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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Happy Mother’s Day: Thank God for your Mother

“There is only one pretty child in the world, and every mother has it.” – Chinese Proverb

“A mother is she who can take the place of all others, but whose place no one else can take.” – Cardinal Mermillod

“The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness.” – Honore’ de Balzac

“Most of all the other beautiful things in life come by twos and threes, by dozens and hundreds. Plenty of roses, stars, sunsets, rainbows, brothers and sisters, aunts and cousins, comrades and friends – but only one mother in the whole world.” – Kate Douglas Wiggin

“The patience of a mother might be likened to a tube of toothpaste – it’s never quite all gone.” – Author Unknown

“You never realize how much your mother loves you till you explore the attic – and find every letter you ever sent her, every finger painting, clay pot, bead necklace, Easter chicken, cardboard Santa Claus, paper lace Mother’s Day card and school report since day one.” – Pam Brown

“I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.” – Abraham Lincoln

“Education commences at the mother’s knee, and every word spoken within hearsay of little children tends toward the formation of character.” – Hosea Ballou

“I thought my mom’s whole purpose was to be my mom. That’s how she made me feel.” – Natasha Gregson Wagner

“She is my first, great love. She was a wonderful, rare woman – you do not know; as strong, and steadfast, and generous as the sun. She could be as swift as a white whiplash, and as kind and gentle as warm rain, and as steadfast as the irreducible earth beneath us.” – D.H. Lawrence

“A little girl, asked where her home was, replied, ‘where mother is.’ ” – Keith L. Brooks

“The mother, more than any other, affects the moral and spiritual part of the children’s character. She is their constant companion and teacher in formative years. The child is ever imitating and assimilating the mother’s nature. It is only in after life that men gaze backward and behold how a mother’s hand and heart of love molded their young lives and shaped their destiny.” E.W. Caswell

“My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.” – George Washington

“An ounce of mother is worth a ton of priest.” – Spanish proverb

“A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.” – Tenneva Jordan

“I cannot tell you how much I owe to the solemn word of my good mother.” – Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials, heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine, desert us when troubles thicken around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.” – Washington Irving

“All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” – Abraham Lincoln

“The mother is everything – she is our consolation in sorrow, our hope in misery, and our strength in weakness. She is the source of love, mercy, sympathy, and forgiveness. He who loses his mother loses a pure soul who blesses and guards him constantly.” – Kahlil Gibran

“The mother’s heart is the child’s schoolroom.” – Henry Ward Beecher

“I wish I could sit here and give you words to describe what my mother means to me. There aren’t enough words in the dictionary. I don’t know how she did it.” – LeBron James

“My mother never gave up on me. I messed up in school so much they were sending me home, but my mother sent me right back.” – Denzel Washington

“It seems to me that my mother was the most splendid woman I ever knew… I have met a lot of people knocking around the world since, but I have never met a more thoroughly refined woman than my mother. If I have amounted to anything, it will be due to her.” Charles Chaplin

“Sometimes the strength of motherhood is greater than natural laws.” – Barbara Kingsolver

“The noblest calling in the world is that of mother. True motherhood is the most beautiful of all arts, the greatest of all professions. She who can paint a masterpiece or who can write a book that will influence millions deserves the plaudits and admiration of mankind; but she who rears successfully a family of healthy, beautiful sons and daughters whose immortal souls will be exerting an influence throughout the ages long after painting shall have faded, and books and statues shall have been destroyed, deserves the highest honor that man can give.” – David O. McKay

Molasses Cookies

Something yummy for these old winter days!

1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
Sugar for rolling
 
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Mix all ingredients together.  Shape dough into 1-inch balls, roll in sugar.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.
 
Enjoy this simple, delicious fall snack!

Keeping Christmas

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 Awww!  This article makes me smile.  But it also makes me think.  Lanier Ivester reminds us all that Christmas is about more than a mad rush and a mountain of gifts.  It should be a season where we, like Mary, take time to “ponder these things in our hearts” (Luke 2:19).

I think this is so true.  I have often felt disappointed when December 25th was over; it’s such a dreadful anticlimax.  After days and weeks of planning and excitement and preparation; poof!  Suddenly it’s all over.  It shouldn’t have to be that way.  I think the Germans had the right idea with their 12 days of Christmas.  There is so much emotion and meaning attached to this season; more than can be stuffed into a single day.

At any rate, Lanier’s words encouraged me to be still and remember the meaning for the season.  To talk with my family about ways we can draw out the richness of Christmas over the next few days.  To just take time in this mad world.  To take time for my family and those I love, and to take time for Jesus Christ.  The baby in the manger…the Savior on the cross…the King of my heart…the returning Conqueror.

Merry Christmas, friends.  It’s not over.

Merry Christmas!

babyjesusnanaellen.gif“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign.  Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:17, ESV

Rejoice!  For today, a king has been born.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6, ESV

God bless you and yours this Christmas Day!

“And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.’…And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.  And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.  And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.  But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.  And the shepherds returned, glorifying and prasing God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.”  Luke 2:10-12, 16-20, ESV

Art courtesy Nana Ellen.

O Holy Night.

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babyjesusnanaellen.gifbabyjesusnanaellen.gifbabyjesusnanaellen.gifIt is Christmas Eve.  We’re planning a big dinner, complete with sparkling cider (which, to our family, says “celebration” like none other).  The kids are jumping around excitedly -promised one present this evening.  They probably won’t get much sleep tonight.  Everyone is so full of Christmas secrets they could burst.  The tree is decorated and sparkling with a million lights.  Grandma is coming on Wednesday.  We’re going to Avo and Avo’s for New Years.  There are gifts to be wrapped and “stockings to be hung by the chimney with care”.

In all this excitement and festivity, it’s easy to overlook the true meaning of the season.

But, on this, the night we celebrate, I envision the virgin Mary, sleeping one more cold and miserable night on the road to Bethlehem.  Her husband Joseph is exhausted from a long day and many rugged miles, but he struggles to make his betrothed comfortable.  She is very pregnant by now.  Under her rough clothes, her belly bulges.  The son of God.  Soon, He will be born…just how soon, even Mary does not know.  But she feels that it isn’t long.

Up above her, the night sky is black as ink, and the stars are gold-white jewels.  The air is so cold, but she tries not to shiver.  Joseph would be concerned, and he has already done the best he can.  She pulls her meager blankets closer to herself for warmth.

The angels lean closer.  The time is near.  Soon, heaven will burst into song.  Even they do not understand what God has planned.  But they know that Mary is carrying the Son of God.  Why such a humble family?  Why Mary, why Joseph?  Why Bethlehem?  They are filled, not with doubt, but with sheer wonder.  If angels are impatient, these are watching the seconds.  Their curiosity, excitement, restlessness, outdoes the most eager child.  Soon, the Savior will be born.

The devil shudders.  Elizabeth rocks her infant.  Anna prays.  The Wise Men look to the sky.  The shepherds watch their flocks in total oblivion, just as they did yesterday, and the day before, and just as they will do tomorrow.  Or so they think.  Herod paces.  Augustus Caesar falls asleep in the midst of his riches, deluded, believing himself the most soveriegn man in the world.  Are Peter and James and John born yet?  Are they little boys, sleeping in poor houses in Galilee?  One more night, Israel groans under the heavy and surpressive yoke of Rome.  Once again, the priests in the Temple of Jerusalem perform their ritualistic rites, working to attain the righteousness of God.  Another Gentile man or woman or child dies outside the saving grace of God…no hope for the dogs of the world, the unchosen people.  The scribes study the Law.  To misstep is to be damned, is their ever-torturous thought.  Another lamb is sacrificed.  Its innocent blood covers again the sin of a wretched human.  When will Messiah come?  This is the unspoken groan of Israel; of all who long to be saved.  When will the words of Isaiah be fulfilled?  When will come Emmanuel, God with us?  The world cries in pain and loneliness, singing the ancient, ageless dirge of a lost and dying people. 

For one more night.