“Mama. Don’t throw that away!” My ten-year-old points to a flimsy lid of an old box.

“Hand it to me! I’m going to use it. Actually I’m going to recycle it.”

I see her, with colored pencils and art markers in fists and a large book tucked under one arm. She reaches for the box lid with her other free elbow.

As a mother, I’m in the constant process of picking up and putting-in-proper-place all things that are out of place. The way a mother can “sweep” a bedroom or downstairs of clutter {when she puts her mind to it} is quick and painless. With speed, I’d been grabbing and collecting the things that needed to get put in order before we began our evening routine.

This is where she stopped me.

I know she’d been hard at work on a fantastical map over the past few evenings, recently trading her nighttime reading hour for one spent curled over art paper up in her loft bed, auburn hair sweeping the page.

Recycle it?

I knew she wasn’t going to “recycle” it in the way we term it. We put bottles and cardboard at the curb on Monday mornings for the city to whisk them away to some far off reclaiming plant. Or maybe if we are enterprising, we dutifully take our bottles and cans to the center where we are given small change for our efforts.

Either way, this isn’t the kind of recycling Hope was talking about.

She was going to turn it into her map. She was going to create worth out of something that was worthless.

She was going to draw valleys, rivers, houses, mountains and then with her amazing ideas name them each. She’d pull from the Chronicles of Narnia, the Wizard of Oz and a few horse books she’s read and mishmash words together to create new ones.

She was going to create an entire world on the back of a box lid.

We call it “upcycling” when we use something old and valueless and construct new value with it. We click through Pinterest to figure out how to turn old baby cribs into parlor benches. We recycle our paper and cardboard and pray that our old mail will somehow find their way into post-consumer-waste napkins.

And then we feel good that we’ve found a new use for something. But God is always recycling hurts to bring growth, upcyclying hard experiences to create understanding and redeeming the old to make the beautiful. And it’s more than just that. It’s about being made completely new through Jesus.

The Redeemed collection is about Jesus Christ, the work He’s doing in us and how we express that to the world.  It speaks of how we see the pieces of our lives as used up, messy, or disconnected, but God uses all the pieces together to make something beautiful. If you’re hosting an (in)spired deals review, link it up below!

  • http://messymiddle.com Amy @ themessymiddle

    “Upcycle” — I love it! That is so “reclaming” Eden lost. http://wp.me/p1Ut5W-d7


  • http://charinabrooks.wordpress.com Charina @ Pondered Thoughts

    “But God is always recycling hurts to bring growth, upcyclying hard experiences to create understanding and redeeming the old to make the beautiful.”


    And the Redeemed collection, they are beautiful!


  • http://www.aholyexperience.com Ann Voskamp

    Upcycled, indeed! Beautiful post, Sarah!
    I love the heart here…

  • http://relevantbrokenness.com Marni Arnold

    Love this insight, Sarah! Wonderful and so true! Thank you for sharing this beauty!

  • http://www.etsy.com/shop/reimaginedtreasures?ref=si_shop Kathi

    I love your article! After I lost my nurses’ license due to a brain injury, I felt worthless and depressed. God eventually led me into what became my little business…reImaginedTreasures! I have learned just what you said about God recycling our hurts, in my case my entire life, into a new thing. Now I get great joy making clothes for children from upcycled castoffs, vintage treasures, etc…And every day as I am hunting or sewing or ripping apart the old-that-will-be-new I am reminded of God’s great love for me and for us in remaking our lives into something beautiful!

  • http://juliesunne.com Julie Sunne

    My teenage son loves to create maps like your daughter does, Sarah, maps of far away places only found in his imagination. I love the creativity, I love the Redeemed collection, and I love the upcycling Jesus does in my life!

  • http://www.harseverse.blogspot.com willowsprite

    Is the jewelry made of recycled or upcycled materials?

  • Ally

    What do you mean by “redeeming the old to make the beautiful’?
    And sometimes hard experiences don’t lead us to understanding…sometimes we just have to accept them. :)

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