Welcome! I'm Melissa Gross, a dynamic and interactive teacher and speaker called to lead and encourage Christian women in their walk with the Lord through classes, workshops and retreats incorporating Bible study, devotionals, illustrated Bible journaling, paper crafting and mixed media projects that merge faith and art bringing God’s Word to life so you can find renewed excitement to dive into the Word, use your creative gifts, and apply the Truth as you draw closer to the Lord and serve Him in your everyday life. This site is where I share my everyday adventures, Bible Journaling pages, scrapbook layouts, handmade cards, and other crafty projects, as well as information on my upcoming workshops and events. I also post photos, ramble about books I'm reading, stuff I'm organizing, and other FUN bits & pieces of my wonderful life.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Dog's Point of View - Storytelling Sunday

Welcome to the September edition of Storytelling Sunday, a monthly meme hosted by Sian who encourages us to share our stories in words and photos. This year's theme is all about telling the stories of items that are precious to us.

I've saved my precious item and story since January of 1980, midway through my 5th grade year. This precious item has aged a little and has residue on the corners from where it was taped into my old acidic scrapbook.


I have to admit that I'd almost forgotten about this precious item . . . until I read Rinda's idea to write from a dog's point of view. So, I pulled out my new School Years Scrapbook, where I had added a little journal box to introduce the item.


This item was typed on our old family typewriter - do you remember the ones where each key had to be pressed about an inch and the arm with the letter would swing up and strike the paper? It looked something like this.


So, here it is - my precious item (and story) for this month. An old school assignment - with the "A" grade on top. (I've reproduced the story below with all my 5th grade misspellings, punctuation, and spacing!)


MY TRIP

     ONE DAY I WAS JUST COMING AROUND THE HOUSE AND I NOTICED THAT THE FAMILY WAS PACKING EVERYTHING IN THE CAR. I WONDERED WHAT WAS GOING ON. I WALKED UP TO THE MAN OF THE HOUSE AND WHEN I DID HE SAID TO THE REST OF THE FAMILY"I THINK WE SOULD LEAVE THE DOG WITH ANN." WELL THE REST OF THE FAMILY AGREED AND SO WE SET OFF FOR ANN'S HOUSE. WHEN WE ARIVED THERE I HOPED OUT AND THE REST OF THE FAMILY HOPED OUT TO. WHEN IT WAS TIME TO LEAVE I TRIED TO GET IN THE CAR BUT THE FAMILY PUSHED ME AWAY AND SAID "GOOD-BYE"AND THEY LEFT.
     I DIDN'T SEE MY FAMILY AGAIN UNTIL A YEAR LATER. THEY HAD COME BACK ON VACATION AND HAD STOPED TO SEE ANN.WHEN I SAW THEM I RAN TO GREET THEM. THEY WERE HAPPY TO SEE ME AND I WAS HAPPY TO SEE THEM AGAIN.WHEN THEY LEFT THIS TIME THEY TOOK ME WITH THEM.
     ON THE WAY TO MY NEW HOME I RODE IN THE BACK OF A STATION WAGON. IT WAS AN EXCITING TRIP. WHEN I GOT TO MY NEW HOME I JUMPED OUT AND BEGAN TO EXPLORE MY NEW HOME. I WAS GLAD TO BE WITH MY FAMILY AGAIN.
     WE LIVED THERE FOR THE NEXT THREE YEARS AND THEN WE PACKED UP AND MOVED AGAIN. THIS TIME IT WAS A VERY LONG TRIP, BUT WE FINALY GOT THERE. AND THAT'S WERE WE ARE LIVING TODAY.

I flipped through all my old photos and could only find one with King in it. I'm in the red dress and this is a few years before we moved to Texas.


I hope you've enjoyed today's story - thanks so much for stopping by! Click here to read more September stories.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Remember That First Inspiration Day?

Back in March, Ellyn and I headed out for our first "inspiration day" - a day to get out and practice photography and look for inspiration for our crafting. I recently created two layouts with some of the photos from that day, both of which began with one of my own Starting Points.

This first starting point uses blue and brown papers and a couple of strips of washi tape.


When I flipped to the photos of me and Ellyn at the Dallas Blooms, I knew they would work perfect on this layout. I added yellow as an accent color and love the way it turned out!


Here's a couple of detail shots.


I created this next layout with supplies from our local scrapbook store for a class I had planned to teach earlier this month. (Unfortunately, I had to cancel the class because I arrived home from our vacation with a case of shingles, which are all cleared up now. My energy level, however, has not yet returned to normal!)


I always have fewer portrait orientation photos than landscape, however I really like the look of this layout and will have to remember to turn my camera on its side more often.


Did you notice those cute heart embellishments? I made those with washi tape, using a technique from the Camp Scrap workshop earlier this summer - I'll be sharing more about it in an upcoming post!


Ellyn and I took a little break from our inspiration days over the busy summer, but I'm excited that we have one scheduled for September. What will you be doing for inspiration this fall?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Ready for LSNED 2013

This will be my fourth year participating in Shimelle's Learn Something New Every Day class that runs each September. I created a mini-album in 2010 and blogged my lessons in 2011 and 2012. This year I've decided to follow Shimelle's example and use divided page protectors which will be added to my 2013 yearly album.

I know the best way for me to be successful with an every day class is to prepare! So, I spent an afternoon earlier this week getting ready.

First, I pulled out six 12x12 page protectors with six 4x6 sections on each side - four of my protectors are designed for landscape photos and the other two hold portrait orientation photos. I then pulled some happy papers from the pile of new papers I picked up on our Tennessee Road Trip. These papers are all from the American Crafts Kids and Modebella collections. I also pulled some matching border strips from my stash.


Next I flipped through my (recently re-organized) color bins and pulled out a variety of coordinating journal spots.


Then I pulled a few letter sheets and miscellaneous embellishments. I'm not limiting myself to these items, but I do want to have a few items ready to go for those really busy days!


I cut all the papers into 6x4 pieces and set to work creating my title page. I wanted some larger letters than the ones I had already pulled and was delighted to find orange and white Letterman Thickers in my stash - perfect for a class on learning that takes place at back-to-school time.


My plan is to use two 4x6 sections each day - one for a photo and one to record the lesson. I added a journal spot and a border strip to 30 pieces of the patterned papers, so I'm all set to go now when September 1 rolls around.


Are you ready for LSNED to start?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Quick & Simple Layout

I have a quick and simple layout to share with you today. I wanted to add a copy of our wedding announcement to the beginning of our 2002 scrapbook, so I simply mounted the announcement on a piece of red cardstock, adhered it to a 12x12 piece of black cardstock, and added a few punched hearts I found in my red color bin.


Have you completed any quick and simply layouts recently?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Back To School Thoughts

Today is the first day of school for most of our local school districts, so I spent last week getting together with several of my teenage friends before they get busy with school and studying and extra-curricular activities. Summer wanted to try Furr's Pineapple Millionaire Pie recipe (which was delicious); Taylor and Camryn came by for a lesson in scrapbooking; Ally & I tried another painting class; and I met up with Taylor to create Christmas cards at a Stampin' Up party.


As these beautiful ladies head back to school, my thoughts are on learning and studying. Although the private school I taught at this past spring semester offered me a position for this school year, I chose not to return. I truly enjoyed being back in the classroom, however there were a few things I didn't enjoy (getting up early, having a schedule, parent-teacher fellowships where public schools were routinely criticized, the split schedule of early morning and late afternoon classes, parents who questioned my character rather than addressing their student's issues with tardiness, cheating, or disrespect). So, today I'm contemplating and sharing my thoughts on what I want to learn and study and teach this fall.

1. I really (REALLY!) want to learn to use my DSLR in manual mode. I signed up for the BPC Mastering Manual Mode course this summer but have not had time to participate in the class. My goal is to work through the materials on my own this fall and be shooting in manual mode by December 1!

2. I already know how to sew with a sewing machine, however it's been over 20 years since the last time I used one to make something (a new dress!). I want to learn about my new machine and actually complete a few projects with it. My goal is to complete a wall hanging (and 2 Christmas gifts) by the end of the year!

3. I'll also be working my way through the Hello Story workshop materials (as I've not been able to keep up with the content this summer) and learn the story telling techniques presented. My goal is to complete the class materials and create 12 layouts (one for each week's materials) by the end of October!

4. I plan to participate in Shimelle's Learn Something New Every Day beginning on September 1st. I think I'm going to use the divided page protectors like Shimelle did last year and have one 4x6 card and one photo for each day of the month. My plan is to follow along with the prompts unless there is some other significant learning experience on a given day. My goal is to participate each day and complete my page protectors with journaling and photos by October 15.

5. After several years of attending a church close to home, we have recently returned to our home church, which is a 45 minute drive away. It's refreshing to visit with old friends and take time to just enjoy and learn from the Sunday sermons. However, since it's quite a drive, we are not really involved in other activities. Lucky for me, Ellyn is leading a Bible study at her church and has asked me to do the teaching. We've chosen the My Heart Christ's Home study as it's one I've always wanted to teach. I'm currently studying through the materials in preparation to begin teaching in September.

I think this list is an excellent way to start the school year. What are you planning to learn (or teach) this fall?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Christmas Cards

In my review of the Camp Scrap workshop, I mentioned that I had created six cards. Christmas cards, that is! It's been several years since I handmade our Christmas cards, so I decided to begin early and used the Camp Scrap inspiration to try new techniques on my first cards.

It all began with the Week One Make & Take - a rosette card. Of course, May Flaum's example was not a Christmas card, however I copied her idea to use a piece of patterned paper (happy holidays), a stamped background piece (the grid design), stitching around the card (yes, I used my sewing machine again!), and a rosette to complete my first card of the year. Honestly it's not my favorite card, but hopefully someone will appreciate the thought when the holiday season rolls around.

 
These next four cards were created with the idea of choosing "one thing" that has been in my stash and let that item be the inspiration for the card. I chose (1) a large flower cut from patterned paper, (2) a toy soldier sticker, (3), a Christmas tree sticker, and (4) a stained glass window die cut.
 

I used the same concept for these next four cards - choosing an older item from my stash - and then scraplifted the designs from other card inspiration in the workshop. I chose (1) the JOY word paper & two stamped wreaths [which I colored and added a bow to], (2) a journal box & ornament die cut, (3) a bell die cut & bow sticker, and (4) a printed ornament [which I colored in and mounted on punched scalloped circles].


This last card is my favorite, not only because it uses a page from an old book, but because the title of one of the chapters in the book was so perfect! I also added my favorite Santa stamp and colored it in.

 
I'll be sharing more cards over the coming months. Are you making Christmas cards this year? Have you started? [I know Jacky (the queen of Christmas cards) has started creating and posting her beautiful cards, so I'll be popping over there for some inspiration next!]

Thursday, August 22, 2013

3 Layouts Inspired by the Multi-Photo Solutions Workshop

As I mentioned in my review of the BPC Multi-Photo Solutions workshop, I was inspired to create several layouts based on the week one materials (which focused exclusively on layouts). For each of the layouts I'm sharing today, there was a sketch as well as an example from Aly Dosdall. While my layouts veered from the sketches and examples, they each contained one idea that I really wanted to try.

In this first layout, I enjoyed creating the snowy scene at the bottom of the page. I cut the mountains and larger trees from a pre-printed paper, then added the light green dimensional tree stickers and cut the red trees from another patterned paper.


As soon as I saw the example for this next layout, I knew I had to pull out that pack of mini-clothespin from my stash and give it a try.


Several of my photos were slightly blurry and the lighting in the auditorium was not good, so I knew cropping them down & using them with the twine would be perfect.




The grid design with photos, patterned papers, title, embellishments, and journaling of this next layout was so much fun to put together!


I even covered this chipboard sewing mannequin with purple glitter . . . and made a little bit of a mess, too!


Which one of these ideas most inspires you - creating a scene, adding a clothesline, or using a grid design?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Layering & Clustering

Two layouts to share with you today where I had fun just layering papers and clustering embellishments.



What techniques are you having fun with lately?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Book Reviews - Non-Fiction

I'm behind on my book reviews for the past couple of months, so I'm doing a catch-up post today with quick reviews of seven non-fiction books I've completed lately. As usual, it's quite an eclectic mix!

     
I read two books as part of the Continuing Professional Education (CPE) hours that I must complete each year to maintain my teaching certification. Hello! My Name is Public School, and I Have an Image Problem was written by two teachers who see the good that is happening in public schools and encourage other teachers to share the good things happening in their schools in order to combat the negative image of public education that is often portrayed in the media. I enjoyed the book and the authors suggestions as well as the online book discussion that went along with it for CPE credit. Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard was about making changes in any area of life - business, career, classroom, personal, etc. After reading this book, I attended an all-day conference where one of the authors spoke about change and then a hands-on workshop allowed participates to work through the steps to plan for a change in the area of our choice. I enjoyed the book and the workshop.

Elisha Snow recommending reading Understanding Exposure in the pre-class materials for the Mastering Manual Mode workshop at BPC. Unfortunately, I have not yet had time to delve into the workshop materials. However, I found the book very informative and at least now have some idea what is meant by shutter speed, aperture, and ISO and how they work together to create great photographs. I'm planning to work through the workshop materials at my own pace this fall and will share my progress along the way.

Some of you may remember that in my review of Charles Swindoll's book on Elijah I mentioned that I wanted to read more about Tom Landry because that book was dedicated to him and he was held up as an example of a man of strength and humility. Tom Landry: An Autobiography was written a year after Jerry Jones (then the new owner of the Dallas Cowboys) fired Landry as head coach of the Cowboys. In this book, Tom Landry shares about his life beginning in the small town of Mission, Texas, through his service in World War II, as a football player for the University of Texas, then as a player and coach for the New York Giants, and ending with his 29 years as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. I enjoyed learning more about this man who appeared completely in control and showed very little emotion on the sidelines. Excellent read!

   
And finally three Christian books that have been in my to-read pile for a while. How to Study Your Bible by Kay Arthur explains Kay's method of studying the Bible inductively (using scripture to interpret scripture). I've read this book before and am trained to lead Precept Bible studies using this method, so this was just a refresher for me. 90 Minutes in Heaven: A True Story of Death and Life is the story of Don Piper's life, including his experience during the time he was in a car accident and was proclaimed dead by EMT personnel. He shares his experience of being outside the pearly gates of heaven before returning to life here on earth. Most of the book deals with his life and slow and painful recovery after the accident. It is a fascinating read! And finally, Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions by Lysa TerKeurst shared her (often hilarious) examples of coming unglued (and acting unreasonably or irrationally) and ways she's found to prevent those unglued moments.

Have you read any of these books or enjoyed any other good books this summer?

(BTW - I'll share reviews of the fiction books I've completed in a future post.)