Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Hopeful Tea

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." ~Romans 15:13

My friend, Hannah, had a dreamy expression on her face as she daintly sipped hot tea from her cup. It was an expression that is hard to find in most people, and yet one that came quite naturally to her... an expression that is quietly serene and yet boldly confident, seemingly naive and yet full of wisdom, deeply compassionate and yet bubbling over with delight. A Jesus sort of look... I thought, and then became a little self-conscious about starting into her eyes. I looked down at my own cup and took a sip, wondering if people ever see that expression on my face.

We talked about our jobs and the people we are investing in, books we love and Scripture we're studying, road trips and summer plans. We talked about how we love to do things that don't really have much financial security, but it doesn't bother us because we just ... love to do them. "People are always asking me what I'm gonna do with my life, and I say, 'I'm doing it!' I'm doing what God's given me to do right now, and that's all I need right now." She smiled and took another sip, and I knew...

Peace and Joy. That's what was in her expression! It was found there in her eyes and smile as a reflection of the work God's done in her heart. Peace and joy are things He develops through testing and teaching... we cannot receive them by simply memorizing a verse or hearing a testimony. Who can experience God's peace unless they have felt his presence and strength in the lonely and weak times? Who can live with the joy of the Lord unless they have turned to him in sorrow and pain and found comfort and healing?

I took another sip as well, as I pondered this revelation. I have experienced those things... In my life God has proven himself time and time again as faithful and good and trustworthy. And so I do trust in him. That trust doesn't stand alone, though. Because I trust him, I can live with hope for the future. He's never failed me or forgotten me so far, so what I have nothing to fear - he will continue to be with me, and his plans for me will continue to be good. Does that mean I have that same joy and peace? Surely it does! I feel it in my heart. But does it show on my face? Can people see the hope that I have? Does it overflow from me?

I asked her to refill my teacup, and as the chocolatey-earthly liquid poured from the pot to my cup, a prayer rose up in my heart: "Oh Lord, just as this cup is filled with a sweet refreshing tea, let my heart be so filled up with your joy and peace that it overflows to offer hope to others."

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." ~ Romans 15:13

Monday, May 10, 2010

For Hailey, the Comet

Tonight at dinner we had "something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue..." Old: a recipe my mom had from her grandmother, for a jello salad. It was interesting... involved cottage cheese, nuts, pineapple, mayonaise, and lemon and lime jello... talk about texture overload, but the flavor was pretty good. New: a recipe mom just found for peanut butter blondies... quite delicious! Borrowed: our beloved Hailey-girl, who is recovering amazingly from ill-timed mono, was able to stay for dinner after our awesome Bible study time together. She bravely tried all the experimental dishes. :) Blue: of course, my new robin-egg blue teapot was in view to complete the ensemble.

I'm dedicating this blog to dear Hailey, who is beginning to understand what it means to be a light. Even a small light can get people's attention... think of a candle or a firefly or a shooting star or a camera flash. It can attract people, drawing them in to find out what causes the light or where it leads. Living life daily to the glory of the Lord sparks that light - speaking truth with joy, serving with grace, lifting others up in love, making wise decisions with confidence and peace, being different in the best way possible because you know Who you belong to... And so, "let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."

Sunday, May 9, 2010

An Evening at the Cove

If you need some quiet time, peaceful and relaxing and restful in the best spiritual and emotional sense, you should go to the Cove. It revives the soul, from the gentle mountain breeze, to the lush scenery, to the wide open and clean spaces, to the sincerely kind and helpful and loving people on every corner who are eager to serve you, to the delicious gormet meals, to the refreshing coffee and tea service in the hall, to the number of prayer and study rooms, to the marvelously resourceful bookstore... from the moment you drive onto the campus, there is a stillness and delight that is hard to match anywhere else.

We visited the Cove for the first time yesterday, and what a treat it was! It was a great thing to do together, because Mom and Dad even enjoyed themselves. Andrew Peterson was in concert, which is an experience everyone should have. We had a couple hours when we arrived to walk around, have tea, browse the bookstore (I bought another Amy Carmichael book), and overhear the band warming up in the auditorium. Then there was a buffett-style gormet dinner, and Kevan and I each had our own helper who carried and filled our plates for us. After an amazing meal and key lime pie, Kevan went over and chatted with the guys in the band about music and books and the questionable life force of chocolate.

Then we got to sit in the very front row in the auditorium for the concert, which, again, is something everyone should experience. Andrew Peterson is so down-to-earth, and yet brilliantly prolific, too. I loved hearing the stories behind his songs - usually about his family or friends, and always about the things God is teaching him - and then hearing the songs as though for the first time. After the show, I got to say hello to the band and tell Andrew Peterson that his last book, "North! Or Be Eaten," had made me cry... and he said thank you, that that was a great compliment. I understood that. As a writer, I would love to write something some day that is so powerful that it makes readers cry. I highly anticipate his next book, maybe even more than his next album. Anyway, Kevan got a picture with the band and did some more casual chatting and then we headed out for our long drive home.

What an enchanted evening! I highly recommend the Cove, I recommend The Wingfeather Saga, and as I said before, I recommend an Andrew Peterson concert.