Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Desires of My Heart

The first time a pastor quoted Psalm 37:4 to me, my thoughts went something like this . . . "right, it's easy for you to quote that scripture because everything's ok in your life, you don't have to worry about things like I do right now, you haven't been divorced, you're not living all alone wondering how you reached this place, you're not fighting depression and feeling insecure, you haven't lost your friends and don't have your church family judging your actions, you have no idea what you're talking about!"

Of course, I'd been taught to respect my elders and always use my Southern manners, so my actual spoken response was more like this . . . "Yes, ma'am. Thank you for sharing that. I'll just keep praying and believing God for all things."

I made a mental note that if somehow I ever found myself in a comfortable place again, where life was going along smoothly and my needs were met and I didn't have to worry so much, that I would never quote that scripture to anyone in a place of desperation seeking comfort and advice! Of course, I've shared this story many times in the ensuing 17 years, along with the story of how God never failed me, never left me, and did in fact give me the desires of my heart.

You see, the deepest desires of my heart were to find security, to have connection, and to be loved. I had been seeking those things from relationships with others, from money, from activities, and from material possessions. In reality, only the Lord could fill those needs. Once I surrendered to Him and quit trying to control everything on my own, I found security and connection in His unfathomable love for me. Then, He blessed me beyond my wildest imagination!

I recently used a Clear Scraps Acrylic & Chipboard round frame to create a mixed media home decor piece using a variety of patterned papers and embellishments to highlight this scripture. I'm excited to hang this piece in my craft room where it will remind me that the Word of God never fails and life truly is delightful when we live surrendered to Him. He alone can fill the deepest desires of our hearts!

 (If you'd like to create your own Delightful Scripture Frame, I created kits
that are being sold exclusively by Personal Scrapbook in Allen, Texas.)

Have you ever silently resented someone who quoted scripture to you during a difficult time? Please share what you learned from that experience in the comments.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

One Little Word - August

The August prompt in Ali Edward's One Little Word 2017 class was all about taking a look at our life right now and documenting what we're celebrating and where we're struggling.

I'll be adding the prompt card and my three photos to the back of the page protector holding the July encouragement cards.

I'm just getting this prompt completed as August comes to a close. It's been a tough week here in Texas watching all the devastation Hurricane (& Tropical Storm) Harvey have wrecked on our great state. Even though we were not in the midst of the storm, I've felt like everything has been on hold waiting for the storm to pass and the recovery to begin. (My sister in southeast Texas watched the water rise to within an inch of the threshold. They were one of the fortunate ones to not have water inside the house.) Please keep Texas in your prayers - there are thousands of people in shelters and/or beginning the clean-up of their homes, many without electricity and running water, families separated, first responders and average citizens still conducting rescues, and whole communities trying to figure out how to move forward.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Book Swap & Blog Topics

While I've pretty much kept up with reading the books my sister has sent me each month as part of our monthly book swap this year, I have gotten behind on writing about the blog topics she suggests. So, today's post is a little catch up.


I think one of the reasons I got behind is because I just couldn't decide on my strengths and weaknesses. Every time I thought of something that is a strength, I realized at other times that same thing is a weakness. I've finally chosen five strengths to share, along with a note about how they might become weaknesses at times.

1. Organization - I'm pretty sure I was born organized! I actually enjoy organizing, whether it's preparing my weekly calendar, rearranging my scrapbooking stash, or straightening up the pantry. I can look at a pile of stuff or a random list of things to do and quickly figure a good way to organize, sort, prepare and get things in order. Of course, this need to be organized can be a weakness when it gets in the way of productivity. Color-coding my weekly to-do list is wonderful, as long as I follow through! And having everything in its place is nice, as long as keeping it that way doesn't mean I miss out on the important things in life.

2. Leadership - Anytime I take a test of skills or giftings, leadership is always one of the top three abilities on my results list. I don't have a problem taking charge, making decisions, working hard, or delegating tasks. I enjoy leading groups and coordinating members to work toward a common goal. Of course, I have to remember not to overstep any boundaries when someone else is in charge!

3. Teaching - Hopefully this one isn't a surprise to anyone. I love teaching, and, based on feedback from many individuals over the years, I'm pretty good at it. Honestly, I enjoy the whole process - preparing, studying, getting everything ready, the actual teaching & coaching & mentoring, building relationships with students & clients, etc. For me, teaching is so much FUN! This could become a weakness if I don't stop teaching at the point that the student is able to continue on his/her own, however, I really don't think this is an issue for me.

4. Creativity - Honestly, for most of my life I thought I wasn't very creative. In fact, I've often said I am the least creative person in my family. I think this is because much of my creativity comes out in the way I teach and organize and lead, however I have also always enjoyed scrapbooking and have tried a variety of creative endeavors throughout my life (like the ceramics class I took in junior high school and those homecoming corsages I created in my early 20s and the wallpaper I hung a few years later). The past fifteen years or so, I have thoroughly immersed myself in scrapbooking, paper crafting, card making, illustrated Bible journaling, and a myriad of other creative pursuits. My creativity only becomes a weakness when I begin to once again question whether I truly am creative, thus hindering the INSPIRATION!

5. Faith - As a Christian, I have a firm foundation and moral standards that I strive to uphold. I know that I'm not perfect, but I have a Savior who died for my sins and continues to teach me and guide me in my everyday life. I know what I believe and am able to defend my beliefs through the truth of the Word. I can't image my life without Jesus. I want to live my life in such a loving way that it points others to Jesus, letting my actions speak louder than my words. This is probably my strongest characteristic, however it can come across as too strong at times. If I am not careful how they are expressed, my views can come across as judgment and condemning.

What would you put on a list of your strengths and weaknesses?Would some items be classified as both?


I was relieved to get this easy topic and am using photos to showcase some of my (and our) collections.


This month, we each sent the other a small book so we could get caught up - me with my blog topics and Brenda with her reading. While she didn't send me a blog topic this month, the package I received was full of goodies for Bible journaling, scrapbooking and my One Little Word binder.
I thoroughly enjoyed the small, easy-to-read book, Dream More by Dolly Parton. This book was based on Dolly's commencement speech to the University of Tennessee graduates a few years ago. The message she shares is to (1) Dream More, (2) Learn More, (3) Care More, and (4) Be More. As she encourages us to embrace these four hopes, she shares her own stories of dreaming (to become a singer), learning (as a lifelong pursuit), caring (especially her efforts to give back to her community in rural Tennessee), and being more (with God as her foundation). A wonderfully uplifting read!
I sent Brenda The Prayer of Jabez by Bruce Wilkinson. This small book is based on 1 Chronicles 4:10, a short prayer found in the midst of a long list of genealogies and is a great example and reminder of the effectiveness of prayer as "God granted (Jabez) that which he requested."

Well, that catches me up! We're going to skip the book swap in September, but will start up again in October.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Yet I Will Rejoice

It's easy to rejoice and find joy in the Lord when everything in our lives is going smoothly. However, it is even more important to rejoice during the difficult times. This type of rejoicing is much harder and requires a conscious decision on our part. We see an example of this in Habakkuk 3:17-18.

Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls—
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.

Despite the difficulties Habakkuk was enduring, he chose to rejoice. After a list of the problems facing him, he boldly declares YET I will rejoice. He chose to rejoice despite those circumstances.

I am striving to implement this lesson in my own life. Despite the big issues (the pain and heartbreak of a broken relationship & the fact that we are facing an upcoming transition with uncertain outcomes) and the little issues (the oven isn't working and the printer has an attitude) we are currently facing, I can (and will!) consciously choose to rejoice in the Lord, my Savior! There is so much to find joy in - a strong marriage, a beautiful home, a thriving teaching ministry - but ultimately joy comes from my salvation and relationship with Jesus Christ.

 Do you find it hard to rejoice during the difficult times?

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Scrapbooking 2016

Do you ever just need a day off - a day to spend in your craft room, scrapbooking memories, gluing pretty pieces of paper together, listening to country music, and ignoring your to-do list? Yesterday was that kind of day for me. . . and it was very productive! 

I scrapped quite a few pages last year with memories from the year, so now I'm working back through those 2016 chronological albums, filling in missing photos and stories (excluding our vacations, which I'll start on once I finish these album reviews.) Here's a look at the pages that complete the first half of 2016.

Have you taken a day off to scrapbook lately?

Monday, August 7, 2017

Monday's Mail Memo - A Very ACTIVE Seven Weeks

Once again it seems like time is flying by - seven weeks since my last Monday catch-up! There's been a little happy mail, and lots of ACTIVE and FUN days this summer! (Warning - this post is long & has lots of photos!)

I received the latest Sweet To The Soul Bible Study & Bible Journaling Kit from my friend Jana Kennedy- Spicer and a happy card from Tonya Hamilton of Messy Bible during the month of July.

And one day a large flat box arrived! It contained the new table I ordered for my craft room. Robbie put it together that evening & now I have double the work space!!

Our 12-year-old twin nieces each spent a week with us this summer, and we had so much FUN! As is the tradition before a visit, they each made a list of the things of things to do.

I taught each of them to ice skate (and even scrapped about it already!). There was a morning of swimming with each one, too. During Laurie's visit, we also enjoyed a minor league baseball game, checked out and read several library books, watched movies, played a couple of games of Life, and worked many crossword puzzles. She even participated in a couple of local karate classes to see how they were different from her regular classes. During Paige's visit, we spent lots of time doing illustrated Bible journaling, painted mini-canvases, read several library books, played games, and worked a couple of jigsaw puzzles. She also attended my Christmas in July Card Class. (Yes, we checked everything off their lists!)

I've been very ACTIVE teaching these past several weeks. I taught a small class for residents at a local assisted living facility, sharing how to use gelatos to decorate a hymnal page.

On July 1, I had a huge surprise when my sister and two of my nieces showed up to take my Intro to Bible Journaling Workshop at Scrappin' Goodtime! (I thought they would be arriving around noon to pick up Laurie, but they drove in the day before so they could attend my class!) It was a great class, followed by lunch with Robbie, my sister, brother-in-law, and three nieces (plus one boyfriend!). That afternoon I taught the scripture frame class and the ladies did a fabulous job on these happy frames!

Then there was the Christmas in July Card Class at Personal Scrapbook.

The last Saturday in July, I taught a Bible journaling mini-retreat for a church in Durant, Oklahoma. There were 25 ladies there, and we had a FUN day diving into the Word and trying lots of illustrated journaling techniques.

This past weekend, I co-taught two Creative Lettering Bible Journaling workshops with Jana Kennedy-Spicer at Scrappin' Goodtime. I love seeing everyone giving creative lettering a try!

In other teaching news, there was the launch of the Alive in Christ ~ A Weekend Renewal event. I created a website for the event, and Kelley Raetzsch and I recorded a video to announce the opening of registration. The weekend is already half-full! I also began a free four-part Bible journaling devotional series on the Proverbs 31 Woman for my email list this week. (Click HERE to sign up to receive illustrated Bible journaling INSPIRATION and information on my upcoming workshops & events.)

One weekend, Robbie and I headed to a trading card show here in the Dallas area. Former Dallas Cowboys Defensive End Ed "Too Tall" Jones was there signing autographs, and I couldn't resist asking to have a FUN photo taken with him!

We also enjoyed a stroll around the Lufkin zoo with my sister and her family during one of our meet-ups for the twins' visits. It was an overcast day, which was perfect because it kept the temperatures bearable!

I celebrated my birthday a couple of weeks ago. It was a beautiful sunshiny day, and (as always) Robbie spoiled me with breakfast in bed, lots of gifts, a gorgeous cake, and a made-to-order home-cooked supper!

Well, I think that catches me up to this week, which I'll be spending doing household chores and taking care of car maintenance and catching up on some blog reading! What have you been up to lately?

Sunday, July 30, 2017

August Bible Journaling Workshops at Personal Scrapbook

Each class will begin with a teaching from the books of 1, 2 & 3 John, followed by illustrated Bible journaling tips and techniques. There will be a variety of Bible journaling supplies for you to try out and time to illustrate your faith in the margins (or across the whole page) of your Bible. 

In the first workshop, we'll explore the theme of love that is prevalent in these books. The second workshop will focus on other themes within these books, including truth, working together, and writing letters. Each workshop will include ideas and time to illustrate the important lessons we learn in these three short books.

We will be working in a Journaling Bible, but feel free to bring any Bible and/or a journal to work in. Also, bring your favorite Bible journaling supplies to class & don’t forget a journaling pen!

Call Personal Scrapbook today (972.351.8717) to reserve your spot and join Melissa Gross for these workshops merging art and faith!

The Curious Christian - book review

I was intrigued and excited when I read the title and subtitle of the latest book I received free from B&H Publishers in exchange for an honest review. The Curious Christian: How Discovering Wonder Enriches Every Part of Life sounded so interesting, however, it was a little disappointing.

It starts out by reminding us that we all need curiosity, something that is prevalent in kids but seems to wane as we age into adulthood. The book talks about being curious in all areas of our lives. The disappointing fact is that the author makes snide "hidden" remarks at times that detracted from the book's message - obviously he doesn't like hunting or rednecks or Southern Baptist preachers or a myriad of other things.

There were, however, several quote worthy ideas: 

A library that is unused is simply shelf upon shelf of wasted paper, and our unexercised knowledge is no better.

Nothing is out of bounds so long as our curiosity honors God and loves others.

Our knowledge is as trite or meaningful as what we do with it for the love of others and God's glory.

The book did spark my curiosity as I wondered what the Bible has to say about it. I didn't find the word curiosity in the Bible, although one particular scripture came up in all my searches.

He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in his own authority. ~Acts 1:7

Thursday, July 27, 2017

One Little Word - June & July

I'm excited to be caught up with the prompts in the One Little Word 2017 class! For June, there was a printout with questions to help us evaluate where we are with our word mid-way through the year. I printed the questions on pink paper and wrote my answers in purple ink in keeping with the color scheme I chose at the beginning of the year. I added washi tape to the top and the bottom of the page and also created a transparency to go in my binder before the printout.

Reflecting on my word, I have to admit that I've felt a little disconnected to my word, despite the fact that I've had a very ACTIVE year. I've enjoyed catching up on these prompts because it's given me time to reconnect with the goals I set at the beginning of the year.

The May prompt was a creative meditation where we designed mixed media encouragement cards to add to our binders. I pulled a four-pocket page and cut white cardstock into 4x6 pieces. I wanted to follow along with many of the steps that Ali demonstrated as she created her cards this month, so I pulled a variety of products - paint, stencils, stamps, ink, etc. I enjoyed working through this step-by-step process.

I started with the Tim Holtz star stencil and used white acrylic paint to create the first layer on my cards.

Then I added a layer of light purple paint - it covered a little more the stars than I wanted on the first card, so I made sure to just put a thin layer on the others.

The pink ink and lined stamp I used as the next layer was very light and actually ended up not showing up much on the final cards, however I think that is often the case with mixed media projects. We build layers and some things will be covered up along the way, but the process is extremely therapeutic.

I felt like these light colored cards needed a border, so I chalked the edges with Midnight Confession Powder Puff chalking ink.

I used black StazOn ink and letter stamps to add the encouragement messages I need to remember as I continue my ACTIVE year.

One of my border stamps makes a great arrow stencil, so I used that and the white acrylic paint to point to these messages.

I used a circle stencil and speech bubble rub-ons on the cards to include additional white elements. Word stickers reinforce and add to the messages on each card.

And, finally, I wanted to bring in some pink to go with the colors in my binder, so I searched through my small embellishments drawer and add glittery stars to each card.

As I look forward to the rest of this ACTIVE year, I will Just Move, Have FUN, and Choose Joy, knowing that It's All Good!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Be Still & Know

I have a large post-it note inside the front cover of my journaling Bible with a list of scriptures. Each item on this list represents a page where I began an illustration that is not yet complete. Some of these illustrations I began during a class I was taking, others I started on a day that got busy before I the page was complete, and a few include items I added as part of a demonstration in a workshop I was teaching.

The purpose of illustrated Bible journaling is to illustrate and journal what we are learning in the Word, the messages God is speaking to our hearts, and our prayers to Him. This part of the process is very personal and often requires some time of quiet reflection. This week I've been working through my list, taking time to read and reflect on the scriptures as I complete these pages.

Over a year ago, I took a class at The Little Blue House in Keller, Texas, and Tracy Pounds shared a photo that she'd printed on clear sticker paper. The picture shows an old wooden sign with these words on it: BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD. During the class, I adhered the photo in my bible next to Psalm 46.

Psalm 46 is a reminder that God is our refuge, and I used one of my favorite journaling techniques (rewriting and personalizing scriptures) and a Micron pen to add journaling to this page.

Then I took time to outline the scripture and add letter stickers and embellishments to reinforce this reminder to be still and remember that He is my God!

The final step for me is adding the date with a date stamp (which I did after snapping the photo).

When you take a Bible journaling workshop, do you always complete the project or "assignment" during the class? Or, like me, do you leave having tried a new technique or product on a page that needs to be finished?

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

First Time Ice Skating

When I had the opportunity to teach  my oldest niece Nichole to ice skate on our trip to New York in 2007, I had no idea that I would eventually teach all my nieces. Honestly, I'm not really all that good of an ice skater myself. I was 30-years-old the first time I tried ice skating at an outdoor rink in Beaver Creek, Colorado. It was wonderful! It snowed and my skates made little tracks through the snow while I was skating around. I remember thinking how it was very similar to roller skating (which I'd been doing all my life), yet different because the blade was so narrow and the ice was really slick!

Back in 2010, I created a layout about that first ice skating adventure.

Over the past ten years, I've had the chance to teach all four of my nieces to ice skate. In fact, one of the ACTIVE things I've been up to over the past month was taking each of the twins on their first ice skating adventure. When I saw the asymmetrical sketch and layout assignment in Week One of Cathy Zielske's new workshop, Design Your Life 2.0, I knew this was the story I wanted to tell.

I printed a photo of me with each of the girls and absolutely love the way this layout turned out. It just makes me so happy to have this connections story scrapped!

It's been a couple of months since I've created a layout, and I thoroughly enjoyed spending time in my craft room with pretty paper and FUN photos! What story have you scrapbooked lately?

Sunday, July 16, 2017

One Little Word - April & May

When I chose ACTIVE as my word for 2017, my desire was to take a look at a variety of areas of my life and make improvements and changes to create a better balance overall. I wanted to invite more ACTIVITY into my weekly routine and to be ACTIVELY involved in things that add value and joy to my everyday life. While I'm not sure that I've necessarily put in the work to engage with my word, I have definitely been ACTIVE this year!

This weekend, I'm catching up with the prompts in the One Little Word 2017 class. The April prompt suggested putting sticky notes with questions (about my word) around the house where I'd see them throughout the month. I didn't actually do this, but I did write some questions & my reflections a couple of months ago. I created three cards that I slipped into the back of the page protector I used for the February prompt.

For May, Ali encouraged us to choose photos depicting how our word was working in our lives. Since one of my ACTIVE goals is to be intentional about investing time in relationships that add value and joy to my life, I chose photos from January through May that represent this goal in action. I printed nine photos so that I could add them to the back of the page protector I used in January. I added a label sticker, a handwritten description, and a puffy heart sticker to each photo.

I'm excited to have made some progress on these prompts and hope to complete the June reflections and July creative prompt shortly!

Have you been ACTIVELY engaging with your word this year? What photos would you use to show your word in action?