Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sunday Thoughts

Standing Stones

Last week I talked about my “great cloud of witnesses” that surround my life. I sometimes think when I contemplate on something that the Lord has impressed upon my heart...He then makes sure I “reflect” on it a little longer. He reinforces the thought with other “lessons” He wants me to know and hear.

Tuesday night our small group discussed “Standing Stones”. We learned that long before the Children of Israel entered the promised land the inhabitants erected sacred stones to honor their gods or to honor important events that could only be explained by the supernatural.

The Hebrew word translated “standing stones” is massebah and it means “to set up.” The Israelites also began the practice of erecting standing stones to honor their covenant with God, and as a reminder of God’s supernatural acts on their behalf.

Today, at a place called Tel Gezer, (which is midway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv) there are ten stones that were erected in tribute to a long-forgotten event. The stones cannot speak, and there are no living witnesses to give meaning to what happened there in those ancient times.

In the New Testament, Peter describes us (as believers) to be “living stones” (1 Peter 2:5). Although he goes on to compare believers to stones that are shaped and cut by builders, Peter knew his readers would know of the “massebah’s” and they would think of themselves as living standing stones as well.

Our group discussion also touched on the fact that God placed the children of Israel at the crossroads of the world because He wanted His people to influence their culture. He wanted them to become the living “standing stones” as a testimony of His love, His power, and His provisions for His people.

But the Israelites failed miserably to be God’s witnesses in their culture.

What about us? What about me? What about my sphere of influence? Am I ineffective? Am I silent? Do I fail to explain why I’m different?

God calls us to live so publicly that we influence and shape those around us. He wants us to be “standing stones” that are able to testify to the amazing things God has done for us!

This, again, causes me to think of that “great cloud of witnesses” that have gone before me. I think specifically of a paint salesman, Herman Balka, who continually witnessed to my Dad, even though my dad rejected and ridiculed him.

God gave Herman his specific sphere of influence and called him to show others that “the Lord is God." Herman lived his life so that others would see God in his life and would be drawn to seek “his God".  Herman didn’t give up...each week he made his sales call to not only sell paint, but I think more importantly, he came to “offer” another lifestyle to my Dad.  To show my father what he could have if he gave up "his way" of doing life. (Which I don't believe was working too well!)

Thankfully, my Dad accepted Herman's “offer.” His acceptance of that “free gift” led to a new life for my Dad and his “new life” eventually lead to a new trajectory of my life.

I think of Herman as being part of my cloud of witnesses.  I can look back and see his "stone" standing in testimony of a story I CAN tell.  His story is a reminder of God’s supernatural acts on my behalf.

Herman faithfully obeyed God, and became a “standing stone” to all the nonbelievers in his life. Many others noticed that his life was different and accepted his "offer" of a changed life. Herman made a choice to trust in God’s power to transform not only his customers but also his culture.

Which choice will I make? How about you?

Till tomorrow...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sunday Thoughts

I have an old photograph that hangs above my craft desk. This picture of the "Ladies" faithfully arrived  every Christmas for our Sunday School White Elephant event.  Everyone looked forward to the party, but dreaded the picture.  Inevitably, someone would  pick the most prettily wrapped package...and behold...the Ladies!  Everyone would laugh and make fun of the lucky person that got to take the "Ladies" home with the promise each time they would return "next year."  And sure enough, each year they returned, more beautifully wrapped than the last year.  Each year they could be found lurking among the gifts, everyone hoping they would not be the one to pick the "dreaded" package. 

I watched this play out every year at Christmas...but in my heart...I loved those ladies. 

Two years ago a new couple to our group opened the dreaded package.  I approached them at the end of the evening and asked if I could take the picture "off their hands."  They were grateful!


Me?  I was ecstatic!  Look at all the lovely ladies!!!  These ladies make me smile.
They all look happy. They each look like they are having a good time and most importantly, they appear to enjoy each other's company.

Is this a women's Bible study? A quilt guild? Perhaps they've gathered for a wedding or a funeral?

Some of the women are wearing matching aprons, perhaps provided by the church (love the flowers on the front holding them on to their dress).  Others are wearing their own personal apron they probably brought from home. 
Why had they gathered?  Who are the cooks?  What was prepared?  How many were served?
The dress code of the day dictates dresses, but some have hats, and one is wearing her fur collar!
You can see each of their individual personalities shining through.

Each woman came prepared to offer her talent and to minister to the others.  Some of the women were served, while others undertook the serving. One group of ladies might have prepared the meal while others decorated and set up the tables. Each one offered herself fully to her task to make the event a success.

Yet, as I look at each of their faces and wonder who they are, I think of Paul's words in Hebrews 12:1

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us..."

I look up from my desk and think of them as my "great cloud of witnesses"...those women in my life who have built up and encouraged me in my faith.
There are some who have already "gone home" Aunt Sadie, Marie Porth, Miss Emma.  Gracious hostesses who always opened their homes and served others with true Southern Hospitality.

Women from churches I have attended  that have been loving examples of wives, mothers, sisters, daughters.  So many who have been part of my "cloud of witnesses".  So many that have touched my life by opening up and sharing their lives.


 Rumor has it that this picture came from Missouri...but does it really matter? 
 I look at this group of women and I am thankful to them. They are a constant reminder of the important women in my life.
Aren't these women the same women today that are in each of our churches, communities and families?  Aren't these same women touching our lives every day?  They are the ones serving behind the scene in groups we belong to.  We don't always notice them.  We don't see them looking on, wiping their hands on their "apron" and smiling as they serve in background.

I love how The Message words the same text in Hebrews 12:1:  "1-3Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!
January is the time of year that many of us reflect on last year's goals and set new goals for the coming year.
As I look up at these women I know they have blazed the way before me. They have sacrificed much, not only for themselves and their families, but for their church, their communities...for women to follow.  I may not know their names, but I know their legacy.
They are cheering me on to strip off all those "old" things that hold me back. 
Letting go of what lies behind and looking forward...continuing to run the race God has set before me.
Keeping my eyes forward to the finish line...shedding off those things that are dragging me down. 
My "great cloud of witnesses"...I can hear them calling out to me, urging me ever forward!

To all the women in my life...thank you. 
You are changing me, spurring me on and continually teaching me His ways!

till tomorrow...

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Van Alstyne, Texas

There's nothing like a road trip on a cold, gray day.  Better yet is a great road trip that's only 15 minutes from home!
Heading North on Interstate 75, about 15 minutes from McKinney, is Van Alstyne, Texas.  Van Alstyne officially became a Texas City March 10, 1873 with the arrival of the first train.

Today Van Alstyne's population is 2,843, officially making it a SMALL town!
However, there are a lot of things happening in Van Alstyne these days and I decided to go check it out!

My first stop was at Summit Mercantile.
This store is owned by Amelia Giles and Cheryl Snyder.  They are originally from Mississippi, but most recently they had a shop in Houston.  The ladies relocated to Van Alstyne, re-habed an old house...and opened their new store.

From the minute you walk in the front door there is so much to see!  Great, large pieces of furniture fill the shop.  Every inch of space is utilized to show case many of the over sized pieces.

There were several beds...I guess I only caught a picture of one of them

Several of the industrial items could be re-purposed into functional items.  This old lift looks like a tea cart.  Imagine the heave work it accomplished in the past.

This is a great trophy cabinet the ladies picked up from a school up North.  Unfortunately, this piece was sold, but I did notice another one in the back...maybe it's waiting for you!

I loved this wonderful old workbench...

Here is the same work bench from the other angle.  So many great drawers!

I saw two of these small file drawers.  What a perfect addition to an office.

Everywhere I turned there was another beautiful piece of furniture.

The ladies also offer vintage lighting.

How could you possibly just pick one?

This little "cafe" set was over the top.  It would be so interesting to know the story behind this table and the four little chairs. 

Of all the pieces I saw, I think this dental cabinet was my favorite.  Painted a light blue, it was in great condition.  This would be a perfect addition to a sewing room, filled with bits and pieces of fabric and thread.  This alone is worth the drive!

There were large mirrors...

each more beautiful than the last one.

Alas...Amelia and Cheryl are headed out on their next big buying trip and they will be "missing" from January 15 (today) until February 3, 2011.  The store will be closed during that time, but while they're away you can check out their website, Summit Mercantile, or you can follow the ladies on Facebook.

Be sure and stop by when Amelia and Cheryl will LOVE all the things they currently have in the shop and you will be able to be the first to check out their new items!

Once I left the Mercantile I went next door to Abby Lane.  
This shop offered a variety of home and decorative items to catch your eye, along with home town T-shirts in support of Van Alstyne.

Across is the street is Atmosphere's, another fairly new shop.  The owner said she opened up last summer.  She had some cute jewelry and various other home decor items.

 Van Alstyne also has a cute consignment store on N. Main St called Steel Magnolia.

The Consignment store is located in an old flooring store, so be sure to look down and check out all the varying floor options that were once offered.
Today the store is filled with  furniture, art, home goods, clothing and jewelry. also need to look up at the interesting ceiling and lighting treatments.  The store is cute, the owner, Anita Leah Armstrong, is friendly and very willing to work with you.

All in all...a great time spent in Van Alstyne.  Worth the side trip off of Interstate 75 and never far from Dallas or McKinney.  Be sure to head back to McKinney to have lunch.  You can finish the afternoon off shopping in our little town square!

till tomorrow...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Small Bathroom Makeover

We have had a lot of cold weather in Texas...and it even snowed here. It is winter, but a little overboard for us!

The snow wasn't enough to keep me from work (just one morning of going in late) but it just makes you want to stay bundled up in front of the fire place.
But...projects are calling...
Today I primed the walls and tin pieces in the small bathroom.

I wanted to go ahead and paint the old tin pieces, especially since they are in a bathroom that will have a lot of moisture and humidity..
I love the old look of them, but I would rather seal them with the primer.  I will wash on another color when I'm finished painting to highlight the design in the tin pieces.

It makes everything look fresh and new.  I can see some spots that didn't get a good caulking...but I can fill those areas in before I paint.

My big disappointment was pulling the light fixture down and finding that the builder made two rather large holes for only one light fixture (not counting the screws they used to put it up.)  My "electrician" also noted there was no junction box in the wall for this light fixture. 
Nothing like doing a "bad" job in a new house.  That will have to be done correctly, then the holes patched, before the new light fixture can go up.

All finished for today.  It didn't take too long (it is a small bathroom!)
I think this room is going to be pretty once it is all put together!  I have the shower curtain and some other items that are all ready to move in, once the painting is complete!
I think it will be finished just in time for "company"...very nice!

Till tomorrow...

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sunday Thoughts

Draw Me Nearer

I am Thine, O Lord, I have heard Thy voice,

And it told Thy love to me;
But I long to rise in the arms of faith
And be closer drawn to Thee.

Draw me nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
To the cross where Thou hast died;
Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
To Thy precious, bleeding side.

Consecrate me now to Thy service, Lord,
By the pow’r of grace divine;
Let my soul look up with a steadfast hope,
And my will be lost in Thine.

Oh, the pure delight of a single hour
That before Thy throne I spend,
When I kneel in prayer, and with Thee, my God
I commune as friend with friend!

There are depths of love that I cannot know
Till I cross the narrow sea;
There are heights of joy that I may not reach
Till I rest in peace with Thee.

Frances J. Crosby, pub.1875

let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water."      Hebrews 10:22 (New International Version, ©2010)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Small Bathroom Makeover

Today I finished stripping off the last of the two wallpaper borders.

I caulked the wood stripes that we screwed to the walls in preparation for painting.  All the holes are patched and everything is ready.

I've been shopping every week at Re-Store (our local Habitat for Humanity Store) in hopes of finding just the right light fixture.  I found this one last week, but of course it will have to be painted.  I also found some really cute globes at $1.00 each. (Huge savings over Home Depot!)

I think there's light at the end of the tunnel for this project.  I'm still shopping floor options, nothing as yet, but I know I'll find just the right thing to finish this project.

Till tomorrow...

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Apron Chronicles

Today my girlfriend and I attended the Apron Chronicles Luncheon at the

The event included a program by EllynAnne Giesel, curator of the Apron Chronicles exhibit.

The luncheon began at 11:30, so we arrived early enough to wander the permanent collection of the Cowgirl Museum and to also go through the Apron Chronicles exhibit.

The set up of the food was gorgeous.

Look at these carrots! 

The watermelon was just as beautiful.

Once we had finished dining on stuffed chicken breasts, roast beef, potatoes, vegetables and a wonderful salad...along with apple pie and bread pudding...the program began.

EllynAnne Geisel was very entertaining.

She took us along with her on her "apron journey" and shared with us her apron collection along with the many memories she has collected along the way.  She is now the keeper of many mementos of days past.  People send her aprons and stories in hopes of her keeping these memories alive, and to save them for future apron lovers.

EllynAnne wove together stories of the varied aprons she brought with her.  She described the various styles of aprons and gave us a glimpse into the different eras, lifestyles and traditions surrounding the aprons and the families who originally owned the aprons. 

We learned about patterns and the sewing techniques that were used in days past to create the many aprons.

Here's a shot of just a portion of the aprons she unpacked.

I love that she brought the aprons with her in a vintage suitcase.  It seemed so appropriate.

The time flew by as she spoke and too soon our time together was over. 

EllynAnne was very gracious to sign my copy of her book...

and I was pleased to have been cast under her "apron spell." 

The Apron Chronicles Exhibit will be at the National Cowgirl Museum January 7 - April 3, 2011.
If you get a chance, head over to Ft. Worth and check it out.

Till tomorrow...

PS Meant to say you can follow EllynAnne on her blog Apon Memories.