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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Scraplifting

So, they tell me I’ve taken scraplifting to a whole new level.

For those non-scrapbookers among you who may be reading, scraplifting is seeing someone else’s layout idea and applying it to your own project. You may take a single small element they used as an idea, or you may just basically copy the whole layout. But you get your inspiration from someone else’s layout and then using your own papers, photos, and creativity, you make it your own.

I do this a lot as I peruse magazines looking at different layouts. I use Becky Higgins’ Sketches books almost religiously as I’m planning my pages. I also look at the Creating Keepsakes gallery a lot.

As I was preparing for our scrapbook weekend, I decided to work on an album of our trip to southern California for Thanksgiving week 2006. I had such fun going through all the pictures and planning the layouts. As I got to a couple of the layouts, however, I realized there were certain things that we didn’t get pictures of for some reason or another.

For instance, there was a water roller coaster at Sea World that Sarah really enjoyed that we never got a picture of because we were on the ride with her and I wasn’t going to let my camera get wet. Also, there was the roller coaster at Disney’s California Adventure that Mike and I loved. Sarah was still too little for it, and while we went to ride it, she stayed with her Aunt Brooke, who kept my camera.

So, how was I going to include these two important things in my album? I googled. I found pictures on the web that I could download and use (without breaking any copyright laws, I might add). I found pictures that other people took and scrapbooked them. I scrapbooked someone else’s vacation. I took their vacation pictures and made them my own.


(FYI - For whatever reason, I don't think the double click to enlarge is working with this picture.)


Hang with me here. This is where you get to see the truly bizarre nature of the inner-workings of my brain.

I started thinking about this concept of scraplifting and made a connection to my BSF lesson last week that I talked about previously.

This whole idea of applying biblical truth in my life is really heavy on my brain right now. I sense that God is telling me that in order to move on to the next step or level in my relationship with him, I’ve really got to step it up in this area. It’s like He’s asking me, “Do you want it or not? Are you going to pursue me or not?”

Our teaching leader reminded me today that all the things we chase after in this world we will never attain because if we think we have attained them, they change. Be it shoes, the trends in home or kitchen design, or even just the colors that are popular at any given time - as soon as we think we've arrived in whatever area, the standard changes. But, when we chase after God, we get Him, and HE NEVER CHANGES!

One of the things we did this week was a lot of interpreting of the parables in Matthew 13. So, as I thought about it, I could treat this idea of scraplifting in the same way. In the scrapbook of my life, my lifebook, if you will, I need to be lifting ideas from God’s sketchbook on life. I need to take the layout ideas – the truths from the Bible – and through application, make them my own.

Now, that’s taking scraplifting to a whole new level.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Mullings...

I want to be packing up my scrapbook stuff for our crop this weekend. And yet, here I find myself journaling. The journaling is probably more important, so I’ll continue on.

I’ve been mulling over my BSF lesson from last week and the lecture we had yesterday morning. The passage was Matthew 13:1-30, 36-43 which includes the Parable of the Soils and the Parable of the Weeds. Both of these parables I was familiar with and had heard many times before. What I had NOT heard/noticed before was how Jesus explained why he was speaking in parables.

If you look back at chapter 11, Jesus really gives the people a hard time about their indifference toward him. Then, he begins to speak to them in chapter 13 in parables that he does not explain to the vast majority of them – only his disciples who ask for the meaning receive his explanation. And when asked why he was speaking to the people in parables, one of the verses in his explanation was verse 12, a verse that I’ve never really gotten before.

“Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.” Matthew 13:12

What? It sounds awfully rude and contrary to other teachings when you think of it in human or material terms, which I think is how I always read it. However, this passage finally made sense to me in the context of the rest of the chapter and in light of what Luke has to say. Consider also the “sister” verse in the gospel according to Luke:

“Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him.” Luke 8:18

Oh, I see! He’s talking about the revelation of truth from Him.

So, I determined that I need to listen with ears open to what the Holy Spirit has for me. If I’m listening for anything else, then I may hear the wrong thing. Maybe I hear what I want to hear, but maybe that’s not what God really had for me.

But also I need to listen and act. Put the truth that I hear into practice. Otherwise, I am treating him with the same indifference that he chastised the multitudes for in Matthew 11.

One principle that our teaching leader gave us was this: Truth (or understanding) doesn’t become yours until it becomes you. When we are not willing to apply it to our own lives, we become calloused and will not receive more truth, and even what we’ve had could be taken away. I guess it’s kind of a “use it or lose it” kind of thing.

I’ve found myself bewildered and frustrated at times when lectures haven’t made any sense and I’ve felt like I walked away with nothing. Why do you suppose that is? Was I not listening with spiritual ears open to truth from the Holy Spirit? Is it because I have not put into practice other truths and therefore no more was going to be given to me? Hmmm...

So I feel like this week is a test for me. Will I put into practice several truths that have been revealed to me the last couple of weeks. Like daily asking for a new heart. Like making an effort to make Sunday a truly set-apart and holy day. Will I put act on what he has sown in my heart? Or will I treat him with indifference and allow my heart to become so calloused that I don't hear the truth at all?

I choose to act.

And those are my mullings.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Let’s Get Readyyyyyy…

To SCRAPBOOOOOK! (You have to read that in the WWF announcer “Let’s Get Ready to Rumble” voice)

Oooh, I am so excited! I have a scrapbook weekend set up with some girlfriends for the middle of January. Our neighborhood has a clubhouse that I have reserved for the entire weekend. Cropping from Friday afternoon until well into the day on Sunday. It just doesn’t get much better than that, IMHO.

So what that means now is that it’s time to prepare. Time to organize. Time to get my page layouts planned. Time to quit doing laundry, quit cleaning house and start scrapping.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

SSSSLLLUUURRRP!

AAHHH! Help! I'm getting sucked in!

Reality TV. I have mostly avoided it to this point. I've never been into American Idol, Amazing Race, Dancing with the Stars or even Survivor. But man, I'm getting sucked in to Miss America Reality Check on TLC. I probably wouldn't care about it at all, but Mike brought this one contestant to my attention and it's interesting to see her and her reactions to a lot of the pageant stuff considering her background.

Miss Utah...
http://www.flickr.com/photos/gijill/2047733534/
http://www.army.mil/gijill/

The show is interesting also because you get to see a little of these young women's personalities rather than just what you see at the pageant on stage. It will definitely make me more interested in watching the pageant come January 26th.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Feast and Famine

It seems like we live in a constant state between these two extremes… feast or famine. Thankfully, in our society, in this day and age, in this country, it is rarely literally a feast or famine in terms of food.

Most recently in my observations of life, it seems to be a feast or famine of relationships or time. Many of us have just come out of the “holiday season,” which can be considered a time of feasting. Feasting literally on food, which always seems to be the centerpiece of any gathering in my family (more specifically dessert), and feasting on time with family. As we come out of that time of feasting, some of us head into a time of famine.

For instance, I was talking with a friend at my daughter’s school. We spoke about Christmas break and how wonderful and relaxing it was for her husband to be at home and just having their family spend time together. Feasting. But then comes the famine. Her husband will be traveling for his work during most of each week for the foreseeable future. She remarked that the time they spent together (feasting) will cause his absence (famine) to just be that much more difficult.

I can also see it in my own life and relationships. We worked hard over the last couple of weeks to feast on time with my parents as they prepared for their journey to South Asia for the next two years. They left on Monday and I just got an email from my dad this morning that they had arrived at their destination safely and were trying to rest from the long hours of travel. So we have entered an extended time of famine in our relationship with my parents.

Mike and I also spent a weekend just absolutely feasting on time with one another. It was a precious time between just the two of us. But like they say, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” I wish that were not the case here, but he has a very busy month or so ahead of him at work and most of his evenings will be spent working after the kids get in bed. So, it may be a time of relative famine for us (just as it was this fall while we were working so hard on the living room).

However, feast and famine are two sides of the same coin. And the real paradox comes when it seems like both extremes are happening at the same time; heads and tails, feast and famine. Which is how I would describe the political scene right now as presidential candidates campaign for their party’s nomination. The media is almost gluttonous on sound bites and news about the caucuses, primaries, and candidates. I could very literally feast on cnn.com’s Political Ticker every day. However, there is a real famine of ideal candidates.

Why is that? Because we are human. We can’t please 100% of the people 100% of the time. Because as humans, we can find fault with anything and anyone.

As I say this, I may need to clarify that I am not going to speak of the Democratic Party candidates at length. If you know me, you know that I’m not a Democrat and that the idea of any of them as President of the United States scares my socks off. My prediction is that Mrs. Clinton will get the nomination, but it will be interesting to see if Barak Obama can pull it off instead. That said, I have certain idealistic differences with the Democratic Party and although I know they believe they are right, I disagree.

So there… I said it out loud without really saying it (hey - maybe I should be a politician)… I’m a Republican.

And as a Republican I can say that I have no idea who is going to come up with our party’s nomination. But I can say that there is not now, nor will there ever be a perfect, ideal, hit the nail on the head on every issue candidate. The best we can do is find who we line up with most consistently on basic principles, the issues, and personality.

And that, my friends, takes a little bit of work and effort on our part. You can’t just do it on the sound bites you get from the television and the Political Ticker. You’ve got to do some looking and investigating on your own into the candidates as my friend Sherri has been doing. Our nation is not just about being a patriot. In my opinion, anyone can do that – it’s easy. But to really take hold of what this great nation is about is hard. You’ve got to work for it. It’s about being an active part of the process and knowing what you are doing when you go to the polls.
If I may suggest a couple of sites, check out http://www.opinionjournal.com/ and http://www.ibdeditorials.com/ . They usually write good pieces from a conservative and sound business view-point.

So as a conservative Republican, my guy right now is Fred Thompson. I'm not sure what initally drew me to him, but as I have heard him speak of and read what he has written concerning his over-riding ideals and views, he is who I most closely line up with. As I listen and read, everything he says and does seems to be thoroughly thought out and well considered.

Here is where you say, “WHAT? Aren’t you a Christian? I thought all evangelical Christians were voting for and supporting Huckabee.” Well, friend, that’s where you’re wrong. We can’t vote for someone just because he is an outspoken man of faith. Although I respect that about him and I believe men of faith should put themselves in the position to be in politics, for me, that’s not the only issue. Just consider Jimmy Carter for a moment. He is a devout Christian and a Sunday school teacher, and his Presidency was an absolute wreck as far as I can see. As I look at Mr. Huckabee’s track record in Arkansas and the kinds of programs he favors, he seems to be less and less of a true conservative when it comes to governing. Here’s an article that I thought summed it up nicely: http://www.ibdeditorials.com/IBDArticles.aspx?id=284342372964795

Now, I will say, as I did before, that there is no perfect candidate, and there has been plenty of criticism of Fred Thompson. There are those that say he is lazy as far as the schedule he keeps. Personally, I see that has working to have balance in his life… something many Americans have lost sight of. And, he did support McCain-Feingold, which my husband claims is an infringement on 1st Amendment rights of freedom of political speech (I say Mike should just go join the ACLU – what a liberal… LOL!).

However, as compared to the rest of the field, he’s the one I would want running. Mitt Romney – again seems pretty liberal in his governing (same sex marriage in Massachusetts, and supporting the healthcare insurance requirement) and has had so many positions I can’t keep straight where he stands… talk about trying to please all the people all the time. John McCain – I’m with him on some things, but call it what you want, it’s amnesty even if it has strings attached and immigration has a great deal to do with national security. Rudy Giuliani – probably the most proven executive in the bunch and I can get over the pro-choice thing if he gets the nod, but do we really need to publicly fund abortions? Ron Paul – although he has some good ideas, he’s just nuts if you ask me.

I can’t wait for it to all be over in November, but on the other hand, I dread the outcome at the same time. Just like feast and famine.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Potty Training Chronicles (Part 3)

Things have vastly improved since I last posted about our adventures in potty training. The last time I posted, we’d had a break-through of sorts. The next day, he was not asking for chocolates or treats any more. And now, we have crossed another hurdle in the process.

Nathan started back to day-care fully on Monday and actually began telling his teacher when he needed to go. In fact today at Recollections (while enjoying the misfortune of their closing sale), he told me he needed to go tee-tee. You know what that’s called? Self prompting, my friend. That’s been the next big jump that we’ve been waiting for.

Up next… poop! Oh but maybe that was TMI – Did I just say that out loud?

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Viva Las Vegas

For our anniversary, the kids went to Nanny’s house and we went to Vegas. Mike has been a few times both on business and pleasure (Nick’s bachelor party). However, I had never been and he told me it was a sight to behold. I found that he was absolutely right (surprise, surprise). A sight to behold it was.


We got there Friday night fairly late, and checked into the hotel (way off-strip). Then Mike decided to take me to Freemont Street (downtown/old Vegas) via Las Vegas Blvd (the Strip). I found myself speechless, believe it or not, as we drove down Las Vegas Blvd and I took in the spectacle of it all. The neon lights, the gaudy monstrosities that are the hotels, the glow of electric sex gleaming everywhere. (What 2 movies did I just quote?)

We made it to Freemont Street and just walked up and down and actually did sit down at a Black-Jack table for 5 minutes and dropped $60 – the only money we spent gambling the entire time we were there. Mostly I just continued my gawking at and taking pictures of all the lights (as I mentally planned out a scrapbook page about them).

Saturday morning we drove down to Hoover Dam and took a tour which was very interesting. I have to admit I didn't think that visitng a dam was going to be very exciting. However, it was a lot more impressive and pretty than I expected. I'd be interested to go back once they have the new bridge built (in 2010 they're anticipating).

Then that afternoon we went back to the Strip (which looks very different by day) and just walked through some of the bigger hotels and casinos (Paris, Bellagio, New York). We kept trying to ride the roller-coaster at New York - New York, but the wind was so wicked that it wasn’t running all day. We finally left to go back to our hotel to get ready for dinner at about 6 pm.

Feeling like we were in college or DINKs again, we made 9:30 pm dinner reservations at Mario Batali’s restaurant at the Venetian. As we were on our way there, I heard the wonderful screams of people enjoying a roller-coaster and sure enough, it was finally running. We had a wonderful dinner then sprinted back across town to make the last run of the night on the Manhattan Express roller coaster (it was straight-up midnight).

So that’s how we said “Happy Anniversary” to one another… a roller-coaster ride. Pretty appropriate for 12 years of marriage, don’t you think? If you’re married, you know what I mean. It can be a roller-coaster of ups, downs, twists, turns, and sometimes you do feel like you’re doing a barrel roll. And, unfortunately, like this particular ride, sometimes in marriage, we get a little beat up emotionally (both of us have bruises on our shoulders from the harness). But in the end, for us anyways, in spite of all of that, we still have a great time.

So, my thoughts on Vegas... “Wow.” That’s about all I can say, is “Wow.” That and hedonism. Although I knew it, I didn’t really have a correct vision of how much that town is really just all about money and sex – what ever feels good, do it. To see it up close and personal is really eye-opening to the state of our society and what we find to be acceptable. I’m not anywhere near as naive as I was in college, but I still find my self amazed at some of the things people do.

For instance…
  • Men and women standing on the sidewalks along the Strip handing out fliers for hookers and wearing t-shirts that read, “Girls – Direct to you in 20 minutes.”

  • The Adult Movie Awards are going to be there next week. (I didn’t realize there was such a thing.)

  • Most ads overtly used sex in some way to sell their product or show. Especially at the Paris hotel and casino. It was really overt there.

  • Although people say gambling is just entertainment for them (just like going to a movie), we saw very few people sitting at the tables that looked like they were having any fun at all. And most of the people at the slot machines looked bored to tears.

  • They don’t just have billboards and signs out front… most casinos have the huge megatron screen things. And many of them, at one point or another, have seductive and almost lude images of women taking off their clothes.
Mike and I had many conversations about things we saw and experienced. Here is one of our conclusions…

Although we think it is never an acceptable place to take children (even teens), as Mike and I discussed it, we decided that it is something any parent of small children should see and experience. We need to have it shoved in our faces like that to remind us to be vigilant about being the filters for our children. To be sure to teach them the correct views of money and sex – that neither is the way to happiness and both are to be treated carefully, not with wanton disregard. To pray that the Holy Spirit would reveal wisdom to them so that they can see something like that for what it is.

Please don’t misunderstand me.
We really had a good time just spending time together. We did a lot of people watching and just walking around looking at the different shops (I saw some really beautiful Jimmy Choos that were on sale for only $275 – just once I’d like to be able to afford that). It was fun to take it all in. The roller-coaster was fun (the one thing I really wanted to do) even though I had to ride it in my cocktail dress from dinner and it did beat us up a bit. The fountain at the Bellagio is beautiful, even though the one show we were able to stand and watch in its entirety was a Celine Dion song (seriously?). Dinner was very good. We didn’t have a whole lot of time, and there were other things I would have loved to do or see. But overall, we really had a great time just doing our own thing.

By the way, the kids had a great time at Nanny’s house, too. So much that Nathan spent the entire hour after they got home and nanny left until he went to bed crying, “Nanny, come back!” It was so pathetic. What kind of Nanny crack does she give them?

Happy Anniversary!

12 years of wedded bliss. I could hardly believe it when we hit 10 years (and I still haven’t done that scrapbook page yet).

To my honey… you are the love of my life. I would not be the same person I am today without you. You have always encouraged and stood by me in the difficult times and cheered me on in the good times. You are my man, and I love you.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Happy New Year!

Do you make resolutions? I usually don’t. Of course there’s the obligatory “I’m going to lose those unwanted pounds this year,” or the ever popular, “I’m going to exercise more.” Blah, blah, blah…. But honestly, aren’t those the ones we make every year without any intention of following through? Or, maybe we do intend to follow through, but our lack of self-discipline gets the better of us and we wind up at the end of each year feeling defeated because we didn’t accomplish all that we set out to do that year.

Well, 2007 was an anomaly for me. I set out to do nothing, and quite a bit happened. I did lose those unwanted pounds. At least 15-20 of them to be exact (another 5-10 were lost in 2006). I did make the effort and got into a good routine of exercising most every morning on my elliptical trainer. I got a job. I finished my 2005 family scrapbook album (well, mostly anyways). But most important, I accepted, agreed with, and embraced what I believe is the purpose that God has for me; to know him more personally and deeply.

So, what is the point of making a resolution anyways? When I make them, I don’t do anything about them. When I don’t make them, things fall into place and seem to happen faster than I can say “cheesecake.”

Well, I decided to make a New Year’s resolution this year. In fact, I decided that my whole family would each make one. And, being the control freak that you all know me to be, I don’t disappoint. I decided on my family members’ resolutions for them.

Mike: I resolve to kiss my wife goodnight every night before going to sleep.

Sarah: I resolve to do more rock climbing. (She adds that she will try more difficult walls.)

Nathan: I resolve to become completely potty trained and to stop hitting my sister.

And last but not least, mine. Well, this was hard. As I’m sure you can imagine, it’s difficult to improve upon perfection (although I know none of you can completely relate to this particular difficulty). However, I did come up with something.

Donna: I resolve to do everything I can to help my family achieve their goals as outlined by me. And to scrapbook more.