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Originally posted October 2006

Every Tuesday afternoon after knitting class, Anna and I stop at the

Cyber Stop to get a Krispy Kreme donut and a drink.   (The Cyber Stop is
a full-service gas station featuring FREE wireless?!? I’m not sure WHO
it is that has time to surf the web while they’re filling up.)

Anyway.

Anna always gets a soda and I get my all time favorite convenience-store drink:Lipton sweet ice-tea.  I love that stuff.!  Totally addicted.    When I drink it, I’m always thrown back to southern Arkansas where the folks really know how to make it.    Sometimes I think of Father Tim and Cynthia from my favorite books: The Mitford Series.  (Those books are just like old friends to me and I’ve read the entire
series no less than three times.)   Jan Karon has also written the Mitford Kitchen Reader that includes Father Tim’s Mother’s Tea recipe. 
(*see recipe & Kitchen Reader excerpt below)   Mmm. MMM!

Funny that I love sweet tea so much.   I grew up drinking the instant
kind and it never had sugar mixed in! I always drank it without batting
an eye until I met my southern-boy husband.   The first time he ever
tasted the instant stuff he nearly puked. But of course, being the
genteel, southern boy that he is, he was always the picture of
graciousness and kindness and never complained to his hostess future-mother-in-law.    However, after we got married, he sweetly informed me of a better way.    And of course, it was!   

When I grew up, I rejected the bitter, instant tea— but I didn’t reject everything
that my mother cooked.   She made a lot of things well and I still use
some of those recipes in my cooking today.   Her salmon patty recipe is
awesome and I still love her crock pot roast.   Today as I was drinking
the tea, I thought of other things that I grew up with but later
rejected.

For instance, I grew up in a church that went crazy over the Bill
Gothard movement.   At the time, I was growing spiritually like a weed.   I
was very zealous in my love for the Lord (as I hope that I still am)
and embraced the movement completely because the people at my church
whom I admired the most embraced it.    As I grew and especially after I
met my husband, I began to see many things within that movement that
weren’t completely biblical and even harmful to true, healthy spiritual
growth.   I look back at those years and shake my head at some of the
things that I thought and believed.   Twenty years later, I’ve thrown out
a lot of those beliefs just as I’ve pitched the instant iced-tea.   No good.    Yuck. 
But what I don’t throw out is the love that I had for the Lord or the
zeal that I had to follow Him with my whole heart.   And (hopefully) I
don’t make fun of the people I encounter who are at that same sort of
spot in their own spiritual walk. I may try to introduce the “better
recipes,” but I don’t belittle these folks who are trying to live out
their love for the Lord in the best way that they know at the moment. 
Hopefully, I’ll be like my sweet husband when he was sitting at my
mother’s kitchen table. Kind and gracious.

Many of us were raised in a certain tradition or with certain ideologies.   Eventually though, we grow up, go to college or change churches and get exposed to opposing
thoughts and ideas.   This can be and often is a good thing.   As our thinking
is challenged, we start to dig into the Scriptures for ourselves and
develop independent, autonomous ideas.   Hopefully, though, we don’t
throw the baby out with the bath water.   And of course, we never reject
the one thing that should forever be our constant: God’s Word.   Just
some random thoughts I had today over a glass of iced-tea.   Cheers.

—————————————

*“Man alive! What’s this?”


“It’s my new iced tea recipe,” said his wife. “Do you like it?”


He raised his glass in a salute. “It’s the best I ever tasted. I didn’t
know you could do this.”


“I didn’t, either. I never knew how to make good iced tea. So, with our
parish party coming up, I asked the Lord to give me the perfect
recipe.”


“That’s the spirit!”


“Do you honestly like it?”


“I never tasted better!” he exclaimed, stealing no thunder from his
mother, whose tea represented the southern idea—heavy on sugar, and blasted with the juice of fresh lemons.  “I woke up yesterday morning and was bursting with all these new ideas
about tea. It was very exciting.”


“Hmm,” he said, gulping draughts of the cold, fruity liquid. “Tropical.
Exotic.”


He swigged it down to the last drop. “Two thumbs up,” he said. “I’m not sure everybody would understand where the recipe came from.
She shrugged. “If He gave William Blake those drawings, why couldn’t He give me a simple tea recipe?”


“Good point. What’s in it?”


“I can’t tell you.”


“You can’t tell me?”


“No, darling, I’ve decided to do something very southern—which is to
possess at least one secret recipe.” She looked pleased with herself.


“But you can tell me.”


“Not on your life!”


“Why not? I’m your husband!”


“Some well-intentioned parishioner would yank it out of you just like
that.” She snapped her fingers.


“No!”


“Yes. And then I’d be in the same boat with poor Esther, whose
once-secret orange Marmalade cake recipe is circulating through Mitford like a virus.”


“If that’s the way you feel,” he said, slightly miffed. 

*A New Song, Chapter nine

FATHER TIM’S MOTHER’S TEA

2 large lemons

3 Lipton family-size teabags, tags removed

1 ¼ cups granulated sugar

Squeeze the lemons into a small bowl, chill the juice, and reserve
the skins. Place the teabags and reserved lemon hulls into a large
pottery or glass pitcher and our in 2 cups of cold water. Bring a
kettle with 4 cups water to a rolling boil. Pour the boiling water over
the teabags and cover the pitcher with a small plate. Steep for 10
minutes, then remove the teabags and lemon skins. Add the sugar and
lemon juice and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add 3 more cups of
cold water. Serve over ice and garnished with a fresh lemon slice.  Enjoy!

With our second six hour trip behind us today, Christmas feels nearly officially over.  I’ve still got to get the tree down and put all of the ornaments up–  and I really want to reoganize a few closets, but in the name of “rest” and “holiday”  I plan on curling up for at least a few hours this week and getting some reading in!

Our family loves books!   (I actually had to buy a special rider on our home insurance for Spencer’s study and  estimated that he owns about $10,000 worth of books!  Of course, that’s 18 years of a pastor collecting!)  Thankfully, we usually get a few books for Christmas.  Here are a few titles that someone in our family received this Christmas that I plan on getting my grubby little hands on:

Heaven by Randy Alcorn–  A gift from my folks to my husband.  I’ve read the first two chapters, and I am EXCITED!  We heard Randy Alcorn speak on money/possessions a few years ago and loved it!   I think he may be an even better writer than he is a speaker.

Worship Matters by Bob Kauffman–  A gift from our choir director and good friend Linda.  We discovered Bob Kauffman a few years ago at the Bethlehem Pastor’s Conference where there was a whole table of his CDs available.  Since then, I have downloaded many a song from Sovereign Grace Music.)  I’ve already read the first chapter and I am realizing I need to get a highlighter pen and read it more slowly.  Great stuff!)

Shepherds Abiding by Jan Karon–  A gift from my husband to myself during our Christmas Eve book exchange.)  I’ve actually already read this book TWICE, but it is my favorite of all the Mitford series and I LOVE to read it at Christmas time.  I read half of it outloud to the Spencer and the kids on the way to Arkansas last week.  Such a sweet book.

Do the Right Thing by Mike Huckabee.  My gift to Truett for our Christmas Eve book exchange, this book is an autobiography.  Truett and I share a love for biographies and I can’t wait to get my hands on it after Truett is done.

So what about you?  Any of you get any great books for Christmas?  Want to share/swap with me?  :)

The gifts have been opened with as much noise and chaos that  one would imagine takes place in a family of seven.  I did no laundry all day–  the true sign of a holiday– and I even spent an hour jamming on the Rockband drums back in the boys’ bedroom.  The ham and the Christmas pie were enjoyed with a guest at our table who had nowhere to spend Christmas this year.  The Nativity dvd was viewed and the messiness of Jesus’ birth was pondered.  The good china has been handwashed, dried and put back into the cabinet.  And now the house is quiet.  A good day.  Merry Christmas.

Infant holy, infant lowly

For His bed a cattle stall

Oxen lowing, little knowing

Christ the babe was Lord of all

I know, I know–  what am I doing blogging on Christmas Eve at 11:26pm?!?  But what else am I going to do while I wait for those goofy kid to GO TO SLEEP so that Santa Claus can come to our house?  Spencer always watches the Pope on television (???) but I’d be asleep in two minutes flat if I tried that.

Christmas Eve Traditions at our house:

1.  Go around town singing Christmas carols and delivering cards to widows.

2.  Attend Christmas Eve Communion Service.

3.  Eat Mexican!!

4.  Christmas Eve Book Exchange   (Everyone gets to open a book!)

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5.  Daddy reads Luke 2.

6.  Daddy reads ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.

7.  Kids leave cookies and milk and (hilarious) letters to Santa Claus on the fireplace hearth.

8.  Oh yeah-  and all day long, we’re all calling extended family trying to beat them with “Christmas Eve Gift!”  (The idea is that the first one to say “Christmas Eve Gift” to you gets a special little gift from you.  We don’t really do gifts, but we sure do get into the “Gotcha!” competition.)  This year Abbey got EVERYONE by posting “Christmas Eve Gift” on Facebook at 12:01am.  Clever girl!

I know with email and Facebook and blogs and Myspace and everything else– Christmas Cards have become sort of “meh.”  But still, I love them!  I love to send them and I love to receive them!  And so I send about 100 cards each year to friends and family (non locals only–  at 42 cents a pop, I had to draw the line somewhere) because I LOVE TO STAY CONNECTED!  I figure one of the best parts about Heaven will be “eternal connection” with everyone I love, but until then I’ll continue to send Christmas Cards.  Sometimes with a letter– but always with a photo.  I love the rush of opening the mailbox and getting 2 or 3 cards.  Today (Yesterday) I got 10!  Exhilarating!

‘Tis the season to stay connected!

One of my favorite childhood memories is the King Christmas Party.  (Which was always on Christmas Eve back in the day.)  I have so many memories of driving home from a King Christmas Party and looking for Rudolph in the sky.  Every radio tower with a red blinking light was very possibly “him!”  When you’re a little kid and you’re let loose in some Aunt or Uncle’s house with twenty of your cousins for several hours, good times are bound to happen.  I haven’t lived anywhere near my hometown for eighteen years and I would venture to guess that it had been at least thirteen or fourteen years since my last King Christmas Party.  It was so fun to see cousins and the children of cousins and to just catch up with everyone!

BELOW:  My mom and dad are sitting in the middle of the couch.  Megan’s family is on the left.  Mine is on the right. 

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BELOW:  “We 4 Kings.”  From left to right:  Uncle Ron, Uncle Roy, Uncle Bob and my Dad.  It’s a tradition for them  to sing Christmas Carols each year.  “Must Sings” are We Three Kings and The Twelve Days of Christmas.  They’re terrible!  But it is oh so fun to watch them.

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Somehow we ended up needing to make 2 trips this year…  Right now we’re on trip #1 to my parent’s house who live in Tulsa.  Trip #2 to Arkansas will be later this week.   I thought maybe it would be a little warmer when we came south and it is!  It’s 15 degrees here–  it was 5 degrees back at the house this morning!  My sister and her family are here too– so that makes being here even more special.  (That’s  a total of 15 people under one roof for those of you who are wondering!!)

Things that make my parent’s house special at Christmastime:

1.  The 9 foot tall revolving Christmas tree.  (Wish I had brought my camera cord to show you.  Trust me, my mother should be a decorator for Rathbone’s!)

2.  The beautiful icicle lights that my dad hangs all over the outside of the house.  It looks like a gingerbread house!

3.  The wonderful meal of roast with all the trimmings that my mom fixes each time we come.

4.  Memories evoked by the sight of my old bedroom.

5.  My mom and dad!

One of the hardest parts of the ministry is living so far away from family and friends.  But then the holidays come and it can be a mini-vacation if you let it.  After all of the “Christmas Madness” I finally get a chance to just sit and enjoy a little fun.  Hope you do too!