Transformed!

The old repro book-case in our lounge was incredibly useful. But, let’s be frank about this, it was a complete eye-sore! Its conker-colour veneer was a total anomaly, when compared with the contemporary soft whites and greys that we’d chosen for the rest of the room. Yep, that old book-case stuck out like a sore thumb!

It was one of those pieces I’d inherited from my dad, with the full intention of upcycling. Full of enthusiasm, I’d watched a ton of Annie Sloan videos, and even ordered a tin of Chalk Paint in a shade called ‘Old White.’ But sadly, I never seemed to find the time, or the energy required to remove the vast stock-pile of books from the shelves, set up a dust sheet out on the lawn, lug the great unit outside, and devote a day to painting.

And so the Annie Sloan chalk paint found its way into the dark depths of our under-stairs cupboard, where it lay forgotten for well over a year. The bookcase was doomed to be unceremoniously ‘dumped’ at the next available opportunity.

Imagine my delight, when my husband, eager for a ‘lock-down project’ to embark on, declared, one sunny afternoon: “I’m going to paint that bookcase for you tomorrow!”

Imagine my sheer surprise when my two teenage daughters, who would normally embrace ‘family projects’ with as much gusto as a cat being given a bath, piped up: “We’ll help!”

On the very next day, my dream-d├ęcor-team, got to work! Many hands make light work, and so, my painting services were not required. I was more than happy to sit and watch, and occasionally supply cups of tea, glasses of juice and sandwiches for these enthusiastic workers.

After several hours of painting, chit-chatting and listening to music, the sad old piece had been lavished with two coats of paint and was left drying in the spring sunshine. It was a real team effort – even our youngest daughter had a go at polishing up the brass drawer-furniture.

When the whole process was finished, the transformation was really quite startling! That tired old bookcase, destined only for the tip, was now absolutely splendid!

The transformation was so utterly satisfying to behold. We all stood back and marvelled. Surely, it wasn’t the same book-case?

Turns out, all it had needed was a little TLC! Hey, don’t we all?

Well, you know, that old book-case got me to thinking…

Firstly, I’m so grateful that we have a God, who chose an old wreck like me, took off my filthy rags and clothed me with robes of righteousness! He redeemed my life from the pit, and crowned me with His love and compassion. I’m so grateful.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.

2 Corinthians 5:17

Witnessing my family working together as a team like that, was extremely heart-warming. I’m being honest here, the teenage years can be tough – for kids and parents alike! We’ve had some difficult days these past few years. Some hurtful words have been spoken. Some gut-wrenching tears have been cried. Wrong choices have hurt us all. The busy, fast pace of our lives has often caused a disconnect.

But I’m so confident, that in the midst of this Corona Virus crisis, our Redeeming God is wanting to bring about some amazing works of restoration and transformation within families! We have a God who’s in the business of doing more than we can ask or even imagine, don’t we? (Ephesians 3:20).

Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost. He loves to restore. He loves to renew. He loves to redeem. It’s what He came to do!

I believe Jesus is just waiting to be invited in – into our homes, into our lives, into our families. He wants to transform every room of the house! Every sad, flagging marriage, every broken down, ready-for-the-tip relationship, our God is able to refresh, to renew and to restore! Confess your need today, ask for forgiveness if necessary, ask for help – and be expectant – God is full of lovingkindness and abundant grace. In this season, I truly, truly believe, He is pouring out His grace over families, to renew and to restore!

Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert

Isaiah 43:19

I hope this post blesses and encourages you.

A Visit To St. Paul’s

Recently, on John Piper’s Desiring God website, we came across a recommended reading list, which includes many great classics by authors such as A.W Pink, R.C. Sproul and J.I. Packer. Feeling inspired, Nathan ordered a selection of them for us to read – including this little beauty.

A couple of pages into The Cross of Christ, in a chapter entitled: The Centrality of the Cross, I came across the following excerpt:

Imagine a stranger visiting St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. Having been brought up in a non-Christian culture, he knows next to nothing about Christianity. Yet he is more than a tourist; he is personally interested and keen to learn. Walking along Fleet Street, he is impressed by the grandeur of the building’s proportions, and marvels that Sir Christopher Wren could have conceived such an edifice after the Great Fire of London in 1666. As his eyes attempt to take it in, he cannot help noticing the huge golden cross which dominates its dome.

He enters the cathedral and stands at its central point under the dome. Trying to grasp the size and shape of the building, he becomes aware that its ground plan, consisting of nave and transepts, is cruciform. He walks round and observes that each side chapel contains what looks to him like a table, on which prominently, there stands a cross. He goes downstairs into the crypt to see the tombs of famous men such as Sir Christopher Wren himself, Lord Nelson and the Duke of Wellington: a cross is engraved on each.

John Stott – The Cross of Christ

I found myself greatly intrigued by this description of the grand old Cathedral that graces the skyline of our beloved Capital City. So on 28th December, 2018, Emily and I set off on a grand adventure to visit St. Paul’s.

We emerged out of Blackfriars Railway station, not too sure which way to go. We needn’t have worried, however – There in the distance, we soon caught sight of the iconic dome and spires. A stroll up Ludgate Hill, offered us a wonderful vantage point from which to take in the splendour of the Cathedral. And there, right at the top was that Golden Cross.

Unfortunately, as it’s a place of worship, visitors are asked to refrain from taking photographs in the main part of the cathedral. It’s a shame, as the interior is just as stunning as the exterior. However, I couldn’t resist a quick snap of the Nativity, after all, it’s only there once a year.

I settled on buying a guidebook, and some postcards, which I hope will give you a glimpse into the Cathedrals’ astonsishing vaulted ceilings, adorned with their ornate carvings, and mosaics.

The black and white tiled floor, the chandeliers giving off their soft glow, the intricacy of the mosaics and vaulted chambers overhead- it was difficult to know where to look first! Such a spectacular work of architecture, all built to the glory of God, triggered an unexpected wave of emotion.

Standing beneath that central dome, I gazed upwards, taking in the sheer brilliance and significance of the architect’s plan. The epicentre of the entire building, famous the world over, situated right in the middle of a cross.

After a lovely browse in the Cathedral Gift Shop, and a refreshing stop in the cafe, our adventure led us 259 steps up into the fascinating Whispering Gallery, where legend has it that due to the amazing acoustics of the dome, you can hear the slightest whisper from the opposite side of the circular balcony.

A further 376 steps brought us out onto the Stone Gallery, with glimpses of London’s skyline seen through stone ballestrades.

And then – not for the faint hearted – another 528 spiral steps, and we had made it to the Golden Gallery, 85 metres above the Cathedral Floor. God had blessed us with the clearest of days. The climb was well worth it. The views were extraordiary.

This extraordinary Cathedral, built out of the ashes of a Great Fire, is definitely one of the most special places I have ever set foot in.

Here are a few thoughts I came away with:

  • How can I make the cross central in my life, this coming year?
  • How, as a Temple of the Holy Spirit, can I glorify God more?
  • Sir Christopher Wren’s Cathedral, built in the aftermath of the Great Fire of London, in my opinion, is greater than the original. This stirs my faith that God can redeem the worst situation and turn it around for His glory!