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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ANX4NTN

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Every day I learn something new and disturbing about my place of employment.  I have been there for approximately eight months now and struggle with going in to work each morning.  Without getting into too much detail, it is just a very unpleasant place to be.   I truly believe that I am there to share the gospel with those around me and be a light in the darkness.  With that being said, it is not easy.  At times my frustration level soars through the roof.  I have to continually remind myself that this is a mission field, that God sent me, and my sole (or soul) purpose for being here is to lead the lost to Christ.

In many ways I feel like Jonah.  In fact, God continues to bring Jonah and his experience to my mind.  I wanted to flee from this job at very beginning, but God showed me why I had to go.  It has been an uncomfortable and challenging journey to say the least, and I just want it to be over.  The only reason I stay is out of obedience to God, but there are still many days that I want to just run away.

Last night while driving to the store and sharing my concerns about my job with my husband, a car pulled in front of us.  The license plate on the back of this car read ANX4NTN.  In case you aren’t fluent in the language of license, it said “Anxious for nothing” as in Philippians 4:6 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Ironic? No. God.

God has always spoken to me in very unique ways. This was not the first time that He has said something to me via license plate.  After getting married, my husband and I started to notice messages on license plates quite often, usually when we needed a particular answer or word of encouragement from the Lord. Strange, I know, but true.

This word of not being anxious about anything truly came at the right time.  Although, I didn’t think of myself as being anxious when sharing the details of my day with my husband, I was.  I was speaking out of frustration, desperation and emotion. I was speaking as if somehow God wasn’t in control of my situation. I was speaking about things, that while annoying, had nothing to do with the bigger picture OR my purpose for being at this place.  Yes, I am in place that I’d rather not be, but I am there on a mission. The distractions are only there to get my attention on insignificant matters and off of God and my true assignment.

Instead of whining and complaining about how bad things are, I should be praying. Instead of talking to my husband in hopes that he would agree with me, I should be taking my wants, needs and requests to the Lord.  I find it interesting that God tells us in this verse that there is NEVER a time or a circumstance that warrants us being anxious.  Never. He says BE ANXIOUS FOR NOTHING! Does this mean that we will never have that feeling attempt to rise up in us? No.  It means that when it does, we respond with prayer.

God also says that we are to offer thanksgiving to Him.  What?  You mean, when I am feeling anxious, I should not only pray, but begin to thank God?!  Yes.  Have you ever noticed what happens when you give thanks to God or exhibit a thankful and grateful attitude?  I have.  It changes things. It may not change the situation you’re in completely, but it changes your mind about those things.  And just for the record, I have seen it change people around me and situations for the better. With a mind of gratitude, you are able to focus on what is good, instead of what is wrong.

Next God tells us to present our requests to Him.  Most of us don’t have a problem doing this.  In fact, for many this is the only time they come to God – when they want something.  God tells us to come to Him because He is our Father, and He has our answer.  Furthermore He tells us in Matthew 6:8 that He already knows what we need, but He still requires that we come to Him.  I believe this is because coming to Him shows that we trust and rely on Him.

This verse gives us several instructions at one time – it’s a package deal.

STEP 1: DO NOT BE ANXIOUS

STEP 2: PRAY TO GOD

STEP 3: GIVE THANKS

STEP 4: MAKE REQUESTS KNOWN TO GOD

So, what’s next?

Philippians 4:7 says “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Wow. When we do the first part, God provides the answer – PEACE.  He promises to give us peace and after all isn’t that what we need?  We don’t necessarily need our circumstances to change; we just need to be filled with God’s peace in order to endure whatever it is we are going through.

I thank God for reminding me of this verse.  The timing, as always, was perfect.  I don’t know what you are dealing with in life, or what your specific circumstances are, but I believe this verse is one that all of us can use.  Whether you are dealing with a health scare, financial troubles, concerns for children, or maybe a new phase of life that you are unsure about, this is a great verse to apply.  We have no reason to be anxious, because we know God Almighty, Sovereign Creator of All.  Because of His great love for us, He guides us through life and provides us with the answers we need to deal with any situation.  Above all, He gives us peace – His peace.

I have no idea how long God wants me to stay at this place, but I trust Him.  I will not be anxious, and with thanksgiving, I will continue to pray and present my requests to God.  For I know that His plans for me are perfect, and that gives me peace!  (Jeremiah 29:11)

I hope you all find this verse and little note encouraging.  Be blessed.

~ Melissa