Thursday, September 25, 2008

Go Under the Mercy

Fall is beginning to chill the air, and bring a cheery red to leaves & berries.

Winds that nip at your face & hands have started to softly blow.

People are wearing their scarves & coats, football sweatshirts, & hats.

I have started drinking larger amounts of tea, and our hot-beverage drawer is losing stock at a busy pace.

Fall. Don't you love it?

Well, I'm extremely excited-- Katie and I are going to a retreat tomorrow! :) Eric & Leslie Ludy, two of our favorite authors, offer a "Set Apart Girl Weekend", where we get to fellowship with other like-minded girls, spend time in the Word of God, hear great teaching, be encouraged, & encourage one another! I've been looking forward to this time so much, & am very thankful that Leslie Ludy & her family are willing to open their home to young women they haven't even met before! What a great example of godly hospitality & servanthood.
We'll be flying out tomorrow, so please pray that we would have a safe flight, & be a blessing in Colorado!

The Ludy's hospitality reminds me of another Christian couple I read about this spring. Both of their stories have inspired me to have a Christ-centered marriage that will not weaken, but grow stronger & sweeter with time. They have also encouraged me to live a life wholly dedicated to the Lord, no matter the consequences.

This other couple is Sheldon & Jean Vanauken. Sheldon Vanauken wrote A Severe Mercy, a biography & story of their lives together. It is one of the best books I have ever read! I would encourage you to read it!

Here is an excerpt that I was thinking about today. Sheldon & Jean are attending Oxford university together. They are brand-new Christians & close friends with CS Lewis. Their home, known as "The Studio", was a center of Christian hospitality. Here is Sheldon's account of it:

"Because the Studio was central and, incidentally, on the way from North Oxford to St. Ebbe's, and because, perhaps, of its extraordinary atmosphere, compounded of the gas-lit cobbled lane outside and the warm upper room, with its skylight black with rain and its cheerful fire (except when the wind was wrong, of course), it became the centre of a lively life in Christ for a great many people.

"We soon accepted that if we hoped to get any work done we must do it in the Bodleian Library; and even then we often came home to find that friends had arrived and were already deep into some absorbing discussion.

"The diary indicates that in one week, taken at random, twenty-four people came, six of them twice, so there were thirty times that the brass knocker sounded and one of us leaped down the narrow stairway. For nearly two years, except when we went up to London to see plays or went visiting or travelling, there was hardly a day or night that people did not come, both Christians and non-Christians (those who said they weren't); and there were literally hundreds of absorbing conversations... all our friends and acquaintances, Christian or otherwise, came by, sometimes bringing others-- sometimes only for a few minutes, sometimes for hours.

"There were conversations upon almost every imaginable subject, yet sooner or later, it seemed, that talk would drift round to ultimate things and Christianity. Never was there such talk as there was at St. Udio's, as we sometimes called it, talk gay and serious by turns, or both at once. No one who was a part of that scene has ever quite forgotten it.

"And as a background, accepted, hardly noticed, yet a part of the texture of the hours, there were the bells of Oxford, ringing across the night. Hardly less part of it was the rain on the skylight. And, as in Julian's poem, the goodbyes: going down the narrow staircase and out into Pusey Lane to speed the departing friend with 'Goodbye, goodnight. Go under the Mercy.' The phrase comes from Charles Williams, and we all used it-- indeed, still use it, some of us, after the years.

"There would be a halo round the gas lamp in the lane, and the slight English rain like a mist, and the cobblestones of the lane would be glistening. 'Goodnight. Go under the Mercy.' And the friend would say perhaps: 'Sleep under the Protection. Goodnight.' And then the sound of heels marching away into the Oxford night and perhaps bells marking the midnight."

An opportunity to serve & to share, to encourage & admonish, to evangelize & teach by example-- hospitality is one of the ways God lets us reach into another person's life, and pour ourselves out in servanthood in order to bless them.

Go under the Mercy!


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Product Spotlight

A sweet, flavorful, cozy cup of tea-- is there anything more delightful?

I love tea. The rich, earthy flavors that tingle in your mouth & the warmth that sends tingles up & down your spine...

So our product spotlight is our SCRIPTURE TEA!

We have so many flavors of tea to choose from... it's difficult to choose one... but I'll pick a customer's favorite: Chai Green.

This tea has an extra kick of spice blended in with the soothing fruity flavor of green tea. It tastes sooo good.

I love to pull out one of my "Feed on the Word" mugs every morning, & read the Scripture as I put in a "Scripture Tea" tea bag & let it steep. The flavors of the tea (along with the caffeine, that extra little bonus) help me wake up & greet the day.

Tea is such an amazing beverage. It has an extensive history, a wide variety of flavors, and is, as someone recently told me, the most popular drink in the world. It was a necessity in every Victorian household 100 years ago, & continues to be a necessity in MINE. In addition, I feel so Elizabethan when I sip my tea from an antique tea cup. I've always wondered whether my love of tea is influenced by my love of Austen, OR if my love of Austen is influenced by my love of tea. When I'm drinking Earl Grey, I can almost imagine Mr. Darcy sitting across from me. *sigh* (this is Gracy, of course)

My friends & family share this love. They love our Scripture Tea, as well. If you'd like to order this product, click here and you can get some for your own pantry! Enjoy!

-Gayle & Gracy

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Puddles of Heaven

Good morning!

Our family has been enjoying a busy month as my sister goes back to college, my brothers start homeschool, I start working, & my parents rush us around everywhere!

Home: there is something comforting even in the word! It embodies peace, joy, happiness, comfort, & support. Throughout my childhood, I have always thought that, no matter where I go, or what I do, I would always have my home to come back to.

The funny thing is that I was never really referencing to my actual house-- although I love our huge brick 1930s home with the even larger backyard, complete with horse tire swings & lots of pets-- it was my family, and the environment they bring with them, that I was comforted by.

People wonder where this "big happy family" feeling comes from. I used to wonder, too. What bonds us together so tightly, & in such a way that wherever we go, we would always have "home" if we were together?

When I was younger, I read a book that opened my eyes to what "home" is. "Millie Keith", a fictional character in Martha Finley's excellent 'A Life of Faith' series, grows up to be a missionary, & is planning on traveling to Columbia with her husband. While at the family's home, before they leave, Millie & her husband have this conversation with a group of friends:

"If His (God's) will were done, would earth be like Heaven?" Charles asked.

"I believe little bits of it already are," Frank said. "Wealthy Stanhope's (Millie's aunt) house has been a sanctuary for me these last few years," he said. "It is as if Heaven has leaked, and a puddle of it exists in her home. God has wiped the tears from my eyes there, though he has used Wealthy Stanhope's handkerchiefs to do it. Keith Hill seems to be like that as well-- a city of refuge in a broken world."

A "puddle of heaven"-- that is what a godly Christian home should be! We are to be "a city of refuge in a broken world", a place where comfort & rest for the soul, as well as for the body, can be found. When we pray that "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven", we can include our homes in this prayer-- that others will be served, encouraged & built up in Christ through our hospitality.

Another story, this one a real-life example from history, illustrates this concept as well.

William Wilberforce, one of my heros, walked out hospitality his entire life. Despite a schedule that astounded other members of parliament & his fellow activists, he lived in a constant combination of peace (from the Lord) & chaos (the Wilberforce home, full of activists, politicians, children, servants, & pets, was an amazing myriad of frenzy & joy) that delighted & amused his guests.

Wilberforce, full of energy, happiness, wisdom, & ADD, loved entertaining & pouring out his home & heart to others. Eric Metaxas, a Wilberforce biographer, records that "People from every station in life, friends and strangers both, could stop for a visit, and did. Pollock (another biographer) tells us that "Kensington Gore became a sort of clearinghouse for British philanthropy and moral reformation, with Wilberforce ready to encourage or advise, or to rebuke..." People would just gather, looking for something from the great man: his blessing on a venture or his signature or his willingness to lend his name to a committee."

Here was a puddle of heaven, albeit a rather chaotic one, that was constantly pouring out blessings on others. But was it the house? No-- it was William Wilberforce, & his family, that created this puddle wherever they went.

I would encourage you to ask the Lord to make your home a "puddle of heaven", & for it to reflect His image more each day. Believe me-- not only will your guests feel refreshed-- your family will, as well. Your children will grow up with the reassurance that, no matter what happens, they can turn to this puddle
for comfort & refreshment whenever they may need it.

May you have a blessed week, filled with the peace & love of our precious Lord & Savior Jesus Christ!