[My daughter, Emily, and I give each other writing prompts and we write something. I was supposed to write fiction, but again, wrote something that I have experienced.
Prompt: Write about a natural disaster in a calm and peaceful tone. I remembered a true story of something minor, but in which I was very calm…]
I began to notice that I had a caffeine problem many years ago. While in college, I remember beginning many a day with a 16 oz cup of coffee from a snack bar on Shafer Street at VCU. Then, after lunch, I would go to my job in an office building, and there was always a pot of coffee beckoning me. I would drink 1-3 mugs. The first time I noticed the “shakes” from too much caffeine, I downsized to a 12 oz morning cup and limited myself to only one in the afternoon (I didn’t pay attention to the amount of Cola I was drinking, though).
I bought my first coffee maker at a yard sale of a graduating seminarian while beginning my M.Div. studies. I remember that when my mother would visit us, she ask for hot water to mix with her coffee, since mine was so strong.
I, also, remember when a colleague of mine visited while I was a pastor, and refused to finish a cup I had given him, since he said it already made him feel like he was “high.”
As I was raising support, from 1995-1996, I abused my body with caffeinated drinks in order to stay awake while driving long distances. An unintended result was that I often could not quickly fall asleep, even if I had returned home at 4 AM.
In 1999 I bought a cappuccino maker, and put it to “good use.” By 2001, I had to buy another, since the first one was worn out J. By 2002, I realized that I had to stop daily drinking 2 liters of Kazakhstan Coca-cola (the best in the world, by the way), and had to limit the number of cappuccinos that I consumed, daily. But I kept my habit of beginning my day with a small, double-shot cappuccino on an empty stomach.
It was in 2003 that I noticed a new affect of caffeine: it slowed down the world around me. My wife says that she knows when I’ve had too much caffeine because I speak at warp speed.
On one December day in 2003, while we were still living on the 8th floor of a 9 story building in Almaty, Kazakhstan, I began my day, as usual, with a small, double shot cappuccino on an empty stomach. Our three kids had just left for school, and my wife was asleep in bed with a cold.
There was a strange movement, as I was composing an e-mail letter on my notebook computer at the kitchen table.
My fingers were no longer level with the keyboard, and I felt as though I were rocking, gently, in a boat.
My wife screamed, “what’s happening!” as the tremor awoke her from the deep sleep of a winter cold.
“It’s OK, honey, it’s just a tremor.” The cabinet doors were swinging open, and overhead lamps were swaying. It was the worst tremor I had ever experienced, but it didn’t seem to bother me.
I didn’t panic, as everything seemed to be moving in slow motion: the caffeine caused me to speed up, relatively faster than the minor earthquake. The quivering stopped, and then there was an after shock, of a lesser impact.
My wife came into the kitchen, and said, “I sure am glad we are moving out of this apartment and into a house next week!” I heard her in slow motion, too.
I quickly answered, “You know it!” and went back to my E-mail. She was moving so slowly, too, by the way.
Now, I drink even less caffeine, and the world seems to have caught up with me.
 For this reason, I don’t drink anything caffeinated before preaching, as I don’t want this effect to be confused with the work of the Holy Spirit in me.