Monday, December 31, 2007

January Inspiration Challenge

Did you know that every month I post an "inspiration challenge" at

Well I do!! I would love to see you participate. Even if you are not a digi scrapper maybe this challenge will give you some ideas. Please do share them in the Kjoi gallery or send me a link to see what you have done! Note - Kjoi has a wonderful challenge prize vault and the person who does the most challenges receives some great product!

In honor of the NEW year, I thought this month's inspiration challenge could be one that makes us reflect on the New Year. There are a couple of "catches" to the challenge, however. One is that BLUE has to be the predominant color in the layout. (just because it blue and new rhyme - forgive my reasoning!)

Secondly, I would like to see you incorporate ONE of these many new year quotes that I found. Easy as pie, right?

Youth is when you're allowed to stay up late on New Year's Eve. Middle age is when you're forced to. ~Bill Vaughn

An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves. ~Bill Vaughan

Many people look forward to the new year for a new start on old habits. ~Author Unknown

A New Year's resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other. ~Author Unknown

Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man. ~Benjamin Franklin

No one ever regarded the First of January with indifference. It is that from which all date their time, and count upon what is left. It is the nativity of our common Adam. ~Charles Lamb

New Year's Day is every man's birthday. ~Charles Lamb

Never tell your resolution beforehand, or it's twice as onerous a duty. ~John Selden

Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us. ~Hal Borland

I have a couple of ideas milling around in my head and hope to show you my layout real soon. Originally I had antoher layout I wanted to share with you, but I have decided to keep it under wraps. Yesterday I said I was not going to try out for Creating Keepsakes Hall of Fame contest. 6 weeks to go - I need to start but NO time. Well, then I remembered I have been holding a couple back, and digital scrapbooking makes this more possible to accomplish in little time. After showing some friends my late night creation with a photo I took last night - it is going into the HOF contention pile...just in case I can pull this off by first part of February.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Holiday Invasion

Do you feel it? I sure do about now. I am so ready to reclaim our living room... take down the tree and Christmas village that adorns my grandmother's buffet. It might even be put away by now, but that our son is having a friend over and he wanted to sleep "under" the tree in sleeping bags. So that is what two ten year olds are doing now as I type this. (or, at least they better be sleeping!)

Our home is small and the living room gets a wee bit crowded. I bought a HUGE artificial tree about ten years ago. Back then, it was wonderful. Back then we had a love seat, small television cabinet, and little else for furniture. Nowadays, our living room sports a full size couch in lieu of the loveseat, my grandmother's old buffet, and a friends upright piano. Even without the tree it is a tight fit. We had hoped to purchase a new slimline tree at some after-Christmas day sale, but with our work schedules and the kids on Christmas break there has been no time to shop.

I had a hard time getting motivated to decorate this year. The over commercialism of Christmas just made me groan and frown at the entire holiday season. Seems hardly anyone remembers the real reason for the season. However, we do have younger children, and I was reminded by their enthusiasm that Christmas is really all about children...from the very first Christmas when God sent a little baby to carry the weight of the world, to the two beaming faces lit with excitement as they helped decorate the tree, and open gifts on Christmas morn.

At our son's request, I had set up the Christmas village. Little did I realize that it would soon be overrun by a platoon of dinasaurs, medieval battle equipment, and green and tan toy army soldiers. A few years ago I would have been annoyed to a certain degree, wanting MY Christmas village to look perfect. This year, when tampered with, I just took it in stride and began to shoot pictures. It seemed I may as well capture our son's tendency to take over the village on a scrapbook page. "Little Green Men" is a digital layout created with Susan Blanton's Christmas Cheer kit downloaded from

Something happened when I saw close ups of the Christmas village and its little soldier men. With the nativity in the background it made me think of Israel. It made me think of unrest and war torn villages. I think of our troops and all the loved ones separated by war this Christmas season. I think of all these things, pray for them, and find I am so very blessed, so very grateful to be living where I am.

Today I just want to bring a smile to your face by sharing "Little Green Men". Playing war games is all a part of growing up for little boys. If you have one, you may know what I mean. Enjoy the rest of your Christmas vacation, work less, and play more with your children. You will be glad you did.

Monday, December 24, 2007


Joy is what the Christmas season should be all about. Children are full of joy as they anticipate Christmas. Watching them, as I did my daughter as she danced in the hall after worsihp one Sunday, filled my heart with joy. As pastor had said that day, "each time we experience joy we have placed one foot into heaven."

Often, the Christmas season it is filled with stress – I know it has been for me these past several weeks. Working for a church can be especially difficult during this time of the year. My plate is extra full with holiday worship services, end of year reports, and the ever forthcoming monthly newsletter to do, which adds up to working more hours. I have the family “Christmas” to accomplish - ya know… purchase the gifts, wrap them, MAKE them, wrap them, send out the cards, maybe MAKE them – but I put up the white flag in this regard earlier in the week and made a digi card and sent it via email to many. The weeks before Christmas I am focused on making sure that my family and loved ones experience “joy” on Christmas, and I am so glad when Christmas arrives.

Praise God for His words in the bible. Through all of the Christmas hustle and bustle only He can offer a calming presence. Joy – the feeling God most wants us to experience. The joy He has planned for us is indescribable. It goes beyond the few moments of joy one has while opening a special gift. It goes beyond the feeling a parent has as they hold their newborn child for the first time.
We’ve been getting a descriptive of this joy recently as we are led to bible verses on Monday nights through the season of Advent.

Isaiah 35:1-2, for the Joy of the Redeemed, reads: “The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the LORD, the splendor of our God.”

Psalm 98 verse 4 paints a wonderful metaphor of the earth filled with joy when we experience God’s salvation: “Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music…”

1 Peter 1:8 "Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,"

The photo of my daughter dancing at church brings to mind this verse from 3 John 1:4 "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth." Also the promise revealed to John in Rev. 21:5 "He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Oh what a glorious day that will be! Like the Monarchs we raise in the summer, transforming from caterpillar to glorious butterfly, we will be made NEW in heaven!

On Sunday our family traveled south for about an hour drive to the gathering on my side of the family. Roads were not good, and we considered turning back about half way there…but since we had made it that far we kept going. I did not want to miss Christmas with my family. As it turns out, we had an unplanned spending of the night as ice covered roads and there were white out conditions. For the first time in a couple of decades I slept under the same roof with 5 of my 6 siblings. The only difference was many of us had families with us. My sister’s home had to come up with sleeping arrangements for nineteen people! It was not a great night’s sleep for sure, but what was great was staying up late with my family for the first time in more than a decade, playing games, laughing, and talking. Despite the weather, we were all joyful.

As you gather with family, watch children open gifts, see the joy on their faces - may you experience the true joy of Christmas, which is the feeling God wants us to feel most of all. Not just at Christmas, but always. True joy can only come from having the love of Jesus in your heart. I pray that you know, or are able to find that joy as you seek Him, the Christ child, on Christmas morn. Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Dear Santa...

Ah...the final days. Working for a church, I am so relieved the Christmas worship bulletins are "put to bed". I am way behind on all the end of the year stuff, and newsletter, etc. - but I am not going to think about it and have it ruin my Christmas. I am going to enjoy my four days off with family, and finish getting ready for Christmas.
I've been scrapping like crazy making gifts. Shopping is done, but nothing has been wrapped, but for the teacher's gifts which had to go out the door this morning. I've been up into the wee hours for weeks, so tomorrow morning - I am sleeping in - YEAH!
Last night our son wrote this letter for Santa - said it did not need to be mailed, but wanted to leave it by the tree. I thought it was pretty cute. Can you read through his mis spellings? Don't ya just love that last line - ah yes, the truth!!

I admit - we are not traditional when it comes to leaving Santa Xmas cookies and milk. Kyle has always had Santa's health in mind and figures all those cookies are not good for him. In reality, I think he is more concerned that the reindeer are treated as well. We have always left baby carrots and a water bottle near the tree for Santa. The way Kyle sees it, the reindeer like the carrots too, and the Vit. A will help Santa see in the dark so he doesn't trip over things. I love the way kids think!

Want to see some samples of what has been keeping me up these past few nights? I decided to make some bookmarks for co-workers, which blossomed into bookmarkers for teachers, child care providers, etc. For such small things - they are time consuming. Mostly because I really have to fiddle with the kerning, etc. on the Scriptina font to get it just so, and coordinating products and attemping to use scraps of PP or cardstock when possible...well, the minutes tick by! Even my husband commented on how much he likes of course I need to make him one as well. I am sure he doesn't read my blog so it is safe to say that.(LOL)

Maybe this little project will inspire you to get out your nature photos and create some inspirational bookmarkers for the readers on your giving list. In these last few days I wish you, and myself, as little stress possible as we juggle all on our to do list. 'Tis the season!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

A winner and childhood memories

This comment posted on the first day:
>> dstandard said...
Beautiful ornament Rita!<<

Congratulations! Thank you everyone for your comments. I am still creating for Christmas and will be sharing on my blog as I accomplish things. The ornament shared today is for our daughter. An ABC ornament, of which I had to be sure to include pink, her favorite color. The 1/5" square block is from Michael's which I painted white. I cut patterned papers from KI Memories and Scenic Route, glued them on and distressed the edges with a dry brush. Sparkle mod podge adds some glitter, and used chipboard letters by Heidi Swapp. Snowflake rub ons were added here adn there.

Right now I have about half a dozen more ideas in my head for creating ornaments, but I seriously need to back can become addicting ! Focus. I have yet to write the annual holiday letter and I need to get that done and mailed out asap. I also have a few cards to make for neighbors and family. I cut back on my Christmas card making about two years ago and opted for a letter instead.

I should have posted the container in which I had placed all the names for drawing. (I printed all the comments, cut them out and our 5 year did the honors). A few years ago my mother sent me the platic nativity set pieces I had grown up with. I wanted something not breakable that the kids could replay the Christmas story with. She sent them in an old King Edward cigar box. My father used to smoke these when I was little. I was pretty excited over an old cigar box. It holds memories of cherry scented tobacco and my dad sitting in his old recliner reading and smoking a cigar. I am glad he stopped smoking years ago, and he has asthma now, unfortunately. BUT what would you do with that cigar box?
It is not exactly a show piece. I thought about covering it with PP, but then I would lose the memory the image of that box conjures up. My only thought is to make a mini album with pictures of my dad, and use that cigar box as the container to hold it in. Any other ideas? My mind is a churning with this thought. Hmmm....maybe some Tim Holtz distress ink....
I would love to hear what you have done with old items from your childhood! Please offer a link if you have one to a project that brings back childhood memories.

NOW - off to get ready - I am taking THE photographer at my friend's wedding today and a might bit nervous! (LOL)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Flakey Friday!

You know the drill by now. Paint your chipboard shape white, use mod podge as adhesive and coat that baby with sparkle glitter! Today I will just show some other options and ideas for finishing off the centers of your chipboard shapes.

Rudolph with your nose so bright! Bright red gems really capture the glow of the Christmas tree lights and adorn the tips of this snowflake. A silver medallion snowflake (my Target find) takes center stage and is secured with a Making Memories red gem brad.

Brilliant Blues! The turquoise Stickles combined with deep blue gems make this ornament stand out. It is simple, but the colors pack quite a punch of brilliance. The guys in my family are really lovin' this one.

Pink Splash! Get our your snowflake punches (we all have those, don't we? I have snowflake punches and stamps and whatever else - I have always loved snowflakes!) I used iridescent pink paper from The Paper Company to take center stage on this flake, making it a wonderful gift for the pink lover on your gift giving list.

Purple Passion. Do you have it? I am surprised by the number of friends I have that love purple, and this snowflake is for the purple lover on your list. The faux flake covered circle chipboard shape really creates an impact as a backdrop for the snowflake shape. Purple gems and highlights are sure to delight!

Today at the Scrapbook Playground you can find instructions on how to recyle old cards and textured paint chips to make this ornament. I call this ornament "Love Came Down". Not only does God send down snowflakes to delight us on the tips of our tongues and turn the world into a blanket of white beauty, but He sent His only Son down to earth on that very first Christmas. A babe born of humble beginnings, who was sent to save us all from sin and offer Himself as a love sacrifice. The next time you feel a snowflake fall gently on your face, think of it as a kiss from God, and a reminder of how much He loves you, that He sent His love down in the form of Jesus, the Christ child.

Thanks for all your comments this week. A name will be drawn over the weekend (in between Christmas goings on and a wedding on Saturday of which I am the key photographer - YIKES!) - and I will post the winner here by midnight Sunday. Your ornament will be a surprise. It may be one you have seen, or something brand new.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Blue Christmas Without You!

Seriously, if you weren't visiting this blog I'd feel like, what's the point!? It is great to have everyone stop by, and I am still pondering which ornament will be RAK'd by week's end, or if I will be making something new. I still have more ornaments to make!

Everyone likes Prima flowers, right? Well, for the scrapbooker on your list, why not work one into an ornament? The beauty of snowflakes is that each one is unique and special, and today's ornament adds a touch of warm weather daisy to cold weather flakes.

Magistical Memories 4” snowflake shape
• Prima flower
• Perfect Pearls by Ranger Industries
• Sparkle Mod Podge
• Stickles by Ranger – Diamond
• Blue, fine glitter by Martha Stewart
• Gem Brad – Making Memories
• Acrylic Paint
• Ribbon

How To:
1. Paint chipboard white
2. for 2nd coat add white Perfect Pearls to paint and recover snowflake for shimmer
3. Use foam brush and paint on sparkle mod podge
4. Place glitter in a shallow dish and place ornament wet side down, pressing lightly
5. Shake off excess and return glitter to original container
6. Allow to dry completely
7. Punch hole on one branch to allow for hanger
8. Feed ribbon, or other, through and tie into a bow
9. Punch hole in center, and attach coordinating flower with gem brad
10. Use Stickles to add a tiny touch of bling to the flower petals

Today, in the DT Classroom at the Scrapbook Playground you can find instructions for this unique ornament featuring a tie-dye look. Take my word for it, it looks spectacular on the tree with lights dancing behind the Pageframe shape colored with Ranger Adirondack inks. Check out complete how to HERE.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

White Simplicity

Today's snowflake ornament is simple, and mimics a true snowflake, of which we saw many today. We had a snow/ice day, and although I thought I would find time to write up instructions for all my ornaments, it did not happen. BUT I did finish a few more that I look forward to sharing later on.

Simplicity lends itself to mass production if needed. Our 5 year old assisted with making a number of white snowflakes, and they will be used for school and Sunday School teachers. When you do not know a person well enough to know their color preference, white is always acceptable, and adding sparkle for Christmas mimics that which we see in nature.

• Magistical Memories 4” snowflake shape
• Silver snowflake medallion (Target -stationary aisle – by Garner Industries)
• Acrylic Paint
• Perfect Pearls by Ranger Industries
• Sparkle Mod Podge
• Crystal fine glitter by Glitterex Corp. (Michael’s)
• Silver wire ribbon - Offray

How To
1. Paint chipboard white
2. for 2nd coat add white Perfect Pearls to paint and recover snowflake for shimmer
3. Use foam brush and paint on mod podge
4. Place glitter in a shallow dish and place ornament wet side down, pressing lightly
5. Shake off excess and return glitter to original container
6. Allow to dry completely
7. Punch hole on one branch to allow for hanger
8. Feed ribbon, or other, through and tie into a bow
9. Add metal snowflake shape to center

The DT Classroom for Scrapbook Playground on Wednesday will feature this Pageframe ornament:

Monday, December 10, 2007

Have a pink Christmas!

Wishing everyone a very pink Christmas! Go beyond traditional Christmas colors - there are no rules! If a friend's favorite color is pink, make them a pink ornament! When it comes to snowflake ornaments - it is all about layering. Look for products that can be layered, but also keep in mind the style of the snowflake to ensure that overlapping parts will work well together. For the pink lady on your gift giving list - try making this memorable pink ornament. A great gift idea for someone battling breast cancer as a symbol of hope for their Christmas tree.


• Magistical Memories 4” snowflake shape
• Imaginisce foam snowflake sticker
• Perfect Pearls by Ranger Industries
• Sparkle Mod Podge
• Pink, fine glitter by Martha Stewart
• Gems – The Beadery
• Acrylic Paint
• Organdy Ribbon


1. Paint chipboard white
2. for 2nd coat add white Perfect Pearls to paint and recover snowflake for shimmer
3. Use foam brush and paint on mod podge
4. Place glitter in a shallow dish and place ornament wet side down, pressing lightly
5. Shake off excess and return glitter to original container
6. Allow to dry completely
7. Punch hole on one branch to allow for hanger
8. Feed ribbon, or other, through and tie into a bow
9. Add foam snowflake shape to center
10. Use KI Gloo to add gems on top of glittered snowflake – to center and also to each snowflake arm

Note: When punching hole for ribbon or hanger place near top edge to allow placing a gem below the hole punch. Without having a gem on the hanging branch, the design looks off balance, so consider hanging materials that are thin or will allow gems to be added.

Today, in the Scrapbook Playground classroom I am offering how to instructions for this festive ornament, featuring a Pageframes 3" circle and Magistical Memories snowflake shape.

Celebrating More Ornaments

Our Christmas tree was put up on Saturday, and both of our kids were excited to be a part of the decorating process. As each child took their ornaments from their personal storage bin, they asked questions. “Who was this from? Why did I get this ornament?” It was fun to retell the stories…Yes, I am trying to recreate those Hallmark commercials seen often this time of year.(LOL)

Finding commercially made ornaments, however, that tell a story or reflect something personal in our children’s lives has become more difficult, and a couple of years ago I decided to make them, if possible. So this week I am going to showcase a rainbow of ornaments – most of which I made this Sunday evening. These ornaments are not so much for my children as they are created as friendship gifts, and as gifts of appreciation for teachers,postal carriers and such.

The ornament above symbolizes my love for my husband, and features Basic Grey papers and a Lil' Davis scroll chipboard heart, which covers my own shape cut from chipboard.

I also want to point you in two directions – first, to Creating Keepsakes,
which has complete instructions for my snowflake ornament featured in the January 2008 issue (click back a page to see this one), and for my personal favorite – the flocked Pageframes snowflake shape layered with a Magistical Memories chipboard shape and Imaginesce foam snowflake sticker. This was my first time flocking, which is so velvety cool on a Pageframe, and there nothing like Ranger’s Stickles to add bling in record time.

Secondly, this week at the Scrapbook Playground I will be showcasing a new ornament each day with how to instructions. Other than Monday’s ornament, I do believe I have enough Pageframes shapes to make an ornament to feature each day. Pageframes is the December sponsor at the SBPG and I have had a lot of fun working with their products. Thank you Tara, for sending Pageframes our way! Stay tuned all week long for samples of what I have created using these fun, clear shapes.

For everyone who leaves a comment here this week, I will put your name in a drawing and at the end of the week, I will have one of the kids draw a name, and mail you out an ornament all ready to hang on your tree, or for you to give away (check another gift off your list). You may leave a comment each day (M-F) and have your name in the drawing up to 5 times. Good luck!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Pageframes Keepsake Ornaments

As a December sponsor for the Scrapbook Playground PageFrames sent the team some amazing shapes to play with. My package arrived over the weekend so I only had a few days to get creative for the first upload - and man, have I been having fun! I am going through my supplies to see what I might try that I hadn't thought about.

Every year I buy each of our children an ornament for the Christmas tree. The ornament is supposed to be somehow relavant to an activity or event in their life of that year....ya know, trying to recreate the Hallmark commercials all over again.
The only problem is that I usually have an idea for theme but often cannot find it. The past few years I have resorted to making my own ornaments.

Using Pageframe ornament shapes I created an ornament for each child in their favorite color.

Kyle's ornament is green, with 3D dots of red glitter created by topping a large blob of dimensional glaze with glitter. The green paint itself had sparkle mixed in, sponged on, and coated with sparkle mod podge. A silver Krylon paint pen was used around the edges, and a "FAITH" charm hangs from the ornament.

Abby's ornament is all about pink and bling. I applied a fairly thick coat of dimensional glaze to the entire ornament and then sprinkled a generous amount of micro bugle beads on top. I edged with Stickles. The charm that hangs from her ornament reads "HOPE".

This year we found a new church home. The kids are learning so much, growing in faith and learning about hope in the Lord and promise of heaven, that I want them always to remember 2007 as the year we made this big move in our lives.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Introducing Robo-Elf aka Magistical Memories

Now that our family has returned to relatively good health I am scrapping again! Having so much fun,too, playing with Pageframes I received for December's featured sponsor at the Scrapbook Playground, and still playing with Magistical Memories chipboard!
Lsst week I had a vision for one of the Magistical Memories robots - they are just adorable and designed by the talented Susan Rodriguez. Kyle loves green, so I wanted to make a green robot. Then I decided to create it in the spirit of Christmas, and outfitted him with a Santa style hat made from felt and polar fleece, and used some aluminum foil laying around to give him that metallic, robotic look. Lumiere paints and dimensional glaze also were a part of achieving his highly polished, top quality steel look. (LOL)

Rather than a layout I decided to make a Christmas card for the young man in my life. He is so into robots, Star Wars droids, and such. He will love it! And what is a robot without speaking robot? Do you know your binary code? I recall this being touched upon ever so little in school, but thanks to google I was able to find a language resource that allowed me to type a holiday greeting in robo-talk.

Want to see the rest of the card?

Hope you enjoy it!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Dream Street Delivers Dreams!!

So it was a HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY mail day!! A substantail box arrived from Dream Street. I had to why did I get a box from Dream Street?

I wondered, did I put a comment in their blog, thus getting in their drawing? A possibility. Do they remember my admiring their products at CHA and drooling... Not likley. hmmmm

Then - my memory jogged. I rememberd my Be Still layout. I remembered the Scrap4Life contest I won in September. That must be it!!! AND WOW - was it worth the wait!! Sorry for the poor photo, but it gets dark early here in Wisconsin this time of year and flash glares off the packaging.

First, gotta say how much I adore Jack and wished I had had it for an AAM for DS that he and I worked on over thanksgiving weekend. I really wanted stars, and it is suprising how few mfrs. do stars. Or at least available at my LSS or in my stash. Did I say I love the Jack line? And then, in no particular order... I love love Forget-Me-Not (which is what I used for my winning layout), Bright and Sunny (now I am in the mood to scrap some beach photos from late summer!), beautiful Gracie, Sweet Confection - oh, how will I ever cut up that yummy large print design :dontknow: , alpha stickers and their chipboard album with pre-cut forget-me-not to fit - for an album in a flash. I feel like it is my birthday!!!!!
Here is my winning layout. May have shared it before but I still love it.

With all that has been going on here happy mail really lifts my spirits. BUT our daughter is finally feeling better and the last cast goes on on Wednesday. Then she can take a nice long bath and play as it will be waterproof. This morning the PC at work almost died. I got the blue window of death twice, but on the 3rd reboot Windows came to life. AMEN! I spent the my work day pretty much cleaning out files and backing up, at least everything critical for the CHristmas season through year's end.
Thank you so much to Jodie at Scrap-4-Life and the Dream Street gals for brightening my day!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Blessings of Thanksgiving

Ahhhh! A chance to scrap again! It felt so good to do this after an intense week playing mom nurse for our youngest who has influeza. I was able to scrap a layout of my 2007 blessings, which I wrote initially for The Blessing Box, but thought an AAM layout was a good idea as well. I won a collection of paper's from Flair (thank you Flair Designs!) from a contest posted on their blog.

I had lots of fun playing with Magistical Memories chipboard. I love that this chipboard is flexible enough and of a thickness that allows you to manipulate and alter it with little effort. I used frames from Nested Hearts to frame in a word on the patterned paper, and also created an accent piece. I used thin strips of paper to wrap around the frame shape, using tacky glue as I went. A tear here and there adds even more texture and the strips overlapped. I finished with a coating of mod podge sparkle medium - and the result in real life is just dazzling. Give it a try!

Isn't this turkey adorable? It was so funny how the inspiration came...I was looking in my clear pocket folder through all my MM chipboard, and a package of Sensational Dot flowers was sticking up behind some other packages. I saw only the top three petals, and immediately thought "turkey tail!". I proceeded to cut off the rest of the petals and made an adorable turking. Leaves from Flair PP provided the wings, and a little sparkle medium just adds to his charm. Now I realize I gave a Tom Turkey pretty eyelashes, but hey - I was doodling and having fun, and did not realize until I was done that hey - turkeys with pretty tails are all boys! (LOL) Oh well, with art there are no rules, right?

I am thrilled to get my blessings into a layout before November is completely gone. This year we joined a new church, it was a hard decision but so right for us. After Abby's accidnet I wondered who would pray for her, and was so blessed to seem my bible study group and her Sunday school leaders rally to be her prayer warriors. And of course there is Marv and Carol, our greatest prayer warriors who meet with us every Monday night for bible study. It is the best night of the week.

As I was in the surgical waiting area while Abby was having her arm fixed, I was reminded on how blessed we were that she only suffered a broken arm. Praise God! One of my greatest blessings this year was Kyle's attitude of helpfulness and wanting to learn. He asked if he could scrub the kitchen floor - oh yeah! He is learning to cook, do laundry, and was my greatest hero while we cleaned out the flower beds for fall and he did ALL the heavy lifting. Our children are such a blessing! And although my husband is not mentioned in my 2007 blessing layout - he is my greatest blessing of all. A pillar of faith and strength and getting us through difficult times. I am excited about the blessings 2008 will bring.
Enjoy preparations for the season of rejoicing, and keep on scrapping and loving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Count Your Blessings!

It is time to count your blessings, everyone! Happy Thanksgiving all! Do you know the story of Squanto? He is the Indian brave for which Thanksgiving really is all about. It goes way beyond pilgrims and Indians breaking cornbread together. We have heard the story before and it is a good one. Try to look it up. I know last year we ran across an animated version of the story when we were using the remote to flip through channels. Hoping it is on again tomorrow!

For the past week I have been reminding my family to think about what has happened this year that they are thankful for. The key is is that it has to be signifcant to the year, so that years later people will have an idea of what was going on in that persons life.
I told DS since he was thankful for animals last year - he needs to come up with something more original. Family, friends, house, food - are givens and not considered original.

My blessings are:
1. New church, great worship, support of small groups
2. Monday night bible study
3. UW Children's hospital and temporary-ness of a broken arm compared to what other families are going through
4. Kyle helping with yard work and household chores - thus saving me back pain

The Blessing Box was featured in Creating Keepsakes in the November issue. A great year of publications is another blessing I have had in 2007, but since I limit to four - the blessings affecting my family seem most important. I do thank God for every opportunity He gives me in the area of my creative passion.
I wanted to share two views of the Blessing Box not shown in the publication or the on-line feature.

The box opens up and a tray lifts out that contains our blessings. We pass this around at our evening dinner table and drop in our blessings for the new year, and reminisce about blessings past.

Abby is doing wonderfully - her spirits are high! Thank you for all your prayers. Now, we just have to keep her from reinjuring her arm. She is so active and will not receive a hard cast for another week. Will be glad when the extra protection is there! Yet, I looked in her closet and am rather sad at the pretty Christmas dresses she will not likely be able to wear because of the cast, and will have outgrown next year. Still hoping the cast will come off just before Christmas!

I pray everyone has a blessed Thanksgiving and wonderful time with family and friends. I think of the families still in that children's hospital and wonder what they must be going through. Terminal illness, severe injuries? I feel so blessed that Abby's injury was only a broken arm. I also learned that my nephew hit black ice driving home from Nebraska tonight for Thanksgiving. The car is totalled, but he is unharmed. Praise God!! I know that God is good all the time and His love endures forever!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Life Happens

Well, we are home - with one little tempermental and difficult patient!

Thanks everyone for your prayers. The past couple of days have been somewhat stressful and exhausting.

Abby climbed onto my swivel chair in the basement Tues. night while I was on the phone. Out of the corner of my eye I see her starting to spin on the chair -on her knees, and the next thing I know I heard her fall and cry. She must have landed hard on the concrete floor.

She was definitely screaming in pain and Jesse was gone for the evening. I called our best friend who is a nurse, and she said to take her to urgent care as they were open another hour. We arrived around 8:20- Kyle was such a big help for me.
Xrays showed her fracture was above the elbow and then curved in towards the inside of the arm. The pediatrician on call had not seen that before, so she consulted an orthopedic surgeon. While we were waiting for the consult, Abby, tearfully says, "Mom, I don't think what I did was such a good idea. I should have known better." Ah yes, wise words from a 5 yr. old, I think she learned something that night. The doc came in with news that the orthopedic doctor had contacted another and they wanted her brought into the university hospital right away for possible surgery.

Of course the word "surgery" pretty much freaked me. Kyle starts crying, Abby is screaming in pain, and I am on the phone trying to reach someone to keep trying our house to reach Jesse, as he was due home from his meeting in about 10 min. (Life without cell phones only stinks at times like these.) Fortunately my in-laws were home and could meet me at the hospital to take Kyle home to bed. During the drive to the hospital I have all these things going through my head about what could go wrong in surgery, i.e. excessive bleeding, aspiration, infection... do all mothers do this to themselves when their child needs surgery? I didn't even think about such things when I've needed it.

ER is packed and we're out there 45 min before they call us in to triage to take her vitals. Then they send us back out. I said an ortho surgeon was waiting for us and the nurse said nothing could be done until a room was available. Jesse arrived around 11 and we didn't get into a room unil near midnight. Abby didn't get a splint for relief until 12:30 -but I will say the 2 residents who worked on her were really good and she was observing and chatting by then. She noticed a triage crib in her room - had feet symbol at one end and head at other. I told her why and she said there was no way a baby's head could go by that symbol and their feet at the other end by the foot symbols - babies are just not that long. She had a point!

They returned at 1 am to say they should have a room ready for her in the hospital by 1:30. I couldn't stay any longer. Abby was in good spirits and I had to get home to relieve Jesse's folks from duty and get Kyle's back pack ready for school. They were hoping to schedule surgery at 7:30 Weds morning. I wasn't worried anymore. When I drove home from the hospital I just gave it up to God. Told Him I knew that Abby was too smart for Him not to have a purpose here to for serve other people. She's been saying for a long time that she is going to be a doctor someday,and maybe she will!

Kyle and I both overslept, but still got Kyle to the bustop early and headed in to the hospital. Jesse had "slept" in a wooden rocker with no padding next to her bed all night. Poor guy! The latest news was surgery at 11 or 2. Then it was 2 or 5. We kept praying all day that Abby would not complain about being hungry. She had an IV for thirst quenching, and praise God - she did not once ask for food. (This, our girl who cannot survive one hour without something to eat.) The nurses adored her and we were blessed with Tina and Kristen, who must have been fabulous baby sitters in their younger days.

It ended up that they did not come for pre-op until 4:30. The man who wheeled her down had adopted a little boy from Siberia, who looked a lot like Abby. As we went from hall to hall, wing to wing - everyone smiled at Abby and she undoubtedly heard the word "cute" a lot. We shared adoption stories with Jim and learned they would like to adopt again someday.

I was able to done the pretty green hat and yellow coat and go into the operating room with Abby while she was anesthetized. An organization called Child Life comes to the surgical area to give the child a toy and walk parents to and from the various rooms in the surgical wing. I thought this was a pretty cool program, and certainly helped us out in a big hospital at an overwhelming time.

When we went into the surgery waiting area there were so many families. Some talking to hospital staff, others sleeping. I had to wonder what they were all there for, undoubtedly for something worse than a broken arm. Cancer? Reconstructive? Had anyone just received bad news? I found myself saying a little prayer as we walked by each group. I felt very fortunate at that moment.

Surgery went well, and fast. Abby was in recovery shortly after 6 pm. The surgeon told us she could actually go home that night around 8 or 9 if we wanted. Why would we want to?! Our daughter's first surgery and what would we do, inexperienced with this, in the middle of the night when things get out of control? The post op nurse had a bedside manner leaving something to be desired. "Well, there is no reason she can't go home tonight. You just handle it like you would any sick child." Yeah, right.

Back in our room at the children's hospital the nurse assured us we could stay over night. We ordered some food and Abby ate a tiny bit of jello and applesauce, and didn't have any problems keeping it down. The morphine in the IV at post op didn't seem to be doing much good for her pain. The nurse got her Tylenol with codeine. The stuff must taste awful. Abby fought as hard as she could not to take that med, and when they got it in her she was so upset that she almost worked herself into throwing it up. We quickly popped the television on for CARS to get her distracted to calm down, and it worked. She got tired and I headed home around 9:30.

I returned this morning to bring our girl home. Abby didn't want to leave the hospital today, and no wonder as nurses cater to her every need. She was actually mad at me for coming to pick her up to take her home. She wanted me to leave the room yesterday as well when she had to go to the bathroom. Just wanted dad and the nurse to help her. I could have let her words stab my heart, but I know she was just out of sorts and not herself.

She screamed and cried all the way to the car this morning, but once in it actually had a nice conversation about things she was seeing along the drive. Abby can be fine and laugh watching a movie, but as soon as she has no distractions, or gets in a mood, she is focused solely on her arm and fusses about it.

Abby doesn't want to be moved (trying to adjust her from a weird angle on the couch), touched...etc. Often we can't do anything to make her happy or do anything right. I gave her Tylenol with codeine and even an hour later she cried and screamed at the top of her lungs. I think a lot of it is fear vs. real pain, as she remembers that it hurt before when she moved it. I really thought she would be a happier kid after surgery. They made it sound like it would really take the pain away. Jesse wonders if the pins in her elbow are bothering her. It is hard to tell when she is in real pain and when she is manipulating us.

If Abby would only realize that she can resume life much as it was before the surgery, just one arm less to help with motor skills, her attitude would turn around. She also seems certain that walking causes her arm to hurt, and we have been having a battle with that. As I type this we just finished a half hour battle to get her to take medicine. Maybe even longer - if only they did not fight it so life could be much more pleasant more quickly. Now she is having a cookie and is all smiles.
I just pray everyone gets a good night's sleep - especially poor Jesse. The cot at the hospital was like a rock, there is no way he could have had a decent night's sleep. With nurses in every 4 hours to check vitals, that wake up would just mean he had to resettle Abby each time.

We could still use prayers - we have a patient with an attitude to boot. (LOL) Hoping tomorrow is an easier day. I feel bad that I have to go to work in the morning and leave Jesse home to deal with her alone again.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Sisters - Take Two

Just a bit more on my long weekend with my sisters. Do you have sisters? Do you get together for a couple of days, without husbands, children, just to reconnect?

I loved growing up with my sisters. Diane and I would play with the farm animals together - dressing up the calves and leading them around the yard. We didn't have Barbies, so we used our imagination and the poor critters who were subject to our affections. Teresa, as the eldest (note I did not use the word "old"), was the one I looked up to. Two years ahead of me I strived to follow in her footsteps. In someways I did, but I certainly set out on my own path when finding my niche in highschool. I remember sharing the dresser mirror, getting ready to go to a dance, discussions on hair styles and make-up - sister talk!

As our families gather at holidays rarely does "sister talk" come into play. Our weekend away was a time to reconnect on this level. We admired the very expensive clothing in the tourist town stores of Door County, and there were some bargains to be had. We talked about colors, you know...are you a "winter", "summer", or "autumn" kind of gal. What color makes your face light up, or as I like to say "pop" (kind of a carry over term from scrapbooking). Diane's clothing choices are fine, but what we really noticed is that she lights up in burnt orange and rust - the woman is a definite "fall" and she had been mis-lead to believe she is a "winter". My own shopping acquistions included finding a few things for the kitchen, including a cool clip on spoon holder - perfect to hold the soup ladle for a large pot of soup.
On Friday night a local art studio, called Hands On, opens up to the adults of the community. From 6:30-10 p.m. adults only are welcome to come in, bring wine, soda, snacks, whatever you want, and try out a new art medium. You can choose from glazing greenware, metal art painting, glass, and mosaics. I am not sure, but I beleive I saw a pottery wheel as well, but that may not be an option for Friday evenings. I opted to work on a project with mosaic glass. I've always admired it, but hadn't tried it. Although I would have loved to cover a toilet seat lid in mosaic tiles (the sample was awesome!) - we only had a few hours, so I chose a trivet as we could use a nice trivet at home.

Rather than do something simple, as in rows or borders of glass all set in a symetrical pattern - I saw green "leaf" shaped glass and white iridescent circles that made me think of flower parts. I created a floral design in my favorite scrapbooking colors of red and aqua. I had some trouble cutting the glass as I envisioned it, but realized that art does not need to be perfect. I was running out of time, and had to just let it happen as our group closed the place down because of my tedious project. I have to say, however, that it was worth the time - I love how it turned out. I have to thank Mitch and Hilde who at times took pity on my slow progress and helped cut some glass. (LOL)

At any rate, I think the Hands On Art Studio was one of my favorite parts of our Door County trip. If I vacation up there with my family, and we get rained in and are not able to go bird watching - I am pretty sure that all of use could happily spend the day there. I would do another mosaic, Abby would paint a plate, Kyle might paint a metal salamander, and if Jesse could operate a potter's wheel - he would!

You may wonder, did I scrapbook on my 4 day weekend? I actually had not planned to, but when Teresa told me she was bringing her new Cricket along so we could figure out how to use it together I packed up some supplies to make a few Thanksgiving cards and start a mini album I plan to give for Christmas. The Cricket was pretty straightforward, and for a person who likes to attend crops, its portability is perfect for my sister. I did share the tip about Krylon repositionable spray on adhesive. It seemed the manufacturer of Cricket wants to sell you a new mat everytime it loses its tackiness to hold the paper medium. Since my own Element advocates the Krylon, I am sure it will work for the smaller version of the Cricket. I did manage a few cards and got a start on my album. If I had not gone away to do this I am not sure I actually would have got this gift done for Xmas, but now I am certain that I will.

Have sisters? Arrange a weekend away. You will be glad you did. God gives us sisters so we will have best friends throughout life, no matter how many mistakes and wrong choices we make. Be sure to find time for sister time only, you will be glad you did.

(note - this post has been sitting as a draft for a few, waiting for me to add that photo. We've been spending day/night at the hospital since Tues.night. Guess what I am blogging about next?)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sisters, a quarry, and pileated pursuit

Sisters time away – what a great couple of days I had! For the past several years I have been hoping to get together with my sister and mother for some special time away. Why is life always so crazy? But finally, we did it! Dianne had a realtor’s conference to attend in Door County, Wisconsin and asked if we wanted to go along. Early November is good timing for me. The family birthday parties are over and I have not yet begun the flurry of making Christmas gifts (although if I had perhaps it would not be an annually flurry, right?)

We planned our Sister’s Time Away months ago. Not long before the date, Diane’s friend Hilde, another realtor with First Weber, wanted to attend as well, and has friends who are building a unique vacation home in Fish Creek, Door County called Quarry House.
The place is just incredible – Mitch and Mary had a vision for an empty rock quarry, embraced the land and worked WITH it, making it a part of their dream retirement home, rather in the fashion of Frank Lloyd Wright. One portion of the home is a guest house, a rental for vacationers to Door County. The accommodations are top of the line, and a great place for romancing couples, couples who enjoy vacationing together, or for families. Quarry House is not yet complete, but the guest house was very much ready for us, and Mitch proved to be a most gracious host, periodically checking to be sure we had everything we needed. I look forward to returning to Quarry House with Jesse, hopefully for our anniversary next October when Door County colors are peak.

When Mitch told me that pileated woodpeckers have a flight path across the front of the quarry to the woods behind the home I about fell over. Why? Well, for those who know me well Jesse and I are bird watchers. Jesse introduced me to this when we began dating and we love it, and our children enjoy it as well. Birders often have “life lists” and keep track of all the species of birds they have seen in their lifetime. I also happen to have a wish list – and the pileated woodpecker is at the top of my pecking order.
I loved Woody the Woodpecker as a kid, and this cartoon was fashioned after Woody. I have been in pursuit of the pileated for years. I have heard it call in the woods up on the hill, many years ago before the land was developed. When Jesse and I honeymooned for our 5th anniversary in the U.P. of Michigan we spotted a silhouette one early morning in Seney Wildlife Refuge as it flew across a field. Well, Jesse actually saw it, not me (he can recognize the bird by the flight movements). Saturday morning I headed out to the woods early. Mitch had shown me a tree the day before pot-holed by the pileateds, which is very distinct from holes made by other woodpeckers. I heard pecking sounds in the distance, but nothing that drummed like a pileated would. Figuring I would not likely get to see this bird I took a self portrait of myself next to a tree where it had obviously been. (LOL)

Later on both Teresa and Diane joined me and we headed down the trail Mitch had shown me, which brought us out onto Spring Road to head back to the Quarry. I can’t recall if I was still climbing down the bank onto the road, or what I was looking at, but Diane yells “did you see that huge bird?!”. Well, no, I had not. She described it, and it was undoubtedly a pileated. Wouldn’t you know – I have spent the past 18 years hoping to see this bird, and my sisters who had only heard of it 36 hours before, both got to see one. Mitch came out of the house and we pursued the bird into the woods across the road. (Apparently you can just climb down any bank up there and go onto people’s land to chase a bird – totally different way of life in the peninsula!) As you may guess we never did see the pileated.

Lighthouses were hot on our list of sites to see. Because the weather was not exactly warming, we made a point to find Cana Island Lighthouse Thursday afternoon, which turned out to be the most picturesque.

While searching for the lighthouse we came upon the back side of Ridges Sanctuary and headed down the boardwalk. Of course I was watching the woods on either side for wildlife, and found a tree riddled with pileated holes, and made a mental note that Jesse and I would return with a blind and binoculars when we came up to go birding.

More on our Sister’s Time Away another day. I will say that although Hilde was not a “sister”, she was a welcomed new friend. I really enjoyed talking to her and learning just how small the world is when I mentioned Jesse’s interest in finding a used hammer dulcimer, and Kyle wanting to learn to play bagpipes. Speaking of Kyle, he accidentally got into the school spelling bee on Friday. He just happened to finish in the top 4 of his 4th grade class even though he had not opted to take home word sheets to study. Since he does not like to get up in front of crowds, he was pretty upset about it but I think Jesse helped him to relax and feel better. One of those moments I missed while I was gone. I enjoyed time with my sisters, but sure am happy to be home with family. They are my blessing in this journey.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Build it...and they WILL come!

Yesterday was a pretty exciting day for us. The church, Blackhawk, moved into its new building. Fortunately for us, the new location is half the distance to our home. We love that fact!

We left early. In the past we attended the first service at 8:00, but in the new location the number of services are reduced due to larger worship venues. Both the main sanctuary and the video cafe, which attracts the younger generations, are about double in size. Our new service time is now at 9 a.m., which is a blessing as we actually have time to relax and feed the kids before worship on Sundays.

I admit we were a bit surprised by the number of people and crowds already gathered on the lower level to check children into early childhood ministries. The lines were long, there was some computer glitches, but "geek angels" were right there getting things worked out. We made it upstairs to the sanctuary with 15 min. to spare, and really had to go looking for a two seat opening. A sign of things to come? We actually had a third seat, and were happy to see our friend Rick, whom often sits with us at the old location. You know how people kind of get used to "their spot" in the church pews, well, this was a whole new ball game. With people from the first two services combined there were many new faces. I would guess that the entire row in front of us was comprised of college aged students - the number of young people was really amazing.

Even more so, was that the place kept filling. People were asked to move to the center of the rows, just like we did in "project CRAM" at the Whitney Way location. The main sanctuary filled. The video cafe filled up as well. Prepared or not, the gym was set up for the overflow. After worship it was announced that over 300 people were in the gymnasium - standing room only. WOW! I got teary eyed - God is so moving in this place and it is my prayer that the heart of every individual, even those who are coming out of curiousity to see the huge building that had been under construction for the past 18 months, be touched by God's love. Blackhawk has and continues to be a place for seekers. It is a place where mission has, and continues to be, at the forefront of its value system - taking care of the poor both locally and abroad. It is a place to grow in relationship with our Lord and Saviour. The walls of the building may have changed, but the Christ's Church, the people of God, have not. The same hearts, the same giving spirits, the same souls hungry for God's infallible Word, will be coming through the doors each and every day of the week. Blackhawk continues to build a loving communiity in order to reach a community that is lost without Him - no matter where the walls are planted. Blackhawk is NOT a huge building off of Mineral Point Road, it is people.
Yesterday, during worship, God replanted an idea in my head for adoption ministry that I had had years ago. I never knew what to do with my idea, but as Pastor Chris talked about the builidng simply being a tool for ministry, the path became much clearer. I really don't know where to start, so I please ask for your prayers that He will guide me and point me in the direction I am to go to follow His call.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Celebrations!! Welcome November

October is over - how it flew past!! All of our family celebrations have made me look forward the quiet month of November. (Ha - time to start making those Christmas gifts!)

Tomorrow, November 3 is National Digital Scrapbooking day - and you know what that means? HUGE specials and freebies from Kjoi Studios! Please stop by and see what the Kjoi designers have been making - you won't be disappointed!

Guess what? This morning Abby was helping me create a digital page! Yep, 5 years old - a digi scrapper in the making. She thought it was lots of fun to use the mouse and drag and drop elements onto my layout. I pointed, she dropped them there, and even held the mouse clicker down to move it back and forth to get it just where I wanted. NOW that is a tidy way of scrapbooking with the young ones in your family. Give it a try!

October flew, as I mentioned. I had very much wanted to share a tribute page I made to honor two special ladies in my life, but wasn't able to. In honor of breast cancer survivors everywhere, I wanted to share my aunt's testimony about the healing power of faith and prayer. My cousin is also an inspiration, dealing with a number of physical ailments. These two women are living examples of perseverance.

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness I also altered a cute Campbell's soup can into a pencil holder, complete with glittering angel of hope! When I saw these cans I fell in love with the pink label, and we needed a new pen holder by the computer. The angel shape is from Magistical Memories, and are sold as a fund-raiser for Crystle's nephew Rhys who is battling cancer. It just seemed a great use for Rhys' angel to be a symbol of hope for women. I used my Crop-o-Dile, which most often sits in a drawer, to punch holes in the can and weave ribbon around the upper edge. I hope you like it as much as I do!

I managed to scrap quite a few pages in October, what with challenges at various sites and a month long crop at the Scrapbook Playground. I haven't added up how many pages total, but likely more than a dozen. I had my first pet, and letter sized, scrapbook page picked up last week by Simple Scrapbooks for their March/April issue. Kyle is thrilled that his lovebird will be featured in a magazine. The editor sent me some fun and interesting questions to answer. Of course, having raised parrots, my answers kind of became a 101 class in parrot psychology. I will be curious to see what makes it into print. (LOL)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Change Like Shifting Shadows

By Rita Shimniok

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17

Change is a part of life. Each day I awake, I am changed, and even though it may not always be apparent on the outside, I can see that God is continually at work in me, changing my heart and drawing me closer towards Him. Every single one of us is a work in progress.

With the leaves changing colors on the trees around us I am reminded of the verse from Ecclesiastes: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” When I think back through my life and all of the changes I have incurred, I can see all the seasons I have been through. There was a season of ignorance, a season of indifference, a season of rebellion, season of longing and searching, season of desiring to change with continual failure, and finally, a season of growth in Christ.

It is my last and current season in which I have found true joy in my heart as I have come to know the Lord on a much more personal level. Life has been somewhat unpredictable, and as I have grown in Christ I have learned how to handle change with a sense of calmness and reliance upon God. Prayer plays an important role in my life when going through change of any kind that may be stressful.

About a year ago a huge change in our lives was that of switching to a different church. It was a most difficult decision, in the making for more than a year. We had been married in our church, and had been active for more than 18 years. Our little church was family. My husband and I both needed spiritual feeding through a style of worship that allowed the Holy Spirit to move us through praise songs and time for reflection. As we grew in Christ we became more firm in the values set forth in the bible. We truly believe that the pages of the bible were God inspired, God breathed. Our former church was not always teaching in this manner, and it caused inward struggle and even frustration at times. The word of God never changes, through generations, and 100s of years, God is the same today, yesterday and tomorrow. Gods’ Word was written to a people of a certain time in earth’s existence. As modern day Christians we need to remember that the Word was not written to us, but for us. Keep this in mind and it will make a difference in your bible study.

Thus we began calling Blackhawk our home, moving from a church of approximately 200 in Sunday attendance to one of nearly 3,000 was a monumental step. God gave us so many signs that this church was where we belonged, however, and we have begun the process of getting to know others through involvement and small groups. Each and every Sunday I am lifted up, and as many of you may know – inspired as well and the inspiration often finds its way into my Selah devotionals and scrapbook pages.

This past Sunday was the start of yet another change in our lives. We said good-bye to the building in which our worship services have been held. On November 4th we say hello to a newly built place of worship and gathering, and I will just use the word HUGE to describe it. Finding our way around may seem daunting at first. I admit, I SO look forward to LEAD Bible Study meeting on Wednesday nights and having a table on which to lay our bibles in a spacious room, versus eleven women cramming into a cozy, oversized storage room used as an office for three. The new building will be such a blessing for the church staff, who has endured major growth pains and kept scrunching together until there was no more room to scrunch. We are excited about the move and potential growth as more people are reached for the kingdom. Abby has been counting down the days all week, excitedly telling me Sunday is the day we go to our new church building. I love that my children are excited to go to worship. It gives my heart and soul such joy.

Change is constant in our lives. Selah began as a devotional blog, and today it fledges as its own web-site. This change is a huge step of faith. So much time and energy has gone into this project, because God gave two followers a vision who have carried it through, despite a year of trials and tribulations. This is an exciting time for all of us who have been a part of the Selah team. We pray that Selah will bear fruit for the kingdom. This post was originally for the blog. It has become routine for me to post on Thursday mornings, and since I had written this for today I thought I would share it here. Selah has gone live this morning - please check it out!

Change is often exciting and wonderful, but there are changes that cause us to weep as well. Difficult times of change remind us how temporal we are, for this life, too, shall pass. When you are going through times of change, good or bad, always keep in mind that which does not change, and that is the Lord, our God.

My prayer for you today:
Lord, we know that change is a part of life. As we go through the seasons of our life help us to remember that there is a time for everything. A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, and a time to tear down and a time to build. As we lose those we hold dear, or face new situations and perhaps new places, help us to realize that you are in control Lord, and that you alone are powerful, and mighty, and never changing. You alone are our Rock and our refuge, help us to stand firm on our faith and seek to share the love of your Truth to the world. Amen.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Juggling Blogs?

Hi everyone,
Just wanted to say that the post below was intended for the Selah Scrappers blog - I guess I am having trouble balance my blogs! (LOL) Since there is a comment already I will leave it up. Guess God wanted me to give you a taste of a Selah Scrapper post, and invite you to come on over and visit for weekly devotions!

Balancing Act

by Rita Shimniok

"Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed." Mark 1:35

Life is a balancing act, yet Jesus juggled everything so wonderfully. Amidst the preaching, teaching, healing and being followed by scores of people - He found time for solitude and prayer with His Father. When I think about this, Jesus was more busy than anyone I can ever imagine. The events in the gospel of Mark make it clear who Jesus was and why God had been sent to earth. Things happened quickly - His ministry, was in fact, a whirlwind.

Isn't that how we feel sometimes, caught up in a whirlwind? I especially think of Marie and the winds that bring fire to our lives. Thankfully, for many of us, it is not a real and present danger. But the tide winds blow, and into our path comes an obstacle of darkness - whether it be disease, job loss, even death. We can focus on that which the wind has brought, or keep our eyes on the only One who can save us from being held back by that obstacle. It is important that through the whirlwind of life, we find time for solitude with our Maker, as Jesus did. For even He, God incarnate, needed relationship with His Father and needed to be renewed from His draining ministry.

These past 10 days have been a whirlwind of busy-ness. While I was laid up this past summer things got out of in piles of "stuff" that needed to be gone through and had manifested into a monumental task on the craft table in the basement. Our daughter just turned five yesterday, and I knew I wanted to have some friends over for a birthday party, which is taking place this afternoon.

I've been dreading the task, putting it off even. Finally, the clock was ticking and I needed to do this. The week before the birthday celebration, I began to purge, clean, and throw out "stuff". More than papers, toys that are no longer played with, bags of clothes returned after our loans no longer fit our friend's children. So much to go through, but I did it - and although my back is giving me grief, it looks great! My scrap table is even clean...I ended up cleaning more than 1/2 our basement out! Now if only cobwebs would go away on their own! (LOL)

The troubling part about this task was that another was also on my plate this past week - an appointment with God. It is application week for our bible study group, meaning we take what we have read from the first three chapters of Mark and listen to how God is calling us into action. A daily schedule was provided for us - do this on this day, that on another, etc. Schedules were suggestive only, and certainly did not work for me this past week. I worked on my cleaning project every free moment and often into the late night early morning. When I was done I dropped from exhaustion. How was I going to listen to God this past week?

The verse from Mark that really spoke to my heart was the forgiving of sins for the paralytic man. Jesus did not simply heal, but instead forgave. If you have read this blog before you may recall I have some issues with my lower body. This passage really made it clear how much more important is God's grace than healing. But how could I apply this to my life? There were still questions on the form I had to answer.

So I searched some more...and from the moment I had read Mark 1:35 I knew that I needed solitude with God. I have no problem reading the bible, almost daily, and in fact turn to it regularly to be inspired for my scrapbook pages and writing to you. When I thought about it - I am always IN the bible in search of something. I have a question or a topic in mind and am looking for God's response and direction. There is nothing wrong with that, but when I am reading God's word for a focused purpose I am not allowing Him to speak to my heart - for me alone. I have been on a quest for more than a year now to find my God-given purpose. I do feel that part of my quest has been answered when I was asked to use my gifts for Selah Scrappers, but I know there is more. Mark is telling me to find more balance in my life, to seize my Selah moment not only to read the Word, but to sit quietly and LISTEN. Leave the pen and paper out of reach.

The book of James has really been calling to me lately. Several times while reading Mark I have been directed there, and God is also putting verses from James right before me through other vessels. We had a wonderful moment at bible study last Monday, where we gathered in prayer around our friend and asked God to heal his ailment, as described in James 5:15-16. The presence of the Holy Spirit was a hot, electrical current coursing through my body as I felt it in the persons next to me and throughout my own. God was at work, it was so clear, and we know that a healing manifestation is taking place in our friend. There is so much more in James. So although I am "required" to read Mark for our weekly study, my course is set for the book of James. I have picked out my God space. I know that God gave me a window of time this year to spend with Him between work and having to pick my daughter up from school. I need to retrain my actions, and block distractions. (One of which is this computer.) I ask you to keep me in prayer for solitude and to be able to quiet my body and listen.

I pray for all of you as well. I ask that God guide you when the winds blow, and that you focus on Him on when obstacles are placed in your path. I pray that you will protected from raging fires, both real and symbolic, and that the armor of God enfold you when you are placed in dark situations. In the busy-ness of our lives may each of us find solitude and prayer with our heavenly Father as Jesus did, so that we may be renewed to carry on the ministry set before each of us as disciples of Christ. Amen.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I've been tagged (again)

And to be honest I have/had no clue what that means. To the two gals who have tagged me before - I apologize for my lack of blogger knowledge.
Nancy tagged me today, and since I am wore out I took the time to visit her blog and see if I could resolve the tagging mystery. There are rules to follow, but I will be first to admit I have never figured out how to get a link to work. I will have to go experiment and come back to this.

1. Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself (on your blog, we all want to know them).
3. Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
4. Let each person know that they've been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

here are 7 random facts:
1. I grew up on a dairy farm - it was hard work and I couldn't wait to graduate and go off to college, but looking back, I am glad for how the life shaped me into who I am.

2. Crying babies make me cringe. Might have something to do with our first being colicky as a baby, and my being home by myself with no break from a crying baby for 12 hours. I love babies, don't get me wrong, but I just want to hold them for a bit and give them back to their mamas. (LOL)

3. I talk to the computer. Machines are rather rude - they seem to ignore me, but then again, they don't talk back...something I am seeing as of late with our 10 yr old.

4. I talk to my parrot - and she does talk back, usually squwauks, but hey - she keeps me company when I am scrapping.

5. I love popcorn mixed with some Cheetos - DH just brought me a bowl. Give it a try!

6. One leg is shorter than the other...thus my lifelong sentence for unfashionable walking shoes - nothing cute, no heels in my closet to speak of.

7. I am a water drinker. I do enjoy a cup of coffee most mornings, but by an by I am always accompanied by a bottle of water. Our well water is better than anything ever bottled.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Birthdays Are Work!

Whew... I am just wore out. I have spent the past couple days totally gutting 1/2 our basement, getting out the 409, steam cleaner for the floors, vacuuming webs...all to prepare for 6 munchkins to come over to craft and play on Abby's birthday party. Getting ready for a party is LOTS of work, and I am not even calling it an official birthday party. We really don't need more items in this house, aka gifts, unless it is paint or craft supplies as our daughter is always using up her art supplies. She turns 5 this week and spends 70% of her time coloring and putzing at the craft table. Hmmm...wonder where she gets that from?

I've visited the chiropractor the past two mornings after being imbolized by some major pains over the weekend. What a change - after just the first adjustment. I love chiropractic care. Tonight, however, I worked more and moved the very heavy craft table out from a support beam. That baby is heavier than I thought, and felt my back protest. I suspect I am going to be in pain tomorrow, and my doc is out of town until Monday. Ugh! So anyhow, I am taking a sit down break and blogging. Before cleaning I baked a cake and cupcakes. Yesterday I baked 4 batches of cookies for school treats, daycare, women's group tomorrow, and a few left for home. I don't even like to bake, so two days of it should do me until Christmas time. (LOL)

This afternoon I had to take Kyle to the chiropractor as well, as he wrenched his neck playing flag football in gym. He should get an A for effort in the class - he dove after flag for all he was worth, and knocked himself good on the head. The result was a head ache and they sent him home with an ice pack, as it happened just before the buses arrived, and I was gone picking Abby up from school. On Friday Kyle had received a zinger of a wollop in his face -chasing a friend on the playground at recess and getting too close to someone swinging. Their foot smacked him right in the cheek - he was knocked down, and ended up with wood chips in his mouth,and a bloody mouth. The next morning he lost a baby tooth. (which makes 9 left) Because of that incident our chiropractor had to put his jaw back in line, and I had not even thought of that.

Well, now that the basement is clean, and this includes an immaculate scrapping area (for now) -- who wants to come over and scrap with me? We could even set up two on the craft table next to the scrap table, and have a mini crop! I haven't scrapped all week, or at least since Sunday. I am going into a dark mood fostered by a period of uncreativity. I should at least go make a card.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Growing Up Green

Today's blog title is also the title of a layout that I recently created, which was picked up by Memory Makers for their "one world" theme reader gallery for next March/April. I cannot share the layout here, of course, but in addition to having lots of green - the layout is digital, which is very "tree friendly". I have only recently begun scrapping digitally, having dabbled mostly as a hybrid scrapper since I began scrapping. I love the feel of paper and getting messy with paint, so I know that I will always be traditional at heart.

With a previous career in graphic arts I used to work closely with the paper companies. The company I worked for really hopped on the bandwagon of using recycled papers and soy based inks in their marketing materials - this became really big in the 1990s. When I began scrapbooking I wondered if product manufacturers used post-consumer waste in their paper products as well. It is not a topic I see widely advertrised in the creative arts magazines, yet I admit I would be influenced by claims of recycled paper use by a manufacturer in their consumer product. I hopped over to Paper Trunk's blog today and learned from Carrie that their products are made from recycled paper. Have you felt Paper Trunk cardstock? It has a wonderful texture and is a dream to work with. If you have qualms about using recycled paper on your pages please don't! In fact, it was Carrie's post that made me realize I missed out on a chance to blog "green" yesterday.

Our son, now 10, is very much concerned for the environment. His biggest pet peeve is global warming, and he is angered that 1000s of penguin chicks are dying in Antarctica because the ice they are being reared on is falling into the ocean, before they are ready to fledge, due to global warming. He is concernd about recycling, and habitat destruction for human living and work spaces. Our son inspired my "Growing up Green" layout, which includes photos of our family out on a nature hike, bird watching, and taking note of God's creation. God called us to be stewards of the earth, but unless our kids grow up to love nature and the environment, they really won't hold it much regard. It is up to us to instill that love by teaching our children to "grow up green".

My family knows that I consider EVERYTHING before it goes into the trash. It is amazing how many odd things can work to your creative advantage as a scrapbooking tool, or as a page embellishment. Kyle often brings me things, figuring I can use them on my pages. I still remember the handful of tiny tiny rocks he brought me. Sure enough those little rocks did end up on a slide frame for a layout, and the page was actually one of my first published pages in Creating Keepsakes.

In the spirit of "reuse" vs. throw away, I want to share a layout that is the result of a challenge at BusyBee Scrapbooking this week - to scrap a not-so-ordinary item on a layout. This excludes items like bread bag tags, paper clips and such that are wonderful to use on pages, but to challenge the artist to think a bit more outside the box. I had a couple of ideas on this, one of which I decided might not be a good idea. But, last night as I was rummaging through my "catch all" drawers of all things that might possibly be scrapable, I came across a foam disk from a CD spool. Originally I planned to use the foam wheel as a paint stamp, however, I was working on a summer layout of Abby in her floating turtle. I decided the foam disc had a great likeness to a floatation device, and reused it as a center for a flower. Pretty cool, eh? So, I enourage you...always look twice, maybe 3X at something before it goes into the trash - it could be your next great embellishment.

One more tip on creating green... if you are like me, using your computer for journaling, use scrap paper to print out your test prints. My husband and I have bought one ream of paper in the past three years. Rarely do we need a clean sheet of paper for anything, other than an official contract or such. Both of us bring paper home from work that would otherwise go into the recycle bin. It doesn't hurt our printer to run paper through that has been printed on one side. We print all our e-mails, my CG layout sketches, and more on recycled/used paper. To go one step further, I will use a sheet printed on both sides as a "plate" to mix my arcrylic paints on. It makes for easy clean up!

So, although I may be a bit late climbing aboaard the blogger "green" post day, I want to thank Carrie for bringing it to my attention. I really do encourage you, as an artist, to be mindful of creation itself, and what you might do to help care for the one earth we have been given. Think outside the box, as Holly encouraged at BusyBee, and look for items in your home that can add dimension and fun to your pages.