Tag Archives: scrapbooking

The Blessing of Blogging

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Isn’t it a beautiful thing to watch God work…

Taking our vision and transforming it into something so much greater than anything we could have planned ourselves.

How grateful I am for the journey God has taken me on these last 5 years. When we opened the door to the world of adoption we had no idea the wild ride we were boarding. We didn’t anticipate the twists, turns, sharp drops, and stomach flips. We also didn’t anticipate the magnificent peaks, thrilling climbs and heavenly views.

Perhaps that is why God opens doors an inch at a time. Had he swung the door wide open revealing the entire ride I don’t know that I would have been brave enough to climb on. Rather He has revealed it a turn, a hill, a twist at a time, allowing us to grow in our ability to trust that as the ride conductor He won’t push us past our limit. Through the journey He taught us that if we simply lean into the wind and trust the creator of the ride we find ourselves buckled into then there is no need to fear the tracks ahead, regardless of what the next turn brings.

Often in the midst of a journey we struggle to see past the climb we find ourselves on. We can easily lose sight of where we began and how far we have come. I think this is revealing of the shortsightedness we as human beings struggle with.

In the scriptures the word “Remember” appears in various forms over 300 times. The significance of this word is revealed in the frequency God commands us to “remember.” Our Father in Heaven knows us. He created us. He is aware of our shortcomings and our shortsightedness. History has revealed men’s propensity for forgetfulness especially when it comes to remembering lessons revealed to us during the strain of an upward climb when we then find ourselves coasting on a straightaway.

One month after Tyler moved in with us I was prompted to embark on a different journey, one well outside my comfort zone. I felt called to record the journey we were just beginning by way of a blog. I knew nothing about blogging, was pretty much absent on social media, preferred my privacy, and was downright frightened of putting our journey out there for everyone to observe and perhaps judge, but for every reason I found to not move forward with this prompting three more reasons why I needed to take this leap were revealed.

This blog began as an act of obedience. I didn’t know what, if anything, would come of my efforts. When I began it was painfully laborious as each blog entry took hours to complete. As time passed I became more comfortable with the medium, more adept at typing, and more at peace with the transparency that comes with recording my life in this way. What was initiated by a prompting became a source of joy. This blog became my gift to my kids as I recorded the story of our journey for them to have when they are older. It became a way to connect with, offer support, and glean support from others who are walking their own hard road. It became my therapy, my safe place to work through my own emotions and find a resolution and peace that I could only seem to find through words. By sharing with others, I found a piece of myself that I didn’t know existed, a voice that up until then had been silent. As we rode this ride of adoption the purpose and blessings of this blog evolved as we evolved, and in this journey I found my own calling.

 

This week I typed my 1000th blog and I have reflected on all that we have experienced together. While the purpose that drives me to sit before the keyboard has evolved over the last five years, the joy I have found in sharing our story continues to be one of the greatest blessings in my life.

How grateful I am for this journey.

In trauma therapy with Tyler we continue to lay the groundwork for EMDR, a needed next step in healing from PTSD. Unfortunately, we can’t get anywhere near the past before Tyler shuts down. It is far too big and scary for Tyler to face. Knowing we need to get him comfortable with looking backwards in time we decided to start small and safe, moving from his early years with us, prior to his adoption, backwards through time.

The goal is to help him feel safe remembering good times so that he will eventually feel safe looking at the scary stuff, so he then can begin to heal from the scary stuff.

This is where the blog comes in. Originally intended to be a scrapbook of Tyler’s life, something for him to hold onto and treasure as an adult, it has now become a powerful therapy tool. I have had past years of blog entries printed up into “digital scrapbooks.” We have been using these blog books in therapy to look back and REMEMBER, so that Tyler might become less afraid of looking to the past.

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Every night Toby reads a few blog entries to Tyler as his bedtime story. Tyler now looks forward to this special time of getting to hear stories in which he is the lead character.

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We also bring these book to therapy with Miss Tina and read some entries with her, helping Tyler to become more comfortable with remembering, working on identifying emotions felt in those moments from his past, and utilizing those entries to start building a life book for Tyler, something he currently does not have.

When I began blogging 1000 entries ago I had no idea the magnificent journey we were embarking on. I had no idea what God’s purpose was behind the prompting. I had no idea what a lifeline this virtual conversation with all of you would be for me. I especially had no idea that these words, penned for another purpose…

To encourage others and be encouraged, to serve as a form of therapy for myself, to record our story of hope and healing for future reflection…

Would end up being the very tool needed to help Tyler heal.

It is beautiful how God is using Tyler’s own journey, his own story, his own reflections, to heal him from the trauma of his past. It is so divinely perfect and beyond anything I could have planned or orchestrated myself. This daily practice has also blessed us in another way. It has helped us to “Remember.” Remember the struggles, the climb, the self doubt, the worries, the fear…all so distant now. By rereading the stories from that first year of our adoption journey I remember how hard it was and am humbled by how far God have taken us, and the miraculous work He has performed in all of us, refining us and making us better than we were before. 

When God cracks open a door and asks us to step inside without seeing exactly what we are walking into we can trust that is we simply obey and take a step of faith He will take us on an incredible journey, a journey that’s purpose is often unseen until years down the road.

Thank you for walking with us through these last 1000 blogs. We couldn’t ask for better traveling companions as we reflect on and “Remember” God’s goodness in our life.

Red Door Retreat

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Every year I run away for a few days to scrapbook.

This tradition began over a decade ago when my dear friend, Becky, began planning a weekend retreat every January for her Creative Memories customers. It was a chance for us to get away and devote days to scrapbooking our lives without the interruption of everyday living. I have always had a strong testimony of the importance of recording the story of our lives and recording the evidence of God’s goodness in our lives. For me this began in the form of journaling, evolved into scrapbooking, and now is done primarily through blogging, but my heart is still most devoted to the art of scrapbooking. There is something almost spiritual found in the art of taking photos of those you love most, and combining them with written word and scraps of paper and lace, that fill my soul with joy.

My conviction about the importance of having a recording of our stories and capturing the moments of our lives through  photographs has only increased since we entered the world of adoption. I see how the lack of personal history in the form of scrapbooks or pictures hurt my boys, making me all the more determined that their current story be recorded and recorded well.

This annual scrapbook weekend also served the added purpose of being a time of rest and renewal. I was able to step away from the busyness of life that consumed my days and focus on self care, stillness, laughter, and creativity…all balms to my soul. And I could do it without feeling that nagging momma guilt, because I was gifting my family with something special and important.

Over time that weekend retreat evolved as some friends were lost and new friends were gained. It went from being Becky’s planned excursion at a bible college to something a group of us co-op moms picked up when that era ended.

For the last few years we have gone away scrapbooking for 3 days at Scraphappy, a charming little house rented out to scrapbooking groups like ours, but this year when we went to book it we discovered it had closed without notice. There was a moment of panic, as all of us really live for this creative retreat, but then we rallied and began searching for an alternative location.

That is when we stumbled across Red Door Retreat. Located near Sandusky, Ohio, this would prove to be a great Plan B!

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We left Tuesday morning with a packed mini van full of papers, photos, gifts, fabric, computers, stickers, and enough food to feed a small nation…eager for our time away to begin.

I was especially looking forward to a few days of respite.

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We arrived and discovered a sanctuary for our souls.

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The house was charming, and bright, and clean. The first floor contained our living area, kitchen, and four bedrooms with two twin beds each. There was a total of four bathrooms.

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Down a set of stairs lay our gathering place. It was an ideal workspace, set up for any type of crafter, with extra outlets, lots of light, and large personal work spaces.

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It our group we had an eclectic array of crafting going on this year. Typically we are all scrapbooking but this year we had Wendy working on a quilt for her son’s graduation gift, Corrina making homemade cards, Lana and Tauni scrapbooking traditionally and I spent three days digitally scrapbooking.

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While not my first choice, a digital scrapbook was the only choice for scrapbooking our seven week trip around the country. If I had scrapbooked traditionally I would have probably filled 10 albums, so a digital book was the best plan.

Over those three days I managed to complete my 90 page bus trip album and a 50 page Disneyland album…a huge success for someone so tech challenged!

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It was a wonderful three days. Most of our day was spent crafting, but we also made plenty of time for late night chats, lingering meals, and a lot of laughter and fun,

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Which came in the form of:

Fun gifts like this creative, homemade zippered container from Wendy. We always look forward to her home-sewn gifts!

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 Of Pandora II,

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A “Headbands” game created by the Hudak kids for our weekend,

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and fun prizes.

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It was just the escape I needed to catch my breath, refocus on the big picture, and reflect on all the blessing waiting for me at home.

Sometimes a girl just needs to get away

To want to come back home.

Scrapbooking is a “Work of Heart!”

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“Preserve your memories. Keep them well. What you forget, you can never retell.”                    -Louisa May Alcott

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The Scraphappy House

 

Every year I run away from home for a few days. This annual escape began over a decade ago when my big kids were little tykes. This annual getaway began when a friend who sold Creative Memories started organizing a scrapbooking getaway for her customers at a local Bible college. For 2 1/2 days, and for minimal cost, we would be blessed with the opportunity to spread out our paper and pictures (with no fear of little fingers touching), work uninterrupted (without having to break for diaper changes or meal preparations), and just scrap without interruption. It was a lovely and always a very productive reprieve from responsibility. It became something I look forward to each year. I was able to enjoy a mini vacation for a few days, but could do so without feeling any guilt because while I was away I was using my time to bless my family by recording our family’s history.

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I love to scrapbook. I find it to be a delightful melding of photography, story telling, and creative expression…3 things that bring me great joy. Scrapbooking has been an important creative outlet for me over the years (although less so now that I have the blog that meets some of that need.) I also have an inner drive and passionate desire to record my family’s story. Since I was a young girl I have been a journal writer. Through scrapbooking I have been able to combine the need to record our life’s journey with my love of photography. Unfortunately, being a wife and Momma doesn’t allow me as much time as I’d like or need to stay on top of keeping everyone’s scrapbooks current. This is another reason these annual scrapbooking weekends became such a blessing. Over the course of a few days I can scrap a year’s worth of memories.

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A few years ago my friend who planned our annual scrapbooking weekend was in a position that she couldn’t continue with her annual scrapping weekend. Unwilling to give up this annual retreat some of my scrapbooking friends started looking for an alternative location and in their search discovered The Scraphappy House, a house set-up and rented out for groups just like ours.

There are four bedrooms that can sleep up to 10 guests.

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The garden room

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The Posh Room

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The memory wall, where the owner posts previous guest book entries and pictures.

 

There is a fully functional kitchen and dining area for the abundance of yummy food that is prepared over our three day visit!

There is a large and sunny living room that is supplied with a long table for each guest, rolling chairs, lamps for extra lighting,  a TV and supply of movies to watch while working, and scrapbooking supplies available for purchase.

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We left on Tuesday and when we arrived at our “Happy Place” where we were greeted with homemade scones awaiting us on the stovetop and welcome gifts of scrapbooking supplies and a pair of fun socks for each of us girls.

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A FUN gift!

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How it looks after we have made ourselves at home.

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My station…unpacked and ready to scrapbook!

 

The next three days were spent working, talking, laughing and resting. It was just what my body and soul were crying for…a chance to rest and create. I was determined to use this time away to give my struggling muscles the chance to rest and strengthen while away from my typical daily responsibilities.

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I had three projects I brought to work on, and worked on one each day: Our houseboat vacation scrapbook (I was thrilled to complete this scrapbook of our special vacation), updating Ozzie’s scrapbook, and updating Tyler’s scrapbook. I was pleased with as much as I was able to get done, knowing the struggle it would be on my eyes with the double vision I have been dealing with lately.

Our Scraphappy experience was wonderful…once again. We laughed a lot, worked a lot and even watched a few seasons of “Call the Midwives” on Netflix while scrapbooking. (PS- I’m hooked on this new found TV treasure!)

It was another wonderful scrapbooking getaway. Thank you Scraphappy House! We will see you next year!

IMG_9663 (2)Signing the guestbook before we lock up and leave…

Scrap-HAPPY

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I scrapbook to record the story of my life.

Long before I was introduced to the world of blogging, I scrapbooked. My first attempt at scrapbooking was for our first anniversary when I made a wedding scrapbook for Toby’s gift. Then Grace was born and I began a scrapbook for her. I now find myself trying to maintain and keep updated on 6 scrapbooks…one for each child and one for Toby and I. As our family has grown the value of my hobby has increased.

Tyler and Ozzie came to us with little to no record of their life prior to joining our family. It has become all the more important that I record their story and the memories of their childhood from this point forth.

I love to scrapbook. I love the creativity of it. I love recording the story of our life through words and pictures, but I can easily become overwhelmed by the task as I try to find the time to do it. It is this challenge that has led to my yearly scrapbooking retreat.

It began 10+ years ago when a friend who sold Creative Memories began planning a yearly retreat at a bible college. I would go for a few days, spread my things out on the table, work and laugh and create while enjoying a break from the everyday responsibilities that battle for my time and attention.

I would come home from these retreats with scrapbooks updated and current, and my soul feeling recharged and refreshed.

Two years ago circumstances changed and that particular retreat no longer was happening, so a group of my co-op girlfriends sought out our own solution to that creative need. Last year we found a little gem called Scrap-happy. It is a scrapbooking home for rent located next to a scrapbooking store about an hour north of where we live.

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It it set up to accommodate up to 10 scrapbookers. It has themed bedrooms, a fully stocked kitchen and a large living room filled with table for plenty of work space. It is a delightful retreat location and we fell in love with it after our visit last year so we decided to return this year for an extra day.

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We chose spring break week  because with the kids off school we didn’t have to worry about home schooling. On Wednesday morning I headed out to meet up with the friends I was carpooling with. We loaded up all our supplies. We filled Lana’s van with clothes, gifts, food, and scrapbooking supplies.

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There were 6 of us staying for 3 nights, but our van was the first to arrive.

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We chose our bedroom.

Lana, Tauni and I slept in the jungle room.

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Wendy, Nicole and Corrina slept in the posh room.

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We were greeted with surprises and treats from the owner:

A complimentary basket full of snacks and treats

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and a packet of scrapbooking goodies for each guest.

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We also got into the gift giving spirit as we exchanged goodies with each other. There were gifts of scrapbooking supplies, candy, drink holders and fun containers to hold our supplies.

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Wendy, our amazingly creative sewing friend, made us each a beautiful hand sewn bag to hold our scrapbooking supplies and included a quote book in each one for us to enjoy. It was fun to see the different fabrics she chose to reflect each of our personalities.

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Ours days were spent scrapbooking, laughing, watching movies while we worked, and running next door to the scrapbook store to pick up odds and ends.

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For meals we all signed up to plan and prepare a breakfast or lunch as well as pair up with another friend to prepare a dinner. This way all our meals were covered but we were each only responsible for two meals and could enjoy meals being prepared for us the remainder of the time.

On my breakfast day I planned for an oatmeal bar with a fun variety of topping choices to jazz up our bowls of oatmeal.

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Nights were late, with us up and working until 2:00 or 3:00am each night. The later it got the sillier we became and our abs got a workout with all the belly laughing.

While snooping in the bathroom cabinets one of the girls found this mannequin head. She had a note attached to her informing us that her name was Pandora. She became the source of many late night laughs as she was hidden and posed in an effort to shock or surprise each other. At one point she ended up in Lana’s bed.

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Then she ended up “drinking” the bottle of unopened wine that was left in our welcome basket. It left her with a killer hangover, hence the bottle of Tylenol close by. 😉

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One morning we discovered evidence that we weren’t the only ones who were up late getting into mischief. We went outside on Thursday morning to discover that something had gotten into the garbage can. Then we saw the tracks..

In the mud outside our door…

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it was a bear!

We never met the trouble maker (thank goodness) but it was neat seeing the clues he left behind. 🙂

The scrap-happy house also has an ongoing tradition of groups hiding the scrap-happy dollar; a colorful tie dyed dollar bill that is hidden somewhere in the house. Groups then use the guest book to find the clues to the next hiding spot. Here is the clue we left for the next group that visits.

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It was a wonderful and productive retreat. My goal was to scrapbook our Disney vacation and I just about finished when it was time to leave Saturday afternoon.

152 pages…

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3 scrapbooks…

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and wonderful memories made with these dear friends:

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Corrina and Nicole

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Tauni and Wendy

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Lana

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There is nothing better than reliving memories,

while being creative,

and laughing with dear friends.

Thank you, Scrap- HAPPY.

You lived up to your name!