Monday, February 27, 2017

Monday's Mail Memo - Books & Bloopers

I have to laugh thinking back to my post a few weeks ago when I stated that "really, we don't need any more [books] for awhile!!" Because, seriously, we can always stand a few more books, right?

On Tuesday last week, my copy of She Means Business arrived. Since I'd pre-ordered the book on Amazon a couple of months ago, it arrived on the publication date. That same day, I received the new Coldwater Creek catalog. These two pieces of mail looked good together, don't you think.

On Wednesday, the new (free-for-an-honest-review) book from B&H Publishers arrived, along with a huge Uline catalog (which I set aside to thumb through for this month's One Little Word vision board assignment).

Then on Thursday, another book and a magazine arrived! The book is from my sister for our March book swap, so I'll be sharing more about it in a few weeks. I quickly looked through our local magazine and added it to the vision board materials pile.

To top it off, on Friday we received a couple of boxes (which I didn't snap a photo of), one containing a few new tops I'd noticed in that Coldwater Creek catalog and the other containing new shoes for Robbie. All-in-all, it was a good mail week around here!

In other news, I set up my video equipment last week and created a promotional video for an event in April. I'll be teaching a mini-retreat at a church here in Texas, and they requested a video that could be shown on Sunday morning to encourage women to sign up for the event. I'll admit it took me most of the day to create a 1 1/2 minute video! Here's a peek at my set-up.

And just for FUN - here's a short look at the bloopers - Enjoy! [If you're reading this in email, do pop over to the blog & check it out!]

Waving to all the Mondayers joining in with Sian this year as we share memos and mail on Monday!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Top 10 Moments of My Life

After putting a lot of thought into the January blog topic Brenda sent me, I was sure this month would be much easier. However, the February topic was also extremely thought-provoking! Obviously, there are many more than 10 significant moments in my life, so it took me some time to choose which to share here!


The Most Important of All - My faith is a huge part of my life and who I am. While I don't believe you have to attend church to be a Christian, I do know that it certainly helps. I've literally been in church all my life! I was born on a Friday afternoon in rural Mississippi, and Mama & Daddy brought me to church on Sunday morning. (Yes, really!)

1. Salvation - I really can't tell you the date or time or place of the very most important event of my life, the moment I accepted Christ as my Savior. I always claim that there are two kinds of Christians in the world - the ones who know the exact moment they were saved, and those of us who grew up in church and kept repeating the prayer of salvation until we grew in our faith enough to realize that we had been accepted as a child of God. I'm definitely in the second category.

My salvation experience occurred sometime in early elementary school. Nothing in life can compare to having a relationship with the Lord. I'm so thankful that I was born to parents who took me to church and taught me about Jesus!

2. Baptism - As the age of 10, I asked to be baptized in our little church in southeast Texas. I understood that this was an important step in a Christian's life. In my church we practiced baptism by immersion. I can still remember stepping down into the water in the baptistry, the ruffle on my lightweight red dress with white polka dots (made by Mama, handed down from my older sister) floating in the water so I had to push it down so it would get soaked and stay down, the pastor waiting to dunk me under the water, holding my nose as I went under the water, and rising soaking wet and excited.

I realize that there's some debate about baptism as many religions have different practices. My personal view on this is that I don't really care if you were sprinkled, dunked, or half-drowned . . . the main thing is that you have a personal relationship with Christ. Baptism doesn't save you, Jesus does.

Education - As a little girl, I wanted to go to school when my older sister started first grade, so Mama put me in a private kindergarten at the age of four. Since that time, I've always enjoyed school and consider myself a lifelong learner.

3. High School Graduation - There was never any doubt about whether or not I would graduate from high school as it was the main goal Mama had for her three girls. Mama dropped out of school in the tenth grade, so it was important to her that we all graduate. I was a cum laude graduate, ranked number 13 out of 500+ students, so rather than being superstitious, I've always felt that 13 was one of my lucky numbers. (P. S. When I was in high school, Mama studied for and passed the GED test to receive her high school equivalency certificate!)

4. BBA Graduation  - When I walked across the stage to receive my Bachelor of Business Administration degree with a major in Management, I became the first person in my family to graduate from college. In all honesty, I was going through a very difficult time in my life that year, but nothing could diminish the excitement and accomplishment I felt earning a four-year degree (in seven years!) while working full-time and trying to hide/survive an abusive marriage.

5. MBA Graduation - I hadn't thought much about getting a graduate degree until Robbie decided to return to school and complete his bachelor's degree after we'd been married a couple of years. I enrolled and earned my Master of Business Administration degree with a major in Management in two years, while also teaching 8th grade! (Robbie earned his BBA in 2 1/2 years and graduated summa cum laude just six months after me, maintaining an overload of courses and even working as CFO for an out-of-town company the final year year and a half!) One FUN thing that happened my last semester was that we were both inducted into the Beta Gamma Sigma honor society on the same day! [We are definitely educationally equally yoked!]

The Love of my Life - My list of highlights would not be complete without all the wonderful moments I've shared with Robbie over the past 15+ years. Here are just three that stand out among the many.

6. Robbie's Proposal - On an Friday in early October, I arrived in Rockwall for a weekend visit with Robbie. My sweetheart walked into the living room carrying the ruby tray from his grandparent's 40th anniversary. The tray held their ruby vase filled with red roses, their ruby champagne flutes, two small red heart-shaped candles, a scattering of Hershey kisses, and an alabaster box lined with velvet. The alabaster box held a beautiful engagement ring and a platinum & diamond cross necklace - to signify God's importance in our relationship. (I haven't recreated it perfectly here, but you get the idea.) Robbie got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife. After several failed relationships and the stigma of divorce, I might have been a little nervous, but I knew this was the man God had chosen for me. I said Yes!

7. Our Wedding - Our wedding day dawned bright and beautiful and EXTREMELY COLD! We took a sleigh ride out to a secluded spot on the frozen Bow River in Banff, Alberta, Canada. The marriage commissioner, Rick Kunelius and the photographer, Malcolm Carmichael, hiked out across the frozen river to meet us. The scenery was absolutely breathtaking. Our sleigh driver, Jamie, was wonderful. He said the temperature during the ceremony was about minus 10 degrees Celsius (that's about 15 degrees Fahrenheit) - and that was before the wind chill factor!!! Jamie was kind enough to loan Robbie his ski cap and Melissa his gloves during the sleigh ride. Rick performed a beautiful ceremony ending with "May your love be as pure as the snow on our mountain peaks, and as enduring as the rock of these mountains amongst which you have chosen to be wed."

8. Ten Year Anniversary Cruise - We took our first (and so far only) cruise to celebrate our tenth anniversary. We enjoy traveling together and had a great time just hanging out on board, reading, relaxing, enjoying the time away from computers and cell phones. By that time in our lives, it felt liked we'd always been together, yet the ten years seems to have gone so quickly, too. It's hard to believe that was 5 years ago!

Big Steps for Me* - There were a lot of other moments that have been significant in my life. I chose the two below because each of them helped me to grow and learn and become the confident person I am today.

9. Trip To New York & Boston with Elinor - While I'd flown a few times and been on quite a few vacations by the time I was 31, I'd never taken a trip that wasn't with my family or (ex)spouse. When my friend Elinor mentioned that she wanted to travel to New York again someday, I suggested that the two of us go while I was on my summer break from teaching at the local community college. It was really the first time I'd made all the plans for a trip - plane tickets, hotel reservations, etc. Traveling as a single woman was a new experience for me, one that I thoroughly enjoyed. Elinor and I had a fantastic time - we laughed, we cried, we walked, we rode (sometimes the wrong bus!), we saw Broadway shows, we spent a day in Boston, we toured museums, we ate new foods (like Central Park strawberries) . . . and I fell in love with traveling! [Some of you may remember my tribute to Elinor, who passed away in 2011. I miss her still!]

Many of you know that Robbie and I love to travel and try to get away on road trips and vacations as often as possible. He is the best traveling companion, especially when things go a little awry. While I don't mind going away for a weekend crop or to visit my family or overnight to teach Bible journaling, I prefer to spend my time (at home and traveling) with my sweetheart. However, it was that trip with Elinor that gave the confidence to occasionally take off for a scrapbooking event in California, or four days in New York with girlfriends, or a long weekend retreat with my sister this coming fall!

10. Writing and Presenting the God is Calling You Retreat Curriculum - After we'd spent several days searching for a curriculum for an upcoming ladies' retreat in 2012, I told my friend Dawn that I would just write the curriculum myself when I returned from our summer vacation. It sounded so simple at the time, but it turned out to much more difficult that I thought it would be. Sitting in front of a blank computer screen with a blank paper pad and Bibles and study notes organized on the table, I felt a slight panic at the arrogance I felt when I said I'd take on this task. However, after much time in prayer, the Lord was faithful and gave me the messages He wanted shared during that 2-day retreat. Each time I began to question whether I was on the right track, He provided just the right scripture or quote or phone call of encouragement to remind me that He was in control.

Although I'd taught and lead and even written some short Bible studies over the preceding ten years, this retreat was a huge step for me as I also organized and presented the materials. I was fortunate to have the help of our ladies' ministry team, but I (voluntary) took on the responsibility for the message and format of the event. Our pastor and his wife were expecting their fourth child the week of the retreat, so they had entrusted this event to me and the ministry team. I will forever be grateful for their trust and confidence as I grew immeasurably as a Christian and a teacher and a writer and a speaker through the process of preparing this curriculum.


After I completed my list, I asked Robbie what his top 10 would be and was delighted that our lists are so similar. He said salvation/baptism, meeting me, our wedding, celebrating our 15th anniversary, BBA & MBA degrees, traveling internationally, and being part of the executive team at two companies that were successfully sold to larger companies.

What would say are the top 10 moments of your life? Please share in the comments!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

What's On Your Workdesk Wednesday #8

This week I'm working on the Mediterranean Cruise scrapbook-for-hire project I was organizing last week. This album will have a combination of traditional layouts and pocket page layouts.

On my craft table . . . I'm currently working on the 2nd side of a 12x12 pocket page.

On the big table in the front room . . . supplies, album, page protectors, printed photos, memorabilia, notes, etc. I really like having this table where I can spread everything out and still have my entire craft table for the actual scrapbooking.

I'll have six pages completed by the end of the day today and will meet with my client again this week to be sure the pages have the look and feel she wants for this project. Here's a peek at the first two pages. It's hard to tell from these photos, but each page has items popped up (various photos on the first layout and some of the airplane squares on the second).

Joining in today with Julia at Stamping Ground for What's On Your Workdesk Wednesday. What's on your workdesk this week?

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

February 5 in 5

After demonstrating how to make doily dresses and greeting cards and gift tags in the library DIY class last week, I took a few minutes to walk around and snap photos of the 21 ladies as they worked. As I scrolled through the photos to find five to share for this month's 5 in 5 (hosted by Sandi at itchifingers), I was drawn to these photos of hands at work.

I really like how these photos reveal so much about the class: there were women of various ages in attendance, some like to scatter everything out while others keep their supplies all tidy, some needed coffee close at hand while others kept their phone in easy reach, and it was lots of FUN!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Monday's Mail Memo - Book Swap (Cell 25 & Haven)

After a wonderful start to our monthly book swap, I was looking forward to receiving my February package from Brenda. It arrived in late January and was filled with much more than I expected!!

February Book from Brenda - Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25

When I opened the box, I had to laugh because she had packed the book and other contents in all that confetti I sent in her box last month! Inside the book was a handmade bookmark, and the envelope held a card and another blog prompt (which I'll be sharing more about very soon).

Underneath the book, the box held more treasures! I had expected to see the book I sent her in January (which she enjoyed), however I was delighted to find a ziploc bag . . .

that contained several items she'd stitched just for me: two new pillowcases (because I might have mentioned a few of ours were getting threadbare) and a banner (see below) and little scraps of the fabrics she used adhered to cardstock (for when I'm ready to scrap about them)!! :)

I love this banner for my ACTIVE year! It matches my craft room with the yellows and reds and certainly makes it easy to keep my word visible. (Check out the purple BALANCE banner Brenda created for her word HERE.)

Oh, wait, this post was supposed to be about the book swap . . . so, back to the book.
I had not heard of the Michael Vey young adult books, but Brenda had read the first one (Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25) several years ago. She discovered there are now six books in the series, and she and the twins will all be reading book two soon. (These are obviously very popular books as most of the ones our library has are currently checked out!)

I thoroughly enjoyed this book about Michael Vey and his electrical powers. This fourteen-year-old discovers a cheerleader in his school also has special powers and, together with Michael's best friend Ostin, they form a club and begin investigating where these powers originated. When a powerful group of scientists finds them, they learn how they obtained their powers and discover the unsettling truth that the group wants to use these "electric kids" to control the world. Michael's imprisonment in Cell 25 is terrifying, yet it is there that he finds new friends and the will to fight against evil.

This is a well-paced book with a satisfying ending that left me wondering what will happen next as these teens fight against those who want to use them. I highly recommend this for anyone who enjoys a good sci-fi action packed young adult novel.

February Book to Brenda - Bridge to Haven

Once again, I had FUN packing up a book to send to Brenda. Bridge to Haven has a lovely book-jacket, so I chose a pretty patterned paper and ribbon from my stash (which I'm ACTIVELY using this year) and wrapped it up. I included a plain cardstock bookmark in the book, and finished off the gift wrap with a stamped tag. I also included a little envelope of goodies for Brenda to use in her One Little Word album.

I'm happy to report that this time my package arrived a few days after it was posted!
I first read this book in 2014, the year it was published. Francine Rivers is a wonderful Christian fiction author, so when Brenda mentioned that Redeeming Love was one of her favorite books, I knew I had to share this novel with her during our book swap.

The story begins when a baby is delivered and left to die under the bridge that leads to the town of Haven. The local pastor finds her and he and his wife (& their young son) name her Abra and raise her until she's 5-years-old. When the pastor's wife dies, another local couple adopts Abra. However, she never truly allows herself to feel their love and, in her late teens, she eventually runs away with a boy to California. The boy uses her and basically throws her away. She finds herself with an agent who promises to turn her into a movie star, however he controls her every move and changes her name to Lena Scott.

One of my favorite characters is Mitzi, who teaches Abra how to play the piano. She agrees to teach Abra to play ragtime . . . as long as Abra plays the piano for church services. She is relentless in making Abra learn the words to the hymns she plays.

[Warning - spoilers in this paragraph!] Back in Haven, Pastor Zeke and his son Joshua, and Abra's adopted parents and sister never give up hope that she will return home. Joshua goes in search of her, but it is many years later when a series of circumstances lead Abra to a little town in the middle of nowhere . . . the same place Joshua is working on a construction job. They reconnect and she returns home, surrenders her life to the Lord and finds love and healing. She marries Joshua and meets her birth mother (who had been working in the town for many years). The story ends with the birth mother leaving town and Pastor Zeke once again praying for someone he loves to return to Haven.

Obviously, I highly recommend this book!

Brenda mentioned the other day that she would be mailing my March package out this week, so I'm watching for more happy mail as I wave to all the Mondayers joining in with Sian this year as we share memos and mail on Monday!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Journaling Bible Review

I recently received a NKJV Notetaking Bible free from B&H Publishers (in exchange for an honest review). This Bible is the same as the NKJV Journaling Bible I've been using for over a year now for much of my illustrated Bible journaling. The only change I can see is that it's now called a notetaking instead of a journaling Bible. If you've been reading my blog for some time, you will know that I really like this Bible!

This Bible has a nice cover and good binding. The 1 3/4 inch margins are perfect for adding journaling & prayers, illustrations, stickers and die cuts.

The print in this Bible is easy to read. I can even read it when I cover it with various products. (Some Bible journalers cover the text so that it is not readable. This is perfectly acceptable since typically the journaling Bible is not the only Bible the individual owns. However, my personal preference is to retain the ability to read the text.)

The page below was first coated with the Dylusions Pure Sunshine paint. I used a dauber with a Gelato to add the circles using a Crafter's Workshop template. The border is stamped using Powder Puff inks and an Inky Antics stamp. I then used watercolors to paint the Elizabeth Craft Designs gold sticker, along with letter stickers and a marker to add my journaling. [None of these items bleed through the page - another factor that I consider when choosing products for my Bible journaling.]

There are blank pages before the beginning of some of the books, which are perfect for full-page illustrations. On the blank page before the Gospel of Luke in my Bible, I adhered the free printable I created for my email list this past December. The tab and Jesus label were also part of the free printable. As I often do, I used a Micron pen for journaling and added the date with PowderPuff ink and a date stamp.

I'm often asked what Bible I recommend for illustrated Bible journaling. While I enjoy this particular Bible, I believe that choosing a Bible is very personal. There are a myriad of journaling Bibles available these days. My recommendation is to find a Bible:
(1) in a version you enjoy reading,
(2) in a format you like,
(3) in a price range that fits your budget.

Do you journal and/or illustrated in your Bible? Which Bible do you use?

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

What's On Your Workdesk Wednesday #7

This week I actually have scrapbooking projects on two tables! First, I need to add journaling to an almost completed layout on my craft table. This page will be the first layout in our 2017 chronological album. The pile of page protectors and photos above it on the table are the other photos and memorabilia I plan to scrap from January. This evening I'd like to finish that title page and maybe the front & back of a divided pocket page, and hopefully I'll find time over the weekend to complete three more 12x12 layouts.

I'm also just getting started on a custom scrapbook-for-hire project - a European cruise vacation album. I've gathered the items to start this project on our big front room table. On the left is the notebook and tons of memorabilia from my client, sorted into dividers by day. In the middle of the table are the supplies I've purchased for the album - Authentique's Seafarer collection, page protectors, cardstock, twine and washi tape. To the right are the photos I had printed from my client's digital files. This is going to be a FUN project! Tomorrow I'll make several sample pages in preparation for a meeting with my client on Friday.

Joining in today with Julia at Stamping Ground for What's On Your Workdesk Wednesday. What's on your workdesk this week?