The Ugly Stool

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Last week our family had our annual yard sale at my parent’s house.  Usually the sale includes our family members only, however this year a few of their neighbors participated too.  One of their neighbors was selling items that were probably better suited for an estate sale or even an antique auction.  They were selling all sorts of vintage and antique pieces.  It was unbelievable!  Even though I was determined not to spend any of my yard sale profit this year, I couldn’t resist going over to take a peek at what was available.  As I made my way through all of these lovely antique items in mint condition, I spotted this stool.  It was sort of set off to the back as if they weren’t really interested in selling it or possibly using it as step stool in the garage to reach high shelves.

There was nothing fancy about this stool.  Unassuming, paint splattered, cracked, missing screws, weathered and wobbly – this stool was calling my name!  My guess is that the average person would walk right passed it, to the prettier and more valuable items.  Not me.  As I continued to look around, I couldn’t help but be drawn right back to this stool.  So, I asked the gentleman how much he wanted, and he said $3.00 – “Sold!” I shouted.   He then proceeded to tell me a story about how his mother used this stool to can foods for the winter when he was a boy.  He smiled as he shared this story with me and that made me even happier that I bought this piece.

There is just something about an ugly, but oh so cute piece of furniture that I cannot resist.  This stool definitely fit the bill.  I look at it and see so much potential.  Behind the rough, dirty and battered exterior is beautiful piece of furniture just waiting to shine!

I truly believe one of the reasons that I am drawn to pieces like this is because they remind me of myself.  Like many of the pieces that I have collected over the years, I have a dark past and a story to tell.  I have been through some extremely tough times in life and know what it’s like to feel beat up, neglected and worthless.  Just like this piece, I was completely comfortable being ignored and hiding in the background.  Many people would have preferred me to stay there as well.  Like this piece, I gave up on anyone ever wanting me or thinking that I was worth paying for, fixing up or investing time in.  Like this piece, I had hidden potential, but it would take a special person to recognize that and make me into something beautiful.  Can anyone else relate?

One of my absolute favorite verses in the Bible is 2 Corinthians 5:17 ~ Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

God, through His Son Jesus Christ, bought me.  He paid a high price for me.  Once I became His, He cleaned me, fixed me, polished me up and gave me a brand new heart.  He filled the empty places, repaired the broken places and beautified the ugly places. That’s not all. He gave me purpose.  A brand new purpose.  As I mentioned above, the stool that I bought wasn’t being used for much of anything.  Once I am done making it pretty, it will be used in a brand new way and have a new function and purpose in our home.

My motto for my furniture refurbishing business, as well as my life theme and one that I love to share with others is – All Things New!  We don’t have to be what we’ve always been. We can become new!

This is just a little reminder that, beyond the outer appearances, there is hidden potential in us all.  Sometimes that potential is covered up by the stains and pains of life, but it is still there waiting to be revealed.  May we begin to look passed the rough exterior of others and see what they could be with a little work.  Lead them to the Master Refurbisher – Jesus Christ!

Revelation 21:5 ~ And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He *said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”

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We’re Not Out of the Water Yet

My family and I [do our best to] read through the entire Bible each year. In addition to our own personal Bible studies, we try to meet each night after dinner and read a chapter or two together, and then discuss our thoughts with one another. We’ve had a bit of an inconsistent start this year, but are slowly and surely making our way through. We are [still] in Genesis. Last week while reading the 8th chapter, I received a little nugget of encouragement that I’d like to share with you all. Hopefully it will encourage you as it did me.

Verse 1: But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the cattle that were with him in the ark; and God caused a wind to pass over the earth, and the water subsided.

But God remembered Noah. Let’s stop right here. What simple, yet powerful words! Ever feel like God has forgotten you? Ever feel like the storms and floods of life have consumed you and wonder if God remembers you? I know I’ve been there. I’d like to remind you that God loves you and God does remember you [and what you are going through].

Noah had great faith in God. Noah had enough faith to do what God said even though it didn’t make sense. It had never rained prior to the Great Flood, so Noah had no idea what that meant or what to expect when God told him to build an ark. He was also ridiculed by the people around him when preparing for the flood. People thought that Noah was nuts and made a point to let him know it, yet he continued to build the ark like God told him to.

The rains came and the flood waters grew deep – deep enough to cover the mountain tops.

I can’t imagine what it must have been like to hear the violent waves crashing against the sides of the boat, or the sounds of the people screaming as the flood waters came [and overtook them]. It must have been scary to feel the boat rising with the waters, and not having any idea what was going to happen next or when it would end. Talk about trusting God!

“But God remembered Noah” – I believe that God remembered Noah, because Noah remembered God. Noah honored God, therefore he and his family were kept safely inside the ark [along with quite a few other companions].

“But God remembered Noah” – God remembered His great love for Noah, as well as His promise to him and made the rain cease.

This really spoke to me. I thought about How God does that for us. If we’re obedient to God, then we can trust that He will remember us!  He will not forget us in the midst of the floods in our lives. Deuteronomy 31:8 ~ “The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

Verse 2 & 3: Also the fountains of the deep and the floodgates of the sky were closed, and the rain from the sky was restrained; and the water receded steadily from the earth, and at the end of one hundred and fifty days the water decreased.

God remembered Noah, then [immediately] actions followed. We see here that God kept His word – as He always does – and the rain stopped. God closed up the sky and that was the end of the storm. What I found interesting about this verse was that even though God stopped the rain, the water didn’t dry up right away. It says here that the waters “receded steadily” from the Earth. God could have made the flood waters just miraculously disappear. I mean after all – HE is God. Instead, He allowed the waters to dry up slowly. Noah had to wait. There is something very special that takes in our spirits during times of waiting [waiting on the Lord]. Isaiah 40:31 ~ Yet those who wait for the Lord Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.

Sometimes we experience floods [trials] in our lives and while the rain may stop falling, we continue to see and experience the after effects.  There are times when there is nothing more that we can [or need to] do. It is quite simply time to wait for God to complete His work.  Just as in the case above, it takes time for the waters to subside, the sun to shine, and the mountain peaks to become visible to us once again. It took 150 days for the waters to decrease in this case.

Has God spoken a word to you and you are waiting to see it come to pass?   Are the waters in your situation so deep and you’re wondering if and when they will ever decrease? May I remind you that – THEY WILL!  It may take time [in some cases a long time], but you will see dry land again some day. Just continue to wait on the Lord.  He won’t let you down.

Most of us know the end of this story. The waters completely dry up and Noah and his family come out of the boat and begin a new life. They started repopulating the Earth – and so began the Nations of the World as we see and know them today.

I’ve read this story many times before, but I never quite saw it from this perspective before.

I was reminded that what God says will happen – WILL HAPPEN.  I was also reminded that He remembers me. It seems so simple, doesn’t it? Yet, many of us forget these very simple truths.

No matter how high the flood waters of life may rise, God is still God.  The Great Flood was all a part of God’s plan all along and His plans will NOT be thwarted. Job 42:2 ~ “I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.”

Just know that He will only allow the flood waters to rise so high, and will protect His people [just as he did with Noah].  Trust the Author and know that the ending is good!

 

~ Melissa

 

 

What label are YOU wearing?

Have you ever thought about how many labels you wear?  I am not talking about clothing labels, but labels that are given to you by the world.  All of us have been given labels by either our parents, the government, society, our employers or by some other means.  Last year I had to fill out the form on behalf of our household for the 2010 Census.  As I was filling it out I thought about just how much the world tries to define us by labeling us.  Here are just a few that were included in the form:  Age, Sex, Race, Relationship Status, (Father, Mother, Brother, Sister, Son, Daughter, Cousin, Aunt, Uncle), Military, Civilian, Employed, Unemployed, Student, Owner, Renter…..just to name a few.

I began to think of other labels that are put on people, and here are just some that came to mind…

Black, White, Latino, Foreigner, Asian, European, American, Native American, Pacific Islander, Bi-racial, Multi-Racial, African-American, Bald, College Graduate, Uneducated, High School Graduate, High School Dropout, Widow, Rich, Poor, Middle Class, Lower Class, Upper Class, Old, Young, Single, Married, Organ Donor, Unwed Mother, Single Mother, Fatherless, Alcoholic, Minority, Republican, Democrat, Conservative, Liberal, Christian, Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Pentecostal, Muslim, Mormon, Jehovah’s Witness, Buddhist, Hindu, Atheist, Agnostic, Licensed, Redneck, Hippie, Gangster, Professional, Promiscuous, Overweight, Short, Tall, Prep, Jock, Goth, Punk, Thug, Supervisor, High-Risk, Senior Citizen, Employee, Laborer, Student, Mentor, Over the Hill, Teacher, Leader, Colonel, President, Manager, Secretary, Mother, Father, Orphan, Good, Bad, Enemy, Hyperactive, Normal, Not Normal, Disabled, Step-father, Step-mother, Niece, Step-child, Half-brother, Half-sister, Divorced, Pedophile, Victim, Infected, Failure, Citizen,Homeless, Patient, Prisoner,Felon, Drug Dealer, Prodigal, Drug addict, Latch Key Kid, Evangelical, Athlete, Multitasker, Self-Motivated, Smart, Stupid, Non-Hispanic, African, Menopausal, Senior Citizen, Toddler,Teenager, Adult, Nerd, Cool, Nephew, Grandmother, Grandfather, Engaged, Separated, Suspect, Veteran, Big-boned, Thin, Adulterer, Con-artist, Middle Eastern, Canadian, Consumer, Participant, Active Duty, Volunteer, Customer, Mentally Retarded, Autistic, Indian, Genius, Director, CEO, Assistant, Vice President, Business Owner, Groupie, Yuppie, Negro, Japanese, Samoan, Filipino, Junkie, Light-skinned, Dark-skinned, Red-boned, Scholar, Professor, Petite, Plus-sized, Average, Hawaiian, Mid-western, Southern, Country, Yankee, Racist, Bigot, Homophobic, Radical, Episcopalian, AME, Heterosexual, Homosexual, Bisexual, Criminal, Irish, Italian, Protestant, Religious, Non-religious, Geek, Presbyterian, Non-denominational, Charismatic, Retired, Dependent, Parent, Licensed Driver, Resident, Client, Smoker, Non-smoker, Diabetic, Cancer Survivor, Witness, Recovering Addict, Naturalist, Evolutionist, Scientologist, Existentialist, Urban, Lazy, Hick, Hillbilly, Over Achiever, Caucasian, Insured, Welfare Recipient, Illegal Immigrant, Executive, Pregnant, Sterile, Post-abortive, Unstable, Anglican, Unitarian, Californian, Advanced, Roman Catholic, Apostate, Pastor, Deacon, Usher, Alumni, Invert, Extrovert, Spouse, Chauvinist, Feminist, Rebel, Capitalist, Communist, Naturist, Tax Payer, Voter, Greek, Australian, Preteen, Friend, Graduate, Episcopalian, African Methodist Episcopal, Mexican, Spanish, Seventh Day Adventist, Pagan, Entrepreneur, Self Employed,  Independent, Green, Anti-social, Undocumented, Old School, Sexy, Ugly, Opinionated, Reserved, Worldly, Biblical, Well-spoken, Jamaican, Brazilian, Blue-eyed, Brunette, Freckled-faced,  Blind, Blond, Amputee, Rapist, Supporter, Oppressor, Critic, Baha’i, Occultist, Guru, Wesleyan, Jewish, Anti-Semitic, Theologian, Mexican, Ethnic, Juvenile Delinquent, Premenstrual, Bi-polar, Depressed, Protegee, Tenant, Roommate, Fraternity Brother, Sorority Sister, Lawyer, Defender, Judge, Apologetic, Irish, British, Statistic, Official, Bi-lingual, Tri-lingual, Neighbor, Sexually Active, At Risk Teen, Suicidal, Survivor, New-Ager, Liar, Free Spirited, Physically Fit, Japanese, Obese, Spiritual, Elite, Famous, Loser, Popular

Wow, that’s a lot isn’t it?!?!  I am sure that all of us have been placed under one or more of those categories at some point in our lives.  From the day we are born, we are labeled.  People want to be able to identify us somehow; to put us in a category.  While some of the labels are important, because they were God-given, such as male and female, others are not.  As a matter of fact, it is my humble opinion that other labels can many times hold us back in life, and even more important, hinder our relationship with God.

For example….Say you were born to a family that associates themselves with a certain religious group and you have been told your entire life that is who you are since you were born into that family.  You just accept that as being the “way it is” and begin to identify with that.  You never venture out to find out if what you’ve been told about the religion is even true. You’ve accepted the label that was given to you.

Another example may be a young girl who becomes a teenage mother.  Many times people assume (and will tell her) that she will be just another statistic.  They also say that she will need to take advantage of the government welfare system. They tell her that she will most likely be a high school drop out, and will definitely not be able to go to college.  People will typically assume (and tell her) that she will not be very successful in life.  People will even go as far as to say that her children will most likely become teen parents as well (labeling her children before they are even born).  If she believes what people tell her, she will most likely end up wearing those labels.

When Jesus clothed himself in human flesh and came to Earth, the world didn’t recognize Him.  The Bible says in John 1:10 that Jesus was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew him not.  Why didn’t the world recognize Jesus for who He was?  Why didn’t they see that He was the Messiah that was prophesied about in the Old Testament?  I believe the reason they didn’t is because they had already made up in their minds what the Messiah was going to be like.  They decided what He would look like, how He would act and what kind of clothes He would wear.  They expected the Messiah to be from some famous, well-to-do family, dressed in royal clothes (royal according to their standards), and be extremely wealthy.  Jesus was the total opposite of what they were expecting, but they had already labeled Him.

In John 1:46 a man named Nathaniel was told about Jesus being the Messiah and he responds by asking, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?”  Today, this would be the equivalent of someone asking if anything good could come out of a poor, rough, drug infested part of town.  They had already labeled Jesus based on where He was from; His home town.

Isn’t this exactly what the world does to us?  They look at where we live, what clothes we wear, what kind of car we drive, where we work, how much money we make, what politician we vote for, whether or not we have children and what we look like to determine who we are.  Then they put those labels on us and guess what?  We believe them.

Romans 10:11-13 says this…For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.

Isn’t that awesome!?!?!  God is telling us here that there is no difference between people, whether they be Jew, Greek, White, Latino, American, Chinese if we are in Christ Jesus.  The only label that matters in life is whether you are SAVED or NOT SAVED.  Another name for being saved is being BORN AGAIN.

Jesus tells us in John 10:10 that He came to Earth to give us abundant life.  The Bible tell us in John 3:3 that in order to have this abundant life, and to live a life free of labels we must be born again.

John 3:3 ~ Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

The titles and the labels that the world gives us are of no eternal importance.  We may think highly or poorly of ourselves based on the labels we’ve been given here on Earth, but God isn’t concerned one bit with those things.  The only thing that He is concerned with is whether or not you accepted His Only Begotten Son as payment for your sin. The only thing that matters is whether you know Jesus Christ or not.

1 Samuel 16:17 ~ …for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart

I like to think of Jesus as the ANTI-LABEL.  He came to break all types of barriers between the religious and non-religious, the righteous and unrighteous, the Samaritan and the Jew…and most importantly the barrier between God and man.  Jesus came to do away with the world’s labels and give us the one label that truly matters, the one that says “BORN AGAIN & SAVED BY CHRIST”.

Romans 6:10 ~ For the death that He died, He died to sin once for ALL; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.

If you are interested in knowing Jesus Christ personally, please send me a message at melissasbeehive@yahoo.com.  I’d love to hear from you!