Tea is a big part of Indian culture. You can be sure to find a tea stall anywhere you go – even in the smallest villages. Indian tea was commercialized by the British, and since then it has become increasingly popular. In America, you often hear it called “Chai Tea”. When that term became popular, my family began to groan at the irony of it. “Chai” is actually the Indian word for “tea”. In our minds, everyone was saying “tea tea”. Now I’m more used to the phrase as chai has really become a variety of tea rather than Indian tea. I don’t cringe (as much) anymore. 😝
Here in India, tea is often served without any spices added to it. The four ingredients are tea powder/leaves, water, milk, and sugar! However, if you walk into a restaurant and order “Masala Tea”, you will get something more like my recipe below. “Masala” is simply a blend of spices. In my father’s state language, the word for tea is “chaa”, but the term “chai” is used frequently as well.
You can experiment with the spices you use in it. In my recipe, I only included ginger and cardamom, yet some people like to add black peppercorns, cinnamon, or clove. The recipe as a whole might look a little daunting at first glance but give it a try. Once you have made it a few times, you can own the recipe. You will learn to make it precisely how you like it and you won’t need to look at the recipe anymore!
Tea is the main social drink in India, just like coffee is in America. While coffee shops are becoming somewhat popular here due to Western influence, the tea stalls still have the upper hand! I love being able to go just about anywhere and get a real cup of chai…none of that tea bag nonsense. Give this girl a nice, steaming cup of real Indian chai, and I will be in my happy place. Lois and I both feel this way about tea and thankfully our husbands have also learned that they can make our day by bringing us a cup. 😊
The tea we use daily in India is available at some Indian stores in the States. It will be cheaper to buy it at an Indian store than online, if you want the exact same type that we use. However, pretty much any loose black tea will work out for you. I should warn you, though, that the amount of tea and boiling time in the recipe will vary depending on the strength of your tea leaves or powder. Here are some Amazon links to the two kinds of tea that we buy here in India. Red Label Tea and Tata Gold Loose Tea .
If you look at your local Indian store and want to find the brands that we use, look for Brooke Bond Red Label Loose Tea or Tata Gold Loose Tea. Lois recently found the Tata Gold Loose Tea at her local Indian store for only $12 per kg (2.2 lbs). That is significantly cheaper than what we have seen online!
With no further adieu, here is the recipe below. Do enjoy! 🙂 – India
- Metal saucepan
- Tea strainer
- 3 tbsp Loose black tea powder or leaves
- 4 cups Water
- 2 cups Whole milk
- 2 tsp Fresh ginger (optional) Grated or finely chopped
- 6-8 Cardamom pods (optional)
- Sweeten as desired Honey, Jaggery, Sugar, or Xylitol are recommended.
- Add water and tea powder to a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.
- While the water is coming to a boil, grate the ginger and peel or cut open the cardamom pods. Put the ginger and cardamom into the tea as it is heating (We put in the entire cardamom pod. Peeling them just releases more flavor into the tea.)
- Reduce heat to medium high and allow the tea to boil for around three minutes before adding the milk.
- Pour in the milk. Turn the heat down to low and allow the tea to come to a simmer (usually five minutes or less). You will know the tea is done when there is a nice layer of creamy “skin” at the top.
- Strain the tea into a tea pot, sweeten as desired, and enjoy!
Today I want to share two simple things that help my husband and I stay connected through busy seasons of life. Life gets crazy, and sometimes it is hard to stay on the same page with the people you live with, especially your spouse. Figuring out what worked for us did not happen overnight, and we are still growing in it, but we can see the benefits of consistency.
We have read books that suggested that married couples should go on a date at least once a week. While this sounds amazing and we would love to physically go out somewhere for quality time every week, we realize that this is not the season of life we are in. We fit in dates outside our home as often as possible, but it is not every week and usually not every month. Our children will not always be little, though, and some day we might be able to go on dates even more than once a week!
What helps us stay connected?
1. That all being said, we have our own little date at home almost every day. It is nothing fancy, and only takes a short time. The time that works best for us is early in the morning. After we have our personal quiet time with the Lord, we come together to read a devotional and pray for a few minutes before the kids are up and out of their room. This has become my favorite part of the day. It is the sweetest thing to spend time before the Lord as a husband and wife, and it helps us start the day right. We often take a couple minutes at that point to discuss our plans for the day as well, over a cup of tea or coffee, of course.
Some mornings the kids interrupt, coming in to ask a question a.k.a. to see what we are up to. Some mornings we accidentally sleep in and miss this time altogether. Some mornings something totally random happens to throw off our routine. Therefore, this time together takes intention and purpose. If we miss it once or twice, it is life. But when we fall out of the habit, we usually start falling out of sync with each other, too.
Doing something like this in the morning might not be practical for you because of your work schedules, sending kids off to school, or some other reason, but I would encourage you to find time in your day somewhere at some point to at least spend a few minutes in prayer with your spouse. You will not regret it.
2. Something else that has helped us connect is that we scarcely watch movies or TV shows. I know, you are probably rolling your eyes and thinking, “That’s why they have four kids!” Yes, we have heard all the comments. But seriously, limiting our movie intake allows for a lot more meaningful conversations in the evenings.
I hesitated to even mention this, because I do not want anyone to take this as a judgmental statement. However, meaningless entertainment can easily rob our family of our best quality time if we allow it to. I love a good movie, but in good measure.
We have only been married for nine years and we will always be learning. It has been a blessing to have many Godly examples of marriage to look to throughout these years. The Holy Spirit is continually teaching us through His Word and helping us to weed out areas that need checked. I pray that we continue to embrace the journey in the years to come.
Maybe you have a story of how God has grown your marriage. I always love hearing these stories and would love to hear yours! Feel free to comment below or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a wonderful day! – India
My family just got back to India. We are under a state-required quarantine, so we are being careful not to go in public places and do our best to follow the rules. However, it has been a bit of a challenge with four little kids who grew accustomed to playing outside for hours every day during the past year in the States. Here we live on the outskirts of the city, so we have a very small front “yard” covered in concrete pavers…not much of a place to run and get energy out. Yesterday we decided to take the kids out to a piece of family property for a hike. It was extremely hot and humid, but everyone seemed to enjoy getting out anyways. At 9:30am, it was already around 90 degrees! The amount of sweating we all did surely counts as some sort of skin detox, right? 😛
I really love hiking. I’ve never had the opportunity to do any sort of hardcore hiking, but what I’ve done, I’ve enjoyed. Over the past few years as our kids have gotten a bit older and I figured out what baby carrier I like best, we’ve done more hikes and long walks. Good shoes are an essential for such activity, and I was so glad when I found a pair of sandals that does the job for me. Now, no company is paying me to say this (though I kind of wish they were! ha!), but I LOVE my BareTraps Samina Gladiator Sandals. They work really well for my feet, and my first pair lasted me over three years. I wore them a LOT. In fact, I could have worn them longer, because they weren’t exactly falling apart, but they were pretty worn from use and weren’t providing the best support any more.
My shoe size is 7, but I have trouble finding shoes. My feet are wide, but usually not wide enough for a 7W. This makes finding comfortable sandals a trick…especially if I don’t want the hideous-looking kind. I was nervous at first when I bought the BareTraps, because it did take me a little while to break them in. At first they felt a bit constricting and I thought I was going to get blisters. Soon I was happy with them, though, and I was glad to buy another pair this year!
I bought two pairs this time actually, in two different colors. If you get them at Famous Footwear when they’re having a sale, you might score big time like me and get them for half the price! They were actually more expensive on Amazon.
So there you have it…two of my favorite things (hiking and my sandals! :D)!
Acts 20:35 – “I have showed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
The whole concept of luck feeds a humanistic mindset. What is humanism? Very simply, humanism is the belief that we are self-sufficient without God. Humanism is also all about lifting some people higher than others. Luck feeds the mindset that some of us are just more worthy than others.
This is not true. Romans 3:23 – “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Isaiah 53:6 – “All we like sheep have gone astray…”
Horoscopes, astrology, gambling, fate, “the universe”…all of these take away from the existence of divine God. Luck eliminates God out of the picture. These things are one example of why we need to be careful of how the world influences us. Luck is one of those things that is such an accepted part of our culture and of our vernacular, that even Christians throw the concept of luck around like it is no big deal.
Luck is about how we are benefited, for our own personal gain. Blessed is a word that keeps our gain in perspective – we are blessed to bless others. Being lucky cultivates a posture of pride; being blessed cultivates a posture of praise. Instead of “look what I got” with luck, we desire “look at my God” with blessings.
We may be tempted to give in to those thoughts of – “well, I’m just not as lucky as they are. I don’t have the blessings they do, so I can’t really do much for others.” When our lifestyle is in the proper mindset, however, it is interesting how God decides to bless us: Luke 6:38 – “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” God gives us a one-word command here, and then in a very descriptive manner explains how He will take care of us through other people! People who embrace that they are blessed have no trouble believing that it is more blessed to give than to receive. People who know they are blessed love to give to others, because they know that God has their back!
When we feel that we aren’t blessed, perhaps we should look at:
- how we are living our life – Micah 6:8 – “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”
- how we are viewing our life – James 4:14-15 – “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.”
- how we are stewarding our life – Psalm 90:12 – “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”
Some major influences on our thinking of whether we are lucky or blessed:
- our music “poor you”, “you don’t deserve this”, “it wasn’t meant to be this way”
- our entertainment “thank your lucky stars”, “one of the lucky ones”
- our friends “you deserve this”, “you totally need that”
If you prefer luck – “playing with fate” – over blessings, it is time to examine your heart! James 4:3, 4 – “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” Remembering that we are blessed, rather than lucky, keeps us dependent upon God and His way of doing things.
God is not out to ruin your life or to make you miserable. Proverbs 10:22 – “The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.” God desires to give good things to His children. His promises are abundant and available for us to claim. When we spend our lives doing for others instead of making sure we are taken care of, He has a way of keeping our needs met above and beyond what we could imagine.
What does the song say? Let it help you remember that you are incredibly blessed!
“Count Your Blessings”
Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly
And you will be singing as the days go by
Count your blessings, name them one by one
Count your blessings, see what God has done
Count your blessings, name them one by one
Count your many blessings, see what God has done
Today, I am going to let you in on a secret. One of my greatest insecurities is this: I often struggle to feel qualified as a singer and pianist. I shy away from singing in front of skilled and trained musicians because I simply do not feel “good enough”. Yes, I love to sing, and God has blessed Lois and I with a music ministry. However, I have neither formal training nor a music degree. My mind tells me that this fact makes me inferior as a musician.
Last year, I was lamenting to my husband that I had been asked to sing in a large church that was rich in trained musicians. Those professionals would immediately spot my lack of skill. There would be no fooling anyone! Why couldn’t that church have asked someone else to sing instead of me?
My husband told me the truth that I needed to hear. That church did not ask me to sing because of my skill level. They asked me to sing because God uses it when I do. It is not about my musical talent; it is about glorifying God. It is not about my lack of credentials; it is about a willingness to serve.
My focus was far too much on myself and not enough on God. Many times, insecurity is just pride masked in modesty. It is important to strive for excellence in music, but it is God’s gift to me for His glory and the edifying of His people. I must practice and improve my techniques more for the intent of being a better servant rather than being a better musician.
Have you ever battled with feeling underqualified? Do you have a hobby or skill for your own enjoyment that you try not to tell people about just because you’re not “good enough”? Remember this: all we do should be for God’s glory. It is not about being the best or the most talented. I challenge you to look around your church and note the people who are always serving. They are not usually the people with the most time, money, or even the best health. They are the people who are willing to say, “He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 10:17)
The “cancel culture” has been a hot button topic since the pandemic began. It is an unfortunate mentality that most of us recoil at, scoff at, and shake our heads at. However, I’ve realized that many of us practice “cancel culture”, too…we just spiritualize it – to our shame.
We unfriend someone who calls us out on social media without thinking twice about it.
We speak up loudly on our Facebook about something we are passionate about – because we know what people need to hear on the matter, after all.
We avoid getting close to that person at church who requires more friendship than a passing “hi” in the hallway.
We boycott a business because of some public statement they apparently made – I mean, it was on Twitter, so it must be true.
We stop talking to a brother or sister in Christ who hurts us – because, “I just can’t.”
We teach our children that putting toxic people out of our life is ok because “you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life. Do what is good for you.”
Friends – I don’t think Jesus lived like this at all. When I look at His years on earth, He was seen in the middle of endless scenarios, and they all involved people. We are messy, friends. Jesus chooses to love messy people.
…do I choose to love messy people?
Remember that love does not equate to condoning. Jesus never condoned wrong doing. He did call it out on many occasions. Yet, we have to remember that He is God. And, He gave us instructions for times to call out wrong doing in the New Testament. I would venture to say that a lot of what we do is not what God had in mind when He said to speak “the truth in love”.
The pandemic and all that has come with it has caused me to think a lot about my own Christianity. Do I reflect Jesus in the way I speak to others, in the way I treat others, in the way I love others? Is my testimony for Him tainted by loftiness and pride? I’ve truly besought Him to show me every place I need to humble myself – there are many, many opportunities to learn humility in my own life. May I sum up today’s thoughts with God’s own Words:
“A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in til afterwards.” Proverbs 29:11
Hey there, I’m Katherine, India’s sister-in-law.
I started Headbands for Life just shy of a year ago. I was yearning for a way to serve the unborn as well as a route to help women through the amazing journey of pregnancy and childbirth! However, I was somewhat limited. I had a one-year-old and was expecting my second. These two things made it difficult to serve in an “out of the home” setting. My parents had bought me a sewing machine for Christmas and I had some sewing practice growing up with my Mom. The Lord used both the desire to serve and the resource of a sewing machine to give me the idea of headbands! After some great tutorials, many failed attempts, and some gracious first customers I was able to start sewing headbands and processing orders. I was having fun and all the while serving the Lord by supporting these women and babies from my kitchen table. Currently all of the profits go to HOPE Life Center in Wausau, WI and I can only pray that the Lord uses this business to minister to other Crisis Pregnancy Centers in the future.
If you would like to support families women and the unborn by purchasing some headbands or hats you can find us on Facebook: @headbands4life and Instagram: @headbands_4life . If you are seeking help for yourself or a loved one, please check out HOPE at https://www.hopewi.org
One of the things I’ve been working on since the pandemic hit is reading any parenting books we have on hand. My husband loves books, so we have a fair share of books I’ve never read before. While reading one of them, I was struck in a new way with the gravity of this verse from Proverbs: “My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eye observe my ways.” (Proverbs 23:26).
I thought about how I may or may not be living this out in my own life as a mother. Do I want my children’s eyes to observe my ways? Am I subconsciously putting everything BUT myself in front of my children’s eyes? “Observe my ways…” – can I say that with confidence to my children, confidence that they will see a good example in me?
God isn’t just talking about TV, though that is an easy thing to relate to in our world. This verse is communicating a way of life for all Christian parents. Are we so busy entertaining our children “so I can just have some time” that we aren’t actively training our children? What do my children see me doing? Do they see me growing, ministering, helping, working, and learning? Or do they see me lazy, defeated, busy, distracted, and worldly?
Josh and I are in a busy season of life, and it’s not just because we have kids. It is really easy for us to get to the end of the day and just watch the boys play instead of actually doing something with them. However, we try to do things with them because we know we are training them for the rest of their lives. We don’t do it right every day, let me tell you – we make a painfully large amount of mistakes. I pray that we will do better every day with our boys.
We don’t do anything fancy. Our “something with them” is often a walk to see the train go by; running around in a field with a ball; soaking up sunshine with some bubbles outside; letting Malachi help make supper (Joash hasn’t been allowed to do that much yet, and if you know him, you know why, haha); reading books; doing the laundry; cleaning at church.
What worked in the days of Solomon still works in 2020. Good or bad, our children are watching what we do, how we live, what we say, who we hang out with, where we spend our time – they see it all. We won’t want to say “observe my ways” if we aren’t living the way God intends. Let us choose God’s way of life, and let us remember the great responsibility and privilege that comes with it!
I’ve heard them. You’ve heard them. They cry out on social media, “Your silence enables wrong! Your silence shows which side you’re on!”
My heart tells me to comment on that soapbox rant, my heart tells me to type out my opinion on the matter. I have a lot of good points, don’t I? Not only that, but I also want them to know that I do indeed have an opinion. I care. I am aware. I am not unloving.
The problem is that my heart is often wrong. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”
(Jeremiah 17:9) Just because my heart compels me to let my fingers fly across that keyboard, letting the world know where I stand on today’s issues, does not mean that I ought to.
There was a time when I was much more active on Facebook. I shared posts and I chatted on comment threads. I liked to be right and I liked having a voice. However, I began to notice how it affected me. I dwelled on it far too long, even when I wasn’t at my computer or on my phone. I began to wonder if it was affecting the person that I was, the person that my friends and family spent time with from day to day.
Eventually I realized that there was a greater need for my voice in every day life, every day situations. As a Christian, I could be much more influential on the people around me by living a Spirit-filled life. “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16)
Don’t get me wrong. I fully believe that social media has an influence on our thinking. Ha, I wouldn’t be typing this if I didn’t hope it would help someone today! It encourages me when I see the internet filled with good, factual information, presented in an orderly way. I enjoy reading the passionate opinions of my friends when they present them in a loving way. I’ve learned a lot through online research. The trouble comes when our contempt for any opinion but our own drives us to contention and consumes our precious time.
It’s okay if your Facebook friends don’t know whether or not you like wearing a mask. It’s okay if you don’t post about your political stance. What’s not okay is when we just blow up the internet, and never touch the lives of those around us in a truly tangible way. It’s sad when the people who are a part of our physical life begin to view us as that person who is always going on a virtual tirade. Are they afraid that we’ll bring up those hot topics during an in-person conversation? Is that all we talk about? Is that becoming our identity?
Oh, that our identity may be “children of light”! “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:”
Maybe it’s time to unplug, to look around, to spend real time with the people you love. If you’re physically able, get involved in your local church ministries or a community service. When you pray for opportunities to make a difference, you will find that God is faithful to provide those opportunities. This is not silence. This is Christianity. “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:27)
Watching everything transpire before my eyes is interesting to say the least. How unusual that truly the entire world is going through the same thing in some capacity. My thoughts about it all are many – but I am trying to be like Mary, who “…kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).
A glaring result of this crisis is the way it affects the 2019-2020 school year. On every side, uncertainty is found. The fear of the time your child, no matter their age, is losing with their education is alarming. Today I wanted to share something from my life that God reminded me of; maybe it will encourage you in this time.
India and I were homeschooled our entire lives. I even did my first two years of college at home. In the years I was 8 and 9 years old, my mother became very ill with malaria. She was very, very sick…sometimes close to death. During that time, our education was inevitably put on hold. We went months without doing any schoolwork. In a way, we lost an entire year of school time.
I don’t really remember much of what my mom said about our school then, because she was so sick that we girls did not get to see her very often. We spent most of our time with different church families who cared for us while my dad was with my mom at the hospital. I was young enough that I didn’t always understand how sick she was. As young as I was, though, I also remember the strength of my mother’s faith as well as the encouragement from our pastor to trust God in that confusing time. Mommy recovered, praise the Lord, and life carried on. Guess what? I graduated high school right on time. India did, too. Many might say, “oh, well, your mother caught you up and it worked out since you were homeschooled anyways”. But, don’t forget that making up an entire year of missed time is a pretty big deal academically.
What is impossible with man is always possible with God. Somehow, God helped make up for the time we lost in that year. I honestly do not even remember how. That was over 20 years ago. The way technology has advanced in 20 years is astounding and to our great advantage. If God was able to help us way back then, could He not do the same for our world today?
I see many trying to carry on in this crisis as close to normal as possible, almost as if this crisis is not happening. May I encourage you to consider that it is ok not to have it all figured out. It is ok for everything to be awry because sometimes that is how life goes. Please let God take up for where you are lacking. I am not belittling the importance of anything good; no, I am seeking to make much of what God is capable
of. He wants to be the One glorified in our weakness. How sad it would be if when we come out on the other side of this crisis, that we look back and tell others, “This is what I did to power through.”