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.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

What's On Your Workdesk Wednesday #11

Over the past week, I've taken a couple of classes at our local scrapbook store, however there are little bits I need to do to complete the class projects. So, today my craft table has an assortment of projects waiting to be finished.


On the left, that pile with the yellow flowers contains four cards, each partially completed. That long one on top is an accordion-type card. The brown blocks have all been decoupaged with stamped paper, but I want to put another coat of decoupage on them before adding the tacks that will hold the Happy Easter tags I created during another class. In the center of the table are some trading cards that Robbie picked up at a recent card show. At some point these cards were obviously adhered into an old album, and I'm slowing working on getting the remaining paper off the backs. There's also a little package of purple stencils that I want to try out in my journaling Bible.


You can also see my small tool tote that I use to carry a few supplies to classes and such. There are a few extra things in there that I want to put back in my carousels before I put it away. I'm hoping to get these items cleared off by tomorrow as I have edited and ordered more photos for the custom scrapbook-for-hire project I have in progress.

Remember those vision boards I was working on when my desk was all messy a couple of weeks ago? I finished those up and shared them in a blog post HERE.

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

Monday, March 20, 2017

Monday's Mail Memo - March Book Swap

This is the third month in the book swap my sister Brenda and I are doing this year, and it makes me so happy!

March Book from Brenda - Silence Broken

The package I received from Brenda included a new book, an inspirational bookmark, and a little note, along with the return of the February book I'd sent her.


https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1588720659/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1588720659&linkCode=as2&tag=dalibipi-20&linkId=6d526d25affd7b4a4135df57bf064f98
I did not know what to expect when I started reading Silence Broken by Yvonne Fedderson and Sara O'Meara. I had not heard of the book or the organization that the authors founded (Childhelp USA) before, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading how these two actresses have spent the past 50+ years helping orphans and abused children, first overseas and then here in the US. The book shares their stories as well as letters and recollections from children they've helped, caregivers at the facilities they built, and volunteers who've served over the years. This is a very inspiring read that I highly recommend!


March Book to Brenda - Normal is Just a Setting on Your Dryer

I actually mailed Brenda's March book back in January when my original package had not been delivered after a couple of weeks. However, the first package did eventually arrive, so I asked Brenda to save the second package for March. I had included a book, a note, and a FUN matching bookmark that I created using Photoshop Elements and a photo of the dial on my dryer.


I had even wrapped it all up, and Brenda didn't peek until we were ready for the March books! :)


Patsy Clairmont wrote this book in 1993 when she was 47-years-old. I heard Patsy speak at a Women of Faith event in the late 1990s - she is a wonderful speaker, funny and easy to relate to! Of course, the book title, Normal is Just a Setting on Your Dryer, is so FUN, too! This really isn't a book about how to be normal. Patsy wrote that she hasn't figured that out yet anyway. Rather, it's an encouragement to be the best "us" we can be! She shares funny stories that include a life lesson in short, easy-to-read chapters. (Patsy is still sharing funny stories as she travels and speaks to groups around the country!)

As I was re-reading this book before sending it on to Brenda, I laughed out loud when Patsy shared an experience she had while riding a bicycle. She was going down a hill, a little too fast, and lost control . . . causing her to flip over the handlebars. This really isn't funny, except for the fact that I was going to send this to  my sister . . .  who did exactly the same thing when we were in elementary school!

My favorite chapter is entitled "Fired Up" and relates the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal. You can definitely get a feel for Patsy's FUN writing style in these two excerpts from that chapter (and the story of Elijah found in I Kings 18).

The Baal and Asherah prophets pranced around the alter (similar to ring-around-the-rosy), trying to ignite a spark of enthusiasm from their gods. When they began to grow weary, Plucky Prophet Elijah taunted them: "I think your gods are out to lunch, nah, nah, nah, nah" (loose translation - very loose).

Here was a wayward man, battling self-pity and anguish, headed in the wrong direction, and the Lord sent him company and provision. An angel woke him and offered him a cake. (Wow! Angel food cake, one of my favorites.) Elijah, a man after my own weakness, ate and fell back asleep.

And, yes, my creative friends, Patsy does include a chapter about crafting and the various projects she's been interested in over the years. She concludes by saying, "I seem to be more into ownership than completion." Obviously, this is a book I recommend!

Of course, I'm looking forward to receiving my April book swap package from Brenda in a couple of weeks as I wave to all the Mondayers joining in with Sian this year as we share memos and mail on Monday!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

One Little Word - March

As I began work on the March prompt in the One Little Word class, I took a look back at how ACTIVE I was in February.

My ACTIVE February

I did ok in my goal to be physically ACTIVE, exercising at least 30 minutes 17 days and adding in 200 crunches 10 days. The addition of the crunches was the practice item I chose for February's OLW prompt, however I realized about halfway through the month that this felt like a chore rather than a positive addition to my exercise routine. I took it off my to-do list for the last half of the month. Here's a look at the completed page in my OLW binder.


I had a great month with my goals to be spiritually ACTIVE: I enjoyed Quiet Time and devotional reading 26 days, completed 4 illustrated Bible journal pages, wrote a new devotional for an upcoming intro workshop, and attended the Fresh Grounded Faith event. The month included some Healthy Living ACTIVITY as I tracked my water intake (with the goal of drinking 8 cups a day) and participated in the 4 Steps To Life Without the Scale video masterclass in the My Embraced Life Facebook group.

My month included ACTIVE Learning - I completed the class materials in the One Little Word workshop, read and listened to weekly materials, interacted in the Facebook group, and participated in the live Q&A sessions for the Chosen Journey (I was a "guest expert" one week!), and read 3 books and attended the library book club discussion.

Creativively I had a very ACTIVE month as I taught a DIY cardmaking class at the library, created 6 layouts, 5 cards and 3 gift tags, along with 5 additional cards for the Christmas Card Throwdown Challenge 03 and 9 layouts for a custom scrapbook-for-hire project. I also created a promo video for an upcoming event (& a bloopers video!) and processed digital photos from January 2017. I published 16 blog posts, along with 2 posts on the Personal Scrapbook blog and one on the Scrappin' Goodtime blog. And I participated weekly in Monday's Mail Memo and What's On Your Workdesk Wednesday and the monthly 5 in 5 Photography Meme.

Other ACTIVITY in February included cleaning out last year's files, shredding or archiving papers, and beginning to declutter/organize the office. I enjoyed several outings and get-togethers with friends and family, including celebrating my parent's 51st wedding anniversary. Plus I finalized my plans for the April Illustrated Faith retreat I'm attending and signed up to attend the Breathe Retreat with my sister in September.

March One Little Word - Vision Board

The March OLW prompt was to create a vision board. This year I decided to create a 12x12 board and spent time flipping through catalogs and brochures for photos and words. I actually ended up with two boards.

I had clipped a photo with a woman looking away from the camera toward mountains to represent travel, then I found several other photos of women being ACTIVE looking away from the camera. This led to a search for more similar photos (most of which came from Title Nine catalogs), resulting in this FUN board. (There's only one woman looking out - do you see her there?)


I added words to create a "sentence" and really love the way this vision board turned out! It makes me want to get out and be ACTIVE!

I had several other items I'd clipped still on the table, so I started organizing them and realized I had quite a few with a travel theme. So, I created an ACTIVE travel vision board as well!


I've always enjoyed creating vision boards, but I have to admit that these two were especially FUN! I'm going to hang them in my craft room as INSPIRATION to be ACTIVE!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

What's On Your Workdesk Wednesday #10

As I've shared images of my workdesk(s) over the past couple of months, I've gotten lots of comments (thank you!) about how neat and tidy it looks, even when I'm in the midst of a project. [A few commenters have even mentioned that it's OK to show a messy desk. LOL] The truth is, I rarely have a messy desk, but just to show that it's not always so organized, here's a look at my craft table yesterday as I worked on this month's vision board prompt in the One Little Word class.


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

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

March 5 in 5

Sunday (the 5th), we headed out to find the location of a trading card show Robbie had heard about. It was actually a fundraiser held at a Jewish temple, in the fellowship hall area. As we headed down the hall to the show area, I was drawn to the beautiful artwork on display and chose five items to share for this month's 5 in 5 photography challenge (hosted by Sandi at itchifingers).






Such lovely artwork to discover unexpectedly on a rainy Sunday morning!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Monday's Mail Memo - Coloring Book & Pop Dots

Monday again already, and time to wave to all the Mondayers joining in with Sian this year as we share memos and mail on Monday!

Here's a look at the pile of mail that arrived one day last week!


The large box held a new pair of shoes for Robbie as we'd had to exchange the ones I'd ordered the week before for a different style. Most of the remaining packages were collectibles Robbie ordered, however I did have two FUN envelopes. I won the Hope Bible Study coloring book during a free online class in the Embraced Eating Recovery Facebook group, and I ordered those pop dots to use in the scrapbook-for-hire project I'm working on.


What did you find in your mailbox last week?

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Chosen: A Mindset Journey (e-course review)

As I mentioned at the beginning of the year, I signed up for Chosen: An Online Mindset Journey to Walking in Your Worth, an 8-week interactive e-course for purpose-driven women who want to get their mindset right as they walk into everything God has for them, as I am ACTIVELY evaluating where the Lord is leading me in my teaching ministry. My greatest desire is to honor the Lord in all that I do. I believe my calling is to encourage women to serve the Lord in their everyday life, with or without a ministry or business.

The focus of this course is to move the mindset mountains that are barriers to walking in our worth, essentially to put our focus on the Lord and the truths in His Word rather than the lies we (and others) often tell ourselves. I'll admit that my biggest struggle is feeling that I'm not good enough because of past failures and because I'm not a "perfect" Christian. I question whether I'm the right person to be teaching and encouraging others to serve the Lord when so many times I've failed to walk the straight and narrow. This course reminded me that if God calls me, He will equip me.

I must remember that He is a big God! Acts 17:24-25 says: God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things.


I turned my photo of Cascade Mountain reflecting in Johnson Lake into a line drawing & traced it to create this page reminding me not to make God too small - He is The Creator of all!

The lessons in this course have been great reminders:

*to set my mind on things above instead of on Earth.

*that God is God and we should come before God with an understanding of who He is - Lord of Lords and Kings of Kings, our Heavenly Father.

*to do what I'm called to do TODAY and God will reveal His purpose in me as I continue to follow Him. I don't have to figure it all out before I'm walking in (& toward) my purpose.

*that my identity in Christ will be called into question when I'm poised for purpose . . .  the mind battle can be strong when I feel God calling me to step out of my comfort zone and into His purpose!

*that because of God's grace and mercy and sacrifice of His son on the cross, I do not have to walk in shame! 

*that I am a masterpiece, "fearfully and wonderfully made" by God Himself, and through Him I can do all things.

I thoroughly enjoyed the course, which included a weekly audio message and workbook, live Q&A sessions, and a private Facebook group to interact with other class participants. I was privileged to be a "guest expert" during the live Q&A one week as I shared the story of my adult life before Robbie and how God is calling me to write a new retreat curriculum to help others heal from the hurts in their past. I also now feel confident and ready to schedule my next illustrated Bible journaling workshops! (Check out my Upcoming Workshops & Events page for more details.)

Now that the live run of this course is coming to a close, it will be available as a self-paced study HERE. I highly recommend it!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

More Pulitzer Prize Winning Books

I've made some progress on my goal to read all the Pulitzer Prize winners in fiction! Over the past couple of months, I completed four more books from the list of winners.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0312243022/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0312243022&linkCode=as2&tag=dalibipi-20&linkId=fdb723a00c39d998622cbb4f4f44dd91 https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/014310571X/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=014310571X&linkCode=as2&tag=dalibipi-20&linkId=248b76f7e18cb477cc2bf76e72845e42
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0374529388/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0374529388&linkCode=as2&tag=dalibipi-20&linkId=73412756ba1f18421c26334d4628976c https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0140070206/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0140070206&linkCode=as2&tag=dalibipi-20&linkId=69d279b8e6ea9b83c3a18f3bf8495dbb

The Hours by Michael Cunningham (1999 winner) is a very well written book, but I did not enjoy it at all. It follows the story of 3 women: Virginia Woolf in London in 1923 as she is writing Mrs. Dalloway; Carissa, a lesbian in New York at the end of the 20th century, as she prepares for a party; and Laura, a housewife in Los Angeles in 1949. The stories are told in alternating chapters that are filled with psychological issues, gays, lesbians, AIDS, unhappiness, and suicide. Oh, and there's Richard, who turns up in two of the stories and kills himself in the end.

A Death in the Family by James Agee (1958 winner) was incomplete when the author died. There were sections of the story that he had written but not yet inserted into the manuscript. Rather than try to insert them where they made sense, the publisher put these random chapters at the end of Parts I and II of the novel, which was extremely disconcerting. For example, all of Part II of the novel takes place over a few hours at the house on the night of the accident, then there is the random insertion of a story about the family visiting a great-great-grandmother some time before the story began!

This novel is about a father who goes out of town to check on his own ill father and dies in a one-car accident on his way back home. The writing is very detailed, with lots (and lots!) of dialogue and long (very long!) passages of stream of consciousness from various characters - the father's 6-year-old son, his Catholic wife, his brother, etc. It was not a pleasant or easy-to-read book.

The Fixer by Bernard Malamud (1967 winner) is about a Jew, Yakov Bok, living in Russia in the early 20th century. He is a fixer of things who leaves his village to move to a larger town. He ends up living in a restricted section of town (Jews were not allowed) and is arrested for the murder of a young boy despite the evidence for his innocence.

The story is told from Yakov Bok's point of view and is set mostly during the three years he is in prison. He is a thinker, so in his mind he thinks through things over and over and eventually starts to go crazy and have hallucinations. However, he never wavers in his innocence, despite dire warnings and offers of a lesser sentence if he will confess that he murdered the child as part of a Jewish custom. The conditions are extremely harsh. This was also a difficult book to read, however I was more invested in this character and rooting for him . . . but the book simply ended with him on the way to the trial . . . so I'm left wondering (or making up my own storyline) how it ended!

[I was extremely surprised that this novel was a winner because the Pulitzer is awarded  for distinguished fiction published in book form during the year by an American author, preferably dealing with American life.]

Ironweed by William Kennedy (1984 winner) is the story of  Francis Phelan, a bum in Albany. All his friends are bums and mostly drunks, too. When they are all drunk, there's pages of stupid dialogue that makes no sense as they argue and rant and talk to each other. They live in ways that lead to strange occurrences, like when Sandra dies propped up outside a mission, frozen to death and being gnawed on by dogs. Honestly, there were too many people "on the bum" and too much sex and too much drinking and too much stupidity for me to relate to or like any of the characters.

Francis wasn't always a bum. We learn his backstory through dead people who show up throughout the book. When he's working at the cemetery in the first chapter, we "see" and "hear" the thoughts of his father and mother in their graves! Later, men he's killed "show up" beside him on the bus or in the back of a truck he's loading. Finally, after 22 years, he revisits the family he abandoned after he accidentally dropped his 13-day-old son, killing him instantly. Yep, another not-so-pleasant story.

Once again, I admit that these books are often challenging to read and are definitely stretching me out of my comfort zone . . . which is what some goals should do, right!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

What's On Your Workdesk Wednesday #9

My worktable is all clean this afternoon as I tidied up late yesterday when I finished the January layouts that you see waiting to be put in an album.


This evening I'll be back to working on my current scrapbook-for-hire project. Last week I had a comment asking about the difficulty of scrapbooking for other people. It definitely depends on the project whether it’s easy or difficult when scrapbooking for someone else. This is the third client (and eighth album) I’ve worked with and each has been different, but so far I’ve developed a good report with the client right away and we’ve spent time discussing the project so that I know what they want. I complete a few pages then have the client take a look to be sure I’m creating something that reflects them and the look they have in mind for the project. Once I know I'm on the right track, it's a lot of FUN to create pages to preserve memories and photos for someone else.

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