Shame or Crown?
When our children were young we built fun, space-saving beds in order to fit our five children into smallish bedrooms. The first bed was a fort bed that our three boys enjoyed for years, allowing them a permanent play place to have sword fights, light saber wars and scale castle walls through the day (an innocent light fixture surrendered its life in one of those fierce battles) and hold them while they slept at night.
Later their daddy built them a triple-bunk. I remember him having them lay on the floor to measure their gangly teen and pre-teen bent legs to make sure they had plenty of room to maneuver. Our boys slept in that bed for years then it was passed to their two younger sisters. The girls used the third bunk for their stuffed animals and enjoyed the convenience of stacking a random third girl during a sleep-over.
Originally I planned that this piece of furniture would become an heirloom used by grandkids for many years to come. After much use and too many years of storage, last year I considered sanding down the wood and painting it but we decided it had lived its full life. We used the larger pieces in the construction of a new pottery studio. We threw the smaller pieces, the slats that supported the mattresses, into a scrap pile with intentions of burning them to keep the house warm.
Our oldest son looked at the boards that use to hold him as a teen, as well as his younger siblings, and saw something much different than I did. They had graffiti all over them from our children lying on their backs and writing and drawing with crayon, marker, pen and pencil. They were twisted and warped from being jumped on while parents were out of sight and from simply being low budget, pine 1×4’s.
I only saw scrap wood pieces that reminded me of the frustrating, “Will we ever have anything nice” season or the, “Will my children learn to respect property” season!, I looked at those boards and felt shame and embarrassment by them. They reminded me of unmade beds and messes in a home that I longed to be tidy and wanted to decorate tastefully. That did not include furniture that was written on, towels on the floor and unidentifiable smells that consumed those years.
Kyle took those boards and intricately measured each one, spacing them the same distance apart, relishing every single board so not to lose a single scribble or subtract even a saw blades width from the treasures that he saw. He framed them in redwood. He added legs and sealed them with the highest quality sealer available. He made those embarrassing boards into a beautiful table that will serve our family for years to come. It became a greater heirloom now than it ever was at the beginning of its wooded life.
Our daughter, Katelyn, was the one who wrote most of the words on those boards. She passed away six months and eleven days before Mother’s day 2015, the first Mother’s Day since her birth that I would spend without her. Kyle saw the boards in the scrap pile and thought they were perfect just as they were. They didn’t need to be sanded. They didn’t need paint. They only needed to be framed to accentuate the beauty that had already been created years before and sealed in their perfection.
My children have identified the author of each word written or scribbled. Here are some of the incredible things that I am so grateful were written on those embarrassing boards that are now the surface of our family’s beautiful table:
I love my Mommy, (Katelyn)
My diary is behind the bed. (in much smaller writing is the following statement) My diary is really in my t-shirt drawer. (Katelyn)
Hello Governor (can only be read with a heavy British accent and was written by Jessica)
Not Telling! (Katelyn)
Jan 14, 2008, 40 days until we go on vacation to Florida on February 23 (Katelyn)
PK’s Poltry Farm (Katelyn’s misspelled name of her and Patrick’s chicken business)
I Hate Mosquitoes (Katelyn-she was allergic to them and swelled up like a balloon)
Katelyn’s Vision 150 people healed. 2 down and 148 to go! (Katelyn’s handwriting but a collaborative desire between Patrick, Katelyn and Jessica)
The last statement was birthed from the following experience. Our third son, Patrick, laid his hands on and prayed for our friend, Kathy, when she had back pain in May of 2006. She was instantly healed. Patrick, Katelyn and Jessica prayed for one other person and they were instantly healed. They witnessed the healing power of God move through them. They were forever changed. They etched their testimony and vision on the bottom of their bed. This is priceless to me.
Before this weekend I had not looked closely at the boards from that bed. I had not read the words. I only threw them into a scrap pile so they could be burned or sanded down to make something of value. I only saw those boards as failures of my past; that I failed to teach my children value and respect. I associated those boards with the shame of untidy messes in my life. At this moment I feel more regret that Kyle and Nick, our older two boys didn’t write on these boards. I will not be able to read words of their history on this table. Our two oldest boys would never consider writing on a piece of furniture. This makes me wonder where the true balance is. They have both written many treasures on my heart that will never be forgotten.
On the morning of Katelyn’s memorial our children informed us, and have teased us often since, that it is their turn to raise us! We had raised them now they are going to raise us! This week our oldest son taught me a lesson. He taught me how to “respect property” and that I am worth and can have “Very nice things”.
Often the things that look like failure or shame in our lives are merely small dots in a greater composition of beauty with the Master’s touch, that He later frames for a greater, more valuable display in our future. It is important to walk in faith expecting such beauty!
I have learned that every one of these writings on this table validate the opposite of the perceived shame and mess that I had assigned to it in that season. Isn’t it like a generous God to use loved ones to send such a loving message from the heart of The Father.
Thank you to all of our children for raising us right! Kyle there is no way for you to know the depth of my gratitude for a gift that touches my heart so deeply. There is no possible way of communicating it. I love you.