Useful for Him

My husband and I had talked about replacing the counters. They were past their prime. I had bought a kit to paint laminate counters five or six years ago and had been pleased with the look…for awhile, until tiny paint pieces started peeling into my pie crusts and bread dough. I didn’t even like to clean it, because the cloth would be speckled black before I was done.

I reached the “I’ve had it stage!” I know we had talked about new extended counters…but really the boys were leaving. Who needed wider counters for more clutter? I didn’t want to spend a fortune, then worry about ruining it.

 I researched and found my answer. Cement! I found feather weight cement that can be layered. One article said, “If you can spread peanut butter, you can layer this cement." I could do that. I special ordered the cement and purchased the supplies.

When I gave my box-cutter to my youngest and told him to cut the laminate counter, I couldn’t watch, nor turn back.

Do you ever start one of these projects and think “What have I just done?”
That was my constant thought throughout this project.

The first cement layer went on smooth. I didn’t have to make it perfect, so the article said. I could sand any blemish and cover it with the next layer. The edges and sides were tricky as I glumped cement to make it smooth.

Sanding worked well. Gave it character in places where the dry-wall scrapper left marks.

After reading about the mess that sanding created, I had covered almost everything with plastic. However, I didn’t expect the cement-dustings to linger in the air and land twenty feet away. Several layers and sandings later, I was weary of walking through inches of cement dust.

Nothing could be placed on my counters.

Since I couldn’t get them wet, I did most of the dishes instead of the boys, and paper plates were my friend. (Some people removed their sink to work around it. I was afraid to. And then where would I be without water for a week?)

When we saw a contractor friend, I told him what I was doing.

He gave me this look that revealed too much, but he was too kind to tell me what he thought exactly. After a long pause, he said, “Home Depot’s counters are pretty inexpensive. I could help you with it.”
I swallowed and smiled, “I’ll keep that in mind.” But I had already spent $200 on all the supplies and materials.
I had hoped my cement project wouldn’t be a total failure. Now I really wasn’t sure.

By the fourth thin layer, I knew what to expect, but didn’t know how much sanding would fix all that I couldn’t scrape out.

Character… that’s what it would have. And I better be happy with it!

Sealing was another exercise in “what if I made a big mistake?” U-tube told me that it could take many layers before it sealed. I didn’t mind the layering, but I had only purchased one container and it had taken two weeks to special deliver it. It was the only food grade sealer I could find. Could I not use my counter for that long? I worried as it dried and tested it with more prayer than I should have. I made the sealer stretch. (I still wonder if I should have added more.)

Then waxed it. They (the experts who’d done it before) recommended a drill attachment, but I hadn’t wanted to spend the money. Surely I could do it by hand, couldn’t I? I did. (Even if it may be the last time I do that.)

Now as I look at my cement, even though I got it because of its durability and sense of permanence, I’m still afraid to get it wet. And they did say acids (i.e. tomatoes, mustard, strong cleaners) would not be good for it. I heave a sigh and thank God that I didn’t spend a fortune. It’s just cement after all.

I’ll have to thank my contractor friend for his offer, but decline its need. Whew!

And so we are with God.

We don’t like the blackness that He shows us when He washes us, but that’s all we know, so we keep peeling off the blackness. He keeps cleaning what’s there, knowing how long we’ll wait, before we tell Him, “I’ve had enough.”

That’s when He takes His knife and marks us. And tells us, “This will make the cement stick.” (He removes our sin, not just covers it.)

We cry and whine and complain, saying how much it hurts.
But He does it anyway.

We can’t go back to what it was, but nor do we know what to expect. We’re afraid of what we don’t know. And wonder if life will ever be the same.
It won’t be.
But do we want those paint scraps?

We say He doesn’t care.
But He cares more than we know.

And so the first layer of cement is scraped, thinned, and layered. It fills in the cracks we didn’t know we had. It takes away the roughness.

Then He sands.
We thought the knife hurt!
Such a mess! I can’t fix anything.

Then the next layer and the sanding. I don’t have the paint pieces anymore, but nor do I like this mess.

Then comes the wait stage. The cement has to cure.

I’m not useful at this stage. In fact, it’s frustrating to look at the mess, the clutter, the cement splatters and ask “Why bother?” I can’t even use the counter. Did I forget the black paint so soon?

But then the wait is over and He soaks the cement so that every pore is filled with the soothing Sealant of His Spirit. He does this many times, soaking into the insides of the cement, making sure all is saturated.

Then He tests it. Some of the stuff that would have bothered me before, isn’t so important. I find some things don’t annoy me as much. I can repel the water and keep it from penetrating inside me. The Sealant has done His job.

He applies the wax. I thought the Sealant would be enough. But the wax coats me with a shine that allows His work to shine through. After all, it’s just common cement. Nothing special about that. It’s the work of His Spirit that makes it valuable, useful, and enduring.

And so my counters are done, but God has also worked a work inside of me. Showing me again that His love won’t allow my sin to stay. He conforms me to His image, the image of His Son, so that I can be useful for Him.

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Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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I write about what you---
women, wives and moms---
about your family, faith and future.
I write about what's hard, what helps and what heals.
I show you how it's done. And not done.
I hold your hand as you find what matters to the Savior.
And let go of those things that mattered to you, but not to Him.
I write about what Him.
               Sonya Contreras

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When Suffering Gets Personal
What an Amazing God We Serve
Response to Healthy Gaming
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The Need for Meaning Even in Pain
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God's Boundaries
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Thoughts to Ponder
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See the Story in the Stars
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Heart Issues or Issues of the Heart
Things Aren't Always What They Seem
More faith articles are found here:
under the Table of Contents. Also available in book form.
Or here:
under the Table of Contents. Also available in book form.
Articles on Suffering can be found  here, 
under Table of Contents. Also available in book form.
Special Days
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First Thanksgiving Day

Christmas: Stories behind the Songs
Christmas: Stories behind the Songs, part 2

Click on book cover for details.




Tell of My Kingdom's Glory
Three Book Series