Sunday, August 26, 2012
Sunday Afternoon Tea
I left us last week with society falling apart and the need to find refuge in chaos. I'm glad I had another week to ponder it all... even if the pondering was done eating crackers and nibbling candied ginger. Those were some powerful antibiotics.
The extra time helped me ponder the two ways I choose to live in these turbulent times... one with roots (creating places of peace) and the other with wings (living in the culture). This week I'll talk about roots, next week will be all about wings.
Sip your coffee or tea along with me while I ponder out loud (iced as it is quite hot outside)... prop your feet up as this may take awhile... it is a long Sunday Tea.
Roots... Peaceful places at home
My desire is to create a refuge from the storm, a home where I can grow the deep roots of faith.... a refuge holding me firmly against the hurricane force winds of change and adversity.
I have come to realize through the years it is essential to my walk with God and my ability to function in this world that I have a Place of Restoration. Not only for me but for my family.
While I thoroughly enjoy creating Art with the canvas of an entire home these days, it hasn't always been that way. This week's ponderings reminded me of the years Stephanie was very young and I worked full time.
We lived in a small apartment so space and time were limited but I created a small sanctuary on the corner of my sofa. It was "Mom's Space"... much like the Lazy Boy was "Dad's Space" later. In that little corner... for years upon years... I would relax at the end of a long day with a soft pillow, a good book, or a favorite TV show.
Next to the sofa was a small bookshelf holding all my favorite authors and titles. To this day, a full bookshelf combining much loved books along with possibilities to-be-read-soon help me to feel at peace. :)
I have friends who created their oasis in a garden and others who transformed their bedroom into a place of refuge. There was a time when my favorite place of refuge was a bubble bath in a locked bathroom.
I shared about reading a story of a Pastor's wife whose home was very busy with people coming and going but she had created a small space in their finished attic where she had a comfy chair, a place for her Bible and beverage, and on an easel... beautiful artwork which brought peace just gazing at it when she carved time in the busy days.
While creating a refuge at home is by far the best thing to do, there were seasons of my life when I made a "home away from home" at an out-of-the-way table in a favorite restaurant or coffee shop. Sometimes a girl's got to do what she has to do to keep her sanity in this fallen of worlds. ;)
Roots - The kitchen and table as a refuge
When I no longer had the demands of a full time job, I felt peace against the storms by tying an apron around my waist and chopping and stirring and mixing and baking and thinking of the faces of my family as I set the table and served really good food (if I do say so myself).
When I am not feeling well, my favorite form of relaxation is still perusing much loved cookbooks (these days reverting to my five year old self and preferring pictures with the prose).
Creating good food was a form of service I could do for my family and (at the time) friends that we enjoyed sharing with around the table. I continue to enjoy setting a table and serving good food but it has changed through the years. For instance, when my husband's bipolar symptoms became worse it was better not to gather at the table. Thankfully, he is much better these days.
When Stephanie was quite young, we came to enjoy eating dinner by candlelight in the midst of Western Michigan's dark winters. It created an atmosphere of Beauty, and Peace, and I look good in the flicker of candlelight. Once Christopher was old enough to 1) blow them out, and 2) play with fire... we set aside that tradition. Now there are candles on the table once again but not because he left home.
I was thinking recently how times have changed as I was looking up an old recipe in my card file. We now have a plethora of celebrity chefs (and I do have those I love to watch and those I... do not) but there was a time the "celebrity cooks" were the mothers and grandmothers at church socials who were famous for the dishes they were always asked to bring.
Like one of my mother-in-law's friends who made such a delicious German chocolate cake that my husband tells me there were skirmishes in line to make certain they got a piece... in a Lutheran church! My sister's mother-in-law was famous for the homemade candy she gave as gifts each Christmas. My mother was known for her Kentucky fried chicken and her vegetable soup.
Perhaps it is time again to turn off The Food Channel for awhile and have dinner with your mother or grandmother... or the men in your life who are fabulous cooks. Family time instead of TV time... fellowship around the refuge of the table.
Peace in the midst of imperfect humans for food makes most people happy, at least while they are eating.
Roots... in memories made
The older I get, the more I understand the Old Testament need to "build altars" to remember the times God worked in their lives and the Hebraic need of Story. Memories bring either pain or peace and I have made a life long effort of choosing those bringing peace.
When my children were small, I had no idea how quickly time would pass but I do recall a season when I felt God was burning into my very soul the need to create good memories even in the midst of bad times. I wrote on a card the words, "These are the good old days" !
I placed it on our ever present bulletin board so I would remind myself each time I passed that we only travel this road once and that these are the "good old days" our children would remember. I think I succeeded at making good memories... never perfectly but good enough.
The years pass by so fast that we must budget for the memories which will become places of refuge in the storms of life. It doesn't have to be expensive. One of our best investments was a $20.00 State Park sticker when we lived in Michigan the second time. It allowed us to pack a picnic and enjoy God's Creation... wonderful memories with an extremely tight budget.
I have learned this in the years of financial drought... never hold back enjoying life and making memories due to fear. Of course, we are to be careful with our finances at all times but my friends... be frugal but not fearful.
Children do not become bitter because they went through difficult circumstances as a child. I have read numerous stories of children growing up in WWII Europe or the Great Depression in America where families grew even closer in adversity.
Children learn to handle adversity from their parents. If all they hear is complaining and doubt... that message will become the root of their adult life. But if they watch their parents go through adversity with trust that God is in control and a thankful attitude... that takes root in their heart for their entire life.
I am so glad we made the decision long ago to make memories, sometimes big events but mostly small. There are such fond memories of coffee out with my mother, hiking trails with my son, attending The Feast of the Harvest Moon with our dear friends Jim and Karen, weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, and years of Saturday morning breakfasts "out" as a family. Good times and wonderful memories as life passed at the speed of light!
Roots - Memories present
My recent favorite memories (roots today being built for the future) are of tea rooms, and cooking classes taken together at Colonial Williamsburg, and Brimfield, and Old Sturbridge Village, and meeting up with the Clarkson's at Stephanie's house and enjoying fun and fellowship with them and our family.
I will remember the late night talks when Christopher arrived home from his classes; the surprise calls to join him for lunch for "Indian", or "Chinese", or "sushi"; and just chatting as he called to "check in" when he lived nearer campus.
Of course, there is the recent memory of Mr. and Mrs. Christopher's wedding to tuck away in the part of my memory titled Weddings, joining Stephanie's and our own. While the wedding was exhausting, it was all worth it and the entire week will be remembered long after the exhaustion is forgotten.
We never stop having a need for roots, the planting and growing just happen to change over time. :)
Roots - Mean nothing without Him
You've heard me say this for six years so I can imagine the rolling of eyes and sighing but... Peace is a Person. I have found the only way to find peace in the storms of life is by spending time with He Who Created Me... reading the bible and lovely devotionals, talking to Him, and listening.
I recently spent nearly two hours rearranging the Playlist on the Itty Bitty Ipod. I wanted to play mostly praise music (especially the old hymns set to newer arrangements) that draw me closer to Him. I "set on the iTunes shelf" the more contemporary Christian music for awhile. Okay... I kept John Denver but I expect you knew I would. :)
I need to plug in to Praise more and more these days.
There is so much more one could share but I will leave it for another time. I am certain your cup is empty or watered down by the ice cubes by now. Next week... finding wings for becoming Salt and Light in the midst of a changing world.