the inn' is something that resonates with us in the hotel business. Therefore this year we have decided to evoke the true spirit of Christmas and invite Mary and Joseph couples as our guests." No word on how many Mary & Joseph couples actually took the Travelodge up on its offer.

* * * * *

Savvy Christmas Bargaining on the Part of a Weary Tourist

Rebecca and Benjamin, a young couple, were touring the Holy Land over the Christmas holiday period and decided it would be very meaningful to them to spend Christmas Eve in Bethlehem, the birth place of Jesus.

When they arrived they searched high and low all day for a room for that night. Finally Rebecca and Benjamin drove to the plush and rather expensive Intercontinental Hotel in Bethlehem.

"I'll pop in and see what I can do," said Benjamin feigning confidence for his, now exhausted, young wife.

Benjamin approached the desk and the receptionist told him there were no rooms in the hotel and probably no rooms in the whole of Bethlehem. "Sorry, sir. It's Christmas Eve, it's probably our busiest time."

No matter how much Benjamin offered to pay, the receptionist still replied that said he had no available rooms.

Finally, Benjamin said, "I bet if I told you my name was Joseph, that the woman waiting in the car was called Mary, and that she had a newborn infant, you'd find us a room for the night."

'Er....well,' stammered the receptionist, "I.....I suppose, in that case, I would."

'OK, then,' said Benjamin determinedly. "I guarantee you, they're not coming tonight, so we'll take their room."

* * * * *

A Nativity Actor's Revenge

A budding young actor was very put out when he wasn't picked to be Joseph in his school play. However he was asked to be Innkeeper No. 1 in an effort to keep him quiet, or so his teacher thought.

When Mary & Joseph approached him to ask if there was any room at the inn, he replied:

" Yes, come right in! We have a lovely room overlooking the pool!"

* * * * *

Christmas in the "Olden Days"

A little boy returned from Sunday School with a new perspective on the Christmas story. He had learned all about the Wise Men from the East who brought gifts to the Baby Jesus. He was so excited he just had to tell his parents: "I learned in Sunday School today all about the very first Christmas! There wasn't a Santa Claus way back then, so these three skinny guys on camels had to deliver all the toys!" And Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer with his nose so bright wasn't there yet, so they had to have this big spotlight in the sky to find their way around."

* * * * *

Thank You for the Wagon, Jesus

It was the day after Christmas at a church in San Francisco. The pastor of the church was looking over the cradle when he noticed that the baby Jesus was missing from among the figures. Immediately he turned and went outside and saw a little boy with a red wagon, and in the wagon was the figure of the little infant, Jesus.

So he walked up to the boy and said, "Well, where did you get Him, my fine friend?"

The little boy replied, "I got him from the church."

"And why did you take him?"

The boy said, "Well, about a week before Christmas I prayed to the little Lord Jesus and I told him if he would bring me a red wagon for Christmas I would give him a ride around the block in it.
* * * * *

And finally, here's one that has nothing to do with church but I thought it was just plain funny. Please don't send me nasty emails, men.

Feminist Reindeer's Story at Christmas

According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, while both male and female reindeer grow antlers in the summer each year, male reindeer drop their antlers at the beginning of winter, usually late November to mid-December.

Female reindeer retain their antlers till after they give birth in the spring. Therefore, according to EVERY historical rendition depicting Santa's reindeer, EVERY single one of them, from Rudolph to Blitzen, had to be a girl.

We should have known... ONLY women would be able to drag a fat man in a red velvet suit all around the world in one night and not get lost.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Friday Funnies

I'm just beginning to get into the Christmas spirit (unlike some friends of mine who put up wreaths and break out the Christmas tunes the day after Halloween) so I thought I'd share some funny Christmas quotes, misquotes, bloopers and jokes to get you "laughing all the way......"

* * * * *

"Who was Mary's husband?" a Sunday School teacher asked her young students.

An eager little boy raised his hand. "Virg" he replied.

The teacher answered, "No, Mary's husband's name was Joseph."

Puzzled, the little boy asked, "Then why do they always talk about "Virg -n- Mary?"

* * * * *

While the rest of the family sang "Good King Wenceslas Looked out on the Feast of Stephen," my friend's young son had clearly misunderstood the lyrics and was instead singing "Good King Wence's Car Backed Out on the Feet of Stephen."

* * * * *

Good King Wenceslas phoned for a pizza. The salesgirl asked him, "Do you want your usual? Deep pan, crisp and even?"

* * * * *

In a small southern U.S. town there was a Nativity scene that showed great skill and talent had gone into creating it. One small feature bothered me.

The three wise men were wearing firemen's helmets.

Totally unable to come up with a reason or explanation, I left. At a 7-11 on the edge of town, I asked the lady behind the counter about the helmets. She exploded into a rage, yelling at me, "You stupid Yankees never do read the Bible!" I assured her that I did, but simply couldn't recall anything about firemen in the Bible.

She jerked her Bible from behind the counter and ruffled through some pages, and finally jabbed her finger at a passage. Sticking it in my face she said "See, it says right here, the three wise man came from afar."

* * * * *

A woman went to the Post Office to buy stamps for her Christmas Cards. "What denomination?" asked the clerk.

"Oh, good heavens! Have we come to this?" said the woman. "Well, give me 30 Catholic, 10 Baptist ones, 20 Lutheran, and 40 Presbyterian.

* * * * *

Terri asked her Sunday School class to draw pictures of their favorite Bible stories. She was puzzled by Kyle's picture, which showed four people on an airplane, so she asked him which story it was meant to represent. "The flight to Egypt," said Kyle. "I see. And that must be Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus," Ms. Terri said. "But who's the fourth person?"

"Oh, that's Pontius - the Pilot.

* * * * *

Perfect for the atheist's Christmas??????

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Friday Funnies

Here's one that was told to me years ago. It was one of those "true stories" that "I heard from a friend who had a cousin who married a girl whose Dad went to this church..." or something like that. So of course it must be a true story. Or not.

Two missionary ladies were home on furlough and visiting a supporting church one Sunday morning. They were scheduled to speak briefly during the morning service about their missionary endeavors.

When they arrived at the church the chairman of the missions committee, a Mr. Harry Buttz greeted them, showed them to a seat, and told them that the pastor would call them up on stage when it was time for them to speak. The chairman then spoke briefly with the pastor and sat down in the audience.

When the time came for the women to speak, the pastor fumbled through his notes, realizing that he could not remember the names of the missionary ladies. He floundered for a moment, and then, at a loss for any other words, simply announced from the pulpit: "Would the two ladies with Harry Buttz please come to the front?"

(If you don't get it, try saying that last line aloud to yourself.)

Here are a couple more I enjoy:

A man was walking in the mountains just enjoying the scenery when he stepped too close to the edge of the mountain and started to fall. In desperation he reached out and grabbed a limb of a gnarly old tree hanging onto the side of the cliff.

Full of fear he assessed his situation. He was about 100 feet down a shear cliff and about 900 feet from the floor of the canyon below. If he should slip again he'd plummet to his death. Full of fear, he cries out, "Help me!" But there was no answer. Again and again he cried out but to no avail. Finally he yelled, "Is anybody up there? "

A deep voice replied, "Yes, I'm up here."

"Who is it?"

"It's the Lord"

"Can you help me?"

"Yes, I can help."

"Help me!"

"Let go."

Looking around the man became full of panic. "What?!?!"

"Let go. I will catch you."

"Uh... Is there anybody else up there?"

* * * * * * * * *

BULLETIN BLOOPER (or Freudian slip???????): "Ushers will eat latecomers."