If it’s possible to see God’s grace in a piece of restored antique furniture, I’ve seen it.
When my grandmother died, I walked away with three sets of her china. As we were cleaning out their house, my grandfather Pop was surprised to see all the dishes she collected over the years and wondered how she got past him with purchasing and storing it all. She was an antique connoisseur with classy taste and a knack for quality, even if for a higher price. One of the sets of china I now have Pop doesn’t remember Momma Jean ever using. I imagine she bought it because it caught her eye, and of course, she had to have the whole set, not just a few pieces.
Dishes, furniture, clothing, jewelry–her spending habits were a perfect mix of frugal when necessary but willing to spend a pretty penny on something that will last. A lot of the material things in our house are a product of that. My son is using the bed and night stand my uncle used as a kid. In the words of Cousin Eddie, Ethan Allen is really nice.
Two things I’ve learned about myself in the past two and a half years since the passing of both of my beloved grandmothers–
- I prefer the things that have been passed down over the brand new things.
- I have too many dishes.
Due to those facts, I realized I needed another place to store dishes and things from my grandmothers. I already have a kitchen with plenty of cabinet space, a huge hutch in my kitchen, a china cabinet of my grandmother’s, and a china cabinet Brent bought me that was originally purchased from the local hardware store in our town. All are full. And yes, I’ve already cleaned them out. It sounds like I have too much stuff. What you hear is correct. But I grieve by using all of these dishes and furniture.
Grief is not a one time event. It’s a rest of your life thing. And it’s not all tears and sadness. It’s also beautiful and full of grace. Grief can look like the daily use of things that once belonged to women in my family that served God and their families well, and using them with joy and thankfulness that God gave me such a Godly heritage. I can’t speak for your home, but in mine, we eat food and sit on furniture multiple times throughout the day. So much of what I do in my home reminds me of them, but more importantly leads me to remember the goodness and grace of God.
For Christmas this year, I asked Brent for another piece of furniture to hold the rest of Momma Jean’s things that had been sitting in bright, turquoise tubs in my dining room for a few months. Immediately, he was on it. Shopping around for new furniture at all the popular online furniture stores. He’d send me links of things he found that he thought I’d like. And, while I did like most of what he picked out, none of them were what I wanted.
“What is it that you want, then?” he’d ask.
“I don’t know. I’ll know it when I see it.” I’d say.
I knew it had to be antique, or at least not brand new. It had to be solid wood. It had to have dovetail drawers. It had to have a history in another home and with another family before mine. A warehouse full of the same pieces of overstocked furniture was not what I had a mind. There is a place and time for that, but this was not it. If the purpose of this piece of furniture was to hold Momma Jean’s things, it had to be a piece of furniture Momma Jean would buy.
It wasn’t until shopping after Christmas that I found exactly what I wanted. Actually, Brent found it first. We were walking around the store separately. He saw an antique and restored buffet and knew this was the piece I’d unknowingly been looking for. He also saw the price tag and knew I’d see that first and dismiss the furniture quickly, so he turned the price tag around, found me in the store, and said, “I found something I think you’re going to like.”
I told him not to tell me where it was. I wanted to see if I could find it on my own. I turned a corner and saw it. My eyes went directly to the price tag and I saw that it was turned around. Brent said, “Tell me what you think. Do not look at the price.”
Well, of course, I loved it. It was perfect. It was what I was looking for, without being able to describe it beforehand. It was used. It was solid wood. It had dovetail drawers. It had a history. It was quality. It was worth a pretty penny.
Brent didn’t let me consider a cheaper buffet that I found. He wanted me to have what he knew I’d love for a lifetime.
I imagine similar conversations occurred between my grandparents when Momma Jean was shopping for just the right piece of furniture, or jewelry, or dishes. Pop didn’t let her settle. He spent the extra so she’d be able to enjoy it as long as she lived. Being encouraged (or told, rather) to buy the pricier item for the purpose of loving it as long as I’m able reminded me of the way Pop loved Momma Jean.
Brent knows I’m bent to the frugal side, not spending more when I can buy similar for less and rarely spending on myself. He also knows me well and wanted me to have what I truly wanted, regardless of price. He didn’t let me settle in the furniture store. The freedom, love, and grace Brent showed me in that moment made me tear up right there in the store, standing in front of the perfect piece of furniture. Being known better than I know myself is a gift of grace.
I’m convinced this piece of furniture was made just for us, just for this space, and just for the purpose of holding Momma Jean’s things. I’ve even decorated it with her classic Reader’s Digest books, her bookends, her milk glass, and a sign my aunt made with wood from my family’s land.
God’s grace stored and displayed in this new buffet of mine.
The Lord knows the days of the blameless, and their heritage will remain forever.
Psalm 37: 18