You, Me and Two Cups of Tea

On Monday my little sisters invited their friends over for a tea party. They dressed up in skirts and dresses and heels and hats (most of which was much too big) and set a table with a purple flowered cloth, my grandma’s pink and white teacups, and a bud vase filled with roses and baby’s breath. They talked in elegant voices, saying how “lovely” everyone looked and how “delightful” everything tasted. It was very cute.

I remember having tea parties when I was little. My sister and I planned them for days. We wrote out menus and lists of ingredients we would need. Actually, my sister did. I wasn’t (and still am not) much of a cook. I usually handled the decorating. I’m not sure that I was especially good at that, either, but at least it was a little safer than entrusting me with the creation of a sponge cake. We wrote out invitations in our best handwriting and in the most elegant language we could muster, and sent them to our friends. In fact we all rotated our tea party hostessing duties. Every month or so there was a new tea party to get dressed up for at a friend’s house. It was a lot of fun.

Being little and carefree and innocent, with nothing more to worry about than the outcome of a plate of plum puffs, is a good thing to be. Sometimes, I miss those innocent days. Am I allowed to? I’m older now, getting ready for college, and I’m supposed to be all grown up. And yet sometimes, being grown up (or almost grown up anyway) is scary. All these funny expectations and lists of busy work. I can’t help it. I miss being little and having tea parties. Maybe I miss what even grown women miss when they celebrate the simple art of taking tea: a time when the pace of life was slower and human relationships were more cherished. When there was no media bombarding every waking moment with glittering images of sexualized pop culture. When ladies made visiting one another a priority in their daily lives, and hostesses took the time to sit on their front porches and just talk. When it was legitimate to take a break from the hectic, harried work day and merely spend time with others.

It is our way of longing for the innocent times of our lives, and the innocent times of our country. So that maybe, tea parties are about more than scones and full-skirted dresses. Maybe they are an appreciation for that which is simple and elegant and…innocent.

It was fun to watch those little girls gather around their teacups and saucers, jelly cookies and tea sandwiches and strawberries and cream, and just talk and be little girls. Even my little brother got in the act, helping my sister get all the treats ready (he was invited to the party, but politely declined!). It was a sweet thing to see, and it brought back memories. And it got me thinking. So maybe I’ll go out to coffee with a friend, or find that teapot of mine in the attic and make some tea for my sisters and me. And we could just talk. Just because I care about them. Just because we love one another. Just…because.

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What’s Wrong With Me?

Has there ever been a guy in your life who made you ask this question?  Or maybe it was a girl friend.  As soon as you started hanging out with this person, you started hating the way God made you.  You began to wish you were prettier, thinner, more athletic, more girly…just plain different.  The funny thing is, none of the things you started to dislike about yourself were things that God dislikes.  They didn’t have to do with your heart, your faith, your focus on Him.  They had to do with your looks, your personality, your abilities…the very things that God loves and cherishes in you, because He designed them.

Sometimes we have an obsession to be loved, and an obsession to please.  We want to be valued and liked and needed, because we find our worth in relationships with others.  Sometimes this becomes so important to us, that we change ourselves completely in order to fit someone else’s definition of beautiful or worthy.  We can even find ourselves willing to exchange the essense of who we are, and all we stand for and believe in, for the approval of others.

Do you struggle with wanting to please people?  Does your desire to be liked and accepted usurp your passion to honor God?  If so, you are not alone.  But it’s important to realize that just because this is a common struggle, doesn’t make it OK.

If a guy or girl you know makes you feel inferior because of what you look like or enjoy, or what you believe in, that is not a person worth pleasing.  In fact, they’re probably not someone you should want be spending time with!  No true friend will make you feel this way, because a friend looks at the heart and encourages and builds you up, rather than looking at externals and tearing you down.  A true friend doesn’t make you ask, “What’s wrong with me?”  Someone who makes you want to change, to look better, to act differently in order to be accepted and liked, is not worth your time or your trust.

Jesus Christ is the only One truly worth living for, and He loves you just as you are.  He is willing to transform you from the inside out to reflect His holiness and purity, but you can never do or say or be anything that will diminish His love.  He does not judge you because of what you look like.  And when you come to Him with all you are, all your hopes and dreams, everything that matters to you, He is completely trustworthy.  He will never leave your or forsake you, and His love is eternal and perfect.

Dear sister, nothing is “wrong” with the way God made you.  This is not to say that you are perfect or sinless, because you aren’t.  None of us are.  We are all fallen and all of us desperately need the transforming work of our Savior.  And He is faithful to complete that good work in us, making us into the shining reflection of spotless beauty we were always meant to be.

Rejoice in this!  Rejoice in being the girl that God made you to be.  Live life in His service and for His glory and do not be ashamed of your walk with your Lord or the person that He designed you to be.  And don’t let anyone take your eyes off of Him.  Spend your time with people who love you as God made you, and encourage you to walk ever more closely with Him.

Making Memories

Last night I was driving with my softball team to our play-off game a few hours away.  Our drive was really pretty, past rolling hills covered with evergreens and quirky small towns, in the heart of California’s logging country.  We’d all been through the area before, so there were lots of familiar places outside our windows.

My friend’s dad, who was driving, pointed to one: a small resturant alongside the road.  “Your mom and I went there once,” he told my friend, “Right after we were married.”  We were already quite a ways from home, and my friend laughed.  “You drove all the way out here just to have dinner?  What a waste of gas,” she teased.  He smiled.  “It wasn’t a waste of time,” he said, “For a romantic dinner.”

This impacted me because last year, she died of cancer.  My friend’s mom was young, energetic, and a vital part of our small community.  We were friends with their family.  She had a loving husband and two young children.  No one expected that she had pancreatic cancer, and her passing away was very sudden and very hard on us all.

Maybe a long drive to some hole-in-the-wall eatery may have seemed like a waste of money and time.  But I think my friend’s dad cherishes this memory, more than all the “productive” days surrounding it.

With all the senior year, last minute stress in my life right now, it’s hard to see a moment that I don’t spend getting my portfolio ready, finishing up classes, applying for scholarships, getting ready for college, or searching for a summer job as being even slightly redeemable.  Can I afford to hang out with my little brothers and sisters?  Do I really have time to go to their baseball and softball games?  My friend needs to talk, but my paper needs to be written.  Which is more important?  Should I skip discipleship group this week and finish some health class homework?  Do I go on vacation at the beginning of this summer with my sister or house-sit for some friends?  In our never-stop, crazy world, these questions are confusing.  Some would say that the time we spend should be used for material gain and worldly advancement.  But I think God is more pleased when we build relationships with those around us.

There’s a balance in everything.  It’s not wrong to cross items off my to-do list, and hanging out with friends can’t always be my top priority (even though sometimes I wish it could be!).  I have to be a responsible steward of my time.  So do we all.  But now and then, we all need the simple, old-hat reminder of what really matters in this life.  And it’s not a degree or a paycheck or a diploma…it’s glorifying God and loving others.  The relationships we build with the people in our lives are so important.  The time we take to show them how much we care is not wasted.

That means I can listen to my brother talk about baseball.  I can hang out with my sister.  I can call my best friend.  I can have a long talk with my mom.  I can go to work with my Dad.

Because when all the deadlines are past and all things I’m stressing over now are forgotten, I will still cherish those same relationships.  And the memories I have of these years won’t be so much about grades and portfolio presentations, but about spending time with those I love.

 

I’m gonna love you like nobody loves you

And I’ll earn your trust makin’ memories of us.

-“Makin’ Memories of Us”, Keith Urban