what is, you ask?
It's coffee shop-bakery-soup-sandwich-bread-salad yumminess. But beyond the yumminess, Panera has become one of my settle-my-soul places. I usually go on Tuesday mornings...as soon as I'm done with kids-off-to-school stuff (today was about 8)...and stay until the lunch crowd starts piling in around 11.
Why is it a settle-my-soul place? I go by myself. There are tons of people there...and sometimes I know some of them, but we don't chat (much). I bring my journal and colored pen (a colored pen is a must--more fun to write with), my Bible, my devotional book (right now I am loving The One Year Book of Hope by Nancy Guthrie), my work notebook and my computer. I get a yummy cinnamon crunch bagel or a spinach artichoke souffle and a diet pepsi (the one downfall of the place is they don't have coke products, but I forgive it).
I grab a table--preferably one of the two that have access to an outlet for my computer with the lame-o-battery. If those tables are taken...I sit nearby and pretty much stalk them. You know, in the non-obnoxious way of stalking. When one is vacated, I pounce on it! I mean (ahem) I calmly walk over and put something down to claim it.
Many things happen on my Panera mornings. I have extended time to write in my journal. I write pages (today orange was the ink color of choice). I spill out all of the things that are weighing on my heart and mind. I read my Bible and devotional and see what God has to say to those things. What He wants to say to me. I don't rush. I journal some more. Sometimes I write lengthy prayers--although more often my entry ends with a simple "help!". God often works in my heart through those entries and through His word. I look at my calendar. I get myself organized. I write lists in my notebook. I think through things I need to work on at church. I catch up on some emails. I write a card or two. I read ministry stuff online. I think. I don't talk.
The noise around me helps me most of the time. My mind is less apt to wander when I'm concentrating on tuning others out. I'm weird like that.
My soul settles. It takes a deep breath. It lets go of the troublesome feeling that I'm forgetting something. I drink in Peace from God's words, which is more satisfying than those diet pepsis I also drink plenty of.
aaah....Panera. I think I love you. Even if you don't have diet coke.
after writing and posting this...I came across the walk with Him wednesday community and decided to link up...since my panera time is a practice that draws me closer to Him. Check out the wonderful post today at a holy experience about building a house of prayer. wonderful. A peaceful blog I plan to revisit often.