I go through dozens of Grandma’s collected dishes and glassware, each piece delicate and fine. And my mom has a story for each one:
“Oh, that was the candy dish! If I snuck a piece, I had to lift the silver lid just right, so it wouldn’t make any noise.”
“She set out that dish and filled it with nuts, served with this silver spoon at every church ladies’ circle meeting.”
“She put mashed potatoes in that bowl!”
I scour the Internet for details on the precious glassware, and what I find makes me gasp. Each piece is worth actual dollars! Some pieces are worth several actual dollars! The day I loaded her white Havilland into the back of the minivan, I drove almost as carefully as the day we brought our firstborn from the hospital.
As I set each dish, plate, and cup in their home in my hutch (which was also Grandma’s!), I pause to really look at them — and marvel at what I see. Light and tiny but very much present atop plates are lines where knives scraped across them decades ago. She actually used these!, I think.
That thought strikes me hard because I am a saver. Gardenia perfume I wore on my wedding day? I spritz it on my wrists only on our anniversary. Beautiful teacup from my wedding shower? I haven’t used it since. Crisp white linen napkins, received for our engagement? I only bring them out for Christmas dinner. All these gifts, literally collecting dust.
Most likely, their giver wouldn’t be too happy if they knew their gifts were just taking up space instead of bringing joy on a regular basis. While some things are more meaningful when held onto, the idea of leaving my best things unused doesn’t sit well in my heart.
Because if I can’t bring myself to use the good dishes on a Tuesday night, what else do I hoard and squirrel away? My best listening ear, reserved only for people in crisis. The best of my servant’s heart, reserved for those who can somehow serve me back. The best of my God-given gifts, reserved to the point where they become buried, and I argue when He asks me to use them.
It’s as though we believe the things we save could save us.
“Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or — worse! — stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moths and rust and burglars. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.”
Matthew 6:19-21 MSG
I’ve heard it said that “you become what you behold” — wisdom from 2 Corinthians 3:18. What am I becoming if I am holding back the best of my things, and the best of myself — both out of fear?
My grandma never held back. She brought out the good plates and lit the candles on the dining room table for lasagna dinner on Wednesday nights. She always had a full candy dish waiting for us. She never withheld her listening ear or her love. Her warm and wrinkled hands were ready for holding, and her arms were open wide for hugs. She was generous with her love, her time, and her jewelry collection.
There is deep power in loving others, and we are able to both give and receive that when we gather around the table and give our best.
Grandma’s dishes now live in my kitchen cupboards. Over time, I will add to the faint knife scrapes on the plates, so that when my kids go through them in sixty years, they too will have stories to tell.
Story by Anna E. Rendell and featured in A Mother’s Love.
Above is an excerpt from our book, A Mother’s Love: Celebrating Every Kind of Mom, which is full of reflections on God’s heart. Featuring unique and diverse stories from the (in)courage community, A Mother’s Love offers heartfelt encouragement to all kinds of moms, whether they’re a mother in a traditional sense, a spiritual mother, or a mother-like figure who breaks the mold.
This book is sure to help any woman share a meaningful gift with someone who has been impactful in her life, a new mom learning the ropes, or a close loved one facing the joys and challenges of any stage and type of motherhood. Compiled with all women in mind so we can celebrate those who made us, shaped us, helped us grow, and loved us well, A Mother’s Love is a beautiful gift for the moms in your life.
As Mother’s Day approaches, we know that it is a complex day full of many emotions and experiences. Know that at (in)courage, we are praying for each of you in this season as you remember, celebrate, grieve, or enjoy motherhood and what it means to you. Every single woman who loves, encourages, and nurtures those who become part of the next generation is doing amazing work and is to be celebrated.Leave a Comment
Ruth Mills says
The banner above the card display at Target declares Mother’s Day is May 14th. My precious hubby says “every day’s mother’s day, just ask Mitch”. Now Mitch is our fur baby but he is well aware he is loved & cared for. Meals, treats, walks, belly rubs & cuddles are routine. I’m thankful & spoiled right back in caring for our pup. When my hubby says that as we pass the cards in Target it’s my prompt to pray for all the moms to know how special they are not just 1 day each year but every day! Blessings dear sisters! (((0)))
I love this, Anna! I think I bought one of these books for each of my daughters. And I have my own. Your writing is like a breath of fresh air. Every time. Thank you!
” What else do I hoard and squirrel away.” That part resonated with me. I want to freely share the fruits of the Spirit with everyone I encounter.
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Anna Love this post. Yes we can hord things because we don’t want to use them. Because we don’t want to get them broke. Because they are a family airloom from down the family. They mean alot to us. But when we stop and think about it. All they are doing in a cupboard in our house in gathering dust. To other people they are probably only junk. When we die unless they like them. They will probably give them to Charity shop or bin them. As they don’t want them. If we think about it the person that gave us the airloom if not alive anymore. They probably it a good tea set or dinner set or nice glassea gave it to us too use it. Not put in our Kitchen Cupboard never to been seen again or one to be put on display if a cupboard with a see through glass in our Kitchen or good dinning room if we have one in our home. So why do we most of our things like that away and never use them. When if we stop and think about the people who gave them to us that are not hear in our lives anymore. Would want us to us them not put them in away. Never too be used as we have this thing is our heads we don’t want them to get broken. So we can’t use them. So what if they get broke or chipped. We can use them and think about the person who gave them to us. They be so proud of here that we are using them and thinking of them the love and kindness of them to give them to us. The good times we have using them and when we were in their home when they used them when when they invited us round for a meal. It shows there love for us to give them to us for us to use when they are not here. Remember the good memories we had in their home when they invited us round when they used them. Like Jesus love goes round everyone he invites us to share that love with everyone. Just like he give it to us freely. Not too hide it away for it not to be seen. Especially when we are saved. Never be afraid to share it around not hide it. Let people know it lives in our hearts we will not hide it. Like we would do with the good family airlooms we can be given because we don’t want them broken or chipped. This message has really spoken to me how true that is. Thank you Anna for it. Keeping you all incourage in my prayers. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little xx
Beth Williams says
I understand wanting to save certain family heirlooms as they have memories for us. We also need to make our own memories with those heirlooms & tell the old stories to our children. They deserve to know the family legacy. I’m not into fancy dishes, but clothes are another story. I have been blessed to attend & be a part of clothing giveaways & yard sales. Thus accumulating a plethora of nice clothes for work & church. I’m not the hoarder type. Every now & then I go through my closets & drawers taking out items I no longer like, wear or do not fit. They are given to others-most recently a clothing giveaway at a food bank. I want to leave a legacy of sharing my treasures with others. I see it as spreading the wealth around & helping less fortunate people.
Beth Williams says
I want my treasures to be in Heaven. God tells us in Luke 3:11 “If you have two coats, give one away,” he said. “Do the same with your food.” I want to be a Luke 3:11 person.
Sarla Williams, Sri Lanka says
Thanks for sharing Anna. Made me ponder afresh. Remembering a mum and ma-in-love (my husband’s mum) & the legacy of the heart felt love they so spontaneously emanated, their faith which sustained them the grace they freely extended to others & their hearts of gratitude right upto the end of their journeys on earth makes me celebrate them & look to God to help me reflect such
Thanks for that reminder about hoarding …life’s too short to do that so let’s bring out the best as we honour the memories !
We are so blessed during this Digital time, to have a Camera close by, to take pictures of precious things. I couldn’t afford to do that, because there was no Digital Camera or Cellular Phones when I was younger.
I saved momentos & over time had several boxes of them, that moved with me. Then came a time when I couldn’t afford to move them with me. I had to store them, until I could afford to ship them to me. Time passed & I still couldn’t ship them to me.
God had to work on my ❤️, to see how my tight grip on those mementos was stopping Him from blessing me, in a new way. After much heart searching, I saw my Identity didn’t rest in my momentos, but in Christ alone. I was able to “let go” of those physical momentos.
I’ve continued to implement that lesson in my life, since then: holding onto “stuff” more loosely! Being able to take & save digital pictures of things I find precious & sentimental, makes letting go of the actual “thing”, much much easier. And yes, God did Bless my Life afterward, in a new way!