Morning Coffee

Morning Coffee

By Janelle Ross

Almost every morning he makes the coffee: grinds the beans, pours boiling water into the French press, and waits until just the right moment to drop the plunger. He picks a cup for me from the cupboard. If it’s clean, he chooses the brown one that says You are a Courageous Woman. I’ve never asked him why.

He pours the coffee and splashes in some cream, the real thing, full of fat and flavour. If I’m in the kitchen with him, I watch the white liquid swirl into the brown, and this comforting routine, established over time, is the start of most of my days.

Twenty-five years, he and me, and it’s not been the love story you might imagine. We weren’t childhood sweethearts or each other’s first loves. We’ve struggled through some lean years and a few barely-talking-to-each-other seasons. There was the time I almost left him, and the time he was a cat’s whisker away from walking out the door. That’s the truth, I’m afraid, and I’m too old and life is too short to pretend otherwise.

But here we are, a quarter of a century into this thing called marriage, and we continue to practice loving each other in this crazy classroom of life. Continue to write a story of falling and failing and trying again. Our story, truth be told, is less hearts-and-flowers than it is heart-aches and apologies. Maybe most loves are, if we’re honest.

Can I tell you about our first big fight? We were on a trip, driving though Edmonton or Calgary or some other big city that my country-made husband thought should “just have a bomb dropped on it.” Is that too violent? He also hunts, sorry.

Anyway, there we were. On a trip. In a city. Stopped at a gas station to fuel up the vehicle. As he was going in to pay, I asked him to get me a cup of coffee.

Me: Could you get me a cup of coffee while you’re in there?
Him: Well, we could share one.
Me: I don’t want sugar in my coffee. If you only get one, don’t put sugar in it.

He returns and hands me the cup. I take a sip and, yep, sugar.

Let’s just say the rest of the trip was initially very loud and then very, very quiet.

This is my story, friends. Your’s will be different. Maybe you are one of those who truly has not struggled a minute in your relationship. Bless you. But if you’ve had to practice this Love thing, as I have, I’ll wager we’ve learned some of the same things, like the importance of telling the truth and remembering the small things and being kind. But I know you know that.

Love, of course, is deciding to care, over and over and over. It’s our Great Coffee War of 1994 evolving into daily mugs of courage and morning coffee, made just the way you like it.

Maybe this is the great lesson of all our lives, if we’re doing it right. Maybe there is no grand pursuit of love, but rather a simple daily assignment to be kind and courteous and compassionate. Maybe LOVE is the only worthy subject and our homes, offices, towns, grocery stores… maybe these are the classrooms.

I forget this sometimes, though, because I get too tired or lazy or afraid. I say an underserved unkindness or I waste time being offended or I weigh pros and cons in relationships. Yucky time-wasting, love-denying stuff.

But goodness, God is patient with me. He sends me back to school, over and over, encouraging me to love, love, love. And those of you I’m learning alongside – my friends, my classmates – you are the best. I see you struggle and still love. I see you lose and still love. I see you offer grace and goodness in your homes and your communities and in all your circles of influence, and I acknowledge your love.

We’re in this together, you see. You’re learning and doing love in your way, and I’m doing it in mine. We’ll make our mistakes and be imperfect, maybe even fail a test or two. But with perseverance and practice and Jesus, I believe we can be the lovers this tired and beat-up world needs.

Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbour as yourself.”  Matthew 22: 37-39



  1. Ann Parent on February 18, 2019 at 2:31 pm

    Love your article. Here we are 55 years this May still struggling..still losing…but still loving. With Jesus loving my way! Happy 25 yrs.

    • Janelle on February 18, 2019 at 6:12 pm

      You guys are an inspiration! I love how you love each other, and all those who are blessed to know you!

  2. Cara Olafson on February 18, 2019 at 3:07 pm

    I love this!
    Not because I’m 25yrs in, but because I’m learning to love and be loved. Just about 4 yrs ago I started this crazy journey on how to love me, it’s not an easy one. Then about 2 yrs ago an amazing person joined me, and I’ve struggled to let him love me, I’ve wasted hours and days on love-denying stuff, because I spent so much time not being loved properly that now it’s hard to accept real love.

    • Janelle Ross on February 18, 2019 at 6:14 pm

      Learning to love and be loved is everything! I’m so glad you have found your person, Cara.

  3. Laurie Fisher on February 18, 2019 at 3:25 pm

    Oh how I love your honesty Janelle!
    I’ve looked at our life of love (39 years this year) and often compared how I want to be loved, and how I love in return (how he wants his coffee) and what God says about, well, about how He wants His coffee! Do I serve God coffee He has not specifically asked for, or do I love Him the way He has asked to be loved (asked for His coffee)? And then I read “you are My Friend if…..”.
    Thanks for making the sequel for us!!

    • Janelle Ross on February 18, 2019 at 6:17 pm

      Thank you so much, Laurie. You are a good “lover.” Your friends and family will testify to that truth!

  4. Marti on February 18, 2019 at 3:29 pm

    What a charge we have been given. To love our neighbor as ourself, first requires learning to love self. Then, Jesus ramps it up a notch and tells us to love one another as He has loved us. Neither of these lovings are possible without the power of the Holy Spirit. So let us not quench the Holy Spirit in our daily, hourly, moment-by-moment loving.

  5. Bonnie on February 18, 2019 at 3:45 pm

    There is so much humble wisdom packed in here Janelle, thank you so much! ❤️

    • Janelle Ross on February 18, 2019 at 6:20 pm

      Thank you, Bonnie. Love you so much.

  6. Erica Bailey on February 18, 2019 at 5:21 pm

    Thank you for sharing, Janelle. Also 25 years in and there are days of perfect coffee and days we just want to throw out the coffee with the grounds. Such honesty! I thought we would be more sorted out by now… but we are still a disorganized mess. Your article encourages me!

    • Janelle Ross on February 18, 2019 at 6:22 pm

      It’s so true! Still learning, after all these years.

  7. Dan Dods on February 19, 2019 at 3:26 am

    It was a little over a dozen years ago I made a New Years Resolution to Love the Lord my God with all my heart and with all my soul and with all my mind and to Love my neighbour as myself. Now at the time I was living with my bi-polar ex-wife and it was an abusive relationship. Although we were no longer married I was there to keep her safe even though it was a danger to me.
    After the first year of consciously trying to keep that resolution I was renewing it and meditated on it… and came to the realization I would not treat others the way I was allowing myself to be treated. Did I love myself less than others. There was the paradigm shift I needed to move on. I have now been with my partner Cindy for 10 years without any disagreements or fights. Life is good and God is good. Lessons learned.

  8. Angie on February 20, 2019 at 1:28 am

    Oh how I love this Janelle! So much wisdom! Much of your story could have been my story!
    By the grace of God, our 31st wedding anniversary is coming up in June. Thank you for sharing so honestly!

    • Janelle Ross on March 20, 2019 at 8:12 pm

      I wish you happiness and God’s blessings, Angie!

  9. Hope Taylor on February 22, 2019 at 10:19 pm

    Thank you, Janelle. Although my husband and I are no longer a part of a church community, many times your writings serve as “church” for me; they fill me and make me whole again. You have reminded me again and again of God’s grace and His never ending love.

  10. Janelle Ross on March 20, 2019 at 8:13 pm

    I’m reminding myself, too. Thanks, Hope.

  11. Vicki Elford on April 22, 2019 at 5:55 pm

    Loved this, Janelle!

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