Hi! My name is Greta…

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Since there have been a number of new blog followers recently, I thought I would take a post and introduce myself. Or for some past readers, RE-introduce myself.

I have been involved with paper crafts for the past 20 years. I stumbled onto scrapbooking through a mutual friend and latched on to Creating Keepsakes magazine as my go-to bible. As my own style(s!) began to develop, I was given a number of opportunities to teach at various local scrapbook stores in the Midwest. I absolutely love the lightbulb moment when a class member ‘gets it’. I also love it when they bring in the projects they’ve completed on their own, based on what they learned in our class.

Remember Marie Osmond’s “I’m a little bit country and a little bit rock-n-roll”? (Dating myself? Oops!) I am a little bit vintage and a little bit clean and simple AND a little bit funky/artsy. Ali Edwards, Cathy Zielske and Elsie (then Flannigan) Larson were my scrapbooking trinity when I first started. I suppose I have morphed into some kind of combination of the three.

I enjoy scrapbooking, card-making, lettering, along with a million other crafts – mostly I find a great deal of peace in writing. I have been blogging (albeit inconsistently, at times) for the past five years. It is the free’est form of therapy I know. I very much enjoy connecting with this blog’s readers and hearing your thoughts and comments. When you comment on a post, I feel as if I’ve made a new connection with a new friend.

I have just begun an online shop called Scottie Girl where I have begun selling some of my handlettered prints. Recently, I have been involved with a group of Bible Journalers online who are discovering new ways to study – and creatively document – God’s word. It’s been a fun and faith-filled new adventure.

My husband and I met…well, there’s a story there.
We first met in junior high school. We attended high school together too but migrated to different groups and activities and didn’t really know each other that well. Fast-forward 25+ years. I was working for a non-profit environmental agency and Scott was working for Union Pacific railroad. He noticed on Facebook (one of the earlier versions) the section ‘Someone you might know’ and saw my name pop up. He friended me. I accepted. We began chatting and, well, here we are today: married and crazy about our wacky life together. We are a happy product of our social media world!

Scott has worked for Union Pacific for 25+ years: 11 of those years as a train conductor and 14 in management. All those stats mean to me is that he has been gone a LOT over our 4 year marriage. In May of this year he accepted a new position with the company. He now trains new UP employees about the company as well as how to be a conductor. We moved from Omaha, Nebraska to our hometown of Kansas City, Missouri. He still travels a WHOLE lot, but this time, I get to travel with him! We’ve been to Salt Lake City, Utah, around Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas. We are generally gone 2 weeks out of every month – which seems a little crazy, but at this point in our lives, it works perfectly! I have become a traveling hotel pro and can ‘set up house’ in a hotel in nothing flat. We generally stay in places for 2-3 weeks at a time before coming back to KC for a couple of weeks where we split our time between our parents’ homes in the KC area, helping them with various tasks around their homes.

We are professional nomads. And…we’re loving every minute of it! I usually pack a few sets of clothes but take LARGE buckets of art supplies along with me, skimping on clothes gladly over not having to leave my brushes or typewriter behind!! Even when we are in our home base of Kansas City, we love getting out and discovering new places to eat and visit.

Between us, we have 5 children that are spread out over 3 states, ranging from 18-26 years old – which is really weird since Scott and I both feel as if we are that age ourselves! We are both staring down the barrel of 50 and are excited about everything that decade has to offer us. Bring it on! - we’re ready!!!

I am a Gilmore Girls junkie, an occasional Dancing with the Stars addict, a Downton Abbey snob, a laugh-out-loud watcher of Modern Family and a fearful watch-it-from-underneath-my-blanket follower of The Blacklist. I will crush you in Phase 10 and pretend(ish) pout if I lose. I love chai tea lattes more than a lot of people in my life and prefer the smell of coffee over most anything as a morning waker-upper fix. I am unapologetically fond of social media (links below) but could spend a quiet afternoon with a pile of magazines or a good book (read always with a pencil nearby.) Speaking of which, I am a pen pitbull – woe the one who picks up and uses one of MY favored pens. I love spice candles and Hershey’s chocolate (keep your European chocolate delicacies, I’ll take a good ol’ cheap Hershey’s bar any day!) I am an irreverent, but deeply held believer in Jesus. I am flawed and erratic and suffer from thought-congestion most days, and yet, God keeps having me back over for dinner. My BFWDKMY (best-friend-who-doesn’t-know-me-yet) is Anne Lamott. I stalk her with an unhealthy gleam in my eye. She is my faith mentor and my I-want-to-be-her goal. I am the daughter of an elementary school principal and a 7th grade English teacher – which basically means I can play a mean round of kickball AND yell game threats to you with an astute grammatical correctness.

I deeply thank those of you who have followed this blog for years. You have seen me repeatedly try something, succeed, fail, re-work it, scrap it altogether, go down a different path, retrace, move forward and sometimes, start all over again. I have learned to embrace this way of experimenting with everything that life has to offer us. I have a gypsy heart that loves exploring new areas of interest; it’s the best way I know to keep expanding my head and heart.

I love the idea of consistent features on a blog: DIY, food recipes, scrapbooking/Project Life show & tell posts, personal posts, thoughts on faith, etc. However, I have learned to never commit to a certain time or day for those things to appear. Instead, they are smattered all across this blog from time to time.

If you’re new here, I hope we can be new friends. If you’ve been around awhile, bless your silly soul! Let’s keep talking. Let’s keep dreaming up ideas. Let’s keep creating together!

Some other parts of the online world where I can be found:
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr are a few of the places I frequent.

Dear Hannah…

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In so many ways, 23 years has flown by. I can close my eyes and still see your unruly, blonde curls bouncing as you made your way into the kitchen in the early mornings as a child. As the sun came up, so did your unbreakable enthusiasm to experience whatever it was that the day ahead would bring. And while you don’t bound out of bed with the same enthusiasm as you did when you were 3, twenty years later you are still as anxious to attack each day and see as many people as you can juggle in a 24-hour period of time.

I have watched two TED Talks recently that made me think of you. A mother-daughter relationship is an interesting mix of two gender-like species going head to head at times, as well as two people of the same gender that can find the deepest security in each others’ company.

Sarah Kay is a spoken word poet. I love hearing spoken word performances and this one really made me think of you.

You have a story to tell, Hannah, and a story yet to be written. I look forward to seeing how each new chapter will unfold. Inevitably the manuscript will be filled with some pain and heartache, but I feel confident that you will stand back up, as you have so many times before, lean in a little stronger and head into each new challenge with determination and an invincible spirit.

Please remember that you have a long lifetime ahead of you. Don’t get bogged down with the right now – at any point in your life. You have 23 years of antedoctal proof that you are a fighter. You are strong and filled with positive energy. It is what others around you are drawn to. Do your absolute best for Today and don’t get caught up in the Tomorrow so much that you allow your present time to slip, unobstructed, through your fingers. Keep your Be Present attitude…at whatever age to come in the future.

Your friendships with others around you is an unspeakable gift. I hope that you’re able to see that and know that not everyone is blessed with a group of friends. Of course, as in any relationship, friendships come and go and wane and rebuild. And that’s okay. That’s all a part of our personal growth. Just remember that the people with whom you choose to be around are directly influencing who you are becoming. Choose wisely. In turn, know that you are pouring yourself into other people as well. Not to change them!, but to offer your unique guidance and life experiences. Speak wisely.

Your family is certainly unique and some are far-scattered. But we love you deeply, whether spoken daily or not. We are proud of you and look forward to seeing what the Life of Hannah will bring about. You got moxie, baby!

Lastly, another TED Talk (…yes, I know…you’ll have to watch these in spurts…) Shauna Niequist is one of my favorite authors. Authors can be important friends as well. They mold us and shape us in a one-way fashion, but they become like trusted friends. In this talk she is speaking about her mother. I could relate on many levels but I’m not including the talk here because of me. Every generation wishes they could grab their offspring by the shoulders and shake them until they fully understand that we are trying to save them some lost time. We’re trying to impart to them knowledge that we had to learn in an all-too-hard-fought way. And yet…I suppose it is that fighting through things that raise up the personal character we are continually trying to shape and refine. Consider this TED Talk a little shoulder-shaking exercise from me to you. Don’t wait to find your voice. Don’t wait to discover your gifts and your unique place in society. My sincerest wish for you is that you ask God for His direction over your life and then you lock fingers with our Maker and hold on tightly as He points and you run headstrong into the direction He is giving you. As with most of us, those directions change: sometimes stopping at a deadend and sometimes curving off in a completely different direction. That’s okay too. Keep stepping into the unknown, Hannah. You have the courage and the abilities to step out in faith. I’ve seen you do it.

Happy 23rd birthday, dear daughter. This is a decade of definition and you are well on your way!!!

I love you more than Anne Lamott,
Point B

Bible Journaling | Grace

I took some notes from September last year to document a sermon on grace.

Grace is the greatest gift given to me, but certainly the hardest to understand. You know what? God doesn’t think like Greta thinks! I KNOW!, right?! Completely unreal. Cause if I were the earthly representative of God’s, I would keep lists of who did me wrong; I would refer back to the Naughty and Nice list when favors were asked; I would to-o-o-o-o-o-tallyyyyy make sure that everyone was treated fairly – according to their individual behavior.

But not God.
Nope…He thinks there’s a better way to deal with people. He has some pretty crazy ideas! Things like:
Love people no matter what they have done wrong – or right.
Help people succeed in life even if they haven’t always played by the rules.
Forgive them. Period; no ifs, ands, or buts.

Craziness!

By grace you were saved… ~Ephesians 2:8

definition of grace: God loves us in spite of our sins. It is available for everyone and cannot be lost.

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Using some clear, acryllic letters, I covered my page with the word ‘grace’. I folded over a journaling piece of paper as a tab so that I can easily refer to this scripture whenever I’m feeling ‘less than’.

I also made a removeable insert/bookmark with some of the sermon notes on it…

Grace is a radical gift.

Grace welcomes all people – even those that don’t think like we think
(helloooooooo, political parties!)

We need a little more truth in our grace.

Grace tells us who we really are:
— loved.
— God’s child.

Grace is greater than The Law.
Grace equals truth, holiness and redemption.

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I am a living, walking, breathing, peace-filled recipient of unjustified and undeserving grace. What greater gift could I ever receive?
How dare I live beneath this life-identifying definition!

Saved by grace.
And living in grace daily.

Friends for the Journey

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We’re all just walking each other home.

This Ram Dass quote is one of my favorites. It so simplistically describes what we are here to accomplish. It has been my experience that we are all both leaders and followers. We advise and we seek advice, depending on where we are on our life’s hike.

Sometimes I am the petulant child, going limp and dropping to the floor while kicking and crying. Inevitably, someone comes along next to me and patiently lifts me up, coaxing me to take just one more step.

Sometimes I am the sprint runner that is way ahead of the crowd. My exuberance has shot out from the starting gate and needs taming and monitoring. Again, someone walks onto my path and quietly talks me back down to a steady pace.

Other times, I find myself standing in one place – fervently looking and pivoting back and forth – confused as to which way is forward.

I have been so very fortunate in my life to have fellow journeymen that saunter up next to me at just the right time and casually ask, “May I walk with you for awhile? Can we talk as we walk along? I have things to learn from you and I think I can help with some of the rough patches you’ve experienced along the way.”

Often this happens over a cup of chai tea while sitting in a crowded and bustling coffeeshop. Other times it happens online as people I’ve never physically met face-to-face make a connection and intertwine their stories with mine.

Each one of these moments is sacred. An important bill signed into law for which we have diligently worked, a piece of trash picked up from the playground, people joining together in the holy trinity of caffeine, carbs and copious laughter.

We are all just walking each other home. None of us knows how long our walk will be or how far it will reach. Yet with each passing smile from a stranger or a well-timed phonecall from a friend, we are joining hands and committing to each other that we will take the next watch. We will talk each other through the tunnel when the path gets too dark to see. We lock arms and mend hearts with each secret entrusted and each victory celebrated. Together, we are finding our way home…

I value my old walking buddies who have weathered too many storms and worn thin the shoes’ soles of shared stories. I anticipate each new running partner who will teach me new things and will listen with careful heed to the stories I will eventually tell.

You make me better. My life fuller. My sorrows lighter. You expand my delights and you buoy my adventurous jaunts.

Thank you for walking with me for however long we are given to roam. I will listen empathetically in my messiness and will offer what ragamuffin knowledge I have accumulated along the way.

Let’s stop and grab a donut and maybe an afternoon nap on an old quilt in the sun.

You and me:
Let’s walk together for awhile…

The Beatitudes

I am currently in a bible study at church, going through Matthew. I’ve always loved that Jesus went up into the mountains to talk with his disciples about the difficulties they would face and how they were to react to each circumstance. He took them away from the places where they would experience the persecution. He wanted them to be armored and ready when the time would come.

Isn’t it usually the case that we hear…listen…best when we are away from our normal routine? It seems those ‘mountain times’ are some of my best learning experiences. The elevated, vellum butterfly lighting on the mountaintop by the word ‘peacemaker’…symbolic for me.

I have been working in the English Standard Version but found some interesting thoughts in The Message as well and wanted to compare them side by side. I created the side tab with some Maggie Holmes embellishments, which open up to The Message’s version…

Blessed are you when…
…you are not alone.
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Bible Journaling

Geeked out.
Jesus Geeked.
Holy Obsession.

I’m not sure what the official phrase would be for it, but whatever it is – I’m loving it.

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As I mentioned yesterday, I have joined a group of Creatives who are delving into a new world of bible journaling. It is an endeavor that is bringing together all of the things that are uniquely me. The funny thing is, the 700+ other members of the group are feeling the same way – like this was made just for them!

The biggest advantage is that my mind was in Scripture all day yesterday as I excitedly jumped from scripture to scripture – picking out the ones that immediately came to mind. In the end, I had worked myself out of a desk as I made mess after mess after mess, like mopping myself into a corner, and out of space.

In all of my excitement, I never even considered this process as being sacrilegious. And I still don’t. But when I showed a page to one of my art friends, that was her only reaction: “Isn’t that sacrilegious?” So let me briefly touch on that question…

My bibles have always been filled with notes and thoughts and underlines and often, circles and asterisks that are to say, “Hey, dummie! Don’t forget this one!!!” I find it interesting that I will read a verse – years later – that I’ve underlined or made notes about and think to myself, ‘Hmm. I don’t really get that when I read it this time. It means something completely different to me now.’

The bible is filled with our Lord’s instructions for how best to live our lives. It gives us insight into how to be in relationships with other people. It gives us guidance as to how we are to grow and mature as Christians.

This is not unlike a camera manual. I adore my camera. I love it and want to soak up as much information as I can about it so that I can take better pictures. But the manual itself will not take the picture. It is simply the guide to allow me to take the picture with the help of my camera.

Instead of quickly reading over a passage of scripture, I am spending a few extended minutes on a verse, creating art around its message. How can this be a bad thing?! Now fast forward a couple of years and think of what the bible will look like then. Or…gulp…after I die. What legacy am I leaving my children and grandchildren? My mother died 5 years ago. There is nothing more precious to me than finding her handwriting…on anything! Her beautiful handwriting was a culmination of who she was. It is exact and precise. The letters are perfectly formed, looking just like the cursive letters that spread across the tops of so many elementary school classrooms of years past. She was an English teacher who believed that by following the rules of proper grammar, one could present a document to the world that was complete and comprehensive. Her handwriting was all of that.

Her treasured bibles are filled with margin notes. It is wonderful to read her thoughts on a particular passage of scripture. Sometimes there is just one word underlined and I find myself wondering what it was about that word to which she felt a connection. I wonder what it was that was going on in her life when she felt compelled to underline it. When people write in their bibles, they are revealing just a glimpse – a snapshot – into their thoughts at a given moment in time.

Making art in my bible’s margins is certainly not sacrilegious. Conversely, I believe it to be the most holy thing I can offer back to my Savior.

This group of artists that I mentioned…
There is a palpable sense of excitement and community felt as this band of creatives continues to grow. It is reflective of how strongly people need to be with others who get them. Grant it, we need to be exposed to other mindsets and others’ opinions in life in order to grow and stretch as individuals. But we also need a group of people who are like-minded as well. A group of people who value many of the same things we do. I feel lucky to be a part of this snowball project. It’s fun to share in their excitement and to see so many lightbulbs going off, just like mine did. I was briefly talking with Stephanie Ackerman yesterday and said that I felt overwhelmed at the Duh-ness of bible journaling. There has been a collective sigh of, “Wow! Why haven’t I ever thought of this before?!?!” One of the members summarized it beautifully by saying we were experiencing “…communion with the creative spirit of God.” My spirit certainly felt challenged and motivated yesterday and in complete and heart-stirred communion.

My mother used to get SO frustrated with me because I would absentmindedly doodle on anything in sight – especially when talking on the phone. I doodled on the electric bill, my jeans, the back of photo albums, on my closet walls… I was a doodling, hot mess. It was something I did without much (obviously) thought. I remember one time, in particular, when she was upset about some doodling she’d found on an important piece of paper of hers and exasperatedly said to me, “If JESUS were here, you’d write on Him!!”

Well, Mom, you might have been prophetic. I’m not writing on Jesus, but I’m certainly enjoying writing on His word.

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