My husband’s grandpa had a sign above his kitchen table written in Swedish that translated said “First We Have Coffee”.  It likely should have had an additional phrase “and we must also have cookies”.  He loved sweets. I have fond memories of strolling down the lane with freshly baked cookies to have coffee with him.  If he had spoken a phrase every time he had a cookie, he would have chatted incessantly.  Instead, he graced these special coffee times with a grin and a wink, worth much more than a barrage of words. Which I cheerily provided and he happily tolerated – after all, a little sugar helps sweeten many things.

My father-in-law fully also embraces this practice, but substitutes a cola for the coffee, especially in the summer.  In addition, he has instituted a law involving the absence of all raisins from confections.  Like a good grandpa should, he has responsibly passed the anti-dried fruit preference along to at least one of my sons.  I break this rule when he’s not around despite the complaints from the peanut gallery.

My husband and sons are all cookie hounds.  In order for me to have one when I feel like having one, I have to hide them.  People think I’m being noble when I bake triple batches but it’s really a matter of selfishness. If I want a cookie, I have to bake enough to buy time to hide one or two for myself.  This is an exercise in survival of the “flute-est”.  Yes, I googled types of cookies in order to utilize an alliterative option for the sake of wit. A flute cookie is a rolled wafer cookie – I don’t actually make those, they have tins of them at the store that also buy me time to enjoy a treat.  If I’m really feeling sneaky, the tins are hidden in a top-secret hideaway in the house until I deem it time to share it with the hounds. One day, I may write about my lack of generosity and propensity toward hoarding sweets, but not today. What is it about a cookie that is so compelling?

In Sweden, they have a custom called ‘fika’, the practice of coffee. To me, this word has both a bit of stop and a bit of go in it.  Swedes stop regularly to meet socially and they go forward in relationship, enjoying coffee and sweets together. They’re not the only ones to do so. When I was a teen, my mom used to take me to the Co-op for fries and gravy in the middle of a shopping trip.  We still stop for coffee whenever we shop.  It’s important!

When the kids were little, I’d stroller on down 4th street one block, cross one block over to 5th and down one more for coffee.  Adirondack chairs, large funky mugs and intermittent chirps at misbehaving smivenbivens marked these special times of relating and commiserating.  In mid morning or mid afternoon, especially during renovations, my in-laws and anyone within earshot stop for coffee and cookies.  What is it about coffee that is so endearing?

Nearly every morning, I start my day with coffee affectionately fortified with heavy cream and honey that I thoroughly enjoy while I spend time reading my Bible and praying. I ask God to align my steps, to help me to listen well and act wisely.  I say sorry and thank you and help me and sometimes I even say nothing. I long for my life to be filled with the fruits of deep faith and abiding love.  I want it to be full of cookies and coffee. And then life happens.

In the Walmart line the other day, I may or may not have muttered with a completely annoyed tone of voice the following phrase “apparently you have the patience of a gnat” as the man behind me stepped into my personal space, rushing me as I was actually trying to leave as quickly as possible with my purchases.

At home, I have uttered phrases full of vinegar that have cut my family members to the core. And in those moments, all of the coffee and cookies in the world cannot bridge the chasm my careless words created. I regularly fall very short of practicing the very thing that I pray for every morning.

I’ve been quick to listen to my own hurts and slow to acknowledge the pain I’ve inflicted. Can you hear my sorry heart?

I just finished reading once again the tender story of Boaz and Ruth, the beginning of the line of David. I was filled with awe at the kindness, faithfulness, loyalty and honour that God deposited in David’s line, adding cookies and coffee to his story long before he was ever born.

I can relate.  I see the deep kindness that God deposited in my husband’s line long before I ever came on the scene. The tenderheartedness of my father-in-law speaks louder than any words about kindness could.  His father-in-law’s large, gentle hands held our newborn sons and taught me about the importance of coffee and cookies, time together in patience and kindness.  He sanctioned the very first house we ever bought, walking through silently knocking on every wall, investigating every nook and cranny until he was able to utter “good house”. So of course, we bought it and we loved it. And it was a good house, a great house actually.  Our first two sons were born during those years.

The other day, my Dad took our eldest for coffee/breakfast, so quick to treat his grandson with generosity and a few laughs.  As my parents age, I see the deep patience and love that they have for each other, and I long for that to be our story, too.  I may have some changes to make.

I’m deeply thankful for the kindness and patience that I receive daily from my husband.  No matter how much I dish out, he serves me with love.  I still cannot figure out why.  He is generous, kind, and long suffering. I want to be that way, too.  He’s definitely my Boaz, except he’s not older than me. I want to be his Ruth, except I’m not very good with gardening.  I think you can pick up what I’m laying down.  You feel me? Insert contemporary colloquial phrase that will embarrass sons and induce groans of “that’s so lame” along with under-the-breath utterances that may include the word ‘nutbar’.  Mission accomplished.  I feel a tremendous amount when I write these thoughts.  Thankfulness is at the top, followed shortly after with a tinge of sorrow at my shortcomings.

I am quick to say “full fat or go home” when it comes to the art of baking.  In my experience, baking falls flat without the richness of eggs, butter and cream.  It’s the same with life.  I am the blessed recipient of the richest of fare from my heavenly Father. How could I possibly wish to starve others of His kindness?  Would I really want to serve burnt and tasteless cookies?  Who wants to experience a flawed fika?

I think I may need to concentrate more on cultivating a coffee and cookies approach to everyday life.  Perhaps the next time I am tempted to snap, I’ll substitute a ginger snap instead and offer something sweeter than what’s bouncing around in my head.

It’s possible that during the next potential momentary lapse of character, especially in lineups or on the freeway, that instead of muttering and uttering and fluttering, I’ll switch out sarcasm and seething for a sip of coffee.  Choose the bean and the being!

Kindness and patience don’t have to be that hard to give or to receive.  It’s really a matter of perspective.  Time delays need not be seen as blockages to life.  They’re a part of life, opportunities to reflect, think, and pray a little more. And in my case, confess quite a bit. Changing another person’s weather can start with a quick smile or even just the absence of the caustic.

Cookies are confections of kindness.  Coffee times are pauses for perspective.  Who knew that a sweet and a soda could offer refreshment and help soften my stubborn heart?

 Romans 2:4 Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?

May your today and your tomorrow be filled with cookies and coffee! Gotta go, it’s fika time!

(c) 2015 06 08 Sandra Foster, Ranenpur