Sunday, September 09, 2007

Sunday Afternoon Tea

I have a confession to make. Shhhh... I normally work on my Sunday Afternoon Tea posts on Saturday. That way I can think and ponder to my hearts content and just click Publish Post on Sunday (with perhaps a little tweaking).

However, yesterday afternoon was spent napping... as in going back to bed no less than three times! I'm not certain if the cause of my illness was a small relapse of the flu, my sinus passages complaining about the (very welcome) cold front coming through, diabetes "stuff", or a mixture of all three... which is likely.

I'm feeling better today but still a little weak and I must work tomorrow since our football team won big yesterday. I've committed to working Touchdown Mondays. All of this to say I'm writing during the time I would normally be at church. Today will be well spent resting and reading.

So... here I was on the sofa yesterday evening and thinking I'd have to skip Sunday Afternoon Tea this week. My brain was about as foggy as my body was aching. I called out to Him who made my aching body and reminded Him if any writing was going to be accomplished, He would have to give me the idea. The subject I'd planned to write about just wasn't coming together in my head or on paper.

When I am flat-on-my-back on the sofa, my direct vision is toward the wall that contains two large bookshelves of favorite books. God truly has a sense of humor as all I could do was look at those books for awhile and then the Eureka moment arrived. For as I was looking, I was thinking about pulling one of my favorite books off the shelf to peruse, one that always brought me peace and joy during times of illness, financial setbacks, and anxious moments.

You know... books that are the bibliophiles version of drugs which calm and refresh (and without major side affects). That is what I can write about! Books that calm the savage beast and bring comfort in the storm of affliction. I don't have any experience with savage beast types but I certainly know about storms of life. :)

I started thinking of the obvious, which is the Bible and the Book of Psalms... my favorite. Although I love reading the Old Testament and learning about those whose lives form the basis of the Judeo Christian faith, the Gospels of our Lord, the Letters, even the amazing scenes from Revelation... it is Psalms that I go back to over and over. When one picks up my Bible, it opens to Psalms naturally. Nowhere else can I find true peace as I do in the book which mostly contains the songs of a Shepherd King.

I'm also a big believer in using devotional books each day. My old standby is My Utmost For His Highest. Although I rarely recommend "modern translations" of any book, I take exception with this one for the updated version is truly remarkable. The story of how it came to be updated is in the Introduction of this particular volume.

I have both the original and updated versions and I find both valuable but my every day go-to devotional is a leather bound version of the updated (which surprises people who know my aversion to such). It is very close to the original while being easy to read when one is in between their first and second cups of morning coffee.

The other devotional in my basket is The Valley of Vision, perhaps one of the most beautiful devotionals ever assembled. This leather bound version was a gift to my husband from his daughter and son-in-law. I... uh... borrowed it. He knows where to find it.

Another devotional that I have used over and over is Streams In the Desert. I can't recommend it highly enough for people going through very difficult circumstances. I have a hardback version but I also used to receive it online daily and print it out to tuck in my Bible. It was written by one who was suffering and it brings peace to fellow sojourners. I know my Catholic and Orthodox friends may have their own titles which bring comfort.

There are many books that I read when I need to "get away from it all". All of my "tea" books are on that list (especially Victoria's The Pleasures of Tea which I finally own thanks to a special friend!), a few decorating books that show houses and gardens that I adore, even some favorite cookbooks with amazing pictures (like Marcia Adams cookbooks about the Amish and Midwestern cooking and the lovely Susan Branch books).

I find myself revisiting Edith Schaeffer's books about home and family, Alexandra Stoddard, Elizabeth George, Sally Clarkson, Emilie Barnes, Elisabeth Elliot, and other like minded ladies. I keep on my "favorites" bookshelf fiction by Grace Livingston Hill, Jan Karon, James Herriot (okay, so it is based on real life), Jane Austen, Miss Read, and my favorite cozy mysteries... just to mention a few among many.

I love to read lists of what people are reading, especially those "favorite books" lists that we often see disguised as "Summer Vacation Reading lists" or "Christmas Reading lists" or quite often "What I Would Suggest Giving to Someone for Christmas lists".

That is where I have found some of my best suggestions and interesting connections between book and reader. For instance, when President Reagan needed to "get away from it all", he turned to Louis L'Amour westerns. :) I have often seen Agatha Christie mysteries high on such lists. A friend of mine likes to pull out her childhood favorites such as the Anne of Green Gables series, the Little House books, and other classics.

I realize later today and perhaps all week, I will think of another author or book that should have been represented here. For right now, these are the cream of the crop and those which came to mind first. As usual, I would love to hear your own list of authors and titles. Perhaps among them I will find a new "friend".


smilnsigh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
smilnsigh said...

Brenda, before I delete my first comment, I'm saying that I'm doing that. Everyone always wonders; "What in the world did that person say, that she came back and deleted it?!?" -grin-

Well, I know I'm going to spoil the rest of your commenter's fun but... I was just being an Old Grouch and moaning about Brenda working tomorrow. As if Brenda isn't a big girl now and can make her own decisions. Yucko to my Grouchiness.

So I'm deleting my Old Grouch comment.

And that's as much "spice" as there is, to my deletion. -gigggles-


Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

Hmmmm... I may have figured that out on my own. I remember watching the game on TV and knowing I'd have to work tomorrow, at the same time thinking "Mari Nanci will yell at me". :)

It is nice to have people who care.

Anonymous said...

Hi Brenda,

I love your sweet site. I came over from Sally Clarkson's site (some time ago, though this is my first forray into commenting)and I felt so at home. You are precious and I thank you for sharing so openly about all the simple doings in a day. My days are far different from yours, but the sentiments are so similar. I'm a wife and homeschooling mom who loves beauty and books and all the rest. I enjoy excellent robust health, but my heart aches for those in chronic pain as my precious son Andrew (left us for Heaven 3+ years ago) and his twin Matthew (now 19) suffered serious setbacks at birth resulting in a variety of "special needs." Andrew lived in chronic pain daily but shared the sweetest smile despite it all. He had no gift for words, but elevated body language to a special art. As I read your experiences with pain and the joy that fuels your heart and cheerfulness despite it all, I am reminded of my precious Andrew and the daily devotional in his smile. Thank you for being you in a world that promotes atifice. "A cheerful heart is good medicine."

Much Love,
Debbie in CA : )

Anonymous said...

Dear Brenda, I do hope you'll be feeling much better soon and that tomorrow won't be as hard as you anticipate.

The only books I usually re-read are the Bible and parts of 'how-to' books (cookbooks, Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Needlework, and the RDCG to Sewing, Home Comforts).

I did send one incredible book off to someone else after reading it, with instructions to pass it on indefinitely or send it back to me (I left a note in the cover). I hope it is not sitting on a shelf somewhere, forgotten, because it never did get sent back to me. So, I recently bought another one and I am planning to read it again and do lots of highlighting in it as I ponder its truths. The book is:
Will God Heal Me? God's power and purpose in suffering
by Ron Dunn. Sherri Connell (Invisible Disabilities Advocate) recommended it to me as a 'must-read' several years ago.

Wait, now... I did read The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer *several* times while I was a church librarian. That one is a gem and I think I'd like to own it.

I am going to add the devotionals you recommended to my wish list.

I am currently reading When God Weeps by Joni Eareckson Tada and Steve Estes. It's a tough one, because I am haunted by the terrible suffering I am reading about.

Well, I'm off to send up a prayer for you and then go outside to soak up a few of the sun's last rays of the day.

Heather said...

Dear Brenda,
I enjoyed your post today! So many of the books and authors you love are on my list too. I was hoping to write on my blog today about a book that has been of immense encouragement to me in the last few weeks of wrestling with my current suffering, but I haven't blogged. But, i'll put it in here -- "Praying Backwards" by Bryan Chappell. it's about praying biblically and it talks quite a bit about suffering and God's will and aligning our prayers and wills to be in harmony with God's will and Christ's glory. Maybe I'll get a chance to put up some of my favorite quotes from the book sometime soon.
I was also very blessed by Elizabeth Prentiss' "Stepping Heavenward" which I read in bed this summer.
On a lighter note, I've been very entertained by Peter Mayle's earlier books on Provence. I've also been reading a novel about Lady Jane Grey. The life of that woman and her constant suffering in her short life (not illness, but other suffering) has been a blessing.
I better go and leave room for others to comment. :)
I hope your work goes all right tomorrow and it doesn't completely do you in!

Mrs. Mom said...

Hi Brenda, I have been "lurking" for a while and enjoying your blog very much! I had to comment today as almost without exception you have mentioned almost all my favourite books - your bookshelf must look just like mine!!! So, what "cozy" mysteries do you read??
I'm sure I'd enjoy them given our similar tastes!
Please drop by my blog


Theresa said...

Love the book choices, agree with them 100%!
Also the Psalms have always always been what I turn to first when I need a boost.
Thanks! Theresa

Susie Q said...

I do hope you get the rest you need and feel so much are such a sweet person and bright light in this world...
Books are my true is always so good to know that others feel the same way!


Tea Party Girl said...

Brenda, what a delightful post as I recognize so many of the names on your list. And yes, so many of us are extremely comforted by our favorites. I think it's time for returning to a devotional classic or two!

Thank you, as well, for your visit and comment at Tea Party Girl. Did you reach the poultry part of Kingsolver's book? Definitely good for some hearty laughter!

Best to you...

Our Family of Five said...

I love James Herriot and have started collecting his books for my personal library. I've never read Grace Livingston Hill, but I heard someone else recommend her the other day. I am considering purchasing a used copy. What is a favorite of hers? Any one paricular book that you really love?

Also, I've added you to my sidebar. I just love your blog. :)