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Patchwork Tea

I crave two things almost equally every day: quality time with people and… chocolate.  When an afternoon of tea with a friend is complimented with chocolate, it is pretty close to perfection. I am convinced if we spent less time stalking people from the comfort of our computer screens and more time actually getting to know them, we would be a much happier people.  Because if you just read my definition of a perfect afternoon and thought how pristine, calm and cozy that sounded, you may have gotten the wrong impression.  If you were here, you would have known how messy, loud and chilly it actually was… what with the mud, glitter, snacks, questions and the constantly opening door to the outside, all going on between sips and words.  My definition of perfect rarely, if ever, equals calm, quiet, neat or tidy.

Not one moment after I poured the tea, hungry child number one came into the kitchen:
Mom?  I’m hungry.
Ok.  Go outside and play for a while, then you can have a snack.  
We sat down, took one sip of tea, and began our conversation.  No sooner has someone heard us swallow before coming in to ask:
Mom?  Can I eat something?
No, go outside with your sibling and play first.  Don’t forget to shut the door!
We continued our conversation, seamlessly blending our last sentence into our next.  The interruption is merely like a breath between words.  Another breath:
Mom?  What can I eat?  I’m hungry!  
Another child walked into the kitchen.  I’m hungry too!
Go outside!  And shut the door behind you!
We entered back into the conversation.  It’s okay if we can’t remember where we left off, because mommy brains are used to forgetting.
Another poor unsuspecting child asks for food.  To me, it’s as if the same child has asked for a snack five times, when in reality it is a different child with the same song, fifth verse.  Mom?  I’m so hungry!  
Go outside!  And shut the door behind you!
A few minutes later, three children were eating apples and yogurt.

The door going outside opened and closed at least fifty-three times over the course of tea.  Thankfully, there is always hot water and good conversation in abundance.  Skinned knees, glitter, and more quests for food rounded out the afternoon.  Not quite like how “tea” is pictured in my head when I say it, but it’s better somehow.  There is no show, just a lot of love.  Conversation is pieced together like a patchwork quilt, all mismatched yet perfect.  Beauty is not in decor but in the person sharing that moment.  There is nothing expensive, but time is priceless.

Hospitality is not something we must perfect before we do it.  Have you ever tried to become perfect at playing the piano without ever practicing first?  The Bible says we are to practice hospitality.  No where does that mean your house has to be of a certain size, status of clean, or must you have matching dishes in order to be hospitable.  It simply means you exude a welcoming spirit into your home and your life.  We have sat on buckets as chairs, yet felt like kings and queens, because of love.  We have also sat on the finest couches and eaten off matching dishes and felt as if we were intruders.  Love opens the china closet and serves the finest wine.  Love makes time and never looks at its watch.  Love is measured not in what you give, so much as in what you hold back.  Until my breath is gone, or the city water supply runs dry, I can always offer a cup of water… preferably hot, poured over a tea bag. DSC_9320


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These Are A Few

Today was sprinkled with a few of my favorite things.  Photos.  Friends.  Tea.  Lights.

The gorgeous weather called for the perfect photo shoot day.  Since I was taking pictures of some friends, I thought I should also get some shots of our kids.  So we scrounged in our drawers and closets for some outfits that sort of resembled winter.  The kids rolled around on a grassy hill and I learned not to face them directly into the sunshine.  I’m not kidding, these are their exact faces.  My eyes are watering!  Elsie cried.  Betty sneezed.
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So we moved, and got some better shots.
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Then tonight the kids did so great going to bed, and I had some girls over.  Friends sipping hot tea in front of white Christmas tree lights… that is my definition of Joy.  What a blessing!DSC_0269


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All Is Not Small

 

Today I’m thankful for just enough flour in the cupboard to make cinnamon rolls.  Nothing is more fall-y than hot tea with cinnamon rolls.  I’m thankful that God doesn’t change, no matter what the calendar reads, the critics say, or the bank account shows.  I’m thankful that He knows my name and never leaves me, no matter what I’ve done or how I feel.  He is totally worth celebrating and remembering.  Bless the Lord, all my soul, and forget not all His benefits; who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases.  (Psalm 103:2-3)


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Running Through The Night and More

After my last weepy post, I have been blessed by the hugs, reassurances, and reminders of faithful friends all around me.  It is difficult for me to know the balance between honesty and what could come across as, “Pity me, please,” that is so often inundating our lives… or walls.  It is my true hope that I can be real both in life and in writing.  That what you see is what you get.  I have daily struggles, and validating that fact is better than ignoring them.  I want to convey a well-balanced story of my heart and life, without being depressing or making one cock their head and wonder if everything is always perfect.  My life is an open book, and I hope I can be courageous enough to show you not only the beautiful parts of it, but also the difficult and sometimes ugly.  Ultimately, everything points to Jesus, the Author and Perfector of my faith.

This week has been full of spring-time activities.  A long-anticipated visit from an old friend.  Night-time talks on the front porch.  Roses from our garden in full bloom.  Putting a bathing suit on Betty for the first time.

Strawberry picking with the kids.

The boys decked themselves out the other day in this fashion.  Paperclips in their ears, gaudy jewelry, and the usual bling all over Jack.  They love to be tough and strong.  They can also be so gentle and loving.  I am constantly amazed by this sweet balance that both they and their Daddy possess.

Speaking of Matthew… he took me on a date Friday night.  We enjoyed live music at Burlap & Bean, with some delicious coffee and tea.  We had some much-needed time to reconnect and pray together.

Tonight he is running through most of the night in preparation for his ultra-marathon next month.  We will be posting more details about it soon.  I plan on interviewing him myself to answer the many questions poised his way.  In fact, if you have any questions about his goal of running 100 miles in 24 hours, please post them in the comments, and I’ll be sure to add them to the interview!

God painted a beautiful rainbow this evening.  I ran outside in the rain with a cardboard box on my head, squealing at the sight.  I always try to imagine I’m Noah, seeing a rainbow for the first time.  It always works, and I’m amazed every time.  God’s promises will never ever fail.


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Morning Tea and Other Things

For some reason I woke up way earlier than usual this morning and couldn’t go back to sleep.  My morning routine includes shuffling to the tea kettle, putting some water on to boil and making a nice big mug of hot tea.  I was sad to find all of my good British Blend tea gone this morning.  I had bought some cheap tea this week, knowing I was running low.  I had an open mind, willing myself to find it just as delightful and delicious as my favorite, more pricey kind.  My mind closed up pretty quickly after that first sip.  Oh, well.  There are just some things that I won’t scrimp on, and tea is one of them!  Give me beat up furniture and hand-me-down clothes, but I’ll take good tea, please!  So, with my mediocre cup of tea this morning, and before any more time goes marching into the past, here is our second half of Christmas: Syracuse style.  We dearly missed our North Carolina gang!  Without too many words, here is a snapshot of our short but wonderful weekend:

Chess games, superheroes, carrot-eating boys, silly gifts, meaningful gifts, cute kids, and lots and lots of joy.  We took a wet walk to a nearby park.  My favorite shots include a sneaky behind-the-back-photo of Abby and her mom, and Betty being snuggled by Uncle Beck.  Our usual “sister picture” never happened, but I do have an almost sister picture.  Can you find it?

  This boy was in his glory, surrounded by boy cousins his age, legos, nerf guns, and apple pie.

I’m so thankful for family, and every minute spent together is so special.  We borrowed Matthew’s parents’ “big red van” for the trip, because our van is just super tight for more than a two-hour trip.  The whole time driving, whenever we would hit a bump, it would feel like the roof was about to fly off.  There are other interesting noises it makes as well, so we  weren’t sure if what we heard was legitimate and didn’t think too much about it.  The day we got home from NY, we drove to the Sodies’ house to help demolish their kitchen and repair leak damage.  On the way, we hit the lip of a curb right before entering a small train tunnel.  The bump was so huge that the entire front windshield spider-webbed in an instant.  Everyone was crying, and we made our way the last five minutes to their house.  Thankfully, we were able to get it to a place that day to get fixed.  The entire drive there, I could hear the glass crackling and I was so nervous.  
When Heather & I went to pick it up, the guy told us that it was a good thing the windshield cracked, because it was barely being held onto the roof and something much more serious could have happened at any time.  So, even though it was scary, inconvenient, and not in our plan, God protected us and preserved us from something worse happening down the road.  So thankful!  Also, Matt & I weren’t imagining the sounds that the roof was about to fly off!


Thankful for a great many things this new year.  I am even thankful for my mediocre cup of tea.  It’s hot, and because I woke up so early, I got to spend some time with Matthew before he left for work: a rare treat.  Next on the grocery list: REAL tea.