God in the Little Things

I prayed.  And I prayed.  And I prayed some more.  I prayed – admittedly – to calm myself down in order to fall back asleep when worries and anxieties woke me during the night.

I’m generally pretty casual when I pray.  No “Holy Father, thou art God.”  In fact, unless it’s a liturgical prayer, I pretty much never pray in the King’s English.  My husband had been trying to do something grand and wonderful, and there was roadblock after roadblock in his way.  So I was in the shower one day a couple of weeks ago, having a little conversation with God that went something like this:

“OK, God.  You know what’s been going on, and you’ve seen how frustrated Peter is getting.  Tell me something.  What’s your plan here?”

Then like a bolt – ZAP! – to the back of the head, the message came loud and clear:  “Get a line of credit on your business for him to use.”

There are a bagillion reasons why I would think that’s a bad idea, including the fact that I’m opposed to buying anything on credit.  But I didn’t argue.  I also didn’t run right out and go to the bank, either; my husband and I discussed it first.

The next business day, I went to the bank, and I applied for that line of credit.  And for whatever reason, it took over a week to hear about a decision that usually just takes 48 hours.  But I did hear, and I did get it.  As a result, he has a chance of seizing a dream that he’s held onto for at least 20 years.

It’s such a little thing.  Well, it’s big to us, but in the scope of the world – the universe – this is a pretty insignificant thing.  And yet, God heard my prayers, even the one from the shower, and God let me know God heard them.  Look back at what happened.  I asked God for guidance, not a cash infusion.  The choice was still mine as to what I did with that guidance.

We read in Psalm 119:105, “Your Word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path” (NIV).  Darn if we don’t want that light for our path to be something like  high-beam headlights or those mega-watt halogen lights used for nighttime construction work!  Right?  Of course.  We’re “big picture” people.  But no.  It truly is a “light for [our] feet,” a tiny little keychain flashlight that illuminates a 24-inch circle, just big enough for our next step.  We don’t get to see the big picture, and we’re not meant to.  Instead, we see enough to take the next step, but no farther.

Taking that first step requires a great deal of faith.  It does get easier with each successive step, though.  Until it’s not so easy.  Until a crisis hits and our faith is shaken, and we’re not at all sure we can take that next step, because we can’t see far ahead.  We can’t even see the light for ourselves until someone – friends, family, minister – convinces us that it’s still there.

Every step, every little foot of ground covered, God is there.  In the exciting times, like starting a new business, God is there.  In the freaky-exhilarating times, such as departing to another continent on a mission trip, God is there.  In the dark valley of the hospitalization of a child, God is there.

I pray that you’ll let these words comfort you in the dark times and comfort you in times of uncertainty.  When you encounter someone who needs the reminder, share these words, share the message.

The Sacred God-Moment

This week has been insane for our family.  Last Saturday, my husband’s mentor, friend, and supervisor, Lenny, died after a brief battle with cancer.  Sunday night, I got the call that my grandmother had died.  Lenny’s funeral was an hour-and-a-half away on Tuesday, and Grandmother’s was 3 hours away today.  I feel like I’ve spent most of the week on the interstate.  Naps were missed, the emotional energy was high, we didn’t sleep great.  We’re completely wiped out by this point and savoring the idea of a weekend of rest.

As we came home from Lenny’s funeral Tuesday night, this amazing vertical rainbow appeared in the sky.

Fascinating vertical rainbow in the sky Tuesday night

Fascinating vertical rainbow in the sky Tuesday night

We were awed, as we’d never seen a vertical rainbow before.  Taking a look in the rear view mirror revealed a gorgeous sunset (sorry, no picture of that).  It felt like God was hugging us.

Then, this evening we were returning home from my Grandmother’s memorial service.  I was driving, and I was tired.  Traffic for the first 25 miles had been hellacious, with normal Friday-summer-afternoon-eastbound-traffic meeting the Construction Zone from Hell for 8.5 miles.  I was sustaining on a frappe and determination, watching cars, attending to the light traffic and the road, enjoying my Jim Brickman play list.  My eyes rose to the sky ahead, and there right in front of me was a rainbow.  I pointed it out to my family so they could enjoy it, too.  It was faint, but there, and we eventually were able to make out the other end of it.

Around this time, I took a peek at my phone to see which selection was playing.  It was “Sacred Moment,” and I recognized the tune as “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded.”  Wow.  Just…  Wow.  The rainbow.  That symbol of God’s promise never again to destroy the world by flood.  And God has kept this promise.  If God keeps this promise, would not God also keep the other promises he’s given us?  My cousin Mark read the words of Jesus from John 14 today:  “I go to prepare a place for you.”  I looked at that rainbow and listened to that tune and thought, This is God’s promise, fulfilled for us in the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ.  This rainbow served as a reminder that God keeps God’s promises – all of them.  I seized the holy teachable moment and took the opportunity to talk to my girls about it.  My younger one said, “It’s like the promise for Great-Grandmother.”  Yes!  Yes, it is.  And that promise is for us, too.

I haven’t cried for Grandmother.  She’d been sick since February and psychologically ready to die for over a year.  But I could cry over the magnitude of God’s promises and how they have been fulfilled for her.  She’s with Grandpa again, turning 67 years of marriage on Earth into an eternity of marriage in Heaven.

My Thoughts About Bathrooms, Hate, and Transgender People

I tried to stay silent about this as long as possible, but my “as long as possible” didn’t last very long.  At the end of March, the North Carolina General Assembly convened a special legislative session to push through a law, HB2.  That law was passed in both chambers and signed off by the governor before the 11:00 news.  It went into effect on 1 April 2016, and things have gone downhill since.

HB2, aka, “the Bathroom Bill,” says, among other things, that people must go into the bathroom corresponding to the gender on their birth certificate.  This means that, a transgender male – imagine someone 5’8″ tall, buff, bearded, and visibly male – who has not had gender reassignment surgery or had their birth certificate changed, must go into the ladies’ restroom.  Am I the only woman and mother of young daughters who’s not comfortable with this?  I have nothing against people who are transgender; as I’ve said before, I have friends who are transgender.  My problem is, now I don’t know if that man described above is a transgender male obeying a civil law, or if he’s a sex offender taking advantage of the ease of going into the ladies’ room this law provides in order to attack my daughters or me.  Should I wait and see if he’ll go into a stall, or if he’ll pull out a knife or gun, by which point, it’ll be too late?  So, thank you, NCGA, for creating the very opposite situation of what you claimed to be after and putting ALL us women and our children at risk for sexual violence – not at the hands of people who are transgender who are just in the bathroom to do their business, but at the hands of violent sex offenders who don’t care about laws and never have who can now walk into public bathrooms claiming to be transgender.

As a result of HB2, my state stands to lose federal funding for education.  So much for our General Assembly and governor being “about the children.”  My state has lost businesses.  My state has lost wonderful, tax-paying citizens who no longer felt safe living here who have moved to other states.  North Carolina has already lost a significant amount of revenue and stands to lose billions – yes BILLIONS, with a B! – more.  My state no longer allows people who get discriminated against at work based on religion, gender, age, race, or orientation sue for discrimination at the state level; those suits now have to go to the federal courts to decide, a process which takes an easy three years, far longer than the 180 days the state gives for resolution in such matters.  HB2 prohibits teachers from going into students’ bathrooms in schools.  Hopefully that mean, nasty bully isn’t beating your child to a pulp in the bathroom between classes, since the law is so about “keeping children safe.”

And in the most ironic element of this law of all…  In HB2, the state prohibits individual cities from passing their own anti-discrimination laws and their own minimum wage laws.  In case you haven’t figured it out, yet, the North Carolina General Assembly and the governor are all far right conservatives.  You know, smaller government?  I’m sure they thought it was an abomination when the US Supreme Court decided that gays and lesbians have equal rights and made this federal law the law of the land, totally overstepping states’ rights to govern themselves in this matter.  Yet, the North Carolina government is doing the exact same thing in our state to our counties and cities!

Obviously, when this law came out, there was talk everywhere.  To be honest, I finally had to step away from Facebook for a while, because the plethora of “Pat McCrory saved our children!” posts were going to cost some friendships, and I try to respect my friends’ views, even if I disagree with them.  Over against that was the continued hate speech against transgender people, mostly the result of manufactured fear by the media and ignorance.  Here’s the thing – transgender people are so much like you and me.  They get up in the mornings, go to work, fulfill their responsibilities to their bosses, come home, spend time with family, go to bed.  They pretty much live under the radar, just like the rest of us do.  And they’re fine with that.  In fact, they feel safer under the radar.

The transgender people I know (that I know are transgender) – both women – are smart, attractive, bad-ass, loving people.  One is married; I went to her wedding 3 1/2 years ago.  There, incidentally, is where I met the other, who is engaged.  In fact, I just found out the married woman is transgender about five weeks ago, and the latter, last year.  These women live their lives, do their things, take care of their loved ones.  The fact that I’d known them both so long before knowing their backstories should tell you something:  Neither of them flamboyantly advertised the fact they’re transgender.

And I think that J and S are typical of almost all transgender people in America – and the world.  Caitlyn Jenner is not the face of and spokesperson for people who are transgender, and, personally, I don’t consider her brave or admirable.  Bruce probably went to some extremely private hospital in another country with the top gender reassignment specialists in the world, took a six-month “vacation,” and came back as Caitlyn.  Now, Caitlyn claims she wants to “be just like everyone else.”  Maybe she should give up her cadre of body guards and come hang out in a state where transgender people face police harassment, threats, government-sanctioned discrimination, and threats of and actualized bodily harm – all because her physical, outer self didn’t mesh up with her mental/emotional inner self.

Pediatricians and geneticists are now recognizing that people who are transgender could have genitalia, brains, and chromosomes that don’t match up.  For example, a person could have male genitalia (“look” male), but have female chromosomes and female brains.  Brain science research is now providing us with a reason why transgender people, even from an early age, may “feel” like they’re the wrong gender.  At birth, doctors determine gender only by outer genitalia, not chromosomal testing.

For those of us in the church, this presents something of a theological conundrum:  Did God make a mistake?  Short answer – No.  Do we look at a child with Down’s Syndrome and think that God made a mistake?  Of course not!  Do we think God messed up when a child is born with a deformed arm?  Never!  God doesn’t make mistakes in how God makes us.  Each and every one of us is created in the image of God.  The Psalmist says, “I praise you, because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”  This goes for all of us.  Sometimes, we face challenges in how we’re made – life challenges – and those challenges will either break us if we try to rely purely on ourselves; they’ll give us a source of strength and determination; or through our uniqueness, we will allow God’s love to appear to others.

If I may borrow from my younger daughter’s favorite Disney movie to wrap this up…  “Love is stronger than fear.”  As we are made in the image of God, and God is love, then we also are called on to love our neighbors who are transgender.  You may see them differently than I do, and that’s OK.  But for heaven’s sake, get to know someone who’s transgender.  If you’re going to profess Jesus Christ is your personal Lord and Savior, then (literally) by all that is holy, act like it and love even those who you feel are unlovable.  And you know what’ll happen?  (This is great!)  You won’t be afraid of them anymore, and you won’t hate them anymore, and you’ll begin to recognize all the bull crap the mainstream media and social media outlets are spewing for what it is.  And you will please God.  I’m thinking that’s a win all the way around.

Let me take a moment to direct you to this great article I drew some from, written by a fellow Baptist: https://baptistnews.com/2016/05/13/seven-things-im-learning-about-transgender-persons/#.VzgsSsiznvB.facebook.

Helping Children Soar

Yesterday, we got to church for our weekly groups early enough that my younger daughter had much-loved time to play on the playground.  She wanted me to support her across the monkey bars.  WOW, did that test how well my knee rehab is going!  (Quite strong and stable, given that I was standing and walking backwards on loose beach-type sand holding 45 pounds.)  My daughter loves to swing, and, sure enough, she hopped on the swing, asked me to push her, and informed me, “I want to go high!”

I pulled her back and gave her the initial pushes.  As every parent knows, though, when you’re pushing a child on the swings, there’s not but so high a parent can push their child.  The parent can start them, but then the child has to pump her legs, and truly, her height is completely up to her at this point.  The child pumps and rises, eventually getting to the point where the chains start to go slack and she can see over the bar at the top.  She can lean back in the swing, letting her hair flow back and down in the breeze, or the more adventurous can decide to jump out of the swing at this point (with hopefully no broken bones).  The point is, though, once the child takes responsibility for her own swinging altitude, she can then choose what to do with it.

2016-03-16 17.51.21

On her way to the sky

As I stood with my daughter, watching her swing, I thought about a situation a friend is going through with his daughter.  The daughter’s mom think she’s “keeping her safe” by doing everything for her, way more than a near-teen needs to have done.  As a result, this young lady is lazy and slack about her self-care, especially pertaining to her medical needs.  You see, this mom doesn’t know that it’s time to stop pushing and time to trust her daughter to pump her legs.

Watching a child getting crazy-high on the swings is a bit heart-stopping:  Will she fall?  Will the chain mysteriously snap?  What happens if she loses her grip?  Answer:  She’ll get hurt, but likely survive.  In the meantime, there are squeals and giggles carried on the wind, fading and growing with the Doppler effect as she goes back and forth.  There’s the memories of exhilaration of being a girl on the swing, feeling that “oh my gosh!” as you remember seeing the chains go slack and feeling like you were so high.  And you realize, you just can’t take that away from her, because this child will likely never fall out of a swing, but she’ll experience a million moments of soaring thrills as her legs pump her higher and higher and higher and she leans back to feel the wind in her hair.

Sure, a child is safer being kept close under mother’s protective wing, but she’ll also never learn what she can do on her own.  That child will swing as long as she’s in mom’s reach, but she’ll never soar if mom won’t let go of her.  Sadly, the child will never learn she actually can soar.  As parents, there has to come a time when we let go of our children, trusting them to hang onto the chains, but only as long as they want to.  This is the only way we will empower our children to rise up to be all that they possibly can be.

Learn From History or Repeat It

In the grand scheme of world history, eighty years is like a blink.  In the youth of our country, eighty years is a bit more substantial, a full one-third of the U.S.’s life as an independent country.  It was about 75-80 years ago when the Fascist governments were beginning their aggression towards their European neighbors, aggression which would become World War II.

As most students of U.S. history know, the U.S. didn’t enter the war until very early 1942 following the unprovoked bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese on 7 December 1941.  Yet, prior even to this date, even before 1939 when the war would begin, the U.S. was persecuting some of her own citizens out of fear.  They don’t usually teach this in U.S. History, not even AP history; they didn’t when I was in school, anyway.

As Fascism grew in Italy under Mussolini‘s dictatorship, the U.S. government began to incarcerate Italian-American men and Italian immigrants in our country out of fear that they’d be sympathetic to Fascist Italy.  The government shipped these men by cattle cars (Cattle cars!  Sound familiar?  It was the Nazis’ preferred mode of prisoner transport, too.) to prisons in Montana and New York.  In doing so, they split up families, leaving thousands of women and children to survive without their primary bread-winner during the continuing dark days of the Great Depression.

As the war continued, especially following the attack on Pearl Harbor, German nationals who were stuck in the country because of the war and German-Americans (naturalized or citizens by birth) were monitored closely and over 10,000 of these were incarcerated.  Some of those citizens had one or both parents who had immigrated from Germany.  They were still citizens, though, regardless of their bloodlines.  These Americans lost their homes and their livelihoods, and many families were split up with children being sent to orphanages.

We know, perhaps, about the incarceration and relocation of the Japanese-Americans the most.  The government forcibly relocated thousands of citizens of Japanese descent from California to internment camps in the central United States, believing that they would aid our Japanese enemies otherwise.  Whole families were forced to leave their homes and jobs and live in crowded conditions, surrounded by chain link and barbed wire, with armed guards watching them around the clock.

Some of these prisoners were held until 1948, three years after the war had ended.  A fairly vast number of them had relatives serving in the armed forces, fighting the enemies without; I know one guy of German descent who served with honor in the Pacific Theater in the 1st Cavalry division of the US Army.

And now there’s talk during this election year of wanting to imprison Muslims.  Who in history imprisoned people based on their religion?  Yes, Adolf Hitler, arguably one of the vilest dictators in world history (and there are some doozies!).  And now we see how the U.S., just like Hitler, imprisoned people based on their heritage – and fear.  Are we as a country going to repeat this embarrassing, unjust bit of history?  I think about my Muslim friends and my friends and neighbors from the Middle East.  They’re Americans with all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities we all hold dear.  My next-door neighbor is almost 90 years old, and he doesn’t speak of his time in the Iraqi army nearly as much as he does his late wife, his grandchildren, and his Master’s degree from one of our state universities.  But would a government run by fear know that, or would it just see the color of his skin?

We as Americans need to stop listening to the fearmongering, need to stop letting those political earworms manipulate how we think.  We need to step back, reassess, and recognize that we are dealing with people here – people with families, homes, and jobs.  This isn’t about “Us versus Them”; we’re all “us.”

Why Do People Hate People who are Transgender?

I realize that, by posing this question, I’m likely opening myself up to being exposed to a large amount of hate and vitriol, but I am genuinely curious.  I have at least one transsexual friend who I share with other friends.  There’s so much hate and violent sentiment directed towards this segment of the population, and I really, truly don’t know why that is.  I’ve heard them referred to as “freaks.”  Really?  That doubly appalls me; while transgender is listed as a psychological disorder in the DSM-5 (which I can see necessary in some cases), still, calling people who are transgender “freaks” is about as sensitive as calling the following “freaks”:

  • An Army vet with PTSD
  • A little girl on the Autism spectrum
  • A woman with schizophrenia
  • A man with depression

Get my point there?

So, please, tell me why people (maybe you, even) hate people who are transgender and wish serious harm or death to come to them.  If you’re going to site scripture, please do so in a way that honors God and respects the Bible (or other holy book, dependent on your faith) with faithful use of scripture.  This includes using the scripture in its context within scripture, but also with respect to historical context.  And for those of you who would dare to say that God hates people who are transgender, please read your Bible all the way through before commenting; there’s only ONE “I hate” statement attributed to God in the WHOLE Bible, and it has nothing to do with the LGBT community.

The Tenth Circle of Hell

Therapeutic squats.
The tenth circle of hell.
Squeeze the blanket, down slowly
(One, two, three,
four, five, six,
seven, eight, nine, ten.)
And up.
Knees hurt, but we can do this.
(one, two, three
four, five, six,
seven, eight, nine,
Slowly up.
Three. Four. Five.
Six. Seven.
Fire spreads through
Quads and calves.
Slowly up, feel the coolness
as muscles ease their strain.
Eight. Calves wanting to cramp.
Nine. Burning fire. Blessed cool.
My sore left knee protests,
“What did I do to deserve this?”
Just one more.
Ten. More fire. More cool.
I’m done for now.

Streaming jungle.
Tiger cage. Crouching inside.
Muscles scream, cramp.
Mosquitoes whine and bite,
spreading pain and disease.
Skin splits, festers, oozes.
Fetid water, small break
from the cage.
Bones pop and creak,
Tight muscles scream and stretch.
Tiger cage. Endless crouch.
Muscles scream in protest.
Squats are the tenth circle of hell.
Some have survived the eleventh.

From the End to the Beginning and Back

It’s the Advent season, and I’m sure many Christian home educating families are sharing stories and lessons about the first Christmas.  We have our own traditions surrounding those lessons, but for school, we stick to our schedule, and our Bible study schedule has us finishing the Gospel of John tomorrow, our last day before break.  It seems strange to be reading and studying about the death and resurrection of Jesus when it’s that time of year to celebrate his birth.  Yet, it feels right somehow.

As my daughters and I have read these familiar words, the circular nature of the story of Christ emerges.  The story starts with a girl named Mary who is willing to be the vessel that carries, nourishes, and bears the Christ-child.  She sings, “My soul magnifies the Lord.”  At the story’s dramatic break, that same teenage girl is grown up and watching her son being crucified.  Another Mary, Mary of Magdala, goes to the tomb to take care of the body of Jesus, only to discover it’s gone.  As the narrative unfolds, the risen Jesus gives her instructions to share this amazing revelation to his disciples:  “I have seen the Lord!”  Yes, the very first witness to the pivotal event in Christian history was a woman.

Mary & Baby Jesus

Mary & Baby Jesus

At the end of the story, the bleeding body of Christ is laid in a tomb, a place of uncleanliness.  At the beginning of the story, the weak and vulnerable newborn Christ is laid in an animal’s feeding trough.

Early in John, Jesus tells Nicodemus during Jesus’s first trip to Jerusalem for Passover after beginning his earthly ministry (of which we have record), “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”  After Jesus appears to the disciples the second time, John states that he’s written this whole account so that the reader will believe that Jesus is the Son of God and therefore have real and eternal life.

Jesus’s life ends as a king subjected to the peccadilloes of political maneuverings.  Jesus’s life begins as an infant king threatened by the political maneuverings of a megalomaniacal king.

As we read the resurrection story, we remember that it begins here at Advent.  This Christmas story is the account of God breaking into history in order to send the most perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world.  The story is a new kind of history, one where a deity becomes the very thing deserving of condemnation to take that condemnation upon Itself.  God did that for us.  God did not desire to destroy His own creation, so God became a part of that creation in order to die for it.  In doing so, God saved us from our sins.  Jesus was born to die, and died that we might be born again.

The Only Bad Part of my Thanksgiving

My knee hurts.  Not terribly, but it twinges when I bend it too much or put too much weight on it.  This is the only thing about which I have to complain.

On Monday I fell and dislocated my knee, which totally sucked.  It means having to wear a brace until January and use crutches for a while (maybe not as long as I have to wear the brace).  In the process of all that, though, I met some pretty nice people, and I even had one doctor tell me I was a great way to end a 12-hour shift.

I’d told my family that I wanted to have a much more laid-back Advent season.  It’s looking like my wish is coming true, though not like I’d anticipated.  My Thanksgiving morning began with an email from a friend in a knitting group telling me how much more time I’ll have to knit!  Gotta love that type of optimism! 🙂

My family is made up of rock stars!  They’ve had to take over running my business and doing all the cooking I’d planned to do.  They help me with the little daily things we tend to take for granted – like going up the stairs while carrying a book and a phone.  So on this Thanksgiving I am just overwhelmingly grateful.  I’m grateful for my family and friends, I’m thankful for time to take it easy, I’m thankful that I get to have some advanced care-giving by a highly reputed physical therapist today and tomorrow.

So many things for which to be thankful!

So many things for which to be thankful!

Find your blessings.  Whether they be big or small, your blessings are yours and enrich your life.  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

News Flash! The War on Christmas Surrenders to Common Sense!

It’s a cup.  It’d have coffee or hot chocolate or sugar-free fat-free soy latte in it.  Then, once all that caffeinated joy had crossed the tongue and winged its happy way to the bloodstream, the cup gets unceremoniously dumped in the nearest trash receptacle, ultimately winding up in a landfill where it slowly, over five to fifteen years, biodegrades.  This week, Starbucks unveiled their holiday cup – plain red with their distinctive green and white logo.  That means their cups no longer feature prancing reindeer, cheery snowmen, or swirling snowflakes.  Whoopedy friggin’ doo.

It’s.  A cup.  Actually, I find Starbuck’s move to plain cups to be a great avenue to politically correct, unoffensive inspiration.  I can see it:  The barista takes your order and conversationally asks, “What are you celebrating this season?”  You answer “Christmas” or “Hanukkah” or “Winter Solstice,” and the cheery barista writes your name and order on one side of this plain red cup and draws an angel, a menorah, or a wintry tree on the other side.  Voila!  Every single Starbucks customer gets a cup customized to their religious beliefs and no one can get offended.  Everyone’s happy, except maybe for the poor barista who is better at pulling a cappuccino than drawing various holiday icons.

America isn’t a Christian nation (meaning Christianity isn’t the national religion), and Christmas isn’t a regulated national holiday.  Christmas is a holy day in which Christ’s followers celebrate his birth and others value the traditions of the season as they spend time with family.  However, not everyone celebrates Christmas, nor do they have to.  No one can tell a privately owned business how to observe this season.  People can rant and rave about me using reindeer in some of my packaging (reindeer aren’t Christian), but since it’s my business that I run my way, I can use whatever I want.  Same with Starbucks.  What’s the big deal?  Their cups are still in Christmas colors.

If you’re a conservative believer who wants to talk with your coffee, then bypass Starbucks altogether.  Instead of spending money on overpriced crappy coffee, head over to your local coffee shop, talk to the manager and see if she or he would cut you a deal on coffee.  Then grab a few friends and $20 and buy 20 cups of coffee that you then deliver to homeless people.  Warm up some people this chilly winter on the inside with good coffee and a bit of kindness.  That’s the way you share your beliefs in a coffee cup.  Go on.  Do it.  Don’t wait for some corporate entity to do it for you.