And Other Thoughts

A Cause to Blog

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Scraps for Scrapbooking

As you know, this is my blog for “anything goes,” and so…here it goes.

I just started scrapbooking. I’ve always wanted to try my hand at it, but felt I lacked the creativity to produce something as nice as I’ve seen out there. But what triggered me jump in was an idea I saw on Pinterest for Father’s Day and thought I’d try to do something unique.

What I came up with was this.


A memory book for my husband, starting from the day we met working on the boats together in Chicago. I found this mini “passport” notebook at Marshal’s. (They have GREAT deals on scrapbook products, however, they are quite limited compared to hobby/craft stores.)


(My picture in the life preserver, giving a guided tour.)



1970-01-07_11-59-22_504 “Big shoes to fill…but I will!”

I used sticker paper for some of the photos, which worked out perfectly.


Cutting people out from the photo makes it look 3D. (For all of you reading this who have been scrapping for ages, bear with me, this is all new and so cool to me!)

My husband absolutely LOVED his Father’s Day gift! He has it displayed on a plate hanger/holder on his desk in his studio.

So then I got the scrapbooking bug and went GUNG-HO. I wasn’t sure if I decided to go all out because I needed something to take my mind off my mother’s death, or if I was truly engrossed and enjoyed the process of creating.

I had done some digital scrapbooking before, creating a baby book for our son, Tavin. I used the scrapbooking program, Scrapbook Factory,  and bought a portfolio book at Barnes & Noble. And since I’ve been obsessed with stickers since I was twelve, my obsession only got worse with the idea of cool 3D stickers available now for scrapbooking.






Although the program offered pre-designed layouts that I didn’t like so I had to create my own, I just didn’t feel like I was truly “creating” anything special. The digital embellishments were nice, but they didn’t jump out at you.

So the bug got in me after making Jared’s book. After depleting two and half dozen eggs from GFS, I was left with an empty egg protector. And since I’ve been seeing all these clever ideas on Pinterest on reusing things you’d never dream of having any practical use for, I had an idea.


I opened it up as if I were going to tear it down.


And this is what I came up with…


Because I love biblical scripture memorization, I decided this would be my book dedicated to some of my favorite passages.


I loved the inside of the carton and didn’t want to cover it with paper. So I just used some pictures I cut out, along with some die cuts and stickers. You can also see that I added clasps on the “binder” to insert pages.

Then it was on to making the journal pages, and this is probably where I feel I lack in honest creativity. I just see so many awesome pages that other’s have done, and mine pales in comparison. I don’t get crazy with embellishments and layering, so my pages tend to be a bit more simplistic.



This style card stock didn’t have any pattern on the other side, but I still wanted to make use of it. Again, I’m not one for overdoing it. I’m more of a Mies van der Rohe person when it comes to “architecting” my pages: Less is more. I know that in the world of scrapbooking, that whole theory is thrown out the 90th story window, but I just can’t bring myself to it.

But I was inspired by some great ideas I’d come across, and came up with my own design and layout for the beginning of “Our Storybook.”


Again, since Jared and I met working on the sightseeing boats in Chicago, I wanted a boat, water and Chicago-skyline theme. (It took me forever to draw and cut out that skyline! Drawing it on the back of the paper, I kept forgetting that I had to draw the skyline backwards so it would cut out in order on the design-side.)


Yesterday I went to Michael’s to search out some memorial products for a memorial book I’ll be putting together for my mom, but instead I ran across tons of items that were only $1! I bought 70 dollar items, including cool stamps and ink pads! (Someone keep me FAR, FAR away from that store!)

When we cleaned out my mother’s house (we’re still not completely through it yet), we discovered she, too, had a room designated for her arts and crafts! My mother was incredibly talented at drawing, and like me, she tried her hand out in other crafting areas. So she had an entire dresser full of supplies, mostly things I would never use, but I did find some goodies, like these gold and silver ropes on our individual boats, connected to and anchored by “love”.


These may seem a bit lame in the world of scrapbooking, but I’m enjoying myself nonetheless!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Waiting Game

bus stop rain

When I lived in Chicago and relied on public transportation in order to get where I needed to be, I often found myself waiting…and waiting and waiting!

As frustrating as that may have been, my bus or train always showed up, usually not on my time frame, but that’s the joy of relying on something—or Someone—that is out of our control.

I have spent the past few years trying to control something I cannot. Despite my best efforts to prevent a financial downfall last winter, it happened anyway. Yet here we are. We made it through somehow. It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t pleasant by any means, but God got us through.

Today I asked God to speak to me, that my heart was open to receive His Word for my life today, and I heard, “Be patient and wait on Me.”

Anyone who knows me knows I’m incredibly impatient, so when God asked me to be patient, I reacted in panic in two ways: 1. how in the world do I do that!?; 2. help me! It was as if my head jumped into the future again, to our destitute winter, and began mapping out how I wouldn’t respond.

Like the Chicago bus, it eventually came and picked me up and took me where I needed to go. I was sometimes late for work, or missed the next means of transportation in the route of transfers, but I got there. Not in my timing, but in Chicago’s. As much as I hated relying on public transportation it was all I had.

Once I began doing things my way and brought my car to the city feeling I could outwit the system, my car was towed twice, I racked up parking tickets upon parking tickets, I often paid a hefty price to park downtown when I needed to work, I was still sometimes late for work because traffic is the same for both cars AND buses, and eventually my car was booted for all those unpaid parking tickets. The consequences of doing it my way, thinking that it would somehow be easier, only made my life (at times) more unbearable, particularly in the unforeseen future.

So what does waiting on God mean then?

When we wait on God He will teach us His ways and lead us in truth (Psalm 25:4-5). Integrity and uprightness will preserve us (Psalm 25:21). God will strengthen our hearts (Psalm 27:14) and become our help and shield, showing us mercy (Psalm 33: 20, 22). We shall inherit what God intends to give to us(Psalm 37:34). He hears us (Psalm 40:1) and becomes our defense (Psalm 62:1). He will give us hope and be our rock and salvation (Psalm 62:5-6). We will become glad and rejoice (Isaiah 25:9). He will be gracious to us and bless us (Isaiah 30:18). Our strength will be renewed, we’ll mount up with wings of eagles, run but not get weary, walk and not faint, and we won’t be ashamed (Isaiah 40:32, 49:23). He will be good to us (Lamentations 3:25). 

Although the waiting game seems like a losing battle, we eventually get where we need to be. It is in God’s timing, not our own. However, when we try to make things happen outside of God’s timing and will, we may see instant gratification, but the ramifications are unseen in our future.

I’ve never been good at waiting, but God promises to be good to me if do.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Meet You in the Night Sky

This may sound ridiculous, but for the first time in my life I know for a fact that my mother loves me.

I spent 99% of my entire life wondering why my mother didn’t love me. I couldn’t figure out for the life of me what I’d done to make her dislike me so much. I struggled every day of my adult life trying to make her love me and see me for who I really was, not who she had made me out to be.

The fact of the matter, as sad as it may sound, is that she found nothing in me that she liked or respected. She honestly thought I was a loser and a lost cause. She constantly berated me for being “too sensitive” or emotional, and she despised my goofy side as she was much too mature and serious for things that were silly. She never thought I was smart enough to amount to anything special, not even after producing straight A’s in high school, or making the Dean’s List in college, or getting my novel published. She didn’t approve of any choices I made in my life, and found unique and cutting ways to tear me down at any chance she could find.

We spent the majority of our lives arguing and fighting, sometimes not talking for up to two years. She seemed to enjoy belittling me in front of my friends and always made me feel as if everyone else around me was far more superior than I could ever dream of being. She went out of her way to make sure to complain about anything and everything I ever did—even the good things.

When my oldest son, Josh, was growing up, she favored him over me and pitted us apart continually. She reduced me to nothing in his eyes by overriding any important decisions I would make concerning his life. She gave him all the love, attention, and affection I craved from her my whole life. She never let me forget that he was her favorite. She went out of her way to make sure I knew exactly where I stood, and eventually where my youngest son, Tavin, would stand. She even said to me when I told her we were having a boy again, “Just so you know, nothing and no one will EVER replace Josh.” There it was. Tavin wouldn’t mean much to her as long as he was a boy.

It all sounds so horrible, doesn’t it?

The past few years, though, were much better. Had it not been for the cancer eating away at her insides, her heart may have never been found. That’s just the sad reality of this horrific story of my life. Ask anyone who knew my mother before the cancer, and they can “tell you stories.”

One day, nearly four years ago, after a week’s worth of constant fighting and back and forth nonsense, I had finally had it and told my husband, “She’s dying. And for all I care, she can die alone.” That’s how awful she was being to me and I just couldn’t take it anymore. And then it dawned on me: she’s dying and she could die alone. Regardless of everything, she was still my mother and I loved her. So I confronted her and called her out on everything she had done to hurt me over the years. We eventually ended up crying and realizing…this was it. We either ended this maddening cycle and recovered most of what we’d lost over the years, or we could just go on, business as usual, hating each other until the day she died.

I used to think my life would be better off without her. Now I can’t imagine not having her in my life… 

The last few years have been bittersweet. To see my mother change the way she did, and the way she tried so hard to respect me and love me, although it didn’t come easy, was astounding. She eventually wanted to do things with me, which she never had before. She tried new things with me, like going to the Harbor Market and the museum. She would call at night just to say, “Hey, how’s it going?” or to tell me about a movie on the old movie channels. But I knew it would all end so very soon. All this love and compassion. It was all too brief, but I still cherished every second of it, even though my heart was breaking.

And then just a few months ago we had that very odd warm weather in March. We had just started going to church together again, and something in my mom changed. Everything about her changed. I went over to her house one night and she ended up sitting next to me on the couch—something she NEVER did! And we talked like school girls and laughed about silly things. Then she surprised me and asked me to come sit out on the porch with her because it was nice outside. (My mother NEVER did things like that!) We sat on the steps looking out into the sky, noticing how many stars were out that night. And then all of a sudden she leapt up and said, “You’ve got to see this! Come here.” And she took me to the driveway and showed me these two amazingly bright stars in the Western sky. “Look at how bright they are! They can’t be just stars. I wonder what they are,” she inquired. I told her I’d go home and look it up and let her know. And I did. It was Venus and Jupiter, on March 14th. Those stars were me and her. Me and my mother. Much like the Venus Jupiter conjunction, our two lives were finally lining up.


"Both Jupiter and Venus are very bright objects—the second and third brightest, after the moon—in the night sky, so it's not surprising a conjunction would historically always be watched with interest, simply because both are so bright that they sort of command our attention. One alone is ignorable, but both Venus and Jupiter together draw the eye."


It was only a few weeks after that experience that things would start getting worse for her, health-wise. And her mood went from peaceful to incredibly irritable and angry all over again.

Now more than ever, I know my mother truly knows me and fully loves me. She’s gone and resides in heaven. God has revealed to her the real me she resisted to know here on earth. She is finally proud of me and believes in me like never before. For the first time in my life, I no longer need to prove anything to her anymore, because she “gets me” now. I can’t even begin to explain how comforting that is to me.

It took my mother’s death for me to honestly feel my mother’s love for the first time in my life, the way I’ve always wanted her to love me. And now I’ll never have to question my mother’s love, ever again.

We are Jupiter and Venus, aligning in the night sky.