Monthly Archives: April 2013

Behind This Door Is…


Behind This Tall Skinny Door Is…

A Dish Pantry


On The Floor…


On The Walls…

Just a peek while you can see the floor.  Usually, the dish pantry is the “catch all” for things that don’t have an assigned place in the house.  When rumors of a gathering or party start rumbling around, I get around to organizing it again.  The dishes stay in their places all the time which is why I appreciate what is behind this door…a dish pantry.


In God’s Box


I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

It’s no secret in our house that I go through long periods of no sleep where I prowl, as my sons say, around the house and pray.   My guys are no longer afraid if they wake up and I am sitting in the chair in their rooms praying.  I’ve been doing this for years.   I pray for their wives even though they haven’t met them, but God knows who they are,  and I pray that He keeps my sons on the narrow path and they raise generations of godly children.  I’ve prayed for all their concerns like making friends, doing well in school, getting their first truck, college, jobs and the list goes on.  They know that if they are up to something I will know because God somehow shows me or they actually tell me themselves much to their dismay.  This is something they haven’t figured out how it works, but they will when they have children and pray for them.

Having shared all of this brings me to the main part of this post,  I always wanted my mother to pray for me and felt that if she had prayed early on for her children maybe the decisions I made in the past that hurt so much could have been prevented.  My mother came to Christ after my oldest son asked her where she would be when she died and would she like to be baptized with him.  I am sure the Lord had planted seeds long before my son spoke with her and he just helped as only a favorite grandchild has a way of getting things done that seemed impossible before.    They were both baptized at the same time when she was in her seventies and him at twelve.   She was a babe In Christ and was working out her faith the few years before she died.  Admittedly,  I have been jealous of  friends whose mothers have been praying all along.  I have literally mourned the loss of something that was never available to my mother’s children until later and then limited.   There is nothing so powerful as the prayers of a mother for a child and somehow I felt that I have been left out.   I am grateful that my mother knew God, even so late,  and I believe that she is in heaven with Him today; perhaps, praying

My sister, Sandra who passed away a year ago, was thirteen years older than me and my reluctant mother who was there for me when my mother could not or would not.   I have been mourning the loss of not just a sister to sister relationship,  but the comfort of knowing,  that no matter what,  there is someone else in this world that understands and will take me in unconditionally.   As most of my fellow floor walkers and sister warriors of prayer know, this stuff hits you in the middle of the night mostly between one and four in the morning.    I have been missing her so very much lately, especially during sleepless nights.

In the early hours I had a dream that my mother called and told me, “you need my help.”  Strange, I always tried to avoid needing her.  Then the dream progressed and my sister came to me and while hugging me whispered in my hear, “You are in God’s box.”   For weeks I have pondered that expression!  Don’t tell the sleep depraved, over analytical,  pre-menopausal, grieving basket case something that you don’t want her to pick apart for days on end.

“In God’s Box”, does that mean I am like Jonah in the belly of the whale and about to be spewed on to the beach.  Is God so unhappy with me because I can’t seem to figure out what or where He wants me right now?  Am I not doing something I should be doing?   On and on my brain bandied this about and it went this way for about a week.  I mentioned it to my sons and they had been thinking of their grandmother and aunt and missing them too.   What does this all mean???

Lo and behold!  It’s one in the morning.  No surprise, I am awake.  “…In God’s Box.”  “You are in God’s Box.”  “…In God’s Box.”   Just google it, silly girl, and so I did.  Here is what I found:

God’s Boxes
Prayers and reflections from an Irish web designer in Galway

 I have in  my hands two boxes which God gave me to hold.  He said, “Put all your sorrows in the black box, and all your joys in the gold.”

I heeded His words, and in the two boxes both my joys and sorrows I stored.  But though, the gold became heavier each day.  The black was as light as before.

With curiosity, I opened the black, I wanted to find out why.  And I saw, in the base of the box,  a hole which my sorrows had fallen out by.  I showed the hole to God, and mused, “I wonder where my sorrows could be?”  He smiled a gentle smile and said, “My child, they’re all here with me.”  God’s Boxes!

I asked God why He gave me the boxes.  Why the gold and the black with the hole?  “My child, the gold is for you to count your blessings; the black is for you to let go.”


A Man After God’s Own Heart


A little while ago I was given a copy of my great great grandfather’s death notice.  It would not have been a typical obituary, as we know it today, where the family provides the information of the deceased and pays for the space in the paper.  Instead, the death notices, as it were in the early part of the past century, were written by the local journalist or newspaper man.  To my understanding ,  that would mean that you could not control the sentiments of the newspaper; instead, you would be at the mercy of the truth or public opinion about the way you lived your life.   That’s what makes this so meaningful to me and I wanted to share my great great grandfather’s write up with you just as it was written all those years ago (emphasis mine)… A man after God’s own heart:

P. B. Collins

P. B. Collins was born June 5th, 1841, and died January 26th, 1927.

He was married three times (twice widowed), and to these unions ten children were born, seven of whom are living,

these, together with his wife, forty-one grandchildren and twenty-two great grand children.

For more than twenty years, he has been almost blind, and for quite awhile entirely without sight.  Altho’ confined to his room for several years,

he never failed to teach and exhort, any who would call on him, from his one book, the Bible.

His father, F. B. Collins, was born in 1799 and owned a family Bible printed in 1828.  This book is still

in the family and many nights has our beloved brother Collins read this old book by the light of a campfire,

when he could not have good light (he was part of Lee’s guard in the war between the states), and to the very last,

he retained much of the valuable knowledge he obtained from it.  His life was one of humble service to his master and a worthy example

to all who knew him.  For many years he has been a faithful member of the Church of Christ.

His desire to have a short Christian service at his burial, and to be put away in a home-made casket, as were many of

his people, was granted, and Mr. Pybus made a beautiful casket, and from the old Bible was read his favorite

passage of scripture (The 23rd Psalm shown in his own writing below) as his body was laid to rest in the Palacios cemetery.

(His favorite passage written by his own hand.)

Humble is an understatement, this man has an incredible story to tell: one of endurance, perseverance, hope, and undying faith.  His story starts out with losing both parents and then his closest relative.  He was a war hero, a widow, a father, a pony express rider, lived through the Texas range wars and carried The Bible with him through it all.   Keeping the words  and quoting them just as if he could read,  I imagine he could see them with his heart.

Guest Post: Jim Collins, Graphic Designer / College Professor / Photographer and Soon To Be Author


This is a guest post written by my newly found cousin, Jim C0llins, who happened to be writing a book about my great great grandfather, Pleasant Bohannon Collins.    Ironically, Jim found me via this blog from a post about Pleasant written for Veteran’s Day.  After a visit at my home Jim wrote a post and sent it to me and here it is…


Pleasant Bohannon Collins was a small man… but only in stature. He grew up in Drew County, Arkansas near Monticello, the son of an Irish farmer. Pleasant lived large with a knack for participating in historic, even legendary events. But by far his greatest accomplishments were his descendants, many of whom quietly carry on his legacy of love and faith and courage.

He married three widowed women, all with children. He accepted and loved and raised those children (8 of them). He loved adopted children… not unlike God himself… and considered them as his own. God also blessed him with 10 children of his own. His quiver was filled with arrows.

He was a Godly man… known during the war for reading his Bible by the light of many campfires and for his faith and courage… cause and effect.

Last week, Pleasant influenced my life again… or was it God through Pleasant?

I am his great grandson. The Irish Lady is his great great granddaughter. We met online through this blog. Readers know this is no ordinary blog. I appreciate the quality of information and her courageous stand for the truth which she often shares. She is one talented, caring and committed Lady.

A few weeks ago, TIL invited me to spend a weekend with her (sight unseen) and to experience Round Top.

I accepted. It was my son’s birthday, so he was to travel over from Fort Hood to join us. That would be the cherry on top for me.

Then as I travelled south on I-35 from Fort Worth, a million thoughts went through my mind, mostly centered on two themes: “Those Bluebonnets are amazing.” And “What am I doing? This is so not the shy country boy I’ve always been.” Yet, for some reason, I would not turn back home.

My decision to complete the trip was richly rewarded. After I arrived and got to know the lady and son Bret a bit, TIL decided the loaded gun could remain in its hiding place. We got to know each other, seated around the breakfast table… full, rich, honest discussions… just like old times. I felt I had known her for years.

I laughed a lot and learned much. Brenham is beautiful in April. It may not be heaven, but I’m sure you can see it from there. Round Top is a lot of fun… even for a man. The Irish Lady is even more impressive in person than in print and her family is close and gracious and talented and interested in helping others. Good people! A credit to the legacy of Pleasant Collins.

My trip home included a stop in Old Troy, where Pleasant met and married my Great Grandmother and where I enjoyed a wonderful meal of amazing ribs, outstanding slaw and savory beans… sent with me by TIL and her husband… 5 star dining, at least… near the bridge crossing Big Elm Creek… recipes from her blog. It was good.

I am sure Pleasant relished the weekend. I do. Thank you, TUB.

Interesting Art and Bookcase Arrangements


There  is another living area in my home that contains built-ins or bookcases which I prefer to call them.  It’s in the room to the right of the foyer when entering and to the left of the study which does not have built-in bookcases, but furniture bookcases.  What was I thinking or not thinking when we designed the house?  I missed a lot on paper,  especially the big chase way next to the computer closet in the study that could have been a floor to ceiling  built-in bookcase.  Oh well, maybe the next owner will find it and tear out the sheet rock and put in a bookcase for the study.    Ahh, I have a rambling mind, I do, I know it.

 Back to interesting artwork.  I found this piece at a thrift shop for $5.  The ladies there raise money for a local hospital.  They seemed embarrassed that the painting  had some type of rust stain sprayed all over it, but art is truly in the eye of the beholder.  I never saw the stains.  I can only see the content and the countenance of the people in the photo.  Each face has something to say, but not to each other.  Do you see what I see?  They are traveling to a new land and they stop; they gather; they…

This painting is part of the built-in of the room I described above as well as few other collectible pieces with meaning.  Old oil lamps, a chalk buffalo and old man shaving mug given at carnivals way back when, paper money from the San Jacinto Monument museum bought on a field trip, a silver tray, photos of my sons,  a book about Abraham Lincoln signed and owned by a doctor that knew him with a newspaper clipping of his wife’s eightieth birthday and garden party, encyclopedias like the ones my husband had as a child, airplane books that my son treasures, cigar boxes with childish tokens inside, The Nina – Pinta – Santa Maria from a field trip to see the replicas, and a few hidden things behind books and boxes to discover later.  It’s all very personal and hopefully pleasing to the eye of others when arranged well.

The Art of Arranging Built-Ins and Bookcases


Here I am with Photography by Jim Collins – my cousin thrice removed on my mother’s side (that’s a southern thing and who knows what twice and thrice removed means anyway, but is sounds friendly and familial to me ).    When he took this photo I had been posing in front of the fireplace in a typical “here, take my picture” pose.  Then I asked him to take some photos of  my built in bookcases so I could share them with you on my blog.  I noticed some decorative accessories I had hidden behind some books to find a spot for later so I picked the pieces up to get them out of the way for the photos.   Well, Jim caught me in my element  pondering a special place for these unique pieces that I am planning to use for Independence Day – eagles and a patriotic candy dish.

By the way, this is a big deal!  I can’t stand to look at photos of myself let alone pose for photos.  I hear my mother’s story over and over in my head, “You were the ugliest baby.  It took me ten days to name you.”  Please, please never say that to your girl child even in jest.    Anyway, enough about me and my ramblings;  please enjoy Jim’s beautiful photography and the art of arranging followed by some simple design rules to follow so  that you can arrange your own built-ins or bookcases.

 This is in my great room adjacent to the fireplace.

Eight Simple Rules for Arranging

1.  Collect your favorite pieces:  framed family photos, artwork, glassware or pottery, greenery, candles, etc.

2.  Books are anchors for design.   In our case, we read all of our books.  If you are not a reader you can find books that have beautiful spines or colors that compliment your decor and style.

3.  Take some shelves out if possible.  You don’t have to have each side match in measurements.

4.  Hang artwork on the back wall of built-ins or even on the front facing if it doesn’t detract from the main part and works well with your arrangement.  Place something that is three dimensional on the wall such as a planter or sconce that has simple greenery.   Don’t over power with flowers or if using flowers stay with a muted color palette.

5.  When arranging your pieces use a pattern such as:  left , right, center.  You can accomplish different levels with your books by using them upright or by stacking.    A safe way to begin arranging is to start with your books in a pattern and then do the reverse for multiple shelves going down in a  right, left, center pattern  or mix the pattern up.

6.  Use larger pieces to draw your eye to the pattern position, but never repeat on the next shelf so that your focal point does not compete with the next focal point on the the shelf above or below.  In the case above, you will notice this  is accomplished on the right section with artwork center, left, and then right at the base of the shelf.

7.  Use glass to reflect light in any arrangement.  Glass will blend old and new pieces making them come together when they seem they come from different design styles or eras.  I love old and new and this sometimes can be difficult in new construction or the reverse in homes with age and character and trying to blend new styles and trends.  Glass has a way of bringing all elements of design together.  Candy dishes always draw me in because I can place battery operated tea lights, bath salts or colored beads to unite special pieces together.  Rarely do the candy dishes get used for actual candy.  They are my peace broker for all things.

8.  Add little details into the patterns of books or large focal pieces like framed photos on easels or decorative boxes, bottles, candle holders and then use further details such as tassels or embellished candles in or on the candle holders to add further dimension.  As I mentioned above, I am a fan of  electric tea lights for an amber glow in the evenings…just a little somethin’ somethin’ to add interest.

 As always, the art of arranging is to compliment the style and character of the home, but mostly to reflect the taste of those who live there.  When you combine the two successfully the art of arranging has been accomplished for everyone to enjoy.

Vela Farms, Hand-Crafted Goodness


“Hand-crafted Goodness” , who can resist?  I can’t so I stopped and visited with Sara, the “hand-crafter” from Vela Farms and learned a lot.  For example:

Orange Marmalade can become Texan when you add chili peppers and so delicious…

Another Texas treat was the Texas Sweet Tea Jelly,  yum…

Sara also makes all her own spice mixes.  I bought both and have already cooked with the Jalapeno Sea Salt and served the Orange Chili Marmalade to company.  What I love is no preservatives, colors or flavors.   That stuff can make your tummy ache.

There is a huge assortment and Vela Farms ships all over.  Sara includes recipes to use with all of the jams, jellies and spices on her site.

Hand-crafted Bags and Wallets from re-purposed feed and fertilizer bags.  These make great gift bags and totes…

Grow bags are so smart!  These are portable and can be used time and time again for porch plants and gardening.   Where I live, gardening is an extreme experiment in dealing with wind and swarms of grasshoppers and all sorts of unusual insects.  I am using one of these for a tomato plant back up that I can place on the porch and control the wind and pests.  Apartment dwellers or urbanites will find these useful too.  You can grow tomatoes on top and something below such as potatoes or radishes and carrots.  Each Grow Bag comes with your choice of heirloom seeds.  Hmmm, this could be a great gift for those who have everything or for kids to learn gardening.  Did I mention these are hand-crafted from re-purposed bags?