Monday, March 10, 2014

Onward and Upward

As I told you in a previous post I would be sharing a variety of things in upcoming posts.  As indicated the past year has been one of grief for Dwight and I.  The loss of the shop and the friends and acquaintances made during the 17 months The Crafter’s Co-op was in operation has been very hard for me.  And Dwight’s job loss was like a death for him.  His job loss was a calculated act by a group of people with absolutely inexplicable motives to have so hijacked his stellar reputation.  The sucker punches dealt Dwight by this group was absolutely heartbreaking.  Thank goodness that our Lord can heal all wounds, as we both continue through our process of healing.  We continually pray for all those that have so wounded us and because of that our healing has been steady in the process.  You can not pray for those that have inflicted such harm AND not have the Lord ministering and healing all the recesses where the deep wounds of grief have settled. 

Focusing on the joy that we shared and the good we did in the community for outreach ministries as well as the ministries within the shop has helped us keep our focus on the Lord and His plans for us.  And even though we could not longer serve in Wylie, there are still many places where we have resumed serving in other towns  and that has been a blessing and saving grace for us as well.  We have done much ministry and charitable work our entire time here in Wylie, as our life together has been one of serving and that is something we can not give up, even if we can not do so in Wylie. 

As we are driving on our treks out of Wylie, there is rarely a place that our eyes may fall that we do not see years of Dwight’s good work that Wylie has benefited from.  Our fingerprints are all over this town and all the maligning can NOT erase the good and positive things we have done in our community.  My fingerprints and footprints (in every creek in this area) have been scattered all over the community since I was a small child.  And Dwight’s contributions have been greater than mine since he moved here in 1996.  How can these people justify railroading you out of town---your own community that is YOUR home?  Trust me it is very hard to have to give up and move under such circumstances.  But neither of us can stay where we are no longer wanted, where we can not serve and work, so we will comply to the demands and take our leave and go, work, and serve in places where we have been known and always welcomed.

As we were searching (before all this happened) for a much larger space for The Crafter’s Co-op we had 17 places on our list of potential sites.  The more we searched, we began to think that Wylie might not be in the Lord’s plan for The Crafter’s Co-op relocation.   And now since everything happened as it did, we have come to realize that His plan was much larger and what has unfolded has been full of surprises that only the Lord could bring us.    As hard as it has been, I am thankful that we stood fast and tried to be obedient in waiting as we prayed for His perfect will for our future. And of course we are continuing the same prayers to be in His will in all of this.  Soon after I started My 57 Cents blogspot, opportunity knocked and I now have the chance to write about and feature many artists and crafters across Texas and beyond.  I very much look forward to this future endeavor of showcasing incredible talents in and around Texas!

Also, it seems as if what happens in Wylie does NOT stay in Wylie as other towns and cities want what Wylie did not want.  One town contacted us a couple of months after the shop closed with an incentive proposal to open a much larger retail store in their town on a major interstate highway and at a reduced rental rate—in fact for even less than what we were paying here in Wylie.  Another city has talked to us about opening in their flourishing historic downtown and in that same city, one of the developers has offered us a building to bring artists and crafters that are funding ministries to their fair city—wanting the same concept we used in The Crafter’s Co-op here in Wylie.  These are exciting opportunities that we are prayerfully considering and once we decide if and when we can relocate, we look forward to see how the Lord is going to use and grow this one!

We have been contacted by two other towns that have Trade Days to let us know that Trade Day vendors are welcomed in their towns in case some of our former crafters might be interested in a once a month venue.  I posted about the Lavon 205 Trade Days and since then Third Monday Trade Days in McKinney contacted us too.  In both cases, the owner/operators were familiar with the shop and the popularity of the concept and knew of our unfortunate closing of the shop. 

It still saddens me that The Crafter’s Co-op as well as the Stained Glass Shop before us was not permitted to co-exist with Wylie’s Gallery.  It was not enough to shut us down, but why be so vocal about Wylie NOT wanting The Crafter’s Co-op OR crafters in town?  We found this out only after the debacle over the Wylie Trade Days efforts to get an extension for future Trade Days.  It was very hurtful to think that months AFTER we closed that they were then saying that The Crafter’s Co-op along with Wylie’s Trade Days was “bringing trash into town”.  It was a shock to think that THIS was being circulated about our incredible little shop and it was probably at least six months after we had closed!   To this day, I would beg to differ with anyone saying this about The Crafter’s Co-op.  It is such a hateful and shameful thing to say about the people that made up our little shop and the customers as well.  There is not a single person that crossed that threshold that I would have ever spoken such hurtful things. Our shop was a bright spot in our little downtown and a huge blessing to Wylie.  Wylie’s loss will definitely be another city’s gain and blessing.  And whoever is spreading such hurtful things should know that such talk is only hurting Wylie’s reputation and their own more than they are hurting those being accused of bringing “trash into town”.  The Crafter’s Co-op and Wylie Trade Days are GONE so why not give up the trash talk?

I would think it would be in Wylie’s best interest to embrace businesses such as The Crafter’s Co-op that are definitely family friendly and easily meld with the character and integrity of what Wylie has been.  I also believe that those in town that are being so vocal and negative about what have been family friendly businesses here in Wylie, should be encouraged by others to keep their opinions to themselves since it certainly is not helping Wylie.  The City needs to remember that the majority of citizens moving to this little town are doing so because it is a family oriented town.  Those questionable businesses that Wylie has started seeking and offering back door deals are NOT the type of businesses that are going to be a draw for families when they consider family friendly towns to raise their children.  The agenda of a handful of businesses and investors that are not citizens of Wylie should not be changing the face of this town and bringing such questionable businesses into a town such as Wylie.  City management may consider this  progressive and profitable and of course, they seem to think they know better what Wylie needs,  but they certainly have stopped thinking of what is family friendly for Wylie.  The question that the people of Wylie should be asking is “Why don’t they take their agenda to the towns and communities that they themselves live in?”  And another question to pose is “Why is the Mayor and City of Wylie upper management so willing and quick to compromise the integrity of Wylie?”

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Part Two--Do It Anyway

I still have friends asking me why I am posting about what happened to Dwight and I in the community at the hands of the City of Wylie management and some of their influential friends.  I first spoke of my reasons in the October 6, 2013 Do It Anyway. 

I want people to know too that what was meant for our harm, God is using for our good.  This is something that we need to be able to tell, as it is a huge praise to God for all He has done and continuing to do.  I would be remiss in not sharing this testimony of every detail of all He has done if for no other reason than an encouragement for others during such dark, dark times.  Our prayer is that we will soon be able to share of the past year’s mercy and grace that the Lord has showered us with and the incredible way He has   worked through things and the plans He has for us.  We can not thank Him enough nor can we think as big as He does!  Truly what was meant for our harm, He has used for good for us and others.

There are people that have absolutely been ruined by these same people that continue doing this over and over for their own selfish reasons, NOT for the good of the community of the City of Wylie.  And because of what has been done and the huge liability that the City of Wylie has been placed, they go to great lengths to discredit those they wrong in their attempts NOT to get caught.  We have even been told recently that Mindy has shared with some on the council that “she has influence with other cities in their hiring and firing”.  Since Dwight’s forced departure, he has continued attending classes and meetings to keep his certifications and State licenses current.  In every single meeting, once it is discovered that Dwight is now consulting and no longer with the City of Wylie, the barrier comes down and they openly discuss many stories they have collectively known for years now of the City of Wylie’s mistreatment, abuse and misuse of their employees.  Their revolving door history especially with their Building Officials is believed to be the worst in the State of Texas with upwards of 12-14 in the past 20 years.  This is not just our opinion, this is coming from professionals across the State of Texas.  We know that the City of Wylie has been blackballing Dwight and others in the past and this too is illegal.  And because of this, people are leery in telling of their newfound jobs for chance of Mindy, Jeff and Eric continuing their slanderous tales and the retribution of others that have been involved in helping them.  It is hard to understand WHY they keep on trying to hurt us and other people over and over—is this really that much fun for them?   Do they feel that they are untouchable?  If nothing else, do they not wonder how the Lord is viewing all these terrible things they are doing to others?

Early on in the first months of our debacle, we were contacted and told that there was already a Federal investigation going on in Wylie.  NOTHING was shared with us regarding such investigations and we did not know then nor now exactly what was being “investigated” or even if in fact the call was legitimate.  We know that the shop was bugged and can only surmise that was done to find out IF we knew anything…but we have not a clue what they were searching for and what we were supposed to know.  As of yet we still do not know who was bugging the shop as there were many involved in what happened to us and that is something yet to be revealed to us.  We are hoping that one of those involved will come forward and reveal the truth rather than continue to be on the list of accomplices.

I was recently reminded that we are safer with people knowing what has been done to us and who has threatened us.  I also was reminded Federal investigations into other cities (Dallas was the example given) that nothing is disclosed until investigations are complete and DONE.  Maybe this is the case here in Wylie, but maybe not.  But no matter the case, we know that the Lord is in control of it all and IS using it for our good.  He will not let good, decent people continually get hurt at the hands of these people without them having to answer for what they have done--if to no one but HIM.  And what I have yet to share is the number of good people in the community that have been used as pawns in this as they continually create their stories and therefore are slandering these innocent people as well.  And we also have been told that there are six known employees on their hit list (a few of these are near retirement) and any one of them could be in jeopardy.  And for those that continue rebuking those of us that have been so wronged and rallying with the perpetrators, I pray that you will come to realize that you are only heaping judgement on yourself and it is so not your fight.  Believe me, these people are not kind and sweet innocents, but as dangerous as anyone with murder in their heart.

Even though this is NOT a subject that is in any way positive in nature or content and it is definitely depressing for me to even broach the subject, but IF I can prevent it happening to one more person, it will be worth it.  I also believe that people deserve to have their family and friends know that this is NOT a problem that was created by them, but by those that wanted to get rid of them for NO fault of their own.  If there truly had been grounds for firing employees and running people out of businesses, then the truth would have been told rather than all the construed lies and outlandish stories.  And what is unreal is that they must be getting off script as they are saying the same things repeatedly about so many people.  If this collective group of maligned former employees got together these people would go down so fast and the City of Wylie would be owned by these very people that they have slandered beyond belief.

And to the people in the community that I considered friends that are so blatant in their mistreatment of those of us so undeserving of your rebuke, just know that when you are no longer useful to these people or you throw any kind of wrench in the works of their selfish agendas, YOU too could easily be sacrificed.  And you too could be on a list of casualties of others before that have too late come to regret their assistance in helping them carry out their very ugly missions.  This is not just some made up drama that I am sharing, this is a matter of historical record and it just keeps on happening over and over.    

I have always championed for those wronged.  Family and friends will tell you that I was a kind and sweet child yet would always rally to defend others if I believed them maligned.  Probably my earliest recollection was when I was about eight years old and my sister was a baby.  I was fierce in my love for Cindy and spent most of my waking moments with her those first months after her birth.  Once school was out for the summer, Mother and Daddy would coax me to go and play outside with my friends.  I loved to skate and one day I took Cindy outside in her stroller and decided to skate as I pushed her down the sidewalk.  As I was skating and pushing her, a boy on our street who was a known bully came riding his bicycle towards us with a broad smile on his face.  I was one of the very few children on our block that he had not mistreated and I had no reason to think he was going to do anything mean.  As he got to us he jumped off of his bicycle, threw it down and proceeded to grab the stroller from my grip.  Of all things, he then pushed the stroller into the street.  Before I knew it, a panic swelled within me and the next thing I knew, I had tap danced all over the wheels of his bicycle breaking the spokes of his wheels.  In one moment I had destroyed his bike, had my baby sister and the stroller in hand and sent the bully home crying with his bigger bullying brother and sister, consoling him and giving me looks that would have normally cleared the entire neighborhood of any children for days—or at least until his mother had exercised her wrath on the other mothers in the neighborhood for a child to dare do anything retaliatory to her son who was older and much bigger than I was.  Nothing ever happened and of course, I never did anything of that nature again, but I have continued trying to rescue the wayward strollers that the bullies in life so carelessly push into harm’s way.  It is not that I am mean spirited, quite the opposite is true of me.  I just believe that the wronged should have someone on their side, someone encouraging them against the bullies in life.  Amazing but true, it seems through such times, the wronged are pretty much in it by themselves, and it becomes a time of painful discoveries of who really are their friends and those that are only there for the good times in life.    

And the Two Were One

Well, the Primary Election is behind us and it was great working and seeing so many in the community come and exercise their right to cast their votes.  Your voice and every vote always matters.  The last hours of Election Day with long lines and standing room only were encouraging and I only wish that the days of Early Voting had seen such numbers. 

Since I am not out in the Wylie community working any longer, this gave me the opportunity to see many friends and acquaintances that I had not seen in awhile.  As I visited with Pete and Sue Nicklas, I shared that I had known Sue longer than anyone in Wylie.  At that revelation, Sue quickly said, “That’s because there is no one older than me in Wylie”.  Of course everyone knows that is not true.  Sue is not only “young” in body and soul, but also in her spirit.  When I was first around Sue, I was two years old and she and my cousin Manya were school girls.  Sue and I “shared” our cousin Manya, so I guess we are “cousins-in-law” if there is such a term.  We were each perched on a limb of our family tree—not just on different limbs, but on different trees respectively.  My Bootsie (Manya’s mother) was Daddy’s cousin and she kept me during the days from the time I was two until I started school.  Manya and Sue were not only cousins on her dad’s side of the family, but they were best friends too. As a little girl, I suffered from “hero” worship as I adored Manya and Sue and I am sure I was not really a welcome ‘Musketeer’ in their BFF equation.  However, I never remember them making me feel unwanted when they were together.

Now what is funny about this is when Sue first connected the dots of the little curly haired shadow of her past to the woman of today and how I fit into her life too.  Sue’s last memory of me as one of the Musketeers was at Manya’s wedding.  We played ‘Maid of Honor’ and ‘Flower Girl’ to Manya the Bride.  And when Sue married Pete, he swept her off her feet to California where they lived for years.  It was sometime in the 1990’s at a “Kay John’s Prayer Conference” that I first saw Sue again.  And then when Dwight and I joined First Baptist Wylie in 2003, our lives once again crossed. 

It was probably four years later, before the dots were connected for Sue.  It was the night of the celebration of Manya and Dennis’ 50th Wedding Anniversary.  There was a huge crowd and we were all visiting and reminiscing over the times and looking through the story of their life together in the pictures of their five children and the grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  They had the home movie playing that captured the moments of the wedding and all of us in the wedding party.  As we sat having dinner, we watched the wedding procession and those in the wedding were asked to stand up and we were introduced to everyone that night.  When Manya introduced me, that was Sue’s “moment of revelation”--I was the same little curly haired girl that she had known from years ago and yet she had NOT known me except for who I am today.  And she did not know that who I am today is in part who she and Manya were to me all those years ago.  In my “hero worship” what I liked about them, I tried to emulate.

A couple of years ago, Dwight and I were regularly going to Pete and Sue’s for Bible Study.  At that time, Dwight picked up mannerisms and little nuances that Sue and I share.  Yet they are not NEW, they go back for years, to the past of a tiny little girl wanting to be like the two “older” girls that she adored.  I am glad that I picked them and My Bootsie (she is now home with the Lord) as role models for all three proved to be incredible women that have mentored to many throughout their lives.  I pray that the Lord will continue to bless them and use them in their fruit bearing ways of mentoring to all the children in their lives—known and unknown, for we never know who is watching, listening and emulating us.  And may this be food for thought to us all...let our ways be pleasing to Him so that those that should be following us are also pleasing Him in their walk.