Sunday, February 15, 2009
This past week I came upon a book I would like to share with all of you...it is called "So You Don't Want To Go To Church Anymore". The title alone spoke volumes in regards to my current feelings about 'attending' church in the traditional way. From childhood through my early 20's I was a regular church-goer...as an adult I have become increasingly dissatisfied and disillusioned with the church and religion although my faith in God and my relationship with him remains strong.
At times I have felt somewhat ashamed of not regularly attending church and have 'tried out' a few, never really fitting in for long and eventually becoming dissatisfied and finally drifting away again.
I'm sure there are many other's out there who feel the same...I hope that this book will be an inspiration to all...
Our Father's love is big and constant and COMPLETELY UNCONDITIONAL.
God Bless You.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
As many who read here know I work in a small Tea Room, what you may not know is that my friend who owns it is also a pastor's wife. This past Sunday she was involved in a book signing for a book called "From My Heart To Yours", a collection of inspirational messages written by women whose husbands are in the ministry...she made several contributions to the book and brought me a signed copy yesterday. Last night as I was realizing that I had not posted here on my blogspot in 2 weeks, and trying to decide what I would write, I remembered the book and took a 'detour' to spend some time reading. And there is was, the first message on the first page of the book was written by my friend and it was about Tea. Not only that, it blended in quite well with other happenings in my life recently as well as things that have been happening in the lives of many of my friends...things that have led to questions for which I have been seeking answers...questions like 'Why does God allow us to experience so much pain in our lives?' or 'How can a loving God allow such tragedy to happen to His children?', and 'If God is in control and all knowing, why is our world so out of control...why doesn't he fix it?'
And so, for today's Tea Time 'The Agony of the Leaf'...(part of the following comments are my own, some are quotes from my friend's message)...
This past week some troubling times arose for several friends I talk with daily on another site...prompting questions like those above. Hoping to help I posted a quote which has become somewhat of a mantra to me "There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in it's hand. You seek problems because you need their gifts." (Richard Bach...'Illusions'). Several of my friends immediately commented that they could not see any 'gift' in the troubles or sorrows they were encountering (or had encountered) in their lives, or knew other's had encountered. Now I admit, sometimes the answers to the questions and the 'gifts' in the problems are not so easy to see, however, I still contend that they are always there...we need simply to open our eyes and our hearts to see them.
'So,' I hear some of you saying 'what has all of this got to do with tea?' Well, to quote my friend, Dea...
"In learning the art of making tea, I discovered each tea requires a specific temperature of water and length of steeping to bring out the best taste. The term used for the tea in hot water is 'agony of the leaf'...It is not until the leaf goes through the agony of hot water that it's flavor and health benefits are released. Isn't that how it is with us? We do not yield the peaceful fruit of righteousness without going through hot water. The fragrance of the tea reaches the nose before the flavor touches the tongue. Our lives give off an aroma of righteousness when we are trained by our discipline. We are flavorful to the world around us when we come through trials."
So perhaps the 'gift' in the trials and tragedies we suffer in our lives is that it brings out our true 'aroma' or 'fragrance'...it allows our 'flavor' to be experienced by those around us...in other words...it frees us to be who we are intended to be, allows us be real and gives those around us the opportunity to experience knowing us in a deeper, more meaningful way.
I will end today's Tea Time with another quote from Dea along with her short prayer at the end of her message...
"May I suggest you prepare yourself a cup of loose leaf tea(whole leaf if possible) and watch the leaves unfurl and release their treasures. As you sip your 'cuppa' praise God for his discipline that will end in righteousness.
Father, help me to be thankful for trials and to be trained by them that I may yield the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Amen."
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
When I decided to dedicate my Wednesday posting to Whimsy (whimsey) I had no idea where my search for information on the topic would lead me. Each week I am surprised anew. This weeks search led me in an entirely now direction...
"Once, sissies were mistaken for gentlemen;
LORD BREAULOVE SWELLS WHIMSY (or "Whimsy" for short) is a gentleman who defies easy description; and as such, has been said to be both a noted dandy and a “glassgazing meacock”; a doyen of culture and a “jack-a-pudding”; a renowned lepidopterist and a “mere grammaticaster”; a Parnassian man-childe and a “finical dapperling”; an exemplar of male splendor and a “chutney-bottomed ninnyroger”—and of course, he has also been dubbed an Affected Provincial. But most importantly, he is the milky gnome who has conjured into being the collection of treatises and epistles entitled THE AFFECTED PROVINCIAL'S COMPANION, VOLUME ONE.
Whimsy delights with his jaunty prose and fanciful theories that leave in their wake a shimmering cloud of visions and ideas upon which the enchanted reader may ponder. The book is a distillation of Whimsy’s daily life: a sort of “personal folklore”, if you will. And like all folklore, it has roots in fact: Whimsy does indeed live near farms, raise moths and ride his highwheel bicycle through the rural town in which he resides. Whimsy has earned a loyal following through his regularly published articles in the Philadelphia Independent; readers have been known to give him handmade quince candies, love letters, and shouts of recognition as he strolls by. In return for these kindnesses, Lord Whimsy makes himself available to those in need, as he did when he once conducted a wedding for a couple of his readers. To quote a gentleman attending the event: “Dude, Whimsy’s real!”
In his attempt to live as beautifully as his modest means will allow, Lord Whimsy has lived in a former army barracks in a small rural town in the New Jersey Pine Barrens for twelve years. There he has created for himself a garden-choked naturalist/aesthete's outpost filled with books, animals, and artwork. He regularly posts his dispatches on an online journal, where he discusses topics as diverse as carnivorous plants, moustache grooming, French nineteenth-century cameo glass vases, and the great Wallace Shawn.
You can read Whimsy's journal and other interesting information about him at the following website.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Frank Zappa's Whimsical Songs Will Stand the Test of Time...
This week for 'Whimsical Wednesday' I wanted to focus on whimsical songs...when I typed those 2 words in my yahoo search bar I was once again transported back to my teen years as the name 'Frank Zappa' appeared on the screen. You see, Frank spent part of his early years growing up in the same area of the California desert as I did. He along with his musical buddy, Capt. Beefheart, graduated from my rival high school and I saw them perform together several times in the 60's during our local fair's 'Battle of the Bands'. I was a major 'band groupie' in my teen years and have fond memories of attending the practice sessions of several local 'garage bands'. Additionally I remember many small concerts and the best time of my high school years... attending the Monterey International Pop Festival.
Frank's time in Lancaster is written about here in his Wikipedia Biography...
By 1956, the Zappa family had moved to Lancaster, a small aerospace and farming town in the Antelope Valley of the Mojave Desert, close to Edwards Air Force Base, and Los Angeles.
At Antelope Valley High School, Zappa met Don Vliet (who later expanded his name to Don Van Vliet and adopted the stage name Captain Beefheart). Zappa and Vliet became close friends, sharing an interest in R&B records and influencing each other musically throughout their careers. Around the same time, Zappa started playing drums in a local band, The Blackouts. The band was racially diverse, and included Euclid James "Motorhead" Sherwood who later became a member of the Mothers of Invention. Zappa grew more and more interested in the guitar, and in 1957, he was given his first guitar. Among his early influences were Johnny "Guitar" Watson, Howlin' Wolf and Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown. (In the 1970s and 80s, he invited Watson to perform on several albums.) Zappa considered soloing as the equivalent of forming "air sculptures", and developed an eclectic, innovative and personal style.
Zappa's interest in composing and arranging proliferated in his last high-school years. By his final year, he was writing, arranging and conducting avant-garde performance pieces for the school orchestra. He graduated from Antelope Valley High School in 1958, and later acknowledged two of his music teachers on the sleeve of the 1966 album Freak Out!
So my search for whimsical songs lead me to an article entitled "His Whimsical Songs Will Stand the Test of Time" from which the following text was borrowed...
"Frank Zappa was and is an American rock music icon. Born in 1940, he passed away much too young at the age of 52 in 1993. Although he was perhaps most well-known for being the leader of the 'Mothers of Invention' musical group, Frank Zappa was also a very accomplished music producer and engineer. In addition, Mr Zappa was a very talented painter and filmmaker who created and produced a feature motion picture in the early 1970's titled "200 Motels". Although electric guitar was his primary instrument of choice, Mr. Zappa was proficient on many other musical instruments as well. His droll, often-spoken vocal deliveries were as much humorous observations as they were aural paintings and stories that were easy to visualize, due to his relaxed, absurdest manner. Much of Frank Zappa's song titles and content to this day, are still baffling to many people. Zappa, along with his contemporary, cohort and sometimes band mate, Captain Beefheart, created a body of work populated by whimsical and absurdest characters and themes very similar to bizarre musical cartoons. While much of Mr. Zappa's music can certainly be described as 'hard rock', at times, there are distinct elements of classical music evident in many of his works.
And so this week's Whimsical Wednesday is dedicated to the whimsical songs of Frank Zappa.
Today I will answer a question posed to me by Ms.~K on my last week's posting comments. She asked, "I am on a strict no-caffiene diet, due to heart issues...can I find caffiene free green tea?"
In regards to caffine free Green Tea I have not been able to find any as yet, however, Green Tea has the lowest caffine content per cup of any of the teas...Black Tea has 25 to 110 mg per 6 oz cup, Oolong Tea 12 to 55 mg, and Green Tea only 8 to 16 mg, which, as you can see is signifigantly less. Additionally it has been found in several published studies that tea drinking is associated with improved cardiovascular health.
In regards to 'Heart Health', scientists believe Tea provides heart health benefits in a variety of ways. Research has associated tea drinking with reduced risk for hypertention , stroke and atherosclerosis, or harding of the arteries. Other studies suggest that tea may improve blood vessel and endothelial function and help control blood clotting, thereby supporting healthy blood flow and circulation. The current body of research suggests that drinking 3 to 5 cups of tea per day can offer significant heart health benefits ranging from reducing heart attack risk to lowering Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, or “bad” cholesterol.
For example, a large Japanese population study found that, amoung men and women, those who drank just over two cups (about 17 ounces) of Green Tea per day reduced their risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 22 to 33% compared to those who drank less than a half-cup of green tea daily.
Another study found that participants who drank more than 16 fl. oz. of black tea per day had a 50% lower prevalence of cardiovascular disease (CHD) than non-tea drinkers. And yet another study found that those who drank more than 3 cups of black tea per day (>375 mL) reduced their risk of heart attack by 43% as compared to non-tea drinkers. Additionally, a study conducted by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) found that participants who drank 5 cups of black tea per day along with a diet moderately low in fat and cholesterol reduced their LDL cholesterol by about 11% after three weeks.
So in answer to your question ~K, I would say that the benefits of Green Tea drinking would out-weigh any negative effects considering the minimal amounts of caffeine involved. Of course you should check with your doctor before you make your decision.
The facts in this post come from articles provided by the Tea Council of the USA, Inc. If any of my readers would like additional information you can go to www.teausa.org
Or visit us at The Baron York Tea Cafe and Gift Shop for professional Tea Tasting and educational Tea Experiences. Go to www.baronyorkcafe.com for additional information on our monthly special events.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Saturday, January 10, 2009
We have all chosen different paths...taken different roads to where we are now. Some did not choose so well...but did they make a mistake? Or was it just their destiny to follow that rough road? Only God knows for sure. It is my belief that there are no 'mistakes', no 'coincidences' in our lives...just choices and consequences, or outcomes of those choices.
This past week I spent some time with one of my closest childhood friends...life has taken a toll on her body, but it has not broken her spirit. She chose her path and it has not been an easy one, but when asked if she had it to do over again would she do it differently her answer is 'No'. I have asked myself the same question a few times when things have not been too great in my own life...and guess what, my answer is also 'No'. And for both of us the reason is the same...because if I had chosen differently I would not have the 'blessings' that I have in my life today. Both of us realize that the most important things in our lives...the people we love the most...our children and grandchildren...would not be ours if we had chosen a different mate (or mates in her case) and thereby chosen a different road. We may have missed the bumps we hit in the road we chose, but there would have been other bumps and there is no guarantee the results/rewards would have been one bit better in the end, or even as good. I pray her life (and mine too) from here on out is easier and sweeter, if it isn't I hope that for this part of the journey we will be there for each other and our spirits and faith will keep us strong.
I end this post with the following quote which has come to mean a great deal to me during the past year...
"I've lived through things I would never have thought I was capable of and I am much less afraid than I used to be.
The process of wounding awakens us to our strength...it shuffles our values and the top priority is never what you thought it would be. It's never about perfection or power...it always turns out to be about LOVE.
Knowing ourselves to be vulnerable and our time here to be limited we are freed to live more passionately and fully than we have been before...to discover what's worth fighting for and who we are...real strength lies buried at the depth of any wound we have survived. "
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Whim"si*cal\, a. [From Whimsey.]
1. Full of, or characterized by, whims; actuated by a whim; having peculiar notions; queer; strange; freakish. "A whimsical insult." --Macaulay.
My neighbors call me whimsical. --Addison.
2. Odd or fantastic in appearance; quaintly devised; fantastic. "A whimsical chair." --Evelyn.
Syn: Quaint; capricious; fanciful; fantastic.
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.
I think all of our lives need more 'Whimsey' in them. Growing up I had a wonderful imagination. We didn't have a television in my family's home so I grew up surrounded by books...read to me by my parents on a daily basis until I was old enough to read them myself, and then later reading everything I could get my hands on. Additionally I lived in a small community and our home was several miles outside of town so we used our imagination to create fun things to do and magical worlds to do them in.
One of my old friends recently reminded me of the castles and forts we used to build from 'Tumbleweeds'...yes that's right, I said 'tumble weeds'. We would pick them up and stack them in all manner of fanciful arrangements from walled forts to multi-room structures. Sometimes covered with old sheets or blankets to shelter us from sun or rain, others left uncovered to let the breeze blow through, these tumbleweed temples were magical places where we played and stretched our imaginations to the limit.
And so, in memory of those times I present...Whimsical Wednesdays.
This week...a whimsical poem...
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Boston , MA —Although tea drinking has been associated with health benefits for centuries, only in recent years have its medicinal properties been investigated scientifically.
Saturday, January 3, 2009
Thursday, January 1, 2009
A while back a friend's comment inspired me to look for a book I used to refer to often for strength in my convictions on some personal subjects...it turned out it wasn't the book I was actually suppose to find at that time, but rather an old newpaper clipping that tumbled from between the pages, that I needed to read at that particular time in my life. Below I share the insight found in that old clipping...I'm sure I knew who's words they were when I clipped it from the paper (perhaps the author of the book)...alas, my memory fails me, so for now I will simply say...author unknown...
"This is our Father's world, and we must lend listening ears to the songs and signs found in nature, the events of history, and the social encounters of our daily routine. We never know when or how new meaning might break through. We can't predict when a new understanding might emerge or a divine insight might be revealed to illuminate our dark and lonely paths. We don't know how God might act to open up a new way, a new joy, a new freedom, and a new, more glorious life.
I have come to believe that God is truly with us. And what may seem accidental or even tragic at the time of the occurrence turns out to be...just one more development in a continuously unfolding, marvelously meaningful plan for one's life."
And so, as we start this New Year I pray that all of us will be more mindful of our surroundings, always aware that nothing in this life happens by chance and that God has a plan for each of us. We may not always understand the timing of events...finding an old friend, meeting a new one, the loss of a loved one or aquintance, a personal triumph or tragedy...the important thing is to be aware that it is all part of this journey we call life, moving us forward...never backward. We need not always understand...we need to simply embrace the moment for that is all we are ever guarenteed...one moment in time.
And so as this new year begins I pray that God will bless you my friends. May you find strength to move through all the seasons, circumstances, tragedies, and events of your lives moment by moment, step by step to find a truly 'more glorious life'.