Welcome! I'm Melissa Gross, a dynamic and interactive teacher and speaker called to lead and encourage Christian women in their walk with the Lord through classes, workshops and retreats incorporating Bible study, devotionals, illustrated Bible journaling, paper crafting and mixed media projects that merge faith and art bringing God’s Word to life so you can find renewed excitement to dive into the Word, use your creative gifts, and apply the Truth as you draw closer to the Lord and serve Him in your everyday life. This site is where I share my everyday adventures, Bible Journaling pages, scrapbook layouts, handmade cards, and other crafty projects, as well as information on my upcoming workshops and events. I also post photos, ramble about books I'm reading, stuff I'm organizing, and other FUN bits & pieces of my wonderful life.
Thursday, July 27, 2017
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
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.
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
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
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?
Sunday, July 9, 2017
This scripture was referenced in one of last week's devotionals in the Streams in the Desert book I'm using during my quiet time this year. The author talked about the polished arrow and how polishing is the result of grinding off the sharp edges until the arrow is smooth and ready for use. Just like the arrow, we often need to be "polished." Our polishing is the result of difficulties in our lives; we may not understand at the time, but these difficulties smooth us and prepare us to serve the Lord when He calls.
I wanted to remember this idea, so I took time to illustrate it in my Bible using bits & pieces from the Sweet to the Soul I Am Not Alone Bible Journaling Kit, which contains a couple of arrow die cuts. I also included letter stickers, a "God is With Me" sticker quote, and a decorative paperclip from the kit. Then I added some creative lettering and doodling along with handwritten journaling to complete the page.
I had a previous illustration in the margin next to this scripture, so I simply added this new illustration and journaling on the opposite page.
I love these reminders that God is polishing us and preparing us and protecting us and is always with us!
Friday, July 7, 2017
Lean In: Women, Work , and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg was recommended by a business coach who helps women scale and grow their business. As my teaching business/ministry continues to grow, I'm reading more books for inspiration and knowledge.
Sheryl Sandberg is the COO of Facebook. She shares her story as she encourages women to stay in the workplace and lean in to success. She discusses the "leadership ambition gap" and says that "choosing to leave the workforce was not the choice we thought so many of you wound make" when talking to/about other women who have left the workforce to care for families or due to frustration.
Honestly, I didn't like her much at the beginning of the book and felt like it was a whine-fest about why there are not more women in leadership positions. However, she was honest about her own decisions and how her husband helps her as she discussed becoming a mother and making hard choices (like leaving the office at 5:30 everyday to be home for dinner, but not letting everyone know she was leaving then). She made some good points about women needing to stand up for themselves and "sit at the table" and about the need for men to support women in the workplace. I don't necessarily agree with all her views, however it is a very readable and thought-provoking book.
All three books I've read purely for entertainment recently have been loaned to me. First, my niece Laurie shared her copy of A Murder for Her Majesty by Beth Hilgartner. This was a great read! The story is set in Elizabethan times and the main character is 11-year-old young Alice who witnesses her father's murder. She then flees on foot to York because she fears the murderers are after her. She is befriended by several choirboys and they decide to hide her in the choir by disguising her as a boy and calling her Pup. This is an engaging read that has a very satisfying ending.
These next two are the books my sister Brenda sent me as part of our monthly book swap this year. The June book was A Brother's Journey by Richard B. Pelzer, the younger brother of Dave Pelzer who shared his story of abuse in A Child Called It (which I read many years ago). Honestly, this book was somewhat disjointed as Richard shared about growing up in an abusive home. Reading it I felt like he was just trying to build off the story of his brother to have a book published. And, unfortunately, there was no real resolution to the story as he simply ended it when he was a teenager still living with his terribly abusive and negligent mom. This was a quick read that brings to light how in the 1970s child abuse was often overlooked or simply ignored by others who didn't want to get involved.
The July book my sister shared was Sophie's Heart by Lori Wick. I read this contemporary Christian romance many years ago, also. I only remembered the very basics of the story, so I thoroughly enjoyed re-reading it earlier this week. Sophie comes to America from Czechoslovakia, but finds it difficult to get a job because her English isn't perfect (despite speaking four other languages). She eventually becomes a housekeeper for Alec, a widower, and his three children. She does a fantastic job taking care of this family and their home and builds relationships with each of the children. Alec, still grieving and spending many extra hours working doesn't really notice her until much later. As you might have guessed, they fall in love and are eventually married.
[As a side note - the recent books I sent my sister were Invisible by Jennifer Rothschild (which I reviewed here) and Journey to the Well by Diana Wallis Taylor (which I reviewed here).]
And, I continue to expand and challenge my reading with the Fiction Pulitzer Prize Winners. The 1995 winner, The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields, was an enjoyable read and very well-written. The story chronicles the life of Daisy Goodwill, from birth to death, and is written from the perspective of Daisy looking back on her life. She alludes to the fact that some of the stories are made up or romanticized, especially since she obviously would not remember her birth. Daisy's mother died in childbirth and she was raised by a neighbor and the neighbor's grown son until the age of 12. She then lives with her father, grows up, graduates from college, and eventually marries a man who dies on their honeymoon when he falls out of a window. She reconnects with the neighbor's son and they are married and have three children. After his death, she has a career writing a column as Mrs. Green Thumb, then eventually retires to Florida. I really enjoyed this book and the way that each chapter of her life was written differently - one chapter was simply a collection of letters to Daisy during that particular season of her life.
The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen was last year's winner. This novel is about the Vietnam War and is told from the point of view of a VietCong spy. He is a northern communist, serving with the southern army to learn information he forwards to his superiors in the north. He is the illegitimate child of a Vietnamese mother and a French priest father (who never acknowledges him). Before the war, he was educated in the United States, and he has the ability to see and sympathize with multiple views. This book started out as a good read as he told his story, however it digressed when he is forced to be a part of a couple of murders . . . and the ghosts follow him from then on. He is eventually captured and tortured and sent to "reeducation" and the story digresses further with hideous scenes of torture and rape. His story is actually written in the form of a confession that he was forced to write during the reeducation process. The story definitely captures the complexity of war, especially the Vietnam War and all its controversies, with lots of references to how Americans did not understand the Vietnamese. A disturbing and somewhat difficult book to read.
Have you read any of these books? If so, please share your thoughts in the comments.
Wednesday, July 5, 2017
Sunday, July 2, 2017
When I met Kelley Raetzsch in a Facebook group for female Christian entrepreneurs earlier this year, I had no idea that God was orchestrating something that would result in a collaboration allowing Kelley to share a message of how we are more than the number on the scale and allowing me to share creative activities that reinforce that message!
You may know that I feel the Lord calling me to encourage women to serve Him in their everyday lives through workshops, retreats, and events that merge faith and art. I am so excited to be working with Kelley, a registered dietitian, who is called to be a Warrior Dietitian helping women break free from the burdens and bondage of eating disorders, dieting and the drive to be thin. A week ago, we launched and opened registration for an exciting event!
Check out the video below to watch Kelley and I share the story of how God brought us together as we introduce this weekend retreat and how you can join us in learning to live freely as women of God through teachings, individual and group reflections, illustrated Bible journaling, and much more!
Registration is open for this event - the early bird special rate is valid until August 1. Space is limited, so if you are interested in joining us, please check your calendars, click here for more details and register today!