For some time now, I have felt that I need to change the name of my blog. From the beginning it has been called "Tea, Friendship and the Fine Art of Card Making." These are three things I get lots of satisfaction from and continue to enjoy, but are not what is of greatest importance in my life. That would be my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. So this has caused me to ponder in the past few weeks what I should re-name my BlogSpot. I have found myself focusing on God's grace more and more and how much I need and want it daily in my life. So true of all of us, isn't it! I couldn't quite think of just the right name until this morning (I'm sure it was a God thing) and then it suddenly came to me - simple but powerful - Grace For Today! Yes, this "fit" perfectly. We live in and by the grace of God moment by moment and day by day. So welcome to my old but new blog with a new title and a new focus! Yes, I'll still be talking about tea, friendship and the fun of making handmade cards, but my blog has really always been about Him which means it's always been about His grace in my life.
Welcome to Grace For Today ~ God always has it in abundant supply! ♥
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
I just finished reading in the book of Isaiah, Chapter 61 focusing on verse 3: "...and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor." I am very familiar with this chapter and verse, but today was one of those times when reading and meditating on God's Word that this verse just leaped out at me. I think it's because I am still having hard days due to my mom's death almost 4 months ago. Some days I seem to be fine and other days I still mourn losing her. This is not to say that I don't know where she is now and rejoice that she is happy and free and joyous in the presence of the Lord she served for so many years; just that it is hard not having her here anymore.
Aren't you thankful that the Lord gives us a crown of beauty for ashes? I'm glad for the oil of joy that replaces and will continue to replace my mourning. And I REALLY like wearing a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair ~ thank You, Jesus! As I was reading this verse, in my mind I was putting on this garment and praising our Lord. The more I praised Him the more I felt His loving and healing touch. Did I feel like praising? No! But we do not go by our feelings, we do as the Bible tells us to do and I was told in God's Word to put on the garment of praise this morning. I plan on wearing it all day today and with His help I'll put it on again in the morning.
I like the idea of being an Oak of Righteousness. My righteousness is through my Lord and I want to be as solid as an oak tree. And just imagine being a planting of the Lord "for the display of His splendor." How incredibly awesome is that! I pray that every day, in every way, in every person I encounter and in every conversation I have, I will be a conduit for God's splendor. Lord, let it be.
In case you don't know, I really enjoy shopping at Trader Joe's. Today I went with the hope that their seasonal specialty teas would be available. I wasn't disappointed! In addition to the Vanilla & Cinnamon Tea and the Candy Cane Green Tea, I was delighted to find 3 new flavors (new to me, in any case!) in a beautiful "Old World" designed tin, aptly named "Trader Joe's Cultivated Tea Collection for the Armchair Traveler." The name alone would be enough to make me want to purchase it! The tin contains Rooibos from South Africa, Sencha Green Tea from Japan and Assam Black Tea from India. Hope you'll soon be stopping by for a virtual cup of tea and a long chat! Here are pictures of the colorful and artistic containers:
I am always interested in what others' Christmas traditions are; so with that in mind, how about sharing what your family does through the years at Christmas? And not just the day itself, but the days leading up to Christmas. Do you put your tree up early? We put ours up the first weekend in December. The year I retired we bought a beautiful artificial tree. I had always wanted a big tree so we bought the biggest one they had at the store! I love looking at it in early morning, before the sun rises and it is shining in the darkness. It is so beautiful and sparkly with all the pretty decorations and especially the bright lights glowing; they represent the one and only Light of the World to me.
I think of Christmases past as a child and the anticipation of opening my gifts. It all comes back in a rush - our children's Christmas plays at church, parties at school, listening for Santa on the roof (yes I did!), and most of all telling Jesus Happy Birthday from my heart. I still wish Him a Happy Birthday and thank Him for the best gift of all - my salvation. As an adult, I love to decorate the Christmas tree, just as I enjoyed helping as a child. Most of my ornaments have been ones we've had for years. Many were made by my mother-in-law. She gives me a new ornament every year. That's a tradition I love and look forward to. (She also gives me a box of Brach's Chocolate Covered Cherries, too!). And for the past 10 years or so, I buy myself a new ornament when I'm out Christmas shopping.
I like to sip hot chocolate or tea while I'm decorating the tree and listen to Christmas carols. It really puts me in the Christmas spirit! Craig always does the lights for the windows and the tree and leaves the decorating to me. Some years I volunteer to help decorate our church campuses. That is fun and we all share lunch together.
Now let's hear from you - what are some of the things you like to do during this Holy Season?
P.S. I'm adopting this warm, cozy house (pictured in the above graphic) for Christmas so that all of us can meet and share time together, enjoy lots of good food and treats, take a walk in the crisp, cold air and maybe even have a snowball fight! We're really not too old for that, are we? ☺
Has the following happened to you? I certainly has to me! I can remember a time a few years before I retired when I was determined to do "more, more, more" at Christmas. It left me so exhausted that my Christmas wasn't as enjoyable as it should have been. After that, I vowed that I would not let the season "rush" me but would spend extra time with the Lord and in just enjoying Christmas. Oh, every now and then, I do start to slip back but thankfully the Lord catches me in time!
It doesn't have to be about Christmas, Friends. Whatever you're doing, even if it's for the Lord and it's wearing you out, please pause and say a prayer and ask the Lord what He would have you do. We can so easily get caught up in our busy lives and in service to the Lord that we lose our closeness and intimacy with Jesus; not to mention being on an emotional roller coaster! I am speaking to myself as well as to you. Anyway, the excerpt from the book below says it better than I can, so hoping you'll take time today to gain strength from God's Holy Word, spending time with Him in prayer and getting that much needed spiritual as well as physical rest.
Women Living Well
"It is in our slow moments when we best connect with our Creator...
When we do not slow down and rest, we miss God's voice. We tend to feel overwhelmed, irritable, frustrated, and unappreciated. Emotionally we can lose our way. We have been deceived into thinking that more is better: more food, more clothes, more toys, and more decorations.
"More, more, more" falsely promises to make us happy. Even when we are pursuing something noble, such as serving others or volunteering, the overactivity threatens to bring chaos to our homes and families."
My copper kettle
and signals that ... it is time for tea. The fine china cups are filled with the brew. There's lemon and sugar and sweet cream, too. But, best of all there's friendship, between you and me. As we lovingly share our afternoon tea.