One Little Word 2016

This is the third year I’ve chosen a Word of the Year, or One Little Word (concept by Ali Edwards), and I’ve come to really appreciate this approach to a new year versus choosing some New Year’s resolutions. Resolutions don’t seem to last very long, and with that comes a certain sense of failure. But I think choosing a word that describes the direction or focus you plan to take in the upcoming year takes a little pressure off. It’s not a list of do’s and/or don’ts, but rather just something to continually keep in mind and work towards throughout the year.

The word I have chosen for 2016 is RENEW.

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Before I go on to explain this word, because it’s part of the story, I just want to take you back to 2015 and my word for that year, which was CULTIVATE. You can read about my One Little Word for 2015 here, and for 2014 here.

These types of posts always get a bit lengthy for me. Sorry. you can skip all the words if you want, but I just feel like I need to give a little back story.

I’m just going to be bluntly honest and say that 2015 sucked. In so many ways.

When I chose the word cultivate, I have to admit I had something totally different in mind than God did. My idea of cultivation was less intensive, less invasive, a little more surface, not so deep. A lot nicer. Much more pleasant. I kind of have to chuckle and think that just maybe, when I chose that word, God just sat back, gave a little nod, and said something along the lines of “Well, if cultivation is what you want, my child, then that is what you will get.” And so He did. Cultivated me, that is.

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2015 was so challenging in so may ways. And that is why you haven’t seen me updating my Cultivate album. I kept it up for over half the year, and then it just got too hard. I couldn’t even find the words to write what I was feeling inside. Maybe sometime I will show you the pages I have completed but haven’t shared yet.

Early on in 2015 when I got a hint of the challenges to come, I felt like God was saying that He wanted to go deep. He said something like “Brenda, it’s not enough to just cultivate above ground, to look good. But I want to make sure your roots are strong.” I had no idea what that would look like, but I found out.

The Devil likes to kick us when we’re down, and that’s what he did. He went after us when we were already facing challenges and gave us one sucker punch after another until I wasn’t sure I’d survive. I think every area of our lives was affected, except for our physical health, thankfully. We stayed healthy all year, except for a small ordeal with Lymes with one of our kids. But it was very clear to me that we were under some sort of spiritual attack and engaged in a spiritual battle.

And I began to realize that God had a whole other idea of cultivation than I did. Like barren soil that breaks up under the farmer’s plow, God wrecked me. He poked and prodded. He pulled up weeds and tugged at the stones.

And I I stood and wondered “Is this what the soil feels like after it’s been cultivated? Broken, vulnerable, wondering what in the world just happened.

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But one thing I know is that God doesn’t wreck without a reason. He doesn’t break something unless there’s something better to be had. He always, always has a purpose. God wants us to thrive and grow, but sometimes He needs to get rid of the junk first.

Like the grape is crushed to release its sweet juices. Like a rose petal crushed to release its pleasant fragrance. Like a diamond is formed under pressure. God breaks us open so he can plant a new seed and begin something new, something sweet, something wonderful.

After the storm comes a rainbow. Out of the fire comes pure gold. The heart that goes through times of trial is purified and strengthened for whatever lies ahead. The trials will make us or break us. We will either respond by hardening or hearts and shutting down, or by opening up and allowing God to do what He wants to in us.

And so after a year like 2015, I feel so much like it’s time for something new. My spirit has been so weary this past year from so much struggle. I need RENEWal in so many areas of my life. I need God to come and breathe a fresh breath of newness in my spirit.

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I looked up the word RENEW in the dictionary. It means:

verb (used with object)
1. to begin or take up again, as an acquaintance, a conversation, etc.; resume.
2. to make effective for an additional period
3. to restore or replenish:
4. to make, say, or do again.
5. to revive; reestablish.
6. to recover (youth, strength, etc.).
7. to restore to a former state; make new or as if new again.
verb (used without object)
8. to begin again; recommence.
9. to renew a lease, note, etc.
10. to be restored to a former state; become new or as if new again.

I also looked up some synonyms, and these are some that I really liked:

  1. reaffirm
  2. reestablish
  3. restore
  4. revive
  5. exhilarate
  6. freshen
  7. reawaken
  8. recreate
  9. refresh
  10. rejuvenate
  11. revitalize
  12. transform
  13. begin again
  14. breathe new life into

Yes, Jesus! Yes! That is exactly what my heart longs for! I hope I’ve been adequately cultivated. I hope my heart stands soft and workable enough for Him to use to nurture and grow something useful and beautiful.

All I have to offer is clumps of dirt falling through my fingers. But I lift it up to the Father and ask Him to do something with this. To RENEW me. That the seeds He’s planted this year will spring up a fruitful tree. One with deep roots.

The dirt, after it’s been cultivated, doesn’t show any signs of growth at first. An observer has no idea what kind of seeds the farmer has planted deep within the soil until the shoots begin to emerge. That is where I am right now. Freshly (and hopefully thoroughly) cultivated. Ready for new life and renewal.

I have no idea what will come out of this period of my life. I have no clue what seeds the Father has planted or what He hopes this will yield in me. I’ll have to wait and see. But I know He’s not going to waste it. He’s done work on me this year. I’ve had some glimpses of some good things that have come about because of this year of cultivation. And I expect to see more glimpses along the way. Until one day I can look back and see something flourishing and growing as a direct result of what God has been doing. Some day it will be evident. For now, I wait and draw close to God, waiting in expectation for the RENEWal that I know will come soon.

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I’ll leave you with this verse that speaks right to my heart.

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19

And this quote by Vance Havner:

“God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. It is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever.”

And this one by Daniel Abram:

We say that flowers return every spring, but that is a lie. It is true that the world is renewed. It is also true that that renewal comes at a price, for even if the flower grows from an ancient vine, the flowers of spring are themselves new to the world, untried and untested.

The flower that wilted last year is gone. Petals once fallen are fallen forever. Flowers do not return in the spring, rather they are replaced. It is in this difference between returned and replaced that the price of renewal is paid.

And as it is for spring flowers, so it is for us.”

 

 

 

Gossamer Blue January reveal

Happy New Year!

Welcome, 2016! I am happy to see you! I am hoping for many good things in store this year. There is much to look forward to.

For today, it means there are some new Gossamer Blue kits in the house!! Head on over to the shop to snag yours.

Much Love card (main kit):

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I loved the patterned papers in this month’s main kit so much. They are fresh, new interesting, and different. The ones I used here are from the Goldie 7 Paper line from Studio Calico designed by Ashley Goldberg, and the Crate Paper Hello Love collection. I really love both of these lines.

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I used several different patterned papers and some of the lovely metallic glitter embellishments from Heidi Swapp.

Selfie scrapbook page (main kit):

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Just a disclaimer, I am NOT a selfie taking person! Don’t want to ever be. This is one of maybe two selfies I’ve ever taken that do not include any other person. I kind of feel funny even sharing a photo I’ve taken of myself. Haha!! But I’m glad I have it to record me at this time of my life. So there’s that.

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I used papers and embellishments form the main kit for this page.

More to come. I will not wait until the last day of the month to share the rest this time. I promise.:)

Happy New Year! Thanks for stopping by!

 

final December share

Seeing it’s the last day of December, I guess I’d better get around to sharing my final projects with the December Gossamer Blue kits! Somehow this month just disappeared, and all my good intentions along with it.

If you’ve visited the gallery, you may have seen these projects there, but for those of you who haven’t, here are the last two projects I made using the December kits.

Be You page:

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I adore those large gold letters, so I had to find a way to use them on a page. This photo is one I took of my daughter while out on a mother/daughter date together.

I included some journaling for her, you know, motherly wisdom and encouragement. I find my pages for her (and my boys too) often encourage her to be herself, to stand up for who she is, to not be afraid to do why’s right, and that she is always beautiful, even if the world tells her otherwise. I think our kids need to hear those words.

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Those large letters just begged to be stitched. So I did.

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I love the colors on this page so much. I took inspiration from the dress my daughter is wearing, that sadly no longer fits her, and pulled out some stickers and patterned papers that I felt coordinated well.

Of course, if you’ve been here any length of time, you probably well know my love for the yellows, blues, and greens color families, and that they are best paired with black.

As you can see, I went with that color scheme in this next project as well.

Epic card:

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I love that patterned paper so much! It’s from the Maggie Holmes Shine collection. And that little succulent plant in the southwestern pot. That’s my favorite thing on the entire chipboard sheet from that same collection!

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And with that, I leave you with the last of my projects for 2015.

I am thankful to leave 2015 behind and am looking forward to a brand new year filled with good things. I know there are so many exciting things coming for Gossamer Blue in the new year that I can hardly wait to tell you about. All in good time, my friends. All in good time!

Tomorrow is the January release from Gossamer Blue, so I’ll be back to share more projects then.

I hope your New Year’s Eve is a lovely and safe one, unless you’re ahead of us and have already celebrated. Then I hope it was awesome. I wish all of you only the best in the New Year. Thank you so much for all your love and support this year. Thanks for visiting my blog, for pinning and commenting on my projects. For sharing the love of paper crafting with me. I appreciate it!

More to come in 2016. See you there!

December Memories 2015 /// Days 7-11

Hey there! Did the days get away from you like they did for me? I had so many good intentions of blogging last week, but in the flurry of Christmas preparations it just did not happen.

Christmas was good, and I’m thankful for one more week of vacation before the kids head back to school. The house is quiet today. The boys are away at basketball practice, and Chloe is snuggled up in a blanket on my bed fast asleep while I type this in my craft room nearby. The quiet is good. I’m taking advantage of it to catch up on blogging and crafting.

I’ve had these pages done for a while now in my December Memories album, but just didn’t get around to sharing them.

Here are days 7-11. I hope to get caught up on the rest of this album this week.

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Day 7: Our church home group served dinner at a local youth ministry. I helped make cookies for the kids to decorate. These photos were taken of some of the kids helping to decorate cookies.

This time I added the number 7 to a tag instead of adding it to a pocket like I had previously. Just for something different.

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Day 8: I spent the day baking on the 8th. I really regret not keeping count of how many dozen cookies I baked this year. It was a record breaker, I have no doubt.

I added a transparency sheet over a full page photo and added the number 8 to the transparency.

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Day 8 continued. This is the back side of the full page photo on the other side. I added another smaller photo of some of my cookies and journaled on the bottom.

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Day 9: This was kind of a sad day. At least for my son. He took his driver’s test and failed. I added the story of that here, along with a photo my husband took of a very disappointed young man texting a friend the sad news over lunch.

I added my journaling to a piece I inserted on the left side. Even sad and disappointing days should be recorded, right? It’s all a part of life.

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Day 10: I added some photos of my gift wrapping station.

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Day 11: This was the day of my kids’ school Christmas program. Each of my kids had a musical part plus their class program participation. They worked for weeks and weeks on their parts. I was so proud of them and their hard work.

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The tiny stars are from the Gramercy Road line from Gossamer Blue. The little blue stars just worked so well to add to my album.

I have a few more photos to print out of the program to add to the next page, but this is as far as I’ve gotten.

I can’t wait to work on it some more!I have so many photos to print and things I want to add. If you want to know where to find me this week, just check my craft space. I’ll be there!:)

Hope you all had a lovely Christmas and are enjoying your vacation, if you have one. Have an amazing week!

 

December memories 2015 /// days 1-6

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I’ve been enjoying the process of creating my December Memories album so much more this year than last. I’ve been able to keep caught up, which is a great feeling.

I’m using the December Memories kit from Gossamer Blue again this year. This is such a fun project, and the kit is perfect. I really love the addition of the planner pages. It helps me to keep things organized.

One of the reasons I’m able to stay caught up is that I’m keeping things pretty simple. That is key for me. No elaborate pages. Just mostly photos and journaling and a few embellishments thrown in.

Today I’m sharing pages 1-6, although I have my album pretty much all caught up until yesterday. I’ll share more pages soon.
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Day one: I started the Christmas season off right by hosting a cookie baking day here for me and my two sisters. We baked 9 different kinds of cookies, pastries, and sweets. I recorded my journaling on the left side, and a photo of our cookies on the right.

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Day 2: I hosted a Hot Cocoa and Crafting event for a bunch of friends. I failed to take photos that day, so I had to get creative. I stalked my friends’ Facebook pages for photos of them I could use in my album. I don’t think they’ll mind. I didn’t steal any professional photos, just snapshots. Then I sized them all into 2″x2″ squares and popped them into my slots. I love having all their smiling faces looking back at me. I have cute friends!

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I love that I’ll be able to look back and remember who was here, even though I didn’t take any photos.

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On the right side I added journaling, a tiny photo of my hand drawn hot cocoa chalkboard sign, and some fun embellishments.

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Day 3: These two pages are switched according to the time of day the events took place. But that’s OK. In the morning (right side) I enjoyed a lovely Christmas brunch with the awesome ladies from our church home group. Again, I didn’t take any photos, so I found a photo online of the recipe I took along to the brunch and printed it out for my page.

On the left side, I recorded the events of the evening. My daughter had her violin Christmas program at the local library that night.

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Days 4 & 5: On day four I invited my neighbor friend to come over and make a wreath with me, since I had leftover supplies from the craft day on the 2nd. She’s moving away soon, so I was glad to be able to spend some time with her before she leaves.

On the right, my boys had a quiz meet in the morning. The photo on the top is my oldest son’s quiz team, which came in third place for the day. The bottom photo is of my daughter and her little friend who came home with us from the meet to spend the night.

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Day 6: My daughter got to play her violin in the display window of a nearby candy shop. Afterwards we let her pick out some candy to take home, of course.

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I’m minimally decorating my planner pages each week. Very simple. I like it that way.

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I’m also decorating the weekly calendar layouts with a few of the paper tags that came with the kit. I like that it just adds a little color to the spread.

I’m so enjoying this so far! I definitely feel like I’ve found my groove in regards to making a December album like this. I’ve found what works for me and what doesn’t.

What works (for me:):

-downloading and printing out my photos once a day or every two days.

-putting sticky notes in my album to remember which photos I wand to print and where they will go

-keeping my layouts simple

-keeping our schedule of events written down on the planner pages. That way, all I have to do to remember what we did, or what we have coming up, to add in our album is take a look back at the weekly calendar page.

What doesn’t work (for me):

-doing pre made pages. I tried that, and I just never know which photos I’ll have and where I’ll want them to go, so it just works better for me to figure that out as I go along. Having said that, I did make a pre made snow page. I’ll be bummed if I don’t get to use it!

-Trying to keep it to only one page per day. Some days I have multiple events and photos to add, and some days I don’t have any. I don’t stress about one day having one page and the next day having three pages. I’m cool with it.

Have an awesome day! Join me tomorrow for the Gossamer Blue December design team blog hop.

 

 

 

 

 

Gossamer Blue December kit reveal

It’s no secret that I adore Gossamer Blue. Each month is like a birthday when my box full of kits arrives. I make sure I have plenty of time to sit down and open each one and carefully look at each item. It’s one of my very favorite days of the month. How lucky I am to have a box of wonderful goodness delivered right to my door each month!!

If you’re wondering how you can get your own box of craft goodies delivered right to your door, check out the subscription page over on the Gossamer Blue website. I’m telling you, it’s like have a birthday 12 times a year! And I love that I don’t have to spend time going out shopping for my paper crafting products. The Gossamer Blue kits are always filled with the latest and most beautiful products available from the top companies.

Here are a few of the projects I made using this month’s Main kit.

Create page:

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I used the transparency sheet (Pink Paislee Memorandum line) on several of my projects this month. It was perfect for documenting some of my very favorite things, like this page about my art supplies. The Create piece from the transparency sheet fit so perfectly.

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Beautiful die cuts, washi tape sheets, and pretty papers from this month’s Main kit. So fabulous!!

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Because I was creating a page about art supplies, I had to add some painted details. I kind of like how this one turned out a lot.

Typewriter love page:

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Again, I used a portion of the transparency sheet for this page about my vintage typewriter, which I love. This piece of typewriter keys went perfectly with an Instagram print of my vintage typewriter that I had printed for a while now.

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Of course I added some journaling with my typewriter.

Love You card:

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I couldn’t help but try out an idea I got when I saw this clear, acetate LOVE piece in the package of Crate Paper die cuts. I painted the back side of the piece with various colors of acrylic paint. When it was dry, I flipped it over and added some glitter to portions of the letters on the front side.  It was fun, and i kind of love how artsy it turned out.

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again, all of these projects are made using the Main kit only.

Here are the links for you for this month:

Main Kit

Life Pages kit

add-ons

And the gallery links:

December Designer Scrapbook gallery

December Designer Cards and Projects gallery

December Designer Life pages gallery

Thanks for stopping by today! I’m probably busy baking up a storm with my sisters right now, but I’ll be back very soon to share more.

watercolor autumn leaves

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Last week I went out on a little nature stroll with my camera to try to capture some of the beauty of the autumn season. I headed out soon after the kids got on the bus when the morning sun was at its best. It was so pretty, and I determined that I really need to do that more often. It’s such a great way to not only capture your surroundings at different times, but to also grow in your photography skills.

My goal is to not only capture the changing landscapes as the seasons change around me, but to train my eye to pay attention to the details, to not capture the same things over and over, but to try to see something new, or even just something I’ve photographed before, but to see it in a different way.

I want to challenge myself to do this in different seasons, and at different times of the day. To work at noticing the way the lighting changes as the day unfolds, but also as the seasons change. To a photographer, being able to see the light is of utmost importance, so I’m trying hard to work at training my eyes to be able to see the light and how it effects the thing I am trying to photograph.

I loved the way the bright yellow leaves looked as the morning sun shone on them. I took many photos that day, but I chose to print this one out to scrapbook because I really wanted to pair it up with some watercolored leaves I had been playing around with.

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I cut these leaves out with my Silhouette from watercolor paper, then added the color with some distress inks. I added some darker splatters of ink after the initial colors were dry.

These were such fun to make, and I felt like the crinkly watercolor leaves captured the feel of the crunchy, colorful leaves underfoot as I took my walk.

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I kept the rest of the page fairly clean to keep the focus on the pretty leaves, both in the photo and the watercolored ones. I added a bit of stamping with the leaves and words in black to add contrast, and the wood grain paper and cork accents for warmth.

Now that its getting colder here, I’m hoping to head out one morning to capture some frost photos. And then snow? Who knows.

I had such fun taking these photos and making this page. Fall is my favorite time of year, and I feel like this page really shows it. This is my happiness on a page. The glow of the autumn leaves, the warm sunshine, the watercolor leaves, the touch of black. It’s all so me, and it makes me happy to look at it.

I’ll be back soon to share more projects made with those watercolor leaves that I had so much fun making.

Thanks for joining me today!