Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sunday Afternoon Tea

Do the opposite of what the enemy of your soul expects you to do.  That is what I was sharing with a sweet friend recently, as she and her family have been hit with a series of trials.  That is what I learned long ago and one of the Truths which kept me going... and learning... and growing.

I was thinking of this recently when walking onto my front porch after forging through snow on our lawn and slush on the gravel driveway.

The porch has kept much of the festive Christmas look about it albeit more winter wonderland than anything having to do with glitz and glitter.

Upon walking into the house, I smile at the combined scent of a cranberry candle and dinner on the stove.  Looking around, there are bookshelves lined with anticipation, cozy furniture, lovely artwork, and everywhere objects that make my heart sing... not the least of which is a Maine Coon kitty with nose pressed against glass watching for the neighbor's dog.

It took me awhile... years, actually... to live in loveliness without an audience.  We rarely get anyone out our way in winter so why dress up the porch?  Long gone are the days when I felt like opening my door to crowds (with the exception of the miraculous ability to cook and serve Christopher's graduation open house).

My daughter and granddaughters are too far away for tea parties and I no longer have the health to take part in women's ministries, ladies' societies, home book clubs, etc. where my pretty dishes were used for entertaining.  I never know if my husband is going to have a good day or a bad day and there is always the reality of the budget so tight we've squeezed it over and over for an extra couple gallons of gasoline.

So why?  Why create loveliness with just myself and a couple guys seeing it most of the time, why continue to collect tea things if only for solitary tea times?  Why decide to read good literature and biography and books about gardening and cooking when perhaps a cheap paperback novel would take me away from it all?

Well... it is all about that doing the opposite thing... and faith... and hope... and joy.   I have found that the decision to do the opposite and think the opposite and be the opposite of what the enemy of our souls expects in our times of trials and discouragement is... in itself... a form of spiritual warfare.

These lessons forged in the years when everything was falling apart and the reality set in that... God is allowing this journey instead the one I preferred, expected, and desired.   Yes, there were months and months and perhaps even years of stomping my feet, muttering, complaining, pouting, crying, sniveling, and generally giving up.

But there came a day when the realization that life would go on... different than planned... but in its' own way not so bad.  New ways of living were learned, how to purchase needs and desires really cheap, inexpensive but tasty meals, writing letters or e-mails instead of getting in the car to visit loved ones "in town", making instead of buying, work accomplished a little at a time, and most of all... that I didn't need an audience (aka: company) to live in loveliness.

I have learned I don't have to have a crowd... or even a couple... to have a tea party with lovely music and pretty china and girlie sandwiches.  If it were only myself who enjoyed the cozy feeling of a home which has been well thought out and pampered and prettied then it would be fine... but the menfolk like it, too.  As long as it doesn't have pink and ruffles except in the corner china cabinet.

Life is what happened when I had other plans and waiting to live while wishing for something different is to deny the gift of Today.  But that is what the enemy of our soul expects us to do, you know... fear, fret, grow bitter, give up, and never learn to enjoy this other journey.

Instead, I have learned to anticipate what the Author of this journey I'm on can do with these circumstances and within these boundaries... and He never ceases to amaze me. 


Debra said...

Terrific post! It also took me years to learn to live for an audience of One and to know that He wants every day of our lives to be special because He thinks we are special.

I always enjoy the descriptions of your comfortable home and the lessons you are learning there. Thanks for sharing! Blessings, Debra

matty said...

Well said! And, although you might believe that you live in solitude, you don't! We all enjoy your lovely home although we will never sit in your parlor for tea. And, you never know who might ride by just to see how your house looks today and goes home inspired! My best friend and I have a several homes that we stalk for just that reason and we will never know the resident!

Enjoy today!


Mrs.Rabe said...

Then you share it with us and our faith is grown as well!

Emilie Barnes book "The Spirit of Loveliness" inspired me to this way of thinking many years ago.

Mary R. said...

Boy, I really NEEDED this. Sounds like my situation, and I feel down a lot. Thanks!!!

homespun1 said...

To create a haven for oneself is not selfish but needful especially in lite of our economy and it's unique stresses.
Jesus, at his most trying momment chose the surrounding of a beautiful and quiet garden. He was very much alone and yet embraced by beauty. It sustained him and gave him strength.

Alva Lee said...

I have bookmarked your site and read it every day. We do not have your same experiences, but I often realize our lives haven't turned out the way we thought or planned. I'm hitting that magical age of 70 this week so I have a lot to look back at! Times of no money. Times of uncertain illness. Times of questioning God's choices. And when I look at the lives of my friends, I realize that not one of them can say they are happy with how everything turned out--some things, yes, but not everything. I don't have my tea in pretty cups, but I certainly have my reading--and my candles--and my coffee out of mugs! And when I purposefully decide to quiet my thoughts, and make the best out of what I've been given--both materially and physically--I find that my space becomes holy ground. My your rest on your holy ground today.

Anonymous said...

Right on! Thank you for your thoughtful post today. I really needed to hear that.

Lisa said...

Thank you so much for sharing these thoughts today. I think that God knew I needed to read them. You have blessed me and challenged me.

Kimberly said...

What an awesome post. I read you daily but haven't commented in a long time. Today I just had to. I thank God for you and the inspiration I find in your blog. I pray for you and your family. Thanks so much, Kim

freetobeme - Anita said...

Tremendous truth here! Thanks so much, Brenda, for sharing.

moreofhim said...

Oh, Brenda. God surely sent me to your blog this morning. I have tears in my eyes as I write this. I, too, am having to learn to live the life I have. I've been a bit confused about how to go about it, but after reading your post, I can see some direction and light!

Thank you for always sharing your heart and the wonderful things the Lord lays there. You are an inspiration to me and I'm so thankful to be able to come by your blog and be comforted.

God bless you!!

Love, Julie

Jayne said...

Living in solitude? But I visit you most days! You have no idea how much your writing blesses me, and not only your wonderful blog alone, but several of the other lovely blogs you have introduced me to via your sidebar. You have enriched my life beyond measure. Many thanks.

Anonymous said...

What an inspiring post! I especially like where you said that "waiting to live is to deny the gift of today." How often I've done that! It makes me more determined to appreciate the present!

I know you are decluttering. However, you are an admitted bibliophile. Are you interested in "The Harvester", "Laddie" and or "Her Father's Daughter and "The Keeper of the Bees?" Great old hardcover copies, with lithographs, I think. I enjoyed them but I'm ready to pass them on to someone who will appreciate them more. Say the word.
Brenda, please accept my belated condolences. Older brothers are so important, and yours gave you away!
I am so sorry.

D in NY

Scrappy quilter said...

Beautiful post. I've learnt so much from you Brenda. I love how you share your home with us.

btw- once you get that sewing room, I'll send you a little something to get you started on quilting. Hugs

Sharon said...

Thank You for the beautiful way that you express your thoughts concerning your life's experiences. Your peaceful spirit is evident.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely love this idea of doing the opposite of what the enemy expects. It is something that will likely stick in my mind as I currently experience some undesirables, and will hopefully spur me on to persevere in prayer, and generally just choosing to adorn myself with a smile while I hope and rest in Him. You stated it so beautifully and have inspired and encouraged me today. And, I'd have to agree with previous have much company in your home daily. It is clear that though you may not be able to get out and be a part of local women's ministry, you certainly have a wonderful ministry going with your blog. Thank you, dear sister!

Lady-in-the-Making said...

This post has done my soul so much good today.

I wish I really 'knew' you and lived closer so we could actually share Sunday Tea! :)

Thank you for this today.

jackie said...

A most excellent post! It was just the thing i needed today both because i can really relate to the feelings expressed here and also because i find myself at times wistfully pining for "what might have been". God has known me (and you) from before the foundation of the world and the life He has given me is exactly the right one for me to grow more like Jesus. Thank you very much for the reminder!

Anonymous said...

Oh, how I agree with everyones comments.

Thank you Brenda.

With love and prayers,
kelly lynn in texas


What a delightful post. I feel like I just had tea with you and learned a lot while drinking it. See, you had company after all. Thanks for sharing these truths, especially about spiritual warfare. We need to know this.


Morning's Minion said...

As I read this and thought about the deliberate choice to "do the opposite" it seems to me that you and God have a very warm and personal "game" on=going.
Its a bit like the relationship that can exist at a certain stage between an adult and an especially loved child--functioning within their larger sphere but with a closeness and sharing that makes for very meaningful support.
This is really something wonderful to ponder.

Anonymous said...

I just finished Elizabeth Edward's 2009 book Resilience borrowed from a friend. The book was all about adapting from what you expected to what life is now. It was very inspiring and well worth the read. Reminded me of what you were talkig about Brenda. I agree with Matty! Even though I too am alone most of the time now I feel "at home" in your home and others! :) Sarah

Janette@Janette's Sage said...

Wow...I feel, or I know, God meant for me to read this today...thanks so much. I need to do the opposite...I told my husband today I needed a break from the stress of our reading this I felt the Lord say, "well do the opposite".
Thanks for sharing...I will be back to read over and over again to let it sink into my heart!
Thanks so much.