Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Keeper of Memories

This past weekend I was able to attend a scrapbooking retreat. This was the 4th year I have gone, and I am already looking forward to next year!!

I have been a scrapbooker,
keeper of the family memories,
for about 15 years now, and I just love it! Not only is it a fun craft-form for me, but it is an important part of our family's history.
I document EVERYTHING!!! My kids are always looking for photo-ops for me, and even hollering..."Don't you DARE take a picture of this!!!" LOL

Our albums not only have the good, fun times in them, they also have the hard, trying times in them as well. I feel it is just as important to remember the rougher times as well as the happy ones.

A common theme throughout our albums is the faithfulness of God.

When I started cropping, I only had 2 girls, and I wanted to make them each their own set of childhood albums to take with them when they leave home.

A story book of their lives.

Then came the other 6 children. HAHA! The joke was on me!

However, even though I do get woefully behind, I am doing this for of my kiddos. I want them to have this documentation of their lives. God has been faithful to each one of them in different ways. I have written it all down for them.

I have included photos of grandparents that won't always be here; photos of friends we've lost along the way; photos of injuries; testimonies; love letters to each of them. I've put pictures of me & their daddy...together, and with them. I've told them how much we love each other. I've told them of some of the difficult times we've had in our married life, and how God has met us there.

The kids' books aren't the only project I work on, though. I have a set of Christmas books which document all of the fun we've had since Lloyd & I married. The cookies we've made, the gifts we've made & much fun!

I also have seperate books for our vacations. So far, I have 2 traditional scrapbooks FULL, and also 2 digital books. I have decided that I will only be doing our travels in digital. It is fast & fun.

One book that I have made is a "Blessings" book. I encourage everyone to make some form of this type of book for your family. In this book, I have photos of all sorts of things that God has had a hand in. Some things, like empty cupboard & refrigerator photos don't seem like appropriate fare for a book entitled "Blessings", but in reading the story that goes along with the photos, the reader quickly sees that taking us down to the bottom of the barrel, so to speak, was just another way for Him to show his love & faithfulness to us.

I love this book.

In fact, my main reason for creating it was to have tangible documentation of God's love for us to go to when we were feeling down, lost & alone.

It has worked beautifully!

Plus, my children have a visual testimony of God's amazing hand in our lives!

Yes, I buy tons of paper, stickers, flowers, tools....the list goes on & on. However, that is not WHY I scrapbook.

I scrapbook for the stories.

How are your children going to know your testimony?

How will they remember theirs?

Monday, January 3, 2011

JOY to the world!!!

WOW! I cannot believe it's been more than a month since I've blogged!

Well, not really.

It WAS December...the month of nothing to do!!! LOL

We had a wonderful holiday season, and I hope all of my friends did too. For the first time in 6+ years, we stayed HOME! It was amazingly relaxing. We were wakened by the pitter-patter of a small stampede of children shortly before 8 & the jolly festivities began. There were plenty of ooh's, ahh's, "oops, I think this was for you", laughs & even a few sentimental tears. The rest of the day was spent totally relaxing. We played with our new toys, napped, and stayed in our jammies till late in the afternoon.

Christmas evening, we had my folks & our sweet neighbors over for soup, snacks & games.

I think the thing I will remember most about the 2010 Christmas is that it was
As usual, at this time of year, I find myself pondering the meaning of life. Ok, well, maybe just the direction of mine. Am I the only one who does a quick assessment of where I am & whether or not I'm happy here?

Probably not. I happy here?

Yes, I believe I am.

I have reached a place in my life where (finally) I am ok with who & what I am. Oh, don't get me wrong...I'm in no way perfect or even remotely close, but I am secure with my decisions & where God has brought me. I truly love my life; it's chaos, it's bumps, it's financial instability...all of it.


Why would anyone love a crazy life with 8 kids, no regular paycheck, disorganization, clutter....?

I know why.


I have joy in my heart.

Joy does not = happiness. However, you CAN be terribly unhappy about a situation & still have JOY in your heart. Please, don't mis-read this...I am not unhappy. LOL
But, there are aspects of my life which are, shall we say, less than my perfect ideal.

Years ago, I did something foolish & it ended up in a broken window ( I don't remember the circumstances). I really felt badly about it, and was afraid of what Lloyd would say. The next day, I looked at the cardboard that my sweetie had used to cover the gaping hole til we could replace it, and on it he had written, "DON'T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF...and it's ALL small stuff!! :)"
I cannot tell you how that affected me.
I might have even cried (that's big for me).
That little cardboard saying spoke straight to my heart! It told me that, yes, the situation wasn't perfect, but the world didn't end...and...he loved me in spite of a bad decision.
My God is like that, too.

He loves us in spite of our poor decisions. Our grumbling. Our pouting. Our anger...all of it. When we learn to realize our place in God's heart...we have...JOY. And that knowledge, that joy, is what carries us through some of the darkest places in our lives.

I have been in places in my life where I didn't feel joy, but, upon consideration, I realize it is because I assumed that I had fallen out of that place in God's heart. A situation that was all in my mind.

Let me ask....

Do you have JOY?