Saturday, December 20, 2014

Safe-TEA, Securi-TEA, Sereni-TEA : a peaceful blend

May those who love you be secure. May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels. For the sake of my family and friends, I will say, “Peace be within you. For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your prosperity. (Psalm 122: 6-9, NIV)

When Seth Stevens taught in August on this "song of assent," he emphasized the Jews were walking up to Jerusalem to the house of the Lord. Each year when they made their trek together the goal was the same---to draw closer to the Lord.

Four months later, I'm reminded, especially through church services and Christmas carols, to be grateful for that gift which I have received. Immanuel. God with us. God with me. It's a spiritually internal (now) / eternal (one day in the future) experience. Peace.

"I don't have to let pain and hurt form my theology." (B. Liles, 12/7/14)

He is my peace. 
It's the gift I want to give to everyone this Christmas. Everyone needs it and His "God size" fits all---His peace forever! 
The Lord be with you. Peace be with you. And also with you. (Episcopal liturgy/Book of Common Prayer)
He is with me. His peace is available for me. His peace is available for all.

He provided the perfect gift----His Son.
Cuppa peace all wrapped up for the season---just serve yourself
For those who receive Him, we are served a deep abiding peace .......a cuppa PEACE blended with safe-TEA,  securit-TEA and sereni-TEA that warms us within our hearts!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Connectivi-TEA : a cuppa prayer

Pray without ceasing. (1 Thessalonians 5:17, KJV)

Prayer connects us to God. 

Continual prayer is bookended by an attitude of constant joy (v.16) and a heart of thanksgiving regardless of circumstances. (v.18)
Prayer connects us to each other.

The apostle Paul modeled praying for others and reciprocal prayer. Pray also for me,” Paul states in Ephesians 6:19. "Pray for us..." Colossians 4:3. 
In 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 he writes, “We constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith."

Connectivity is the beauty of prayer. Prayer knows no exclusions; it's an equal-opportunity method, available to all in the household of faith. Every believer, rich or poor, young or old, famous or unknown, can move the hand of God to bring about His purposes for time and eternity. As we connect to God and to one another, through prayer, we can make an eternal difference.
Prayer is how connection gets nurtured and developed.

Prayerful connection---it doesn't even require an APP. It doesn't require kneeling. Prayer can be done standing. Prayer can be done with eyes open or closed. One's modus operandi of praying can vary. 
Prayer is simply heartfelt conversation with God.

Breath prayers, arrow prayers, group prayers, individual prayers. All prayers of faith soar heavenward connecting us to God and to our fellow prayer warriors.

Sip a cuppa connectivi-TEA as you "pray without ceasing!"

*The cup pictured is a connector to my praying friend Margie Hornor, who taught me the power of breath prayers. Exhaling in God's Presence.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

humani-TEA & divini-TEA : a Christmas blend

......Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-8, NASB)

Jesus, who existed in the form of God....Being made in the likeness of men....." And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,....full of grace and truth (John 1:14)...humbled Himself to death on a cross.....God exalted Him that we might confess Him as Lord.
Christmas in a cuppa---humani-TEA and divini-TEA.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Holiday Gra-TEA-tude

……give thanks to him and praise his name. (Psalm 100:4, NIV)

Amy Grant’s rendition of “Joy to the World” is streaming as I type. How easy it seems to be thankful when one's tuned in to the "music of the soul." 
To me, Christmas carols are just that---soulful music of the wonder of the nativity.
G. K. Chesterton said, "Gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder."
Certainly the wonder of the season adds to my joy…..”And wonders of His love, and wonders of His love and wonders and wonders of His love.” 

A cuppa graTEA-tude rich with the wonder of the Christmas season is a perfect way to celebrate the Lord’s birth.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Liber-TEA : a 5th cuppa

All right then, the Lord himself will choose the sign—a child shall be born to a virgin! And she shall call him Emmanuel (meaning, “God is with us”). (Isaiah 7:14, TLB)

Liber-TEA must be a cuppa I relish because this year alone I've blogged 5 times about liberty in Christ. Free indeed. (John 8:36)
"Lost in Wonder, Love and Praise,"  Sunday's 26th annual Christmas Festival of Lessons and Carols* at First Evan, included many traditional carols. But....."Free Us, Emmanuel" a carol I had never heard...might have been one of my favorites. The rhythm. The melody. The lyrics.
Lyrics that spoke to my heart.
Free us from the heavy chains of our sins and our sadness and body of pain.
Free us, O Emmanuel, from the sorrow and suffering of where we dwell.
"Free Us, Emmanuel!" served me a reminder cuppa liber-TEA---showing God is with me.

*Praises for the beautiful program cover, an EMYO original.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Liber-TEA : a needful cuppa

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, ...... (Proverbs 13:12, ESV)

Hope in mankind is flighty at best. Expectations often disappoint. Too many unfulfilled expectations can also make the heart sick. My friend Carolyn W. says, "expectations are premeditated resentment." We just set ourselves up. 
All relationships tend to involve expectations. It's how one manages those expectations that dictates the quality of one's life. False hope and unrealistic expectations are the RX for disappointment.
Daughter Molly and I discussed many such weighty topics yesterday during the intermission at Hattieloo's "If Scrooge was a Brother" production. The various trials of friends, our own fears and anxieties---the woes of the world and the woes of our own little world. Not exactly theater conversation but heartfelt reflection all the same.

There tends to be expectations of perfection in life.  Even expectations of people----which one probably needs to let go of---or at least "manage" correctly. When one sets perfection as a goal---that is mismanagement and negative feelings are the result. Anger and sadness emerge from the one who has SET the expectations. On the other hand, the emotions of anxiety and shame can result in the one who is trying to meet those unrealistic expectations of the other person, be it boss or spouse or parent.

Years ago, son Josh, listened to NPR's "Prairie Home Companion." Lake Wobegon the fictional town of Garrison Keiller, "where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average."

To me, the name itself rings of WOES BE GONE!! That's the only way all those so -called perfect people could exist---in fiction! In reality, one needs freedom from dependence on man and transfer that dependence to God.

The way to sip from a cuppa liber-TEA is to align our desires and hopes with the Lord's will and let go of unrealistic expectations---because perfection only resides with Him....or possibly at Lake Wobegon.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

SABBATH SNAPSHOT : Anonymi-TEA a delightful cuppa Generosi-TEA

In September 2011, I began what became a year of anonymous gift giving. Seeking the "gift" that the Lord would have me give each day became a real lesson of both trust and delight for me. The anonymity of the giving was part and parcel of the delight. Having that in my background, I easily understood the premise for this book, which is based on a true story.

My "pay it forward" connection, along with this being the 1st of the 12 days of Christmas, seemed like the perfect day for a book review of The 13th Gift, a "Pay it Forward" type Joanne Huis Smith.
Following the tragic loss of her husband, a now single mom tries to provide some semblance of the joy of Christmas for her children. When gifts start appearing on her doorstep, her shattered world seemed to fade somewhat as she saw her children begin to thaw. What she couldn't fathom was "the identity of the giver." Once she even risked breaking into a car to see a label on the first gift in order to narrow the search for this "true friend giver."

"Thanks to our true friends, Momma Bear is back. My gusto for Christmas might not be the same, but my kids will know they're not on their own." (p. 98) 

True friends gave us kindness, unsolicited, but desperately needed ...and had broken the hold that grief had on us." (p.188)

A great reminder for all of us---we all possess the ability to give. More than money, one just needs a kind and compassionate heart to share---in this instance, a legacy of generosity was "handed down."

Even the acknowledgements included a "wrapped" gift. Wrapped in words of inspiration. Thirteen years for a 13th gift.

"Finally, I send out a prayer of hope and gratitude for gift givers everywhere. Your generosity of spirit fuels us all forward. (p. 204)

Saturday, December 13, 2014


For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory. (Deuteronomy 20:4, NASB)

I know placing "tea" in the middle of victory is a bit of a stretch----but I so needed a cuppa vic-TEA-ry today so I decided to s-t-r-e-t-c-h it to suit my purposes.
Recently an “invisible” enemy has tried to conquer more areas of my mind. Captivity of thoughts. A real tug-of-war. I need God to go to the frontlines for me.

Today’s Edges of His Ways devotional helped me stay the course reminding me that I need to remain constant and draw my battle lines. I know where the victory lies----triumph in Christ. (2 Corinthians 2:14)
Regardless of clamoring thoughts, possibility of misery, injustices or pain, I, with God’s help can be more than a conqueror.
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57)

Knowing the outcome, makes my cuppa vic-TEA-ry quite tasty!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Personali-TEA : NOT an individual cuppa

That they may be one, even as we are one. 
(John 17:22, KJV)

At our house, in the “kid raising” years, personalities were as unique and diverse as the number in our household. But….that’s the way personalities are. Yet, over the years they have changed for each of us. Some traits seem very similar---along the Liles/Adams bloodline characteristic. Others have emerged with maturity.

Praises for kindness, a trait I see in each of my ”kids,” though it certainly was not learned from me. I was the disciplinarian. I still seem to struggle with kindness---I want things done the right way….at the right time…for the right reason. This tenet needs to be tempered with kindness. So….I pray.

And….I open today’s entry of My Utmost for His Highest. Oswald Chambers delineates the difference between individuality (all elbows, which separates and isolates, 12/11) and personality which, when combined with love or the Spirit of God, transforms.

As we give up ourselves to God, “Love is the overflowing result of one person in true fellowship with another.” (Chambers, 12/12)
Enough said.

Tea with Thee time served me a cuppa “We are one” personali-TEA, to savor throughout my day.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Perplexi-TEAs of Life

There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves,
(Luke 21:25, NASB)

Dismay among nations. Dismay everywhere. The words of Luke 21:25 sound like our nightly news segments. Such dismay can have one asking, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”
Such events could trouble one’s soul. But God, in His Word has shown that He was---He is---and evermore He shall be.

"He is God and there is none like Him declaring the end from the beginning
and from ancient times things not yet done." (Isaiah 46:9)
Nothing takes Him by surprise. He is not perplexed. I find comfort in that truth when I have questions that "seem" to have no reasonable answer.

“In all my perplexities and distresses, the Bible has never failed to give me light and strength.” (Robert E. Lee)

I don’t know the answer but….I know the One who is the answer.    
Such knowledge makes a cuppa perplexi-TEA a lot easier to swallow.