“Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.” – Psalm 126:5-6
Often the hardships of the women at My Cup of Tea are described in these posts. The purpose is not to evoke a guilty response that compels the reader to buy more tea. Instead, the re-telling of these traumas underscores our genuine awe at what these women have overcome.
There is a difference, though, in simply overcoming tragedy and moving beyond it while striving to also live with joy. Many of the women model this daily as evidenced by how they treat each other, their interactions with customers and volunteers, and by their countenances.
Cool, for example, wears a smile frequently. When she’s not smiling, it’s because she is concentrating on each brush stroke applied to her latest refinishing job or meticulously edging the grass around the property. L. Cool is usually the first to speak.
“Good morning, young man!”
“Good afternoon, young lady!”
As we’ve said before, L. Cool struggled with addiction, so much so that she gave up custody of her 4-year-old daughter. She put herself in rehab three times before getting clean. That was over twenty years ago. For most of us, these harrowing experiences would breed anger, bitterness, and resentment – a least a little. But if those natural feelings are inside, L. Cool, we’ve never seen them.
We’ve all heard “it’s the little things,” but at the House that axiom is lived out. Recently, the women shared a chocolate chess pie for dessert. Cheryl loved it and asked for the recipe. The excitement in her voice was palpable when she received the recipe. Only a couple of days later, she had baked two pies for sharing. Her elation at receiving the recipe and baking the pies for her sisters was both obvious and infectious.
Then there are birthdays at the House. Birthday joy radiates from the kitchen to the production rooms to the front porch and beyond. Everyone celebrates. The honoree is given a clothes pin to attach to her uniform. Reveling in her day, each woman, (and anyone else who happens to come through the house,) puts a $1, $5, $10, or sometimes more in the clothes pin. Yes, there’s cake and singing too, but what is remarkable is that women who have so little materially reach sacrificially into their pockets and shower each other with joy.
Everything is not always rainbows and roses at the House. If you read this blog, you know that the women are faced with trials almost daily. We’ve experienced more than our share of deaths in the last 6 years. Physical and mental health challenges are ongoing. Pipes burst, cars breakdown, and sometimes the pantry is empty. And yet there is still laughter, celebration, and joy.
Because the My Cup of Tea women understand that when it seems too hard to find joy in this life, they can celebrate God’s promises for the next life.