Ever since I moved into my new apartment, this ugly piece of furniture has been staring at me in my bedroom. I had goals of doing something to it-- but didn't quite know what...or how to begin! Well, my best-friend in Seattle has been blogging lately about all her 'restoration' projects-- where she finds seemingly useless or ugly stuff and revitalizes it into works of art. She was the beginning of my inspiration.
I too love the idea of taking something meant for the good-will (which by the way doesn't exist here) and seeing it repurposed with beauty....
On Easter morning I had new house guests arrive to my hospitality house (aka my apartment!). Rhonda and her newly adopted 16-year-old daughter Kasey, arrived at my home a little weathered from their lack of sleep on the over night train. It was clear from the moment Kasey walked in that she was a girl in grief. Though excited to be adopted to America (where she had been hosted 3 times) there was a deep sadness in saying goodbye to her homeland and her friends--everything that was familiar. We sat through a silent breakfast of sorts, Kasey doing all she could to hold back her tears...which ended up flowing by the end of the meal. Her mother also struggled, not knowing what to do to comfort her daughter, who so clearly was struggling with a variety of emotions. I told Kasey that what she was feeling was normal and in reality really healthy, as it means she had real relationships-- and that was a gift. I told her she could cry as much as she wanted....and she took me seriously. We got through the day and by the end of it things were looking a little brighter than they had in the morning.
The next day I had off work, and decided it was time to tackle the 'restoration' project. I hadn't anticipated having help, but before I knew it, mother and daughter were by my side helping me sand down the wood and then begin painting.
Something amazing happened as we began to strip away the layers of the old shelf. Kasey began to relax and talk. Before I knew it, we were laughing and joking and she was asking me questions about my life and sharing a bit about hers. As we worked together throughout the morning I began to see life being restored to the sad girl who had entered my apartment the day before--it seemed a full transformation. With paint brushes in our hands I saw an old Ukrainian bookcase being transformed into something lovely and I saw a glimpse of what God intends for an orphaned Ukrainian girl-- full restoration.
Restoration is an interesting process-- it isn't just one quick paint job to fix something. After we had finished the coat of paint and let it dry, we pulled out the sand paper and then sanded it again. The second time that we sanded allowed us to strip the bookcase again, to give it an antique look, and to make it porous to absorb the final gloss I would then apply to give it the final finish. And when we added the gloss it filled in the gaps beautifully. The roughed up parts that remain have this unique quality- giving the whole piece character.
With adoption, I think sometimes we see the restoration part as taking the kids out of the orphanage. But in reality that is just the first coat of paint. You can fool a lot of people from the outside with new clothes and a happy family photo-- but it is the deeper sanding, or refining that needs to take place-- the layers that must be stripped away so that restoration can take place. And sandpaper really doesn't sound very good when it is in your hands...in fact it really hurts my ears. But it is amazing the difference it makes.
I love that the Lord allowed me to work on this project with Kasey. I didn't know she would be with me that day, and yet it worked out that she was. As we painted, it was as if God was giving me a picture of what adoption is about....what it means to see beauty from the ashes. And it really does take work- and time. I only wish it could be as quick as restoring an old bookcase.
As I walk into my bedroom now, the first thing I see is this beautiful piece of furniture. A piece of furniture that many would have discarded. But I am glad I gave it a chance. It will forever be a visual reminder of one girl, on her path to restoration.
The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.