First, let me explain how precious weekends are to me. As a speaker, I don’t have a lot of free weekends. I’m often on the road, speaking at women’s conferences or marriage conferences. When I am home, during the school year, I coach my kids’ Bible quizzing team at church on Sundays, so I have to be at church early, and it’s not like it’s a day to relax and just be fed.
Well, quizzing is over for the year, and I had a weekend off. And lo and behold, I got so much done! It was heaven. It started when I decided to finish cleaning up my storage room. I emptied a shelving unit, and then got my daughter to help me move said shelving unit into the furnace room. And as we were finding a place for it, I discovered paint cans. Paint cans I didn’t know we had. And in those paint cans was paint.
I know, you’re thinking, “so what, Sheila?”
But you see, when we moved in to our house five years ago, the washing machine took a gauge out of our entryway wall when the guys were trying to carry it upstairs (our laundry room is on our top floor). And in the years since, our entry way has had bumps and scrapes and all kinds of black marks all over the wall.
It was driving me crazy.
And my husband and I were talking about how much it was going to cost to hire painters, because we have this really high ceiling that I didn’t think we could do properly.
And then I found the paint cans.
My husband was away for the weekend, taking my 16-year-old nephew away golfing for his birthday, so while he was gone I touched up the whole house.
Now I should have taken a before picture, so you could see the gauge and the black marks, but here’s my wall now. The only ugly thing is all the shoes!
It feels fresh and clean, like a brand new house.
Then, to top it all off, I finished a blanket.
It looks lovely, doesn’t it? But it’s all made from scraps. Really ugly scraps. You see, for years my mother and I have been collecting yarn for a knitting program we’ve set up at an orphanage in Kenya. We’ve sent over several tons of yarn so far. But some stuff can’t go, because it’s just scraps, or it’s wool (we try only to send acrylic since it won’t felt), or it’s otherwise not useable. And so I have all these odd ends to add to the ends I already had. And I have found that if you wrap three ugly yarns together, and knit them on big needles, you can get rid of a ton of yarn and create something rather beautiful.
I did combine some nice mohairs that I already owned, but the majority of it was ugly yarns that we didn’t have room to fit in the last container, or yarns that weren’t the right fibre.
Here are some of the scraps while I was in progress:
(That orange ball there had a tag that was over 40 years old).
And here’s the blanket:
We throw so much stuff away in our society when it’s not a quick fix. We want things easy, right away.
And yet sometimes the beauty can come in that undiscovered paint can, or the ugly yarns in a drawer. You find a new use for it, and it’s better than it was before.
If we could just look at things with fresh eyes, maybe we could see how with a little effort and elbow grease, things that we once overlooked could be beautiful in their own way.
I feel so much more satisfied when I finish a blanket than when I buy one out of a store. With this blanket, I feel as if I’ve increased the beauty in the world, because not only have I made a blanket; I’ve also gotten rid of a pile of ugly yarns. I’ve increased the positive, but decreased the negative.
That’s what God does. He doesn’t create beauty out of nothing; He creates beauty out of ashes. He takes what is a mess and makes it beautiful.
I have felt a bit like a mess lately. Like I’ve been running too hard, with too much on my plate, and not enough time to be creative or just to soak in the moments. I soaked in some moments this weekend, even when I was working hard.
Maybe God wants to do something beautiful with ashes in your life. If there is some ugliness in your home, I believe that God can turn it into beauty.
We live in a society that would tell you to chuck the ugly and go find something beautiful. Chuck the ugly marriage; chuck whatever’s making you unhappy. But that’s not the route to true satisfaction. We need to take the ugly and let God make it beautiful; not ignore the ugly and let it fester.
I don’t know what’s ugly in your life today, but I do know that putting a fresh coat of paint on an ugly wall, and finishing up a blanket, gave me a peace about life that I’ve needed. And I know that God can take the ugliness in relationships and turn them into something beuatiful, too.
UPDATE: After many requests, I created the pattern! You can purchase it for $1.99, and all proceeds go towards helping our knitting project at the Mulli Children’s Home in Kenya (we’re returning in 2014).