Love… One Sip At A Time // A Valentine Tea Party

Valentine Tea Party

Because love isn’t limited to one day on a calendar I decided to share a few pictures from my Valentine Tea Party earlier this week.

I began hosting tea parties in 2002, with the highlight being an annual Christmas Tea — sometimes two. One with long-time friends and another one with new friends I’d made that year. I separated the two due to space issues. Basically, there was none.

In December 2007, I hosted my last tea party. During that Christmas Tea, I received word that my sweet grandmother had been admitted to the hospital. She would die only a few days later. I grieved longer than first realized. There was no desire to host a Christmas Tea the following year…or the next, and on and on.

But this recent move toward the mountains ushered in a fresh desire to host more teas and simple gatherings. And so it begins.

The Valentine Tea earlier this week was small, intimate. I consider my writer/critique group friends first, writers second. We pray for one another, share in both victories and struggles, and support what God has called us to do by giving honest feedback,  grounded in love.

Writers Critique Group

Marcia Moston, Carol Roper, and Beth Saadati

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I hope this is true as I have more pictures than words today.

Valentine Tea Roses

Initially, I’d plucked a neatly wrapped bunch of non-Valentine flowers out of one of the grocery store floral buckets. I knew they would be pretty enough, maybe even save a few pennies. And then I spotted these trio-colored roses. I quickly put the non-Valentine bunch of flowers back (and okay, a few Yasso’s). The roses were worth it.

Valentines Day Yogurt

One favorite treat (I think) was the yogurt, vanilla-almond granola, and fruit in half-pint jars. I ordered these mini (and I do mean mini) red spoons from Target. {I just realized I forgot to tie a bow around the top. Oops!}

Valentine Tea Scrabble

A last minute idea was to add a fun element by spelling out the obvious. After all, I was surrounded by gifted wordsmiths.

I admit to feeling a bit inept in preparing for the tea. The to-do lists began weeks prior but I had to continually remind myself that perfection was not the goal of this gathering (or any, really) but rather, the celebration of friendship…and kinsmanship in spirit and in deed.

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” -C.S. Lewis

Or too many reasons to celebrate with friends. -Cathy Baker

How did you celebrate Valentine’s Day this week? Please share! 

 

10 {Meaningful} Valentine Gifts Money Can’t Buy

Gifts Money Can't Buy

With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, it’s the perfect time to gift those you love with something far more meaningful than flowers or candy. Or books. Wait, what?

No doubt the Beatles were onto something with the lyrics “Can’t Buy Me Love”. Love⎯real love⎯cannot be purchased or persuaded. This kind of love cannot be bound by a date circled in red on our daily calendar. It deserves to be wooed year-round and is not limited to spouses. The ideas below can also be gifted to others, including singles and widows in your life who could use a little extra love this Valentine’s Day.

So here are ten no-bow-required ideas for Valentine’s  Any Day.

Priceless Valentine Day Gifts

TEN PRICELESS GIFTS TO GIVE ANOTHER
A Road Trip

Okay, so there’s gas money involved but you get the idea. Take your spouse to a place nearby that holds a special meaning for you both. For us, it’s Applebees and we still celebrate our first date in 1990 by eating dinner there every January 6th. Don’t have such a place? It’s time you create one. Or visit the place where you gave your life to Christ. Once in a blue moon, I still drive by the brick duplex where my condemnation kneeled in the presence of unconditional love.

A Bloody Lip

The gift is biting your lip, not bloodying the lip of another.  One of the best gifts we can give to another is to speak less and listen more. {At least that’s what I’ve been told *wink*}. Seriously, there are times I have to pray to be more aware of what I’m blurting out – like in the car. I’m not a great passenger. Most of us know what pushes the buttons of those closest to us and it’s our responsibility to not only be aware of those buttons but to also be proactive in promoting peace. Even if it means biting your lip once in awhile.

A Skill

Are you a whiz at saving money at the grocery store? Offer these skills to a new wife or mom trying to make ends meet. Mad skills in the kitchen? Offer your help to a new college grad setting up their own place. Like to clean? {You are my hero} Offer a final clean up job for someone moving. Like to piddle with cars? A single mom would love your help. The list goes on.

Forgiveness

People who have trouble forgiving others have yet to grasp the depth of their own sin. There it is. It probably hurts as much to read that statement as it was to write it. But the truth is when I struggle to forgive I need only look in the mirror to be reminded of how much God has forgiven me. And the crusty layer of bitterness attempting to form around my heart is divinely pummeled to pieces. Forgiveness is not only a gift we give to others. It’s also one we give to ourselves.

A Sticky Note

Or a dozen. Nothing says “I love you” like sticky notes proclaiming the specific reasons you {and/or God} love another plastered all over the house. Add a Hershey’s kiss to each one? Boom!

A Prayer

I would rather the prayers of one person who I’m confident will pray than ten dozen people promising to pray. Follow up a time of prayer for a person with a note letting them know how you prayed specifically on their behalf. Or if you’re with the person, pray with them on the spot.

Serve

This is intended to be a tad different from sharing a skill in that you don’t require any skills to simply serve someone else. Deliver a meal. Serve a meal. Welcome someone new at church. Babysit for a single mom. Cut grass for the elderly person down the street. Visit a nursing home. Again, the list goes on.

Your Time

It’s our most precious commodity so to give it away to another is a gift no bow can wrap itself around. Take a walk together, plan a hike, go out for coffee even though you have a Keurig at home (no distractions). Sit around a campfire with a marshmallow in hand (along with a Hershey bar…and graham cracker, of course). Or set aside a specific time each week with the sole purpose of catching up with one another.

Write A Poem

Yes, a poem. You don’t have to be Mary Oliver or Robert Frost to pen your feelings in a melodic way. Need help getting started? Here’s a link on how to write a poem for Valentines Day.

Write A Love Letter

If writing poetry intimidates you, turn to a letter. Spilling your heart onto the pages are priceless gifts that are sure to be tucked away for further reading in the future. Could it possibly serve as a tangible reminder for the generations that may one day plunder through their family’s possessions? We never know. I’ve discovered priceless letters to loved ones in my family homes and they are treasured.

Now let’s go love on others with the indescribable love of Christ!

Do you have another idea to add? Or is there one above you plan to try this year? Please share in the comment section.

 

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Love is Guarding Your Mind from the Muck

What the World Needs Now is Love
Love. If there’s anything the world needs now it’s love, sweet love. {cue music}

Words, heavy and dense like thunderclouds, roll across TV screens, Facebook feeds, and well, my own mind. I’m convinced that whoever originated the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” lived in a hobbit house tucked away inside an isolated hill far, far away.

A broken arm heals in a matter of weeks. Hurtful words can linger a lifetime.

Listening to friends and other voices around me, I sense I’m not alone in having allowed some of the recent muck being voiced today to penetrate places in my mind and heart it ought not. Like, feeling tinges of bitterness toward a women’s movement that clearly does not represent my thoughts, my “rights”, and certainly not my beliefs.

But it’s not just that.

It’s about a friend across the US that is hurting, wounded by a friend. Not because of her friend’s words to her during a difficult time, but the lack thereof. Not one word, in fact.

But it’s not just that.

It’s about a couple behind me in the self-checkout line at the local Ingles. He berates her in a crowd, not only embarrassing himself but those around him, and especially her. Kind of makes you wonder how he speaks to her in the quietness of their home.

But it’s not just that.

It’s about a beautiful twelve-year-old girl I had the pleasure of knowing who took her own life because of the words from a bully at school.

It’s true, isn’t it? The tongue really does hold the power of life and death. (Proverbs 18:21)

Our words and their tone, whether spoken or written, do one of two things the moment they leave our lips or fingertips: They extend life to another or kill it, sometimes literally.

Rarely, if ever, do words fall idle.

If I’m not careful, I won’t only wade through the muck of misguided, misspoken, or even non-spoken words, I’ll track them inside, leaving their sticky imprint on my thoughts, and eventually my own words, revealing my heart. (Proverbs 4:23) But we’re not left defenseless.

So how do we keep the muck from tracking into our minds and over our hearts? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Here are a few of mine:

Checking Our Words at the Door

How to Check Incoming Words at the Door
  • Know where the responsibility lies. We can’t control words that come to us, much like an unexpected guest at our doorstep. But we can control who—and what, in this case—we let in.
  • Consider the motivation. At times, there are words that are hard to hear but are said for right reasons. Allowing only the words we want to hear inside the door of our mind can lead to shallow thinking and unwise living. At times, we need to invite the hard words, escorted with the right motivation, into the entry hall. They don’t necessarily need to make themselves at home in our minds at this point, but we at least need to consider the words, the person, and their motivation.
  • Continue the interrogation. 2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us to take every thought captive, much like our brave men and women who take our enemies captive. They interrogate the enemy asking where they came from, who sent them, and what their mission is⎯and our interrogation of suspicious words and thoughts should be no less.*
  • Rest and surround yourself in truth. Jeremiah 15:16 is one of my favorite verses. “When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, LORD God Almighty.” Nothing stabilizes, nourishes, or guards the doorway of our minds like scripture.

What the world needs is Jesus. He is the definition of love. A love by any other name is fleeting. Until He returns, we are to be wise stewards of words — those we share and those we receive.

Is there a specific way you guard against the muck leaving its imprint on your heart and mind? Please share!

*While snowed in one Sunday morning, I watched Steven Furtick from Elevation Church for the first time. (He and our oldest son are college friends.) He was speaking on 2 Corinthians 10:5 from a sermon entitled, “Hold That Thought”. I couldn’t take notes fast enough. You’re the blessed recipient of these jotted notes under “Continue the Interrogation.” You’re welcome. {smile}

 

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