Day 5: When the Heat Just Makes You Better

This largely unedited free-write is linking up with the annual Write 31 Days Challenge. // indicates the start and stop of five minutes. The prompt word for today is BREW. Go!



// There was so much to look at. So much to observe. It was 2005 and we were having a journey of incredible firsts. First time overseas. First time in Africa (Addis Ababa, to be exact). First time in a mud house. First time meeting our sponsor child.

I remember it like it was yesterday.

The sights, the smells, the sounds. The floor was pressed dirt, smooth and free from rubble. The bed was soft, the mattress old and sagging in the middle. The walls were pressed mud covered with carefully placed posters (Jennifer Lopez in her early days appeared to be a personal favourite) and textiles to bring colour and beauty to the atmosphere. It was cozy and clean. It was precious.

What a privilege to be so warmly welcomed into so intimate a dwelling.

Esayas’s mother (I think her name was Caroline―at least that’s what it sounded like to my English ears) puttered around, quickly and quietly, obviously nervous about her important guests. She humbly offered us her best. The best seat, the best cup, the best plate, and I’m certain the best of her food as well. Sadly, my North American stomach struggled to accept the flavours and spices, but I managed to take two healthy bites (one of them I swallowed twice).

I turned my attention to our reason for coming… Esayas, thirteen years old at the time, and his little sister. Gifts were given, smiles exchanged, and all attention centered on the contents of the backpacks. It was like Christmas in July!

day-5-brew-3I suddenly realized that smoke was filling the room. I turned to see Caroline lighting a fire inside the house. The smell of roasting coffee beans filled the air. I had NEVER smelled such aromas. It was intoxicating. //

I watched with wonder and amazement as Caroline sat on the floor and stirred the beans, evenly roasting them until they had almost a burnt odor. Then she crushed them, over and over, until she was satisfied that they were fine enough; then into the stone carafe and boiling water added. Swirling the pot in a masterful dance so that the coffee grounds remained inside, she carefully poured the coffee into her best cup for me.

I had NEVER tasted such richness in any coffee shop, ever.

It was simply the best coffee I’d ever had in my life. Not just because of the unique experience and the amazing quality, but also because it had been made with such LOVE.

And I find myself thinking…

If my life were a cup of coffee, what quality would you taste? Click To Tweet

  • Would you taste that nasty aftertaste of instant coffee, characterized by poor quality beans and over-processing? Would it be bitter? Or bland?
  • Or would you taste the richness of a life that has been through the fire?

day-5-brew-2Like the simple coffee bean, Caroline had experienced the worst life could offer her: the fire of adversity, the crushing weight of disappointment, and the scalding heat of poverty and life circumstances. But she hadn’t allowed that to make her bitter, or worse yet, shallow and weak.

She willingly chose to sit in the mud and offer me her very best! She poured her love out on me with the best she had. Even as I’m writing this, the memory of that moment has me weeping.


What a powerful illustration of our Heavenly Father!

Philippians 2:1-11 in the SBV (Shauna Blaak Version) says, “Don’t think of yourself as better than others, but rather treat others better than yourself. Be like Jesus―He WAS God, but He didn’t fight to be recognized as God. Instead, He emptied Himself and took the form of the lowest of servants. He humbled Himself to the lowest place of all and obeyed completely, even dying on the cross. That’s why God has exalted Him HIGHER than any other power! There is nothing and no one higher than Him, and one day, EVERYONE will see and declare it!”



It begs the question,

  • Am I also willing to sit in the dirt and offer my very best to those who enter my personal space? My husband, my kids, parents, siblings, friends, employees, etc.
  • Will they enjoy the richness of my love or the bitterness of my leftovers?


I don’t know if I will ever see this precious mother again on this earth. I would love to be able to hug her once more and tell her what her generous spirit has done in my heart. Perhaps, someone who knows her will one day read this and pass it onto her:

Caroline, thank you for being such an amazing example of the Father’s heart to me! I love you deeply, and I pray favour and blessing on you, your precious family, and your future and destiny!


P.S. Special thanks to The Erwinator who has rescued me once again. This post is late, not because it wasn’t ready to publish but because the backup hard drive with ALL of our photos crashed. In fact, there were two backups in the safe and BOTH of them crashed. I have been beside myself. [Note to self: this is why we NEVER throw out old CDs. I’m so glad I listened. Thanks, Babe.] We’ve recovered some, not all. Praying for breakthrough.


To read more of 31 Days of Mom Awesomeness, click here.


For more information on the Write 31 Days challenge, check out Christina Hubbard’s site!




2 replies
  1. Marian
    Marian says:

    Shauna, I love your ability to draw attention to treasures hidden in dark places. You see beauty where others see despair.

    • Shauna Blaak
      Shauna Blaak says:

      Oh Marian, thank you for your kind words. May we all get better at finding the gold around us, in life and in people!
      Love you so much! Thanks for visiting!


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