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We’ve Moved!

ImageHey Friends!  Just a friendly reminder that we’ve moved the “A Cup of Tea with Carol” blog to a new location!  Come on over, check out the new website, and subscribe to the new blog!  We’ve just posted a new blog ….and you don’t want to miss it!

Read “God Size Dreams”

Here is the Secret

Here is the Secret blog pic 1I have always believed that if there is only one secret to living a full, rewarding and joyful life it is found in the decision to just be thankful.  All day … every day.

This one singular heart attitude, that of choosing to live in a place of gratitude, holds more sway over the quality of your life than does your income bracket, your street address or even the pain of your past. 

Determining to be a person of sincere praise and appreciativeness will frame your life in a beautiful and miraculous way. 

Gratitude will erase days of pain and create days of blessing.

Thanksgiving will enlarge the small places of your life into rooms of grand bounty and sweet strength.

Praise will turn the gray and blah of humdrum responsibilities into sparkling opportunities of service in the Kingdom of God.

It is in choosing to be thankful … sincerely and joyfully thankful … that ordinary days turn into holidays.

Days that are identified by wretchedness and wreathed in ugly become events of heavenly inspiration and sweet remembrance when we use the paintbrush of gratitude to change their color.

This is your life … you will never have another.  This life is your only chance at joy … your only opportunity for destiny … your only occasion for capturing a delightful heart. 

You must discover the power of thanksgiving if you long for your life to make a difference.

If you are thankful for even the small things in life, you have discovered an eternal treasure.

the west at southIf you can look at a sunset and bask in its presence … you have tapped into treasure.

If you can giggle back at a baby with a silly grin on your face … you have tapped into treasure.playing with mom

If you can make snow angels with the little girls in your life … you have tapped into treasure.

If you can catch fireflies with a freckle-faced boy … you have tapped into treasure.

If the glory discovered in vibrant rainbows … in the majestic roar of the ocean’s waves … and in the morning song of the bird cause you to well up with praise … you have learned how to value the truly important commodities in life.

Conversely, if you choose to focus on your deficits rather than on your gifts, you will always be miserable.  If all you do is whine and complain and worry … you are the only one whom it wounds and ultimately subtracts from.

Did you know that it doesn’t really matter what your circumstances are?  Once you begin to lock into this miraculous lifestyle of thanksgiving, although your circumstances may never change … you will change!  You change from being in bondage to disappointments and pain to living a life of the joy found only within the gates of His powerful presence!

The moment that you become grateful, it changes the atmospheric conditions of your life.  Thanksgiving will take you out of your human pain and place you in the very courts of His presence!  What a miraculous possibility!!

“Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.

Serve the Lord with gladness;

Come before Him with joyful singing.

Know that the Lord Himself is God;

It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;

We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

 Enter His gates with thanksgiving

And His courts with praise.

Give thanks to Him, bless His name.

For the Lord is good;

His lovingkindness is everlasting

And His faithfulness to all generations.”

Psalm 100

 

I would love it if you would respond to this blog by telling us what you are grateful for today!

Going the Distance

Carol Wedding 1Sunday afternoon, July 31, 1977.

Alabama United Methodist Church.  Alabama, NY.

8 bridesmaids in 8 different colors.  Gardenias in their hair and parasols in their hands.

8 groomsmen in white tuxedos with colorful vests and bow ties that matched the popsicle colors of the bridesmaids.

My girlhood dreams were about to come true.  I had met my prince charming with sparkling blue eyes, a southern accent and a call to ministry.  My life was complete.

I’ll never forget walking down the aisle on that 90 degree summer afternoon.  There was no air conditioning in our colonial church building and the sweat was running down the back of my perfect dress.

I looked at my dad’s face and he had a single tear rolling down his handsome cheek.

He gave me to the man who would protect me, provide for me, love me, encourage me and sacrifice for me.

Craig and I had just graduated from Christian college; we had the stability of being raised in loving, Christian homes and now were about to Carol Engagement picembark upon our own adventure.

Little did we know that life would not be perfect … our love would be challenged but it would endure … and that our faith in the God of our parents would be enough.  Our faith would always be more than enough.

On that day, July 31, 1977, there was no possible way that Craig and I could comprehend the devastation of losing 5 babies … the financial challenges that would bring us to our knees … a depression that paralyzed me for nearly a decade … and the gut-wrenching, painful challenges of ministry.

On that day, July 31, 1977, there was no possible way that Craig and I could comprehend the unspeakable joy of raising 5 healthy children for the Kingdom of God … that we would see the provision of God time after time after time … that the power of the Word of God would deliver this wife from a deep and dark depression into the joy of His presence … and that the genuine call to ministry at this moment in history made life worth living.

What have I learned in 36 years of marriage?  Lessons that could fill at least one book and probably more!  However, in honor of our 36th anniversary, I’ve decided to limit my list to the 36 top lessons that I have learned.

These are the lessons would I like to share with all of the brides of 2013 … and anyone else who would care to listen.

36 Lessons from a Marriage that Is Going the Distance

1 – It really is more fun to forgive.  The first one to forgive always wins.  Always.

2 – Marriage is the greatest lesson in dying to self that you will ever encounter.

3 – He wasn’t made for you … you weren’t made for him … but you were both made for Christ.

4 – Laugh together.  Tease one another. love

5 – Marriage does not make you happy.  Only Jesus can make you happy.

6 – Kindness is the greatest gift you can give your spouse.  Kind words, kind actions, kind heart attitudes are the most valuable commodities in building a relationship that will go the distance.

7 – Be faithful not only in your actions but also in your words and thoughts.  Never use the words “divorce” or “separation”.  Never think to yourself in a fit of anger, “Well, I’m just going to leave him.”  Faithfulness begins in your mind and is out-sourced to your words and actions.

8 – If you want to build a great marriage, be a servant.  Never underestimate the power of serving your spouse day after day … week after week … year after year.

9 – You can’t afford NOT to go on dates.  Go out for coffee.  Switch baby-sitting duties with another young couple who can’t afford a babysitter.  Play tennis.  Go for a walk.  Go to the library and read magazines together. Pack a picnic lunch and take a ride through the country.  Dates don’t have to be expensive to be valuable.

Date

10 – Never talk about your spouse in a negative manner in front of your friends, your children or your parents.  Always say positive, encouraging things about your spouse in his presence and behind his back.

11 – Find an older couple who can mentor you through life’s issues.  Invite them into your home for dinner.  Ask them questions.  Ask them to speak into your life and into your marriage.  Imitate their strengths. couple

12 – Don’t complain and whine … that’s what toddlers do.  If there is an issue with which you need to speak to your spouse, do it in a kind, respectful manner.

13 – Choose a song that is “your” song.  Ours is, “Through the Years” by Kenny Rogers.  Every time I hear it, my heart melts all over again.

14 – Pray together.  Pray about your finances and your children.  Pray about your destiny and your health.  Pray that your minds would stay sharp and alert in all the years to come.  There is power when a couple who is committed to Christ is also committed to the power of heartfelt prayer.  Mountains will move and hell will shake as you and your spouse hold hands and agree in Jesus’ Name!

15 – Celebrate life!  Don’t be so serious that you become a kill-joy.  Plan a family picnic and play patriotic music on the Fourth of July.  Make a list of blessings and talk about them the entire month of November.  Write him a poem for Valentine’s Day.  Have the entire family participate in a March Madness Bracket and give an annual prize to the winner.

16 – Create a budget, prayer over it and stay on it.  This will eliminate so much stress in the years to come.

17 – Hold hands.

holding hands

18 – Do something special every year on your anniversary.  Don’t let it pass by unnoticed.  Go out to dinner.  Look at your wedding album.  Call the people who were in your wedding and reminisce together.

19 – Read at least one book together every year and talk about it.

20 – Tell your children what you appreciate about their mom or dad.

21 – Choose a scripture that is “your” scripture.  Ours is – “One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to meditate in His temple.” – Psalm 27:4

We first read that Scripture over breakfast one morning in the college cafeteria while we were dating.  That scripture was on our wedding invitation and continues to give us focus as to the purpose of our life on earth.

22 – Turn nothing into something.  Make a special meal “just because”.  Serve him breakfast in bed for no reason at all.  Linger over a cup of coffee and listen intently to the cares of his heart.

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23 – Turn something into nothing.  When he is driving you crazy, minimize it.  When he hurts your feelings, bless him abundantly!

24 – Buy him a gift for Christmas.  Craig and I went many, many years without buying one another Christmas gifts because we were so focused on our children.  How I regret it!  You don’t have to spend a lot to make it meaningful.  Buy him a gift card to his favorite coffee shop.  Buy him a t-shirt with his favorite team’s logo on it.  Buy him tickets to the new movie that just came out.

25 – Say “I’m sorry,” even when you don’t think that it is your fault.  When those 2 sincere words come out of your mouth, it diffuses the tension and erases the guilt in the atmosphere.

26 – Say “I’m sorry,” when it is your fault.  Say it quickly and humbly.

27 – When you are frustrated with your spouse for a minor offense, remind yourself of something that you are thankful for in his or her life.  Don’t rehearse and marinate in the daily little frustrations but spend more time being thankful for who they are.

28 – Tell your children the story of how you met and why you feel in love with their dad.

29 – Remind yourself that God has entrusted you with this human being’s self-esteem, the peace of their days, their home life and their heart.  God trusts you enough to allow you to partner with another human being in this treasure called “life”.

30 – Never, never, never, never give your spouse the silent treatment.  It’s cruel.

31 – Read the Bible together and separately.  Share with your spouse what you read in your quiet time that morning.  Read the Bible together as often as you can.  The Word of God truly works a miracle in marriage.

32 – Listen more than you talk.  Ask your spouse probing and interesting questions to draw him or her out.

33 – Never make fun of your spouse in public or in private.  It’s humiliating.

34 – Never correct your spouse in public.  It’s humiliating.

35 – Do something in ministry together.  Go on a missions trip.  Teach Sunday School.  Go to the nursing home and visit the patients.  Volunteer to clean the church together.  Have a missionary family in your home.  Go to the City Mission on a holiday and serve meals.  The possibilities of ministry are endless!

Text message

36 – Say, “I love you” every single day.  Say it when you are frustrated and mad.  Say it at night and in the morning.  Send your spouse an e-mail with the words, “I love you,” in it.  Send him a text message with the words, “I love you,” in it.

Craig … just wanted to let you know how thankful I am for the man and husband that you are!  Let’s do 36 more years together!!

Carol Wedding kiss

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36 LESSONS FOR A MARRIAGE THAT GOES THE DISTANCE!

A Miracle in the Making

Joy & CadyCady Morgan Kendall.  She was my daughter’s freshman roommate at college.  Joy and Cady were more than roomies.  They were kindred spirits … passionate about life … filled with the joy of youth … sisters to the core.  Their room became the central location for prayer meetings, wardrobe exchanges, chick flick parties and encouraging conversations. Cady & Joy silly

Cady became a floor chaplain at the university while my daughter went through the RA program.  Cady became a head chaplain for her final two years and Joy was a head RA.  They were leaders of the very best kind.  They led by example.  They are both irresistible, actually.

Cady & JoyCady, a pastoral care major, was my summer intern the summer before her senior year in college.  She was the sunshine of all of our days.  She discipled the young women under her watch … kept my kitchen clean … dreamed big dreams for the ministry … and taught us all the power of laughter.  I remember that Cady was so thirsty for the Word of God … she would gulp in every piece of wisdom, vision and encouragement that I spoke into her life.

Cady began to fall in love that summer with a young man who was in Africa on missions.  I’ll never forget the night that my upstairs exploded in glass-shattering screams.  When I ran up the stairs to make sure that everyone was o.k., my youngest daughter, Joni, informed me that Jordan Lewis had just returned from his missions trip and he had texted Cady!  The friendship began and blossomed into romance.

There was just one roadblock.  Jordan was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer before they went back to school for their senior year.  He endured surgeries and dangerous chemotherapy.  The doctor’s said that he might be blind or brain-damaged.  He was neither … he was strong and healed and triumphant!

Cady & Jordan homecomingJordan returned to college for his final semester of college.  Jordan and Cady were named Homecoming King and Queen and continued to serve God and people with an enthusiasm that touched everyone’s heart.

Jordan was in the process of buying a gorgeous engagement ring this spring when his medical check-up showed that the cancer had returned.  Jordan’s 23-year old lungs were invaded by cancerous tumors.

Without even pausing, Cady looked into Jordan’s face and said, “Let’s get married!”

Cady & Jordan engagement

And so … only 3 weeks after the second diagnosis … Cady Morgan Kendall became Cady Morgan Lewis at a wedding that was so lovely …  so enchanting … so miraculous that it was the stuff of which fairy tales are made!

Cady wedding lanterns

Cady & Joy weddingJoy was her maid of honor and spent the two weeks prior to the wedding planning with Cady … praying for Jordan … and making sure that Cady’s wedding sparkled with delight and personality … just like Cady does!

Surrounded by family from around the world … friends from college … and a team of prayer warriors that makes hell shake … Jordan and Cady promised to love each other and care for each other “ … in sickness and in health.”

Jordan promised Cady before the crowd of witnesses, both earthly and heavenly, that he would live a long, long, long time!

Cady & Jordan vows

We all had the sense that we were watching a miracle in the making.  We all knew that this was no ordinary wedding but that God was truly present on the Oklahoma soil.  I wondered if we should all take off our shoes … it seemed as if we were on holy ground for that singular moment in time.

I was reminded that week-end, that the first miracle that Jesus ever performed was at a wedding in Cana of Galilee.  I asked God, with tears running down my cheeks, to perform another miracle at this wedding in Sapulpa, Oklahoma.

Cady & Dad

Cady & Jordan praying

Cady & Jordan wedding 2Cady & Jordan 1

I asked God to heal this dynamic, world-changing young man.

I asked God to put life into Jordan’s body and to take out the ugly, evil cancer.

I asked God to give Cady more joy than is possible for one human to contain.

I asked God to use this young couple to be a brilliant voice in the darkness of our world that God really does hear our prayers and that He really does love us.

I asked God to give them children and grandchildren.

I asked God to let them get false teeth, social security payments and rocking chairs together.

Would you join me in praying for Cady and Jordan Lewis?  They are spending this week in Cancun, Mexico without a care in the world.

They are spending next week at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Clinic in Houston, Texas, in order to get a treatment plan.

Would you pray for a miracle?  Would you pray that God’s love would drip lavishly into their lives?  Would you pray for life?

What miracle do you need today?  You see … one of the miracles of it all … is that Cady and Jordan want to pray for you!  At their wedding, they had a prayer request box that they asked their guests to fill with personal prayer requests.

Cady and Jordan believe what the Word of God says: “ … pray for one another so that you may be healed.  The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” – James 5:16

Cady and Jordan Lewis

June 29, 2013

Cady & Jordan wedding

MY FAVORITE THINGS

blog pic favorite thingsDay 4 – Worship because of!

Worship because Jesus is Lord!

Worship because you are loved with an everlasting love!
Worship because you have been forgiven!
Worship because He is worthy!!
“I will give thanks to the Lord according to His righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High.” – Psalm 7:17
Worship, like forgiveness, has the power to change your life dramatically!  Worship is what will take your focus of you and place it on the God of eternity and creation.
“I will be glad and exult in You;  I will sing praise to Your Name, O Most High.” – Psalm 9:2
Worship because He is the God of miracles!
Worship because He hears us when we pray!
Worship because His mercies are new every morning!
Worship because He gives strength to weary pilgrims!
“And my tongue shall declare Your righteousness and Your praise all day long.” – Psalm 35:28
Awake every morning of 2013 with a song in your heart and then let it come out of your mouth!  Sing out loud!  Sing in the shower and while the coffee is brewing!  Worship in the car and while you are putting your make-up on!  Praise the Lord while you are wiping the kitchen counter and folding laundry!
If you want to ensure that every day of 2013 will be a glorious and great day … you will open your mouth in worship!
“My mouth is filled with Your praise and with Your glory all day long.” – Psalm 71:8
Worship because of!