If you walked into my parent’s house, the first thing you would notice would be an entryway table that was made to hold the pictures of maybe three grandkids but is actually holding the pictures of eleven. Then you would notice that no place in the world smells better than this one filled with the scent of food cooking and twenty different candles burning and then, you might turn your head just to the right and notice a hutch full of tea sets.
These are the things that my mom collects. Her people, her candles, and her tea sets. Her love of candles was passed down to me and my sisters by osmosis. Scent is an addicting thing and when your childhood home smells as wonderful as mine did, you want to keep that good thing going for your kids. And as far as her people go, well they’re my people too and we tend to that collection together.
The tea sets were a little different though. I can pinpoint when she passed that appreciation on.
I was thirteen and smack dab in the middle of misery.
My seventh grade basketball picture should come up when you google “awkward phase.” I was skinny as a stick, had braces, a unibrow, and a super short haircut that would have been cute on a grown woman with confidence and sass but just made me look like a boy.
I think my mom knew just how bad things had gotten and any girl can tell you that the way to cure a bad day is with some girl time. So, one day, my mom let me skip school for the afternoon and took me to a pottery painting shop that had just opened.
“Let’s paint a tea set!” she said to me, eyes smiling. And we did.
For weeks, we would go to the shop for an hour or so and paint one tea cup, one saucer, one sugar dish at a time. We decided to do it in Mary Engelbreit fashion — a bright yellow base with black polka dots and hot pink swirls. It became our project and every time we finished a piece of the set, we would paint our initials on the bottom in solid black paint.
I would watch my mom swirl on her “SDF” and thought that there had never been prettier letters anywhere. I would try to match my “KEF” with her letters and I could swear that each cup’s initials looked better than the last. I wanted them too anyway. I wanted my handwriting to look like her’s, my painting to look like her’s, my life to look like her’s because there we were in a bright little pottery shop surrounded by paint and dirty brushes and she was choosing to stay. She wanted to be with me, an awkward nobody who had to safety pin my pants because I was tall enough to shop in the junior’s section but certainly not curvy enough.
We visited that shop for weeks until our tea set was done. We brought it home and I helped my mom put it into her tea set hutch. We stacked our bright polka dotted cups and tea pot right next to her fine Austrian China. She let our oversized pottery edge out the delicate, floral patterns and gold leaf swirling that had been her’s for decades.
She let the set that we made take center stage. All because it was ours.
That tea set isn’t valuable. It certainly shouldn’t even be in the same category as some of her beautiful pieces, but it’s still there in that hutch, our loud, swirly, polka dotted set is what grabs your attention.
That set is the product of a bunch of ordinary afternoons where my confidence was built and my self worth was affirmed. That set says, “My Mom chose me and she wants you to know it.”
That time that she spent with me, sharing her stories and her art and her moments, resulted in a shared love. She invested the time in our relationship and because of that, a passion was passed on to me.
Of course, I’m not crafty like she is but I certainly love and appreciate the beauty in the swirl of a teacup and the joy that comes from holding something so pretty in your hands. She gave me that by investing in our relationship, just like she passed on her love for prayer and for studying the Bible, her love of worshiping and her love of investing in people.
You see, that tea set taught me more than how pretty a tea cup can look or how relaxing painting can be. It taught me the key to passing along passion and love; it’s time, consistency, and relationship.
This is important. Pastor and commentator R. Kent Hughes says, “While [Genesis 2:18] relates directly to the creation of Eve, it is also a primary ontological statement about the nature of man, who is, whether he admits it or not, a relational being. His growth and significance are worked out in relationships.”
As Christians, our growth and significance comes through investing in and building God’s Kingdom by investing in and building people. Look at how the early church did this in the book of Acts.
“Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” Acts 2:46-47 NIV
They spent quality time with each other consistently, and together, through relationships, they built the Kingdom of God.
Just like my mom was always consistent in sharing her love and her passions with us, the early church did the same. And the results were the same; the passing on of passion. The building of relationships between both people and those people and God.
Sometimes, a lot of times, passing on our passion for our faith and love for the Lord can be boiled down to investing time, love, and energy in a relationship. Whether it’s through shared interests, shared situations, or some tea in a pretty little cup, let your relationships dig deep and long and let the moments add up. Whether it’s through painting or praying, let that passion travel.