Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Who'll Make the Coffee ... and the Cookies?

"Who'll make the coffee?"

It sounds like such a small thing. But for those of us who arrive at church early to run off Sunday School materials or who enjoy partaking in a cup of joe and some conversation before the worship service begins, it becomes a little detail that makes a big difference.

One of the guys who "made the coffee" at our church died last week. Yes, Marion made the coffee for a lot of years - before Sunday School, at the bazaar, for funeral dinners, for the men's pancake feed and more.

But it wasn't just that. He quietly did a whole lot more. He and his wife stirred up "Methodist meatloaf" for some 100 funeral dinners. His family had been putting together Christmas candy bags for the church's children since 1929. 
When another member of the church was no longer able to organize the apple pie days and apple butter making for the fall bazaar, he and his wife were the driving forces behind those efforts. He was Sunday School clerk, keeping track of attendance for 60 years. I'm sure there was more that I - and others - didn't know he did. But we will likely discover those things in the coming days.

He still was doing some of those things a month ago. Once his cancer was discovered, his remaining time here on earth went quickly.

Randy and I visited the family and took some food to their home before the funeral. I took BBQ beef for a reason. That was my mother-in-law Marie's "go-to" offering to take to grieving families. And she was one of those quietly-get-things-done people at church, too. Even though she's been gone 23 years, I felt that connection of church and family ties as I shredded the beef to take to town.
I also took some cookies. I'd been wanting to try a recipe I'd seen online for Cafe Coffee Cookies. And when I thought of Marion and all the pots of coffee he made, I couldn't think of a better time to try them. (There's also an inside joke among those of us who were around Marion after church dinners or when everyone had had their fill of coffee on a Sunday morning. No one was supposed to dump out the coffee. In fact, if he knew you'd "wasted it," he let you know he didn't approve. If there was leftover coffee, he'd haul it a block home and warm it up to use there. He was the very definition of a Depression-era-raised American.)

Besides singing for the service, I helped with the funeral dinner, as did many others. When Randy came downstairs after completing his pall bearer duties at the cemetery, he told me,  "It sure smells good down here. Actually, it smells good in the whole church."

And I thought again - as I so often do at funeral dinners - about how we are to be the "fragrance" or the "aroma" of Christ.

“For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ”  
2 Corinthians 2:15 

Homemade French bread was something else Marion made for funeral dinners. The fragrance of homemade bread as it bakes always permeates a room. It's like doing the little things: It permeates our life and the lives of others. We become the hands and feet and heart of Christ when we do those little, sometimes "invisible," things.

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love,
 just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us,
 an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
Ephesians 5: 1-2 

Randy's comment brought me back to the message Pastor Nate preached during the funeral, when he asked "Who will take up the mantle? Who will fill the sacks for the children at Christmas? Who will do the other things that need to be done?"

It will likely take more than one of us to "make the coffee" and take on some of the tasks that Marion and other pillars of the church have done for so many years. And maybe some of those tasks will evolve. It's OK to purchase French bread from the bakery aisle instead of making every loaf from scratch. But it still takes someone to plan for it and actually do it.
Whether we take up the mantle "as is" or get it done in a different way, it's OK. One of my favorite Bible passages -- I Corinthians 12 -- talks about all the parts of the body being important and working together. It takes all of us, using our God-given gifts to do the work of the church or the community - whether that's school music, sports, 4-H, Scouts, Chamber of Commerce, the county fair, food bank ... the examples are endless.

And if you're into "making the coffee" - either in reality or metaphorically - you might like the flavor (and aroma) of these cookies:
Cafe Coffee Cookies
Adapted from a recipe found online
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. instant espresso powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup chopped pecans (plus extra for sprinkling on top)
1 pkg. (12 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Coffee Drizzle
2 tbsp. butter, melted
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1 1/2 - 2 cups cups powdered sugar (approx.)
A splash of milk may be needed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl with paddle attachment, beat together the shortening, butter and sugars until light and creamy. Add eggs and vanilla and mix in well.

Combine flour, espresso powder, baking soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture on low speed, beating just until well combined. Stir in the chopped pecans and chocolate chips.

Using a cookie scoop, drop dough onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for 9 to 10 minutes or until edges are set. Cool on pan for 2 to 4 minutes, then remove to cool completely.

For the glaze: Dissolve espresso powder in the warm melted butter. Add powdered sugar and stir until smooth and until it's a "drizzle" consistency. In honesty, I didn't measure the glaze ingredients that well because I adapted it to include butter. I believe in flavor in any frosting or glaze. So add additional powdered sugar or a splash of milk to make it a glaze consistency. I used a decorator tube to create a more uniform drizzle over the cookies. While the glaze is still wet, sprinkle with additional chopped pecans or mini chocolate chips. (I was out of mini chocolate chips, so I didn't try that this time.) Let the drizzle dry until set.

To store, place cookies in an airtight container, putting layers of waxed paper or parchment between the layers. Makes approximately 4 dozen cookies.


  1. When we first came back to the farm, still part-time, we hosted a neighborhood supper on the lawn, inviting our guests to bring salad or dessert while we did the rest. I was amazed by their comments about how fun it was to revive an old tradition. I didn't understand that suppers on the lawn were a thing of the past! So many of the traditions of past generations are forgotten or neglected. Sad. I enjoyed this blog very much.

    1. That is true. We will welcome our new minister with an ice cream social later this month. Those are few and far between these days, too! Thanks for taking time to comment.

  2. I enjoyed this very much, Kim. So true about everyone working together in small communities. And I loved Marion’s French bread! He was a great guy! As you said, he will be missed.

    1. Thank you! He freely shared his talents. He will be missed in many ways!

  3. He will be missed. I loved your blog, and I just may try those cookies tonight!

    1. Good to hear from you from Colorful Colorado. We miss you and Richard in our little town. It looks like you are enjoying time with your grandchildren.

  4. A beautiful tribute to Marion. I am sure he will be replaced but it will take many, not one, our lives are so busy now.

    1. Yes, times have definitely changed, so we have to figure out what to keep and what needs to evolve in many of our life activities.

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    1. Thanks for visiting the blog and taking time to comment.