Thursday, September 18, 2014

Would You Like A Spot of Tea With Your Wait?

A Blue and White Tea for Two

by Cathy Baker

During the frenzied search for my diamond a couple weeks ago, Piper spotted a stack of blue and white china tea cups set aside for posting on Craig's List. Picking up a tea cup ever so carefully, Piper let out a giggle and asked if we could have a tea party.

Now, I've dreamed of tea parties with granddaughters for years but I didn't expect my first opportunity to occur while frantically searching for such a sentimental stone. It was, however, impossible to turn down such a delightful invitation so I set aside the search and began washing tea cups. 

We put the kettle on, listened for the perky whistle, and buttered a little bread, excited about our impromptu tea party.

Notice whose cup is empty first!
I stood in the kitchen waiting for the perfect shade of English to appear in our cups while Piper set the tea tray. Within moments, I caught sight of the diamond lying upside down on the kitchen counter, only inches away from our cups. 

This happens so often in life, doesn't it? 

What we need—what we really need—often emerges during a time of waiting.
  • We wait for test results. 
  • We wait for deep needs to be met and understood by those we love most. 
  • We wait for loneliness to subside.
  • We wait for answers to questions that may never be resolved this side of heaven.
  • We wait for tea to brew. 
I'm not a fan of waiting. Divine works, however, seem to thrive where a willingness to wait exists. Not the twiddling-my-thumbs kind of wait but one that's willing to trust in God's strength and sovereignty, regardless of the outcome. His courage is ours for the taking! 

Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD! 
Psalm 27:14 ESV

Leave it to a grinning granddaughter with a teacup pinched between her fingers to serve as a reminder that oftentimes our greatest blessings are discovered in the waiting.

What's one thing you've discovered during a time of waiting?

Impromptu =  tea and buttered bread.
Sippin' tea, Piper and me.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Why My Laptop Was Left Behind

Our view from the Portofino IV deck in Garden City, SC

by Cathy Baker

If you know me, you know my vacation actually begins when pen hits paper a few weeks prior to our departure. Yes, the list could be saved on a Google doc but there's something about starting with fresh paper and bright ink each year that makes me...well, downright happy. 

This year, however, I felt the tinge of a holy adjustment coming my way every time I glanced at the words "lap top" on my list.

Moonlight skimming the ocean.
I knew with three grandbabies on the trip there would be no desire to peruse the internet, check email or write blog posts during the day but I admit I thought it might be the perfect way to close the evening before heading to bed. 

And then I came across Emily Freeman's post Why Rest Takes Courage. Her final paragraph clung to my soul, refusing its release:

The details of soul rest may look different for each of us, but probably includes some combination of silence, solitude, nature, your people, and the willingness to come into the presence of Christ and simply be ourselves.

The Holy Spirit was as clear as the moon on our first night at the beach—I was to leave the lap top behind. And I did, resulting in a few discoveries along the way: 
  • I was ambushed by the uneasiness that crept in as our departure day drew near. What did I think I'd really miss in 7 days? 
  • A new-found freedom emerged as I carried out my beach days with little to no thought of the lap top. I felt no obligation to check Facebook or email. I tried to rest in the fact that if someone didn't receive an immediate response from me, all would be well in the end.
  • I lost nothing by leaving my lap top behind but I did gain a liberty I didn't know existed, time I can never recapture and a renewed appreciation for God's promptings. 
I'm not suggesting everyone should leave their lap top behind, but I don't ever see it reappearing on my family beach trip list again. Ever. 

So, how about you? Is there one thing in particular you most appreciate about God's promptings in your life? 

Taking time off is not a punishment or a dare or a rule.
It is a gift.  

-Emily P. Freeman

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Because It Doesn't Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful

The Nesting Place by Myquillyn Smith
by Cathy Baker

Any sub-title including the words It Doesn't Have To Be Perfect To Be Beautiful has my full attention and may I say, appreciation.

Initially, it was the book cover of The Nesting Place that caught my eye. What can I say? I'm a sucker for funky fonts, white walls and slip-covered furniture. But as I began poring over the sleek pages, I quickly realized this was no ordinary book. It seemed as if I was hitting a reset button in my own life as I read about Myquillyn's desire to embrace her circumstances rather than grumble about them. 

Her challenges included moving thirteen times in eighteen years, landing in a rental home more often than not. Mine have to do with space, or lack thereof. I believe most of us could find things about our homes we wish could be different but with that same type of energy, I'm reminded how we need to find things we also love about it.
Chalkboard and white sofa = Score!

If you're searching for a how-to-design-my-house book, this isn't it, although there are great (and budget-friendly!) tips throughout, not to mention the delightful pictures that kick the creative juices in to high gear. If, however, you're searching for ways to make your house a home, this is a must buy. 

So, what do you most enjoy about your home? Hope you'll share it via the comment box so we can all be encouraged!  

"It's not about what it is, it's about what it can become." - Dr. Suess, THE LORAX


Next week I'm taking a mini-Sabbatical from blogging. More details to follow. In the meantime, I hope you'll hop on over to Myquillyn's blog,
The Nester. You won't be disappointed!

Be content in all circumstances.

"Don't scrub the soul out of your home." 
- Mary Randolph Carter

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

When the Wedding Ring Won't Budge

My wedding ring missing its diamond
While playing with Piper earlier this week, I noticed empty prongs perched on my finger—with no diamond. I'd been out and about most of the morning so I had little hope of finding it in our home. I called Brian in a panic. Being the sentimental souls men are, he simply advised, "Don't vacuum." I may have set a record for the quickest submission ever. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

When Practicality Becomes Powerful

Springer Mountain Farms Organic Chicken + Ziploc freezer bags = A perfect duo

Frozen chicken. 

What could poultry possibly have in common with the fragrance of Christ? I wondered too until I considered this:

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Waterproof Writing Pad and Purple Pen

by Cathy Baker

Once upon a time, a friend named Joyce Ann opened her exquisite home to a woman with a waterproof writing pad and purple pen. 

The woman was greeted by a warm breeze, an embrace she'd known all her life, and a waterfall with two toads singing a chorus of smiles.

The woman with the waterproof writing pad and purple pen made her way down to the dock via a curved cobblestone pathway more than once that day. Each time, soaking in all the lake had to offer, including the water.

She was thankful for her waterproof writing pad. (Mast General Store)
Lake Hartwell, Clemson SC

After reminiscing with her life-long friend over Southern Pecan coffee, the woman with the waterproof writing pad and purple pen scurried down the cobblestone path to catch one last glimpse of sun-glazed water. 

She sat on the dock immersing herself in the sounds of a father teaching his son to fish across the way, dizzy dragonflies zigzagging by and calm waves hugging the red clay bank. 

As she made her way back up the steep hillside one last time, she discovered a petite triple-coned twig, a mini-masterpiece of God's handiwork, reminding her of why she was there. What began as a research trek for an upcoming project matured into praise.

Thank You, Father, the One who truly makes "happily ever after" an eternal reality.

Lake Hartwell Bidding Farewell to the Day
Where is your favorite writing getaway?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Note to Self: You Have Super-Powers!


A part of me has always known that the act of putting pen to paper held an innate power. In elementary school, it's how I discovered if someone liked me. (I think my first such note was to my grandfather.) In middle school, passing notes in the hallway kept this only child feeling connected and in high school, writing was the natural choice for breaking up with boyfriends. Nowadays, writing continues to be a helpful tool when communicating my deepest feelings to someone. 

Three weeks ago, however, writing took on a whole new super-power. I'd just polished off a medium ice cream and realized that if the truth be known I would admit to feeling more like a blow fish than a satisfied customer. If only I could remember how I'm feeling at this very moment I doubt I'd order a medium ice cream any time soon. On a whim, I headed to my side table where a stack of rule-lined index cards stand, eagerly awaiting my random thoughts. 

This is what I wrote:

Dear Self, The next time you contemplate ordering a medium-sized ice cream stop and consider this: After eating, you will feel like a blow fish, fat, and unfit and you will regret it. Eat watermelon, make a smoothie, walk, do something - anything - other than eating that ice cream. You will thank me later. 

And I have. Since writing that note to "self" I've gone to the ice cream shop one time (just this past Sunday) and instead of ordering a medium-size, I enjoyed a kiddie-size portion with no regrets. Over the past few weeks when I've had an urge for ice cream (my vice) I've made my way to the side table, picked up my note, and read it. Immediately, I recalled how I felt following the frozen delight and chose something else. 

Turns out, scientific proof may back up the super-powers of pen and paper:

Writing by hand is different from typing because it requires using strokes to create a letter, rather than just selecting the whole letter by touching a key, says Virginia Berninger, a professor of psychology at the University of Washington. These finger movements activate large regions of the brain involved in thinking, memory, and language. -Reader's Digest

Surprised and energized by the difference my note to self had made, I decided to try it with exercising. This required a sheet of paper but as a result, I've added walking to my list of priorities. 

In all honesty, there's a part of me that would like to keep this discovery under wraps because once exposed, I feel pressure to carry it out perfectly. For people like me who tend to be a little too hard on themselves, that often equates to a major backfire. So, for now, I'll settle for the old adages of "one day at a time" and "life isn't a sprint race but a marathon." 

If you decide to give this super-power a try, I'd love to hear how it turns out for you.  

And remember: With great power comes great responsibility. -Spider Man

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13