Thursday, June 21, 2018

Hello Summer

In my mind, summer begins on Memorial Day weekend (the last weekend in May) and goes through Labor Day (the first weekend in September), although we often have summertime temperatures earlier and later than these dates here in Texas. 

However, as today marks the official first day of summer, I thought it'd be the perfect time to share some FUN activities I have planned for the next few months!

Scrapbooking 
I've printed photos, gathered memorabilia, and purchased some papers and embellishments so I can scrap the stories and memories from our Europe trip last fall.


Photo Scavenger Hunt
I'm planning to join in with the 2018 Seasonal Photo Scavenger Hunt hosted by Mary-Lou at Patio Postcards. In fact, I captured a photo for (#7) An Unexpected Reflection as Robbie and I were walking at a local park earlier this month. We noticed a ramp that led under the street to another (much shadier) trail, and as we were coming out on the other side, we caught our reflection in the corner mirror!


Vacation
We're busy finalizing plans for a two-week trip to Alaska! We sent off for a vacation planner, checked some books out from the library, and are breaking in our new hiking books.


After the past couple of months "off," I'll also be back here on the blog sharing scrapbook layouts, handmade cards, crafty projects, Bible journaling pages, book reviews, travel photos, everyday adventures, and other FUN bits & pieces of our wonderful life. 

What do you have planned now that summer has officially arrived?

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Sunday Musings - Not Crushed

It's been a long three weeks since I posted here on my blog: weeks that I've spent struggling emotionally, physically, and spiritually, just focusing on one day at a time. When my Mama was re-admitted to the hospital several weeks ago, my emotions spiraled from despair to anger to deep sadness at the way mental illness has affected my family over the years. Dealing with the family dynamics while working to cancel my upcoming classes (contacting participants, issuing refunds, notifying event coordinators, finding a replacement teacher, etc) has left me emotionally and physically exhausted.

Unfortunately, it's during times like these that I feel like the Lord is so very far away. In my mind, of course, I know that He never leaves me, but I begin to question my worth, my calling, and my ability to encourage others. I just feel so beat down!

Yet, 2 Corinthians 4:7-12 reminds me that because of God's power, I may be "hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed...struck down, but not destroyed."


So, I've stepped back from much of the busyness right now, taking time to process all these emotions and to rest physically and to allow the Lord to fill me with His peace.


(Please accept my apologies for not getting around to comment on your blogs. I'll be back soon! In the meantime, if I've missed something you know I'll want to read, please email me or leave a comment below.)

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Sing Praises

Wherever you are and whatever you're doing today, I pray you'll find time to sing praise to the Lord!


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

A Couple of Layouts

Spent a little time scrapbooking yesterday and completed two layouts. This first one showcases photos from my January Bible journaling classes. I used a sketch from an old BPC class as a starting point and really enjoyed adding the strips of journaling.


I watched another of Shimelle's videos from The 20 Project class as INSPIRATION for this next layout showcasing a favorite photo from January.


I have a few bits & pieces to put in a pocket page to finish up January, then I'll start on our February photos. How are you coming on your 2018 scrapbooking?

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Sunday Musings - The Lord Will Go Before You

When the prophetess Deborah reminded Barak that the Lord had commanded him to deploy troops against the oppressors of Israel in Judges chapter four, Barak said to her, "If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go!"

Deborah agreed to go with him, although she pointed out that Barak would receive no glory because of his unwillingness to go along. At the appointed time, she said to Barak, "Up! For this is the day in which the Lord has delivered Sisera into your hand. Has not the Lord gone out before you?"

Just as the Lord went out before the Israelites to pave the way for victory, He will go out before us as we follow where He leads.


Will we be like Barak when the Lord calls? Insisting that the someone else go along and, therefore, opening the way for someone else to fulfill God's purpose? Or will we walk boldly into our calling knowing that the Lord has gone before us?

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Quick Thank You Cards

I recently needed a couple of thank you cards and decided to use the items that were on my craft table at the time (hymnal pages, papers & stickers from the Illustrated Faith Bright and Bold collection, and a few miscellaneous bits & pieces). I cut a piece of 8 1/2 x 11 cardstock in half to create two card bases, and these cards came together very quickly.



Sometimes I avoid making cards because I think it will take more time than I have, but this was a good reminder that I can grab a few coordinating pieces and put a card together quickly!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Using Embossing Folders for Illustrated Bible Journaling

Embossing folders are a great way to add design and texture to illustrated Bible journaling pages. By simply placing the open folder underneath the Bible page and rubbing over the page with the side of a colored pencil lead, you can create a background for additional journaling and illustrations (as in my example HERE).

These folders can also be used to add color and design within a shape that's already been traced onto the Bible page. On the example below, I used one folder for a very light gridded background, then another one inside the hearts.


The intensity of the color for the background or within the shape is determined by the color of the pencil being used as well as the pressure applied while going over the folder.


This technique works especially well on Bible pages because the paper in most Bibles is very thin. These designs can be combined with lots of other products and techniques to create unique illustrations of the lessons we learn in our study of the Word.


This quick and simple way to add color and design to any page is just one more way to use that collection of embossing folders in your paper crafting stash. Have you tried this technique?

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Oh Those Pulitzers

Slowly but surely I'm working my way toward completing my goal of reading all the Fiction Pulitzer Prize Winners!


The 2011 winner, A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan, was, quite honestly, confusing and hard to follow. There are lots of characters and the story moves back and forth through time, across many years, and it's often difficult to determine who a particular chapter is about until several pages in. In fact, there are some characters who appear once and don't add anything to or are barely related to the original story. Basically, the story begins with Sasha, who is on a date and steals a ladies wallet while she's in the bathroom. Throughout the book, we learn snippets of her story (as a teenager she spent time broke wandering around Milan, she was a chronic thief, etc). Through one chapter that is written completely as a PowerPoint presentation, we learn that she eventually married and had kids. I didn't enjoy the story, the format or the characters, so I obviously don't recommend this book.

I had no idea what to expect when I picked up Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (the 2003 winner) from the library. This is an extremely well-written story with lots of details, flashbacks, and descriptions that are easy to follow .... despite the unique topic. The book is written from the perspective of Cal, a 41-year-old male living in Germany. Cal is a hermaphrodite - someone who has both male and female organs. I was not familiar with this term before reading this book, so I learned something new.

When Cal was born, the doctor announced that his parents had a girl, and he was raised as Callie until it was discovered that "she" had male organs at the age of 14. In a way, this was a relief because Callie had unusual feelings for other girls and didn't understand what was happening to her body. However, at this point, well into the book, she runs away from a hotel in New York (after reading the doctor's report) and spends several months in California. Before this, the story, while somewhat eccentric, was believable as Cal reported on his life and middle-class upbringing in Detroit; while this discovery was obviously life-changing, it did not seem to suit Callie's personality to up and run away across the country.

There is a lot of background information in the book about how the mutation that caused this condition came about - basically through lots of inbreeding from the Greek island where his grandparents grew up. In fact, his grandparents were brother and sister who "married" on the boat to America and kept their secret for many years. Obviously with all the explanations, there are some explicit scenes in this book, yet they are done in a way that doesn't distract from the story. Honestly, this was an interesting read if not necessarily something that I would have chosen or plan to read again.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Capsule Wardrobe - I Did It!

Do you remember my Capsule Wardrobe "Failure" a few years ago? Well, I decided it was time to try again as the closet needed another purge, and I'm feeling the need for some FRESH outfits for the upcoming months.

Honestly, I've been feeling a little frumpy lately, like I haven't been dressing my best and am just wearing whatever I can find that fits and is comfortable. I've ended up wearing the same few pieces over and over, which is actually a benefit to a capsule wardrobe. The problem, however, was that I wasn't taking time to create new combinations with those items.

I really like wearing layers. In fact, one of the things I enjoy most is adding a nice jacket to an outfit to give it some structure or a pop of color (depending on which is  needed), but many of my jackets either no longer fit or just didn't make me feel happy and confident anymore.

So, I've pulled together items that I'll be mixing and matching in new and FUN combinations for the next three months. I chose three colors - red (because I have two red jackets that I really like), blue (because I have a FUN blue flowered jacket), and yellow (because it's my favorite color & I recently purchased a  new happy blouse that I want to wear a lot). I also included white as a neutral (because I have a great white vest). I pulled all the things that fit and that I like in these colors and placed them together in the closet - this just makes me so happy!


On the left, I have the outer pieces - three jackets and the white vest. Then I have all the shirts/blouses in those colors, followed by t-shirts and camisoles that I can use as a base layer but won't necessarily wear by themselves. Finally, I have my jeans, capris, shorts, and a pair of black slacks.

I didn't actually follow the suggested guidelines for a capsule wardrobe. For example, I'm not trying to limit the pieces to a certain number. I simply pulled everything I like (or if I wasn't sure, I pulled it to at least wear once & give it a chance) in my capsule colors and put them together. I also am not doing this experiment because I'm becoming a minimalist or anything like that; rather, I want to feel excited to get dressed each day, knowing I'm wearing clothes that are comfortable and help me look my best as I go about my everyday life, teach illustrated Bible journaling classes, and journey through my FRESH year!

So, I have no guilt about placing three orders that I'm looking forward to receiving in the next couple of weeks. First, I chose three shirts and a pair of sandals (all blues) from Coldwater Creek. Second, I ordered a blue denim jacket (because the one I've worn so often over the past several years is just a little too tight) and two red shirts from Amazon. And, third, I've scheduled a Stitch Fix to be delivered with what I hope will be FUN additions to this capsule - maybe some tops that incorporate several of my colors or a comfortable skirt (as I have zero skirts in my wardrobe at the moment) or a great pair of capris that fit this not-as-small-as-I-used-to-be-but-still-FUN body or a new favorite jacket. [I'm sending a link to this post to my stylist, so I'll let y'all know what I get, ok! ] Of course, I'll have to evaluate all the items I've ordered based on fit and comfort and how well they go with the items already in my wardrobe, so it remains to be seen what the final number will be.

The other "rule" I didn't follow is that I did not remove all the other clothes from my closet; I simply put them on the other end of the bar farther back in the closet. Honestly, I'm so excited about the way my capsule looks together that I'm not worried about being tempted to grab something else for quite a while. I also have another small section for t-shirts that I'll wear on days when I'm just hanging around the house.

Robbie and I actually went through all the clothes, shoes, and accessories in the closet this past weekend as I was pulling these items together. We have six bags (over 100 items) filled to be donated to our local outreach center. Most of the items we saved after our last purge and the items that were still on backwards hangers went directly into the donation bags. (Yes, all the hangers in the closet are now backwards again!)

I'm so excited to try out this FRESH wardrobe and will be reporting in over the next few months with how it's going. My plan is to re-evaluate and update the capsule wardrobe during the first half of July. What will you be wearing these next three months?

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Sunday Musings - It Is Well With My Soul

When I sat down to create a sample Bible journaling illustration for a workshop a few weeks ago, I felt tired and discouraged and uncertain about my worthiness for sharing the Word. It had been a very long week with my Mama in the hospital and lots of family dynamics that had me feeling a variety of emotions.

So, I did something I caution my class participants about ... I simply pulled out some supplies to create an illustration, thinking about the art and using the templates I had ready for the event the next evening. I grabbed the hymnal I've begun illustrating in and started flipping through the pages, simply looking for a hymn with the word "cross" in the title so I could trace the cross template.

As I did this, I began to pray, honestly just asking the Lord to forgive me for not taking more time to be intentional with my illustration. I  just needed a sample page, anything would do. However, as I flipped through the pages, I stopped at It Is Well With My Soul, and I knew it was the Lord speaking to me, slowing me down, reminding me He was there with me.

Several years ago, I led a class on some famous hymns, and I had learned the story of Horatio Spafford, the writer of this hymn. Horatio and his wife Anna had five children and lived in Chicago in the 1870s. Their son died at a young age and they were facing devastating financial losses due to the fire in Chicago and an economic downturn. They planned to travel to Europe with their four daughters; however, Horatio had to send his family ahead as he dealt with some financial issues.

The ship which his wife and daughters were traveling on collided with another vessel and sank. He received a telegram from his wife, which simply read, "saved alone." On the voyage over to meet his wife, near the place where his daughters had perished, He stood at the rail of the ship and God gave him the words to this beloved hymn. Despite the fact that he had lost all his children and was facing financial ruin, Horatio Spafford was able to say:

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, It is well, It is well with my soul.

As I began to trace the cross stencil over this hymn, tears rolled down my face because I knew that even though there were a lot of difficult things happening in my life that week, all was well with my soul and my relationship with the Lord. He was watching over me and comforting me and reminding me that "Christ has regarded my helpless estate, And hath shed His own blood for my soul."


It took a good bit of time to color this page, time spent reflecting on how the Lord speaks to us in so many ways. As Horatio Spafford penned this hymn on that ship over 140 years ago, I doubt he could have imagined that someday the Lord would use those words to comfort me here in Texas .... but God knew. 

Truly, It is well, It is well with my soul!

Friday, April 13, 2018

Five on Friday

A (sometimes) weekly feature here on my blog sharing five FRESH random photos (or thoughts or interesting tidbits) from the week.

1. It's always so interesting to see the hodgepodge of items for sale at flea markets, isn't it!


2. The weather has fluctuated from freezing to raining to hailing to beautiful sunshine these past few weeks. We snuck out on a sunny day and enjoyed reading at a picnic table near the lake.


3. Last weekend I enjoyed sharing about growing in your current season of life and being rooted in the Word with these beautiful ladies.


4. What do you do while you wait for car maintenance? This week I had the tires rotated on both vehicles and the oil changed in one, and I was able to do a little Bible journaling and some reading!


5. I'm continuing to fine tune the work space in my craft room - moved in a file cabinet and the big printer this week. (And, yes, I do still plan to someday (!) repaint Grandma's sewing table.)


Hope y'all have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Give Me Jesus

Remember that journal I used when I first starting experimenting with illustrated Bible journaling back in early 2015? Well, I still share those first attempts at journaling when I introduce new ladies to this FUN and meaningful hobby.

It wasn't long before I "advanced" into a journaling Bible, so my Worship Journal isn't even half full. However, I do pull it out on occasion to try or demo a new technique ... which leaves some rather interesting looking pages, which I eventually go back to complete.

I was obviously taking some (scribbled) notes and trying out a large stamp on the page below before I returned to it months later and created a new illustration.


This page was based on INSPIRATION in last year's God Glory Art workshop and utilized a traceable from Jamie Dougherty. I simply added scrapes of acrylic paint for a background that covered up my scribbles while letting a little of the stamped block show through. After tracing the lettering, I filled it in with a Sharpie marker (because I wasn't worried about bleed through with the paint background) and gave it highlights with a white paint pen.


This was a FUN project that serves as a reminder that I need Jesus every day while giving this page a FRESH look!

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Sunday Musings - Measuring Our Worth


Have you ever tried to measure the length of a room with a yard stick? Or a cloth sewing tape measure? If so, you know that using the right tool (in this case a  steel/metal tape measure) makes the job a whole lot easier and decreases the chance of errors.

Yet, when we begin to measure our own worth or the worth of others, we often use the wrong "tool."  We may feel good about ourselves when the house is spotless and the dishes all washed and less of ourselves when a bill is overdue or our fingernail polish is chipped. We may think highly of someone who drives a nice car and lives in a big house or think less of someone who has multiple body piercings or hangs out in seedy bars. However, our worth is not determined by any of these "measure sticks"; rather our worth is in Christ!


When we read the story of the woman at the well in John chapter four, many of us take a limited amount of information about this woman (she had five husbands & was currently with a man who was not her husband) and judge her worth based on our assumptions about her. Yet, Jesus specifically and intentionally went through Samaria for this "chance" encounter at the well because she was worthy to Him. He knew her, He saw her, and He loved her just as she was!


Just like the woman at the well, the Lord knows us, He sees us, and He loves us just as we are! When we're tempted to judge ourselves or others based on outward appearances or material possessions or external behaviors, let's take a step back and remember to use the measuring stick of God's love!

[If you've jumped to conclusions about the worth of the woman at the well, I challenge you to read Diana Wallis Taylor's book, Journey to the Well, which shares a fictionalized (and much more sympathetic) account of this woman's background based on life in Biblical times. I first read this book several years ago and recently re-read it as I prepared to teach a Bible journaling class based on this story. You can read my review of the book HERE.]

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Business Trip Layouts

Robbie didn't really have any time for sightseeing on his business trip to Paris and Monaco earlier this year; however, he did snap a few photos on his phone over the eleven days. To document his trip for our 2018 album, I printed small photos and gathered the paper memorabilia he brought home.

This 12x12 layout includes a journal card along with photos of Robbie on the airplane, one of the meals he enjoyed, and a peek at one of the hotel rooms.


The clusters include lots of bits & pieces from airline tickets, hotel key cards, brochures, and receipts. I cut down a 9-pocket 8 1/2x11 page to include additional photos and memorabilia.



And, of course, I had to document the lovely gifts he brought home for me!


It was FUN to add the ribbon and brochure (for the macarons) as embellishments. I also used a circle punch to preserve a piece of the tag from my new long-sleeve t-shirt. (And I added a dot on the "i" after I took the photo & realized it was missing from the title!)


I'm glad to have the story of Robbie's business trip (and my gifts) documented! Do you scrapbook your or your spouse's business trips?

Thursday, April 5, 2018

March Book Report

March was unusually busy around here, however, I still found time to read one non-fiction and four fiction books. The two I most enjoyed were both written by Amor Towles.


I first read A Gentleman in Moscow at the end of 2016, and (based on my recommendation) our library book club chose it for discussion this month. (Read my thoughts on this book after my first reading HERE.) I thoroughly enjoyed re-reading this story that centers on Count Alexander Rostov, a Russian aristocrat who is sentenced to live out his life inside the Metropol Hotel in Moscow. The story follows the Count from 1922 through his 32 years living in a small room on the upper floor of this elegant hotel. The day he is sentenced and subsequently moved from his large third floor suite, he remembers this axiom that his grandfather shared with him when he was a young boy: if a man does not master his circumstances then he is bound to be mastered by them. This story of how Count Rostov creates a life for himself inside the hotel shows that he definitely mastered his circumstances.

Rules of Civility was Amor Towles debut novel and has several elements that contrast with A Gentleman in Moscow. This story is set in New York City (rather than Moscow) and covers a period of one year (rather than 32 years) and focuses on a young working-class woman (rather than a male aristocrat). The story follows Katey Kontent as she meets new friends, changes jobs, and enters upper class society with all its nuances and deceptions. The story is told from her perspective as an older married woman looking back on how the events of 1938 shaped her life. Another really good read!

Have you read either of these books? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Where Have You Come From & Where Are You Going

There was a young woman who spoke during dinner at the Saturday evening church event I taught at last month. Because my journaling Bibles were on a display table, I didn't turn to the scripture she was sharing that evening. Instead, I jotted down a few notes on a small index card that I pulled out at home a few days later.

After reading through Genesis 16, I took time to journal the questions the Lord asked Hagar when she fled from Sarai. These are questions that we can ask ourselves as we strive to discover our identity and purpose. For this page, I simply used Illustrated Faith letter stickers for the questions, a Micron pen to add my journaling/answers, and some thin washi tape and hexies to complete the illustration.


Taking time to add these notes to the margins of my journaling Bible helps me remember and apply the thoughts from that Saturday evening's message. What do you do with notes from an event or sermon?

Monday, April 2, 2018

Live Your Life Well

Sometimes it's FUN to just cut out little messages and words from a magazine and glue them down on an art journal page!


There are so many encouraging phrases and mantras in the titles and sub-titles and articles.


It's even possible to make a FRESH declarative (and run-on) sentence.


Happy Monday Y'all!



(All these little bits & pieces were cut from a recent issue of In The Moment, a UK magazine I picked up to enjoy over the weekend.)

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Scrapping January

Earlier this month I found a little time to scrapbook and began with the first page for our 2018 album - a FRESH start featuring a photo of us on our traditional New Year's Day walk.


I actually (re)watched some of the videos from Shimelle's The 20 Project class as INSPIRATION for these layouts. I didn't necessarily follow her challenges (use stamps, try watercoloring, etc); however, I did start with her layout formats and signature layering of papers and embellishments.


My next page showcases more photos from New Year's Day.


I'm attempting to use random bits & pieces from my scrapbooking stash on each layout this year. Here I used a tag and a banner sticker for the title and journaling.


So excited to have a start on this year's album! Have you scrapped any 2018 layouts yet?

Friday, March 30, 2018

Five on Friday

A (sometimes) weekly feature here on my blog sharing five FRESH random photos (or thoughts or interesting tidbits) from the week.

The past two weeks have had lots of ups and downs, good stuff and not-so-good stuff!

1. I enjoyed another successful private class at a client's home! She had set up a FUN photo booth for St. Patrick's Day, too.


2. My Mama was in the hospital for a week. I was able to rearrange some plans and make several trips out to visit. She is home and doing much better now!


3. I shared a one-hour Intro to Bible Journaling at a local church last weekend. I didn't get an exact count, but there were somewhere between 70 and 80 ladies of all ages in attendance! It was a wonderful evening that also included a meal, a speaker, and lots of fellowship.


4. I had some moles removed earlier this week, which is something I've been wanting to do for a while. However, they are really (really!) itching now as they heal! [On the FUNny side, I guess the doctor's office ran out of light colored spot Band-Aids, so I got a dark spot - actually two because there's one on my back also!]


5. I created a free printable for my newsletter list with items that can be used on a Bible journaling page or a greeting card or as a bookmark. [Feel free to email me if you'd like a copy.] I'll be sharing the Bible journaling page I created on Sunday.


What ups and downs have you experienced lately?

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Colorful Produce

A few weeks ago, Robbie wanted to stop at Central Market, a gourmet grocery store that specializes in gourmet hard-to-find items. He was inspired to try a few new things, so (not wanting to quash his INSPIRATION for cooking) I just trailed along and let him shop. The produce department was a rainbow of colors, so, of course, I had to snap a few photos.







Robbie picked up some FRESH produce, ground bison, a rabbit, a FRESH loaf of bread, and a pie filled with FRESH blueberries. And, I might have added a little something to the grocery cart from this section! :)