Monday, January 16, 2017

Monday's Mail Memo - Book Swap (Confetti, Joy & No Complaints)

Waving to all the Mondayers joining in with Sian this year as we share a favorite piece of mail from the previous week . . . although I'm (already!) bending the rules a little bit to share something I received  right before the new year. (Read on to see why I'm just now sharing it.)

2017 Book Swap with Brenda

Back in December, my sister Brenda and I decided to have a monthly book swap beginning in January. Brenda asked for books that are encouraging and FUN and motivating. I have quite a few ideas of books I think she'll enjoy, and my plan is to alternate between non-fiction and fiction throughout the year. Brenda felt like the biggest challenge would be hers as she tried to choose books that I hadn't already read. If you've been around my blog awhile, you know I'm an avid reader, so I'm looking forward to seeing what she comes up with each month.

We agreed to send our packages to arrive the first week of each month, and we both actually mailed our January packages before the new year. Robbie dropped my package into the mailbox at his office building on December 30, and later that same day I received a package from Brenda.

January Book From Brenda - A Complaint Free World

Along with the book, A Complaint Free World, she sent a Complaint Free bracelet and a cute envelope and note about this book.

This book is easy-to-read and quite motivating as it encourages readers to become aware of how much we complain. The bracelet is designed as a reminder and is supposed to be moved from one arm to the other each time the wearer finds herself complaining (or gossiping or criticizing or using sarcasm - all various forms of complaining). The author challenges readers to go 21 days without complaining, noting that it takes most people several months to a year to actually complete the challenge. I was glad that Brenda had written in her note to me that she wanted to share this book because it's something she hoped to accomplish someday . . . so I won't assume it's because I complain too much. :)

While I've decided not to try the 21-day challenge, I have worn the bracelet several times to help me be aware of my own complaining. I admit that I'm more apt to complain first thing in the morning when I'm not quite ready to start the day, when I'm tired, and when I'm hungry. I really enjoyed this book and it's definitely made me more aware of all the complaining that goes on each day in our world.

Here are a few points to ponder from the book:

What we call news is actually Bad News. We're encouraged to stop watching, listening to, and/or reading the Bad News during our Complaint Free journey. This is easy for me, as I've mentioned before, I rarely watch or listen to the news, preferring to get a once-a-day summary via The Skimm.

I invite you to consider how often complaining about illness might be an unconscious attempt to get sympathy and attention or to avoid doing something.

I love this quote from Charles H. Spurgeon that the author shared as encouragement to continue working toward the 21-days: "By perseverance the snail reached the ark."

Instead of complaining about a situation or social cause that needs to be changed, discern what needs to be done and then begin to speak in terms of what it will be like when the challenge no longer exists, when the gap is bridge, when the problem is solved; you will then excite people to join you in improving things.

I was thrilled to receive this book from Brenda (and highly recommend it if you haven't read it)!

January Book to Brenda - You Bring the Confetti, God Brings the Joy 

I was so excited for Brenda to receive the package I mailed out containing You Bring the Confetti, God Brings the Joy by Luci Swindoll. I found a box in our shipping supplies stash, adhered quotes inside, and filled it with paper confetti. I created a bookmark and also included a note to my sister saying that I hoped she found lots of ways to celebrate life in the coming year.

I sealed the box and added numbered washi tape along with confetti and book stamps. I actually forgot to snap a photo of it, but Brenda sent one when it finally arrived . . . two weeks later!!! I was so excited for her to get the book all packaged in the confetti that I was terribly disappointed when each day she texted to say "no package." In fact, I prepared another book and sent it out right before this one finally showed up at her house because I figured this package was lost between here and there (only 5 1/2 hours away in the same state!). I was thrilled when it finally arrived last week . . . and that's why I haven't shared about it before now.

You Bring the Confetti, God Brings the Joy is an older book, written in 1986 when the author was 64-years-old. I purchased this book at a Women of Faith conference in the late 1990s when I heard Luci Swindoll speak. She even autographed the book to me on the title page. It's a FUN book to read, although there are a few things that definitely date it as before the technology boom - she mentions calculators, using mail order catalogs to save time ordering gifts, and cassette tapes just to name a few.

The premise of the book is to celebrate life every day, and the various chapters give ideas for celebrating now, birthdays, mealtime, camaraderies, reunions, knowledge, work, accomplishments, imagination, beauty, America, and God. I especially like her reminder to learn just for the FUN of it and to celebrate your loved ones home. As I was re-reading the book before mailing it off to Brenda, I made a list of ideas for celebrating during my ACTIVE year, including celebrating my daily exercise (I actually applaud myself when I've completed a session here at home now!) and planning ACTIVE birthday trips and more outings with friends.

My favorite quote comes early in the book when Luci shares the party "scripture" she made up as a little girl: Verily, verily I say unto you: thou shalt find a party at the end of this street. Turn not to the right nor the left, but direct your steps toward it. Great will be your fun upon arrival. Walk ye in haste.

I also appreciate her reminder that: We are most appealing to others, and the happiest within, when we are completely ourselves.

I'm looking forward to this monthly book swap, and I'll be sharing the packages I send and receive throughout the year. Did you receive any happy mail this past week?

Friday, January 13, 2017

One Little Word - January

This week I've enjoyed working on the January prompts in the One Little Word class as I contemplate my ACTIVE year! I especially appreciate Ali's reminders that it takes time to develop a relationship with our words and that just having a word will not change our lives. It's up to us to put in the work to engage with our word throughout the year.

One of my goals this year is to ACTIVELY use my stash, so I chose an 8 1/2 x 11 binder (similar to the ones I used for FUN and INSPIRATION in previous years) to hold the materials and prompts from this year's class. (The binder is actually quite purple with pink & white flowers, but shows up bluish in the photo.)

I grabbed a 6x6 page protector for my first page in the album. The photo I chose to use is actually from December, but it was taken around the time that I decided on my word - an ACTIVE day of baking, cooking, entertaining a guest in our home, and hosting a dinner party for family. It was a FUN day and this photo reminds me of the good feelings I want to pursue during this ACTIVE year. Since I'm using purple and pink papers in this album, I printed the photo in black and white.

For the back of that page protector, I chose a pink patterned papers, purple letter stickers, and words from a Tim Holtz Ideaology sticker pad.

Luckily, Ali is provided materials in both a 6x8 format (to match the album she's using) and an 8 1/2x11 format (although this is the last year she'll provide that size). I printed the eight January prompt cards and cut them to fit in a 9-pocket page protector. I found a tag in my stash that I cut apart and used for the extra pocket. I added journaling and embellishments and really like the way this page turned out.

I don't have anything on the back of that 9-pocket page yet, but I'm sure there will be another prompt in the coming months that will work there.

I printed The Year Ahead and Intentions pages on pink paper and added my journaling with purple ink. I slipped this page into an 8 1/2x11 page protector.

Here's a peek at how everything looks when the album is open.

I'm pleased with the start to my ACTIVE year and album and excited about the year ahead!

I'm also excited that my sister Brenda is joining me in the One Little Word class this year. She's also started a new blog - be sure to click over and check out the cute photo she took to introduce her year of BALANCE!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Custom Wedding Album Video

The second custom wedding album I completed last month contained 46 pages filled with photos and memorabilia from the engagement through the wedding reception. I have a quick video walk-through of the album to share with y'all today. [If you're reading this in email, click over to the blog to view the video.]

A huge thanks goes to my Pun'kin niece Natashia who helped me record this video during her visit in December. Thanks for watching!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

What's On Your Workdesk Wednesday #2

Last week, my first time to participate in What's On Your Workdesk Wednesday, Julia commented...your desk is very this because of the staging, or is that how you work? That photo was staged, however I typically keep my table fairly neat. It does get messy when I'm in the midst of a big project, however I always clean up between projects.

Here's an overhead shot of my craft table today, which actually holds three projects.

On the left of the table is my 2016 Gratitude Journal, which I completed a few days ago. I haven't moved it to our Memories Shelf yet because I want to read back through it first. It's so much FUN to take time to enjoy finished projects, isn't it!

In the middle of the table, I'm working on the January prompts in the One Little Word class. I've chosen a binder, added a few page protectors, and printed the handout and other elements. I'm hoping to add my journaling, a photo and some embellishments later today.

On the right side of the table, I have my 50 Things To Do Before I'm 50 mini-album and two photos that need to be added to it. This album has a page for each of the 50 items, and once I complete an item, I add a photo, the date, and two lines of journaling to the page. I need to complete the pages for my trip to the top of the Empire State Building and completion of the Gratitude Journal.

I'm hoping to have all three of these projects off my table in the  next day or two, then I'm planning to create some layouts!

Head over to Julia's Stamping Ground to see what's on other workdesks around the world this week!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Monday's Mail Memo . . . on Tuesday

Joining in today with Sian's new Monday post idea to share our "favourite piece of post from the previous week." I think it will definitely be interesting to see what bloggers around the world find in their mailboxes each week.

In the mail last week, I was delighted to receive two holiday/new year's cards - one from Rinda and a small one with a lovely note from Alexa.

As I'm striving to be more ACTIVE this year, I plan to create and send more cards and happy mail. I began last week by sending two handmade cards - a birthday card (which I forgot to photograph before mailing) and a Happy New Year thank you card.

Waving to the other Mondayers a little late this week, but hoping to join in often this year! Did you find any happy mail in your box last week?

Monday, January 9, 2017

50 Things To Do Before I'm 50 - Gratitude Journal

Today I'm marking another item DONE on my 50 Things To Do Before I'm 50 List - #30 Keep a daily diary/gratitude journal for one year. Each day of 2016, I recorded something I was grateful for in my Gratitude Journal.

I had hoped to complete the additional pages in the journal at the end of each month, however I occasionally had to complete several months at one time. I've shared the first eight months' pages in previous posts (January, February, March, April/May/June, July, August). This past weekend I completed the pages for the final four months of the year.

I added some collage elements, including the front of one of our anniversary cards this year, to the final page and inside back cover to complete this project.

I truly enjoyed the daily recording process as well as putting together the additional pages in this album each month. It was so much FUN recording all these little bits & pieces of our lives, and I'm excited to have another items checked off my list!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Pray Until You Believe

Prayer has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. There have been times in my life when I was sure that God would answer my prayers, and other times when I've wondered if my prayers were even being heard. Yet, the Word says He hears and will answer our prayers.

In Mark 11:24, Jesus speaks to his disciples about faith and believing in prayer.

Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.

When we pray, do we truly believe He will answer our prayer? Do we believe enough to thank Him for the answer? My devotional reading one day this past week encouraged us to pray until we believe. As I took time to meditate on this thought, I recorded it in my journaling Bible.

(On this page, I used a variety of letter stickers and Micron pens to record the main point, then added in little bits & pieces - small punched hearts and various other stickers from my stash.)

Sometimes we see the answer to our prayer immediately, other times it takes much longer, and in some instances we will not see the answer in our lifetime. As I contemplated these ideas this week, I had the words to an old hymn running through my head (and I might have sang them out loud a few times, too). I used the words to that hymn in the margin of my journaling Bible next to Hebrews 10.

(I used a sponge dauber to add the yellow Gelato background and highlighting, a Micron pen to add my journaling, some letter stickers and music themed stickers and washi tape to complete this page.)

I pray that your faith in the Lord will allow you to believe that He hears and will answer your prayers!