Friday, October 10, 2008

One More Washing

A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts is now available. They retail for $16.99 and make excellent gifts to families or friends who might not know Jesus. They gently share many facets of his life and workings with people. Hardback, gift edition has full color interior, silver foiled snowflakes on cover, 160 pages, tips to simplify the holidays, stories to warm hearts and encourage families. Learn how to grow myrrh, get 10 scrumptious cookie recipes, meet Grandma “Jeanealogy,” discover why Nova Scotia sends the city of Boston a Christmas tree each year, read about the Nativity hunt and the Santa chair, and much, much more:

To order email me: $17.00 includes, S&H and taxes
Also leave a comment here or email to have name entered to win the October book give away. Your choice, The Stained Glass Pickup Devotional Book or A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts ~ Stories to Warm Your Heart and Tips to Simplify Your Holiday

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Years ago, some would say by chance, I met a woman from Michigan, who still blesses my life. While in Navasota, TX at a street sale, one of those where kettle popped corn permeates the air and the sun chases shoppers to the shaded booths, I met Irene.

At the time, I was a vendor, one who made different items from old pillowcases, embroidered furniture scarves, or lace curtains. When Irene saw some of my handiwork, she asked if I needed any more yesteryear pillowcases. Sensing that she had access to some, I said, “I can always use a few more old linens.”

Today, I still enjoy seeing the work of folks from the Nineteenth and Twentieth centuries, from those who spent hours weaving tiny stitches into both serviceable and beautiful items. Some of their adept needlework became lacy gloves, collars, or booties for babies to wear during the winter. Other sewing projects made by industrious women, and maybe some men, became aprons, bedspreads or tablecloths.

The day we met, Irene and I exchanged addresses and telephone numbers, and we struck up a business relationship. She located and sent me old linens, which I couldn’t resist. Some of the treasures are in my home and some have been gifted to friends. Irene has passed along old tapestry bell pulls, gorgeous hand embellished linen tablecloths, women’s vintage garments, tatted crosses, crocheted doilies, infants’ bonnets, lamp shade covers, and cross stitched Christmas scarves.

But Irene means more to me than the goods she sends. Over the past 15 years, we’ve become friends, exchanging family news, letters, phone calls and even cups of tea and warm cookies when she and her husband, Zolten, visit Texas. Once when I phoned her home, she was teaching her adult son how to make stuffed cabbage. Made me want to parboil cabbage leaves and stuff them for dinner that night, too, especially after getting instructions over the phone.

Again this week, a package arrived from Michigan. I opened it, folding back the layers of white tissue paper and discovered fresh washed linens, with handwritten notes about their history or how Irene had cleaned them. “Soda and Woolite. Good Results.” In one note my friend mentioned that one stack of linen, with more wear, were free, “Bonus. No charge, no way.”

In one note, she also reminisced a bit about those few worn pieces that she’d included, about salvaging those fragile bits which represented hours of toil. She said only her late grandma and Irene would save such tattered beauty, and she quoted an often heard phrase from her grandmother, “Let’s wash it one more time.”

The old ways, more labor intensive, can remind us of industry, and that even worn things can be made usable again. When cleaned up, something good can come from what looks to be useless. Through the prophet Jeremiah folks were encouraged, “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls” (6:16).

I can imagine God wanting us to look back at some of the old stories that point to his forgiveness and his just way of righting wrongs. He longs for us to keep asking for wisdom, to keep asking for more goodness and mercy in our lives. But sometimes I hear another voice, a discouraging one that whispers, “You’ve messed up again.”

But God’s compassion overrides, the discouraging voice. And on the days when I know I need yet another overhaul, more wisdom, more repairs, in my heart I hear God’s tender voice, caring, and merciful saying, “Let’s wash her one more time.”

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