Welcome to Coffee Stains On My Bible. This is a devotional web site aimed at helping you cultivate a daily practice of prayer, Bible study, and personal reflection to enrich your spiritual life and help equip you to splash the love of Jesus Christ on the world around you. Each day’s devotion will include a prayer, a Bible reading, a personal reflection on that passage, and a meditation for personal application of the scripture for our daily lives.
Ever since I was a teenager, I have been interested in the Bible. When I was twenty-four years old, after exploring some other religions and spiritual practices and satisfying my curiosity about the party-girl lifestyle, I had a profound and life-changing experience of God’s love through Jesus Christ. On my knees in my bedroom, immediately following a very difficult personal experience, with tears flowing down my cheeks as I tasted the bitter fruit of my own behavior, I prayed. I acknowledged my mistakes and failures, and I asked God to take what was left of me. “I know I have made a mess of things here, but if there is any part of my life that You want, I want you to have it; I don’t want to be in charge anymore.” I remembered that, for my entire life, I had heard Jesus referred to as “Redeemer.” But I had never before really considered what it meant to be “redeemed.” That night, as I prayed, I said, “If you are a redeemer, redeem this.”
That was in 1999, and my life took a turn that night, and has been on a steady trajectory ever since—a trajectory walking with God, toward God. Sometimes the trajectory has been at a gallop, sometimes as a snail’s pace. It has been joyful and painful, heartwarming and heart-breaking. I have known God’s encouragement through scripture, as well as God’s correction. My walk with God has been one of mountain highs and valley lows, in lush gardens of grace and dry deserts of pain. But I have experienced the faithfulness and mercy of God over and over, and my allegiance to God’s love in Christ is renewed daily, by grace.
I love grace. I especially love being shown grace! But, bit by bit, I am also realizing the joy of extending grace to others. That’s something I hope to grow in, but it’s not always easy.
For several years after that night when I transferred my allegiance to Christ, I studied my Bible with an insatiable curiosity. I hungered for knowledge of Scripture more than food. I craved the words of the Bible more than sleep, and eventually settled in to a rhythm of daily Bible study and prayer that lasted for years.
Often, I began my day sitting in a big chair in my living room in Staten Island, NY, with a cup of coffee beside me and my cat, Smidgen, on my lap. Juggling a notebook, pen, highlighter, and cat, occasionally my coffee would drip—on to the pages of my Bible. When I began working in Manhattan and taking the Staten Island Ferry to work, I would often have my morning devotions on the boat—again, with a large cup of coffee, my laptop bag, purse, and Bible. And again, the coffee would sometimes drip on my Bible.
At first, this bothered me. But over the years, I realized that those little coffee stains were markers of time spent in God’s word. They were my little “Ebenezer stones” of Bible study, stamping God’s sustaining grace thus far onto the pages of my Bibles over the years. And today, as I re-read through the pages of my Bible(s), I see the occasional coffee stain and am reminded of the times and places where I have been nourished by God’s word over the years: on a van during a five-month tour of theaters in the U.S., on a train across China, in a guest house in Nigeria, in a flat at Oxford University in England, in the New York subway late at night heading home after a theater performance, in my childhood bedroom on a visit to my parents’ house in Roanoke, Virginia, in an orphanage in El Salvador, as I sat rocking babies with my Bible open on my lap. Wherever I have gone in the world over the past eighteen years or so, my Bible has gone with me—both the words on the pages, and the words that have been etched into my heart and mind.
So why start a(nother) blog about Bible study?
In May 2011, my life took another drastic (and wonderful) turn: I got married. My marriage to Karl also meant a cross-country move, and in a few short weeks I became a Seattlite and a “Missus.” With the move came a new work rhythm as well: I continued working for the same organizations I had been working for on the east coast and Midwest, but now I work from home.
All of these changes have been wonderful, and my faith remains strong. God is at the center of our marriage, and God’s ways of grace have already been benchmarks of our Life Together. We love our church, and as I now serve as one of the lay preachers there, I still spend time studying the Bible. But somewhere along the way, between the move and marriage and my new life in Seattle, I lost that daily devotional life.
That was the first reason for this blog: I needed the accountability of writing my daily devotions, and a blog seemed like a good way to get that.
But there was a second reason. When I started trying to get back into the swing of things with devotions, I found myself struggling. I needed a guide, some sort of online partner for my daily devotional life. And I just didn’t find what I was looking for. There are many blogs and web sites that offer Bible study and guidance and devotional writing, but I didn’t find the one that I wanted.
So I decided to start writing the devotional web site I wish I could have found. I’m writing it for that woman out there who, like me, wants to have a rich and consistent devotional life, but is having trouble getting going. I’m writing it for that guy who struggles to self-start, but once he gets going, will move mountains with his prayers. I’m writing it for you, if you’re like me—far from perfect, but eager to grow.
So welcome. I sincerely pray with all my heart that as you read and journey with God, with me, we’ll be strengthened in our inner being, walking on well-lit, albeit narrow, paths. I pray that when we are afflicted in every way, we will not be crushed. Though we will face perplexing times, we’ll never be driven to despair. When we are persecuted, we’ll know we’re not forsaken, and when we are struck down, we’ll not be destroyed.
And I pray—for myself, and for you—that wherever we go in this world, the love and mercy and kindness of God, which we know most perfectly through Jesus Christ, will fill our hearts so much that it will splash from us on to the world in which we live. I pray that through us, the followers of Jesus, our world will be brighter and hearts will be happier.
Joy to the world, the Lord is come.