I’ve always loved old things. I love to know the story behind them. Who used them? What happened to the people who once held these earthly possessions in their hands? Their struggles. Their fears. Their suffering. Their joy. Their stories…their lives. Many of the things I own are over 100 years old, so the people that owned them have died. As I trace the history of the items back as far as I can I begin to know more about the owners of the possessions that are now mine…I have often wondered the biggest question…did they know Jesus? Occasionally, I will find a clue they left behind showing they had a heart for God, but usually there’s nothing to indicate their belief and where they are spending eternity.

When we first saw the old bank building in Walnut in June of 2005, it had been vacant for several years. It needed a lot (A LOT!) of work, but my husband and I, along with my Dad, decided we were up for the challenge. The day we received the keys to the old bank and walked in as owners, I was in awe that I owned a piece of history. I immediately began learning about the first owners of the bank and their families. I knew they never could have imagined what our life was like now compared to life in 1875. They thought traveling by Stagecoach was the best and fastest way to travel and visit relatives…Today, Coach is an overpriced purse and…we have Facetime. We take the phone out of our ‘Coach’ purse…dial…we’re virtually there. No horse necessary.

To again bring life, laughter, and fun into those walls that had been empty for so long was a privilege. It was a gift from God to be able to restore something. It felt so good to see walls go from crumbling to sturdy, old broken light fixtures and dangling cords replaced, dirt and grime replaced cleaned and freshly painted. Perhaps that’s a glimpse of how God feels when He sees someone empty and vacant and then…they learn about Him. Suddenly their heart is full of life and they find joy in living, because He’s restored them.

While I was busy restoring the building, God saw the hurt and mistrust I had buried so deep in my heart I didn’t even notice it any longer. He began to restore me. He begin to show me Himself, even when I tried to avoid Him. He kept trying to get my attention. I kept trying to restore the old building and find out everyone else’s story, BUT GOD was interested in one story…mine. God knew in Walnut, Iowa, I could learn to focus on Him. He wanted to lavish His grace upon me and help me to turn back to Him. As I worked with my husband and father to restore the building, God worked on me to restore my faith. I hope I’ve left my story in the building for the next people who own it. If they don’t know Jesus, I hope I’ve left enough behind for them to get a small glimpse of His restoration in my life.

I am so grateful to God for the opportunity to share our building with others and let them hear some of the stories of Walnut (gambling next door to us in the old opera house), and of the early settlers in Walnut, and share the beauty of how the building looks now. It’s not fancy, but it has a beauty that you feel when you walk in. It’s been restored. It’s blessed with the warmth, joy, and peace of God. In the late 1800’s every building on our side of the street burned to the ground (I obviously didn’t witness this event, but it’s documented in the Walnut Bureau Newspaper from that time period). Every building  except the old bank building. It was one of the first buildings in the Midwest to be built with fireproof brick. When I found out about this fire, I was so humbled, because I know God sees everything. He knew in 1875, that in June 2005, I would need that bank building for God to start His restoration in my heart. He knew that day in 1875; He needed to save that building just for me. He needed to make me ‘fireproof’ for eternity.

I invite you to enjoy a tour of our old restored bank building through a few photos above. If you're interested in booking the building for a women's meeting or small event see below. We are so grateful that God can restore more than old buildings. He restores our hearts. Bringing joy to our souls…not our circumstances…but our souls. Giving us the gift of Himself, so that we never fill empty or vacant.

Still being restored,


Publisher, The Notebook Cafe 

The book our readers have been waiting for! The Notebook Café & Co. Publishing newest book release Entwined by Shelly Thompson and Brenda Hamilton is now available. Entwined brings together the stories of two women, who didn't know each other, until God weaves their stories together in His perfect way. Brenda is battling Stage 4 cervical cancer while Shelly is living her life trying to escape the deep distrust for God that has been buried in her heart for years after learning her then almost five-year-old daughter was sexually abused. The Master Author of heaven is present in both of these women's lives through years of unexpected twists and turns weaving His perfect plan together. 

The pages of Entwined are filled with encouragement and hope despite heartbreak and disappointments as God's plans are being intricately woven together to create...His perfect life story. The pages of Entwined are the combined journals of Brenda and Shelly beautifully illustrating God is involved in all the small details of our lives though often we can't see it. In a very personal way their stories show that we can trust Him even when we don't know the plan. God beautifully takes the ashes of pain and tragedy making all the seasons of our life into something more beautiful than we can ask or imagine...if we give Him weave our perfect life story.

Click here to learn more...

The Notebook Café

Are you looking for a unique place for your upcoming women's group or meeting? The Notebook Café invites you to consider reserving our beautiful, yet simple,1875 restored bank building. Renovated by The Notebook Café Publisher, Shelly Thompson and her husband, we can provide food, a tour of the building, and a wonderful place for your meeting. 

The Notebook Café can also host your meeting and provide your group with one of our faith based inspirational programs to encourage your heart as you follow God's plan for this journey.

Click here for more information...



By Shelly Thompson, Publisher

The Notebook Café