Carrots, eggs and coffee

I’ve seen this floating around the Internet in various forms and loved it so much that I’ve reproduced it here in its entirety, rather than simply linking to one of the many sources…

A young woman went to her grandmother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her – her husband had cheated on her and she was devastated. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as soon as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her grandmother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil; without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.

Turning to her granddaughter, she asked, ‘Tell me what you see.’

‘Carrots, eggs, and coffee,’ she replied.

Her grandmother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The grandmother then asked the granddaughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg.

Finally, the grandmother asked the granddaughter to sip the coffee. The granddaughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The granddaughter then asked, ‘What does it mean, grandmother?’

Her grandmother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

“Which are you?” she asked her granddaughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity? Do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain… When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate yourself to another level?

How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?


Guest Post: “Offer it up”

Praying at sunrise

Offer It UpA couple of months ago we had a guest post here at Restless Pilgrim from Tom Massoth. Well, today we have another guest post, this time from my long-time friend, John. I met John for the first time during a short stay in San Diego. A couple of years later, I returned to the USA and we had the chance to be neighbours. I take personal credit for him meeting his wife!

Today’s post is an abridged version of an article John wrote a while ago where he discussed the meaning of a phrase you commonly hear in Catholic circles…

It seems to be something of a catch-phrase in modern Catholic culture, but what do we really mean when we say “offer it up”? Is it more than just a religious way of saying “Suck it up” or “Quit complaining”?

“Offer it up” is more than a simple invitation to prayer. Those three words are an invitation to participate in the gospel.
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Wise Words on Wednesday: Suffering is love


“Always remember to love your neighbour; always prefer the one who tries your patience, who test your virtue, because with her you can always merit: suffering is Love; the Law is Love”

– Blessed Mary of Jesus Crucified (“The Little Arab”).

Christian Copycat

In Bible Study last week we just finished up our study of St. Paul’s first epistle to the Thessalonians. During our time together, it struck me how many times the subject of “imitation” is raised in the letter. In this post I’d like to take a brief survey of these references.

Likeness in Jesus Alone?

The first example of imitation and mimicry appears in the very first chapter of the epistle:

And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit… – 1 Thessalonians 1:6

This is typically the verse that I reach for when speaking with Christians who object to the Catholic devotion to Saints, and who tell me that “The only person we need to imitate is Jesus”. Clearly, this wasn’t the opinion of St. Paul, who speaks proudly of how his fledgling congregation imitates, not only Lord, but also the senders of this letter (Paul, Timothy and Silas).

In that first chapter Paul describes himself as a nursing mother and a loving father:

But we were gentle… among you, like a nurse taking care of her children… for you know how, like a father with his children – 1 1 Thessalonians 2:7,11

Given these loving parental terms, it’s hardly surprising that the Thessalonians began to imitate the evangelists.


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Music Monday: Blessings

This week’s Music Monday entry is “Blessings” from Laura Story, a profound song which attempts to answer, in part, the hardest question of the Christian life: why does God allow suffering?

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops?
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near?
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know the pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops,
What if Your healing comes through tears?

And what if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near?
What if my greatest disappointments
or the aching of this life is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy?
And what if trials of this life, the rain, the storms, the hardest nights are Your mercies in disguise?

Audrey Assad Day!

I have the day off work today and I’m off to see Audrey Assad in concert! Feel free to enjoy this interview I found online:

What should I say?

The other day a friend of mine sent me a text message saying her coworker was mourning. It was the anniversary of her husband’s death in Afghanistan. Her coworker was asking the question: “Why would God let this happen?”. My friend asked “What should I say?”Here’s the text message I wrote in reply:

I would say something like “I could talk about some of the different reasons why bad things happen to good people (fallen world, free will, sinful man, God’s plan etc.), but the truth is I don’t know… None of us fully comprehends why terrible things like this happen.

What I do know is that God is the expert at drawing good out of bad, bringing healing out of pain. When Jesus hung on the cross it looked to the world like defeat, but out of the cross came victory over death so Jesus endured it for love of the world.

Your husband, no doubt,  joined the military because he thought that it was the right thing to do, to protect the country and people he loved. Jesus did the same.

I can’t explain specifically WHY your husband died, but I CAN say that, if Jesus’ death shows us anything, it’s that suffering is not meaningless and that great acts of love and sacrifice can change the world”

When we encounter someone who is suffering, there is always the temptation to talk about big theological concepts of God’s will, His sovereignty and the fallen nature of humanity. However, in my experience, when people are suffering, this kind of talk is neither helpful nor comforting. We can only point them to the Cross. Apart from the Cross, suffering has no meaning or purpose.

Even then, words are often ineffective. Actions speak much louder. When someone is suffering and I don’t know what to say, there’s a temptation to just avoid that person since I can’t “do” anything. We must fight that temptation! Sometimes all I really need to do is just show up. Be there for my friend. Listen to her. Cry with her. Pray with her. If that person is English, make a cup of tea :-)

The presence of a friend during a time of suffering speaks much more loudly of the love of God than any words ever could. Love them like Jesus.

Mark Hall, Casting Crowns

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