Thursday, August 27, 2009

Please Pray!

Three years ago, Abbie played soccer on a team at our church. Coach Dan was the sweetest, nicest man. She wasn't too sure about playing soccer... had NOT enjoyed it before... so Coach Dan was the perfect match with his sweet, encouraging ways.

About a year and a half ago, I was commissioned by woman to make an album for her daughter and son-in-law's anniversary. I received the photos and was so blessed to discover that the album was for Coach Dan, his wife Angel, and his precious family! When Dan coached Abbie, he had a young son, and a daughter who played on the team with Abbie. Their anniversary book photos revealed that their family had since grown with the adoption of two children from Liberia. It was such a pleasure and my honor to get a glimpse into their lives and hearts as I created this keepsake for their family.

Just last night, I was surfing the web preparing for a talk I am giving tonight. I stumbled upon a link to a blog that belongs to Dan and Angel. My delight in discovering their online journal quickly turned to compassion and prayer as I read that their daughter Angelyn has been in the hospital for the past two weeks with complications from a ruptured appendix. Today Angelyn, who is only 8 years old, is facing another surgery. Please join me in lifting this precious family up in prayer. I am praying for healing for Angelyn, strength for her parents, and wisdom for her doctors and caregivers. Dan and Angel, whom I know barely at all, obviously have a heart to serve the Lord and minister to His orphans across the world.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

First Day of School!

Today was the first day of school! The morning began bright and early as we easily slipped back into our normal routine. This is our second year in our wonderful schools. Jacob, age 6, started first grade, Abbie, age 10, is in 5th, and Zachary, 12.5, is in 7th. It is my tradition to take photos as they leave for their first day... but I think I forgot to take them last year and the year before. I have them this year, though!

Jacob was "a little nervous" about starting first grade. Meeting his teacher at yesterday's open house helped make him a little more comfortable. Too bad that Jacob has to start the school year with a black eye! Just yesterday morning he was playing with his sister and somehow collided with something. He only has one classmate from last year, but a boy on our street that he has played with is in his class. I think he will have a great year!

Abbie is thrilled with her teachers this year. She got the homeroom teacher she wanted. He seems very sweet. She is also in the gifted program for math & reading. That teacher seems great too. Unfortunately, none of Abbie's closest friends are in her homeroom. And only one friend is in AIG with her. It was wonderful that she became good friends with girls in her class last year, since she was new to the school. I don't think she will have much trouble making friends this year, either.

Zachary leaves for school an hour after Abbie and Jacob. He was in the shower when the other kids left. Of course he was not thrilled to have mom taking his picture! But he smiled for me anyway!! He is a cool, soon-to-be-teenager, and all, you know! He has a couple friends in his classes. Zac is taking high school algebra with 26 other 7th graders. His open house was last week. I think he has a lot of great teachers. We will see what Zachary thinks about them as time goes on.

This morning we drove Abbie & Jacob to school. Their daddy likes to drive them each day. But they come home on the bus. I was there to meet them when it arrived this afternoon. The had a good day. Jacob said he had been a little scared, but the note I left in his lunchbox made him feel better. He also said, "I can't wait for tomorrow. I like school!"

Friday, August 21, 2009

I'm Going!!!

I am so excited!!! I just registered to attend a women's conference at Southbrook Church in Weddington, NC, next weekend! Not only is Lysa TerKeurst speaking, but my bloggy friends Nester and Emily will be presenting a breakout! Below is more info on the conference, and here is the link to register. Let me know if you're going, too!

August 28-29, 2009
Speaker Lysa Terkeurst Well-known author, conference leader, and Southbrook Church member

Like many women, Lysa TerKeurst knows what it's like to consider God just another thing on her to-do list. For years she went through the motions of a Christian life: Go to church. Pray. Be nice. Yet she wanted a deeper connection between what she knew in her head and what she felt in her heart. She wanted to personally experience God's presence.

Drawing from her own remarkable story of step-by-step faith, TerKeurst invites women to uncover the spiritually exciting life they long for. With her trademark wit and spiritual wisdom, TerKeurst helps women enjoy the passion of conversation with God, discover the life-changing words of the Bible, watch God use disappointments for good, and find incredible joy as they live their faith out every day.

Time Friday 7 p.m.-9 p.m. and Saturday 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
Cost $25 for the weekend

Monday, August 17, 2009

Watch This!

"One of the great things about scrapbooking is you just need that one little thing to spark that memory and bring back all those incredible smiles..." ~Nancy O'Dell

Recently, Creative Memories Co-founder Rhonda Anderson talked with Nancy O'Dell about the value of creating and sharing photo albums. O'Dell is co-host of the popular entertainment news show Access Hollywood and is also an avid scrapbooker, having created more than 100 personal albums. More than 4,000 Creative Memories Consultants and guests viewed the video segment as part of Creative Memories' national sales event. You can watch the full interview by clicking here!
After you watch it, let me know what you think!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Quick Cute Cards!

Have a lot of scrapbook supplies? Or some odds and ends and leftovers? I love to use my scrapbook supplies to make cards! In just a few minutes I have made something original, and tailored to the recipient. Best of all, I feed my creative urges with very little fuss. I'll show you a few cards I have made in the last week or so. The first card uses a bit of this fun, new Paper Ribbon!

It also uses these adorable Paper Flowers! I just love them!! So fun!!!

I have several of these PicFolio Milestones Album Kits, which are intended to be used as filler, journaling boxes, mats & embellishments for our slip-in PicFolio pocket album. While I have used them for that purpose, I also find them to be great in my scrapbooks, and especially handy for card making! Each kit comes with 88 coordinated AND double-sided pieces that work wonderfully for making cards.

This card used some leftover stickers, as well as the Milestones Album Kit pieces. The sweet little nest sticker actually had a yellow background. That didn't work, so I cut around it!

I used one of the Milestones Album Kit journal boxes on the inside... it added some flair and gave me straight lines to write on!

I apologize for my less-than-stellar photos. This card actually has a lovely floral mat in light blue. I know it is hard to see. Ever since I broke my camera, I am having to make do in the photography department. Anyway, this card has some cardstock matting behind the pretty mat. I also used Vellum Expressions on the front. I like to rip the edges of the vellum for extra texture and interest!

This card also has some cute Paper Flowers peeking out from inside, along with a "Happy Birthday" sticker!

Here is a card to celebrate the arrival of a precious baby boy! Again, it is just a mat, with another mat cut into a 3.5" square on top. The square mat was punched with a fancy corner punch. Then I added a Swirly Monagram sticker on top! A strip of decorative paper finishes it off. (And you can't even tell that I mis-punched that last corner since I covered it up!)

Cards are really quick & easy to make! And they cost so much less than store bought. You can use cardstock as the base, cutting it down and folding it to fit your envelopes. I have some blank cards that I start with that make it even easier. Do you make your own cards???
If you are local, I am having an open house event on Saturday, August 22nd from noon to 7pm: my Back To School Bash! Come to crop, or drop in anytime to make a card or two for free! Get a sneak peek of our newest line of products that will be available in September. I will also be having an awesome clearance sale... can you say $1 sticker packs??!!! And, it is your last chance to order the retiring refills and page protectors for the former Creative Memories 7x7 and 12x12 albums! I will also have some giveaways, treats, and surprises for you! I hope you can join me!!! (Need directions? Just leave your email address in the comments.)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

So I got to attend this great swap...

Here is my dining room with my new print on the wall! I love it!!! I am partial to architectural details and furniture... and this print has both a brick wall and a chair in it. Oh, and flowers, too. I love, love, love flowers. And the colors were just right. The price? Even better. FREE!!!!

I was blessed this past Saturday to attend a housewares swap. We all showed up with stuff we didn't want anymore, put it all on a table, and then took turns choosing something we did want! I made a rule for myself that I would only choose something that I knew I had a spot for. In my second pick, I snagged this framed print!

Oh, did I mention that this swap was at the Nester's home????!!?!!!! (And I shamelessly stole these last three photographs from her post about the event!)

A little over a year ago I first began reading one blog to keep up with my friend Jenny's adoption journey. One day, she had some photos of some cute window treatments she had put up. But she called them "mistreatments" which was quite puzzling to me! They were so cute! How could those adorable windows be being mistreated??? So I had to click on the link to find out more... and I discovered a creative haven of inspiration in the Nesting Place blog!!! And my love affair with blogs, blogging, and bloggers was born.

Because I loved Nester's down-to-earth, open & easy-going style, her great tutorials and most of all, her encouragement, I was inspired to start this blog at the end of 2008. So imagine how beside myself I have been as I looked forward to attending this swap in her home!!!!

with Tracey

As I anticipated attending the swap, I was just so excited about meeting Nester, and other bloggers! I pulled together the things I would be taking to swap. But I really didn't give a second thought to what I might be bringing home! That part was really immaterial to me. And then, last Wednesday when she blogged about the undone state of her bedroom, it occurred to me that I was actually going to be in her house!!! And, as the day approached, seeing the guest list made me even more excited, knowing that I would be meeting beautiful ladies with whom my heart connects!

Top Row: Richella, Emily, Nester, The Scooper, me, Jen, Bonita
Bottom Row: Leigh Ann, Lily, Kimba

Oh, what a treat it was!!! Now, I am usually not a crowd kind of person. I would prefer to get together with one or two girlfriends so we can really talk. In a big group, I am shy and tend to be more of an observer... especially when I don't know anyone. I have been known to be fully intending to attend a gathering, and then at the last minute not show up because I am too overwhelmed by the thought of stepping into the crowd all alone. But not this time. I was excited to go, not at all nervous. I was thrilled to be there, to meet people I felt like I already knew, as well as make new friends. And being in Nester's home was just like stepping into a photograph, only better. I tried to drink in every little thoughtful touch sprinkled throughout.

I have admired so many Nesting Place photos, furniture arrangements, window "mistreatments", and tablescapes... I couldn't believe I was actually there in person!!! This home was warm, comfortable and inviting. So welcoming. So inspiring. And Nester was equally warm and inviting, so adorable in person! She was a delight, so real... a little quirky in a cute way, and ever so encouraging.

The swap part was fun. I came home with some great stuff! The food was fabulous... we all brought a treat to share. But the fellowship and friendship were the best gift of all... making virtual a reality was such a treat!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Don't bet your life on it!

This, of course, is a memory card. A memory card from a camera.

How many photos do you have stored on your memory card? What happens when that card is full? What do you do with your photos? Where are all those jpg's???

As someone who has been blessed for the last 12 years to assist many people with preserving their photos and stories, I have seen some interesting solutions to this "digital dilemma". I have met people that simply buy a new memory card, then proceed to fill it up, then buy another, and another, and so on. One friend of mine puts all her photos onto CD's with the plan to get to the photos "someday"... My question is how many digital photos will you have by then?

I think that we can all agree that with digital photography, we are all taking more pictures than ever! And why not? It doesn't cost anything... and the more photos we take, the better the chances are of getting that really good shot we are hoping for. However, fewer pictures than ever are being printed. We are trusting in technology to keep our photos safe.

When we were on vacation this summer, I took lots of photos! We were gone a week, from Saturday to Saturday, and I had my laptop with me. I have another computer at home that I normally use to store and edit my photos, but I figured an extra copy on the laptop wouldn't hurt. So Thursday night I downloaded all the photos I had taken while on the trip. I took more photos on Friday when we got to spend time with a dear friend and her family. Saturday's pictures of our homecoming were especially sweet because my husband had to work all week and we had missed him! Then on Sunday, we hosted some special friends for dinner. We took some nice pictures of that beautiful evening with their parents who were visiting from South America.

A day or two later, I attempted to download all the vacation photos, and photos from that weekend, to my main computer. I was sickened to find that the memory card was BLANK! Everything was lost. Fortunately, I had a backup copy of vacation on the laptop. But three days in photos that we will never get back are gone for good. I am so very thankful that it was just three days.

The question is not "what IF technology fails?" but "how are you prepared for WHEN technology fails??"

Here are a few tips:
  1. Download your photos on a regular basis!!! Get on a schedule, say every first of the month. Or, if you take lots of photos, twice a month, or the same time every week. Our memory cards are huge and hold a ton of photos! I actually liked when I had a card that just held 75 pictures. It forced me to download and clear the card often. A memory card that holds hundreds or a thousand photos is just scary to me!!! You've gotta have a schedule for backing those photos up!

  2. When you download your photos, use the USB cable to connect the camera to your computer. Your memory card is most vulnerable to damage and corruption when you are taking it in and out of your camera!

  3. Back up your photos in more than one place. But be careful if you are relying on CD's. You know how silver has a tendency to tarnish? Well, silver CD's also have a tendency to deteriorate, causing your data to be lost. Did you know that their life expectancy is only three years? Gold CD's are more reliable. An external hard drive is another option. If you rely on an online service, research it carefully. Can you get your digital images back at their full resolution? Or can you only order prints? What other limitations might there be?

  4. Print your favorite photos! Our prints are our new negatives. If the digital file is lost, you can always scan the photo. Printed photos can be stored in albums or storage boxes--as long as they are photo-safe.
Here is an online class you can watch on your computer that will give you some ideas on how to better manage your digital photos. It highlights the software I use and love. And if I can answer any questions for you, please leave me a comment with your email address!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

My current distraction...

While I have made a concerted effort over the past week to actually publish posts on my own blog, I have had a difficult time keeping up this summer. It's not that I don't have things to write about or share... ideas do abound! (So do projects, responsibilities, kids, ect.!)

Not only have I not kept up with posting, I haven't kept up with reading and checking in on my favorite blogs! I have developed quite the reading list, and am constantly finding new blogs I love to check out on a regular basis. (I really should update my sidebar list.) Only my "regular basis" has not been so regular lately.

I feel like I have been neglectful... unfaithful even...

Several weeks ago, the media blitz for a new movie started. The commercials nudged a vague recollection from the back of my mind. I think I heard something about this story somewhere before...

So, I did what came naturally, and googled "Julie & Julia". From there I found Julie Powell and her blogs!

Amy Adams as Julie Powell

So, at night when my family snuggles in our seats in the family room watching movies or tv, I have been systematically reading Julie Powell's blog on my laptop... the blog that inspired the book... that inspired the movie, "Julie & Julia"! In case you don't know already, Julie was looking for purpose in her life when she decided that she was going to cook every recipe in Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" and blog about it.

What is interesting to me is that the blog starts on August 25, 2002. Since I have been blogging for less than a year, this is like ancient history in the blogosphere! I find it fascinating to see how the formats and navigation functions have evolved. We are so fortunate to have the tools, features, and ease of use we enjoy today. The other cool thing is reading the comments... most were made at the time of the original post. But many others have been made years later by people who later found her blog. Can you imagine someone years from now having a conversation with you from something you wrote this week? Trippy! So, I am enjoying reading this blog as a study of the history and evolution of blogging.

Meryl Streep as Julia Child

The other character in the movie is Julia Child. I have always enjoyed reading cookbooks. Not just perusing and picking our recipes, but actually reading the whole cookbook! Especially when the cookbook author seems like he or she is talking to the reader. So far, in my reading of Julie Powell's blog, Julie hasn't ever met Julia. But it is interesting to read about Julie's experiences as she works through Julia Child's recipes. I am definitely inspired to add more butter to my cooking!

I find Julie's blog to be funny, interesting, and informative. I do cringe, however, when she takes the Lord's name in vain. And her language is not always the most ladylike. But for the most part, I am enjoying this blog.

So here is my plan. I am not about to undertake the task of cooking every recipe in Julia Child's or anyone else's cookbook. But I am planning on reading every post, in order, on Julie Powell's blog. And then I want to read her book. And then there's the movie... it opened last night!

This is a movie I really look forward to seeing! And I will...

As soon as it is released on redbox!

Friday, August 7, 2009

I woke up this morning with a prayer in my heart for my husband.

Today he has a job interview. But my prayer isn't really about that. My prayer is one of thankfulness for how the Lord has worked in and through my husband over the past couple of years. I couldn't wait to get up this morning, go to my favorite spot, and spend time in God's Word.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own
~Proverbs 3:5

Over the past 26 months, the Lord has been teaching my husband how not to lean on his own understanding. Gil has had his faith tested. I am so thankful that his faith, his head knowledge, has truly moved into his heart.

I am thankful that, though in a time of testing, Gil has not fallen away, and that while he could be choked by life's worries, he has, instead, matured.

But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who
hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.
~Luke 8:15

It hasn't been an easy couple of years. Since getting laid off 26 months ago, I have watched my husband go through a wide range of emotions, including anger and depression. I sat with him while he hit bottom. And I praised God when that happened... knowing that now Gil had no where to look but up. To the Lord.

Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that
we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.
~2 Corinthians 1:9

Along the way, Gil started his own consulting and recruiting business from home, and soon realized that working in isolation really wasn't for him. He spent countless hours reading his Bible, praying, and preparing devotions. He spent time with me and with our children. He coached soccer, led our small group, taught at VBS, and counseled with friends.

Gil watched the Lord provide for our family in ways that only He could... unexpected income... a great house in the school district where we wanted our kids to attend... our grocery budget stretching farther than what seems possible... We have truly been in the mode of "walking by faith, not by sight" and "waiting upon the Lord".

LORD, you establish peace for us;
all that we have accomplished you have
done for us.
~Isaiah 26:12

I am thankful that through this time our family has grown closer. I am thankful that our marriage has grown stronger. Through this process the Lord has revealed my own sin to me. I am working on being a better wife... more respectful... less selfish. I am thankful for God's grace to bless us, even in our unworthiness.

A year ago, Gil started working a temp job. Coming from an executive position, it was humbling. But I have been so very proud of Gil's faithfulness, humility, and integrity. He is doing what he needs to do to provide for our family. He is seeking the Lord, rather than ambition and status. He is more focused on serving than on striving. Gil is seeking God with his whole heart. I praise the Lord for my husband!

In March, Gil moved to a different company, and a month ago, was made permanent. A couple of weeks ago a supervisor opportunity came up within the company. Today Gil has his second interview for that position. I am not worried about the outcome. God has that under control. Today I am thanking the Lord for blessing me with my wonderful husband, who is a godly man and terrific father.

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to
prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you
will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will
seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by
you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather
you from all the nations and places where I have banished you," declares the
LORD, "and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into
~Jeremiah 29:11-14

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Zac Goes to Camp!

Take two good friends...
A whole lot of gear...

Mix in 90 other middle-schoolers from our church. Put on two buses early on a summer Tuesday morning. After some side trips in Tennessee, end up at Student Life's FLIP camp at Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Georgia!

Add some creative recreational activities...

The opportunity to be on-stage during one of the large group sessions...

Participate in worship, teaching, and more fun...

Spend six full days away from home (where the house is unusually quiet). Come home late Sunday night tired, with a bag full of dirty laundry.

Results: One happy camper!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Joy of the LORD is my Strength

I just taught a Bible study to some ladies at my church about Nehemiah, chapters 1-8. He was the cupbearer to the Persian king, Artaxerxes. Nehemiah had a burden for the people of Jerusalem and felt called by God to help them rebuild their broken-down wall. This wall had been in disrepair for almost a century and a half! But through Nehemiah, God had that wall rebuilt in just 52 days!!!

I had all summer to prepare this study. It was a good thing, because I haven't really ever done this type of in-depth teaching and was a little intimidated by it. But the Lord spoke to me, and I believe, through me. Truly, as I prepared and taught this lesson, "the joy of the Lord was my strength." (Nehemiah 8:10b)

Throughout my time of preparation, I kept thinking about the significance of the wall. Why was the wall being rebuilt such an important goal? In my study, I found that the broken-down wall represented a lack of self-control, destruction, and sin! Nehemiah 1:3 even says:

They said to me, "Those who survived the exile and are back in the
province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of
Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire."

However, having the wall restored represented safety, boundaries, protection, strength, peace, and even salvation! I found several wonderful scripture verses describing this:

In your good pleasure make Zion prosper;
build up the walls of
Psalm 51:18
May there be peace within your
and security within your
Psalm 122:7
In that day this song will be sung in the land of
We have a strong city;
God makes salvation
its walls and ramparts.
Isaiah 26:1
No longer will violence be heard in your land,
nor ruin or destruction within your borders,
but you will call your walls Salvation
and your gates Praise.
Isaiah 60:18
We don't know a lot about Nehemiah. But what we do know gives us a great model to follow as we seek to follow God's call for ourselves, to face impossible situations, or to fortify walls in our lives.
  1. Nehemiah committed himself to prayer, as well as prayer and fasting, for some days, even months. (Nehemiah 1:4)
  2. Nehemiah confessed the sins of his people, his family, and himself. (Nehemiah 1:6)
  3. He meditated on the Word of God and listened for God's call to him. (Nehemiah 1:8)
  4. Nehemiah surrendered to the Lord's will; he stepped out in obedience and saw the Lord provide everything he needed. (Nehemiah 2:2-8)
  5. Nehemiah obeyed God's call and went to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall. (Nehemiah 2:11)
  6. When Nehemiah was confronted with sin among his own people, he dealt with it. (Nehemiah 5)
  7. However, when he faced repeated opposition from non-believers, he ignored it and refused to allow it to pull him away from the task God had given him to do. (Nehemiah 2, 4, 6)
  8. Throughout the process, Nehemiah relied fully on the Lord. He did all in HIS strength, not his own. (Nehemiah 8:10b)
  9. Nehemiah continually gave God the glory! When the wall was rebuilt, he worshiped and praised the Lord. (Nehemiah 8:12)

Think about this with me...
· What impossible situation are you facing today?
· What walls do you need to rebuild in your life?
· How is God calling you to obey Him?

Isn't wonderful that "nothing is impossible with God" (Luke 1:37)??!!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

I {heart} mornings...

In this house, we are blessed to have a screened-in back porch. I love being the first one in the house who is awake in the morning. I come downstairs, make my pot of tea, grab my Bible, and head out to my favorite spot on the back porch. Since we live on the outer edge of our subdivision, our house backs up to a road that can be somewhat busy at times. So I really like to be up early, before folks start heading to work, so I have fewer passing cars interrupting my thoughts.

We do have a lovely buffer of trees on two sides. Our yard is like a park! Did I mention that we feel blessed to live in this house? Anyway, all those trees attract lots of birds... cardinals, woodpeckers, and this morning a hawk was screeching overhead. I love listening to all of them! We have three bunnies that also come to visit, as well as numerous squirrels. Past the trees, next to the road, joggers, cyclists, and dog-walkers make their way along the sidewalk. Overall, it is a peaceful spot to have my morning quiet time.

This is the view from our screened porch to our side yard, looking into the 40-foot-tall trees...

My husband also likes to sit out here with his Bible. Every day, we feel like the Lord is smiling down upon us. Both my husband and I see, so clearly each morning, this lovely heart framed by the trees! It makes my heart happy. And I am thankful. What a sweet reminder of our Lord's great love for us.

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us,
that we should be called children of God!
And that is what we are!
1John 3:1a

I am sharing this gift of our everyday as part of Tuesdays Unwrapped with Emily at Chatting at the Sky. Check out more moments of thankfulness on her blog!

Chatting at the Sky

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