Cheryl Henderson is learning the tea business at My Cup of Tea and loving it. “I can do every job,” she said proudly. “Customer service, bookkeeping, and administration.”
Henderson also treasures the work environment. “It’s very soothing. There’s a calming voice here.”
Henderson, 53, was interviewed in March, a particularly good and life-changing time for her. A month earlier she was the grandmother of Julian, an active three-year-old. But within a short time, three newborns, all boys, joined the family. Jamison and twins Kooper and Konner became Julian’s cousins.
Henderson’s two daughters, the newborns’ mothers, are doing well. “When they were girls growing up, they always said they wanted to have their children at the same time,” Henderson smiled, “and they did.”
Obviously very happy, this “quadruple grandmother” can’t stop grinning. She talks constantly about how good God is. Her days now have added duties to her routine of working mornings at My Cup of Tea and afternoons at a part-time, food service job. Around noon she rushes to the hospital to feed Konner (and love on him) and returns several hours later to feed him again (and love on him some more). His brother is home, but Konner needed some extra time in the hospital.
The twins are long and leggy, even at only three pounds. Henderson has a grandmother’s bevy of photos on her SmartPhone of the three newbies and Julian.
Henderson was born and raised in Orange Mound, less than a mile from the My Cup of Tea business and The House at Orange Mound. She married, left Orange Mound for about 25 years, and came back about 10 years ago to live in the same house with her parents. She is twice divorced. At that time she had a daughter in college, another daughter in middle school, and a son in third grade. She now rents a home.
The time of transition was hard. Henderson got a job and earned enough money to be able to send some pocket money to her daughter in college. “But I always wondered why I was back in Orange Mound,” she said. “I knew I was supposed to be here but wondered why.”
Several years ago Henderson noticed remodeling activity at the old corner house at Semmes and Carnes. Always one of the larger homes in the neighborhood, it was now known as The House at Orange Mound, a resource center for women. She stopped in one day during Fall Break in 2015.
“I took the tour. Everybody was so pleasant,” she said. Her life rocked along in its routine, but disruption came in February 2016 with a sudden lay off.
“I thought, ‘I’m not working. That place is really nice. I’ll take the classes,’” And she did. She took sewing, participated in a Bible study, and took the Work for Life class.
Several impressions stuck with her: “Everybody was so nice, so kind, and pleasant. It was overwhelming,” Henderson said.
During that period, she noticed she was changing. “I started living to come to The House. I’d wake up and think about The House.” She looked forward to dropping by. The House brought her new friends, different friends, Christian friends. “I learned I could love outside my inner circle,” she said.
She listened as other Orange Mound women talked. Many come to The House with heartbreaking stories of addiction, abuse, trafficking, and abandonment. “They have major, major stories. I realized that I could have been there,” Henderson said.
Henderson saw that The House had something to offer women.” It was helpful, peaceful, practical,” she said. “The House was a refresher for us. There was total peace. It was a refresher from raising kids.”
Staff members at the House noticed Henderson’s spunkiness and good attitude. Her work ethic includes an excitement about learning. She’ll cheerfully tell a supervisor, “If you teach me a job, I learn it! You can go and sit down!” Not surprisingly, she was offered a job at My Cup of Tea.
“I’m learning from scratch how to start a fully-fledged business and how to run a business. I’m learning every aspect of running a business,” she beamed with pride.
Alongside this professional growth, she also is growing spiritually. When she saw she was, as she said, “a very judgmental person,” she realized that she needed to change. “I decide every day to treat people right,” she said.
She also has realized the truth of what Jesus taught: “You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). “I’m a light to shine in darkness. I know it is a gift from God. The light has to be shared,” she said. “The love of Christ is in me and allows me to be the person I am today.”
At times during her busy life of working two jobs and joyfully loving on four grandsons, Henderson thinks back on her life. She remembers asking the Lord why, why, why she felt she had to come back to Orange Mound. She thinks now that she may well have the answer. “It was for what God has done for me through The House and this job at My Cup of Tea,” she smiled.
- Robin Gallaher Branch