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

Valentine Tea Party

I started hosting tea parties in an older home propped as pretty as you please on the corner of a quiet street. A family of four in a two-bedroom, one-bath home made for a tight fit, and tea parties felt downright snug, but no one would change a thing. Some teas were scripture-based, and others celebrated holidays, but every time, the room filled with the scent of scones, floral tea, and laughter.

In December 2007, I paused hosting after losing my maternal grandmother, one of the most influential women in my life. The desire fizzled until we moved to the Foothills of South Carolina. Maybe it was the mountain air, the silence that comes with country living, or a whisper from the Lord saying it’s time again.

I took these Valentine’s Tea pictures at the first tea in the mountains, an intimate gathering with writerly friends. The call to write for the Lord introduced us, but honing our skills together, leaning on each other during the disappointments, and cheering on the victories cultivated relationships written for eternity.

 

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 plucked a neatly wrapped bunch of non-Valentine flowers from one of the grocery store floral buckets. They were pretty enough and saved a few pennies. But after spotting these tri-colored roses, I plunged the non-Valentine bunch back into their bucket and never looked back.

Valentines Day Yogurt

A favorite tea treat is a yogurt, vanilla-almond granola, and fruit in half-pint jars. My paternal grandmother passed down the vintage Apple Blossom tea cups and saucers you see above.

Valentine Tea Scrabble

What better way to wish a group of writers a happy Valentine’s Day than by spelling it out? This idea works with any tea theme!

As a recovering perfectionist, I remind myself that the joy in gathering with friends, regardless of whether there are two or twenty around the table, isn’t discovered in perfectly set tables, dust-free surfaces, the most favorable food, or the perfect centerpiece but in the mingling of hearts and souls for God’s glory.

“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

 

What are your plans for Valentine’s Day?

 

When Self-Love is Wrapped in a Giving Shawl

The Giving Shawl

My husband gave me a soft nubby-textured shawl for my birthday. But it wasn’t just any shawl. It was a Giving Shawl.

I recently spotted it in a local gift shop but didn’t pay too much attention to its name. So when I released the soft ribbon surrounding the shawl to find a label with the words Giving Shawl sewn onto the pocket, I was torn.

I loved everything about it but felt an odd sort of guilt for wanting to keep it. After all, the shawl was created to be given away.

In the same pocket was a cloth bookmark with these words:

“We all need a little comfort now and then…A reminder to help us know that we are not alone in the world…That there is someone in our corner, ready with a hug, no matter what. Always know you are being thought of, cheered on, And loved for exactly who you are⏤Someone who is beautifully and wonderfully made.”

 

It was the last line that left a lump in my throat.

 

You see, this year I’ve gained more than two books on the Amazon shelf. I’ve also gained weight and a lot of it. I shun the camera and scold Brian for posting my picture (unless it’s pre-2016) on his Facebook page. The mirror is my foe, not my friend. I avoid seeing people who knew me before the shift in weight, imagining the words they must be thinking when they see me.

 

Maybe I was, in fact, the intended recipient after all.

 

The Giving Shawl lay bare my desire to offer grace to others but receive it at sloth-like speed for myself.

 

Love Yourself

 

Growing up, weight was a dirty word on my dad’s side of the family. The recordings to stay a particular size for everyone’s benefit have played in the background of my mind for most of my life. So while this post isn’t written from a place of victory (yet!) it is written from a place of desire. A desire not only for myself but also for my granddaughters because the way we view ourselves affects those in our sphere of influence whether we realize it or not. , I now see the need to pray with the same fervency that a Christ-centered cycle of healthy self-acceptance begins with me.

 

So, as I drape this Giving Shawl around my shoulders, I will remember:

 

  • The only weight that defines my worth is the weight of my sin Jesus bore on the cross.
  • My heavenly Father, husband, family, and friends love me unconditionally.
  • Just as I pray to see others as Christ sees them, I can embrace this desire for myself as well.
  • Acknowledging the need to take better care of myself physically is a gift from the Lord.
  • Even so, if the scale never budges, I will still be the apple of my Father’s eye. (Psalm 17:8)
The only weight that defines my worth is the weight of my sin Jesus bore on the cross. Click To Tweet

One last tag in the box calls the shawl a “Giftable Hug” and that’s exactly how it feels.

The Giving Shawl is available on Amazon but if you’re local to Upstate SC, it can be purchased for less at Expressions Unlimited in Greenville.

 

 

One Simple But Meaningful Gift for Singles this Valentine’s Day

by Cathy Baker @cathysbaker

I’ve been thinking a lot about Hagar lately.

Remember in Genesis 16 when she fled from Sarai? She felt abandoned and probably forgotten by God. She must have felt as if no one saw her, or cared about her, or the baby she was carrying.

This Valentine’s Day, many of you will find your love life to be much like a box of chocolates⎯satisfying, sweet, ooey-gooey on the inside…all yours to enjoy.

For others, it might instead be a day of remembering what was lost, or what could have been. It could be a day when you relate more to Hagar than you ever thought possible.

I remember reading the story of Hagar (Genesis 16) in my early 30’s as a relatively new believer. I wept when I read verse 13. It had only been a handful of years since I was a single mom struggling with similar emotions. But God {game changer} rescued me, and as a result, I could say for the first time, as did Hagar, I have now seen the One who sees me.

It’s because of those single days that my heart goes out to you who may not hear your name called when flowers are delivered to your workplace, or handed your very own box of chocolates to enjoy.

This year, while strolling {okay, stalking} the $1.00 aisle at Target, glass jars with sparkly hearts spoke to me. I didn’t exactly know what I would do with them, but that didn’t stop me from buying several.

After a little thought and prayer, I decided to make a jar filled with seven slips of paper, each with a different promise from God. Seven, because it’s the biblical number for completion. In Christ, we find our completeness⎯not in another person, our children, our homes or anything else. His promises from the Word are active and alive, able to lift the heaviest of hearts.

 

A Gift of God’s Promises

 

 

 

{This is the jar I found at Target but you can use any container.}

{At first I felt a little guilty for not handwriting the promises but then I was reminded that it’s not my hand that holds the power, but His. Click here for a printable copy of the seven promises I’m using.}

 

{I also found these tags in the $1.00 bin at Target.}
 

{On each tag, I’ll write a brief note describing why seven promises were chosen. I’ll also share how much they are loved, especially by their heavenly Father.}

And the best, most precious gift we can to give anyone is prayer. As I head to their home or to the post office to deliver the gifts, I will pray for each of them by name.

 

She [Hagar] gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” Genesis 16:13

Has God placed a Hagar in your life? We have a week to consider how we can love others, single or not, around us this Valentines Day.  

What is one of God’s promises that you would include in the above gift? Please share! 
If you missed Saturday’s post, Edie Melson: A Glimpse Into Her Quiet Time, click here to read it. Be blessed!

When Meals Become the Scent of A Whisper

by Cathy Baker

You are loved. 

It’s the whisper that arose from the meals, texts, flowers, and calls I received last week after my outpatient surgery. 

The meal ministry, in particular, revealed preconceived notions buried deep beneath my own insecurities. When Carolyn, a longtime friend and former life group leader, asked if I needed meals after surgery I gave my standard answer: “That’s so sweet, but I think we’ll be fine.” When she came back with, “Someone in the group really wants to bring you a meal,” it felt strange to decline — almost as if I would be cheating someone else out of a blessing. The next thing I knew, Carolyn emailed our entire former life group in a stealth-like manner and surprised me with a week’s worth of unbelievable meals.

After several days of being a blessed recipient of this ministry, certain truths became clear:

1. You don’t have to be a chef to provide a meal. (Preconceived notion #1) Some brought home cooked meals, others brought part home cooked and part purchased meals, and others brought an entire purchased meal. Every meal was a gift! You are loved.

2. The meal is a blessing but seeing the friend who brings it is the bonus. I looked forward to seeing them as much as the meal, and that’s saying something! You are loved.

3. The act of providing a meal is so much more than food. As we scooped chicken and other delights onto our plates it was hard to deny the time, money, and energy spent for our enjoyment. You are loved.

4. I need to learn how to embrace the receiving end of giving as much as the doing. Perhaps the reason I felt I might be cheating someone out of a blessing if I declined is because that’s exactly what would’ve happened. Every person who brought a meal made us feel like it was their pleasure. You are loved. 

Sometimes love comes in expected ways {wedding bands, hugs when seeing loved ones, a kiss as as your spouse heads out the door, etc.} 

But when love comes in unexpected ways? 

The whisper You are loved 
delves deep, plunging below all preconceived notions, releasing dormant joy to bubble upwards.

True ministry, one done purely out of love for another, is life changing. 

How about you? Has there been a particular way someone has ministered to you that left an indelible mark on your life? 

Thank you, Sandra!

Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered. Proverbs 11:25

What’s New? Our February Series!


Beginning Monday, February 2nd, we’ll explore all things pertaining to love. Every weekday I’ll share a snippet of something I love in hopes of stirring a spirit of gratefulness, especially for the little things within us both. 

On Wednesdays, the focus shifts to the extravagant love of our heavenly Father, the One True Love. 

So, why the topic of love five days a week for an entire month? 

Because love surrenders a fragrance of delight in its wake. 

Sometimes the release is minute, insignificant to others, but fragrant to our souls all the same. And isn’t that the sweetest fragrance of all? 

I look forward to sharing this journey o’ love with you!

As we usher in this new series would you consider sharing one attribute you most love about Jesus, Love defined?

We love because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19
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