Devotions and Recipes

Treasures from Tea and a Fall Calendar
“What happened to July?”

A friend and I have been trying to get together for months and were determined we would see each other for lunch in July. Life brought interruptions and summer now moves into a new month. We’re aiming for August.

September will be here before we know it, and commitments will flood our fall calendars. We plan for the important, but the urgent and the necessary take over.

Maybe August is a good time to think about the potential fall brings. Thinking about potential, moved me to a tea memory. Stay with me.

I have several boxes of tea in my cupboard. One is particularly special. My “Juliette” tea is also known as a performance or display tea. If you opened the box, you’d see hand-sewn tea leaves formed into a ball. When you place the ball in a glass pot or jar, and pour hot water over it, the ball will slowly unfurl, eventually revealing a delicate hidden flower within the expanding leaves.

It held lessons for me. Hidden potential. Hidden opportunities. Hidden value. Tea leaves secretly held a beautiful flower.

August is a good time to think about fall plans and our calendar. Perhaps it’s a good time to look at last year’s calendar and pray about what needs to be adjusted, changed, eliminated, or added.  Is there a flower of two hidden and untapped potential and opportunities waiting to be unfurled?

Is today a good day to steep and find treasures? You may even hear yourself say, just like I did when I saw the flower appear.  “This is beautiful. I had no idea it was there.”

Marilyn Nutter

How Are You Still?

Be still and know that I am God.Psalm 46:10 (NIV)

During my career as a speech-language pathologist, I had the privilege of teaching deaf college students. One of their challenges was the use of idioms. What do we mean when we say, “He had to face the music,” or He ate like a horse.”? Using literal sign language to communicate or reading the surface words, don’t come close to the meaning of the idiomatic expression.

Another challenge was multiple meanings of the same word. Think about “nails, bark, fly, squash, or company.” What comes to mind?

Then there are words with different spelling, but have the same pronunciation, such as “lead and led”. Are you smiling, or thinking how difficult it is to master English as a second language?

I have a plaque in my sunroom that reads, “Be still and know that I am God”, one of my favorite verses of hope and confidence.

This morning I pondered the word “still” and its multiple meanings. Calm, tranquil, no motion, and quiet are what generally come to mind. Another definition is something remains true despite what has happened: “Westill had a good time, even though the service was slow.” Or another meaning implies continued action: “I was still drying my hair when friends came.” Language is complicated.

How am I “still” if I live out Psalm 46:10?

I am still when I rest, ponder, and peacefully wait on God. His presence allows me to be still and not restless. But I find stillness has motion: there is still hope, there is still purpose, there is still joy, in struggles and trials.

I’m not sure where you are today. In a quiet lingering presence of waiting as you are still or in anticipating something beyond what you see, knowing there is still ______.

Both are true because of the last part of the verse: and know that I am God.

Wearing Glasses: A Choice

Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you;  your right hand upholds me.Psalm 63: 7-8 NIV

     Scanning our family photo, I realized many of us wore glasses. The styles and frames were different, but the objective was the same: each of us wanted to see clearly. Focus and clarity were our goals for distance and reading close-up. Without our glasses, we would stumble over objects, and not be able to drive or read.

Focus and clarity are our goals in choices, too.  Some decisions are easy and have little consequence: shall I have chicken salad or a turkey sandwich for lunch? Others are significant: shall we move or stay put?

I’ve recently studied Bible characters who were confronted with hard choices. Their decisions had outcomes-personally and for generations to come. A different decision would have had major consequences. Reliance on their human reasoning over faith and God’s wisdom, would have been disastrous.

David, a shepherd boy, when confronted with the opportunity to kill Goliath, chose to rely on God’s strength to complete his mission, rather than go in his weaknesses. His obedience prepared him to be anointed king. (1 Samuel 17)

Ruth, a young widow, chose loyalty to her widowed mother-in-law, and moved to a foreign land. She could have remained in her familiar homeland, but chose otherwise. Boaz was waiting for her. They married and had a son who was in the line of King David and Jesus. (Ruth

Mary faced the possibility of social stigma as a pregnant unwed teen but pursued obedience with joy. She bore the Messiah. (Luke 1: 26-38)

The widow of Zaparphath, chose to comply with Elijah’s request for a meal despite her poverty. She witnessed a miracle of food for two years.  (1 Kings 17: 7-16)

Each of these people chose to look through the eyes of God’s strength rather than their personal weaknesses.

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