When my (then toddler) boys were crawling onto everything (including my nerves), we’d turn them loose in her beautiful garden (which always seemed to have butterflies and hummingbirds for them to chase) and she’d tell me to sit down while she poured me a cup.
It was a simple, beautiful gesture on her part that changed my life.
Although I felt like I was barging into her serene, empty-nester world with my two lively babes, she repeatedly assured me that nothing could be farther from the truth. I’d ramble on and she’d listen patiently, always with that peaceful, loving smile. Her sage advice (spoken in that beautiful South African accent) was a balm on my weary heart on many, many occasions. Those times taught me to calm down, to relax and to find pleasure in something as simple as tea and female companionship.
Now, thinking about my visits with Sandy is bittersweet. My boys have grown up so much since then, and yet I can still remember their chunky toddler legs running all over her yard, chasing the butterflies and hummingbirds while we talked. Life circumstances caused my dear friend to move to England almost six years ago, and oh, how I miss her! There are so many times that I wish I could walk two houses down and enjoy a piping hot cup of tea in her perfectly delicate English tea cups.
But here we are, in this present day. I am a little older and more seasoned as a mom. Occasionally I’m given opportunities to encourage other women over a cup of tea and a smile. And those are sweet times to be sure, as I now can see how the simple act of having tea with another can be used powerfully by God.
And now, I am excited to start a new tradition of tea with someone else: my six-year-old daughter.
“How wonderful it is to have a daughter in the world!” is what my friend Stephanie posted when her first (and only) daughter was born. I have thought about that sentiment many times. Yet I only fully understood its depth of wisdom when my daughter was born a few years later.
Indeed, it is wonderful to have another woman in the house to share life with. And for me, it’s doubly sweet because now I have someone else who shares a love of tea time—who treasures sitting down and enjoying simple conversation (with a few sweets on the side).
My beloved daughter and I have enjoyed a cup of tea together before, but tonight was the first of a series of regularly scheduled tea times. We brought out my great grandmother’s exquisite 1920s tea cups (delicate, cream-colored china with beautifully scrolled gold leaf edges and handles). We pulled out our special “Tea Time Tablecloth” (a Dollar Store plastic tablecloth that we painted with a simple design–see how we did it here), lit a votive, turned down the lights and played some classical piano music in the background. I read to her from Ten Girls Who Didn’t Give In, a collection of true stories about young Christian women who stood strong for their faith. It was just lovely to share that time together, one woman to another, as we discussed the story (and enjoyed our chocolate).
I long to pass on to my daughter that legacy of graciousness, hospitality and unconditional love that Sandy taught me through our tea times. For now, our tea times will focus around activities in our Just Mom and Me Having Tea book, stories from Ten Girls Who Didn’t Give In (and other stories from the Ten Girls book series.
But as my daughter grows older and life becomes more complicated, perhaps our tea times will simply be a time of female encouragement akin to what Sandy and I shared.
No matter what, it’s exciting to think about how such a simple tradition could shape her heart towards God, strengthen our relationship as mother and daughter, and introduce her to a connection tool that she can use to bless and encourage other women in the future.
“It doesn’t have to be fancy,” Sandy taught me. “It’s just about stopping to take a bit of time in your day. Time to reflect and rejuvenate your spirit so you can continue on strong.”
Well spoken, my friend. Thank you for introducing such a wonderful tradition to me.