Site is Changing

Thanks for stopping by.  My website is changing to focus on my hobby and passion – refurbishing junk.  I love to find something old and give it a new life or purpose.  I think I enjoy it so much because it reminds me of what Jesus did with me. He took me when I didn’t look salvageable and breathed new life into me. He turned my dirty rags into an expensive tapestry. There’s an old song that says, “I once was lost, but now am found.”  Come along with me in my journey. Let’s see if we can find that which was lost and give it new meaning.

In this blog I’ll be posting about furniture makeovers, decorating ideas, new ways to use old things, and sharing how God restores old lives and old habits. He has certainly done more than one make-over on me. I’ll post some before and after pics of furniture do-overs, some tutorials and videos and will even have a few of my refurbished pieces for sale.

So, as I work in the background with restoring my website. . . enjoy a few pics of some recent “Old Things Made New.”



Screen Shot 2014-08-14 at 9.03.58 PM



Top of Mon Dieu Mon Amour Cabinet

Top of Mon Dieu Mon Amour Cabinet




drop leaf table before and after 2

Drop leaf table fully opened.

Drop leaf table fully opened.


The Day Texas Exploded

It was a picturesque morning with promises of a beautiful spring.  The sun rose above the horizon across the bay, tickling the water with wavy shimmers.  The seaside community was beginning their workday in chemical plants, the docks, and small business scattered throughout the growing boomtown, grateful for work.   Fathers had left home a few hours earlier carrying their lunch pails.   Mothers kissed their children goodbye and sent them off to school.   Children laughed as they skipped on their journey to their classes, stopping to enjoy the smell of the crisp salt air.   Everything was as it should be in Texas City, Texas.   Then Texas exploded.

TXCITYDISASTERBOATIt was April 16, 1947.  A ship was being loaded at the docks with ammonium nitrate.  There had been warning signs; signs that went unheeded.   The ammonium nitrate bags were hot to the touch, the bags were ripping and the ship’s hold they were being moved to sat close to ammunition that wasn’t unloaded when scheduled.   Spontaneous combustion occurred in the ammonium nitrate bags and a fire broke out in the ship’s cargo area.  Attempts to douse the fire with drinking water were unsuccessful.  Within minutes the ship exploded, sending a mushroom shaped cloud skyward, blocking out the rays of the sun.

Across the bay, Galveston residents watched as the sky grew increasingly darker.  The blast was heard as far away as 150 miles.  A seismologist in Colorado noted the vibrations on his instruments.  News of the explosion soon traveled around the world.  But the effects went much further.  The effects went deep into the souls that survived the raining hell.

Over 500 died that morning on the Texas City shore.  Some were never identified.  For 63 years, family members have wondered what happened to their loved ones.  Remaining survivors are now in their 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.  Some carry scars on their bodies.  All carry scars on their hearts.


This story has meaning to me because warning signs were ignored.  I think sometimes in our lives we dismiss signals that something is not as it should be.  We continue merrily along only to discover that our world has been blown apart.   We traverse into danger zones; we disregard God’s forewarning that something is hot; and we try to handle the consequences with inadequate fighting power.  The catastrophe may end, but the results stay with us forever.

Snow Birds

Baby, it’s cold outside. So cold, that there’s been no “Front Porch” visiting. In fact, it’s been a bit lonely in the RV park. But God sent me some friends to brighten my day. From the large window overlooking the frozen creek, I have been able to watch a variety of birds as they hunt and peck in the snow for morsels of food. I refilled the bird feeders and have been having fun with my camera as I watch them devour their new-found treasures.
matthew 26-6Several pictures have conjured up memories of scripture. The picture of the small bird with the seed in his mouth reminded me of Matthew 6:26 . . . and God will surely meet all my needs.

Later I saw another bird “hunker-down” in the snow. I watched him wiggle back and forth, burrowing a small, although frozen, nest. I couldn’t understand why the bird would choose the snow rather than a place with a bit more warmth. Not knowing much about the birds in this area, I googled for information.

I learned that several of my new friends are various varieties of  Dark-eyed Juncos, also known as Snow Birds. Being a “Southern Fried Chick” (raised in southern heat), I thought a Snow Bird was someone from the northern US that wintered in an RV in south Texas or Florida. I guess the feathered snow bird and human snow bird do have something in common, however. They both learn to adapt to the circumstances and I’m sure this is another object lesson the Lord is trying to teach me.


So far my adapting to the sub-zero temperatures and wind chill has amounted to learning how to occupy myself with books, hot cocoa and knitting. My knitting consists of fingerless gloves and scarves. My cocoa often gets a bit of coffee added for mocha flavor, and my reading includes history, fiction and scripture. Today’s scripture contained a quote from Philippians 4:11: “for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”  For now, I find I am still in the state of West Virginia. “Lord, please help me learn to be content.”

So far only one comment below and it’s from my hubby. Friends, please leave comments as you wish. Hubby was allowed to preview post prior to putting on web and I did ask his opinion. However, no compensation in any form was given for his giving a true and honest opinion of today’s blog post. I just wanted everyone to know his was an unbiased opinion.

Free 18″ Doll Clothes Pattern – American Girl

Christmas is just around the corner and I’ve been busy making hand-crafted gifts. Over the next few weeks I’ll share gift-giving ideas along with devotionals regarding this fantastic time of year. Be sure and bookmark this page. Alternatively you can “like”  The Front Porch FaceBook page or follow me on Twitter, where updates will be announced. (Just click on the Facebook or Twitter symbol in the right hand column.) Be sure and check back for additional gift-giving ideas. 

I have a lot of hobbies. One of them is sewing. I have a passel of grandkids. And only one of them is a girl.  She loves her 18″ American Girl doll. So I’ve been busy combining two loves – sewing and the one and only amazing granddaughter. My favorite of the outfits I’ve made are two simple but elegant sleeveless dresses.

yellow dress 2



For one dress I was inspired by the beautiful yellow buntings that were in abundance near our RV in the springtime. (See picture in header at top of page.) To my disappointment they disappeared from the landscape all too soon. In making the doll dress, I used a simple polka-dot fabric of buttery yellow. Trimmed in purchased ribbon roses and a coordinating green gross grain ribbon, I call this dress Bye-Baby-Bunting.






snowy barn anglewhite satin doll dress 1


Using the same pattern, I sewed a second dress in a pearly white satin and embellished it with a small bit of machine embroidery in an Ohio-Red-Barn color. This dress I named Going to the Winter Ball.  I’m currently working on a red satin jacket to accompany this dress.




It’s fun to take ideas for crafts and gifts from nature. If you are ever stuck for inspiration, just look around at all of God’s designs. His color schemes are amazing.


Below you will find a link to my pattern. Note: In case you want to save on ink, the second link is for the pattern only.  I hope you and the special little girl in your life enjoy the pattern and ideas.

Sleeveless Dress Pattern For 18 Inch Doll – PATTERN WITH DIRECTIONS

Sleeveless Dress Pattern For 18 Inch Doll – PATTERN ONLY








The Lost Bible

Yesterday I had a wonderful afternoon, one spent with my daughter, an old friend, and a new friend. I’m so glad to have this new friend. I have several friends that I consider meeting in a God-ordained way. My new friend is one of those. But. . . let me begin at the beginning.

Screen Shot 2013-09-23 at 11.26.22 AMApproximately thirty-four to thirty-five years ago, my husband bought me a beautiful leather bound Thompson-Chain NIV Reference Bible. Ok. . . all those words together may not mean much to you, but it was exactly the Bible I had been wanting. One Sunday morning, we were putting kids and stuff in the car as we left church. Hubby had sat some items on a near-by sidewalk. As we drove off I asked where my Bible was. “Oh no,” he said. “I think I left it on top of that bag of stuff and forgot to put it in the car.”

We drove back. The bag, the Bible and the stuff were gone. I cried. I cried enough that even though we could not afford to buy another Bible this nice so soon, hubby sacrificed something he wanted and purchased me a new one. A year went by. I received a phone call from a woman who said her son had found the Bible that very day we lost it on the sidewalk. It had sat in her home unopened for an entire year. As stress and life piled on her, she finally decided to open the Bible. She began reading with passages I had marked and notes I had written in the Bible. She read more and eventually believed the words she read and put her hope and faith in Jesus.

My name was on the front of the Bible. She tracked me down as she knew which church sidewalk the son had found the Bible on. She called and we met. She wanted to return the Bible, but I insisted I already had a new one and that she keep the Bible. Eventually I lost contact with this woman.

Bible and Anastasia

Anastasia and the shared Bible

Move forward to 2013. It’s not only the day of the internet, but social media. Everyone is reconnecting with people from their past and making new on-line friends. To help old friends find me more easily I include my maiden name on social media and go by –  Judy Guillot Vandiver.  I’ve enjoyed several social media groups and one in particular is a closed group only for those who were in my high school graduating class.  We have had a wonderful time getting to know each other again and for some of us – for the first time. One of my high school friends, Deborah Sawyer Dion, noticed that I often find God’s lessons and devotionals in everyday things of life. Deborah said it reminded her of how her  sister, Anastasia wrote – always finding God in the world around her. Deborah introduced me to Anastasia via social networking and we began to correspond. Deborah was right. Her sister and I had a kindred spirit. I loved the way Anastasia expressed herself spiritually as she wrote a note about something in her day. Also, we both collected various Bibles and Bible versions. Old Bibles, new Bibles, interesting Bibles. We both simply treasured God’s Word.

Bible Judy VandiverAnastasia and I had been online friends for a few weeks when she realized something about my name kept tickling her mind. She felt she knew the name, but could not remember from where. She said God woke her one night and lead her to read from the Bible. Not just any Bible, but a certain one she had found at a used book store some twenty-plus years previous. She said that particular Bible was one she treasured for the notes that had been written in it. As she picked the Bible up, the name in gold letters on the front jumped out at her. Judy Vandiver.  She said she wondered if this could be the Judy Guillot Vandiver she had been talking with online.

She sent me a picture of her and the Bible. And yes, it is the Bible I lost all those years ago. I told her I was glad it had found it’s way to her. I find it nothing less than God’s ordained hand to have the two of us meet online and know we loved the same Lord and had shared the same Bible.

This past week I had to make an emergency trip from WV to Houston, TX. I posted online that I was in town if any old friends wanted to visit or meet up somewhere. Deborah contacted me. Could she and Anastasia meet with me? I was tired from the trip and almost declined. But when my daughter heard the story of the Bible, she told me I had to go, that God had arranged this opportunity and it was obvious His hand was on those involved.  I contacted Deborah and we arranged to meet.  And what a fantastic time we had.  Four women talking for several hours – nonstop. I had such a wonderful time as we talked about God, the Bible that had brought us together, anointing cloths, loves, hurts, and fellowship.

Screen Shot 2013-09-23 at 11.22.04 AM

Pressed flowers tucked away in God’s Word.

I had a chance to examine the Bible. The notes in it are my handwriting. There is no doubt that it is my old lost Bible. In the back are notes I put also from several pastors, evangelists, and speakers. I was able to revisit the messages and scripture that had impressed my heart years ago. I reached back across the table to return the Bible to Anastasia.  She shook her head. She wanted me to have the Bible again. Through tear filled eyes, I thanked her. She said anything left inside went with the Bible. I now have notes from Anastasia, a beautiful anointing cloth, and the most wonderful pressed flowers to remind me of how God fills all of nature.

My husband and I bought that Bible years ago when the cost of it was a luxury to our budget. And though I refer to it as the Lost Bible, it was never lost. It was in my possession as a young woman, God giving me thoughts to treasure. Then God directed it to a woman who needed to learn to trust in the Lord. Somehow, God moved it to an old resale shop where He presented it to Anastasia. She has used this Bible for years to write lessons for Christian classes she has taught. She has shared some of the thoughts I had written in the Bible, and to them, she added words God gave her.

I’m now at a time in my life where words of my youth are like precious gems. And through time, Deborah, Anastasia and the urging of my daughter to follow through, God has given me this very precious gift – the Bible of my early years, the revelations He showed me, the memories of past preachers, notes of spiritual wisdom given by God, and a new friend.

Picture below of Deborah, Judy, and Anastasia with “The Bible.”

Please leave comments below or tell about a God-ordained moment or meeting you have had.



Deborah – Judy – Anastasia