Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

This is the tea table that my mother laid for a shower we gave my cousin’s wife yesterday.

There’s a proper tea cozy, under which lies a perfectly brewed pot of Twining’s English Breakfast tea. There are little tea sandwiches arranged on a three tiered plate of bone china from Canada. There are crystal champagne glasses filled with pana cotta and fresh raspberry sauce. There is a hand embroidered white cloth from Japan which I have ironed practically my whole life.

See, this kind of deal is de riguer for me.

But, it sort of freaks people out sometimes. They don’t anticipate the challenges of being part of a family who takes this level of entertaining for granted. (Paper plates? Are you kidding me? My mother, my aunt, my grandmother wouldn’t have heard of it!)

Now, being adopted into such a family has its own challenges. On one hand, I love beautiful. I love elegant, and simple, and the extra effort which shows you care.

On the other, it feels as if you can’t quite measure up.

I looked around at all the women at the table. Most of them graduated from Wheaton College. The same college whose advisor coughed discreetly when he looked at my transcripts and said perhaps I would do well to transfer in after I’d had a year of college someplace else. You know, with the unwashed masses.

None of the women in my family work. Outside of the home that is.

None of them wear a lip color which is any bolder than what I have termed, “Wheaton Pink.” Frosted. Pale. Correct.

Let’s contrast this with me, shall we? I have a college degree, two as a matter of fact (not counting my Masters) from a liberal arts university in Ohio. I have worked, teaching, for 24 years. My lipstick is usually the brightest and boldest red I can find.

When I look around the room, I feel a bit of a hussy truthfully.

Then, I come home, go to bed, and nag myself all night with “if onlies”. If only my husband hadn’t died when I was 33, and I could have stayed home with my son. If only Wheaton had accepted me, and I’d fit in with every one else; I could go to Homecoming with my cousins and we could have tail gating parties…wait, I’m too old for this. College was over 20 years ago for me. And comparing my life to others is never very productive…

I read in 1 Corinthians this morning, the following verses: “The human body has many parts…If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am only an ear and not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? Suppose the whole body were an eye-then how would you hear? Or if your whole body were just one big ear, how could you smell anything? But God made our bodies with many parts, and he has put each part just where he wants it…In fact, some of the parts that seem weakest and least important are really the most necessary.” 1 Corinthians 12: 12-22 NLT

I figure that verse was specially sent for me, and any others who may question themselves, to say listen! We’re all important and unique. The world could not function very well if we were all the same.

Plus, think how boring it would be if every woman only wore pink frosted lipstick.

20 thoughts on “Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

  1. One of my favorite books back in the late '80s was Alexandra Stoddard's Living A Beautiful Life: 500 Ways to Add Elegance, Order, Beauty and Joy to Every Day of Your Life. Oh, how I loved the idea of using china and silver everyday rather than special occasions. To fix a cup of tea and drink it from a china cup and saucer rather than a mug. To buy a bouquet of fresh flowers and arrange them in a vase for my desk just because. To pamper myself or my family simply because I'm able.Looking at your picture of the beautifully set table reminded me of this lovely book and reminded me that it doesn't take much to live a beautiful life. Just because I'm a tomboy and would rather wear jeans and tees than a skirt and blouse doesn't mean I can't enjoy the finer things in life. Just because I'm not a college graduate doesn't mean I'm not intelligent and capable of carrying on a conversation with those whom earned their diploma. Paper plates and napkins are fine for picnics and bbqs, but for everyday use I prefer cloth napkins and stoneware. It doesn't take that much extra work to take care of these items and it simply feels better to make the meal more than just a quick event to satisfy one's hunger.I don't think you should feel any less for what you've done or not done in your life. You are a beautiful, intelligent, loving woman. Anyone who thinks less of you because you did or did not attend a particular college, work outside of the home, and wears bold red lipstick is not worthy of your friendship. Throw those "if onlies" away. Like worry, they are not worth the time or energy.How's that for a rambling, incoherent comment? 😉


  2. Les, I love when you visit with me. Stoddard's book is indeed a delight, I remember it well. I need to find my old copy, or buy another from amazon.comI think what I was expressing was personal angst in the face of what I perceive to be perfection. And, shouldn't I be smart enough to know that perfection is not of this earth? I think so, but in the face of certain situations, I am encumbered by a sense of not belonging. I hope to get over that some day.Stoneware and cloth napkins are just as delightful as bone china and damask. I have seen the tables you lay, even if only via the internet, and I would gladly tuck into them any day of the week. You have a beautiful sense of what's real and essential, which combined with your inner confidence, is quite reassuring to me.


  3. So true! It's easy to feel ashamed of ourselves especially when compared to other people we view as 'better' but we need to remember that we all have different skills and it truly would be a boring world if we were all the same. :)Looking forward to the JLit Challenge.


  4. You are who you are. And you can't change that. You shouldn't want to change that. Life would indeed be boring if everyone was the same! My dad was adopted, and I am certainly different that the many cousins on that side of the family. Personally, I think it's a good thing. They are a little "quirky". And no, I didn't go to Milliken, like all the others in my family. Oh well!!


  5. I like you just the way you are, and I expect I wouldn't find your blog nearly so interesting if you were all proper and glossy pink-frosted. ;)If I had a dollar for every time I've been described as weird, I'd be so wealthy. I consider it a compliment!


  6. Belleza, I try hard not to dwell on "what if". If I had done things differently, I don't think I'd be who I am today. I know I'm not perfect, but I sure am blessed.I didn't grow up with all the frilly, delicate, ladylike things. But I sure liked it. Then again at the same time, I'm an adventuring, thrill seeker, who loves the gracefulness and lovely ways of Audrey Hepburn. Can you picture that?! LOL! I still have days where my girls and I have "tea", but we also have our days were we go target shooting. LOL!I for one think you ROCK just the way you are.


  7. That is a beautifully set table, no doubt about it. That being said, you are an amazing woman and should in no way let the 'if onlies' get to you. We all do it and all need a good slap when we do. I'm happy to say that you were able to give that slap to yourself! 😉


  8. Abashed, I am afraid that my mental frustration came out as a plea for affirmation. Alas, however sweet it is to read all your words of encouragement, that was not my intent in the post.My intent was to say, "Hey! If you ever get to feeling like there's the group, and then you, that's a good thing! Because our individuality is essential."True, it was more a lesson to myself than any of you, dear readers. But, just in case…At the same time, I do thank you for all the sweet words.And, don't forget…three more days until the Japanese literature Challenge kicks off! Yoo Hoo! Or, however you say it in Japanese. (Hai?!)


  9. I am lucky in that several grandmothers, great aunts, my mother, my mother in law and a dear family friend have all bequeathed what makes a table nice. I love hauling it all out, even if it means ironing the damask table linens and polishing my grandmother's silver. My friend and I gave a shower where we used little snack sets that were popular in the 50's- glass tray with matching punch cup. I have about 20.As far as the what ifs, it's easy to get sucked into. I have a cousin who has led a far more glamorous life than I could have ever hoped to. I feel horrendously boring compared to her. But, we need Wheaton Pink right along with our Hussy Red with a few Mochas and Corals. As long as we are all trying to live the best life we can, isn't that the most important?


  10. I am the parent of 2 extremely different children. My wife is deaf and blind from Usher's Syndrome and my mother, who is 80 with two inopperable brain tumors, lives with us. At times I find my life overwhelming. I look at one child, who behaves in a way, the perfect image of what a dad like me needs, that I want and think I need. I have another child who I think is put on this earth to challenge me as a parent. The love that radiates from both is amazing. When my mohter is repeating things, sometimes 50 plus times in an hour, when my wife is asking me to pick up things from the grocery at 2 O'Clock in the morning so that she can join friends on some expensive adventure that will last a week, when my daughter is trying to complete a book report while needing to borrow my hands for the typing and my son is telling me that he doesn't love me but wants me to come lay down with him and read him a book so that he can go to sleep… I feel like a little over needed. But then I come across a simply written item, such as what you wrote. I realize that each family member in my lifes is a part that makes it so wonderful. Thanksgiving was a time when each person said what they were thankful for around our table. I was included in each of their thanks; they in mine.It took longer to set the table than it took to finish the meal, but it was worth each and every minute.Good luck in life.. I hope you can get even a small part of what I get out of it. Those overwhelming moments I feel are actually the fear of not being able to give enough.


  11. Wess, your story/comment touches my heart. You must have very special gifts to be such a strong man for your family. Thank you for reading my post, and leaving such a blessing with your words. May you find the stength and peace you need to continue as you do for those you love. Who love you back.


  12. It seems to me that when things appear "perfect" there is something hidden underneath. The table looks nice to me, but mostly I want to eat what is offered! Have you ever paid attention to those people who win awards – "someone" of the year award? Quite often while they were doing whatever they did to win the award, they were letting something, perhaps a more important something, go by the wayside. Another thing I've noticed is that "perfect" people tend to be grumpy or critical to others. I don't think perfection is all it is cut out to be. Give me a little kind and gentle imperfection anyday. I really like the Bible passage. And because I am a new reader, I am so, so sorry about the loss in your life at such a young age. And, on a lighter note, I never, ever wear lipstick. :<)


  13. Nan, your comment reminds me of the book called The Art of Imperfection. It is truly a wonderful book, which reminds us of the beauty in being real. I'll do a post on it sometime. I'm so glad you like the Bible passage; when my world is spinning, they always calm me down and give me a much needed perspective. Don't underestimate the power of a red lipstick! :)kw, you look lovely in pink. I'm so glad to know you.


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