Friday, August 31, 2018

Juggling It All

In these crazy busy days in which we live we often find ourselves juggling everything. Work. School. Church. Soccer. Small group. Date night. Not to mention, where do we fit in the regular demands of life such as laundry, dishes, and grocery shopping? I haven’t even brought up cleaning. What about time for ministry? Meeting with those we are mentoring? There just aren’t enough hours in the day and the week!

How do we fit it all in and do it all well? 

Through the years, I’ve been blessed to have Godly women pour in to my life. The nuggets of wisdom I learned from them have truly helped me in the area of schedules, calendars, and priorities.

When I start by laying my calendar before me with my Bible and asking God what He would have me do, then it all seems to fit much easier.

“The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭32:8‬ ‭NLT‬‬

He tells us that He will guide us along the best pathway, but how do we know which one that is?   We ask Him. 

“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.”
‭‭James‬ ‭1:5‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Isn’t that the sweetest? We don’t have to wandering around wondering about how to fill our days and with what. All we have to do is ask. Then listen. And obey.

As I plan my calendar out for upcoming events, studies, blog posts and trips, I pray. I ask God what He would have me be involved in. I ask Him to help me prioritize. Mostly I ask Him when for me to say “no.” 

One of the pieces of wisdom I learned from a dear friend was “not every need is your call.” I don’t have to fix all things all the time. Anyone else a “fixer” out there? 

Do I still get overbooked and try to do too much?  Do I get so busy I don’t do things well? Yes, I’m not perfect. But, things go much better when I ask God first, listen to Him, and then plan accordingly. 

My word of the year is “intentional.” For me, a big part of this was making sure all I do is for His glory, not mine. When I ask Him to guide me, it goes much smoother.

Art behind the story:

Since keeping a planner for me is necessary, I might as well make it fun. Right? When I start each month, I pull out all my Sweet ‘n Sassy Stamps and mix and match depending on the month’s events. I like to stamp some directly in the calendar. Making die cuts is a another way way to add dimension and character.

Show me your planner spreads and how you use all the fun Sweet ‘n Sassy Stamps!

Until next time,

Patio Ponderings

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Even as a Hen

"Jerusalem! Jerusalem...How often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and you would not!" (Matthew 23:37)

Have you ever watched a mama bird with her little baby birds?  She guides them along their path, encourages them to try new things, and protects them under her wings.  God longs to protect us and guide us.  This passage in Matthew 23 equates God to a Mama Bird.  I love this text, because it brings out the maternal characteristics of our loving God.  It's sad, really, because the verse says that God's people have continually rejected His watch-care.  How tragic for us, to miss out on the blessings of His love and mercy and grace.  But He continues to offer His shelter and refuge.  I don't know about you, but being all snuggled under His "wings" of love sounds pretty inviting to me.  

For this page, I blended two colors of Ranger Distress Oxides:  Barndoor and Mustard Seed.  I activated the ink with some water to give them a speckled, layered effect.  Then I stamped the title with the alpha stamps, added some texture stamping, and finished off with washi and a tab.  

I pray that you will find shelter under His loving wings!

Bitty Minnie Alpha

His Wings


Mustard Seed Distress Oxide


Chunky Lowercase

Barndoor Distress Oxide Ink

Texture Tiles 1

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Close Your Mouth

Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.
Proverbs 10:19 NLT

I cant even explain to you the amount of times growing up I  got myself into trouble for talking about things that weren't meant for me to share. Blowing things out of proportion. Gossiping. Causing drama. Believing if I share the juicy stuff you might like me more. What a mess I was.

It took some hard things to happen. Like someone sharing everything I said, and then me being accountable to them that changed me. It made me realize it wasnt worth it to share things. It wasnt worth the drama it was causing me or the broken relationships.

Let alone the biggest changes when I started walking wholeheartedly with Christ. As He worked in my life, I've flipped to the other side, I'm careful with my words. I lock away other peoples stories. I really try to not get involved in the mess. I'm not perfect in it. But I'm trying to be obedient. I'm working on keeping my mouth shut and using my words to BRING LIFE TO OTHERS!

Are you???

I used Distress Oxides by Ranger to create the background. I used the new Chunky Lowercase Alpha and a few stamps from Go Gods Way. I used Outline Alpha and colored in the words with the Inktense Pencils.

Blessings, Colleen

Monday, August 27, 2018

His Eye is on the Sparrow...

Hi friends,

A few weeks ago, we had a sad little incident in our house that prompted some reflection on scripture and the character of God.

We have had some very warm weather over the summer in the UK, and one day I was sitting in our lounge, with the window slightly ajar to let some air in (although it wasn't making much of a difference!). As I sat there, I noticed movement out of the corner of my eye and lifted my head to see that a little sparrow had hopped in through the open window onto the inside ledge. As soon as I saw it, I knew it was in danger, as we have four adorable fur-babies, who although they look sweet and harmless, can turn into ruthless hunters at a moment's notice. I got up quickly, hoping to open the window further so it could escape, but alas, my movement startled it and the little bird flapped its wings to take off. In what felt like a split-second, our youngest kitty somehow launched himself down the stairs, into the lounge and through the air, grabbing its prey in its jaws with breathtaking speed and efficiency. I was horrified, and tried to save the bird's life, commanding the cat to release its catch (not surprisingly, the cat ignored my pleas!). When I eventually managed to get the bird from our kitty's mouth, it was lifeless. I picked it up carefully and placed it gently outside, hoping somehow that life would be restored to its tiny body, but sadly it wasn't. As I looked at this little life snuffed out so quickly, I remembered a verse in the Bible that speaks of God's concern and watchful eye even on the sparrows:

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. (Matthew 10:29-31)

I was reminded that no life goes unnoticed, not even the common sparrow that has an unfortunate encounter with a cat (which of course is just a part of the food chain and something considered very normal and part of life). If God sees even these little creatures falling to the ground, how much more does he see my life, and the things that are troubling me? This old song came to mind as I began to journal this verse in my Bible: 'His eye is on the sparrow, and I know he watches over me.' There is not one detail of my life that God doesn't see or care about. Just because things happen that are troubling or upsetting or confusing, this doesn't mean God is not watching or present. Our journey of walking with God is to be one of ever increasing trust, where we cling to these truths of scripture knowing that God sees, God knows and that God is in control, whether the outcome we see in front of us is the one we desired, or not.

I used the beautiful Birds & Blooms set on this page, as well as Chunky Lowercase Alpha and Bitty Minnie Alpha to create the text, with a couple of extra images from Nature Silhouettes...


I pray that God would remind those of you who need encouragement, that just as his eye is on the sparrow, he is also watching you and he cares about whatever it is you may be facing.

x Amy x

Saturday, August 25, 2018

LLama Tell You How Much...

Hey Guys!

Excited about this entry today!  The August release is so much fun, and I'm enjoying the different ways the team's been putting this Llama set together!  So many ideas, and so much inspiration!

 Today I'm in Psalm 103, journaling over the magnitude of God's love for the whole world! 

There's no placing limitations on God when it comes to His love for you.  Pretty simple! 
The inspired writers tried their best to detail this, attempting vernacular that would make sense to their readers.  I can't understand infinity, can you?  I can't understand limitless, uninhibited, matchless or unsearchable grace.  I can only fathom what this love is… in it's totality, it is God's.  God is limitless, uninhibited, matchless and unsearchable. 
Here in the Psalms we read,
"For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us.  As a father shows compassion on His children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear Him.  For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust."  (vv. 11-14)

I used "Chunky Lower Case Alpha," "Llama Love,"
& "Texture Tile 1" Stamp Sets
WOW!  Do you see what I'm saying?  I just can't begin to put labels on a unit I don't understand.  I can understand "radius."  I can understand, "miles," "inches," or "kilometers."  I can even understand negative temps, depths, and other such measurements, but I cannot even… I just can't!  His love is too great; His compassion is too much!

I used Distress Ink Oxides to achieve the background.
This brings me to that sweet, softened area of "pasture" that I read and hear about so often.  The mild, smooth, and peaceful place the good Lord brings His sheep (or Llamas, as it were ;) ).  A settled place.  A nestling place.  A place of calm, collected, and protected. 

God loves me so much.  He loves YOU so much.  His unbounded heart is like that of a Father, holding His beloved children (as llama-ish as they may be), using His compassion to see us as we are. 

So here we are; loved beyond all reason, and the biggest way that God EVER showed His absolute and perfect love is on the cross.  The cross of Christ, His beloved Son. 
Simple colored pencil shading for the mountain & llamas stamps.
Someone who offers Himself, weakens Himself, humbles Himself on our behalf, is one who truly loves indeed.  No one - NO ONE - can deny this amazing love. 
"Llama tell you how much God loves you…"  Well, at least let me try.
He loves you perfectly.
He loves you without limits.
He loves you for your sake.
He loves you for His name.
He loves you yesterday, today, and forever.
He loves you beyond measure.
He loves you far above your thoughts, words, and actions.
He loves you as a treasure, though we are dust.
He loves you as a child, though we are wayward.

He loves you so, so much.

Much love,

Friday, August 24, 2018

Autumn Memories

What is it about the changing seasons that evokes such sweet memories? I’m not sure if it’s because families start gathering for family time and the holidays? Or perhaps it’s the coziness of bringing out the sweaters and scarves?

To me, there’s not much more delightful than a drive through the country and being in awe of all the colors. In the fall, God’s palette seems limitless with golds, oranges, reds, and purples. I love when a bright crimson leaf is swirling and dancing in the crisp air.

Can you tell that fall is definitely my favorite season...and my favorite color?

There is just something so comforting about autumn. It’s as if God is embracing me just a bit tighter before the season changes.

Last month, I shared with you from Psalm 91. It was my Daddy’s favorite passage. It is quickly becoming one of my favorites, too, as I ponder it over and over.

These last few days, I have gone back to the comfort of Psalm 91. Verse 2 really resonated with me and I stopped.  I paused.  I prayed.  And I pondered some more.

“This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭91:2‬ ‭NLT‬‬

While I love the comforts of fall, and the warm feelings it brings to mind, nothing compares to the safety and comfort of God himself.

David, amidst all the struggles in his life, amidst all the delights in his palace, declared that “God alone” was his refuge and comfort.

How many things do we let try and fill that place in our lives? The comforts of family and home are great, but they can’t begin to measure up to what God has for us.

Last week, my daughter has a horrible scare at her apartment complex. It involved an armed robbery and a shootout in the parking lot right under her apartment window. I was one frightened momma as she was telling the details.  But God...He reminded me that I am not my daughter’s safety, He is. Period.

David continues in verse 2 telling us that “he is my God, and I will trust him.” Do I trust Him? With everything? Do I find my comfort in God alone? Do I proclaim “In Him, there is safety?” or do I put my trust in things...or people around me?

Seasons are always changing. Whether that be the physical season of the weather around us or the emotional and spiritual season within us, change is inevitable. But it doesn’t have to be fearful, because God alone is our refuge and safety.

Much to ponder today my friends. As you make sweet memories in the changing seasons, I encourage you to trust God. He is our comfort!

Art Behind the Story:

Since fall is definitely my favorite, I jumped at the opportunity to use Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps new release Incredibly Blessed.  I love that the stamps are so versatile and that they coordinate with all of my other brands of ephemera and supplies.  

For this page, I applied a light watercolor wash to the background before placing my paper pieces on the page.  I stamped the pumpkin, leaves, and the acorns on cardstock.  I messy water colored them, and then fussy cut them to create my own die cuts.  Next, I just had fun creating this fall page and pondering the comforts of our God.

Let me know what your favorite fall things are in the comments.



Thursday, August 23, 2018

No Brain of Straw!

We demolish arguments and every pretension 
that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, 
and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:5 

But we have the mind of Christ. 
1 Corinthians 2:16

 The scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz was a likable but pitiful character.  No brain...well, a brain of straw.  Fortunately, he at least knew he had straw for a brain and had both the desire for a real brain and the courage to go in search of one. His plight is not so different from those who are held captive to carnal thinking.  Before Christ, our minds are trapped in the world's thinking, and we do not understand the things of God. 

There were so many miracles that took place when I opened my heart to Christ over 50 years ago.  But one instantaneous transformation was new spiritual thinking...a new mind to see, understand and love God's truth.  I had grown up in a whole family of pseudo-Christians who adhered to a false religion.  Thankfully, we were nominal in church attendance so I didn't get a steady diet of their lies.  Looking back I know that God was protecting our family, preparing all of us to see and know the truth.  Even as a young girl, I sensed that what I was being taught in church was error.  Quite honestly, it didn't make sense.  Sitting under the gospel message I heard the full truth about Christ, my sin, and the way to salvation and I knew...I just knew this was it! This was truth and I was set free! I embraced Christ as Lord and Savior and have been amazed by his presence in me all these years.  

At salvation we are given the Holy Spirit who begins a mighty work of transformation within us.  He not only changes our hearts...He changes our minds.  Suddenly we see things from a spiritual...a truth perspective.  Throughout our lives God is constantly, consistently working to transform us and draw us closer to Him, to make us more like Jesus.  It is an incredible truth to me that we are given the mind of Christ.  I fear that much like the research that says we only tap into a fraction of the power and potential of our physical brains, many Christians don't access the power of Spirit with us, within our minds.  We still allow the trappings of the world to have influence over us.  The only protection is to daily fill our minds with God's truth.  When we seek His wisdom we are thinking with the mind of Christ.  When we look at life, circumstances, what the world say through the lens of Scripture, we are thinking with the mind of Christ.  When we fear, worry, doubt...we are letting the world creep in.  We have to pull out any remnant of our old straw brain...and fill our heads with all that is God's truth.  Only then will we really be free of the captivity of this world. 

Design Details:
This is the 100 Days of Bible Promises book by Illustrated Faith.  I'm skipping around in it as I find the themes and messages that I seek to illustrate.  Shanna Noel, author, really hit this one square on.  Her devotional thoughts and scriptures always reflect the truth.  They are very sound and very well written.  I highly recommend this book if you don't already have it.   I used the newest stamp set from Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps called, Happy Scarecrow by Krista Hamrick.  It's an adorable set and so versatile.  I stamped the scarecrow on white cardstock, then stamped parts of the image on various designer papers to be able to paper-piece the scarecrow.  I also stamped the flowers from the set on cardstock and colored with Copic markers.  Then I adhered to the page.  Since Copic markers will bleed through these pages, it's perfect to just do them on cardstock first, then fussy-cut and color off the page first.  I also used Sunshine Girl and Cold Coffee Alphas for the larger lettering.  I used a variety of acrylic paints, stencils and texture stamps to add color and dimension to the page. 


Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Llama Llama Red Pajama...

Lamentations 3:25-26
"The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord."

Anyone struggle with patience??.... I know I do! With two little ones running around it is very often that I have to do my best to check my attitude and calm down. If you have young children, or even teenagers, I'm sure you know this feeling well too. On top of struggling myself, its hard to teach a child patience. Goodness gracious my 5 year old has ZERO patience most days, and her lake of patience with me results in draining my patience! Haha. But as Christians, we learn in so many different places in the bible where patience is really a very important trait to possess. It's definitely not an easy one to acquire sometimes, but it's a trait that you can really benefit from in certain situations. 

We can learn so much from those in the bible that displayed such faith in the Lord and were extremely patient! Our timing is not always God's timing, and we NEED to learn to be patient. One of the books I love to read with my kids is Llama Llama Red Pajama. Most parents are probably familiar with the book, but it's about a little llama getting ready for bed and he calls for his mama but she doesn't come right away, and the little llama starts to get impatient and yelling for his mama. 

My favorite page from the book is when the mom comes back to the little llamas room and says, "Baby llama what a tizzy, sometimes Mama's very busy! Please stop all this llama drama and be patient for your mama!" I have seen myself in that situation COUNTLESS times with my kids. When we get to that part of the book, we talk about how important it is to learn patience. I love when you can teach a child something from a book. But even as I try to teach my young children patience, I also give myself the reminder that we ALL really need to practice patience each day. Some days more than others, haha. 

Stephanie Gammon

Llama Love 

Sunshine Girl Alpha

Teeny Alpha 

Chunky Lowercase Alpha

Classy Script Alpha

Monday, August 20, 2018

Today and Always Be Thankful

I give thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart. Psalm 138:1a
Good morning, Friends!

It's so easy for me to take things for granted! When I read this verse, it brought to mind 1 Thessalonians 5:18, "In everything give thanks." There are so many verses in the Bible that tell us to be thankful. And we should be! In general, I'm pretty thankful for the "big" stuff. But, as I said, a lot of times, I take the "small" stuff for granted. So this verse was a great reminder for me to stop and be thankful for the little stuff too....that pumpkin spice latte, the laughter of children, the sunset, running water, a call from a many things to be thankful for. When I focus on what I'm grateful for, it's easier to be joyful and more content all around. So, that's my focus- taking time to be thankful instead of taking things for granted.

For the page, I used 2 new sets and an oldie but goodie set from Sweet n Sassy Stamps: Incredibly Blessed, Fruits of the Spirit, and Fill Me Up. (I had to get that pumpkin spice latte on the page!)

I used watercolor crayons for the background. I used the banner stamp from Incredibly Blessed to make all 3 banners. I just stamped one end, then the other, and filled in the line with a Micron pen for the longer banners.

What are you thankful for? Have a blessed week! Andrea