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.”

Pre-cleaning Not Required

 

Ah….the dentist.  The guy so many of us love to hate.  I actually don’t mind going to the dentist for teeth cleaning appointments. Our family actually had our bi-annual cleaning appointment recently. Before we left the house, I brushed and flossed my teeth like I always do.  When my husband saw me brushing, he looked at me with a very puzzled expression.  He asked me why I was cleaning my teeth. He continued to say, “Isn’t that the reason we are going to the dentist?” I laughed.  He was right!  Why was I cleaning my teeth right before I was going to get my teeth cleaned?! I never really thought about it before, but when I did, it seemed totally ridiculous. I guess my reason was that I was somewhat ashamed for my dentist to see me with dirty teeth. Since his specialty is teeth I always want him to see mine in their best condition – cleaned, flossed and freshly rinsed with mouth wash. I feel a little embarrassed admitting this to everyone, but it’s the truth. 

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this is similar to what many of us do when it comes to God.

Have you ever met someone who says that they aren’t clean enough or good enough to come to Christ?  I have. I have witnessed to and invited several people to church that have told me they are not ready. Many people say that they have ‘work to do on themselves’, or that they have to ‘get things in order’ before they can approach God or have a relationship with Him. Some people have even told me that they won’t even enter a church building until their ‘lives are right’ out of fear that something bad would happen. I get the sense that most people feel this need to clean themselves up before having a relationship with God. I’m not sure where this idea comes from, but it is not true. In fact, it is quite the opposite – we go to God to get clean! 

Many people don’t realize or they forget that God created us and knows us better than we know ourselves.  He sees everything that we do, think and feel whether we acknowledge Him or not. Avoiding Him doesn’t help us at all. God knows just how imperfect we are and loves us still – unconditionally. He knows our hearts and our deepest thoughts. He knows our flaws, failures and insecurities better than we know them. He desires to have a relationship with us anyway. More than that, He wants us to trust Him.  He does not expect us to clean ourselves up before we come to Him.  He doesn’t want us to fix ourselves before getting to know Him. In fact, we are actually powerless to do so. God, is the only One who can change us completely.  We can try (kind of like me trying to clean my teeth ahead of time), but our ways do not work.  Sure we may be able to make ourselves look pretty on the outside, but God sees past the outer appearance to the deep places of our soul.  We may even be able to change certain behaviors with a little discipline, but that doesn’t deal with the root of the problem – sin.

When I brush my teeth, I am able to get some of the dirt off and my teeth may look a little nicer, however, there are things that I am unable to see, such as plaque, tartar, cavities or worse! It takes a specialist to thoroughly clean my teeth and repair these things by using his special tools and wisdom. In the same way, God is the only One who is qualified to remove our sin, clean us up and deal properly with the deep issues of our heart.  He is THE EXPERT!

Even when I do my very best to clean my teeth before my dental appointments, my dentist always seems to notice something – usually something that I am trying to hide.  At every visit, it never fails, he’ll ask about my coffee consumption. Ugh!  I sit there hoping that I’ve done good enough job cleaning so he doesn’t notice, but he does, because that’s his job.  Do I need to feel ashamed and hide this from my dentist?  No. Seems a little silly doesn’t it? 

It is the same way with God. He sees everything that we would like to hide from him.  He wants us to come to Him, so He can help us. We do not need to attempt to clean ourselves up before having a relationship with Him.  The whole purpose of Christ’s visit to Earth was to do the work that we couldn’t do ourselves.  Once we accept that – God does the rest! 

I know that God can be intimidating.  After all, He is holy.  Do you know what else?  He is love.  He loves us so much and invites us to simply come.  Come to Him as you are.  Come with all of your stains. Come with all of your imperfections, your mistakes, your shortcomings and your baggage.  He wants to do an amazing work in us if we’ll let Him.  He just wants YOU! 

For those who feel unworthy, ashamed or just too messed up to come to God – come anyway!  Stop trying to fix yourselves on your own, and give it all over to the One who cares for you and longs to make you a new creation. Come to God and be healed. Be changed. Be clean.  Be free! The first step is to accept God’s Son, Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. Allow Him into your heart and spirit.  I promise that He will do such an awesome work in you – something beyond what you can imagine. 

Maybe you already know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, but have not allowed Him to reign in a certain area of your life. Maybe there is something in your life that you have been trying to manage, fix or clean up on your own. Stop!  Stop trying to fix [by yourself] what can only be fixed by the Expert. Give it over to the One who can truly help you. Run to His throne of grace and allow Him to do what only He can!  

So please remember that while some things in life may require some prepping, pre-cleaning or pre-treating, it is not so with God.  We can come just as we are – no matter how dirty.  

I hope that you find this little word encouraging today.  

Isaiah 1:18 ~ “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool.
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.

Love,

Melissa

A LOVE NOTE

Christ summed up the commandments in this – love GOD and love others!  We (believers) have a tendency to get caught up in doing the “Lord’s work” and following all the “rules” that sometimes we forget to simply LOVE.  God loves us, and that love enables us to love Him, then we are able love others.  It’s that simple.

1 Corinthians 13: The Excellence of Love

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.

I was reminded of this chapter over the weekend while attending a bridal shower.  Each of the guests were asked to give a bit of advice to the bride-to-be. My advice was to memorize and practice 1 CORINTHIANS 13.  This chapter makes the command of loving so much easier.  For me it made love easier to understand and apply (in my opinion).  It’s so profound, yet so very simple.

At times we can get caught up in our feelings, and as we all know those constantly change.  So it is important to keep these verses at the forefront of our minds at all times. We should keep this chapter hidden in our hearts (as God instructs us to do with all of His word).  This makes loving so much easier, particularly when our feelings are telling us otherwise and it is difficult for us to do.  

This chapter does not only apply to married couples, although I will say that I began truly clinging to these verses after getting married.  It actually applies to all believers, in all circumstances and situations.

I appreciate how Paul breaks it down into three different sections for us:

SECTION 1: It doesn’t matter how many good works and/or powerful acts that you peform – if LOVE isn’t your motive, they are meaningless.  This is a great place to  ask God to examine your heart (<-speaking to myself here too people). Psalm 26:2 ~ Examine me, O Lord, and try me; test my mind and my heart

SECTION 2: This section explains what love is and what love is not.  This is what love looks like.  For those of us who may not have been given the best example growing up, God provides us with a very (clear) picture. I love how God does that for us!  Does this section describe you?  Does your love look like this?

SECTION 3:  This section shows us that love is changeless, steadfast, durable and continual.  Love is everlasting. Love will stand the test of time and beyond.  It is something that will outlast everything else in life and never fade away.  Love supersedes all else!  If this is what God says about love, then I definitely want to keep it at the top of my priority list!  Paul also explains that we won’t fully grasp the greatness of love here on Earth, but for those of us who are in Christ, we will know love {true love} completely one day!

I hope you all are encouraged by this little love nugget today!  It is always a good reminder for me and pray that it was for you as well.  When it is difficult for you to love, please remember that it is not done in your own power, but God’s love for us and through us that enables us to love others.  1 John 4:19 ~ We love, because He first loved us.

Love,

~ Melissa

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