November 1, 2019

Straws and Sippy Cups

It wasn't until I left that I realized what can happen when you spend so many years in the same place.

Jimmy Phillips

California’s new “straw law” really cramped my style, man.

For those of you who live in a normal state, here’s some background. Last year California passed a law that on January 1, 2019, full-service restaurants would no longer be able to offer plastic straws without request.

Some establishments anticipated more change, moving away from straws to what essentially amount to disposable sippy-cup lids. If their master plan was to initiate vivid flashbacks to the toddler years, I think they succeeded.

The first time I encountered one of these lids I did the only obvious thing: asking for a straw, I jammed it into the sippy-cup opening and proceeded per normal. Upon arriving back to the office, one of my Gen-Z staff members looked at me with a combination of disdain and pity.

“Don’t look at me like that,” I joked. “They’re messing with my routine!”

Breaking Routine

Some changes are good, such as quelling that nighttime sugary cereal habit. Some changes are bad, such as getting fired without cause. And some changes don’t matter that much at all (hello, straws).

But sometimes, whether we like it or not, we need change, and a break from the routines that turn our lives into managing the status quo.

In his book The Heavenly Man, Chinese Brother Yun describes the multi-decade struggle he faced in Communist China. Change was a constant with Yun, who was tortured, and  thrown in and out of prison. But after being released from his first stint in prison, Yun fell into the routine of a “normal” life by taking care of his young family, doing housework, and continuing to try to spread the gospel. A short while later he was thrown into prison again, but this time he realized something different.

It wasn’t until I left that I realized what can happen when you spend so many years in the same place.

“I went to prison for a second time. The Lord saw I was exhausted in the ministry, so He graciously allowed me to rest in Him behind bars for a while and learn about inner spiritual life.”1

A similar experience is described in Genesis 37. Ellen White wrote about why God allowed Joseph to be sold into Egyptian captivity. “In the providence of God, even this experience was to be a blessing to [Joseph]. . . . His father, strong and tender as his love had been, had done him wrong by his partiality and indulgence.”2

My family and I moved from California to Ohio this year. It’s been a change. My wife is a native Californian, and our kids are now a plane ride away from their cousins. It wasn’t until I left that I realized what can happen when you spend so many years in the same place. Things become too easy, too normal. I needed to be somewhere I didn’t have any routines that kept me from seeing, hearing, and feeling what was really going on in my soul.

Perhaps you don’t need to be thrown into prison or sold to slave traders, but is there a routine in your life that needs to be broken so that you can experience the fullness of God’s presence?

By the way, I only jammed the straw in the new lid only once. Turns out that when I gave the sippy-cup lids a shot, I found that I actually liked them better.


  1. Brother Yun and Paul Hattaway, Heavenly Man (2002).
  2. Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1890, 1908), p. 213.

Jimmy Phillips is network marketing director for Kettering Health Network.

Jimmy Phillips
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