How did I become someone who is quite frankly a bit obsessed with tea? It’s not something that I grew up with, so there’s no childhood nostalgia attached. I don’t study the different types so that I might brew them in the most delicious way, so I clearly have no intent to be a connoisseur. I just love tea. I love the comfort that comes with sipping on a warm cup of liquid in the morning whether that morning is lazy or busy. It can be as bland or sweet and lavish as I want it to be. I love that there is variety, but also stability in this one type of product.
Perhaps I love it because of the journey I went on to get to the point of loving it. Before I drank tea I had lattes almost every day this was not good for my health or waistline, so I turned to learning how to drink tea straight. I figured if I learned to drink it straight it would be a healthier option. A few months later as I moved into a dorm suite full of tea lovers I had several opportunities to discover the loveliness that can be found in a cup of tea.
Drinking tea makes me think of sitting in the sun while listening to music, and it makes me think of tea parties on the floor with laughs and thought provoking conversation. It makes me think of the person who gave me the tea or what I was doing when I bought it. I love tea because it is both delicious and has a myriad of fond memories that I have the pleasure of remembering when I drink it or brew it. What is even more beautiful is the memories are constantly being added to. Maybe it isn’t tea, but find the thing that does this for you. Find the thing that you can enjoy both because it is something you can share with people dear to you and because you simply love the product.
Finally, treasure it. Perhaps this is cheesy, but treasure the moments you get to spend reveling in the things that innocently bring you joy. Revel in this joy whether it comes from a cup of tea or something equally as geeky. Life is stressful and chaotic, so stop and enjoy your tea.
I had been praying for a mentor of sorts to come across my path. I had been discipled and mentored a few times before, and I was hoping this was a season of life in which I would have another relationship like that. I prayed to find this person for weeks, maybe even months. The answer to that prayer came in the most unlikely of ways.
I met my dear friend Esther during a Zumba class that she led for a semester. She was joyful, full of life, and coordinated. Trying to do those dance steps in front of this insanely talented Hispanic lady were the first of many times in which I would be vulnerable with her. We became friends on facebook and I noticed that she went to seminary. I thought it would be interesting to talk to her about her experience there, so I messaged her and asked if she wanted to get together. We met up and immediately started sharing our life stories, insecurities, and how God was working in our lives. She asked if I wanted to meet regularly and with little hesitation I agreed.
That was around a year and a half ago. I didn’t know when I was making a fool of myself in Zumba and meeting this almost stranger for coffee that I was in the presence of a person that would become one of my dearest friends. We could have so easily missed each other. She’s from Honduras; I’m from Indiana. She went to seminary; I go to a secular university twenty minutes away. If I had not moved home when I did… If she had not decided to take on that extra commitment and teach that Zumba class… If I had not asked her to coffee… If she had not asked to meet regularly when we did meet for coffee… If all of those things and much more had not happened we would have missed each other and the beautiful friendship we have formed.
Sometimes when I think of the uncertainties that I find myself worrying about, I think back to this answer to prayer. I remember how God perfectly orchestrated our lives to intersect at the perfect time and in the perfect way, so that we could share our struggles with each other. God intersected our lives and now we have a lifelong friend that we can cry with, laugh with, dance with, and call out in a loving way when the other is being ridiculous. God, the one who orchestrates every detail of my life, orchestrated that. How can I not trust this God? He listens to prayer. He is creative. He cares for His children. One of the ways He reminded me of these characteristics of Himself was by connecting me with Esther.
This God—his way is perfect;
the word of the Lord proves true;
he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.
Fall semester of my sophomore year of college I lived with three ladies who taught me an abundance of what it looks like to serve one another in love. The most memorable example of this happened within the first couple of weeks living with these ladies. My roommate Charissa was washing the dishes in the sink and one of them was mine. I of course thanked her for taking care of the dish and she smiled at me and said “Well, there’s already soap on the sponge.” This spoke volumes to me. Oftentimes we think of serving others as some grand gesture, but many times it is a small gesture that takes less than a minute. Matthew 6:2-4 talks about being low key when we’re giving to the needy.
2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
Next time there’s soap on the sponge or whatever your equivalent is, take the extra minute to serve those around you in a low key way that doesn’t draw attention to yourself. “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret.” If we are drawing attention to when we are serving others we’re serving to be noticed not to glorify God, so be low key when you’re serving others.
There’s a passage in Ann Voskamp’s book be the gift that says “you can be glued to a screen or glued to your schedule or glued to your stuff- and maybe that’s just a bit of lost living. You can be a slave to getting ahead, a slave to the clock, a slave to convenience, a slave to some ill-advised American dream- and maybe that’s a lot of lost living.”
It’s easy to become absorbed in our own life and our own mess. It’s easy to have your world revolve around convenience, screens, and success. Not only is it easy for these things to happen, but it’s expected of us. Take facebook for example: we spend hours scrolling through our newsfeed reading complaints about the latest political issue and one upping people from high school that we barely care about. Why? Because it’s convenient. You could call that friend you miss or you could like their post announcing that they’re having a baby. Liking the post is quicker and more convenient, so oftentimes that is done rather than actually showing another person that you care about them.
Being engrossed in our screens, schedules, and success is ingrained in us to the extent that sometimes we think about reaching out to someone to show that we care about them, but then we don’t, because we’re afraid of it not being received well. How shameful it is that we don’t show others that we care about them, because it’s inconvenient. How shameful it is that we oftentimes are so absorbed in what is going on with ourselves that we don’t stop to listen to another soul that is in desperate despair. Instead we ignore them or let them gloss over their pain. The book of James tells us that faith without works is dead. That’s not to say that works are our source of salvation, rather if we have the Holy Spirit in us we will be prompted to act and show other people that we care about them.
Is it wrong to have a phone or a schedule or success? No, but realize that if you live your life trying to have some arbitrary picture perfect life, you’ll always be one step behind and wanting something else. Yes, there is quite a bit of value in taking care of yourself so that you can serve others well. However, the main focus of our lives should be loving God and loving others and that just does not line up with today’s American dream. We are not called to convenience; we are called to love one another. When you are prompted to show someone that you care about them, actually do it.
30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
This post is unique because it simply includes some of my favorite pictures I’ve taken in the month of January!
Let the morning bring them word of Your unfailing love, may they put their trust in You. Show them the way they should go; may they entrust their life to you.
Give them wisdom about their future and trust in Your plan.
Give them a spirit that hungers and thirst for Your presence and righteousness.
Give them humility to ask for help where they need it.
Give them Godly counsel in the form of friends, family, and strangers who love You.
Give them the wisdom to keep their priorities in an order that is most pleasing to you Lord.
Thank you for their kind spirit.
Thank you for how You have worked and are working in their life.
You are wonderful Lord. I love You.
In Your holy name, amen.
Bible verses referenced in this prayer were Matthew 5:6 and Psalm 143:8
“All I can think of right now is how much braver you are than me” he said as part of the kindest rejection text anyone has ever received after asking someone out. Brave, it’s a label I have been given multiple times over the past few years. I can’t say that I always feel brave, but I think that’s a part of bravery, doing something even though I’m afraid. There’s a glorious freedom that comes in not letting fears dictate the decisions I make. However, this is not a bravery that I can take credit for; this is a bravery that comes from trust in Christ.
I am reminded of 2 Timothy 1:7 “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” When we are acting based upon trust in God and His plan our actions are full of power, love, and self-control. Frankly, I was able to see this play out beautifully in asking that guy out. It took an insane amount of trust to press the send button on a text that said “do you want to go on a date”. When I pressed the send button on that text I was giving up control of the situation in the form of giving up the ability to protect my precious feelings from rejection. However, in giving up that ability to protect myself I was able to receive the blessed gift of peace even in the midst rejection.
I would be lying if I said I was immediately fine. There were moments sprinkled throughout the next day or two where I was sad, because no one likes to be rejected. However, the even stronger thing that I walked away from that situation with was a sense of peace not because I had done something brave, but because I had trusted God. If you want to be brave trust God. If you want to have a spirit of power, love, and self-control trust God. Indeed, it is a journey. Indeed, it is easier said than done. However, I have found in my rather limited twenty-two years that I have done things I would have never dreamed of both big and small, because I trusted in God. Yes, compared to what I have done and what I will do this is one of the smaller brave things that I have done, but I found beauty and peace in taking a step of faith even though I did not see where that step would ultimately take me. No, it did not take me where I wanted it to, but it took me where God had planned for it to, which is far better than any plan I could make.
Every so often I find myself plagued with a night of insomnia. I want to sleep, but for no particular reason, I simply can’t. This lack of ability to sleep some nights used to drive me crazy, but I have learned to love experiencing a world that is asleep.
When the World is Asleep
There’s a beautiful peace in the world when it is asleep
The silence envelopes me and finally there is time to just think
See when the world is awake there are distractions and noises galore
But when it is asleep the craziness is no more
Oh yes dear friend it is true.
There is a beautiful peace in the world when it is asleep.