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!
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
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!
Pork Masala Curry
- 1 and 1/2 lbs Pork meat We make it with some fat for the flavor. Don't buy too lean!
- 4 Medium-Sized Onions
- 1 1/2 inch piece of Fresh Ginger Root
- 20 Medium Cloves of Garlic
- 1 Green Chili or Jalapeno Pepper
- 1 Cinnamon Stick (3-4 inches long)
- 10 Cloves
- 1 tsp Cayenne Pepper or other red hot pepper powder
- 1 tbsp Coriander Powder
- 1/2 tsp Cumin
- 1/4 tsp Black Pepper Powder
- 1 tsp Turmeric Powder
- 2 tbsp Lemon Juice or White Vinegar
- To Taste Salt
- 1 tbsp Ghee (clarified butter) or vegetable oil For roasting spices
- Cut pork into bite-sized pieces and set asid.
- Chop onions, peel and grate ginger, mince or slice garlic, chop chili finely, and break cinnamon into several pieces. Add them to a skillet or wok with the tbsp of ghee or oil.
- Add all of the spices to the skillet and roast on medium heat until the onions and garlic are tender. This allows the flavors to blend.
- Combine the roasted mixture (or masala, as we say in India) with the pork and stir it over medium heat. Add enough water to cover the meat and bring it to a boil.
- Reduce to a simmer and add the vinegar or lemon juice. Continue to cook the meat (with a lid on) until it is tender and the curry sauce has thickened. Stir occasionally.
- If you need to add more liquid as the meat cooks, add a little at a time. Adding too much water will make your sauce too thin.
- When your meat is tender and your sauce has thickened, add the salt according to your liking. I recommend starting with a teaspoon.
- Your pork curry is ready! Serve with rice for an authentic South Indian experience.
To the mom struggling with chronic illness:
You wake up every day hoping it is a good day. You see the tasks to be done and your inward and mental energy soars with ambition. Sometimes you breeze through your to-do list and end the day with sweet satisfaction. The list is checked off and you can rest knowing that you did your best for your kids that day.
Then there are the not-so-great days. You have plans laid out. You have every intention of getting right to them, but your body just won’t cooperate. Before you know it, you’re spiraling down the familiar pit. Your high expectations for fulfilling your role as a mom have faded. You accept the reality that today will be one of those dysfunctional, unproductive, sort of depressing days.
Guilt hits you as other people take care of your kids and responsibilities. I should be taking care of them. I don’t want people to think I’m just being lazy or faking it. I’m inconveniencing everyone’s lives.
Questions haunt you. Why would God give me these children when I can’t even care for them sufficiently? What if my life is like this forever?
I know what your mind does to you because my mind does it, too. There are few things worse than lying in a hospital bed or on any bed of illness, even at home, when you have small children who need you. You have way too much time to think and that is not usually a good thing.
If you are reading this and relating to what I say, please stay with me. I wish I had a fix-all for these struggles, but I do not. Rather, I can tell you what I do on the hard days.
I speak truth to myself. I believe that the Bible is true, and I am blessed to have a relationship with my Maker. He has provided so much goodness for us in His Word! Search the Scriptures. Earnestly seek comfort in the Bible. God will give you what you need for each moment. We may feel that God is silent because we don’t have all the answers. Perhaps God isn’t giving you a clear answer yet, but He WILL give you peace and grace when you need it. My God is not silent when my Bible is open.
I say “NO” to self-pity. It is easy to drown ourselves in negativity. Don’t let it happen to you! You won’t be a nice person to be around. Trust me.
I focus on God’s plan for today. What I mean by that is: take life one day at a time. He made you to be you for a reason! He made you to be the mother of those children for His plan and purpose. At this present time, you might be sick, but how can you be a blessing to your kids despite that?
Use the down time wisely. Pray for your children’s physical, emotional, and spiritual protection. Pray for their future spouses. Read your Bible and books that will enrich you spiritually or increase your Biblical knowledge. Compile recipes and meal plans on Pinterest that you can make for your family when you are better. Write emails to friends who you haven’t corresponded with in a while.
Watching an occasional movie or reading a fun novel here and there during my illness is great, but my personal limit is small. Despite what we think, binge-watching seasons of shows in order to take our mind off our present situation isn’t the most helpful thing. Those are hours of your life that you will never have back. Consider that maybe God gave you some quiet time to become the mom He wants you to be.
Okay, at the same time, I have to say that sometimes I get carried away and waste time when I’m sick. You really must be intentional to do valuable things when you’re in the hospital or whatever your situation is. I am trying. When the puking has stopped and the pain is manageable, I try to pick my Bible up. You know what? The harder I try to be intentional with my time, the more I sense that I have fulfilled God’s plan for me for that day.
Scripture to read: Psalm 77, Philippians 4:8
There might be more from me on this subject as my journey continues and as God reveals new truths to me. As time allows, I would even like to share my entire health story because I’ve had many people ask for this. Right now I am not sure if this should be in blog form or book form, though. What do you think? Your feedback is always appreciated. Until next time, have a blessed day!
Accompanying is something I’m passionate about. Solo performance is not my strong suit; it is important and something I constantly seek to improve in, but it is not my passion. Going on 18 years of being a church pianist in various forms, I’ve come to realize how essential being a good accompanist is. I am no professional musician, so please remember that as you consider my tips 🙂 . However, I have been gleaning ideas and observations from truly professional musicians for years, and I know God has helped me incorporate much of what their examples teach me.
Being a good accompanist is imperative for a church pianist, because the only solo pieces you find yourself performing are usually offertories. Much more often you find yourself playing while others sing or play their instruments. In any given Sunday I accompany no less than 8 songs – and that number can easily jump to 15 or more if I am the pianist at night, too, or if it is cantata time!
My goal as an accompanist varies based on who and what I am playing for. Is it a vocalist? Is this a choir piece? Are we singing the first congregational hymn? What is the spirit of the church this evening? Is this song happy or somber? Does the vocalist need me to keep her on track or do I need to simply follow her? You see, some vocalists need the encouragement of bold playing for them to sing out. Others expect me to match the rise and fall of their own dynamics. When accompanying, it is not your time to shine. I enjoy coming up with variations for song playing, but only to the extent that it doesn’t take away from the vocalist.
Learn to sightread! Do you know how many times I’ve been asked to sight read music?! (Keep reading to find out what pushed me to learn to sightread!) Congregational music is half sight reading, too! My music director in college really pushed me in this area…and I am so grateful he did. He expected me to be able to play the choir music for rehearsal well enough that I was not throwing off the entire choir. Sight reading is something I’ve heard skilled musicians say they “can’t” do – but I beg to differ. We all can if we practice.
For the sake of background, I have a story for you! I remember one time when I was 15 or so, there was a music workshop at our church for young people. It challenged me in my vocal skills but also in my piano skills – because at that workshop, I realized how little learning I had put into my music…instead, mostly to that point I had relied on any natural ability I had. I’ll never forget how embarrassed I was when one of the teachers at that workshop asked me to play the piano accompaniment for the choir music we were learning together. I complied because I assumed I could – however, a few measures in to it I had botched it so badly that he asked me to stop. Yep, that was embarrassing, especially in front of your teen friends. That instance taught me a very valuable lesson, though – that I had better learn to sightread – and to this day I have that instance etched in my memory.
Remember that God says to make a joyful noise – and He also says to do things decently and in order. He desires for us to do our best in whatever we do. Practicing and improving musical abilities us a huge part of doing our best!
Perhaps one of the most popular hymns of all time is “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”. It just so happens to be my favorite song! The words speak truth to my heart and the tune inspires me. The words “bind my wandering heart to Thee” are probably my favorite part of the song. I have traveled for my whole life, never staying anywhere for more than six months at a time. Though my life has been full of literal wandering, I pray that my heart will never wander far from God. I have had times where I began to wander, but I am grateful for a God Who welcomes me back with loving arms!
Recently it occurred to me that I did not know the history of this well-loved hymn, which started me on some research. These are the original words of “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”, written by Robert Robinson. Take a few moments to read them and then see a brief history of the song at the end of this post.
Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.
Sorrowing I shall be in spirit,
Till released from flesh and sin,
Yet from what I do inherit,
Here Thy praises I’ll begin;
Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;
How His kindness yet pursues me
Mortal tongue can never tell,
Clothed in flesh, till death shall loose me
I cannot proclaim it well.
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothed then in blood washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace;
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransomed soul away;
Send thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day.
In short, Robert Robinson was a troubled young man who was sent to London by his mother to be a barber’s apprentice. He was saved sometime after hearing George Whitefield preach, and later went on to become a Baptist pastor. He wrote “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” in 1757. However, the interesting part of the story is that Robinson was truly prone to wander, just as his song says. Late in his life, during a time when he was not walking with the Lord, he was confronted by the truth of “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”. A complete stranger shared the song with him, not knowing that he was the one who wrote it. Tradition says that he came back to the Lord after this encounter.
This hymn is a powerful personal testimony that we are being blessed by nearly 300 years later! Robert Robinson was honest in the writing of his lyrics. He offered the reflections of his heart to the world in his now-famous hymn. When I read the complete original words and absorb their meaning, I am convicted and encouraged. I do like a lot of newer songs, but this is what I love about the old hymns. They are rich with truth and doctrine.