My family has been sick-Mom, Dad, my niece, and me. I’ve been trying to get the adults to drink some hot tea to help us feel better. I found this tea in the local supermarket and decided to give it a try when I saw that they donate 1 meal for every two boxes purchased. After two cups, I like the idea of this tea more than the tea. It isn’t bad. It just isn’t winning me over as my new favorite tea. It is a dark cup of tea for white tea and I don’t taste enough pomegranate. I do love that they are producing organic tea and that they are donating a portion of their profits to help others. Those two factors are enough to make me give another of their flavors a try!
Holy One, While many are asleep because it is nighttime, many of your children are awake. And so we pray. We pray for those who are restfully sleeping. We pray for parents who wish they were sleeping and instead find themselves rocking infants or caring for sick children. Gracious God, we give thanks for all those working the night shift. They are keeping us safe, keeping our stores open, keeping our heat on and lights working, keeping our roads clear of snow and ice, and doing so many other jobs we don’t even understand. We remember those who find it difficult to sleep at night because of pain or loss or other changes in life. In the cold of winter, we lift up to you everyone who does not have a safe and warm place to sleep at night. Watch over all your children, we pray. For all who are awake worrying, send your peace. And for those who are awake because they love the nighttime, we give thanks. In the dark of night, we give thanks for the diversity of gifts present in your children. Thank you for the night owls and early birds and everyone in between. Thank you for creating all of us in your image. Thank you for the gift of sleep whenever it comes to us. Amen.
Peas on Earth Todd H. Doodler
A wonderful book that I have read three times today at the request of the young one in the picture. I love this book because it inspires us to believe that peace on earth is really possible. She loves the book because she thinks it is a little silly, and she likes the animals and peas in the story. I find the silliness inspiring. Maybe we all could get along and live together in peace. I recommend this book for those days when you need a reminder that peace is possible if we work together. I recommend this book for the children you love and want to inspire to live lives of peace.
The back of the book tells us, “What if there really was peace on earth? Open this book and see! Charming artwork and playful text introduce the youngest readers to peace, harmony, and being green. And there’s even a peas-ful pop-up at the very end!”
I am away from home and forgot to bring along any tea. Luckily, my hotel has this delicious tea and hot water available all day. This tea contains chamomile, hibiscus, peppermint, spearmint, cinnamon, and orange blossoms. When I read that long list, I thought this tea is going to be tasty or horrible. Good news! All these flavors work together in way that isn’t overwhelming and leaves me feeling relaxed after drinking it. If you find this tea while you are traveling, give it a try.
In this Sunday’s readings there is a theme of staying with one you respect and staying where things are amazing. Instead of allowing us to always stay, sometimes God calls us away. Sometimes away is off the mountaintop back to our ordinary lives. Sometimes away means saying good-bye to a mentor or friends or our plans for how things should be. Our prayer for illumination before reading Scriptures is a time for us to open ourselves to where God is calling us and where God might be leading us away from where we’d prefer to be. Let us pray.
Holy One, We make great plans, and you surprise us with different plans. We turn to your Word expecting to hear what we’ve always heard, and you urge us to open our ears to new possibilities. We will try. Speak to us through the words of your Holy Scripture, and we will try to listen as if for the first time. Amen.
A Long Way Gone Ishmael Beah
Years ago, a colleague of mine encouraged me to read this book. I am glad I finally did. This is Ishmael Beah’s story of how the war in his home country of Sierra Leone affected him. He reminisces about his childhood before the war. He tells us how unexpectedly his life was changed forever when his village was destroyed by the rebels. He spends years on his own and with a group of other young boys struggling to survive. And then he becomes a child soldier. If your heart wasn’t already broken, this part of his story will break it. My favorite part (although still not easy to listen to) is the story of his rehabilitation after his years of fighting.
This story is difficult and awful and maybe this is why it took me so long to pick up this book. I listened to the book on CD which is read by the author. Hearing his stories in his own voice was very emotional for me. There were times when I wanted to swoop in and save him. And yet, I kept listening allowing him to tell me his story. It is not easy to listen to his stories of killing people and doing drugs and think about how young he was. It is horrific to hear how he and others resisted rehabilitation. It is hard to hear how much the boys hurt and abused those who were trying to help them as they began the rehabilitation process. The good news is that those working to help stuck with it and loved the boys even when the boys seemed unloveable and when they thought they were unworthy of love.
This book is not like the other books I have recommended so far. It received a low scholarly score because that isn’t the aim of the book. It received an average emotional score because I wanted to stop listening because I hoped if I stopped listening his awful story would never have happened. I kept listening because he and others like him need to tell their stories. And we need to listen.
I’m glad I read this book. I recommend it for anyone who wants to know what life is like for too many children in our world whose childhood’s are stolen from them due to situations outside their control. I recommend this book for anyone who remembers hearing about the war in Sierra Leone and wants to hear firsthand what it was like there. I recommend it for anyone who loves children and is willing to listen to horrible stories of violence and abuse and tragedy so that we might protect all of God’s children and do our best to make sure this stops happening.
My husband and I are in the process of moving into a new home. Moving is stressful and overwhelming. To make myself feel at home in the new house, the first thing I moved in was my tea. It made me feel so good to see my tea in its own special place. I hope that you have a place in your home for whatever it is that inspires you and brings you joy. It doesn’t have to be a big place. This tea cabinet is very small, and yet it works well for all my teas. If you don’t have a space set aside for that which brings you peace and happiness, I hope you’ll look around your home and find a place for yourself.
The Five Finger Prayer is not my creation. I’m sharing it because I believe praying is important and I know most of can use reminders to pray more often. This is a different and fun way to do it. I like it because it works for all ages. Why not give it a try and if it is new to you, share this idea with someone else.
Start by looking at your hand. You’ll be using your hand to remind you of those in need of prayer.
Your Thumb-Your thumb is closest to you and reminds you to pray for those who are closest to you. Pray for and give thanks for your family and friends.
Your Pointer-Pray for those who point you in the right direction. Who leads you? Who are the ones to whom you listen? Pray for those who guide and direct you and pray that you’ll be open to hearing and listening to their words.
Your Tallest Finger-Pray for those in positions of power. Pray for our government and all our leaders. Pray for those with whom you agree and disagree.
Your Ring Finger-This finger is your weakest finger. Pray for those who are seen as the weakest or lacking in power. Remember in your prayers those who are ill, hungry, living with violence or war, homeless, or lonely.
Your Pinky-Finally, you can pray for yourself.
I’ve recently been reflecting on how often our Scriptures remind us that Jesus prayed. In this coming Sunday’s gospel reading, we’ll hear, “In the morning, while it was still very dark, Jesus got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed” (Mark 1: 35). If the five finger prayer can enhance your prayer life, I hope you’ll use it. And if it doesn’t work for you, that’s okay too.
At the suggestion of one of my readers, I tried Bengal Spice. What a great suggestion! To quote the Blendmaster’s Notes on the side of the box, “Brimming with cinnamon, ginger, cardamon and cloves, a cup of our aromatic Bengal Spice tea is like a trip to an exotic spice market in a faraway land. The adventurous blend is our caffeine-free interpretation of Chai, a piquant brew traditionally made with black tea. Try Bengal Spice with milk and sugar for a true Chai experience.”
I love chai tea and chai tea lattes. This tea works well with milk and sugar or with just milk or just plain. As soon as I open the box, I smell the tea and smile. It smells just as good while it is steeping. And it tastes just as good as it smells. Give this tea a try. You’ll be glad you did!
God of All Seasons, We find ourselves in the midst of winter again. Snow may soon be swirling around us. Help us not to be too jealous of people who get more snow or people who live in Florida. Keep us and all your children safe during winter weather. We pray for those who do not have safe and warm shelter and all those who are working to provide food and shelter to those in need. If we find ourselves inside our homes for longer than we’d like, calm us down so we can enjoy a cup of tea and a good book. If we find ourselves inside with small children, give us the creativity to keep them busy. No matter how long it feel like winter lasts, Loving God, we know that Spring is coming. We know that new life is growing now even though we cannot see it. Help us to see the beauty in all the seasons. Amen.
Today’s picture was taken at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.