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.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Illustrating the Book of Ruth

The Book of Ruth in the Old Testament is one of my favorite books in the Bible. There are only four chapters in this short book, yet it tells the story of an integral part of God's plan for a Savior.  If we look closely at the character of Ruth, we can also learn many lessons from her life of loss, love, loyalty, and redemption that can be applied to our own lives.

In preparation for the illustrated Bible journaling workshops I taught yesterday, I took time to illustrate this book in my journaling Bible. I began with a Creating in Faith stamp of Ruth and a few words to describe what we learn about her in chapter 1.


During the workshop on Saturday, one of the participants, Jennifer, used the Ruth stamp, a One & Done flower traceable, and washi tape to create this illustration for chapter 1.


On the blank page before the book of Ruth in my Bible, I created an illustration using Gelatos, colored pencils and a car die cut I've had in my scrapbooking stash for many years. Ruth's entreaty in chapter 1 verses 16 & 17 is often used in wedding ceremonies as it is a strong commitment to follow another individual, in this case her mother-in-law Naomi.


Another one of the participants in the workshop this weekend had previously shared photos of her pages. Amber's illustration for Ruth's impassioned speech to Naomi was inspired by a page she saw on Pinterest.


Ruth's story continues after she and Naomi arrive in Bethlehem. She goes out to glean (pick up the barley or grain left behind after harvesting) in the field of Boaz during barley harvest. Boaz notices her and praises her for her hard work and willingness to leave her home and family to care for Naomi. He says, may "the Lord repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge." I added a piece of patterned paper to the margin before tracing an illustration of Ruth and drawing in some barley as a background for the idea I wanted to emphasize from Boaz's words.


That wonderful drawing of Ruth is one that Amber drew in her margin - I simply printed a copy and traced it using graphite paper.


Amber also drew some barley and noted one of the lessons we can learn from Ruth's story - sometimes we have to leave what is familiar for God to take us higher.


We learn that Boaz is a near relative of Naomi's deceased husband, so he is a kinsman redeemer (one who can redeem or buy back the property of a deceased relative and marry the widow  to raise up seed to continue the family line). Ruth follows Naomi's instructions to go to the threshing floor and lay down at Boaz's feet one evening  - an idea that sounds strange to us but worked our beautifully. When Boaz discovered Ruth and she asked him to spread his garment over her as he was a guardian-redeemer, he again praised her and said that he would. I chose to illustrate this wonderful story of redemption by creating a colorful background with Gelatos, then simply adding letter stickers to spell "redemption."


However, Boaz was not the closet relative, so he had to meet with the other relative first to see if he was willing and able to redeem Elimelech's property. He was not willing to redeem it, so, as was the custom of the day, he took off his sandal to show his agreement that Boaz could take his place. Amber drew a sandal to illustrate this part of the story. [Thanks, Amber, for letting me share your pages with my readers!]


Boaz marries Ruth and they have a son named Obed. After all that Ruth has gone through - the loss of her first husband, traveling with Naomi to a foreign land, working hard gleaning in order to provide food for herself and Naomi - she finally finds security in this new life as a wife and mother. I used a One & Done traceable to add a beautiful flower & flourish to the margin to illustrate the truth that God brings beauty out of ashes.


But the story doesn't end there! We find Ruth mentioned again in the New Testament when she is listed as one of the women in the lineage of our Savior, Jesus Christ, so beautifully illustrated on these pages by Jann Gray of Illuminated Journaling. [Thanks, Jann, for letting me share this lovely page with my readers!]


Ruth the Moabitess entered Bethlehem as a poor widowed foreigner, yet her loyalty, determination and hard work brought her to the attention of Boaz (and the Lord) who redeemed her and gave her a new life that included being the great-grandmother of King David and one of only four women named in the lineage of Christ!

I've obviously simplified and shortened Ruth's story here in this blog post, and I hope I've inspired you to take a fresh look at this short book! Have you read and/or illustrated the book of Ruth? Which part of Ruth's story resonates most with you?

Monday, April 24, 2017

Monday's Mail Memo - April Book Swap

This is the fourth month in the book swap my sister Brenda and I are doing this year. So far, we've both been keeping up with the reading, however we're taking the month of May off as neither of us has finished our April books.

April Books from Brenda Paige & Laurie

This month I didn't receive a package for our monthly book swap. My twin 12-year-old nieces wanted to get in on the swap, so they each shared one of their books with me when we stopped by at the end of our vacation earlier this month. I've just finished The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop, a FUN and magical book that Paige really likes, and I'll be starting Crater Trueblood and the Lunar Rescue Company from Laurie very soon!


April Book to Brenda

When I reviewed The Sleepwalker HERE, Brenda commented that it sounded especially interesting, so I sent that for her to read this month. Of course, I made a bookmark to go along with it.


I added several others items to the her package: two of the books she'd sent to me previously; some leftover candy canes I thought the girls would enjoy; my worn Play t-shirt (just in case she gets inspired to turn it into a wall hanging); a coloring page, and...


a 12x12 vision board for her word BALANCE.


Waving hello to all the Mondayers joining in with Sian this year as we share memos and mail on Monday!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Illustrated Faith Retreat

The theme of the 4-day Illustrated Faith retreat I attended earlier this month was DWELL, taking time to dwell in the presence of the Lord.

The first day was basically a time to get settled, and I arrived early enough to create an illustration using a One & Done Line Art Transfer sheet. I really like this product that allows me to trace awesome images as I meditate on scriptures. (The DWELL theme wasn't really introduced until the first session the next day, so I chose to work on something from my idea file.) I placed this image beside Isaiah 49:2, which says In His quiver He has hidden me.


Our "assignment" that evening was to create a "meet the artist" page in whatever format we wanted. I ended up just painting and adding texture to my page, then stamping or writing in words and information about myself.


Our "meet the artist" pages were hung up in the kitchenette over the weekend as we all got to know each other. Can you spot mine there? :)


Each of the following three days began with a DWELL session that included a devotional led by Tonya Hamilton of Messy Bible and a time of worship led by a beautiful young lady named Tiffani Watkins. Then there were Bible journaling sessions led by Shanna Noel of Illustrated Faith introducing a new technique, product or prompt, followed by time to work in our Bibles. I must admit that I did not complete as many pages as most of the other retreat participants, however I did try each of the techniques and prompts in a traveler's journal, adding in notes and ideas along the way. I also used it for practice stamping and even cut apart & adhered the words to the worship songs.


I arrived late to the session where Shanna shared how to create our own stamps using foam because I'd been out riding around the ranch and snapping photos, enjoying being out in the sunshine and fresh air. Luckily, she gave me a "private lesson" when I returned and one of my table-mates, Karen, had a template that was perfect for what I wanted to journal. I made an impression on my foam, traced it with a pen to form the indentations, and cut it out for my very own custom barn & cow stamp. I chose to place this image beside Psalm 150, which is a praise to the Lord and a reminder to let everything that has breath praise the Lord.


One of the prompts was to add a hand in our Bible as we contemplated where God's hand was in our life. Many of the ladies rolled painted onto their hand and created a hand print in their Bibles. Honestly, I didn't have an idea for the prompt, so I simply traced one of the hand templates into my notebook and wrote a prayer inside it.

However, the next day after one of the DWELL sessions, I was inspired by the scripture in Isaiah (30:21) that says: Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, "This is the way, walk in it," Whenever you turn to the right hand Or whenever you turn to the left. I ended up tracing my hands and adding arrows and letter stickers to this page as reminder that the Lord will show me the way when I listen for His direction.


The retreat included a session led by Tracy Pounds, owner of The Little Blue House. We created a mixed media canvas using modge podge, old sewing patterns (for texture), paint, gelatos, plastic wrap, a hymnal page, flowers, and stickers. (And, yes, those are my flowers from Robbie there in the corner.)


There were quite a few steps to this project, and I'm thrilled with how mine turned out. It looks great in my craft room.


In addition to all these sessions and riding around the Whitworth Ranch Retreat, I thoroughly enjoyed the delicious meals and snacks provided by Stacy Seely and her mom throughout the weekend. I didn't snap any photos of the fantastic mealtime spreads or the desserts (Texas sheet cake, banana cream cake, peach cobbler rollups, cookies), but I did capture the sunrise along with the spot where I enjoyed all my meals outside.


I also took time to visit with each lady at the retreat and ask how I could pray for them. Then I took Emily (another retreat attendee) up on her offer to borrow her hammock for a while and spent quiet time with the Lord. This, to me, was truly the essence of DWELLing in His presence. It was such a lovely, peaceful day, and I felt honored to be able to pray for each of the beautiful ladies (ranging in age from 22 to 60+) that enjoy this FUN way of diving into the Word and drawing closer to the Lord!


And, finally, I included a few bits & pieces from the weekend in the front of my Bible to remember the retreat. I added it beneath a stamped image I added in last year.


Several of the ladies at the retreat created tags and other elements for each of the participants. I'm enjoying adding those to my Bible and will share them in a future post.

Have you attended any retreats lately? Do you enjoy following along and creating during each session or, like me, spend more time taking it all in and enjoying the time away without worrying about getting it all done?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

What's On Your Workdesk Wednesday #13

I'm busy preparing to share the Word and illustrated Bible journaling at a mini-retreat this Saturday, so I have lots of journaling bits & pieces on my desk today. I snapped this photo after completing a sample page. My next step is to straighten everything up, but that will have to wait for the morning!


I'll be sharing about serving the Lord in our everyday lives and being salt & light in the world, so I spent time meditating on Matthew 5:14-16 as I created this illustration.


I used a One & Done Line Art Trasfer Sheet and graphite paper to get the world illustration on my page first, then outlined the image with Micron pens. I added the blue and green with Gelatos. I cut the Texas outline from a piece of Texas-themed patterned paper and adhered it in North America - yes, I realize it's a little out of proportion, but y'all know everything's bigger in Texas! The yellow light beams were created with Gelatos, also, with a very pale yellow colored pencil in between (although the background still looks a little white in the photo).


I added journaling and the stamped sentiment to complete this page and am looking forward to sharing ideas for letting our light shine at the upcoming retreat.

Joining in very late today with Julia at Stamping Ground for What's On Your Workdesk Wednesday. What's on your workdesk this week? 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A Harvest of Thorns - book review

I have to admit that I don't often think about where are how my clothes are made, but A Harvest of Thorns by Corban Addison has my curiosity peaked!

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0718042387/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0718042387&linkCode=as2&tag=dalibipi-20&linkId=cdbff3684a2c3e2d8d5f761eb89ae383
 
This fiction story that begins with a fire in a clothing factory in Bangladesh and follows a large American company's (Presto) reaction is quite an eye-opener as it exposes the garment industry for using underpaid (and sometimes) enslaved workers in other countries to produce products at minimal cost. This story addresses the issues of sweatshops, labor rights, and the ethics of globalization in a well-written, easy-to-read (despite the issues addressed) book.

The chapters alternate between the investigations of Cameron Alexander, general counsel for Presto, and Josh Griswold, a disgraced journalist with a heart for the poor and gullible, as they uncover the truth about working conditions in factories in several developing countries. In one interesting chapter, Josh interviews people waiting to shop at Presto on Black Friday, asking how the fire and working conditions in other countries affect their buying decisions. In most cases, the consumers aren't concerned with those issues.

The book is based on similar real-life events and has reminded me of how little we sometimes know and understand what goes in to bring us the vast array of products in the stores in our cities! I definitely recommend this thought-provoking book (which I received free from Booklook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review).

Monday, April 17, 2017

Monday's Mail Memo - Magazines, Catalogs & Happy Mail

There wasn't much in the mail last week, however we've picked up quite a few magazines over the past couple of weeks. I snapped a photo of them earlier today - as you can see, along with living a happy, beautiful, simple life, we're getting ready for a kitchen remodel and dreaming of our next road trip!


Today's mail arrived with an array of catalogs. I'm not in the market to purchase anything, but these definitely have potential as crafting materials.


And there was some genuine Happy Mail!


That envelope with the wonderful lettering came from my new friend Jana of Sweet to the Soul Ministries.  I met Jana at the Illustrated Faith retreat and she sent me one of her Bible studies and the companion Bible journaling kit, which I'll share more about as I work through it! The 7 Steps postcards tied with ribbon came from Shanna Noel of Illustrated Faith - she sent those for me to share with participants at the mini-retreat I'll be leading this Saturday.


It was definitely a good mail day around here to start the week! Waving hello to all the Mondayers joining in with Sian this year as we share memos and mail on Monday!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter Y'all


I created these blocks & cute tags last month at a class at our local scrapbook store. This year I am being ACTIVE about taking classes and trying new things. In this class, I used a text stamp on kraft paper, then tore the paper into pieces that I decoupaged onto wooden blocks. This process took a good bit of time, and I had to leave the blocks at the store to dry overnight. (The largest block was pre-stained to match the others.)


All the bits & pieces for the tags were pre-cut, so they went together quickly . . . although I reversed the papers as the sample had lots more solid colors. The letters were then covered with glitter glue, which also took a while to dry.


The tags are hanging on tacks, so they can easily be removed and replaced for different seasons and holidays. Classes are offered with new tags each month, however my plan is to create my own as INSPIRATION strikes!


HAPPY EASTER Y'ALL

Friday, April 14, 2017

April 5 in 5 - Hereford & Angus

The Illustrated Faith retreat I attended last week was held at Whitworth Ranch here in Texas. One afternoon, the owner offered to show a few of us around the ranch where they raise Hereford and Angus cattle. Riding through the fields in a Kawasaki Mule (utility vehicle) was the perfect opportunity to snap photos for this month's 5 in 5 photography meme hosted by Sandi.






And I can't help but add one extra photo this month, although I didn't snap this one!


Oh, yes, I did some Bible journaling at the retreat, too - I'll be sharing more about that soon!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Monday's Mail Memo - Untouched Uppercase

When all the vacation mail was delivered last week, it yielded quite a few bills, lots of junk mail, a few treasures for Robbie and the latest issue of Uppercase for me!


That was last Monday afternoon, however the magazine is still sitting by my chair, untouched after opening, because I headed out again on Wednesday to attend the Illustrated Faith Retreat with Shanna Noel at Whitworth Ranch in Scurry, Texas. It was a whirlwind four days of illustrated Bible journaling, meeting new friends, eating al fresco, touring the ranch, and drawing closer to the Lord through devotionals and worship!


So, once again I'm home and tackling the laundry and mail and an overflowing inbox!

Waving hello to all the Mondayers joining in with Sian this year as we share memos and mail on Monday!

Friday, April 7, 2017

51 Years

I only snapped one photo when we went out to visit and celebrate my parent's 51st anniversary in February. When I saw the Athentique April Sketch Challenge, I pulled the 5x7 print of that photo and set to work creating a layout using the sketch. I rearranged some of the elements so that my embellishments covered up distracting items in the photo.


This layout uses papers from two of Authentique's collections. The black and white papers are from the Everlasting collection, which I've had in my stash for a couple of years. The papers with fall colors are from the Harvest collection, which I picked up at Personal Scrapbook this past December.


The letter stickers, flowers, and bling all came from my stash and add lots of dimension to this page.


This was a great challenge to help me with my goal to be ACTIVE in using my stash this year!