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February 11, 2014

I come in for coffee,  and like usual, the morning was going smooth. I got a great seat with not a lot of people nearby at a local Starbucks in downtown Raleigh. It just so happened I sat down next to the "wrong" guy. 

He was a nice and unalarming fellow. The moment I sat down he asks what I ordered. I told him, "The same thing I get every morning- just a cup of their bold drip coffee." He asks what a drip coffee is. I'm like "What!?!" So I tell him and he then asks what the difference is between that and Folgers. I almost slapped him in the face, but I withheld. So I responded to the gentleman's inquiry and told him that all coffees taste different because of different brewing methods, different roasters and different regions. He asks what the difference is between that and a latte. Alongside of that he asked me what a latte was.  For real dude!!! Like, you're sitting in a Starbucks asking me what a latte is. Are you alive? At that point, I am, in my mind, agitated. 

The kind, oblivious gentlemen gave no consideration to the nonverbal cues that I might be wanting to get on with something else, because he went right into his genesis story of why he began to drink coffee. It started while he was obtaining his master's degree. He moved on to coffee because of dental concerns due to the amount of diet mountain dew he had been consuming while in college. He shared with me that he didn't want to get addicted to a $4 dollar cup of coffee and that he had been sitting like 20 mins. trying to decide what to get. I had compassion on that because the menu board would be a lot of foreign information if you weren't ever accustomed to it before. Sort of like how I imagine a middle-aged male trying to shop in a Victoria's Secret shop- just dazing and confuzing. 

This man proceeded to ask me all kinds of questions explaining to him what each drink was and how much it cost. He even asked me what flavor syrup was. You might be thinking that this dude was crazy of somehow mentally impaired. I mean, I thought that too, but he looked totally normal and well. He proceeded to tell me about his job and education. He's an EMT by the way. But apparently there are 3-4 levels of occupation or degree of being an EMT, all of which he explained to me. He told me about his wife and her career choices. 

You can't make this stuff up people. 

Everything in my morning was going smoothly and I was excited to spend some quality time in prayer journaling a bit while sipping on my coffee. But something funny happened to me in the middle of all my fidgeting, the Lord whispered to me. I honestly drove down to my coffee spot this morning with the intention of trying to look for something holy and inspirational. I wanted to find something very ordinary that I could find, say on my way to my car or something, bring it to life with a clever thought attached to it, snap a shot of it with my iPhone, Instagram it, shoot it on my blog and hopefully get a lot of "likes" and comments. It may sound very self-serving, but it's not how I was thinking about it. 

The Lord whispered, "If you came here to listen, then listen. If you wanted to find something extraordinary amidst the ordinary then open your eyes." Like always, he #nailedit.  So at once I ceased my agenda to "get along with it" and decided to turn my full attention to this man's story. 

He told me about his church and where he was from (Tampa if you were wondering). We talked about the snow that had been crippling the Southeast. I told him about the real snow that I grew up in up in Chicago. We said he knew people from Moody Bible Institute and that his pastor was from there as well. I said I used to want to go there, and I knew friends that attended there. I told him that I grew up in Wheaton, IL. He said he knew Wheaton and about Wheaton College. We went into the churches we attended and about out different participating faith traditions. 

"Though we have our differences," he  said, "we are still brothers." At that he left. That was it. That is really how it ended. We shook hands and he wished me a safe drive back home. 

I was reminded that though I may go looking for something special it's really the "interruptions" that I have to pay special attention to. How ironic isn't it? The Lord rarely responds the exact moment you want him to, but if we are faithful and wait, he always responds.  

Sadly, I couldn't snap a photo of this event. A photo wouldn't have been good anyway. All I have is my story. Another thing I have is the reminder that it's not the ordinary things around me that I pass each day that I should pay more attention to, it's the people.   

Finally, in response to the image posted above, perhaps I was being the asshole, not the other person.

Peace be with you!  

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