Grace and Upcycling

Julie Steele - Upcycle website resized 2Confession:  I’m a Pinterest person.  In a fit of decluttering more than a year ago, I found the virtual bulletin board, collector of all things.  You see an idea for a really cool but huge piece of furniture? Pin it instead of buying it.  Love vintage clothes but can’t fit in that tiny-waisted 50s dress? Hang it in your Pinterest closet.  Want to collect salt and pepper shakers by the hundreds?  Pin them instead. I’m also a fan of the HGTV show Fixer Upper.  The homes they choose to fix up are often, well, in really bad shape. Between Pinterest and Fixer Upper’s hosts Chip and Joanna, I learned back in the day “antiquing” is now “upcycling.”

“Upcycling.”  You know it when you see it.  Old stuff used in new ways.  It’s not collecting fancy furniture for the sake of curating pieces in fancy (don’t touch that, put all the breakables away) houses but re-purposing items for our homes, reminding us of our dad’s tool box or grandma’s kitchen hutch or the family farm.  Maybe adding a dose of fun.  Upcycling is evolving. As many cast-offs as there are in barns, at yard sales, and up in the attic to reclaim, there are ways to upcycle.

My newlywed parents started looking for fixer-upper antiques when they couldn’t afford modern furniture.  It’s much the same today.  The past month, I can’t tell you how many girls decorating their dorm or first apartment I’ve run into in antiques stores or the flea market.  But forty years ago, it was all about stripping down old paint to find the original wood.  Now, folks want the furniture covered in chalk paint. Paint covering the years of scratches, water stains and abuse a dresser or table endured.  Mama or Grandma point out a nice kitchen table in maple. Nope.  No wood for these daughters. They want color, texture and maybe a little faux distressing but not really “real”.

Not for me, I like what they call “chippy” pieces.  My stepladder with the original paint layers but flaking down to the pine.  Or the part of a screen door turned coat rack, again paint flaked away, with beautiful turned wood detailing and rusted screen.  The pieces I find evoke a memory or start a story in my head. But lately, there’s been something more in common.  A top layer of dark emerald green paint, the green you used to see on house trims and steps.

What does all this have to do with grace?  God’s loving kindness toward us, God’s unmerited favor.

It took me a while to figure out why I’m so attracted to things less than perfect, the things others see as amateur art or ugly banged up junk (um, the stuff you might just pick up at the junk yard or on the side of the road.  But I’m not telling.) And especially with that color green. What’s with that?

It hit me after a meteor shower, prayer, and two pots of coffee.  I’m that chippy ladder I put potted flowers on.  I’m the rusted screen door piece with rust and scraped paint made into something useful.  At this time in my life, I’ve lived through a lot, had numerous careers, become a grandma and made plenty of mistakes.  Those sweet young girls, I hope, are as shiny as the perfectly painted furniture they want.  But, more likely, they’ve started that pattern of covering up their hurts and imperfections.  Age and experience have taught me blessings, God’s unmerited favor,  come my way , when I admit to being who I am in both how God created me and how I’ve failed at being God’s creation.  God’s loving kindness shows up most when I’m my authentic self, when I’m chippy, showing my wounds and scars.  I’m saying it again. God loves us in our imperfection.  As I continue this life, on a regular basis being upcycled from the battered, worn and used up me into someone useful to God’s purpose, something GREEN (a symbol for new life and starting over…yep, figured that one out with MORE coffee and prayer), I’m praying for all those who feel like they don’t warrant God’s love because of those scars and rough patches they hide.  Let us love each other in our “chippyness.”  God sure does.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

Grace & Such strives to advance Christian growth among women. While we believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God, we also recognize human interpretations are imperfect. Grace & Such encourages our readers to open their Bibles, pray for wisdom and study for themselves what the Word says. For more about who we are, please visit the About Us page.
Sis Steele
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Sis Steele

Julie Hilton Steele is an eclectic soul who’s done everything from work in a lab to pastor a church.But no matter what she’s done, she’s always been reading and writing. As a published non-fiction writer, she focused on devotions and articles about her faith and life experience,social issues, spiritual formation and church curriculum.Now she’s discovered the fun of writing fiction, immersed herselfin the 1940s and WWII, creating stories set in her birthplace of Washington DC or her most favorite place in the United States, Hawaii but still weaving messages about the gift of faith and the love of God.
Sis Steele
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15 thoughts on “Grace and Upcycling

  1. Jen

    I love the idea that I’m being upcycled right now.

    Reply

    1. Sis

      And it’s a never ending process!

      Reply

  2. Kav

    You had me at upcycling. I love upcycling. Have a Pinterest board of ideas too. But I’d never applied that concept to me and my faith journey. Awesome! Love that insight…gives me lots to mull over.

    Reply

    1. Sis

      You know once it hit me, it really has changed my attitude about my growth as a Christian. It definitely took me a while to figure out the green part and even that is layered.

      Reply

  3. Becky Preston

    I love the word picture of being valued beyond my chipped exterior!!

    Reply

    1. Sis

      Becky, I am more of an auditory learner…or so I thought until I was told by my sister that my super power was seeing things that are hidden, whether it’s an antique store or with people. Took me a while to apply that to myself.

      Reply

  4. Belle Calhoune

    Upcycling? I’ve never heard this term. Thanks for introducing it. So now I see why you’re so into Pinterest. It allows you to collect things without cluttering up your house. Brilliant!

    Reply

    1. Sis

      Belle, true but then I see things on there that I want that I didn’t know existed. Now that I’m into second level decluttering, it will be visited even more often.

      Reply

  5. Diane

    I am a chippy upcycled work of art. Love that visual. It makes it so much easier when we allow our furniture, and ourselves, to just live and not worry about the chips and dents. Love the picture you drew in my head! (And I love that I don’t have to do or buy what I post on Pinterest. I own it cause it’s pinned. So budget-conscious!)

    Reply

    1. Sis

      Isn’t that the truth? How much better we feel when we realize that first scratch or ding happens just to get it out of the way! And later we don’t care at all.

      Reply

  6. Doris

    Absolutely love this. Laughing at idea of collecting on Pintrest instead of reality. Chipped old paint is beautiful. Thanks for the reminder.

    Reply

    1. Sis

      Glad I could make you laugh, Doris. We all need more laughter. Apparently I needed a lot more room given the fact I have almost seventy boards over on Pinterest.

      Reply

  7. amber lappin

    Great word picture! I love the idea of being upcycled, and the thought that my chippy spots can be used for good.

    Reply

    1. Sis

      So glad to hear it Amber. I believe “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28. So much comfort in those words.

      Reply

  8. Laura Rodgers

    God has taught me a lot of lessons through “up cycling”! “Everything has beauty but not everyone sees it” a quote I have in my house and one God tries to get through my skull on a daily basis!

    Reply

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