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Archive for the ‘reflections’ Category

Embarking upon 2017

Happy new year!

It’s hard to believe that we’ve already embarked upon 2017, and I (you won’t be surprised here) have many ideas about the projects I’d like to work on, start, and of course, complete!

I’m hoping to share at least twice per week on the blog, maybe sometimes three times per week.  November and December 2016 were a whirlwind of completing ornaments and then finally having some time to make some of the gifts I’d planned for my own family.  Oh, and a very special birthday party for my (can you believe it?!) five-year-old daughter!  In the next weeks, I’ll be mostly sharing those November and December (and earlier!) projects as I get started on my new projects for the new year.  Who knows, maybe I’ll slip in some current ones, too! 😉

Like I wrote above, I have a huge list of things I’d like to accomplish this year.  I’ve made a big master list (read:brain dump) on sticky notes in the front cover of my planner.  I’ll be setting my monthly goals from that big list…and of course, any other projects that come up in the meantime, because there are always more!  Rather than sharing my goals on the blog at the beginning of each month, I will just keep track of them in my planner (it has great monthly and weekly goal planning pages, I just love it!).  I’ll just share projects here.

Even as I dream and plan about my sewing, papercrafting, home, and other projects, I have been contemplating how these hobbies of mine can be more intentional, with the focus on glorifying God in the things I do with my hands.   I want to have in mind the concerns of God, not merely human (especially selfish!!) concerns (Matthew 16:33).  “As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent [Jesus]”  (John 9:4).  “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” (Colossians 3:23).  God has given me the desire– really it is almost a compulsion– to create… and He gives the brilliant flashes of idea or insight that are clearly not my own.  Any gifts that I have are from Him, and I think that it glorifies God to do what we do with excellence.

May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us— yes, establish the work of our hands.  Psalm 90:17

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Happy Thanksgiving

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Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
    Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Psalm 100 (NIV)

May you have a blessed Thanksgiving!

~ ~ ~

P.S. Due to commitments to my Etsy shop customers and taking time to celebrate God’s myriad blessings with my family, I will be taking a break from posting on my blog for a couple of weeks.  

~ ~ ~

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I definitely bit off more than I could chew in July… Somehow I forgot about all of the other stuff we had going on!  Craft time was at a minimum.  Here’s a recap of my goals, and my assessment:

  • Finish my dress.  I’d like to have a couple new dresses for a trip.  I would love for more than one of them to be sewn by me, but I’m not ruling out just buying one or two😉  I finished my dress!  I will publish a post about it soon! (I also bought one for my trip…and some fabric to make a couple more summery garments.)
  • Make at least 1 traditional scrapbook layout for my albums.  NOPE.  BUT, I did help V make a layout for her own scrapbook, so maybe that counts??
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  • Make a travel notebook.  Yes! (post coming soon)
  • Work on finishing B’s 365 album.  The album is “finished” in the sense that almost all of the daily cards and photos are in place.  What is left are all the extra inserts for momentous occasions and events.  I’m going to set a goal to have at least three of those inserts planned, at the minimum.  NOPE.  
  • Make at least one photo book.  Yes! (post coming soon)
  • Exercise at least 3 times per week and continue my daily arms/abs/legs toning exercises.  Yes.  
  • Prioritize Bible study and prayer.  Yes.  

I did get to finish up a few “bonus projects” during July:

 

So what about August?  Oh, I have grand plans again, of course.  I have some sewing projects in my brain, and as always, I want to scrapbook!  Here are my top project goals:

  • Sew a lap desk for B.
  • Sew a back-of-seat organizer for our car
  • Sew treasure-collecting bags for the kids.  This is a vague idea and might get ditched!
  • Put together travel activity books for the kids.
  • Do some scrapbooking.  Any scrapbooking!  (options: regular 12×12 pages for my albums or Disney project, special inserts for B’s album, photo book(s), etc.)
  • Exercise at least 3 times per week and continue my daily arms/abs/legs toning exercises.
  • Prioritize Bible study and prayer.

August is a busy month!  Summer is wrapping up and we have adventures planned, so we’ll see what actually gets finished!

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Here’s how I did in June!

  • Finish my quilt.  Done!  There will be a blog post in the future, as soon as I take some photos!
  • Sew a summer bag for myself.  Done!  And I love it!!
  • Start planning some summer garment sewing.  I definitely have some patterns picked out to try.  I purchased fabric for a dress, and I’ve started cutting it out.  See my July goals for more.
  • Make that darn Disney mini-album for B!  Yes!!  I did!!  It’s amazing; I have no idea why it took me so long to make it.  It is so simple in the end, and I also realized that I had all the pictures I needed already printed.  The paper was a real sticking point for me, but once I finally forced myself to pick paper and just start, I managed to complete it in a pretty short amount of time.   I’m excited to share it here on the blog.
  • Start working on finishing B’s 365 album.  This did not happen.
  • Make at least one traditional layout for my own scrapbook albums.  Sadly, this also did not happen.  I have some layouts taking shape in my head, though… 😉
  • Photos. Captioned, edited, shared with family and friends.  I would like to have May’s  done by June 7 at the latest.  I did completely finish May by my deadline, and I’m partway through June– including a big, fun day at Hersheypark (which was a LOT of photos).  You can bet that I’ll be furiously working on the rest of June’s photos this weekend!
  • Exercise at least 3 times per week. Also complete an arms/legs/abs toning exercise set every day.  Done.  I did miss a few abs/arms/legs days, but no more than once per week on average.  I also began an adult ballet class that I love (but is extremely challenging).  I’m taking it with a dear friend, and it is so fun!  The last time we took ballet together was probably in first grade…and the last time I was in a ballet class was over 10 years ago!
  • And last but absolutely not least: prioritize Bible study and prayer.  I have been studying the names and attributes of God, and have been enjoying meditating on the Scriptures that describe those attributes by creating more “artful devotions.”

July!  Isn’t it amazing that we’re already halfway through the year!  I have a lot of projects in mind, and I have to admit, I’m having a hard time prioritizing them (not that my monthly goal lists are in any kind of priority order).  My problem is that I know I can’t do them all (especially in July), and so I’m having trouble choosing which ones I should focus upon.

  • Finish my dress.  I’d like to have a couple new dresses for a trip I’m taking this summer.  I would love for more than one of them to be sewn by me, but I’m not ruling out just buying one or two 😉
  • Make at least 1 traditional scrapbook layout for my albums.
  • Make a travel notebook.
  • Work on finishing B’s 365 album.  The album is “finished” in the sense that almost all of the daily cards and photos are in place.  What is left are all the extra inserts for momentous occasions and events.  I’m going to set a goal to have at least three of those inserts planned, at the minimum.
  • Make at least one photo book.  I have about three photo books that are on my want-to-make list; I’d love to finish (and print) at least one of them.
  • Exercise at least 3 times per week and continue my daily arms/abs/legs toning exercises.
  • Prioritize Bible study and prayer.

Can I do it all (or more)?  We shall see!! 😉

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The album is finished!

The very last page I made was actually the title page.  I used one of the great shots from our family photo shoot (thank you again, B!!) printed in a creamtone finish.  I added our name, die cut from white cardstock using the Bruselo font (again, with an offset to thicken it just a tad!).  To embellish, I used some specialty brads from “Nordic Holiday” and a border sticker from “Peppermint”– it really blows my mind how well those two collections coordinate, even though they are from two different manufacturers!  I chose the aqua, red, and white color scheme to coordinate with the album itself, which has an aqua spine.  (The colors/patterns also match the very last page in the album).

the 2015 December Daily album is FINISHED!!  Finished it last night :)

Wow, this was an epic project.  Way more intense than I realized (or maybe intended).  I just had so many little stories I wanted to include!  I really did try to follow Ali’s advice and choose the main story for each day, but in many cases, we had several special events that I wanted to include, or so many wonderful photos (e.g. from gift opening) with mini-stories associated with them.  You might not believe me, but I really did narrow it down a lot!

The album contains over 160 photos in various sizes, from 6″x8″ all the way down to 2″ square… and I’m not even individually counting the photos in the several collages!

Working on my December Daily album at craft day at church

Not only did I spend countless hours working on this project at home, I also worked on this album at about three different craft days (ladies gathering at our church to hang out as we work on our own projects).  I snapped this photo of my work area on one of those days. This was pretty tidy compared to what my craft island looked like when I was working on the album in full force at home!  (I wish I’d taken a photo of that!)

While I am absolutely beyond thrilled with the final result, I have to admit that I didn’t always enjoy the process of working on the album.  I always have the most fun planning (here is the planning post about this one!) projects, and when they end up taking a really long time, I lose my excitement.  Thankfully, I’m a completionist/perfectionist and that propels me to the finish line.

After being on the Scrap Gals podcast last month, where we had a little tangent talking about pocket-page scrapbooking, I really started thinking about why exactly I don’t care for the process of working in that style.  I started to get a more concrete idea as I worked on this album.  In theory, or at least in my head, I have this idea that pocket pages are “supposed” to be “simple.”  But when I start to get into them, I feel like I need to make a mini layout in practically every pocket– which turns into a lot of little layouts!  Not simple at all in reality!  (…not least because I love the real estate available on a 12″x12″ or even 12″x24″ layout)  When something that I think should be simple turns out to be complicated, I get grumpy.

I also discovered that having multiple pockets made me feel like I could/should be including many, many photos and stories– more than I would try and fit on my regular layouts.  I don’t mind having a lot of layouts about a special event in my albums, but in general, each story has its own layout and therefore has breathing room.  My pocket albums feel a bit more crowded.

I don’t know if I’ll do another December Daily album in the future.  I won’t say never, but I doubt it will be any time soon!

All that being said, I want to emphasize that I am so glad that I did this one.  It satisfied a creative itch.  I am totally happy with the result and delighted with how much I fit into this album.  It really captures a slice of our life throughout the month of December, and that is priceless in my mind!

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I’m using the Crate Paper “Peppermint” collection as the main set of products for this album, supplemented heavily by BasicGrey’s “Nordic Holiday;” but I am also adding in various Christmassy and not-themed products (including doilies!) from my stash.  If you have any questions about a particular product, let me know in the comments.  

See all my posts about this album HERE.  

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In May, I hoped to

  • make and finish a simple Disney scrapbook for B.  This did not happen.   Instead, I majorly prioritized the December Daily (see below).  I did buy some paper (in April, I realize that I was actually pretty unhappy with the paper I had originally planned to use from my stash).
  • make & send cards.  Done. Wow, I know a lot of people with May birthdays –plus, I sent a few other (non-birthday) cards.
  • work on the December Daily 2015 album. This album is FINISHED, baby!!!  I absolutely underestimated the amount of work that it would be. My craft table looked like my scrapbook supplies exploded (really, the whole room was awful all month, since I was desperate for any flat surface because of the mess on my main craft island!).  But it was worth it, because I LOVE the final result.  I’ll be sharing it here on the blog throughout June (Christmas in June, anyone?).
  • catch up and keep up with my photos and videos.   I got through April, and I’ve started on May.  I think my goal should be just to finish the previous month before the current month ends 😉  Really, I’d like to be more on top of things than that, so I’m hoping to have May’s done before June 7.
  • work out at least 3 times per week. Yes!  It was especially nice when the rains stopped and the warm sunshine became more consistent.  I LOVE running outside.
  • make at least 1 scrapbook layout for my traditional scrapbook albums.  Yes!  I made two!  I loved every minute of making them and I am so proud of how they came out.  I can’t wait to make more.  See them HERE and HERE.
  • prioritize Bible study and prayer.  I’ve started a summer-long art-journaling style devotions.  I am enjoying it quite a bit.
  • make a lap quilt for myself (birthday gift!).  I bought the fabric. I pieced the top (the back is a solid piece of fabric).  I was almost finished top-stitching the top when I ran out of quite thread.  Wop wop.  I just need to get myself to the store to buy some white thread, and then I can finish!  However, that’s more of a chore than it sounds… I hope to finish in June.
  • Bonus accomplishments!!
    • I planted a garden!
    • I made a very simple one-photo-per-page photo book of highlight shots from a family photo shoot last December.  It’s been on my to-do list since then, so it felt really good to check that one off!

In June, I am going to turn my focus back to sewing a bit more–but I still want to scrapbook. So many hobbies, never enough time.  Here are the things I am going to

  • Finish my quilt
  • Sew a summer bag for myself
  • Start planning some summer garment sewing
  • Make that darn Disney mini-album for B!
  • Start working on finishing B’s 365 album (in my dreams, I would finish it by his 2nd birthday, which is this month. So I should probably just keep dreaming about finishing by that deadline!)
  • Make at least one traditional layout for my own scrapbook albums.
  • Photos. Captioned, edited, shared with family and friends.  I would like to have May’s  done by June 7 at the latest.
  • Exercise at least 3 times per week. Also complete an arms/legs/abs toning exercise set every day.
  • And last but absolutely not least: prioritize Bible study and prayer.

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Perhaps you have heard of this new-ish trend in Bible journaling?  Creative people draw, letter, and color in their Bibles as they reflect on the passage they are studying.

I’ve been intrigued by this idea, and now that summer is starting, I thought that I would give it a try.  During the academic year, I participate in Bible Study Fellowship, which is a wonderful, in-depth, and disciplined study.  I very much appreciate the structure and schedule to BSF, but for summer break, I decided to try something a little bit different (and way further out of my comfort zone).

I thought a lot about whether I should share my devotions on my blog, and while I still don’t know if I will post about all of them, I thought I would at least share this one.

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I’ve begun the summer by using the BSF prayer guide for the John Bible study that will begin in the fall.  The guide gives Scripture from the book of John and suggests prayer prompts based upon that Scripture passage.  As I read through the first few pages, I was struck especially by John 10:10.  Jesus came that I, Natalie, might have life in Him, and have it abundantly!  A joyful life.

For the past few months, I’ve felt like I’ve been overshadowed by clouds.  It didn’t help that the weather itself was literally cloudy, rainy, and cold.  I was discouraged, frustrated, and sad.  And I didn’t like it.  But I just couldn’t shake the clouds.  I decided that I should really study this idea of a joyful life– a fullness of joy from and through Christ, not my circumstances or accomplishments.  In Christ alone, my joy is complete.  A completeness of joy.  What does this mean?

I used my concordance to do a bit of a word study on the word “joy.”  Several verses struck me, but the one that really kept echoing in my thoughts was Nehemiah 8:10.  A little bit of context: The Babylonian exiles have returned to Jerusalem and have rebuilt the city wall, amidst much opposition.  The wall is completed, and all the people gather to hear Ezra read the book of the Law of Moses.  The people weep as they hear the words of God and have them explained to them.  Nehemiah and Ezra tell the people not to mourn, for “the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

Cross-referencing this verse led me to passages in the Law about different feasts in which the people were told to rejoice before the Lord.  The feasts were in celebration of the blessings that God had given to the people– they were to celebrate and be satisfied in the abundance of God’s provision.

All of this leads back to that abundant life in Jesus Christ.  His blessings have overflowed upon me– most importantly through my salvation, but also in the everyday blessings I see, well, every day.  I should be celebrating them.  This reminded me of one of the memory verses my kids and I sing together, “Rejoice in all the good things the Lord your God has given to you.”  Deuteronomy 26:11.  I find my strength in what God has done, in His abundant blessings.

So the idea of thankfulness and joy in gratitude for God’s blessings is absolutely not a new one, but this personal series of devotions was instrumental to me, at this moment in my life, to begin to drive away the clouds that were crowding in on me.  I used colored pencils to create a sun-filled sky above lush grass.  You can see the clouds being pushed away, by God’s strength, at the bottom of the picture.

My joy is in Him.  Thank you, Lord.

artful devotions: Nehemiah 8:10

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