Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sunday Afternoon Tea

Oh Christ, do not give me tasks equal to my powers,
but give me powers equal to my tasks,
for I want to be stretched by things too great for me.
I want to grow through the greatness of my tasks,
but I shall need your help for the growing.
E. Stanley Jones

My ponderings this past week have been on the opposite sides of emotions... the joy which came with joining our family in exploring new sights and sounds and tastes... and the frustration with intense fatigue that always follows such a trip.

When one lives with distractions which keeps them from going about their tasks without discouragement... chronic illness, financial lack, not enough free time, family members, bad weather, difficult circumstances, outside the home commitments, anything and everything which all of us experience from time to time... we are tempted to just sit in the recliner with our feet propped up and a hot drink at our side.

For instance, our return coincided with the need to prepare the deck for cold weather and once it was complete, I decided to accomplish just a little seasonal cleaning inside the house.  With my "a little at a time" way of doing extra housework, I cleaned the dining table with wood soap (Murphy's) and gave it two coats of lemon oil and a good buffing.  It took hours...

But... I was so inspired by how nice it looked that I brought the box containing fall decorations inside and created an autumnal centerpiece as well as placed a few favorite seasonal items around the house.  Just getting that much accomplished seem to be the catalyst to bringing the autumn dishes down from their perch on the top shelf of the kitchen cabinet, ready to create pretty tablescapes September through November.

I wish I could write that this all came easily to me emotionally.  As usual (and I don't know why I have not conquered these feelings), I ask myself why I'm bothering with all of this.  Why make the table shiny and create centerpieces and place the seasonal china within easier reach for spur of the moment use?  After all, I am so tired that the thought of cooking special meals and inviting friends over is at the bottom of my priority list.

Hmmm... why bother spending hours perusing cookbooks and my favorite stack of food magazines when I don't feel well and finances are tight.  Why decorate the house so it is seasonally pretty if it is just for the two of us?  Why cut pretty white flowers (which are actually weeds) and place them in a blue vintage Ball jar and set it in a corner of the family room when I alone may notice it?

Well, besides the fact that we should have Beauty around us even if we live alone... creating and doing instead of sitting and grumbling are a form of spiritual warfare.  I know how I tend to draw energy from an inner Source (that being God working within!) to do that which he is calling me to accomplish.

He is not asking me to move to deepest darkest Africa or the slums of a major world city to preach the Gospel and take care of the poor.  He certainly is not telling me I must run a marathon, turn the entire back yard into a garden, or even become a chef as I once wanted to do.  He is not asking me to do the impossible given chronic illness and circumstances.

However, He is not letting me just sit down and watch TV and have a pity party.  Not the One who is always teaching me and encouraging me and wanting me to draw outside the lines.  No, He breaks through the emotional gloom and cloudy thinking to give me ideas... creative ideas... longings for Beauty and knowledge and the realization that His mercies are new every morning.

I have come to realize that He never wants me to stop growing and He gently nudges me to do more than I think I can.  Actually, more that I can without His help.  Like going on the trip to Williamsburg when I didn't know how I would have enough energy (both hubby and I almost declined the offer).  How many wonderful memories I would lack if I hadn't said yes and depended on the One Who Created Me to accomplish everything from planning to packing to participating.

I know as I write down a new recipe to try, get all the dishes ready for a nice dinner or tea time with friends, attend a cooking class to learn more, take pictures of tea time pretties to attempt at home, plant my small garden, pull out my sewing machine to try something new, etc... it is all done in FAITH that the One who has given those desires to create this year will also provide the wisdom and strength to do so.

When you decide you will not fear or doubt but you will do... that you will follow the Godly desires He places within you for beauty and creativity and order and family and friends... then from your home you have shed light into the darkness of an imperfect world.


Cheri said...

Brenda, I can relate to the 'why bother' sentiment. It is just the two of us, we are a thousand miles away from our kids, grands, and friends....

But I have recently thought back to our early marriage. I 'bothered' back then when it was just the two of us.

Your post gave me the motivation I need to get out the box of fall decorations and place them on a freshly polished table.


em said...

Isn't the trick, when you live with a chronic illness, to decide if a trip, or having guests or sometimes just getting out of bed, is worth the discomfort that always follows.

I don't think that not "creating and doing" means "sitting and grumbling" or having a pity party. Even when you don't have the energy to tidy up and beautify your home, you can have beautiful thoughts. There are always happy memories to dwell on and maybe you're well enough to look at beautiful pictures in a book.
I too think that it's nice to be surrounded by beautiful things in a nice and tidy home - but I know for sure that it isn't necessary.

I'm so happy to hear that you were able to go to Williamsburg - and that you had such a lovely time.

Heather said...


That was very timely and lots of food for thought. I appreciate your perspective.

I have been struggling with some major health issues and to be honest, I have been having a major pity party.

Thank you for sharing!

Rebecca said...

Oh, Brenda...this post "hit the spot"! Your last paragraph sums it all up.

You are SO right. Thanks for putting these timeless and eternal truths into your own words.

Vee said...

Beautifully shared from the heart. I sometimes find myself feeling exasperated with those who wonder "why bother." When I check in on that more closely, I realize that it is a lack of empathy on my part. I just haven't been "there" yet and I don't want to go. It must give you great pleasure to know that your writing about these things brings pictures to your readers' minds without their needing a literal picture to see. And that stirs us up, it does me anyway. Now I want to get my aqua bottle out and find some white flowers for the table. And the song that such things puts in my heart will sing for days. Just as I hear the song your heart is singing. We create, after all, because we are like our Father. Have a cozy, restful, beautiful afternoon!

Mrs.Rabe said...

Oh, yes! I love to create beauty in my home and outside my home. I sometimes feel like I am too busy, but I make the time, and drag my kids into it with me more and more!

You are right about how it makes us feel even if no one else notices!

Beautiful post once again!


Anonymous said...

I had a health scare this week and am coming out of it by the grace of God. It is another way to get a quick new perspective! :) Yes just the two of us now too and like Cheri said, we sure did the little extras when there was just the two of us before the kids came along and did not think a thing about it so why not now. Even though now we are older and achier and on a different side of life. When we do though summon up the strength and determination to do the things to brighten our homes it does create motivation to do a bit more when we can and brings a lightness to our soul. We do so many many things only we know we do around our homes and for others. Well we think we are the only ones to know! :) This post really was where I was at this week too. Thank you for printing it and making us see we are all in this same life boat. Sarah

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Brenda.

I have read your blog for years and this is why you are here, to give people like us, the motivation to keep going. Praise the Lord.

Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

A lovely post, Brenda. Surely if we are made in His Likeness we are meant to create and make things beautiful in some way or another. I'm trying to do the "more than I think I can" myself, with those baby steps. I think I'm getting two new knees soon, or so I hope!

Everyone's experience is going to be different with this, of course. I think Margaretha had a good point too.

Anonymous said...

Brenda, thanks for the encouragement. It's when we least feel like it that we most need to take the time, even if it just for both of you.

I lost my husband in a car accident last year and will be moving into the future on my own (even though I have loving children & family).

One day at a time - but also encouraged by the simple beautiful things that our Lord provides for us.

I picked my FIRST sweetpea of Spring today - it's on my desk as I work and makes me smile (and I take regular sniffs - it's a wonder it has ANY scent left).

Stay strong & thanks for the regular blogging - I'm a regular visitor. Isabel (South Africa).

Kicki said...

Since I hardly can do anything on my own, and can't afford to hire people to work for me, I have to be content with looking out of the window and think happy thoughts, or read. Thanks to Margareta I've learnt to be happy even if the bed is not made and the dustballs are growing. It is possible you know, and I don't even envy people who are well enough to clean the house or take a shower on they're own. Right now I'm looking at children who plays outside my window under a beautiful maple that is turning red, and I think of my own happy childhood.