BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!! We are moving!

WE ARE MOVING!!

That’s right! Hot Tea and the Empty Seat found a new home & it’s waiting for you to go get cozy and show some love! I will no longer be posting on this URL/blog page and eventually it will be deleted. SO, please check out the new blog! Let’s not miss each other for too long…

Since we don’t want to see you go, please head over here now and subscribe via email to our new blog! You will still receive the same encouragement in your inbox, it will just be prettier & more organized!!! If you don’t subscribe and follow the new blog, you won’t get all of the weekly awesomeness & we don’t want that!

I would also LOVE you if you headed over there right now with your hot tea in hand and peeked around a bit. There is a new ‘about me’ and lots of goodies just waiting for you to enjoy!

The new blog link is: http://www.hotteaandtheemptyseat.blogspot.com/

 

Thank YOU so much for being a part of Hot Tea and the Empty Seat. This is just the beginning! Can’t wait to hear from you!

 

See you soon! -Katie

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Testimony Tuesday- Renewed Joy

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There is no denying His absolute love for us. There is no denying His perfect, precise timing.

I took a few days off the grid to spend the extra time that would be spent on the internet in the Word & in prayer. I am excited to be back because I have so much to share with you all. But first things first! Sadly enough, today is the last day of Testimony Tuesday. I hope & pray that each and every testimony has spoken to you in a powerful way. You can always check out the category “Life Stories” to catch up with them all! I know each of the life stories have encouraged me and have served as reminders of His great and awesome love for us. Each story has also convicted me to go live daily as a testimony of His grace and compassion. If you have been following my journey, you will remember that my “one word” for this year is joy. Oh, my soul yearns for more joy. I am astonished at the Lord’s hand in wooing me to His side in such a supernatural way that I cannot explain the joy in my heart. It grows more and more each time I intentionally live in the presence of the Lord. It’s no coincidence that today’s testimony is one of renewed joy…

“I have something very special to testify about.  It’s that I got my Joy back this year!

I have been a Christian for over 40 years.  Married to a wonderful Godly man for 38 years and I lived with joy for much of that time….but slowly I allowed “life” to steal my JOY.  Sometimes we live in difficult situations.  For years God had strengthened me during difficult times and gave me strength and wisdom.  He used the bad for good.  But at some point slowly I allowed myself to become weary.  I started asking “what about me….when is my time?” Selfishness was the start to my becoming weary…and not looking to God for my strength and for ways to bring Him glory.  Instead I was looking for MY WAY to be happy!  Colossians 3:17 “Whatsoever you do…do it heartily as unto the Lord and not unto man”  I knew that I wasn’t suppose to live my life to please others(including myself….only God.)  My dad had abused us all of my life…especially when he was drinking…then my brother committed suicide….and then my parents health began to fail (heartache can contribute to many health issues)….then my identity changed….I had been a wife and mother and LOVED it!!!! Now my nest was empty and my husband was always busy….after losing my brother, my nephew, my mom, my dad, and my grandmother….it seemed like my life was filled with one loss after another and in the midst of it all….somewhere along the way I LOST MY JOY.  II Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind”

How did I find it you ask?  Well, let me tell you about something God used to help me.  A friend told me a few years ago that she had gone through an experience …a conference called “The Encounter”.  She couldn’t tell me much detail except that it had changed her life.  So after a couple of years I had an opportunity to attend this “Encounter”.  I went seeking….seeking God…seeking answers to why I had so much resentment in my heart and seeking to get my JOY back.  This encounter was a time away to get away from the hustle bustle and reflect, listen, and take time to hear from God.  It was a time to evaluate myself and be evaluated by others.  During one of the “designated “quiet times before the Lord I saw myself kneeling at His feet.  As I knelt there I began to vomit.  All of my bitterness and resentment was coming out of me and when it was over…I was free of all bitterness. I was happy…I had my Joy again…God immediately began filling my heart once I let go of the hardness and hurts of my heart where bitterness had been accumulating.  I have been forgiven of so many wrong doings in my life by the Lord and by loved ones I have hurt.  How dare I keep holding them to such a strict standard when I had not lived up to that standard myself! What a hypocrite I have been!  So you see, this is not about me or what I have or have not done.  It is not about others or what they have done or not done to make me happy or sad.  This is about a loving God who has forgiven me.  And willingly continues to forgive me.  Who gave His Son to save me from my sins …to save me from myself!  It’s about a Heavenly Father who loves me and wants good things for me. It’s about you and I first taking time to listen to God.  It’s about seeking Him.

Since that “Encounter” I sometimes start to allow disappointments and hurts to come in to my heart and I want to mull over them and think about how much I’ve been hurt….but then I take that hurt….express my emotion and disappointment and lay it back down at the feet of Jesus.  So my friends,  I pray that God uses this testimony for HIS GLORY and that you are drawn to His goodness and faithfulness.

Blessings!

-Judy

Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. -Psalm 25:5

Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord. -Psalm 31:24

 

I am proud to exclaim that this awesome woman of God is my mother in law! I can testify that she truly has “gotten her joy back”. She exudes the love of Christ & there is no denying the work that God has done in her heart. I am so encouraged by her willingness to serve tirelessly with joy.

Praise God for joy!

-Katie

Be sure to “like” Hot Tea on Facebook!

Testimony Tuesday- Husband & Wife Pt 2

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Hey friends!
I am on a plane to the sunny state of Arizona! I am excited to share pictures with you all throughout the duration of our little getaway. I couldn’t let you all miss TESTIMONY TUESDAY!

I am stoked to share a life story with you guys today. Last week’s testimony was from a wife and this week, we are sharing her husband’s testimony! Leslie is a dear friend of my husband’s and coincidentally enough, Leslie and I went to high school together. God brought all of us together through both of our husband’s jobs. Leslie’s testimony is nothing more than a gift from God. I am praying that it will be a tool to encourage the hearts of husbands everywhere to recognize God for who He is, our only Strength!

A man’s testimony is important because God commands each man to lead his wife and family right to God. But it’s important that the man is letting God lead him.
If your husband or maybe even father is not following God, keep praying for them.

“If you’re not praying for your husband, who is?”

“My life is far from perfect much like most people. I was born and raised in a Church of Christ where I went my whole life growing up. Both my grandpas preached the good Word, and I was raised to know right from wrong and always used “yes sir” and “yes m’aam”. So, it seemed like everything would just keep a constant flow of goodness, but, as I got older, it seemed doing right and going to Church just got harder.
It didn’t get harder because I no longer believed in God, it got harder because the older I got, the more challenges I had to overcome. I’ve never been one to give up, but as I entered college, my towel had been thrown in. I took up frat parties, drinking, and getting with the type of girls that had never been to Church. My life was off track in so many ways and at the time I didn’t know why. The funny thing is, when your in that group doing those things, you think you’re untouchable and everyone else not doing those things are considered the losers.
I truly believe God looks out for each and every one of us and saying that, I think He saw my struggle. The late nights and part-time job was fun for a while, but looking at the big picture, as in heaven or hell. Where was I headed? I saw my future and I believe God sent me a sign when I met my wife. We were both from the beaten path and God putting us together, I truly think saved both of us! It wasn’t overnight but slowly we got back into Church. I was given the opportunity for a great job that I’m blessed to have and now we are expecting our first baby. The moral of the story and my life is that my parents didn’t fail, I did by picking the wrong friends, the wrong life, and by leaving Church and dropping God in my life. God gives each of us a chance to succeed way more times than we deserve and He blesses us with way more than we deserve.
The devil is everywhere and he knows that it’s always easier to give up rather than to fight back. My life is better not because of me, but because of God and how He blesses me with His grace each and every day. This is my life now and it’s the life I intend my children to grow up knowing.

God doesn’t give up on us, so I don’t intend to give up on him!”

-Leslie husband of Tanisha

Testimony Tuesday: Husband + Wife Pt.1

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Friends!!! I am terribly excited to share two special testimonies with you over the next two Tuesdays! Of course they are each special but these particular stories are from a married couple who were led to each other by our loving God. I am honored to call them both friends. My husband and I have had the opportunity to watch God change their lives completely over the past year. Today’s lifestory is from the wife! I am praying that God uses her story to bless your heart and change your life as well!

“When I think about just how far I have come in the last couple years with my relationship with God, I feel overwhelmingly blessed and undeserving. I have realized in the midst of our lives at any point, God is always with his children. He knows exactly what you need to bring you to him. For me, it has been a two big impacts.

Firstly, I did not grow up in a home that went to church. I went with cousins and great grandparents when really young but that is about as far as that went. However, at about age 10. I had a pastor move across the street from me. He had two young daughters. They became practically my second family. From the age of 10 until about 14, they were like my sisters. I rode to church with them every time the doors were open. Those were the most important years. It built my foundation with God. I gave my life to him and lived my for him! It came as a shock when their dad was called to open up a new church in Alabama. I was heart-broken. I no longer had a way to church and felt guilty to catch rides from church members. And talk about bad timing, I was beginning high school soon…This is where things obviously went slightly down hill. I was never a bad kid..but I was a young girl seeking attention and her place in the world. High school years are tough! What I really needed was a restored relationship with God! But I was looking for love and acceptance in all the wrong places! I always felt I needed God, but I was too caught up in the world. This went on for about 3-4 years progressing with time.

That is until something else unexpected happened while in college, I met my husband! Shew, did God have a plan! Now, it wasn’t a fairy tale to begin with! I was at a country dancing bar to be precise. We were still off the right path. I would go after college on some nights. However, I had not drunk alcohol or anything of the such this particular night. I was passing by and kinda nudged him and smiled. I had already spotted his blue eyes and smile from across the room. He proceeded to ask me to slow dance and we ate that night. The next night, dinner. The next, the movies. We were inseparable!

Now here is where God spoke to us! We both had our backgrounds and were children of his. Something was missing in our relationship! We can’t love each other correctly if we don’t put God at the head of this equation! We followed our hearts and began attending different churches and our lives began to change in front of our eyes! It was a bit of a struggle at first, to stay on the narrow path. I had not drank and experienced the club-life like he had, because I was younger. I would try dragging him when I would relapse but he put his foot down. Thank God for team work! We were determined! And we were doing it together! Holding one another accountable. After overcoming that, I began changing the music I listened to, things I watched. I conquered that! I wanted people to know who I stand for! Be an example! Just as my husband and I’s relationship grew closer to God, we grew closer and closer to one another. We got married and have followed God in situations that surfaced.

Since, I have left a couple of jobs that did not bring out the positive in me, doing so less than a month later, Leslie was blessed with a job to support us both so I can focus on God and wife things (bills, house, etc.). It was hard not to work! But I honestly felt in my heart that I wasn’t supposed to be there. And his job was enough, we just selfishly wanted more and more security! So it was hard but after realizing a full-time career was not for me, I left and a month later, we conceived. We are expecting a baby! What a blessing!

God knew exactly what his plan was! And we do our best to follow. Even when it does not make sense. Because our life has never been so meaningful! Sure, things get hard, but it’s nice to give those burdens to The Lord and not feel you’re facing your battles alone! I am so thankful that in the midst of anyone’s life, even one of a non-Christian home, that God can bring them to him! Change their life and their destiny after life forever! He was there for that 10-year-old girl. Anyone else would shake their head and see her future the same as the role models in her house, but she beat those odds. And then again, an undeserving 20-year-old the night she met her husband. 🙂 Praise God he does not turn his back on us! I can not wait to raise our baby in a Christian home with God running our household. Our lives are changed forever!”
-Tanisha, wife of Leslie

Ah, I love hearing stories of changed hearts especially in both the husband and wife. What a blessing! It reminds me of one of my favorite verses.. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:The old has gone, the new is here!” -2 Corinthians 5:17       PS- If you are on Facebook, “like” & share Hot Tea and the Empty Seat’s fanpage to keep up with daily encouragement and up & coming GIVEAWAYS as well! Just click HERE!

Be blessed!

-Katie

Testimony Tuesday: When God Speaks

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Testimony Tuesday is here again! I am so honored to share today’s testimony with you all. This life story truly is an example of the amazing grace of God. He has a purpose for each of us, no matter how far we think we have fallen. He is a God of mercy, grace, and love… 

“Ok so here it goes….

For the most part you could say that I have always believed in God, in Jesus Christ

and so the story goes. Sure there were periods were I was all peace love and flower-

power and I believed that maybe it was all just al lie, a gimmick, that we all came from

the earth that which we must return. Or maybe it was that I did not really want to adhere

to all the rules Christians had carved out for me, or that somewhere along the line I was

judged so badly by them that I did not want any part of being associated to them. Or

perhaps the real problem was I never knew Jesus and had never taken the time to seek

him out, know his real attributes, his love, his grace, his justice. Whatever the case that

was a short history of where I was. (Very Short)

The truth is, I was and have always been a very insecure person and I would be lying if I

told you I did not still struggle with it from time to time. In the past I had spent most of

my time trying to fill myself up with different things: relationships, sex, drugs, alcohol,

you name it, sadly, I probably tried to use it. I led a very volatile lifestyle. I got pregnant

in high school, got addicted to partying, lost custody of my son ( which I later regained)

which led to depression and cutting myself for years until I finally tried to kill myself. Got

pregnant again and decided to abort that wonderful gift God had given me, to later

struggle with infertility issues. (another story) The point is I was trying just about

anything to make happy and ending up in the same place every time. EMPTY.

Later a met a man who started to change my life and we got married, surely this would

be it. The happiness I have been waiting for, right? Wrong. The next step was to

obviously have children. I wanted them badly, I agonized over them am was sure I was

unable to have them due to the past life I had chosen to live. Finally God blessed us

with another child, a daughter. Happiness must wait right around the crib, NO, BIG NO!

I believe this is what The Lord choose to bring me closer to him. I hung in there by

the hair on my chinny chin chin…. (literally because now I grow one there, WOW) for

about one year and was just dead inside. I was sucked dry of any and all life,

constantly giving myself to other people, my kids my husband. I was completely

isolated from adults because I was fortunate enough to get to stay at home but it was

wearing me down, it was an adjustment indeed. Finally I snapped and said “NO MORE, I

am going to make myself happy” and the rest of you can figure it out. I decided I was

going to get a divorce, I was starting to hide money, and save so I could take my kids

and start something new for us. I went back to work. I started going out with my girl

friends all the time, drinking a lot, disrespecting my husband and doing WHATEVER

made ME happy because I was only focusing on myself. ( All the while still insecure

might I add.) This behavior went on for months and I was spiraling out of control fast.

This went on for several months until one day I was driving into work listening to a

song by Ryan Adams called “Oh My Sweet Carolina”, it’s talking about someone going

around the world trying to fulfill themselves with different things but ending up with

pockets full of dust. The Lord overwhelmed me at an instant. I knew He was speaking

to me through this song. Please listen to it, PLEASE. I pulled my car to the side of the

road crying, begging for forgiveness, asking him to change me. The beautiful thing is

He DID. It is and has been a slow process. One where I sin and get knocked down a

lot, daily. I am starting to get to know Him though and He is always there to hold His

hand out to me and pick me up. When He feels far away it’s because I am far away, I

feel full of sin like I am not excepted, like I am not worthy to bring myself to him.

Honestly I am not, but in His eyes I am. He wants me, he loves me, I am HIS CHILD.

He is teaching me like I am teaching my 3 kids now.

Refinement is hard; it’s not easy

but its worth it to know Him, to call at His name and feel the peace He brings you. To

call Him your Lord and Savior. No word can compare to the beauty of The Lord. His

blood has covered me and I am forever grateful.

Here is a verse I fell in love with shortly after my veil was removed.”

1 Timothy 1: 15-18

“Here is a trust worthy saying that deserves full expectancy: Christ Jesus came into the 

world to save sinners OF WHOM I AM THE WORST. But for that reason I was shown 

mercy, so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense 

patience as an example of those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now 

to the king eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and 

ever. Amen.”

Yes, God wants you and He is wooing you back to His side, into His loving arms. Don’t resist Him. Bow at His feet. Accept His gift of grace. This one woman’s life shows us that no matter how messy our lives seem to be, they are incredible of His love offered to us through Jesus. I am praying that God uses this testimony to convict and encourage you today. Be blessed!

-Katie

Testimony Tuesday- Letting Go of Control

Happy Tuesday! I am so excited to share another Life Story with you today! There is beauty in every story that has been touched by the mighty loving hand of Jesus. I love hearing about lives that have been changed by God. Be encouraged today!

My story is like the story of many others. I came to Christ at a young age. It is difficult to remember what my life was like before I met Jesus, but I know even then that I was the worst of sinners in desperate need of saving grace. There were moments of clarity about my faith and growing in Christ as I grew up, but also a vast lack of consistent discipleship. A time came when I strayed far from my Savior and began to question my faith and live for myself, not for Him. Although I did not know it then, my deepest struggle was a need for acceptance and acclamation. I wanted control. This was revealed in multiple troubled relationships with men and friendships I would do anything to keep. Funnily enough, none of it satisfied me. It turns out that people are not easy to predict or control. The life I lived left me broken and raw. I found myself riddled with sin. God intervened.

I entered college and found myself surrounded by genuine and mature Christians for the first time in my life. I found life and health in the pages of my bible. I was discipled for the first time. Hallelujah! I knew my Jesus and it was beautiful. Unfortunately sanctification is a process and not a one time event. I was still riddled with the need to find significance in what I could achieve and the company I could keep. I still wanted control. My pride and insecurity continued to crop up in my life throughout college and I added one more broken relationship to the list. I did not trust God to meet my needs. God intervened.

I went to Romania on my first mission trip and that is where I met him. I did not like him. I thought he was mean. He did not like me either. He thought I was controlling. He was right. This relationship continued unchanged until about six months before we were married. I have now been married to this godly and loving man for over 5 years. I tried my old ways in the early part of our marriage. I have to say that control and manipulation is not conducive to a thriving marriage. Jason would not be controlled. I also became friends with some godly women who were willing to challenge me at the point of my sin and continue to do so. God’s word continued to light my path as a wife, as a believer. Add two small children and a husband in the ministry and you have ready-made sanctification. God is good.

I have realized that His love is unfailing and I can trust Him to meet my every need in Him. It all begins and ends with Jesus. I am fully accepted in Him and my cup runs over. I am so thankful for the saving blood of Jesus and His intervention in my life. There is so much to tell because His works are many, but I trust I have told the greatest story today.
He saved me, even me.”

-Gena, mother of two beautiful children, wife to Jason, friend to many, fellow writer, and faithful servant of Christ!

 

 

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Testimony Tuesday – From Death to Life

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Friends! I am so excited that it is finally Tuesday! Last Friday or so, I shared with  you all about how we are starting a new series on Life Stories. Each Tuesday I will be sharing the life story or TESTIMONY of an individual who has touched my life and I know it will touch yours. I am blown away by reading their stories about God’s redemption and perfect plan. For those of you who are leery or unsure about God, please take the time to follow this series. There is so much more to life than fighting through it on your own.  For those of you who are Christ followers, I am praying that God will use each testimony to change your heart and mind and draw you closer to God.

Today’s story will blow you away. Read it for yourself.

“Going to church was a regular part of my childhood.  Every Sunday, we were the first family to arrive; we unlocked the doors, set up the chairs, put out the hymnals, and greeted everyone who arrived after us with a hug.  We were also the last family to leave after putting everything away.  It was natural to me; a habit.  Something we did as a family.  But that’s all it was.  Something I grew up doing.

The older I got, the less church mattered to me.  When I was in college I didn’t go at all.  And that was when I needed it the most.  I was so busy trying to be the girl my friends expected me to be that I never found out who I really was.  I drank, partied, and even experimented with pot a couple of times. I’m very thankful that didn’t become an addiction

but alcohol was an addiction.  My life was an endless cycle of school during the week and parties on the weekend.  But this was not a satisfying way to live.  I battled depression and thoughts of suicide.  I never felt good enough.  I never believed that I measured up or had any real value.  My friendships were superficial and the guys I dated didn’t want to get to know the real me, and so I suffered in silence.  I never told anyone about the anxiety attacks, the depression, or about the night that I almost took my own life. 

During the darkest night of my life I sat huddled in a corner of my bathroom with a knife held to my wrist.  I was locked in a battle that I could neither see nor hear.  Whether I sat there for minutes or hours I do not know.  What I do know is that someone, somewhere, was on their knees that night.  When I awoke the next morning I wondered why there was a kitchen knife in my bathroom sink.  Slowly the memory of the previous night came back to me.  And still my life didn’t change.

Several years later I began seeking something different.  I didn’t know what I was seeking

I just knew that I wanted something different.  It was during the summer of 1999 when I was working one of my first professional acting jobs.  I found myself not wanting to go out with the rest of the cast after rehearsals and performances.  I spent a lot of time by myself that summer.  When I returned home at the end of the summer I found myself visiting a new church (only because mom and dad were visiting there).  For the first time in my life I really listened to the sermons; and it seemed that the pastor knew all about me.  His sermons spoke specifics about my life; my emptiness; my hurts; my mistakes.  After about a month of visiting the church the wall around my heart came crashing down as I whispered the words “Yes, Lord.”  I didn’t even know what I was saying “yes” to.  My heart and soul wanted the peace and joy my pastor was talking about.  I don’t know if I really believed it then or not, but I sure do now.  In an instant the Holy Spirit came flooding into my life and washed away the dirt and the grime. 

I had no desire to drink after that day.  The profanity that I used to use on a regular basis would no longer form on my tongue.  My friends were no longer the people I wanted to hang out with (and their off-color jokes weren’t appealing any more).  God quickly replaced them with mature, godly friends who helped me grow in the Lord.  Most notably was the addition of a mentor after I’d been saved for a few years.  Mrs. Amy became a very important part of my life and it’s because of her that I began to mentor young ladies.

I’ve been saved for 14 years now and God has blessed me immensely.   I’ve never regretted the decision to give my life to Christ Jesus.  I’ve seen Him work in my life and change me into the woman of God He desires me to be (and He’s not done yet, by the way).  I know now that I do have value.  I am a daughter of the King.  My purpose is to glorify Him.  The depression is gone.  I’ve only had one anxiety attack since I’ve been saved and because I turned to Christ in prayer it was gone just as quickly as it came on.

Following Christ hasn’t been easy.  It’s difficult.  It’s very difficult.  Don’t be deceived into thinking that becoming a Christian will suddenly make all your problems go away.  To this day, I still deal with consequences from decisions I made before I met Christ.  Satan tries to steal my joy on a regular basis.  He reminds me of my past and tries to make me feel worthless and useless.  Sometimes, he is successful.  But God always reminds me of His love for me.  I am worthy because I belong to Christ.  I am useful because I serve Jesus.  I am of great value because the King of the universe gave Himself for me.  My story is simple: I am a sinner who has been saved by grace.  It is my prayer that all who read this share the same story:  Sinner saved by grace.”

For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift.”  Eph. 2:8 HCSB

-Cheryl

Below are some verses that God uses to lift me up when I am feeling down.  I pray these bless you as they have blessed me.

Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past.  Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it?  Isaiah 43:18-19a NASB

The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save.  He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.  Zephaniah 3:17 NKJV

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.  1 Peter 2:9 HCSB

God has used this one woman’s life to change and enrich so many others. I believe this because my life has been one of those changed by her life and willingness to encourage and serve others. Cheryl’s commitment and faithfulness to the Lord is breathtaking. She mentored me while I was single and searching. She taught me, not only with words but with actions, how important it is to put your relationship with Christ far above any other relationship. Her joyous smile captivates people and draws them right into the very face of Christ. I hope and pray that her life story will always be one that you can look to and SEE and BELIEVE how deep and wide and long and far the love Christ has for you truly is.