When Encouragement Travels in a Tea Cup

by Cathy Baker

Tea and encouragement. I prayed God would weave them together for a greater purpose. I’d hosted tea parties in my home but sensed God shaping my desire into something even more personal.

One day, while browsing an antique shop in Myrtle Beach, SC, I spotted the answer to my prayer sitting on a shelf, painted in delicate blue/yellow stripes and shaped like a petite one-cup tea-pot. With it, all the other details flowed into place. 

When we returned from the beach, I wasted no time assembling a “Barnie Basket,” Barnie, aka Barnabas,”Son of Encouragement,” from Acts 4:36. 

Each week, I’d pray for God to give me the name of a woman in our church in need of encouragement. On Sunday mornings, I would ask her to meet me at my car after the service. There, I would hand off the basket and point to the enclosed note card for all the details.

In the note, I shared how God had laid her on my heart and that inside the basket was an opportunity for one-on-one tea time with her heavenly Father.

In the basket, I placed: 

  • One answer-to-prayer teapot
  • One teacup, along with an individually-wrapped teabag
  • A journal and pen (the recipient was encouraged to journal about her time with the Lord and to read the entries made by previous recipients.)
  • Homemade cookies, packaged biscotti, or tea cookies
  • A handwritten note
  • Mini-scripture notes written specifically for the recipient

She need only place the teacup, teapot, and journal in the basket to return to me the following Sunday morning. 
That was almost twenty years ago.

Five years ago, a dear friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer. I desperately wanted to lift her spirits as she would soon face a double mastectomy. Then I remembered that this friend was one of the first recipients of the Barnie Basket all those years ago. I searched my shelves for the journal that had traveled home with so many friends and turned to the page of her entry. In it, she shared in detail how she trusted God above all else — no matter what. I carefully removed the page from the journal and framed it for her, presenting it to her a few days before her surgery. It was a special moment, indeed. 

We never know, do we? But God does. 

Tea Maker
Steeped in His Word
Infused with His love
Sweetened by His Spirit
Stirred from above.
-Patsy Clairmont

A Hidden Necessity

It was there all along.

A handcrafted built-in cabinet, having worn the disguise of a teacup collector’s dream for seven years, emerged with greater purpose this weekend as a book-nook for current reads.

Early on, it was difficult to deny the cabinet its teacups. Lined up just beneath each shelf were hundred-year-old hooks, hungry to hold the delicate stems of teacups ready for display. And so it sat for 7 years.

This weekend, however, this recovering book-clutterer-upper reached her limit. I considered storing my current reads on a small book shelf near my red reading chair, but where would it go? If only the built-in cabinet with all its fancy teacups were located elsewhere…[non-incandescent light bulb flashes!] Bye bye, teacups. Hello, books.

The solution to my problem was there all along, but I’d become so accustomed to seeing the teacups that I was blinded to the cabinet’s true potential.

Father, I pray for fresh eyes, awakened senses, and a stirred up Spirit, refusing to allow me to settle for the obvious, the expected, and the “what-has-always-been-is-good-enough-for-me” kind of attitude. Open my eyes to see circumstances, myself, and others through Your eyes, confident of Your desire to bring everything to its truest potential.

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