The Fountain (Guest Post)

The forest is blooming with life…the fresh fragrance of the wildflowers and trees filling the air as a soft breeze sweeps around you, almost lifting and carrying you further down the path. You continue walking, drinking in the glorious beauty and the silence and wonder of it all as the woodland continues to come alive…as everything around you continues to sing anew and praise their Creator. Then you see it…glints of sunshine sparkling and shimmering on the water’s surface, beckoning you to come closer to the treasure that awaits you.

You make your way to the water’s edge and find yourself gazing into the clear, pristine spring water…taken aback by the vigorous and fresh life surrounding you, all nourished by this life sustaining blessing. You dip your hands into the spring, bring the gleaming water to your mouth, and as you drink it in, you are instantly filled…refreshed…and renewed; the glistening water a true treasure…a beautiful treasure.

“But whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” ~John 4:14

“Even before we have a clear idea of what this image is referring to, we yearn for it because it seems to imply sweet coolness and refreshment; it implies moisture and growth and life…These very evocative words refer to something real…they are meant to put us in touch with something solid and powerful and living outside ourselves” (John Piper).

The water Christ gives us takes away our thirst forever…He satisfies every longing of our heart and promises to be our Sustainer, and it is all so truly beautiful. It’s in Him that we have a fountain of life, and it’s in Him that we live and are thus filled with His strength and comfort and love. Nothing refreshes my soul as much as being in His presence and walking with Him, because it is in Him I am strengthened, in Him I restored, and through Him I am transformed and made new.

“If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” ~John 7:37-38

Christ’s Words and life carry this living water, and “the essence of believing in Jesus is finding in Him the satisfaction of our deepest soul-thirst.” He promises that we will be satisfied. “When a drop of His water falls on the parched land of our soul, it doesn’t make a puddle; it makes a spring, and from the spring there flows a river. Drink in Christ by faith, pour Christ out in praise and love, and never thirst again; drink deep and savor the magnificence of Jesus who fulfills all” (John Piper).

“For with You is the fountain of life; In Your light we see light.” ~Psalm 36:9

Lauren Nicole is a young lady whose heart's desire is to live daily for her Heavenly Prince and Savior. A few of her favorite things include adventures, dreaming, simplicity, disney world, sunshine, orchestras, books, handwritten letters, kindred hearts, and diamond-filled skies. She is the authoress of the blog, With a Smile and a Song, where she hopes to inspire and encourage others to live wholeheartedly and courageously for Jesus Christ.


Composer (Guest Post)

i’m a novelist.

it’s one of those things that slightly mandates my life, particularly during the month of November.

November is National Novel Writing Month. affectionately known to the writer world as the start of nanowrimo.

it is during this month that i and hundreds of other insane authours will embark upon one of the most incredible and frightening endeavours of our lifetimes.

50,000 words. 30 days. innumerable cups of coffee, endless playlists of Imogene Heap and Alex Goot, and a straight month of kissing midnight. 

one incredible novel.

or perhaps a collection of 50,000 words of ramble. it depends on how much sleep we get.

it’s this music we compose.

it’s the strangest collection of words and notes, all brought together to create one of the strangest masterpieces ever seen.

you wouldn’t think that all this stress, sleepless nights, and speed-writing would be worth anything at all.

but honestly, it’s gorgeous.

 it’s a flawless collaboration.

it leads to tears and pain and sometimes even a nightmare or two. it’s hard and full of longing.

but oh, the results.

it’s watching the birth of newness and the start of characters never once known. it’s creating magic upon the page.

time and
time and time

kiss this inspiration. embrace the challenge.

write like the world is soon to end.

just pour out your soul

and write.

This post was written by Rachel, a dreamy 20 year old newlywed with ink and Dr. Pepper for blood, and red velvet curtains and rose petals for a heart. She adores her amazing Savior with a passion she cannot describe. Her husband is her hero and her better half. Her family is beautiful, strong, and incredible. Her two best friends are breathtaking. Narnia is real. The wardrobe may be closed, but she will find another door. One day. Her letter to Hogwarts was lost in the mail...maybe, for her, they'll make an exception and let her take her place at the Gryffindor table under the banners of scarlet and gold. Her heart is made of red velvet curtains and sheet music, with a hint of rose petals for good measure....beating to the rhythm of Parisian streets and carriages passing atop cobblestone-paved avenues.

You can find Rachel at her blog Dramatic Elegance or at her Twitter (@souldancer1009)


Because He delights in me

Recently, in my reading through the Psalms, I was struck with a vivid description in Psalm 18. In verses seven through fifteen, the author David describes God in such vivid, powerful terms that I could not help coming away awestruck. Listen to these powerful words:
The earth trembled and quaked,
and the foundations of the mountains shook;
they trembled because he was angry.
Smoke rose from his nostrils;
consuming fire came from his mouth,
burning coals blazed out of it.

He parted the heavens and came down;
dark clouds were under his feet.
He mounted the cherubim and flew;
he soared on the wings of the wind.

He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him -
the dark rain clouds of the sky.
Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced,
with hailstones and bolts of lightning.

The LORD thundered from heaven;
the voice of the Most High resounded.
He shot his arrows and scattered the enemies
great bolts of lightning and routed them.

The valleys of the sea were exposed
and the foundations of the earth laid bare
at your rebuke, O LORD,
at the blast of breath from your nostrils.

Doesn't that take your breath away? But the even more amazing thing is in the next verse:
He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
he drew me out of deep waters.
He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me.

And why did this all-mighty, totally powerful and incredibly HUGE God do this for me? Verse 19 has the answer:
He rescued me because he delighted in me. 

How amazing is this love? I can't even begin to comprehend it!


Would you care for some tea? (Guest Post)

There are few things I love in the world so much as a good cup of tea. Worries and fears seem to seep away as I listen to the pleasant bubbling in the kettle and spoon some golden honey into the bottom of a flowered teacup. As I pause to sip the delicious liquid, I am completely and wholly content... that is, as content as we sinful humans can be. :P

"Tea is a cup of life." ~Author Unknown

tea |tē|

a hot drink made by infusing the dried, crushed leaves of the tea plant in boiling water.

Now, since I like to be extremely thorough, I have chosen to include a very brief history of tea, to give this post a little background. There is a legend that a Chinese emperor first discovered tea in 2737 B.C. when tea leaves blew into his cup of hot water--this tale is not fact and we cannot be sure if this is really how the delicate beverage originated. No matter how it came into existence, though, we do know that tea has been enjoyed by many in the East for thousands of years, while those of us in the West have only been drinking it less than five centuries. 

"There is a great deal of poetry and fine sentiment in a chest of tea." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

In 1589, the Europeans were first exposed to tea when a Venetian author suggested it to be the reason behind the Asians' lengthy lives. After that, tea slowly began seeping its way into the Western culture, starting with the Dutch, who brought back green tea from the East in 1610. In 1662, it is stated that tea-drinking became so chic (due to the fact that the queen was a tea-drinker) that it replaced ale as the most popular beverage. Although it was rumored that black tea was enjoyed in the colonies, it wasn't until the year 1690 that tea was first publicly sold in a shop in Massachusetts. And of course, who can forget the famous "Boston Tea Party" in 1773 when American men--dressed as Indians--raided the British ships and dumped chests of tea into the harbour, all in protest against the British tax on tea. In 1840, it is told that the Duchess of Bedford introduced the British custom of afternoon tea, which has remained a tradition ever since. 

"There is no trouble so great or grave that cannot be much diminished by a nice cup of tea." ~Bernard-Paul Heroux

There is a common misunderstanding among Americans that "high tea" means a fancy afternoon tea. This is untrue. Afternoon tea (also called "low tea") takes place late in the afternoon. High tea, however, is taken around supper time and a much heavier meal accompanies it. The rules of British etiquette when it comes to tea-drinking are very specific. Here is something I found on a website about what is and what isn't considered proper:

"In order for one not to spill the hot liquid onto oneself, the proper way to hold the vessel of a cup with no handle is to place one’s thumb at the six o'clock position and one’s index and middle fingers at the twelve o'clock position, while gently raising one’s pinkie up for balance.

"Tea cups with a handle are held by placing one’s fingers to the front and back of the handle with one’s pinkie up again allows balance. Pinkie up does mean straight up in the air, but slightly tilted. It is not an affectation, but a graceful way to avoid spills. Never loop your fingers through the handle, nor grasp the vessel bowl with the palm of your hand.

Do not stir your tea, with your tea spoon, in sweeping circular motions. Place your tea spoon at the six o'clock position and softly fold the liquid towards the twelve o'clock position two or three times. Never leave your tea spoon in your tea cup. When not in use, place your tea spoon on the right side of the tea saucer. Never wave or hold your tea cup in the air. When not in use, place the tea cup back in the tea saucer. If you are at a buffet tea hold the tea saucer in your lap with your left hand and hold the tea cup in your right hand. When not in use, place the tea cup back in the tea saucer and hold in your lap.  The only time a saucer is raised together with the teacup is when one is at a standing reception.

Milk is served with tea, not cream. Cream is too heavy and masks the taste of the tea. Although some pour their milk in the cup first, it is probably better to pour the milk in the tea after it is in the cup in order to get the correct amount.

When serving lemon with tea, lemon slices are preferable, not wedges. Either provide a small fork or lemon fork for your guests, or have the tea server can neatly place a slice in the tea  cup after the tea has been poured. Be sure never to add lemon with milk since the lemon's citric acid will cause the proteins in the milk to curdle.

And now we come to the all-important question: loose-leaf tea or tea in a bag. My mother and father much prefer the loose leaf tea, and I will admit that it tastes more authentic. We can only purchase it a few times a year, because it is very expensive (we buy from Teavana). As for myself, I am quite content with a cup of Irish Breakfast (my favorite!) or Lady Grey tea. I also enjoy African Roibos, which a friend of ours introduced to us, and Vanilla Chai. While the tea in a bag is very simple to prepare (boil hot water, add the tea bag for your prefered amount of time, and add sugar and milk to taste), loose leaf tea is not quite so easy.  We purchase it in cans, on which there are instructions for how to brew the specific type of tea. There is a special metal tea bag in which the tea leaves are placed, and this is put in the teapot to brew for the requited amount of time. When finished, you pour your tea into a teacup, add milk/sugar/honey, and enjoy!

"We had a kettle; we let it leak: Our not repairing made it worse. We haven't had any tea for a week... The bottom is out of the Universe." ~Rudyard Kipling

I would be very blind if I were to end this post without making mention of something vastly important--tea parties. For if there is one thing that can improve teatime, 'tis a lovely friend with whom to share it. We have a very charming book called Let's Have a Tea Party! by Emilie Barnes (yes, I did have to include a book in this post :P), and it lists many creative and fun suggestions for how to plan your very own tea party. From a garden tea party to a Little Women-themed gathering, this book includes everything: even down to invitations, a suggested menu, and decorations. I loved pouring over it for hours when I was younger--is it any surprise to you that the Little Women and elegant British tea party ideas were my favorites? 

There are many other things I could include, such as delicious treats that go well with tea, but I suppose that will have to wait for another time lest this post turn into a novel. :) 

Happy tea-making, ladies! 

"You can't get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me." ~C.S. Lewis 

Elizabeth Rose (also called Elizabeth, Lizzy Rose, or just plain Lizzy) is a young lady trying to do her best to live her life to His glory in a sinful world. She is far too old-fashioned for her own good. She loves long skirts, lace, window seats, and chatting with dear sisters in Christ over a cup of Irish Breakfast tea. Elizabeth is happily living at home, taught and instructed by her dear parents, along with her many little siblings. She blogs at Living on Literary Lane, where she reviews works of literature, posts poems, and shares her thoughts on every important matter under the sun, and at Unsinkable, an event blog she hosts with her sister dedicated to the centenntial of the sinking of the R.M.S. Titanic. Teatime is her favorite time of day, and she wishes she could somehow share it with you over the Internet. 


Chests of Hope (Guest Post)

“And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee.” – Psalm 39:7

Hope chests are an old-fashioned tradition. As a young girl grows and prepares for her future marriage, she fills a special chest with precious things to give to her future husband and to adorn her future home. She thoughtfully writes love letters and poems, collects delicately-painted teacups, embroiders tablecloths…while she eagerly waits for her Prince Charming, daily preparing to better serve him and love him even before he arrives in her life.

As the Bride of Christ, we will one day enter into a marriage relationship far greater and more spectacular than any earthly romance. We will be blissfully united with our beloved King for all eternity. We will be constantly satisfied with sweet, intimate communion, and be fulfilled with the truest, deepest love.

“My beloved is mine, and I am his…” – Song of Solomon 2:16

All our hope is found in Jesus. Nothing in the world can replace the joy found in hope in Him. He is always, perfectly faithful, and we know that our hope will never be disappointed.

As His well-beloved, blood-bought Bride, have we ever thought of preparing ourselves for our Bridegroom? As we wait on Him to make “all things new,” are we storing up a “hope chest” for Him?

Are we treasuring precious, sacred things in our heart that are only for Him? Are we growing in His grace and truth? Do we joyfully offering Him the “sacrifices of praise” and the “fruits of our lips” (Hebrews 13:15)? Are we loving others and serving them even as unto Him?

Are we daily falling more in love with our Lord, Who Himself is Love incarnate?

Let us realise that each moment of our earthly lives we have the priceless opportunity to invest in our one everlasting relationship – with the King of kings and Lord of lords! May we not pass it by.

“But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” – Matthew 6:20-21
A little snippet about the guest poster: Annie is a girl passionately in love with Jesus Christ. She writes for Passion Magazine and The Pursuit. Some of her favourite things are: majestic sunsets, worshipful music, heart-to-heart talk with kindred spirits, and her amazing family.

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