Welcome! I'm Melissa Gross, a dynamic and interactive teacher and speaker called to lead and encourage Christian women in their walk with the Lord through classes, workshops and retreats incorporating Bible study, devotionals, illustrated Bible journaling, paper crafting and mixed media projects that merge faith and art bringing God’s Word to life so you can find renewed excitement to dive into the Word, use your creative gifts, and apply the Truth as you draw closer to the Lord and serve Him in your everyday life. This site is where I share my everyday adventures, Bible Journaling pages, scrapbook layouts, handmade cards, and other crafty projects, as well as information on my upcoming workshops and events. I also post photos, ramble about books I'm reading, stuff I'm organizing, and other FUN bits & pieces of my wonderful life.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Cate's Bloggy-baby Shower

Today Deb is graciously hosting a Bloggy-baby Shower for our friend Cate, and I'm honored to be attending with blog friends from around the globe.

 
If this were an in-person baby shower, I would say Howdy Y'all and give Cate a big southern hug coupled with a hearty CONGRATULATIONS
on the soon arrival of the newest addition to

If we could all get together in person today, we might enjoy the toilet paper squares guessing game that is often played at baby showers around here. As each guest arrives, she would guess the number of toilet paper squares it would take to wrap around Cate's baby belly. There would be a beautifully wrapped gift (probably holding a nice bottle of lotion or a Starbucks gift card) waiting for the winner - the one who guessed closest to the actual number. Of course, to determine the winner, Cate would have to subject her belly to being wrapped with toilet paper! And there would then be the fun photos of us holding the toilet paper in place (which is trickier than it seems) while everyone snaps a photo with her camera or phone!
 
If we were all together, I would have arrived with a diaper cake - the baby shower gift I've created for every shower I've attended over the past 12 years. (You can see a few samples here and here.) However, since that would be impractical to ship, I'll leave you with a look at the double-page layout I created for Cate's baby scrapbook.
 
 
Be sure to stop by Deb's blog today and see what everyone else at the shower is up to! (Thanks Deb for hosting such a fun event!)

Monday, May 27, 2013

Remembering Dad

If you thumb through my scrapbooks or scroll through my blog, you'll run across numerous layouts about my parents. However, I realized I haven't scrapped many stories or photos of Robbie's parents. Robbie and I had been married less than a year and a half when Dad passed away (10 years ago this month), so the photos we have of his parents together are from before we met. As we are (slowly) sorting our way through boxes of photos, I've been gathering photos of Robbie's family in a Storage Binder. Recently I was inspired to pull a few of those photos out for layouts.

Robbie's dad always enjoyed traveling, and after his retirement he and Mom traveled often. I pulled several photos of them together in various locations, then asked Robbie to write a short note on a journaling card for this first layout.

One year for Christmas, Mom gave Dad a horse - something he'd always wanted. This next layout showcases photos of Dad with Poco.

I never really got the chance to know Dad very well as he was already ill when I first met him, but there are stories to tell from the few times we visited Ohio that first year of our marriage - like when Dad ate chicken for me, and the time he opened the safe to our surprise, and the way he read the fine print on the coffee cup . . . but those are stories for another day. We miss you Dad!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sunday Musings - Humility

I recently read Charles R. Swindoll's book about Elijah and enjoyed the look at two major components of Elijah's character - heroism and humility. I've read the story of Elijah numerous times and have always thought of him as a hero and a strong man of God. This was the man who stood on Mount Carmel and called down the fire of the Lord that "consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust and licked up the water that was in the trench." He was the man who prayed, "Oh Lord my God, I pray Thee let this child's life return to him," believing that God could restore life to a child despite the fact that there was no recorded resurrections before this time! What a man of faith, a hero who stood as God's prophet against King Ahab and Jezebel, a man willing to convey the Lord's message no matter how unpopular it might be.

And, yet, he was also a man of great humility. I've never done an in depth study of the life Elijah and was overwhelmed at how humble this heroic man was, how much his life shared in common with the life of Christ (getting away alone to pray, resurrection of the dead, standing against idol worshipers), and how many lessons I learned as I took a closer look at his life.

Here are a few thoughts/lessons/quotes from the book that have caused me to pause and look at my own life and character:

*The ranks of humble heroes are getting dangerously thin. Ours is fast becoming a world of self-important people who wear their successes much too conspicuously, whose achievements, rather than left unannounced for others to discover, are so shamelessly trumpeted by the achievers themselves.

*There are four obstacles we must overcome so that God can use us and through overcoming each one we learn something.
(1) By overcoming pride, we learn submission.
(2) By overcoming fear, we learn to walk by faith.
(3) By overcoming resentment, we learn forgiveness.
(4) By overcoming habit, we learn humility.

*The most vulnerable moment is right after a great victory. Humility does not follow readily on the heels of awards and achievement.

*Feelings of indispensability and self-sufficiency can replace a wholesome dependence on the One who has blessed you beyond measure.

I know that humility is not one of my strongest character traits. In fact, I'm pretty sure no one has ever said, "Oh Melissa is such a humble servant of the Lord." However, I want to cultivate more of a humble attitude in my life, in my relationship to the Lord, in my successes, in my failures, in my relationships. I am who I am and have all that I have because the Lord has forgiven my sins and He blesses me beyond what I truly deserve or ever could have imagined. I want to strive to always give Him the glory!

Do any of these lessons resonate with you today?

A couple more comments on the book:
(1) I was intrigued that this book was dedicated to Tom Landry (coach of  the Dallas Cowboys for 29 years) because the author felt that he was a "magnificent model of the things" written about - heroism and humility. I grew up watching Landry coach the Cowboys with a sense of style and class that are rarely evident in professional football now, so I will definitely be tracking down a copy of his autobiography to learn more about his life and beliefs.
(2) Elijah: A Man of Heroism and Humility is the fourth book I have read in Swindoll's Great Lives From God's Word series, and I have learned so much from each one. (See my review of the book on Esther here.) I highly recommend this series!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Sweet Memories

I'm working my way through the final photos in my 2009 Storage Binder and found these cute photos of my nieces. I used the Let's Get Sketchy May Week 3 Sketch as my starting inspiration for this layout.

The background paper for this layout already contained printed items in the top left and bottom right corners, so it went together easily! (Special thanks to my friend Michelle for the really cute paper pad she brought me on National Scrapbook Day!) I added several strips of washi tape and the dimensional flower buttons, mounted my photos on cardstock, and added journaling. (Special thanks to Robbie for the flowered washi tape and flower buttons that he bought me while he was out running errands on National Scrapbook Day!) A quick fun layout to showcase photos of those sweet girls!

(BTW - Jennie is ready to pass Creative Stamping for Scrapbookers as part of Pass the Book: Year Two. Click here for a chance to be the next recipient.)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

House Hunting

This week's challenge in the Library of Memories Community is to create a layout "that combines pictures and words in a way that no one else could." I pulled two photos from my 2009 Storage Binder - these photos were taken three months apart and could be considered totally unrelated. However, I knew I wanted to use them to tell the story of the months my parents spent hunting for a new home.

When I sat down to work on this layout, I remembered another story that went along with this theme.

I used a Shimelle sketch from 2011 as inspiration for this layout and am thrilled to have these stories documented.

Have you combined photos from different times to document a story lately?

Monday, May 20, 2013

Suits Me Just Fine

Last year as we were sorting through Robbie's childhood photos, we came across one of his school photos and he commented that his Grandy had made the suit he was wearing. I remembered that a few years ago I had clipped a layout from an old magazine that featured a little boy in a suit. I flipped through my inspiration file and was thrilled to find it still there, so I chose some papers to match Robbie's suit and set to work. (It's been several years since I clipped this inspiration, so I have no idea which magazine it came from - sorry!)

I used a gold pen to draw stripes on my patterned paper so it would match Robbie's suit material better and pulled some old buttons from my stash. Robbie typed up a little bit of journaling to tell the story.

Journaling Reads: When I was little, Grandy used to make some of my clothes. From about the time I was 3 or 4 until I reached the age of maybe 9 or 10, she made me several suits, vests, shirts, and even a couple of ties. Usually, these were for special occasions such as school pictures, but at other times, there really was no special reason at all other than she loved to sew - especially for her first-born grandson! – Robbie 7-7-12

It took a little trial and error to get the collar and tie just right, but I'm thrilled with the result!

I'm so glad I saved that piece of inspiration from years ago! Do you keep an inspiration file? How often do you refer to it?

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Eat More Fruits & Vegetables

As many of you know, for the past few years I've been trying to eat healthier and exercise regularly. I've not been as consistent as I would have liked, however Robbie and I have started planning our meals and working together on these goals the past several weeks. One thing we are focusing on is eating more fruits and vegetables. I didn't grow up eating a lot of fresh vegetables, but each year I acquire a taste for more and more of these nutritious foods.

One problem that I have is that I'm not particularly fond of "weeds" - that's my word for lettuce and other leafy greens. I think this aversion stems from the fact that most restaurants use primarily iceberg lettuce. However, over the past few years I've experimented and found that there are many tasty greens on the market, and luckily our local grocery stores carry a variety to choose from.

I like to top my "weeds" with tomatoes, one of my favorite veggies.
Happy colored peppers are another favorite that I enjoy. Not only are they yummy, they can also add lots of color to a dish.
As part of this healthy eating initiative, I recently tried a new recipe for shrimp fried rice that was chock full of healthy vegetables - snow peas, carrots, peppers, onions.
The avocado is often confused for a vegetable because it's used in salads, however it's technically a fruit.
Robbie recently tried a new breakfast recipe that included this delicious fruit - baked avocado & egg. He added diced tomatoes on top, a slice of toast and a small scoop of guacamole to complete the meal - totally yummy!
We both enjoy fresh fruits and are adding more of those to our diets as we eliminate more and more sweets.
BTW- These produce photos were taken during my recent inspiration outing - love that we can find inspiration anywhere, even a local grocery store! For lunch that day, I  had an avocado and chicken salad topped with tomatoes and mozzarella cheese (no weeds in sight!).
Have you been eating your fruits & vegetables lately?

Friday, May 17, 2013

I'm Getting Artsy

It's already Week Four in the BPC Get Artsy workshop, however it's been busy around here lately with the ending of the school year (finals, grading & recording assignments, turning in supplies, etc) and an unexpected home improvement project (after the discovery of a leak in the roof!), so I'm just now completing the Week One assignment.

Week One focused on using gesso and gelatos to create an artsy background. I have never used either of these products . . . in fact, I didn't even own either one. A trip to Hobby Lobby yielded a bottle of gesso, but the gelatos were nowhere to be found locally. Robbie came to the rescue and ordered me a gift set with EVERY available color!


After prepping my background with gesso, I applied the gelatos and blended them with a dry paper towel as per Mou Saha's directions. I then used a stencil and removed some of the gelatos to complete the background. I wouldn't say it's the best piece of artwork ever, but I'm pretty pleased with my first efforts and the resulting layout.

I have to admit that it was fun playing with these new products, and I'm looking forward to trying some of the other techniques in this workshop as I get artsy!

Do you use gesso and gelatos in your scrapbooking?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Inspiration Days & My "Job"

Remember those Inspiration Days my friend Ellyn and I have taken? Our first outing was a day at the Dallas Arboretum where we found lots of colorful blooms, architectural details and shadows. The second time we got together to practice photography and find inspiration included a visit to a local park where we found a war memorial, a playground, and bluebonnets.

There's one little fun part of these excursions that I haven't shared yet . . . my "job" during these outings. It starts with the fact that Ellyn is a quilter. She makes wonderful quilts to keep, to give away as gifts, and to sell in her Etsy shop. She shares photos of those quilts on her blog . . . which leads to my "job".

Ellyn brought along a recently completed quilt on each of our outings and we looked for the perfect spot to snap a photo.


Have you figured out my "job" yet? Maybe these next photos will help.



Yep, my "job" is to hold the quilt in place while Ellyn snaps the perfect photo. Really I'm supposed to be hiding behind it, but sometimes I just can't resist popping up - it certainly makes for some fun times & photos!

We have the date all set for our next Inspiration Day and I'm looking forward to seeing Ellyn's latest quilt. I might even take along a few layouts and try some creative photography!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Cards for Giveaway

Thanks so much to those of you who took time to check out my video and article on the womensministry.net website last week! You may have noticed that there was a giveaway listed below the video for those who commented on the blog post - three sets of five handmade cards. (If you left a comment there, be sure to check back and see if you are a winner.) Here's a look at the cards I made.



I'm excited to be sending these off to the winners soon and am thankful for all the comments and the opportunity to be published over at womensministry.net.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

National Scrapbook Day 2013

I'm happy to report that this year's National Scrapbook Day crop here was a great success. Mama, Michelle and I spent ten hours together in celebration of this fun hobby!

We were extremely fortunate to have our own personal assistant on hand to pick up lunch from Subway, to surprise me with a few new items for my stash from our local Hobby Lobby, and to cook a delicious supper!


This allowed us maximum time to scrap with only short breaks for nourishment.

Mama wins the award for scrapping the most layouts (9 total) and using the most photos (too many to count). She has been busy lately scanning and printing photos in smaller sizes to include on layouts. She even brought along some of her sketches from several years ago and scrapped those!

Michelle tried several new techniques and discovered misting as she followed along with some of Shimelle's NSD challenges, completing 7 layouts along the way.

And I finished up 8 layouts - seven of them were inspired by Shimelle's challenges and one by a sketch Cheryl shared in a recent newsletter.

All in all it was a fabulous day filled with family, friends, fun, food and lots of laughter! Was your National Scrapbook Day 2013 fun and productive?

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Storytelling Sunday - I'll Miss You Honkin' Truck

I'm linking up with Sian today as part of this year's Storytelling Sunday, a fun blog event where she encourages us to tell our stories in words and photos. This year's theme is Pick Your Precious (although any story will do), so today I'm going to share with you about a vehicle that I truly loved.

If you've been around my blog for a couple of years, you may remember that I created a layout about my Ford Expedition called 140,000 Miles & Counting back in 2010. This past fall, we traded that wonderful vehicle in for a new Suburban. I loved the Expedition, but after 10 years and 160,000 plus miles we were ready for something new. When I cleaned out the file I kept on the Expedition, I pulled a few items and put in my Memorabilia File with the plan to scrapbook one final layout about it. Last week's challenge in the Library of Memories Community provided the perfect opportunity because we were encouraged to "create a page with memorabilia that we had diligently saved."

I created a two page layout. On the left page, I used the front of a brochure in the background, and on the right page, I created a pocket to hold other items I had saved - the original buyers order, a copy of the title, a registration renewal, an inspection report, a couple of bills, and the pages from the spiral notebook I kept in the glove box to record all maintenance and repairs.

Journaling reads: OH THE MILES WE’VE TRAVELED TOGETHER

My very first vehicle with an automatic transmission: a grown-up car, big enough that I would feel safe on the roads in Dallas, with plenty of room for lots of adventures. The first time I’ve ever given a vehicle a name – we dubbed you “Honkin’ Truck” because you were huge compared to the small cars we’d been driving. 

Over the years, you carried us to work, to school, to church, on errands, on vacations and weekend get-aways, on trips to visit family, to scrapbook stores and comic shops, to births and funerals and weddings and graduations and recitals . . . and always back home again. You’ve hauled family & friends, beds & TVs, groceries & Coca-Colas, bicycles & tricycles, sinks & toilets, presents & decorations, car seats and booster seats, suitcases & ice chests. You pulled the boat back and forth to the lake and even towed a U-Haul trailer all the way home from Ohio. We had to have the motors replaced in the driver’s seat and the window because you were well used and enjoyed.

For 10 years, 4 months and 6 days, we traveled together – 167,151 miles, across 19 states and through 1 border crossing. After 39 oil changes and 4 sets of tires, it’s time to say goodbye . . . 

I’ll miss you Honkin’ Truck!
Melissa – November 2012


I had other photos I wanted to include, so I added an 8x8 divided page that I'll put in between these two 12x12 pages in my album.


Journaling (on the tag) reads: The very first day, Robbie said, “We need to be careful about eating in this new car.” I laughed at the time & we both laugh now thinking about all the meals and snacks and drinks we’ve enjoyed (and occasionally spilt) in this vehicle through the years!

I'm really pleased to have this story scrapped and preserved in our 2012 album. Have you saved any memorabilia in a pocket page lately? Or added an extra page for additional photos?

Happy National Scrapbooking Day

Isn't it wonderful that we have a day to celebrate scrapbooking!?! I hope you are having some scrappy fun today as we celebrate National Scrapbooking Day, or I should say International Scrapbook Day since there are scrappers around the world celebrating and enjoying this fun hobby today.

My Mama and my friend Michelle will be here scrapping with me, creating layouts, snacking on chocolate, and making fun memories. Like the memory of the last time the three of us scrapped together . . .

It was Easter Sunday. After a delicious lunch, the three of us retired to my craft room.

Mama was just getting into scrapbooking - although she started my original scrapbook (& my sisters') years ago and had occasionally dabbled in scrapping, this was her debut with new supplies and techniques. Since she forgot to bring her own photos and supplies, she flipped through my Category Drawers and stash to find something to work with. I thought everything was going along fine until she applied adhesive to the back of a sheet of patterned paper, picked it up, and promptly adhered it to the edge of the craft table!

 
I decided I probably should "help" Mama (and advise Michelle, too, of course), so I didn't actually get anything scrapped that day. However, Mama & Michelle completed two layouts each.


I'm confident that today we will all three end up with several completed layouts and have lots of fun along the way.
 
Well . . . actually I got an early start! Shimelle posted her first NSD challenge at midnight UK time, which was still Friday evening here in the states, so I whipped out a layout to fulfill the challenge to Scrap in Pink.
 
Happy Scrappin' Y'all!