The Ministry of Lisa Copen

Lisa Copen, Founder of Rest Ministries which serves the chronically ill, shares about mothering, illness, ministry and more.

Surrendering Holiday Teas

Lisa_editor_small_1 I read in the church bulletin that there were still spaces available for hostesses for the Women’s Holiday Tea. “Wouldn’t that be fun to do?” I thought. “I could invite so many people, I wonder who would be able to come and sit at my table. . .” I thought of the extra dishes I have that I could pull out and use and how much fun it would be to make a trip to Michael’s craft store and get an amazing centerpiece. (Each woman tries to “outdo” the other tables and come up with these amazing displays, including little gifts for each attendee.) I leaned over and whispered to my husband, “Would it be better for me to do this on Thursday night or Friday?” Certain, of course, that he’d say Friday. It would be easier for him to get off a few minutes early to be able to take care of our son so I could leave. “Thursday,” he said. Hmmm… Okay. I guess I could do that. But of course, then Friday I would be exhausted and wouldn’t have anyone here to help entertain my energetic Joshua.

The sermon started and I put aside thoughts of the tea.

Then I began to ach so much… my shoulder, back, neck, even the legs. I hurt. We were sitting in the middle of the row and at the front of the church and it would be hard to leave without disturbing others. I didn’t even know if I could bend my knees to walk easily either. I would be stumbling out. I changed position. I rubbed my neck and tried to squeeze the pain out of it. I put away my Bible… and I prayed, “Lord, give me a break here. I need to hear this sermon, not be in pain.” The pastor spoke of God’s strength in our weaknesses.

I felt disturbingly cynical. He was talking facts and I was looking for emotions. I didn’t need a lesson in God’s faithfulness; what I wanted was the Holy Spirit to brush over my thoughts and my body and just give me a big dose of God’s warmth that He cared. I tried to concentrate and think, “It’s not about what I WANT… It’s about WHO God IS.”

My thoughts wandered about the tea. It was silly. I imagined having to find all the dishes, wash them, pack them into boxes. I’d need pitchers, plates, coffee cups, cloth napkins. I’d have to bring it all over Thursday afternoon to the church, making multiple trips to the car and back—nearly impossible with my shoulders in so much pain. I’d have to not only carry the boxes but hold Joshua’s little hand. Impossible.

Plus, it would cost me a fortune. I’d have to buy the little gifts, wrap them, my cloth napkins would be faded so I’d need more. It sounded exhausting. What had I been thinking? The rest of the weekend I would end up likely feeling terrible, which wasn’t fair to my family either.

I put the flyer back into the bulletin. Church was over. I walked past the Women’s Holiday Tea display table set up by the sign up table and looked at it longingly. Participating in that would be “so me.” I was a Victorian Magazine subscriber for years.  I loved teas. I wanted my body to cooperate. I couldn’t do it all. I tend to fight for what I really want so maybe this was God’s way of reminding me to prioritize. Maybe it was surrendering a personal desire for, well, something! I haven’t figured it out yet.

Maybe next year.



  Sandee wrote @

Hi Lisa,
I “stumbled” across your web site…I am certain it was a “God thing”. I have reinvented myself a few times to accomodate my CFIDS/FM since the early 90’s. I was a counselor treating trauma victims; and now I am a professional leadership coach and work mostly from home and over the phone. I talk to folks all over north America. Do you have any info (I am new to your site) on the challenges we can have over the judgement from others regarding limits and saying “no” to most things? This seems to be the toughest thing for me over the years. The worst is from the Christians.Thanks for your web site and blog. Looking forward to slowly getting acquainted to Rest Ministries.:)Sandee

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