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Look but don't touch.....

So I popped over Momstheword's blog earlier this week and loved her Making Your Home Sing post. It's a great meme that she hosts where you can share how you are making your house into a home and making it "sing" with either attitude or actions such as encouraging or children, filling your home with comfort foods, decorating, etc. Def. check it out "Making Your Home Sing Monday" at Momsthewords blog.

One of the subjects she touched upon was the need to "lighten up" and enjoy life and what we are blessed to have. If I could have jumped through the monitor, I would have given Nan a big *high five*.

I've mentioned before that I grew up in a home where if it "looks good on the outside, it's good on the inside". Our house was always spotless, with everything in its place. It always had to perfect, you know......in case someone stops over. It also felt like I lived in a museum as my mom had so many showcased items displayed throughout the house. We even had the living room that no-one was really allowed to be in.

My job was dusting.....man, I hated that job. Still do. The fact that I had to spend two hours every Saturday morning in that uninhabited living room, wiping down each and every Hummel figurine and making sure they went back in the exact same spot is definitely the reason I have this aversion to dusting. It also explains why I have a whole family of dust bunnies staying with us in our home....and boy, it is so true about bunnies multiplying. ;)

We had the guest towels in the bathroom. These were the decorative towels that hung right near the sink, but you would not dare use them! "Those are for show", she would tell us. Show? What show?

We had the highest thread count sheets......but we only used them on the spare/guest bed. We even had certain foods we couldn't eat/touch because that was for if company stopped over.

Or how about the china set that she had incarcerated behind glass doors in her hutch. Yeah, there was even a little lock/key. In the 18 years I lived there, I don't ever remember using those plates. "That set is worth thousands", she would remind us. "You see that gravy dish boat (that irked me even more.....boat?).....they don't even make that anymore. It's worth $300!" She would talk about how it was appraised and insured for this ridiculous amount of money. uhhhmmm, OK. So why don't we use it if you love it so much as to take out an insurance policy on it?

I used to tease her if she complained about an unexpected bill coming in and not having the money.....I offered to accidentally knock into her china hutch and smash a few pieces. I'm good like that. She didn't take me up on my offer, nor did she find it remotely amusing.

So the point is.....she got so wrapped up in these materialistic possessions, and worse yet......never even used them and enjoyed them. And in retrospect, the message that was sent to us (unintentionally) was that we (including herself) were not worth using the good towels or plates.

Funny thing, after my parents retired.....they did some financial planning and decided to drop the insurance on some items, including that precious china. She said it was because they do not even make the set anymore, so there was no point to keeping it insured if it couldn't be replaced.....No clue behind that reasoning.

So she visited the other day and made a lovely comment about the mason jar I served her Crystal Light in. " WOW, I see you are breaking out the best for me, huh? How much do you have this insured for?" I reminded her that A: It doesn't matter if it is a $35 goblet from Lenox or a 99 cent recycled spaghetti sauce jar....it still smashes the same way when it hits my tile floor. And B: I really don't give a rat's butt about fine china. Does nothing for me.

Now, I can appreciate how beautiful it looks when someone has their table set with a gorgeous set....but's it's just not me or how I roll. My special set is a Mexican motif stoneware set I scored at Pier 1 when it went on clearance a few years ago. I think I paid $60 for a complete set for 8.......and I break out those bad boys whenever I get the chance. I want to enjoy them with my family and friends, not hoard them and keep them packed away.

So we started talking about her beloved china set and she went on her rant about how much that set is worth. Normally I would just yeah yeah her to death, but I felt the need to shine some Light on it once and for all. So I started by trying to nicely explain to her something that Josh has always said.

Something is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. So you could have this one of a kind vintage Elvis ash tray that you were told was worth $2000, but it isn't worth a cent if no-one is interested in buying it.

I didn't really want to burst her bubble.......well, OK, so I did just a teeny bit (devil horns peeking through my frizzy hair)......and we went on EBay to see what her valuable china was going for these days. My mom had her chin held high as she spelled out "Franciscan Desert Rose" into the search bar. She got very excited when she saw photos of her set appear on the screen (remember, she doesn't even own a computer) so she started yelling, "That's my Set! That's my Set!". I had to explain to her that it actually was someone else's set and they were trying to sell theirs. (*sigh* now I know how my kids feel with me and my lack of techy coolness)

But when we saw the search results, she wasn't holding her head up so high, and her chin started to droop as we discovered that a full 8 place setting didn't even get one single bid. (Do a search on Ebay, it's downright sad) We even did search for that infamous gravy boat and saw that it brought in a whopping $11.49 one time!

I felt a sense of sadness for her at that time.....how disappointed she must have felt to think that she spent so much time, money and energy into something that was not worth anything after it was all said and done. And the worst part is.....she didn't even enjoy using it. It's value should have been based on how much joy it brought her.....not what was written on an appraisal slip.

I also now felt sorry that my motive was to burst that bubble.....and I needed to make it right. I wanted to turn it around, so I suggested that even though Ebay is telling her that it isn't worth anything,....it still is worth something to her and she should start enjoying it. And the bonus part is that she doesn't have to feel bad if a plate chips or a saucer gets broken. I hoped that maybe this could release the stress/burden of worrying about the monetary value of stuff, and bring some joy and increase her happiness/emotional value. I made the suggestion that maybe going home with this newly discovered information.....she would feel free from that burden by just taking that gravy boat and smashing it.

Again, that didn't go over well.

Oh, and Nan made another great point .......she asked "What are we teaching our children about things if we don't enjoy what we have? If we teach them that things are to be preserved but not enjoyed?"

Here's something else to think about.....life is short. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. We can leave this earth at any time. Only God knows that date and it is written in His Book of Life....so I want to make sure I live and enjoy every day that I am given. I don't want to find out in my last days, that the things I thought were worth so much, like that china..... really were not worth anything.

This applies to my time and emotions as well as material things. I don't want to spend so much time rushing around to make everything showcase quality, only to come up feeling tired, empty and worthless at the end of the day. Of course I need to set some time aside to keep my home clean and somewhat tidy.....but it isn't my main priority (as you would see if/when you came to visit). I have always said.....if you are coming to visit me, pop on over anytime. If you are coming to see my home....call and make an appointment. I want my kids to know that I can leave the house a little messy so we can go bowling or catch a movie. I've always said that trying to keep a house neat as a pin with kids is like shoveling during a snowstorm anyway.

So yeah.....I want to spend as much time enjoying my life and keeping my house a home. A home that is beautiful, not because of the things in it.....but for the joy it brings others. My family and friends are important enough for me to spend more time with them, rather than spending time getting everything in order just to spend time with them, if that makes sense.

I want to always use my favorite mugs when friends visit for coffee.....and they can use what ever towel they want to wipe their hands in the bathroom. I am going to share everything that God has blessed me with. Like Matthew 6:20 reminds us....the only treasures I want to store up are the ones in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.

* side note~This doesn't mean it is wrong to have nice things in our life.....God wants us to enjoy blessings. But enjoy is the key word.

He also loves a generous sharing spirit. I want my family and friends to always know that this house and everything in it is theirs to enjoy. Including me and my time.

One man gives freely, yet gains even more;
another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.
A generous man will prosper;
he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed Proverbs 11:24-25

So I ask you today.....are you enjoying and sharing what you have?



Andrea said...

We use our china and other things. I hate for it to just "sit" and grow dust. We can't take it with us.
Blessings, andrea

amanda said...

i remember at a baby shower once i said, it's all going to burn anyway. i heard crickets after that comment. obviously said in front of unsaved people who just don't 'get' it. shaun's mom's house is a bit like a museum in a way too. which is a little crazy, since when she lived here, it was not that way at all. and still isn't. i for sure am like you, it's a home. it looks lived in. and joy filled i hope. i can't wait to feel the joy of your home. and maybe get to eat on your pier 1 plates?!? and remember i like hot chocolate, but not coffee. ;0) do you think you have time in the next few days to check out the hotels? whichever ones is fine. we plan on booking everything this weekend. thanks! loves!!

I'm Jen. said...

AMEN, sista!

I never wanted china because I couldn't fathom having something I wouldn't use. This is it -- we get one chance to live our life. Why spend so much time waiting for a special occasion that might never happen?

Shirley said...

What a great read this morning! I was just thinking about our neighbors last night...both having passed away in the past year. Their daughter was left to settle their estate, which included cleaning out their things and emptying the house. I thought of my own parents and all the stuff they hang onto and how when they die, there won't be much we will keep (how could we...there is so much stuff!!!). So, it will likely wind up in a yard sale. And all of that and reading this this morning made me think of my own things. It really is time to start living and enjoying life...and those things we have been blessed with... things not intended for US alone but a blessing to us so that we might bless others with them. I think of the woman in the Bible using the precious bottle of perfumed oil on Jesus' feet--a pattern for us to follow in more ways than one! After all, when our life is said and done, and the game has been played, it all goes back in the box.

natalee said...

Girl your writing is sooo powerful.. so true. I really wanted to cry though when ebay exposed the cost..I lived in a house like that too growing up.. I will say I have rebeled and my livigroom is ..LIVED IN..lol..you have a true gift of writing my dear friend

Heart2Heart said...


I grew up in a home quite like yours! We couldn't touch certain things and only on special occasions were certain things brought out.

Today, I save the best for my family. There is no one but God that is greater than they are so I use them all the time. I don't want them to ever think for one moment, that they were any less special for any reason.

Love and Hugs ~ Kat

Just Breathe said...

Great post. I use to be that way but not anymore. I got rid of allot of collectibles. I loved them but tired of dusting them. Now with my severe asthma I can't do much housework at all. When my aunt passed away last year she had so many special collectiable items.
She spent a fortune on them and they were worth nothing! I collect what I adore, throw away the boxes too because they only mean something to me. I'm saving them for what they could be worth in the future.

Deborah Ann said...

Man can I relate. My mom was the same way. Do you think we're somehow related? She stored up all these 'treasures' and do you know what happened to them all? When my parents moved into a nursing home, there was an estate sale, with all these valuables going for dirt cheap. Some of it we had to get a dumpster for, even Goodwill didn't want it. Yeah, good times.

Hey girl, stop by my blog...got a s'prise for ya.

wife.mom.nurse said...

We are so very much on the same page with this!

I didn't even WANT china for my wedding.

You make me feel better about my dust bunnies too.

When my kids were babies I had so much guilt over my horrid housekeeping, but you know what, that didn't mean a thing, because what I did instead was dote on my darlings!

I love this post.

I feel bad for your mom, she didn't GET IT. I hope she went home and put some thought into your conversation (and maybe even smashed the boat)

Catherine said...

It's so easy to make idols, isn't it? I really credit my mom for giving us a good perspective on our stuff. She never saved the good china or silver for other people, our family used it too. My mom is really talented at making even very ordinary situations special so we would often celebrate something or nothing with a pretty table and candles and flowers etc. I like pretty things too and it makes me happy to use my nice china even if it's just to serve rice and beans!

Even the babies eat of china at my house because if it breaks, it breaks, but I want them to know they are more special to me than some random houseguest or some far off special occasion. And actually I guess they are pretty careful because we've only had one cup break in over three years of tea parties and meals!

Denise said...

Such an awesome word spoken here today sweetie, be blessed.

Nancy@ifevolutionworks.com said...

Really a great, great post. You should be proud of it.

It's bittersweet about your mom and her china. I think that's the mentality of that generation. How many of that generation didn't have plastic slip covers on their sofas? I know my parents did.

I'm with you....enjoy what you have while you can still enjoy it. My house is a "put your feet up on the coffee table" house. I don't have a formal living room. Instead I have two family rooms. Two rooms where people can sit on comfy sofas and put their feet up on "whatever". I'd rather replace a worn sofa because it's been LIVED on than have a museum quality sofa.

Again, great post

Nancy@ifevolutionworks.com said...

Really a great, great post. You should be proud of it.

It's bittersweet about your mom and her china. I think that's the mentality of that generation. How many of that generation didn't have plastic slip covers on their sofas? I know my parents did.

I'm with you....enjoy what you have while you can still enjoy it. My house is a "put your feet up on the coffee table" house. I don't have a formal living room. Instead I have two family rooms. Two rooms where people can sit on comfy sofas and put their feet up on "whatever". I'd rather replace a worn sofa because it's been LIVED on than have a museum quality sofa.

Again, great post

Becca~TimeWellSpent said...

Very good thoughts on this! I have a set of china I rarely use~why did I think I needed to register for this? It's now something that is special to me because my MIL gets me a little piece every year for my birthday. It's something special only she does and it makes me happy. I should get on the table more often:)

Kendra Lee said...

WOW! Can't imagine... But, I'll never forget when we switched from multi-partitioned rectangle cardboard throw away plates to Grandma's China for Thanksgiving. Mmmmmm, tasted so good to use it :D Definitely puts things in perspective...

Theta Mom said...

I didn't have much of that growing up, we had a special set from my Grandmother, but that's different, it was passed down...My thing is, if you have to "dust" it, then you're not truly "enjoying" it because it's not being used!

ransom33 said...

Scary! Your mum sounds just like mine. It must be a generational thing, because I read in one of your previous posts that you are 43 and I am 40, so although in opposite parts of the world, our mums must have had similar priorities in life or even been brought up in a certain way which contributed to that paranoia about "things" over "people".

The towel thing really got me giggling, because not only would my mum not let us use the towels which were for "show", but then she gave all of us, brothers and sisters (5) towels as a present when we moved into our own homes and when she comes to stay, she will still say to me: "You must not put those there for guest to use, but just for show". Bless her heart. Although we see things in that particular area quite differently, she has instilled in me some great qualities as a mum, I believe, so despite all her annoying habits, I always take away with me everything good she ever blessed me with, and I am not talking about "things".

Great to read your post as ever!!



Kim said...

I left a long post and then it didn't go through.

Suffice it to say that I love this and it serves as a wonderful reminder to this semi-OCD mom.

Prairie Chick said...

Oh, Michelle. I LOVE this. I was just cheering you on the whole way through and I couldn't agree more. I have to admit, I don't have anything really expensive or valuable, I buy my china from the goodwill store =D but I DO have my special items I really love and cherish and I DO use them all the time because they weren't created to be eye candy. Just LOVED this post and am so delighted to meet you.

christy rose said...

No china in this home either!! I do love my longaberger pottery though. And we use it!!! No showcasing in our home either. Every single spot in our home is a place for someone to make themselves comfortable and enjoy. I am not a very consistent housekeeper either. I would so much rather do anything else than clean. YUCK! LOL
Loved this post too!
Love, Christy

Faith Imagined said...

This sentence of yours was very freeing: "I don't want to spend so much time rushing around to make everything showcase quality, only to come up feeling tired, empty and worthless at the end of the day."

Life takes constant maintenance. And to keep everything "showcase" would be futile and ridiculous!

I can't wait to get to our New Earth where nothing takes maintenance and everything is "showcase quality."

Sara @ Domestically Challenged said...

So very true Michelle, very true. What is the use of holding on to a possession that is not of use? I am on your side of things. I like people to feel comfortable and welcome in my home. You have a good head on your shoulders!

Jennifer @ Getting Down With Jesus said...

Oh how I love this:

"....it still smashes the same way when it hits my tile floor."

Amen, Michelle.

FaithBarista Bonnie said...

Hey, Michelle- I think our moms went to the same "mommy school" 'cuz that's how I spent an hr or so doing on Sat growing up - dusting (cough, cough).

I hated it. Maybe that's why I'm so not like her.

Sorry if this is a dark comment, but it's just the truth.

Thank you for the Proverb's quote at the end. Really, really spoke to me.

I've got to keep practicing how to give freely. There are some things I can give away easily, others not so much.

You are so honest, you are encouraging me to be more open and truthful about how I really feel about things that my mom wasn't accepting of, Michelle.

*thank you*

Mimmy said...

I missed this on Wednesday and wish I had seen it. My mother had more than one set of china but we used it. One or the other set would come out on birthdays, holidays, when we had company, and sometimes, just because. One of her favorite sayings outside of scripture was that your home should be clean enough to be healthy and dirty enough to be happy. I've done a very good job of living by that philosophy. In fact, my house is very, very, joyful.

God Bless,


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