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, November 30, 2016
Also, in my last round up post, I mentioned that Ruth had commented that she was inspired to redesign/overhaul her craft room? Well, she did it - check out her BEFORE and AFTER posts!
When I said hello to November and mentioned our upcoming vacation, Karen said...It sounds like you need a little break, and a vacation is also in order! I'll be anxious to hear where you and Robbie are off to this time! We took an 8-day road trip here in Texas! If you missed it, you can check out my favorite photos from the trip HERE. After seeing those photos, Marsha asked...great photos...I love the little shorebird in the middle collage(maybe a sandpiper??) Uhmm . . . yes, maybe, I think so. Here are a couple of other shots - any birders out there who can give us a definite answer?
And I learned something new from Betty's comment...I truly enjoy what we call 'tiki tours' within driving distance for the day. You found some fabulous sights to share with us.What a FUN new term! I'm hoping we'll have time for quite a few tiki tours next year!
When I shared snaps of Paragraphs Bookstore, Mary-Lou spotted lots of items in the sandcastle structure. She said...I see Wizard of Oz's dead witch under the house, Cinderella's pumpkin carriage, the cat from Alice in Wonderland, Johan's whale, Privet Drive (HP); Winnie's Hunny Pot; my personal favourite, Rapunzel in the tower. And Karen asked....What books did you purchase? We bought seven books, but I actually only picked out one - A Gentleman in Moscow, which I really enjoyed and will be reviewing soon. I also read one of the ones Robbie picked out - Lois Lane Fallout, a great Young Adult book, the first in a series, that I'll also be reviewing soon.
Thanks, everyone, for continuing the conversation!
Outside the store, there's a great sandcastle statue. Hedwig caught my attention first, but this is such a wonderful montage of characters and places. Who/what else can you spot?
Joining in today with Helena's meme - Snap - a visually linked set of between 2 and 4 images. [Gosh, I have a hard time following the "rules" - obviously I have a few extra photos today!] The set can be based on colour or shape or subject.
Saturday, November 26, 2016
I taught over 200 women in 30+ classes at five venues. I built an email list with 222 subscribers and earned income that will require me to file a Schedule C (Profit or Loss from Business) and pay income taxes for this year.
It has been exciting, rewarding, FUN, and a true blessing to be able to share this creative hobby and the Word of God at the same time.
It has also been exhausting, stressful and hard at times, and I have made the difficult decision to cancel/postpone my upcoming class schedule in order to step back and evaluate where the Lord is leading me in this business/ministry. This was a difficult decision because I realize that it will affect the momentum and following I've established over this past year. I have also developed wonderful relationships with many of the ladies who have attended my classes and events. In fact, this has been one of the most rewarding aspects of this ministry/business. However, my greatest desire is to honor the Lord in all that I do. Over the next few months, I'll be taking time to listen for the Lord's direction and to replenish myself physically and spiritually.
Here's a look at the completed page in my 50 Things To Do Before I'm 50 mini-album.
Friday, November 25, 2016
This morning, I pulled out this great 12x12 sheet and cut it apart. I ended up choosing these seven pieces to create cards.
I thought these four would be perfect for gifts tags.
And I'm saving this last one to use as a journaling block on a scrapbook page.
I pulled seven card bases from my stash.
As you can see, just adhering these 3x4 pieces to the card bases would have made cute cards.
However, I like the look of layering, so I pulled several pieces of coordinating cardstock and patterned paper from my scrap basket.
Then it was simply a matter of cutting papers, chalking the edges, layering, and adhering
Here's a look before and after the layering together - see how those layers add extra charm and complete the cards.
Thursday, November 24, 2016
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
We spent most of our time outdoors, strolling along the Riverwalk, meandering down the beach, and enjoying the views.
But, most of all, we simply enjoyed our time together.
Joining in today with Helena's meme - Snap - a visually linked set of between 2 and 4 images. [Or in my case this month, 2 to 4 collages!] The set can be based on colour or shape or subject.
Friday, November 18, 2016
For anyone striving to lose weight:
21 Dietitian-Approved Tips To Jump-Start Weight Loss
These tips from the first of the year are great reminders of things we can do throughout the year (and the upcoming holiday season) to stay on track with weight loss or healthy living goals.
For those wondering about how much to share online:
My Edited Self Vs. My Real Self
This article focuses a lot on the life of moms, but is relevant for everyone. My edited self is an excited, energetic, spiritually mature teacher. My real self gets anxious when announcing new classes (wondering if anyone will sign up), comes home exhausted (after a full day of doing demonstrations and answering questions), and wonders if I'm the right person for the "job" (of encouraging women to dive into the Word and serve the Lord in their everyday life).
For anyone who wants to take unique travel photos:
How to Improve Your Travel Photography
My favorite tip is to lower the pressure we put on ourselves to take photos of everything!
For those who enjoy reading historical novels:
How A Non-Fiction Writer Finds His Next Subject
Great article by the author Erik Larson. I've read and thoroughly enjoyed a couple of his historical non-fiction books, which read like novels.
For anyone considering using a bullet journal for 2017:
How to Start a Bullet Journal Without Getting Overwhelmed
I like the idea of bullet journaling for some things but really enjoy choosing a new calendar/planner each year. I just received the 2017 Get To Work Book and am looking forward to getting it all set up soon!
For those who think they could never (fill in the blank) :
The Value of Personal Experiments and Challenges
We have a trip planned later this month, so maybe I'll try the challenge to only pack for 1/2 the days you are traveling ... maybe!
For anyone with a full inbox:
Emails to Zero on Your Lunch Break
I process my email everyday and almost always have my inbox to zero by the end of the day, however I know quite a few people who have hundreds (or thousands!) of emails in their inboxes!
Have you read any interesting or inspiring articles lately? Please share a link in the comments!
Friday, November 11, 2016
Rabbit Is Rich by John Updike, is simply UGH! This 423-page book is told through the thoughts of Harry (Rabbit) Angstrom, a Toyota car salesman/dealership owner in the 1970s. There really wasn't a story per se, simply a recording of Harry's life and his thoughts (which were often vulgar and crass). The writing frequently drifted into stream of consciousness thought with no punctuation that lasted for several pages and was difficult to read. Over halfway through the book, the perspective shifts to Harry's son for a few chapters before returning to Harry's point of view.
The book did include lots of references to current events at that time - Carter's presidency, sunken living rooms, gas shortages, etc. There were some story lines within the book - Rabbit's son Nelson brings home a girl friend, but later his pregnant girlfriend arrives and they get married; Rabbit and his wife Janice hang out with their friends at the country club and all travel to the Caribbean together (resulting in some rather sultry goings-on) - however, none of these stories are all that interesting or fully developed. Basically, Rabbit is not a likeable character and the book is definitely a downer. In case it's not obvious yet, I definitely do not recommend this book!
The 1989 winner, Breathing Lessons: A Novel by Anne Tyler is a quick read with an interesting story about a day in the life of Maggie & Ira Moran, with lots of flashbacks to other times in their life. However, basically nothing of substance happens and it just ends with everything the same as it was at the beginning. During the course of the story, Maggie and Ira attend the funeral of friend's husband, visit their ex-daughter-in-law and granddaughter and invite them to come visit, and have a visit from their son who leaves when Ira points out that the son is currently in a relationship with another woman. Overall, the book is just the story of a couple married for 28 years who fight and make-up and have an ordinary life. Honestly, I'm simply neutral about this book - it was ok, quick to read, but nothing impressive occurs.
The Optimist's Daughter by Eudora Welty (winner in 1973) is another book where nothing really happens! It begins when Laurel arrives in New Orleans to be with her father, who is having an issue with his eye. He goes into the hospital and eventually passes away. Laurel and her father's young, selfish, flighty wife Fay return to Laurel's childhood home for the funeral. There are quite a few awkward interactions before the funeral, some involving Fay's "backwoods" family that comes from Texas for the funeral. Fay returns to Texas with them for a few days while Laurel spends her last days in the home she grew up in. Then she returns to her home in Chicago and the story ends. I didn't really enjoy the book as I couldn't relate to the characters and couldn't find any depth in the themes of death and loss and dealing with one's past grief. This is another book that I'm somewhat neutral when it comes to a recommendation.
I was intrigued by the premise of the 2006 winner, March by Geraldine Brooks, as the author created an account of a year in the life of Mr. March based on Louise May Alcott's novel, Little Women. Unfortunately it's been years since I read Little Women, but I did remember that Mr. March was gone for much of the novel. This new novel is told from his perspective (except for a few chapters near the end when he's in the hospital, which are told from Mrs. March's viewpoint) and follows him through battles and hardships and illness and heartbreak. I enjoyed this historical fiction novel set during the Civil War. It was an interesting read and makes me want to re-read Little Women to see the overlaps and to remember how Mr. March is portrayed in that classic story.
These books bring my total Pulitzer Prize winners in fiction read to 25 (out of 62+), so I'm getting close to the halfway point of completing this goal.
Wednesday, November 9, 2016
Joining in today with Helena's meme - Snap - a visually linked set of between 2 and 4 images. The set can be based on colour or shape or subject.
Tuesday, November 8, 2016
Here's the book description:
Jacqueline Bussie knows that too many Christians live according to unspoken “laws” that govern the Christian life: #1: Never get angry at God; #2: Never doubt; #3: Never question; #4: Never tell your real story; #5: Always speak in clichés about evil and suffering; and #6: Always believe hope comes easy for those who truly love God.
Living according to these rules is killing real Christian life; Outlaw Christian proposes a rebellious, life-giving, authentic alternative. Through captivating stories and with disarming honesty, Bussie gives concrete, practical strategies to help readers cultivate hope, seek joy, practice accompaniment, compost their pain, and rediscover the spiritual practice of lament. Tackling difficult questions without political divisiveness, Bussie speaks to both progressive and conservative Christians in ways that unite rather than divide. And in doing so, she provides a new way to handle the most difficult and troubling questions of life in a broken world that God will never abandon.
Honestly, I did not resonate with the book, maybe because I mostly feel like I can be my real self with the Lord and don't believe those "laws" that were mentioned in the book description. The author discussed anger and doubt and questioning and fear in chapters that seemed to go on forever. She shared honestly about her own life and her struggles as she cared for her mom (who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's) for 18 years. However, I got the feeling that she's still resentful toward God for those difficult years.
I have to give the author credit for honesty and speaking her mind. I would also say that some of the information in the book made me stop and think about my own beliefs. I also enjoyed some of the stories she shared about hope near the end of the book, so there were a few positives for this rather slow read.
Have you read or heard of this book? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
Sunday, November 6, 2016
MOVE - My exercise was somewhat minimal for the month, however I got in lots of activity while teaching, rearranging furniture, and moving books and games as we set up the front room. I also got out for a FUN adventure - I spent a beautiful sunshiny day at the Dallas Arboretum with my friend Thayer and her kids (who were on fall break).
LEARN - Thayer and I also met up to attend an Illuminated Journaling Workshop in Dallas. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Jann Gray and trying a new technique (blending colored pencils with mineral spirits) and a new product (One and Done Line Art Transfer Sheets) to illustrate Psalm103.
TEACH - I began the month teaching a class at Scrappin' Goodtime, and ended the month with three classes at Personal Scrapbook. I have to admit that I get lots of INSPIRATION while preparing, teaching, and interacting with participants during these workshops and events.
I'm taking a little break from teaching as I plan new classes for the coming year. I'll be hosting a retreat at Scrappin' Goodtime the first full weekend of the new year, and have several other classes in the works.
SCRAP- In the midst of creating 35+ layouts for the custom wedding scrapbook-for-hire projects I've undertaken, I found time to create two layouts for our 2016 chronological album.
That second layout was inspired by the October sketch on the Stuck?!Sketches blog, although I altered it quite a bit as I wanted to include more photos and journaling.
CLEAN - I did not have a chance to paint Grandma's sewing table, but the front room is almost completely set-up and rearranged. I'm especially excited about the new open shelves we purchased to hold our game collection, children's/YA books, and the record and cassette tape players. I'll finish filling these shelves up this month.
Did you accomplish your goals for October? What are your plans for November?
Tuesday, November 1, 2016
Cheri said...I love the use of those printer's trays! After seeing that post originally, I wanted to copycat. I have a half dozen printer's trays to choose from - my only problem? Almost all of my wood stamps are too big to fit into any of the boxes in any of the printer's trays I have! (Is that an excuse to go buy more wood stamps???) Uhm, yes I (of course) think that's a valid excuse!
When I said Hello to October, Sian said...I'm willing to bet that you are a wonderfully inspiring teacher who carries everyone in the class along with her enthusiasm. I'd sign up! Thank you, Sian! Oh, wouldn't it be wonderful if we all lived close enough to crop and journal and take classes together!! I'm so glad we have the blogosphere to keep us all connected.
Missus Wookie's comment about my Drawing vs Coloring Bible Journaling is one of the reasons I enjoy sharing INSPIRATION. She said...Thanks for sharing - especially the specific details of how you do this. Very helpful. I've just found some tracing paper in the office boxes I was sorting and kept it - thinking of you. I've started doing more colouring/drawing in my bible study journal inspired by you as well. As I am so often inspired by the blogs I read, it makes me so happy when something I've shared has been inspirational as well!
And then I laughed out loud at Susanne's comment on that same post as she admitted...Oh I like the idea of this, but I skipped quickly past the snake page!!
I also laughed at Mary Lou's comment about the Collins Group Event. She said...Oh that does look like such a fun evening & I too like that 3d gingerbread house. I have not attended anything like this, I do not know anyone personally that scrapbooks, stamps & makes cards. If I mention scrappy people think I am referring to a girl on girl fight!!! I really do need to get out more ... I've now also learned a new use for the word scrappy.
Thanks to everyone who stops by and continues the conversation each month!