Monday, April 18, 2011

Changing Seasons and a Tea Party

Winter to Spring hasn't been the only change occurring around here lately, but we have had another change taking place in Leah's and my lives which is a sad one . . . after 4 1/2 years of doing our girls group, it is going to be coming to a close as most of the families who had been participating are not going to be able to any longer. We understand their reasons and needs, but it was still so sad! And it was really hard to see something that has been such a big part of our lives for so many years coming to an end. We are going to miss doing it so very much!! But as we keep reminding ourselves, this is in the Lord's hands, and we'll just have to wait and see what other ministry opportunities He may open up for us to be doing. His plans are so much better than ours, and He knows what path is best for us to be walking. And we know that "all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28.)

So we are waiting and praying and seeking, and are also going to be pursuing ways to get the word out about our girls group to the local homeschooling community so that we might be able to start our girls group up again in the future. We are really hoping that will all come together!

And we are also already planning to be spending more time with and doing more projects and things with two of the girls who had been coming (and their two siblings) so that will be very nice. And then one of the girls who had been coming to our group I will be giving sewing lessons to so I'll still be able to have that interaction with her which will be a blessing!

So that is a change that has happened in our lives lately, and as our last week together approached, Leah and I planned a special time for that last afternoon . . . a tea party! We had the tea party last week and how very wonderful it was! So many special memories . . . such fun times . . . most of the photos are over on the "Girls Group Journal" blog, but here are a few that give a glimpse into our wonderful, fun-packed, enjoyable, memorable, and special afternoon at our 'tea' . . .

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The morning of the tea found Leah and I up early and working quickly to try to get everything finished before the tea (which was right around lunchtime.) We had baked a few things the evening before which was good as we had barely enough time to get everything finished before the girls arrived! And I took hardly any photos during the preparations as there wasn't much time for it . . .


Hat cookies in progress (these are little 'favors' that sat by each of the girl's plates with their name card)

Pouring on the sugar frosting coating

And putting on the ribbon and flower decorations

Mom was a huge help to us in washing all of the china for us, cutting up strawberries and peeling clementines. Thank you, Mom!

Leah putting cheese on the crackers

Finally everything was finished and the table was ready and waiting . . .








And then the girls arrived! I loved seeing their faces as they came in, saw the table, and found their places to sit! Oh, the smiles and excitement!




After our tea and a pleasant time of visiting, we played a game together in which about twenty-five items that have been used in our girls group (crochet hook, thread, teaspoon, etc.) were placed in a box together and then covered before the girls had arrived. For the game, we removed the cover and the girls had about twenty seconds to look at the contents before it was covered again. Then they got to see how good their memories were!

They did really well with this and we gave them two more brief 'looks' to finish out their list. Once they had them all, we went around in a circle each girl taking turns choosing an item from the box and sharing what it was and how we used it. They really enjoyed this game!


Then we moved on to our lesson for the day, and as it was our last girls group afternoon together, our lesson (which was more like an exhortation than an actual teaching lesson) was upon Mark 12:29-31 . . . the two greatest commandments given in Scripture . . .

"Jesus answered, 'The foremost is, "Hear, O Israel! The LORD our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength" The second is this, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." There is no other commandment greater than these'"

These verses pretty much sum up what our purpose with girls group has been . . . to believe in the Lord and love Him with all that we are, and to then love others . . . to be obedient to God and His Word.

We encouraged the girls to seek with all of their hearts to follow these two commandments, to seek to not forget all that they have learned in girls group, but to continue to learn and grow and seek to practice what they have learned.
As I type these words down, tears fill my eyes and my heart is so full . . . what a joy it has been to teach these girls over these past years, and now may the Lord continue to guide and direct each one of their hearts!

After we had finished with this, we headed outdoors for a group photo together, and then the girls asked if they could see Leah's cat so we walked over there and the girls had so much fun petting her and feeding her little pieces of grass (did you all know that cats like grass? I hadn't until Leah got hers!) . . .



And then we played one more game which was a review game about some of the things that we had learned and done over the years. For this, the girls each drew a slip of paper from a basket, and then either acted it out, drew it on the board, or had the other girls ask 'yes or no' questions until they guessed what was written on the slip of paper. They loved doing this, and we had such fun together!


Drawing 'frosting cookies' on the board

Our pleasant hours together went by so quickly, and before long, it was time to say our goodbyes. It was a bittersweet time . . . the girls gathered up their craft bags, journals, and treats from the tea party and then amidst many hugs we said our goodbyes. Thankfully, though, each one of these girls who came this day we'll still be able to be seeing regularly!

And thus a chapter of our lives comes to a close . . . with the hope and the prayer that we will be able to reopen it again sometime in the future!

21 comments:

  1. Dearest Sarah, I am so sorry to hear this. My heart is heavy and there is actually a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes as I read this. But, as you said, God knows the plans He has. The steps of a man are established by the Lord (Psalm 37:23). I am so happy and thankful that you will continue to be a godly influence in the lives of these young ones and will see them as they mature into young women. I am also very happy to hear that you will be giving sewing lessons to one of them.

    I am sure this will leave a bit of a void for a while, but I pray earnestly that you will be comforted by God's graciousness and have no doubt He will have other ministry opportunities opening up to you.

    I pray that this week will bring unexpected joys and blessings to your family.

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  2. There is a season for everything, Sarah, and maybe this season has come to an end. Who knows what the Lord has in store for you!

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  3. Dear Sarah,

    As the saying goes, "Where God closes a door, He opens a window." I am so sorry that your group is closing down, but you and Leah are sure to find another wonderful adventure soon; God needs you too much!

    I love the little hat cookies and cakes you made; I'll have to borrow the idea for our Easter Bonnet doll tea we're going to have this week.

    Love,

    Marqueta

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  4. I know you and Leah have been a blessing in these girls lives. Thank you for investing and being such wonderful examples to them. I know you have been an encouragement to me through your blogging and I have always enjoyed your girls group posts. Praying for you and Leah as you move on from here.

    Your tea party looks so lovely!! My sisters and I always enjoyed having tea parties and I started collecting books on tea parties until I now have quite a few. I am looking forward to having them now with my little Abigail:). God is good!

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  5. Sarah and Leah...this is indeed a time for both joy and sorrow. Joy, because of the gift God has given you these past few years, to minister to and impact these young girls' lives. The seeds you have planted will surely take root and grow into a strong, steady walk with the Lord in the years to come. And sorrow, because a beautiful season in your lives has come to an end. This time was not only a blessing for you both, but also for me and all your readers, I'm sure. The selfless example you have set has been a tremendous testimony indeed.

    I, too, was very impressed with the beauty of the tea party you put together. Our family has been reading a book called "Mr. Pipes and Psalms and Hymns of the Reformation" by Douglas Bond. We have said that when we finish it, we will celebrate with a High Tea. Thank you for some wonderful suggestions...we look forward to seeing some of them appear on our tea table as well!

    Ecclesiastes 3 says it best.

    ~Betsy

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  6. Dear Sarah, I am so sorry to hear that your girls group is coming to an end. I know that God will bless you and Leah, and you will begin a new journey!

    P.S. The food looks GREAT!!!

    Your Friend, Brandi

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  7. Thank you so much for your comment, Miss Linda . . . it blessed my heart to read. You have been so encouraging and supportive with our girls group over the months, and what a blessing that has been to us! Thank you also for your encouraging words that you shared here and for sharing the verse from Psalms . . . we are so thankful for the promise that the Lord will continue to guide and lead us.

    Yes, there already is the feeling of a bit of a void . . . it’s going to take some getting used to to not be doing this anymore nor spending that time with the girls. I am going to miss it so much! But as you shared, we are going to keep praying and watching for other opportunities that the Lord might bring to us. His plans are so much better than ours!

    Thank you again, Miss Linda, for your comment and for your prayers!

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  8. Thank you so much for your sweet and supportive comment, Elizabeth . . . and how true it is that there is a season for everything. As you shared, who knows what the Lord may have next for us! And thank you also for all of the support and encouragement that you have given over the years regarding our girls group. What a blessing it was to us!

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  9. Thank you so much for your encouraging note, Marqueta! It was a blessing to us to read . . . thank you!

    I am glad that you will be able to borrow some of the ideas from our tea for yours. :) Have fun with your tea!

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  10. Thank you so much, Emily, for sharing all that you did . . . what a blessing your encouraging words were to us! And thank you also for your prayers for us as they are very much appreciated.

    Thank you also for your kind words regarding the tea party! It was so fun to plan and prepare for. I remember times when you would share about your and your sister’s tea parties together. They always sounded so special. And how wonderful that you will be able to have tea parties now with your precious little daughter. What a blessing! I am sure you will love those times!!

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  11. Thank you so very much, Betsy, for the encouraging and caring words that you shared . . . they greatly blessed our hearts! Yes, there is indeed joy and sorrow right now. It has not been especially easy, yet as you shared, Ecclesiastes 3 fits so well . . . to everything there is a season. We are thankful that the Lord continues to guide and direct, and we are looking forward to see where He will lead us next. And thank you also so much for how encouraging and supportive you have been over the years in regards to our girls group. Your comments on those posts were always such a blessing and encouragement to us!

    Your tea sounds like it will be so fun! Enjoy! And I hope that some of these ideas will be helpful to you. :)

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  12. Thank you, Brandi, so much for your sweet comment. It was a blessing to us! And by the way, I don’t recall receiving a comment from you before so ‘welcome!’ :) I hope that you enjoy your visits here!

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  13. Congratulations to your beautiful tea party. The hat cookies are such a great idea that I had to share the link with a friend who was just as impressed as I was.
    It's sad to see the end of the group as it is now, as I feel sure it has had a great impact, but I hope you will get the opportunity to start a new group soon.

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  14. Hi Sarah, I love reading your blog, your faith in God is an inspiration to me, I look forward to what you post. I entered your doll giveaway.....I to have a blog you are more than welcome to read...
    http://lifewiththelollipops.blogspot.com/
    I hope you have a blessed day! :)

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  15. That looks like such a lovely time, Sarah! Everything looked so pretty and also so tasty. The table looks beautiful!

    I was so sad to hear about the ending of your girls group. I'll be praying that the Lord will lead you into what He has next for you, and if it is His will, that you might find more girls who would be able to join.

    By the way, I love Leah's dress! It looks so feminine and lovely.

    I hope your day is blessed, Sarah!

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  16. Thank you so much, Agnes, for your kind comment! We got the idea for the hat cookies from a tea party book that someone had given us. We loved the ideas as they are so cute, and the girls love them. :)

    Yes, it was sad to see our little group coming to an end, but as you shared, hopefully we will have the opportunity to start another one soon! Thank you again!

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  17. Ah, now I remember you, Brandi! :) And I will have to stop by your blog . . . I look forward to visiting!

    Thank you so much for your sweet comment, and may you have a blessed day as well!

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  18. Thank you, Joy, for your sweet comment! And thank you also so much for your prayers for Leah and I to have the Lord’s guidance in what He would desire us to be doing next. They are very much appreciated!

    And I will pass your compliment onto Leah about her dress. :) She made it herself, and it turned out so nice!

    May you have a blessed day as well, Joy!

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  19. What a wonderful time you must have had. I love all your pictures of your goodies! :o) I'm so sad to hear that your girls group is ending. :o( As I told my husband today about a few things that are going on - God has a bigger plan to the picture that we see and that's such a wonderful blessing. :o)

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  20. It was wonderful, Nabila! And I am glad that you enjoyed all of the photos. :)

    Thank you so much for your sweet and encouraging words. It sounds like you all are going through some changing and/or difficult times as well . . . and yes indeed, the Lord does see the bigger picture that we cannot see. As you shared, what a wonderful blessing it is to know that He knows best and that we can simply trust Him and follow where He leads.

    Thank you again, Nabila, and may the Lord bless and guide you this coming week!

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  21. Oh how I wish I had something like this as a young girl! But, I have actually thought of starting a little girl's bible study with my step daughter (11yrs) and my daughter (5yrs) and also some of my cousin's daughters. All these different ideas always come to mind of things I could teach them, things we could do or make...and just to be a good example for them! Reading about all the amazing and wonderful things that you and your sister have done with your group is an encouragement to me!! I am going to really start praying about it and seeking the Lord's will in it. Well, I pray that the Lord will bring you another group of little one's to train up in Him :) God Bless you for all that you do!
    Shannah

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Thanks so much for your comment! Each one is read and enjoyed. :)