“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4 ESV).
Several years ago, I spoke at a women’s retreat in Mexico for English-speaking women. Many were discouraged and lonely, and this retreat allowed them to worship, encourage one another, and enjoy fellowship in their language. The theme for the retreat was “Hearing His Voice,” with the opening session an actual “English Afternoon Tea.” I accepted, as I loved the idea, and began to pray for direction and inspiration.
While planning, I realized we would need teacups and teapots. The planning committee in Mexico had enough teapots but didn’t have the 70 plus teacups for the attendees as gifts. I was excited that each lady would be taking home a beautiful teacup after the retreat. They had to be pretty bone china teacups, not Styrofoam, plastic, or chunky mugs.
When my family and friends heard about the tea party in Mexico, many of them gave me their best — lovely English bone china teacups from their collection.
Every teacup had a note and a prayer attached to the handle with a pretty ribbon. My Sunday School class also donated tea, sugar cubes, and teaspoons, and my British friends contributed beautiful tea napkins.
I was concerned about transporting all these teacups to Mexico safely, but God took care of that. Packed safely in bubble wrap and two hard-sided Samsonite suitcases (purchased at the local thrift store), every one of the 77 cups and saucers arrived intact. I even breezed through customs and immigration. But this was just the beginning of many miracles at the retreat.
The dining room of the conference center looked beautiful. The retreat committee filled the cake tiers with the sandwiches, scones, and desserts they had made. When it was all placed on the table, the room was as spectacular as the Ritz! Each table had a vase of fresh flowers, and we set the teacups randomly around the tables.
The ladies began arriving, many adorned in hats and gloves. Each lady could sit where she wanted, and we purposely did not have place cards so they could sit with friends.
Many women said this was their first tea party. We heard many “oohs and aahs” as they found their places around the beautiful tables.
Fanny, a Mexican missionary, spent her childhood in England, and she was thrilled, as afternoon tea was one of her favorite memories!
Inga, a missionary from Germany, approached me with tears in her eyes, “How did you know?” I was confused and didn’t know what she meant. The inside of her cup had the inscription, To the Bride. Several days earlier, her boyfriend, a Mexican, had proposed, and she had accepted. But she was not sure this was the right decision. Could they combine their two cultures? She came to the retreat to hear the Lord’s answer.
Christina shared how she worked with children in the inner city. She took some little girls to a tearoom and was astonished how the atmosphere of beauty and peace helped those little ones feel God’s love for them. She was so excited to finally have her own teacup, as it affirmed her relationship to Jesus. She felt worthy, valued, and beautiful.
Sarah, an English girl, was thrilled her teacup had her birth month of May inscribed inside but doubly excited to have a proper English Afternoon Tea!
A Canadian missionary, Rowene, received a teacup that had the verse “The Lord is my Strength and Song” inside the cup. She had recently lost her young daughter to cancer, and this verse was unique for her. Just before her death, Rowene’s daughter had tea with Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace as part of the Make-A-Wish Foundation! Tea had become very important to Rowene, and receiving this cup brought comfort and confirmation that she was Hearing God’s Voice that weekend.
Cornelia was a new mom who had recently moved to Mexico and was very lonely and craving the fellowship of other women. The tea party and retreat gave her a fantastic time to get to know women in her neighborhood and have companionship.
Another lady shared how the teacup she received was the exact pattern of her grandmother’s china. She couldn’t believe it! Still, another precious lady divulged her cup was the same pattern as the wallpaper in her family’s home kitchen in Denmark where she grew up. So many women experienced supernatural connections with their teacups.
Sandy was a very busy young mom with four little boys. She longed for some girl time. She told me the Lord had gone above and beyond giving her the desire of her heart, a tea party. Sandy received a cup from one of the gentlemen in our Sunday School class who had recently lost his wife. She keeps that cup on her buffet. Each day it reminds her that God is such a God of detail. He cares for her and knows her longings.
Sandy is now involved in planning the annual retreat, and God continues to show His love in very supernatural ways.
The seemingly random placement of the cups, along with every woman’s choice of seats, became a God-directed moment planned by the Creator of the amazing intricacy of our world.
God is a God of detail and a God of Love. Those women heard loud and clear that God loves them, cares about them, and about every detail of their lives.
Little did I know that going to Mexico with two suitcases full of teacups would have such an eternal message inside each cup. And an added blessing was the notes the women at the retreat sent back with me to give to those who gave their precious teacups.
Those teacups did talk to so many women that weekend. God was there for each one of us. He loves to delight His daughters with the desires of their hearts, and each one received the perfect teacup for her life.
Scones are such a big part of Afternoon Tea. Our grandchildren have always loved them and it is one of the first things I make when they come to visit. They especially love the clotted cream that goes on the scones.
Now our great-grandchildren are becoming scone lovers. This is the recipe that our granddaughter Nicole made for her little girl’s second birthday this year. They are incredibly delicious when served right out of the oven, but even reheated, they are delectable. Scones were also a huge hit at the retreat in Mexico.
Blueberry Lemon Poppy Seed Scones
2 ½ cups flour 2 Tbsp sugar 1 Tbsp baking powder ½ tsp salt 1 stick of butter, cold and cut into small pieces 1 egg ¾ cup buttermilk + more for brushing on top 1 Tbsp vanilla 1 ½ cups fresh or frozen blueberries Zest of ½ lemon
Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter and use a pastry blender or your hands to mix with the flour mixture until just combined. Don’t over mix. Fold in the blueberries and the lemon zest.
Bake until golden brown on the middle rack of your oven for about 12-15 minutes. Watch carefully as depending on your oven, they can burn quickly. Let the scones cool slightly on a cooling rack, then drizzle with the *Lemon Poppyseed glaze. Serve warm with butter or clotted cream. (Recipe adapted from Half-Baked Harvest.)
*Lemon Poppy Seed Glaze
½ cup powdered sugar 2 Tbsp butter, melted ¼ cup fresh lemon juice Lemon zest of ½ a lemon ½ tsp vanilla 1 ½ Tbsp poppy seeds
Whisk together the powdered sugar, butter, lemon juice, and vanilla. If too thick, add water, or if too thin, add more sugar. Stir in the zest of ½ a lemon and poppy seeds. Drizzle the glaze over the scones.