Smells Like Sweat, Coffee and Jesus Christ 

RECAP: Last post, I mentioned that my grandparents and cousin were moving into my house. They are finally settled in and meal time has definitely changed. My grandma cooks like she is feeding an army, and she has reorganized everything and I mean EVERYTHING in the cupboards, pantry and refrigerator. I have only sat down with everyone for dinner two or three times, but hopefully a more settled routine will develop. Speaking of routine, I aim to post more frequently and currently working on a schedule for my summer! Let’s see how long I can stick to it!


Hello friends!

The heat has finally hit Fresno in full-force and it is relentless! Last Friday was our first DOG DAYS New Student Orientation at Fresno State and not even summer softball could have prepared me for such a job. I arrived at school at 5:30 a.m. to begin setting up at 6. I questioned my own strength as we lifted boxes to our registration tables; I was sure that I was going to collapse by the end of the day. The literal damper on the day was the heat and consequently the sweat. From my head to my toes.


The smell of sweat emitting from our bodies seem to be a less than desirable odor, but when I think about what I sweated for, it made it a whole lot more tolerable.

We danced on stage, conducted an icebreaker, went on to presentations, lunch and registration. I was running to, from and around the buildings, but when I did have a moment to myself, I ended up finding a few students to speak to or assist. The sound of “Erika, I have a question” or “Where can I find this department?” were delightful. This is what I had been preparing for! Aside from the awesome music, interior design, and linguistics majors in my own group, I met at least a dozen others in passing. The most meaningful interaction was between myself and a parent of a student not in my group after lunch. She was seeking the attention of another orientation leader, who was helping students on a nearby computer. I walked over and asked her if she needed assistance.

The mom needed a ride to the next session, so I called for a cart and walked with her to the elevator. I don’t recall much of what we talked about in waiting for the cart, but she did compliment the organization of the day’s activities. I smiled and thanked her kindly, because it was our first day and we were pretty sure that things had been going wrong all day. However, her compliment meant that (some) people did appreciate all our sweaty labor!

Tuesday was our second orientation and wow, what a difference in students. I definitely was more overwhelmed and out of my element with the prospective pre-nursing students. I’ll start with a positive: I was able to be a little more hands-on during lunch and lab registration. Unfortunately, I am the biggest critic of my work so I was not as satisfied with my performance today in terms of energy and engagement in the morning compared to last week.

My spirits were a little low, and my patience was wearing thin, but I am thankful for such an awesome team of co-workers for their supportive attitudes.

I know I am not always going to do everything exactly right, but sometimes the perfectionist in me likes to tell me otherwise. I have to accept the fact that I am still learning as we go through summer, and improvements will be noticed as we come closer to the end. And it’s not like I am trying to be perfect to show them how great I am, or to garner praise, right? Maybe I just identified my problem…

I have to remind myself why I wanted this job in the first place. It’s about the students; it’s not about me. When I look at the students, I have to think of them as my younger sibling or a younger cousin who expressed their dreams of attending a four-year university. I have dreams for them to become successful students at a university, but they have the ultimate decision on what direction they chose and what dreams they choose to follow. My students are trying hard to adjust to a new place, as I am too, adjusting to a new job.

The team after the first DOG DAYS New Student Orientation! I probably had the most excited expression (bottom right) because I jumped into the shot at the last second!

While I’ve learned that I don’t know everything about being an orientation leader, I’ve also learned that I didn’t know anything about making coffee until a few weeks ago.

It was a Sunday at The Bridge church and one of the pastors announced that they were seeking volunteers to serve in The Cafe as a barista. My brain percolated (pun intended) with thoughts of myself as a barista and I figured it would be a good way to meet more people in the church!

I went through training that afternoon and started serving last Sunday. Our team of three-two on the bar and myself dosing shots of espresso-served thirty-something drinks that morning! It was slightly overwhelming but I love fast-paced environments.This week, I was called to fill in for someone and I took the daunting task of working at the bar. Thankfully, there were fewer orders to fill, and the crew was so helpful in reminding me of some of the tips and tricks of making a good cup of coffee! I did pretty well once I paid attention to their own techniques, and with more practice, I can probably create more quality tasting drinks. But of course, I wanted to get it perfect the first time.

Besides the mmmm-mazing coffee at The Cafe, I have been personally challenged by the amazing series we are going through called “Follow“, which focuses on how we can become more like Jesus Christ. Hence the “smell like Jesus Christ” quote I took from Pastor Chris Calvert’s message on spiritual formation. It was the most interesting way I’ve heard someone describe what following Jesus is like. It was a simple, humorous metaphorical description, but it was the honest truth.

So how does smelling like sweat after DOG DAYS and coffee after volunteering have anything to do with Pastor Chris’s message?

Smelling like sweat can be indicative of a hard worker, or a body in motion or at rest after exercise. A man or woman prepares a cup of coffee for their long day ahead, and the smell of the beans grinding at a coffee shop is the background noise to the conversation taking place. The interesting thing about sweat and coffee is they are polarizing. Not everyone loves to sweat, or the smell of sweat. Not everyone loves to drink coffee, or the smell of coffee. You either do or you don’t.

And not everyone loves Jesus, or even the smell of Jesus. He is polarizing. And the boldest of smells to ever exist.

As a follower of Jesus, my love should overflow so much that people can smell it just as much as they can smell the coffee brewing in a cafe, or sweat after a day in the summer sun. It’s one that you might not always be able to put your finger on, but you just know it’s something different! However, it’s not about my performance; it’s about what is at the center of my heart. A heart that should be full of worship for the King, not a heart seeking out praise for myself.

So, now you know my heart’s desires.  I want to smell like sweat. I want to smell like coffee. I want to smell like Jesus Christ.

Stay connected with me all summer long!

Follow me on Instagram @errikadenise

Follow me on Twitter @errikadenise55


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