My first Design Team

What’s that they say…go big or go home?   Who is this “they” person anyway?  A DT call was put out by my buddy the Bodacious Brie (she runs the Roberts blog) and I responded.  I am pleased to report that she picked me!  YAY she picked me WOO HOO!!!!!  So…be sure to check out the Roberts Arts and Crafts Blog on August 3rd to see my first project!  I am so excited to have my FIRST DT be so big.  Hopefully I will not disappoint!

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What I’m up to today

Here’s a sneak peek of a project I’m working on to thank the amazing ladies who participated in my Royal Purple Freedom Blog Hop.  It took me about 10 minutes to cut 30 postage stamp frames for this project.  It took me longer to cut the inside rectangles by hand using my paper trimmer than it did to cut the stamp frames with the eCraft.  Man I love that machine.  Again…many thanks to my Secret Admirer for thinking so much of me!

When this project is done…it might feature some Verve, Some K Andrew Designs, some Tim Holtz and maybe some twine.  I won’t be able to show you the final project for a while though.  These cards need to go postal to my team of bloggers…no my team of friends, first.  I hope they will enjoy the lil sumthin’ sumthin’ I have for them!

This warning provides comfort

I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I’m pretty sure there’s a Primary Song that says that, but I converted to the LDS church way too late for Primary.   Life has been insane lately and I really needed to do something crafty…it’s late though and I didn’t want to drag out all my usual favorites so I decided to finally embellish my Family Proclamation.  I had one like it before, but it got water damaged in one of our moves.  I have meant to have new mats made for some time now and finally remembered to take the odd sized frame this was originally in to the store.  Turns out buying new frames was cheaper that buying new mats.  Who knew mat board was so expensive sheesh…certainly not this guy!  Anyway….here’s my frame before…more or less (color is different):

The Family Proclamation is beautiful.  Particularly this part:  “We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.”  Ex Knight will one day stand accountable to God, and when he does….well only God will be able to help him, and maybe just maybe it’ll be too late.

I wasn’t going to embellish this frame, I really wasn’t.  Ask my Darling Daughter’s they’ll tell you.  Being the crafty chick I am though, I couldn’t resist.  Here’s the after photo:

Isn’t it pretty?  I covered the majority of the mat with pictures of the temple.  The pictures were printed out on brochure paper from HP, trimmed, and adhered using my ATG.  There are nearly 150 world wide…I’ve only been to about a dozen.  To read the rest of the Proclamation to the World on Family, please click here.

I don’t have to be “Strong Enough”

At approximately 2pm Thursday July 14th, my entire world fell apart with one phone call.  Since then, there has been non-stop stress and turmoil in my life and I have spent as much time with God in the last few days as I normally do in weeks.  It’s been pretty much praying “without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians  5:17) since.  At first I didn’t know what to specifically pray for aside from safety and peace.  Now I’m specifically praying for “return to sender”.  If you are a praying person, I hope you will join me in doing so.  Those are all the details you need…some of you may have more, but they have no place here on this blog.  I promise you if you ask God to please allow a return to sender, He will know EXACTLY what you are talking about!

So today I was driving home from the store, after being spooked a few times.  A woman from my ward who I recognize, but whose name I’m not sure I know, came up behind me and tapped/grabbed my shoulder and commented on how many ward members were in the store today.  It scared me, a week ago it wouldn’t have.  Then someone yelled out the window of their car and I’m not even sure if they were yelling at me, but it too, scared me.  I’ve done everything I can to protect my children and I since this epic mistake was made.  I’ve done everything the local DV counselor can think of and then some.  She assures me that the office is abuzz with regret, shame and disbelief and everyone is taking it seriously.   As they should since it’s not the first or second or even third time this mistake has been made.  It may well likely be the last though…I will not rest until change is made.

I take a left down the hill to head home and hear Matthew West’s song “Strong Enough” on the radio…I’m by myself so no kids to distract from my listening experience, it’s relatively early in the morning as well and so traffic is pretty sparse.  It was the perfect time for the Lord to speak to me.  I’m sure some of you have heard (or read) me say I’m not strong enough…I can totally see myself having this conversation with God, in fact…we’ve had similar ones SEVERAL times.  Here’s how it plays out from or with some of the lyrics to West’s song….

Me:  “You must think I’m strong to give me what I’m going through,  well forgive me if I’m wrong but this looks like more than I can do on my own.  I know I’m not strong enough to be everything that I’m supposed to be
I give up I’m not stong enough.”

I’m the only one that’s been there right?  I’m the only one that’s ever had way more on their plate than they could eat…even one bite at a time; it feels like that sometimes doesn’t it?  When I got the call I did, my world pretty much collapsed and the first thing I said was ENOUGH I’m not strong enough.  The song continues though….

Well, maybe
Maybe that’s the point
To reach the point of giving up

Cause when I’m finally
Finally at rock bottom
Well, that’s when I start looking up
And reaching out

Now, I wasn’t/am not one to only look  up when I am at rock bottom, but let’s face it.  We all pray more during crisis than peace don’t we?  No…just me?  C’mon admit it…you do it too!  You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t.  It’s been my experience, sometimes people find God in tragedy or tough times.  Other’s lose Him.  When there’s a crisis, prayer often consists of a plea and a promise.  Often we plead for something and promise to do something. That’s kind of how my life goes.  I plead with God, I make promises and wait for His (or read the ones we’ve already been given in the scriptures).   He makes/reminds me of His promises, I plead some more and always I have everything I need.  I suspect now will be no different and “Strong Enough” has some pleas as promises as well, they go like this:

Hands of mercy won’t you cover me
Lord right now I’m asking you to be
Strong enough…for the both of us…
Cause I’m broken
Down to nothing
But I’m still holding on to the one thing
You are God
and you are strong
When I am weak

To be broken and down to nothing…yeah I’ve been there.  It’s not that I have nothing now….I mean I have a few material possessions and I have a good support system, but I know what it’s like to have nothing physically and spiritually.  I’ve been in some very dark places in my life…thankfully, there is always light at the end of the tunnel.  My light is ALWAYS the light and promise of Jesus Christ.  Because, as West says:

I can do all things
Through Christ who gives me strength
And I don’t have to be
Strong enough

That’s right…I don’t have to be strong enough because God is strong enough for both of us and, in times like this, I know that he is carrying me.  I’ve always known this, but was especially grateful for this beautiful musical reminder while driving home from the scariest trip I’ve had to the store in a long time.

She is all that and some

Usually by the time my homework is done, I’m wiped and ready to get in prone position wherever I can.  Sometimes I don’t even make it to prone and fall asleep in my living room chair.  Tonight however, I finished all my homework and found myself still wide awake.   Crafting soothes me (once I’m finished with something I love…the process sometimes aggravates me to no end) and so I decided to pull out my K Andrew Designs stamp sets and see what I could come up with.  These stamps are divine and so many ideas passed through my brain…don’t worry I’ll get them out and into reality soon enough so you all can see them.  I am a stamp snob now remember…Kristal’s stamps just add to that lol.  They are just beautiful to work with.  Super firm polymer (yay because squishy stamps annoy me), they pick up ink well and then transfer it to your medium (in my case usually paper) quite well also.  The set that needed to get inky with me tonight is the new Amazing You set.  I used the sentiments “amazing”, “beautiful” and “brilliant” to create this page of one of my all-time favorite people:

Click picture for larger image.
Click picture for larger image.

All the paper used came from my LSS in this huge package for like 15 bucks.  It’s one of my favorite solid color card stocks because it has a solid core, it’s nice and thick, AND it’s cheap!  I did use lots of other things to so be sure to check out the supplies list below.

Supplies Needed
Flat backed pearls
Ribbon
Lace
Paper
Martha Stewart Punch About the Page Set of your choice (here I used hearts something…lol)
Adhesive (scotch tape and ATG)
Bling
K Andrews Amazing You stamp set
Vintage Photo Distress Ink (Tim Holtz)

Ok…so, the piece of paper that’s punched around the page is a 10.25 inch square then I punched it using my heart whatever punch set.  The brown background/photo mat is 8 wide by 7 high.  I lined up the sentiments I wanted to use on my EK Success plastic lined ruler, grabbed m HUGE stamp blog, inked them up with Vintage Photo and stamped…voila!  When I was finished with stamping this page still looked a little plain to me so I added the flat backed pearls and bling and I think it’s just PERFECT now!  Now I have to make a bigger light box so I can photograph my layouts in it!

February 22nd, 2011 ~ Even the gas in my car matters to Him

I know that sounds silly but it’s really true actually.  Heavenly Father cares about me so much that even the gas in my car matters to him.  Allow me to explain…

Last Summer (well Spring actually), the kidlets and I took a trip to Palmyra (click here for that experience).  While there, the gas gauge got REALLY low.  I mean luhhhhhhhhh oh!  There wasn’t a gas station to be found anywhere and we were trying to navigate to our hotel.  I said a prayer and asked God to bless my car with enough gas to get us safely to a gas station.  I know I can drive about 30 miles with no problems after the gas light comes on…that day I must have gone more like 65 or 70 before finally coming across a service station.  So you see…God cares about even the gas in my car.

Now if I would have had just this one experience about the gas in my car I might be inclined to say it was just coincidence…well if I believed in coincidence anyway.  As a single parent who is going to school full-time and reliant upon a reliably unreliable ex for support, money is so tight my pocket-book squeaks most of the time.  If it weren’t for grand things like coupons, sales, and tax returns, I wouldn’t even be able to enjoy expressing my creativity through crafting.  I certainly can’t keep up with the Jones’ in that arena either.  Oh well I enjoy what I can get anyway and I just realized I’m digressing.

So…with that squeaky pocket-book of mine, I have to get every single drop out of every penny I can.  Often this means limiting my trips and trying to make a tank of gas last two weeks.  More than once, I have found myself without financial means and the gas light comes on.  I’ve prayed over it and seen the gauge rise before my very eyes…my kids have seen it too.  Again I tell you…God cares about even the gas in our cars.

Recently it occurred to me that it’s likely not actually the gas in my car that He cares about, but me personally.  Not having gas in my car leaves me stranded and I have a lot of responsibilities that would make being unable to drive a huge imposition.  He cares about me enough to know and understand each squeak of my pocket-book and He cares about me enough to answer my prayers, even when they are about gas.  In prayers about gas I’ve found increased faith.

If God cares enough to answer my prayers over gas, I can rest assured He cares enough to answer my prayers about my children or my nephew or my sister or my mother or my prayers about…(fill in the blank).  As I’ve prayed over gas, I’ve learned that some prayers need an immediate answer (like gas) while others may take a little more time.  Not because they aren’t as important but because they are more important.

When I spoke to my Dad recently about some blessings that are FINALLY coming my way he said something like “see you just needed to wade in the river a little longer”.  I waded in the river to the point of exhaustion and more often than not, I thought I would be swept out to sea by the current.  Now though, I have been blessed with several options, when just a short time ago I had none.

As I prayed about gas, I’ve realized that huge answers often come from obedience to smaller lessons we learn along the way.  I’ve also learned that no prayer is too insignificant and I’ve learned that God can and will intervene when we call on Him as long as the desires of our hearts are righteous.  What’s righteous about gas right?  Well, when I’ve prayed over it, it’s been so that we didn’t end up stranded in an unsafe or unfamiliar place, or so that I can get the kids all the places they need to go, or so that we can make it to church and things of this nature.  And, He has never disappointed.

With answering my prayers about gas though, He has also used that to teach me or maybe remind me of some lessons.  Though I’ve actually seen the gauge rise a little, it’s never risen to full.  This has taught me that we can get through with just a little hope and faith in Him.  It has reinforced that He is here to do for us what we cannot to do for ourselves, but He won’t give us more than we need.  It’s always very interesting to me the way that God teaches us and lately I’ve found lessons in the strangest of places.

Right now life is difficult.  The decision to move home has been a good one, but has also come with some huge setbacks and I’ve asked Heavenly Father for some big things, at least they are big to me anyway.  I have often felt like He has ignored my requests.  If it weren’t for Him answering little prayers (like those imploring His help in making the gas last till I have monies to fill up again), I wouldn’t have much hope in receiving answers to prayers.  And, as I write this, I’ve also learned He has kept my “spiritual gas” (or energy) tank filled just enough to keep me going and get me through until such time as I can fill the tank without any repercussions.  That time is drawing near and I’m so thankful the God I serve and love has shown me He cares about my gas.

November 25th, 2010 ~ Give thanks in all things

I think it is unfortunate that we don’t take time to publicly express gratitude for our blessings daily.  I try to list them every day in my journal and I’ve made sure to post a Facebook status message about something I’m thankful for each day for the entire month.  I have a testimony of the power of gratitude in our lives.  After my ex was arrested and my family and I were relocated, I learned to find gratitude in the small things.  Doing so allowed me to choose gratitude in the big things.  There were days when I couldn’t find much to be grateful for but I still made a concentrated effort to find a few things daily.  Looking back, the things I found myself grateful for now almost seem trite.  Flowers, indoor plumbing, screens on my windows, the smell of fresh-cut grass, etc.  Without this trite gratitude though, I would find myself frustrated and angry thinking about my every loss.

So, today I find it especially prudent to come out with the top 5 things I am most grateful for in my life.  These are things that I don’t ever want to be without.  These are things that I don’t know what I’d do without.  These are things that allow me to continue to have hope, even in the darkest hour.

1.  The Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ…without it I am nothing.  19 years ago this month I became a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  My faith is what makes me who I am.  It is what has allowed me to hold on and hang in longer after everyone else would have let go and given out.  An experience I had in the Portland Temple (shown below) more than 19 years ago forever changed my life and I am eternally grateful to the person who introduced me to the gospel and put me in contact with the missionaries.  My membership in the LDS Church is the thing I cherish most and the most precious gift I’ve ever been given.  I am grateful for my membership every minute of every hour of every day.

Portland Oregon Temple

2.  Next comes my children.  I feel blessed beyond measure to have the children the Lord has given me steward over.  I get feedback all the time about what a great job I’m doing with my children and mostly, I just think I got lucky is all.  I am lucky to be their Mom.  My children are beautiful, they are smart, they are talented and many other things but most importantly, they are resilient.  They have gone through some of the most horrible things you can imagine.  Seriously…those of you that know the details know that my children have future serial killer kinds of childhoods and yet…they are faithful, obedient, and optimistic.  My children are what gets me out of bed when my faith is sometimes replaced with doubt.  They are the why behind everything I do and, though I feel completely inadequate for the task, I am so fortunate that Heavenly Father has trusted me with THESE kids.  The picture below is one of my youngest three children and I in the very spot that changed my life so many years ago.  Sadly, we are separated from my oldest daughter at this time.  To My Kiddos:  I ♥ you severe.

My first baby…I miss you honey!

3.  The next most important thing in my life are my friends and those I consider family.  I can’t even attempt to post pictures of all those in this category that I adore!  What I can do though is share how family and friends make me feel.

4.  Music.  I am audio powered.  I want music no matter what my mood is or what I’m doing.  It can things for me nothing else can.  I consider a variety of things music too.  things like the sound of traffic when I’m not driving in it.  Ocean waves, rushing water, fire, rain, thunder, birds chirping at dawn, laughter, wind, and many other things.  If I had to choose between losing my hearing or vision, I’d totally be blind.  No matter how chaotic and nerve-wracking my life gets…the right song can put me in this chair without a care in the world EVERY time.

5.  Finally, the last thing I have that I am the most grateful for is my agency.  My ability to choose.  This kind of goes along with my church membership.  But, when I say I’m grateful to have the ability to choose I mean in all things.  I’m grateful I can choose faith over fear, I’m grateful I can choose to educate myself, I’m grateful I can choose to develop talents (like crafting and expressing my creativity), I’m thankful I can choose to love instead of hate, I’m thankful I can choose to be still and know that He is God when going crazy with fear and dread is easier.  I’m thankful I can choose to be beautiful inside in out despite of the ugliness that is so prevalent in this world.  I’m thankful I can choose for myself and on this day and every day, I choose to be grateful!