This wasn’t just any table.
My mother had purchased it years ago at a yard sale and then decided it needed too much work and handed it down to me.
It was a family heirloom in need of a makeover.
It was two feet wide and eight feet long, with spindly legs and molding around the top that didn’t quite match. It was covered with nicks and dings, and the top had deep grooves from years of use.
But it was perfect for our home in Texas. It just needed someone with a vision—and some elbow grease. I sanded and refinished the entire surface so the original wood shone. I intended to refinish the legs as well, but there were too many grooves and nicks that I couldn’t sand, so I decided to paint them instead.
First, I painted the legs blue, and then I changed my mind and painted them black. Then I changed my mind again and painted the legs red. But it still wasn’t working.
Maybe I need to go simpler, I thought. Impatiently, I scrapped the whole red and blue and black thing and painted the legs white. Better, I thought. Much better. I reached for the sandpaper and started to distress the table’s legs.
At that moment, something incredible happened.
The more I sanded, the more amazing the finish became. Distressing the piece revealed layer upon layer of different colors under the white top coat. In some places, you could see hints of blue, and in other spots red and black peeked through the edges of the finish. Emboldened, I sanded harder and harder until the original wood finish mixed in with the layers of colors.
And somehow it all worked. When I was done, I could hear the faint strands of the “Hallelujah Chorus” winging their way from heaven.
The table was a showpiece.
Whenever people stopped by for a visit they commented on that table. Accolades poured in from far and wide.
My table and I would beam with pride and show off our legs and humble-brag about our painted coat of many colors. We’d silently tell ourselves how amazing we were and high-five each other after the guests left.
After traveling halfway across the country, the table arrived in Kentucky with us. My heart raced when the movers unpacked it and carried it down the ramp. It was like having one of my people right here with me in the Bluegrass State. It was time to get settled in our new home, my table and I.
When the last picture was in place, I looked around and decided it was time to have a party to introduce my new house to the neighborhood.
And my table? It was going to be the guest of honor at the festivities. I couldn’t wait to show it off.
When the day of the party arrived, my new friends streamed into the living room, and we laughed and talked like we were old friends. We munched on cupcakes and sipped sweet tea, and I gave them a tour of the house. At last, we arrived at the table.
I paused in front of my masterpiece and waited for the accolades. I waited for the oohs and ahhs and the wistful sighs. Instead, there was only silence.
My new friends looked at the table and then looked at me. They exchanged awkward smiles and then promptly turned back to their sweet tea.
Finally, one of my guests pulled me aside.
“Can I ask you a question?” she said in a stage whisper.
“Of course!” I smiled.
“I love your new home and all,” she said. “It’s decorated so pretty, and I love how you put everything together. I just had a quick question about the table.”
I turned to her with a grin. “I’d love to talk about the table.”
“I was thinking,” she said. “I love the size and shape of it, and I know it came from a yard sale and you probably haven’t had a chance to paint the legs yet. So, in the meantime, I have an extra tablecloth if you want to borrow it”
I stood speechless. A tablecloth?
I was stunned.
These people didn’t get me. They didn’t understand me or my table. I thought they would appreciate something new. Something different. Something unique and one of a kind.
I tried so hard, I thought. And then the tiniest of voices whispered to my heart.
Or did you? Did you try to fit in and learn more about your new friends, or did you simply set out to impress? Did you invite them into your home to make them feel welcome, or did you want to show them how you aren’t really from here, because truthfully, somewhere inside of you, you think you’re better?
In the silence of the room, even the table was raising its eyebrows at me.
I was wrong.
My new friends had shown me true friendship. They welcomed me and showered me with gifts and smiles and hugs, but I hadn’t really paid attention. I had overlooked all the welcome in my grand attempt to impress.
All along I had been thinking an almighty God had called us to this place and this town at this time in our lives for the lessons we were going to teach.
In reality, we were here for the lessons we were going to learn.
Have you ever felt like you were chasing tomorrow—never satisfied with today? I’ve been guilty of that in seasons of my life, and my guest has, too. I know you’ll be encouraged by my friend, KariAnne Wood!
Adapted from So Close to Amazing, the debut memoir from beloved Thistlewood Farms blogger, KariAnne Wood. From Tyndale Momentum. Copyright © 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.
KariAnne Wood writes the decorating and lifestyle blog Thistlewood Farms from her project-filled historic home in Dallas, Texas. She recently followed God’s call and jumped back “home” with her family from the middle of the country to the busy Dallas metroplex where she lives with her husband and four children.
If you wander down the tree-lined streets of KariAnne’s beloved hometown, McKinney, you might find her painting mismatched chairs, listening to Christmas carols no matter the season, singing Scripture, or walking hand in hand with her knight-in-shining-armor husband to a Friday night football game. She loves sweet tea with lime, thunderstorms, good books, milk glass, and yard sales, and she is an imperfect DIYer saved by grace.
Thistlewood Farms is full of stories of family and faith and features hundreds of the home decor projects KariAnne creates every week for readers. The blog was awarded the Country Living Decorating Blog of the Year, was named one of the Top 10 Decorating Blogs by Better Homes and Gardens, and was voted one of the best DIY blogs of 2015. KariAnne has been featured in Better Homes and Gardens Christmas Ideas, Country Living, Flea Market Décor, Country Woman, HGTV Magazine, the Cottage Journal, the Chicago Tribune, Reloved, and This Old House magazine, and on popular websites including the Today show, Better Homes and Gardens, Country Living, Apartment Therapy, Good Housekeeping, Mediakix, Bob Vila, and BuzzFeed. KariAnne has made appearances on television programs including Nashville Channel 5’s Talk of the Town and Channel 8 in Dallas.