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I am a boring beverage drinker. Totally.

I can’t stand coffee and only tolerate tea.  When it comes to soda (tonic to you New Englanders) it just isn’t worth the calories or, in its slimmed-down version, the chemicals.

But there’s one drink of choice I am willing to pay $4 for at the county fair: lemon shake up.

It’s fun to place the order and watch the vendor spring into action: juicing the lemons, adding sugar and then the ice, water, and lemon halves into a tall glass and shakin’ it all up. Totally refreshing.

Lemon shake ups are made up of a lot of sweet and a little sour. You can’t tell where one ingredient leaves off and the other begins.

Life’s a lot like that too.  I meet with a fabulous group of college women who are studying spiritual formation on Sunday evenings, and another group of young moms in a parenting program on Wednesday nights. When we share prayer requests each week I am struck by how these wonderful women cheer each other on in the happy times. “Sweet!” they’ll  say when a victory is reported or a child makes progress after lots of prayer.

But I also see the compassion in their eyes when a group member shares a loss or haltingly tells of a relationship that has soured. No judgment is rendered; often no advice is given. The group members hold each other’s hearts and confidences.

And in each group we turn to a Source far more significant than ourselves. The psalms are a favorite source of inspiration. The Psalmist never shied away from pouring out his pain. “O LORD, hear me as I pray; pay attention to my groaning. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for I pray to no one but you.” (Ps. 5: 1-2 NLT).

And he also shows us where to go when our spirits need a lift: “The instructions of the LORD are perfect, reviving the soul. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.” (Psalm 19:7; 73:26).

I like my beverages – and my life – sweet. But personal taste aside, God in His greater wisdom gives us the sweet and the sour, the blessed and the bitter.

Feeling all shook up today?  It’s part and parcel of this glorious thing called life.