Thursday, May 1, 2014

fine china

last weekend, my friend, navina, and i, combined our china, our silver, our stemware, and all the extra energy we could muster up and hosted a mother-daughter tea honoring the 8th grade girls from our daughters' class. sunday afternoon, about 45 of us joined together for food and fellowship.

it was a rainy, cold, {spring?} minnesota day ... but the inside of navina's home shone with more than the sparkle of our place settings, it shone with the sparkle of some lovely, lovely  teen girls.

"oh, this is so pretty!" and "look at that!" and "how do you hold this?" were just a few of the comments i heard from the girls as they entered and took in the well-appointed table, the flowers, the candles and the array of china tea cups and saucers.

these girls in their pretty dresses and high heels.

these girls who were giddy and smiling and ooh-ing and aw-ing.

these girls who probably haven't played "tea party" in quite some time.

these girls who felt special.

seeing the glow of their excitement, i couldn't help but smile.

that was our goal:  to honor these
girls and make them feel special. loved. precious -- like fine china.

we moms were also kind of giddy watching our girls balancing their china plates full of food and dainty tea cups. they moved differently. they looked older. even their voices seemed softer. this wasn't our normal, weekend hanging out with the girlfriends. this wasn't a pizza out of the box, coke out of cans and cheeto-puffs out of a bag kind of event.

this was special.

while they nibbled on iced, pink petit fours and sipped tea, i had a chance to share a devotion with the girls and the moms.

"in a wealthy home there are dishes made of gold and silver as well as some made from wood and clay. the expensive dishes are used for guests, and the cheap ones are used in the kitchen or to put garbage in. if you stay away from sin you will be like one of these dishes made of purest gold - the very best in the house - so that Christ Himself can use you for His highest purposes. run from anything that gives you the evil thoughts... but stay close to anything that makes you want to do right. have faith and love, and enjoy the companionship of those who love the Lord and have pure hearts." ~ 2 timothy 2:20-22

another version calls these fine dishes:  "set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work."

timothy tells us there are two kinds of dishes in a home: the everyday, ordinary, cheap, disposable dishes found in the kitchen and the special, set aside, precious, valuable dishes found in the dining room.

i shared with the girls the sorry state of our everyday dishes: chipped, scratched, well-used and abused and compared them with the dining room wedding china my husband and i carefully picked out 25 years ago in our engagement.

is timothy trying to tell us that God cares what kind of dish we eat our lasagna or roast beef from? not at all.  because this passages isn't really about dishes, but about God's daughters.

this verse is about how we view ourselves. our value. our worth.

do we see ourselves as everyday, ordinary, disposable kinds of girls or do we see ourselves as special and set apart "... ready for every every good work?" 

unfortunately, the world we live in wants to treat us as common dishes ... even as trash. the world wants us to believe we are nothing more than a dirty paper plate --- something we wouldn't hesitate to toss into the trash. worthless.

but that's not who we are in Christ.

deuteronomy 7: 6-8 says, “for you are a holy people, who belong to the Lord your God. of all the people on the earth the Lord your God has chosen you to be his own special treasure.”

God sees us not as dirty, disposable paper plates, God sees us as fine china. and He desires His daughters to be set aside for a special purpose ... useful to the Master of the house.

what does God have in store for us?

what does God have planned when we keep ourselves in purity for His purposes?

ephesians 2 explains, "we are God’s workmanship ... {His masterpiece}! ... created in Christ Jesus to do works which He has prepared in advance for us to do." 

God has something special and worthwhile and significant planned for us. something He has even "prepared in advance for us to do ..." He sees us as his daughters, set aside and holy for His fine purposes.

in a world that wants to persuade us that we are nothing better than trash, God tells us, "no, dear ones, you are treasure."

but let's face it, it's hard for us to believe that sometimes, right? in fact, it requires some effort on our part. we have to make choices which lead to treasure.  we have to choose to be "set apart" from worldly things. that's a challenge for these girls about to enter high school ... heck, that's a challenge for this girl almost 30 years out of high school!

but timothy give us some practical advice telling us to "stay away from sin" and "run away from evil" ... he's pretty clear: keep the gap wide. navina and i were excited to share this message with these girls. in a few months they will all be off to high school. the choices will be hard. the opportunity to accept the world's ways will be present. there will be temptation to flirt a little bit with the road leading to trash. it's inevitable. parents might continue to have input and some control, but as these girls grow up, they will have to make more and more decisions on their own.

and how they view themselves will make all the difference.

treasure or trash?

it makes all the difference for all of us regardless of our age.

our worth doesn't come from who we are, but from whose we are. because we belong to Christ, we are daughters of the King ... not because of our own works or royalty, but because of His royal work of redemption.

i'll be the first to admit though, i forget that sometimes. i get caught up in my sinful ways and i forget that i am God's masterpiece, His workmanship, His fine china. i bet some of the moms listening on sunday would agree with me. i'm pretty sure i saw it in some of their eyes as well. whether we are 8th grade girls heading of to high school or middle aged moms, we all need to remember who we are in Christ Jesus ... set aside for His holy purposes. i didn't even know i needed that same reminder until i was up in front sharing it with the 8th graders!

17 year old ... 22 year old ... 38 year old ... 53 year old ... 77 year old. daughter, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, friend ... all of us need to be reminded that we belong to God and He see's us as "His own special treasure." 

as i finished up, i explained to the girls that though we desired for them to see themselves as fine china, it wasn't in any way an invitation to feel superior or self-righteous or holier-than-thou. not at all. the dish metaphor works well because though dishes can have great value, they all, ultimately, have one purpose -- to serve.

so, yes, we are fine china -- set aside -- precious ... but let's not forget, God wants us to be used to serve Him and others for His glory.

to help the girls remember this truth, each girl was given a china plate to take home. on the back of the plates i had attached a portion of the 2 timothy 2 verse.  i asked the girls to keep these plates somewhere they might see them each day ...  reminding them of their worth in Christ Jesus -- reminding them they truly are God's fine china.

navina and i with our daughters, sarah and sydney

* robin jones gunn's book, gentle passages, provided inspiration for my devotional. it's out of print now, but used copies are still available on amazon. i recommend it for mothers with daughters.

thanks to jennie, tina and cheryl for their help with set up and clean up -- fine china is fun to use ... but it does make for a lot of dishes to wash!  =)


Simply LKJ said...

Beautiful Jody. What a sweet way to celebrate these fine young women and to encourage them as they venture out next fall into another phase of their young adulthood.
On a side note, I cannot get over how much Sarah has changed. Beautiful.

Sammy said...

What a great message to give the girls, and everything looked so nice. I'm sure they will never forget it.

Judy Winship said...

Thank you for sharing not only the details, but your heart, Navina's heart, The Father's heart and heart of every mother I know! I pray that each one of our girls know how special they are to so many, but primarily Our Heavenly Father! Lovely, simply lovely! I am grateful for my fellow mothers and sisters in Christ! Judy

DiJo said...

I love this message.. What a blessing for the girls and their Mom's to have this special memory as they set off for the next chapter!!!! You will be coming back next year to help me with this tea!!!!


DiJo said...

I love this message.. What a blessing for the girls and their Mom's to have this special memory as they set off for the next chapter!!!! You will be coming back next year to help me with this tea!!!!