Sunday, September 15, 2019

Upcoming Class | A Thankful Heart Gratitude Journaling Event (Allen, TX)

I'm excited to announce that registration is open for my next all-day event - check out all the details below!

Join me for a BRAND NEW ALL-DAY EVENT as we discuss gratitude and having a thankful heart every day of the year! We will dive into the Word, learn and practice illustrated journaling techniques, create a gratitude journal, and enjoy lots of fun and fellowship as we spend the day MERGING FAITH AND ART in a way that allows us to worship and draw closer to the Lord!

A Thankful Heart Gratitude Journaling Event
Saturday, October 26, 2019
10am - 6pm
Hyatt Place, Allen TX

*Do you want to cultivate a thankful heart and discover what the Word says about gratitude?

*Would you like to try illustrated Bible journaling but you’re not yet sure where to start?

*Do you already enjoy illustrated Bible journaling and want to try new techniques and spend a day with other women who enjoy diving into the Word and using their creativity to draw closer to the Lord?

*Would you enjoy creating a journal to record gratitude scriptures and journal your thanks to the Lord?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then this event is for you!

Our purpose throughout the day will be to worship the Lord through the times of learning, discussion and creativity. No artistic skill is necessary for this event!

Your registration fee includes:

*Four Sessions incorporating devotional teachings, discussion, crafting & illustrated journaling demonstrations, and creative time.

*Gratitude Journal Kit that includes a freestanding album, pocket page protectors, stickers, papers, washi tape & more!

*Goody Bag filled with surprises.

*Additional Supplies provided for you to try and use during the event.

*Bottled Water & Snacks provided in the event room.

*Three feet of table space for your creative workspace throughout the day.

*Two extra hours after the event to work on your own journaling projects.

Additional details for the gratitude journaling event:

*You will create a gratitude journal; however, you are encouraged to bring your journaling Bible, a hymnal, or a worship journal to work in as well.

*Along with the gratitude journal kit you will receive, I will have supplies available for you to use in your journaling. You are welcome to bring along some of your favorite supplies as well - there will be ample opportunity for using your creativity throughout the day!

*I will have snacks for us to enjoy. You are welcome to bring your own snacks or a snack to share if you like (completely optional).

*Bottled water will be provided. If a hot beverage or ice cold soda enhances your Bible journaling & crafting time, please feel free to bring that along with you. (There are options to purchase food and beverages at the hotel as well.)

*Lunch is not provided. We will take a break for lunch, so you'll have time to grab something at the hotel or head to one of the nearby restaurants. You may also bring a lunch with you to enjoy in the meeting room during the lunch break.

*There are only 22 spaces available for this fun and meaningful event, so register today to reserve your spot. Within 48 hours of payment, you will receive a confirmation email, and a detailed timeline for the day will be emailed mid-October.

Are you ready to get away and have a full day for using your creativity to worship and draw closer to the Lord?

*If you are registered and unable to attend, please let me know before October 12 for a full refund or transfer of fees to a future class. Cancellations after October 11 are nonrefundable; however, I will be happy to mail you the event kit and goody bag.

*If you receive a notification that the event is sold out & would like to be added to the waiting list, please email me.

*Registration does not include hotel accommodations, which can be booked separately at the hotel’s website HERE! If you would like a roommate, please let me know & I will try to set that up (although there's no guarantee). 

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Sunday Musings - Consider the Lilies

There are several instances in the New Testament when Jesus reminds his disciples (and all future Christians) not to worry because He will provide all our needs. In Luke 12:27, He says, "Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these."

This scripture gives us a simple way to remember the promise of His provision - just look at some beautiful flowers! 

So, next time worry is consuming your thoughts, notice the flowers around you - whether's it a field of wildflowers you're driving by or the blooms in the flowerbed outside your window or a single bud in the vase on your desk or the arrangement in the painting hanging on the wall (or even the ones you take time to draw and color yourself). Let those flowers remind you that the Lord is your provider!

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Book Reviews | Non-Fiction

The sub-title to The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks is Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level. The premise of this book is that our biggest obstacle is the Upper Limit Problem, which basically means that we sabotage our own efforts because we feel unworthy or flawed or that we shouldn't outshine others. We set our own upper limit! The author asserts that when we stop limiting ourselves, we can have more love, abundance, and creativity. He also suggests that all time comes from ourselves and that we control the time, it doesn't control us - a restatement of making sure we take time to enjoy the moment. Honestly, I was not very impressed with this book or its recommendations. I read it in spurts because I did not find it overly engaging.

George & Barbara Bush: A Great American Love Story by (their granddaughter) Ellie LeBlond Sosa and (writer) Kelly Anne Chase. I saw this book at the library and picked it up because I previously enjoyed Barbara Bush's memoir and President George HW Bush's letters. I thought this book would offer additional insights into their lives through the eyes of their granddaughter. However, I really didn't find anything new; there were lots of quotes from Barbara's memoir and HW's letters with just a few short memories from Ellie. This was more a retelling of their life story rather than additional specific things that made it the "great American love story" ... probably because their life together was a great love story.

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

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Book Review | Empowered

Empowered: How God Shaped 11 Women's Lives (And Can Shape Yours Too) by Catherine Parks is geared toward teens and tweens. Each chapter tells the story of a woman used by God.

There were quite a few women I already knew a good bit about, including Corrie ten Boom and her sister Betsie ten Boom, Joni Aereckson Tada, Fanny Crosby, and Elizabeth Elliot. There were others who were new to me - Esther Ahn Kim, Sophie Scholl, Pandita Ramabai, Phillis Wheatley, Charlotte Forten Grimke, and Annie Armstrong.

Each woman's story illustrates a characteristic that helped her stand strong in her faith despite trying circumstances - loving others, expressing gratitude, fearing God, being obedient, using our talents for God's glory, living with adversity, being kind, etc. The chapters end with questions and scriptures to help the reader apply the lesson to her own life. This is a good book to introduce girls to some wonderful Christian women and share examples of how anyone can be used for His glory.

Note: I received this book free from B&H Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

50 Things To Do Before I'm 50 | Reflections

I began working on my list of 50 Things To Do Before I'm 50 on my 45th birthday in 2014. Can y'all believe it's been five years already!?! I turned 50 a couple of weeks ago, and I'm thrilled to report that I completed 31 of the items on my list!!!

I've learned several lessons by having this list of goals over the past five years.

A list of goals provides inspiration and motivation.
Several of the items on my list are ones that I've thought about doing for years. When I put them on the list, I moved past the thinking stage and began researching and planning and actually doing them. 

Without the inspiration and motivation of working toward checking items off my list, I might still be just talking about hiking in the Grand Canyon, taking piano lessons, learning to ride a horse, dyeing Easter eggs again, or finally carving a pumpkin.

It's ok if some things don't get completed. 
It would have been amazing to report today that I had completed every item on my list; however, in reality, there are 19 items that I did not check off. There was nothing on the list that was mandatory; it was simply something FUN I came up with to enjoy on my way to 50.

While I did read all the Pulitzer prize winners in fiction, I did not re-read all my children's/young adult books ... and that's perfectly ok. I didn't make a quilt; however, I completed 10+ scrapbook projects and reviewed all my paid for scrapbook classes. I didn't grow my own vegetables, but I did make Mama's biscuits and take a macaron cooking class.

Our desires/circumstances/goals can change in five years.
While I truly desired to lose down to a healthy weight and take a boot camp class and hold a one-minute plank, the past couple of years have held a good bit of trauma and emotional upheaval which I allowed to derail my goal of getting fit! Of course, we have made some adjustments to our eating and exercise plans, which have also ebbed and flowed throughout this time. I'm not as healthy or fit as I'd like to be (but I did complete a 10k walk in less than three hours at the beginning of summer). I was, however, more successful with my emotional and spiritual health goals as I kept a daily gratitude journal for one yearread through the Bible again, and completed a 3-day fast

I also chose not to earn a doctorate after considering and researching this option as I didn't feel it was the right direction for me at this point in our lives. And Robbie and I decided it was not quite time (yet) for us to buy a camper.

Sometimes I'm overly optimistic with what can be accomplished in a certain time period!
If you look closely at the list, you'll notice that there were quite a few travel items. Considering the fact that we typically take two vacations a years, we could have gone to all those places. But then we would have missed out on the family vacations and last minute trips and other things that caught our attention over the years. 

I feel so grateful and blessed that we were able to tour the Anne Frank House and visit Corrie ten Boom's home, travel to Paris, visit Harry Potter World in Florida, see New York from the top of the Empire State Building, have an Alaskan Adventure, travel on a train, see Niagara Falls, catch some holiday fireworks, and go glamping.  We even hiked to the top of a mountain in the Canadian Rockies and I rode in a helium balloon. So, it's hard to be disappointed that I didn't go snow skiing again or take a mission trip or visit Washington DC and tour the White House.

Some things are out of my control.
I knew when I put lead someone to Christ on my list that it was a stretch goal because it's not actually up to me whether or not it happens. While I strive to be a witness for the Lord in my daily life and I started my own ministry/business teaching classes that merge faith and art, I've never actually been the person who prayed with someone as they gave their life to the Lord. My giftings are in teaching and administration, not evangelism.  The Bible says that some plant, others water, but it's God that gives the increase. However, I put this item on the list to remind me to be aware of opportunities to witness to others and share about Christ. In fact, I did have several opportunities to talk with others (individually and in classes I've taught) about the way to eternal life. I feel great about the seeds I've planted and watered and weeded over the years and glad I included this reminder to myself to always be open to share the plan of salvation.

Sometimes I'm not willing (or able) to devote time to something new.
For example, I'd really like to learn to speak basic conversational Spanishtake swimming lessons and dance lessons and private singing lessons, and even learn to French braid my own hair. While I chose to focus on other things these past few years (like having something publishedrevising our wills, improving my photography and photo editing skillswatching many of the movies in our collection, and using a flower guide), I may find/make time in the coming years for these non-completed well as playing all the games in our collection and going fishing again.

All in all, I've thoroughly enjoyed working on my list of 50 Things To Do Before I'm 50 over the past five years. And now I'm setting new goals and looking forward to all the things I'll do While I'm 50

What will you be doing over the next 12 months?

Saturday, July 27, 2019

SPSH 2019 | Reunion Tower

Our friends LeAnne & Bill and their two boys, Aiden & Logan, were here for a visit over the July Fourth holiday weekend. We headed in to Dallas to do some sightseeing one day, and I teamed up with Logan to see if we could find any of the items on this year's Summer Photo Scavenger Hunt (hosted by Mary-Lou of the Patio Postcards blog). LeAnne teamed up with Aiden, and the hunt added some extra FUN to our visit to the Reunion Tower GeO-Deck, Dealey Plaza, and The Old Red Museum.

Logan and I found eleven items! (I think LeAnne and Aiden found about the same amount.) Many of the photos were taken from 470 feet high, looking down from the Reunion Tower GeO-Deck. 

1. An Outdoor Clock
Looking at the Old Red Museum from Dealey Plaza.

2. Single & Pretty
Hotel driveway near Reunion Tower.

3. Repetition
Parking lot across the freeway from Reunion Tower.

4. Blurred Vision
While we were enjoying a light lunch at Cloud Nine, the casual Reunion Tower revolving restaurant, Logan noticed a small section of condensation on the window where he was able to capture this blurred view.

5. The Word Summer

7. A Curving Path

9. A Bridge

10. Something Made of Stone
This huge stone made a perfect seat for the boys!

12. Something Crooked

13. Two Colors of The Rainbow in Any Combination

18. Something That Should Be Found In Pairs

[Is it obvious I'm enjoying this year's hunt? So far, Robbie and I found all the items on our trip to Ohio, the twins and I found 20 items at the library, my buddy Logan and I found these 11 items, my oldest niece and I found a few on our 10K walk (photos coming soon) ... and I'll be searching for them all again on our next trip. :)]

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

50 Things To Do Before I'm 50 | Improve Photo Editing Skills

One of the goals on my 50 Things To Do Before I'm 50 List is to improve my photo editing skills. I've been using Photoshop Elements for ten years now and have definitely improved my skills during that time, especially in the past few years (although it seems there's always more to learn). Along with learning from materials in online classes, I've often searched for ideas or tried out editing tweaks I've read about on other blogs.

When I first started blogging, I simply resized and uploaded photos (like this FUN photo from my nieces' visit earlier this summer).

However, I learned that when I resize it, the photo will appear clearer if I select the right "bicubic" option (in this case bicubic sharpener). It's often just a subtle difference.

My favorite edits include cropping (to remove distracting elements) and adjusting levels and shadows (to correct color and brighten).

I've also learned to play with the various options when converting a photo to black & white. The "newspaper" option keeps my photo bright and happy.

I've even experimented with some of the FUN guided options available in Photoshop Elements, Pop Art being my favorite.

Over the past several years, I've also learned more about editing photos on my iPhone, using the tools available to crop photos, adjust the color or lighting, and/or apply filters. I've used Canva to create photo collages. I've even used the editing feature in Facebook to improve photos before posting. So, I feel I can confidently mark this item as done on my 50 Things To Do Before I'm 50 List!

Thursday, July 18, 2019

50 Things To Do Before I'm 50 | Review All Paid For Scrapbook Classes

Over the five years before my 45th birthday (when I created my list of 50 Things To Do Before I'm 50), I'd enrolled in over 120 classes online at a variety of sites including Big Picture Classes,, and I'd actually worked through all the materials in some of them, others I'd done some work in, and a very few I hadn't really even looked at. Once I set the goal to review all the classes I'd paid for, I made a list of the classes and began reviewing them.

At various times over these past five years, I have successfully reviewed all those classes - some of them I worked through the materials, others I read through for inspiration, and some I simply reviewed and saved the materials I wanted to keep. I also posted updates on this goal HERE and HERE and have shared layouts, projects, and inspiration from these classes in various blog posts. During this time, I only signed up for a few additional classes since I was working on this goal. However, as I check this item completed, I am looking forward to finding a class or two to enjoy in the coming months. 

(Please share your favorite sites for online classes these days in the comments.)

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

SPSH 2019 | At the Library

Last week my 14-year-old twin nieces were here for their summer visit. During one of our visits to the library, we decided to see if we could find book covers to represent the items on this year's Summer Photo Scavenger Hunt.

We wandered through the aisles of books, not paying attention to the titles or topics, but simply searching for pictures or words that matched one of the items. Laurie kept track as we found them, consolidated the photos on her phone, and then air-dropped them to me so I could share our finds here. Between the three of us, we found 18 of the 20 items, plus both alternates ... so a total success! 

1. An Outdoor Clock

2. Single & Pretty

3. Repetition

4. Blurred Vision

5. The Word Summer

6. An Umbrella, open or closed

7. A Curving Path

8. Shells

9. A Bridge

10. Something Made of Stone

11. Fish

12. Something Crooked

13. Two Colors of The Rainbow in Any Combination

14. A Handwritten Sign

15. A Broken Chair/Bench/Stool

16. An Out of Season Treat Being Enjoyed
(Laurie was determined to find this one, so she headed to the children's section and the Christmas picture storybooks. There wasn't a single book with someone drinking hot chocolate on the cover, so she opted for an out of season gingerbread cookie. I think it's a perfect fit!)

17. A Sail

18. Something That Should Be Found In Pairs
(Paige decided right away that we had to find something with twins on it for this prompt. It took a while, but she finally discovered this book that actually has two sets of twins in the story!)

19. A Funny or Meaningful Bumper Sticker

20. A Favorite Seasonal Scent

A: Bird or Bee House
(After we got home, the girls decided the cover from one of the free Advanced Reader Copies we received at the library Book Buzz event would work for this prompt. No house, but at least it's a bird!)

B: Fresh Local Produce

This was such a FUN activity - we all enjoyed it! In fact, now that the girls are back home, we are each working through the list again and posting our finds to a Pinterest board. Paige even made us a cute image for the list.

[Sending a huge thanks to Mary-Lou of the Patio Postcards blog for hosting this seasonal scavenger hunt. I'm thoroughly enjoying the hunt, even more so now that it also helps me keep in touch with the girls in such a FUN way this summer!]