Monday, October 28, 2013

Just Call Me "Repurposed" (Messy Monday)

I did some Christmas shopping the other day. Right, it's not Halloween yet. And please don't think I'm on the ball. I'm just a survivalist. Last Christmas nearly killed me from stress, so I've tried to get a few things done before my brain fills up with extras and explodes in cranky words and unrealistic expectations.
So, I went shopping last week! And in an effort to do good while we shop, a dear friend and I traveled a little ways to Earthings, a cute Fair Trade Shop tucked snugly in Storm Lake, Iowa. We spent an hour and a half in that store. And it's no Wal-Mart. No huge warehouse, no burning calories pushing a 100 pound cart half a mile to get to the dairy section. A shop. Oh, right, and I had a toddler with me.
I bought a few things, some of which are Christmas gifts, so their pictures are omitted. (Sorry, Readers. Haha, Family.) But being a Fair Trade store, every piece had a story. Three of which have described me so often.
And maybe you too?
1. The "angels with attitude." For if you feel like you're nothing special.
Crafted by orphaned students in Northern Zululand, Africa as part of an "extra-mural activity." The proceeds from each angel go to support the students directly.
Now pop cans are valuable in Iowa. So valuable you have to pay a 5 cent deposit just to get one because the state would like them back when you are done, thank you. But really, they're nothing special. You find them everywhere. Most look exactly like thousands or millions of others.
And I get that. Feeling like one of a million. Instead of one in a million. Like nothing special- just like all the other mom bloggers, pastors' wives, moms.
But this angel. It was crafted with care. And so are you.
We are all made of the same material. Dust crafted, shaped, formed into unique gifts. Gifts that serve a purpose. Gifts that bring hope, nourishment, love to those around us. Nothing special? You are handmade, one of a kind. Priceless.
For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.
Psalm 139:13-16
2. The Haitian Oil Drum Art. (Not pictured.) For if you feel like you've outlived your usefulness.
Craftsmen in Haiti acquire used oil drums and use their hand tools to craft the coolest art you have ever seen. Too bad I can't show it to you. Yet. Wait til January;)
So clear at times, our purpose is a driving force in our ability to face the day, love the people.
Then it changes. Life. Kids grow. Jobs change. We move. Or we just stay put, and things change around us. That friend doesn't need us. Someone else steps into our position.
Purposes change. They don't die. You live and breathe on purpose, for purpose. Maybe your purpose comes with more hanging out and being there for others, than heavy lifting like it used to be, but it is beautiful what God does in you. Beautiful and so soooo cool. And He chose you to do it.
3. (Perhaps my favorite.) Mr. Ellie Poo*. For when you feel like a steaming pile.
You're either going to think this is really gross, or really cool. But seeing as I'm unsure as to how anyone would receive a gift of stationary made from elephant dung, I declined buying it for Christmas presents, and here is a little picture of my new notepad:

It's one enormous story of redemption, this one. Just how absolutely like our salvation!
A worthless pile of poop, a stinking testimony to indiscretions that ultimately lead to death (the elephants ate the farmland, so the farmers shot and killed them).
And yet, someone saw the value of that poop. They cleaned it up. Boiled it, pressed it, and ultimately repurposed it. (And made it quite cute, might I add.)
Did it take some imagination and hard work? You bet. But they put in the time and energy, because that meant life. It put a stop to the carnage.
Not too hard to see that connection. I look at my notepad, and I treasure it. Partly because it cost so much (I use every millimeter front and back).
Partly because it is a reminder to me that there is nothing so horrid that God cannot use it for His purposes.
I cannot sin so greatly that I am deemed useless to my Maker. Boiled, pressed, repurposed for His purpose. So He can write His story and His glory all over me. All over every precious millimeter of my soul that cost Him so much. So He could stop the death. The carnage. And bring life.
So when people see my life, I can tell them honestly that I was such a piece of poop, and the only way I am here and in this condition of joy is because of the love, imagination, care, hard work, persistence, artistry, and determination of my God to bring life. Because He saw beyond the crap. He saw more. And I am so thankful that He continues to see more, because that crap is a daily battle.
What a gift, right? Makes you want to go buy some elephant dung paper? :) I certainly hope so! It's so rad!
Praying God opens your eyes to the little reminders of His unending love and faithfulness today.
What items in your life remind you of God's faithfulness?
How can you tackle the lies of being just like everyone else,
or uselessness,
or beyond love today?
*Want to know the full scoop on how Mr. Ellie Poo came to be? (Heehee.) Click here.