When I began refinishing furniture I first taught myself just how to paint. The skills I really needed were how to tone, strip, stain and seal furniture like a professional.
Near the town where I lived there was a second generation woodworker. I used him to do all of my furniture repairs, and I had plenty of them because the antiques I could afford needed a lot of work. I used to go to his shop and ask questions about his techniques. I never wanted to be pushy but I was very interested in the work and he was very accomplished. Before long, I asked him if he needed a refinisher. He said no, his son was doing the finishing. So, I went on my merry way trying to figure things out on my own. (Back then, there was no social media: I couldn’t YouTube or Google anything!)
Years later I was back in his shop because my daughter, and some of her friends, broke the hope chest my father made. During our conversation, he shared he was looking for a finisher because his son had passed away suddenly. I offered to work there having no idea this journey would be so life-changing.
Working in his shop was a great opportunity to learn from an accomplished woodworker. I spent 21 months as an apprentice, working there with little pay. In this time you can imagine how much I was able to absorb and how my skills matured. I am thankful for the time I spent in his shop. Transforming wood is one of my strongest passions.
But what was hidden from me at the time was God’s bigger plan and purpose for my being there. During those same months, my marriage fell apart. I felt empty, sad and lonely. The woodworker was a Christian and he spent hours talking with me about the Lord, sharing his life story about how Jesus Christ fills his emptiness, cures his sadness and is a constant companion.
So, in addition to learning great refinishing skills, I also learned I was not alone. I learned I could have the perfect love I always dreamed about. God brought me to my knees and gave meaning to my once meaningless life. In his plan, he used those months to not only teach me those woodworking skills but to also teach me about his purposes, meaning and compassion. Now I can look to Him for meaning and guidance. He filled the many empty places, gave me joy and is always faithful and righteous.
I am so thankful for that time, for so many reasons. I still have struggles. But it sure is a relief to know I don’t have to face them alone.