Monday, December 15, 2008

Purpose of Christmas

I feel like the crazy magician on Frosty the Snowman. "Busy, busy, busy." What? You missed it the other night on TV?

That's me. Busy, busy, busy. Yes, it's Christmas again.

I just loaded my review of The Purpose of Christmas, a new book for this holiday season by Rick Warren... you know, the famous author of The Purpose-Driven Life.

You can read my review on my Christian Lit Site on BellaOnline. This is a great book to give as a gift at this particular time right now, amid the chaos and economic disaster happening all around us. It's a great book for YOU to read right now. It sure gave me a dose of joy.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Kick off the holiday season with Blurb

Received this email several days ago. If you don't know about Blurb, it's a site where you can design and create a digital photo book. There are lots of these sites of course. Naturally, I prefer my own Creative Memories Storybook Creator, but for those of you interested in this avenue, the info is below.

If you are interested in the free download of Storybook Creator, go to my CM Website, click on digital scrapbooking, then click on FREE STORYBOOK CREATOR.

Email me for help if you need it.

For Blurb here is the info...

It's November. (We can't believe it either!) The holidays are officially upon us, and the search for the perfect gift is on. If you've never given a book you've made as a gift, you don't know what you're missing. It's awesome, personal and one of a kind – the type of gift that will make you the hero among your people.

We'll even start the giving season early. Beat the holiday rush and order your book by November 18, and we'll give you $10 off your order. You'll get your books in plenty of time for the holiday season, giving you more time to kick back and enjoy the eggnog.
Promotion code: holiday2008

* To qualify for $10 off a purchase of $29.95 or more, you must enter the promotion code in the shopping cart at time of purchase and complete your purchase in USD. Offer is good for $10 off one book made by you. Offer expires 11:59 PM PST November 18, 2008. Limit one-time use per user and cannot be combined with other offers. Not valid towards purchase of gift cards.

Finally, whichever method you choose, why not start getting your memories organized in this new, quick, hassle-free manner? You'll feel so good afterward!

Your Family Story for Charity

A lensmaster on Squidoo is hosting a contest to benefit several worthy charities. You can enter by writing a brief story about your family. Lots of them are about Thanksgiving and Christmas. Check it out -

It’s Family Stories Month for Charity!
Posted: 01 Nov 2008 06:59 PM PDT
We’re celebrating November as Family Stories Month for Charity! And we need your help.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

New Book About Scrapbooking Alert

I'm excited today about a new book. Paper, Scissors, Death: A Kiki Lowenstein Scrap-N-Craft Mystery. Yes! It's a mystery involving scrapbooking! Now, that's just cool.

What teased my ears first, though, is the author's name, Joanna Campbell Slan. I'd read her book, Scrapbook Storytelling, years ago. I saw it in a bookstore and scooped it up immediately because it just spoke to me. Almost out loud. A book about family storytelling? My heart's desire.

That early book about scrapbooking set me on my current path. It gave me the ideas needed to start on my storytelling passion and writing career. God knows our heart's desire, and he puts the right things in your path. I always loved writing and had done a lot of editorial work to that point. But I never had a real focus on what I deep down wanted to do. God knew.

After I read Joanna Slan's book, I just started doing the things she wrote about. I used my family pictures to tell life stories. Then one day I got on and began researching my ancestors. Poor, Catholic German immigrants who ended up settling in downtown Cincinnati amid the poverty in the 1800s.

Then it became more than just scrapbooking. Learning about my family inspired me, gave me roots I didn't know about, added a lift to a low self-esteem issue, pumped up my life purpose, and I knew I wanted to share my stories, including my own story, with other people who might be interested in, identify with, or gain insight from the events that shaped my life. I didn't feel so lowly about growing up in a poor place anymore. I started feeling proud of my heritage.

That's, in Martha's words, is "A Good Thing!"

And I didn't even have to pay any shrinks or anything.

Then I knew I wanted to teach other people how to write their stories because it's something we all truly need to do for ourselves and our families.

I still believe that. Today more than ever.

But, back to Joanna's book. You can go here to read about this tempting new book and sit in on a Q&A session where she also tells how she's included "great scrapbooking tips, a contest for a weekend in St. Louis, and a coupon for 50 Free Digital Prints from"

Now, you know you want to get this book if you're a cropper. And who doesn't like a good mystery. I can devour one in an evening or on a rainy Saturday afternoon.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

New Inspiration

The Lovely Fountain on the Square in Cincinnati

I wish I could say I've been on Sabbatical. I wish. Since July, life has been major ups and downs for us. I'm still standing, though. And I'm finally getting energized and renewed. There's so much going on now that's positive.

First, though, and BIG!! The election is over. Finally. Now, maybe, we can move forward as a nation and start cleaning up stuff that needs to be put in order. We can do it. We're America. That's part of my renewed energy today. I'm a Christian American, and life is good.
Something else Big. Received word that my story for Gifts II will be published in early 2009. More on that soon.

Fall always brings energy and renewal to my sunburned spirit. Fall reminds me of going back to school, football games, and dances after the games in Cincinnati, where I grew up. The Catholic school I attended had a fall festival every year, and when I was old enough I got to work in the bingo booth. I got a nifty little cloth apron to wear with pockets for the little, round bingo covers, and the money I collected, and made change for. My dad worked at the festival, in the beer booth. Because he ran the church's bowling alley which was downstairs from the school. And the bowling alley served beer. Draught beer. So the festival always had a beer booth, and Dad was in charge of that.

Recently we went up to Cincy for the annual Oktoberfest celebration, and so many of those old memories came flooding back.

It was a fun celebration, and we had an awesome time. My brother had emailed me pictures of our old church, St. George in the University Heights area, after being damaged by a fire. Eerie.

This is St. George before the fire.

And here it is with one of the crosses alfame.


... and finally a picture of me and my brother, Bob, in front of our old Cincinnati house.

Monday, September 15, 2008


In my last post, I talked about making the goodie bag items for the October ScrapShare Retreat, and I promised to share some of what I found cruising the net.

Scrapbook Crazy has some mini-album tutorials including quotations to put in them. Be sure to clink on the "Star Album." I made some of those last spring. They're gorgeous, depending on the paper designs you use. The "Acrylic" Albums enchanted me, and I almost went with one of those for my project. Keep in mind, I have to make 30 of whatever I decide on. Thirty! Time plus cost is an issue, so I kept looking for something easier and less costly.

Next stop was Paperclipping, and this is where I met "Fred!" I'm still trying to figure out how to make one of these myself--or have my dh make one for me, since he's talented in that kind of stuff. You can watch free video workshops on Paperclipping, so you can see how awesome Fred is, among other great topics. Once again, I'm intrigued by "acrylic" and see-through. On the main site, under "Categories," click on Album Covers or just click on what I just typed for you as a link. What a unique idea for using one of those cheap (or not-so-cheap) 4 x 6 photo books! I have several of those laying around somewhere. Noell says she found her album at the Goodwill store. It appears, by the two holes, to be a binder type, and she has beautiful ribbon threaded through and tied in a bow. All I have are those little flat ones, but I see definite possibilities. Keep your eyes open for albums you can alter creatively.

On Chia's Rubber Stamp Art, you'll find a handy-dandy Small File Folder Template. This has so many possibilities! I was intrigued here for quite a while. From this template page, go to her home page or to the template index to see so many more goodies.

Moving on, getting pumped with ideas, I found the Split Coast Stampers File Folder Card Tutorial. I think you can see where I'm heading here. Kind of, sort of.

I then found my way (somehow) to a site I lingered on for a l-o-n-g time, QuinnCreative - Making Journals! And other cool stuff. Oh, what a temptress site this is. I am so addicted to journals and journaling, and here you will find lots of how-to's for journaling.

Then I found GoScrapping and got my idea. Fortunately, I saved the image of the project I fell in love with to my desktop so I could refer to it. I say "fortunately" because when I went back to the site this morning, I couldn't find the project. If any of my ScrapShare friends are reading this blog, they will just have to wait to see what I picked. Even if they found it, I changed it around a lot to make it more cost effective and faster to manufacture 30 of them.

Oh, by the way, my project involves monthly calendars, and I ended up finding the perfect ones at Calendars Quick.

So, after the retreat the weekend of October 16th, I'll post pictures of my project. By then you might be in the market for cheap and awesome Christmas Gifts!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Fall Scrapbook Retreat!

This is my 8x8 album page for the Fall ScrapShare Retreat in Alabama. Everybody makes a page, and we all get an album of the group. I look often at my Spring Retreat Album and remembering all the fun and the great new friends I made. I miss everyone and counting down the days until October 16!
We all make a gift for the goodie bags, and some are really, really creative. I'm working on mine this week and have come across some outrageously awesome projects online. See my next post for a list of the best!
By the way the picture of the sunset over the water is Anna Maria Island, Florida. We visited my sister in July, and she lives about an hour or so away from this beautiful beach. I'd never heard of it before. Oddly enough, the last book I reviewed for my Bella site, All Over But the Shoutin', Ray Bragg, the author, makes mention of Anna Maria Island. He thought it was as good as we did.
The big attraction, of course, is the sunset. Located on the west side of the gulf, it's a nightly event. Perhaps not as big as Key West, but glorious for sure.
We ate at the Waterfront Restaurant right on the beach. The Oyster Po Boys are too good!
There is also a free trolley that travels the island. You can grab your gear and hop from one beach to another, or even into town to the library or shopping.
I call it Paradise!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

An Unforgettable Memoir

I posted my review of All Over But the Shoutin' on my Bella Online Christian Lit site yesterday. It written by Rick Bragg, a Pulitzer winner and New York Times reporter. One of the descriptions on the back cover is "unforgettable." That exactly sums it up. I'll never forget it.

Bragg's life as the son of a cotton picker and a drunk Korean War veteran in rural Alabama during the '50s is mesmerizing. I thought my family was poor, but this is way different from anything I've experienced. My father drank, was undoubtedly an alcoholic, but he stayed and supported us, all six of his children, and I have good memories along with the bad that a lot of us probably have.

But Ray Bragg's story is outstanding. Pulling himself up from the dirt-poor lifestyle, remembering riding on the back of the white bag his Momma pulled behind her as she picked cotton, he became a respected genius of a writer.

This is a story that will change your life. You'll respect what's really important in your life as you read it. You'll see some history through the eyes of a fearless reporter who writes truth.

It's also a great read for anyone writing their own memoir or life story. I got inspired!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Psalm 3 - A Shield for Me

Psalm 3. A Shield for Me

Lord, how increased are those who trouble me;
Many are those who rise up against me.
Many are those who say of my soul
There is no help for him in God.

What is happening , Lord? Why are people rising up against me and troubling me. What have I done? Tell me, Lord. Tell me where to go on from here. I can’t change things that have happened. People’s hearts are hardened against me. There is no trust. War has been declared against me. I wasn’t ready for battle. I have no armour. I haven’t strategized or made plans.

I know these people have no intimacy with you. I know they think relying on you is foolishness, that I have no help from your grace.

They don’t believe.

But, you, O Lord, are a shield for me,
My glory and the lifter of my head

Lord, you’ve been my shield for so long, through the worst and most ravaging times of my life. You’re the one I rely on, and you lift my head and stand me tall and go with me, assuring me that I am beloved in spite of what everyone else thinks. Despite the mistakes I make.

I cried unto the Lord with my soul,
And he heard me out of his holy hill
I laid me down and I slept;
I awaked for the Lord has sustained me.

I prayed from the deepest place in my heart, Lord, that you at least give me rest, so I could face a new day with whatever new battle I face.

I don’t remember falling asleep, but when I awoke I was refreshed, and I knew…
I knew. You put the words in my head.

I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people
Who set themselves against me round about.

Even ten thousand. You will protect me and keep me standing if I face thousands of people. I know this now. I repeat it to myself throughout the day. No one can come against me and destroy me. I don’t need to live in fear of the next attack.

Fear. What is it that I remember being taught about fear?

Fear cannot exist where there is love. The two can’t live in the same place. One is dark, and one is light. They can’t coexist.

Fear cannot exist in love.

I know I love. I know how deeply I love. I have no fear. I have only your purpose. You’ve set my priorities. You’ve shown me where I stand and what I should do. What my responsibilities are now. Today. What I need to do today.

Once again, from a place deep in the dark pit, you’ve given me peace. You’ve set my purpose aright. And, yet again, I am back in your light.

Monday, August 18, 2008


Haven't written much on this subject -- my favorite -- for some time. My life at present is spent mostly at my mother-in-law's house up the road from us. She'll be 96 in a few days, August 28th, and needs round-the-clock watching over, so we're living up there.

At first it was really hard, not because of taking care of her. That's fairly easy. But the condition of her home and just being out of my own space.

The last few days, I've noticed something happening. I feel like I'm in a TV sitcom family with the older "Granny" as part of the family, sitting with us in the morning waiting on the school bus. Sitting around her hospital bed, watching TV in the evenings... although she's not too interested in the Summer Olympics. Friends and family coming to visit every now and then, people bringing food.

Funny things. Like my husband, her son, trying to fix the house up and her wondering why. She asked me last night if we were trying to sell the house. Of course not! I said. I reminded her that her son would not even sell any of his old automobiles sitting all over the farm. They just sit there and rust away with trees growing inside them. She laughed and said, "I always wished he would get rid of those cars." I said, "Me, too. But he ain't never going to sell anything on this farm." That put her at ease.

I was cleaning out the frig and had every item sitting on top of the kitchen table. She asked, "Are we getting a new refrigerator?"

Every thing is a mystery and a puzzling thing to her. She can't remember some days whether her husband died or was still alive. She said she saw on the TV on the back of her door that my youngest son, her grandson, was put in prison. It was hard to convince her that she neither had a TV on her door or a grandson who would ever be put in prison.

What it actually, and truly, is now is a chapter in my life message. A time to savor and write about. A "Faithbook" layout. A lot of pages of layouts.

The Faithfully Yours site on the web has a lot of resources for scrapbooking your faith. Check them out.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Is God Unfair?

Lagging a few days behind. Summer does that to me.

Today is from Romans 9, The Message as usual.

Paul's writing in Romans 9 deals with something that has always confused me. I started thinking about it when I saw the The Ten Commandments movie. You know, the one with Charleston Heston as Moses and Yul Brynner as Ramses, who was Pharaoh of Egypt. God had "hardened Ramses' heart" against the Israelites. I started thinking, did Ramses have a choice then? I mean if God hardens your heart, what's the use?

Here Paul recounts the story of Rebecca, Isaac's wife, who bore twins Esau and Jacob.
God told Rebecca, 'The firstborn of your twins will take second place.' Later that was turned into a stark epigram: 'I loved Jacob; I hated Esau.'

Then Paul asks the Romans if that's a reason to think of God as unfair. He explains then,
Not so fast, please. God told Moses, 'I'm in charge of mercy. I'm in charge of compassion.' Compassion doesn't originate in our bleeding hearts or moral sweat, but in God's mercy.

Then Paul explains, just for me I'm sure, about the earlier story in The Ten Commandments movie.
The same point was made when God said to Pharaoh, 'I picked you as a bit player in this drama of my salvation power.' All we're saying is that God has the first word, initiating the action in which we play our part for good or ill. Are you going to object, 'So how can God blame us for anything since he's in charge of everything? If the big decisions are already made, what say do we have in it?'

Paul then explains that we are not God. God is God. The one and only. I think of the Book of Job, how God said that very thing to Job and his sorry friends. How he asked them if they could control the sea the air, the moon and stars. I love Paul's analogy here:
Clay doesn't talk back to the fingers that mold it, saying, 'Why did you shape me like this?' Isn't it obvious that a potter has a perfect right to shape one lump of clay into a vase for holding flowers and another into a pot for cooking beans. If God needs one style of pottery especially designed to show his angry displeasure and another style carefully crafted to show his glorious goodness, isn't that all right?

Paul then quotes Isaiah::
Salvation comes by personal selection. God...calls us by name.

Woah. What does that mean? Paul's actually talking about Israel here, the Jews. God's chosen people. But all the chosen people didn't get it. Some of them weren't interested if it meant accepting a Messiah that didn't look like what they had in mind. So, then, God made it possible for "us" to get the word. He called us. We became chosen.

Do we answer when called? That's up to us, isn't it? Just like not all the Jews could accept it, some of us don't want to accept it either. Paul says the people in Israel, some of them, were too busy studying about God to notice he was right in their midst.
How could they miss it? Because instead of trusting God, they took over. They were absorbed in what they themselves were doing...they didn't notice God right in front of them, like a huge rock in the middle of the road. And so they stumbled into him and went sprawling.

Again Paul quotes Isaiah:
Careful! I've put a huge stone on the road to Mount Zion, a stone you can't get around. But the stone is me! If you're looking for me, you'll find me on the way, not in the way.

Be careful; don't stumble.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Solution: Life on God's Terms, Romans 8

Still speaking on the "Law," Paul says,
The law always ended up being used as a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep healing of it.

When you think of it, that makes sense. When you did something wrong, you knew it because it was one of the ten commandments that you broke. You felt guilty and decided you'd try harder to not do it again. That's as deep as it went. You just tried to follow the rules. Or you rebelled against the rules and had a reason for it.

We're learning now, though, that is not how God wants us to live. Surprise! You mean God doesn't want us to follow the rules and try to be good?

Why should you have to try? That's not who God is.

God is grace. God is love. "He so loved the world that he sent his only son..."

The son made it possible for us to live in the "Spirit." As Paul says,
... instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us.

That sounds so foreign to how I grew up in a Christian home. It was all about rules and punishment from God. It was almost like God put us on this earth to watch us fail and get to unleash his anger on us. When I was a kid, I thought the only people who could follow all the rules were the Notre Dame nuns who taught me.

Looking back now, I wonder how many of them actually "embraced the Spirit." I know they could get real angry when they wanted to, and they had quite harsh forms of punishment.
Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God's action in them find that God's Spirit is in them--living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn't pleased at being ignored.

A "spacious free life." Spacious.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines spacious as "generous or large in area or extent; roomy."

Imagine having a generous, large, roomy life.

If God provides generously for you, you will have enough, perhaps more than enough. If he provides a large life, I think of big and exciting. Roomy I love best of all. If one has a roomy life, he's able to move around and not be shackled by this world with all of its boundaries and agonies.

You might be thinking, "I can't live in God's Spirit. It would be easier for me to follow the rules. Keep on trying to do it myself." Or, "I want to be in control of my life." Once again, it doesn't work that way.

God only needs to hear that you want him to take charge of your life. He does the rest. You change.
... If God has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him.

Paul also says that if you've never welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, you won't know what we're talking about.
Even though you still experience all the limitations of sin--you yourself experience life on God's terms... He'll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself.

God calls out to us. You've felt the nudge before. We get busy with "stuff" and dismiss it and make fun of others who take the plunge. "Weak," we call them. "Unenlightened."

I've come to hate that term, "enlightened." It doesn't really mean anything. Some of the same people who say they've been enlightened still trash the planet and care nothing about natural resources. They don't grieve over racial and social injustice. They read a new book and say they've been "awakened."

How can someone have been awakened and still don't see the Truth?

It lasts for a little while. And then the "fad" ends.

I'm going for the gold. The only true solution.
God's Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go! ...It's adventurously expectant.

And generous, large and roomy!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Torn Between One Way and Another, Romans 7

I read this several days ago but couldn't post. DH (Darling Husband) is down with his back, meaning I've had to do all the farm chores and take care of his 95-year-old Mom, plus take DS (Darling Son), age 19 had to have a cyst removed from his head which requires daily care. In the meantime, DLD (Darling Little Dog - as opposed to Big Dog) had to go to the vet and is on steroids for severe arthritis and needs special care.

If that's not enough, we have a guest and her daughter staying in our upstairs room, and this is not working out well. We'd wondered how she could have found herself out of yet another temporary home after losing her own home (we're the third family to put her up) and losing another job and losing another marriage, and I believe we've found out why. Our roomer is quite unique. We started out gently reminding her that she had no job and it might be good to get one. Then we began coming out and saying, "You need to be out getting a job." Then we began saying it louder and more emphatically. It's been over a month and still no job. But lots of excuses.

So, please dear people, pray for us. The sad thing is that most people who come to you for help really want a handout and not help getting back on their feet. So what happens is one becomes wary of helping others after being used. We're so trying not to be that way, but it's hard.

In light of all this, today's Message is good. We definitely are "Torn Between One Way and Another.".

What I don't understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise.

Paul is talking about the law here again. When Jesus gave up his earthly life for us, we came under God's grace and not the law. Paul explains, though, that the law has its purpose. We do need something to go by. If it wasn't for the law, we'd be a run-away, out-of-control human race. More so than we are right now.

So if I can't be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God's command is necessary. But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can't keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don't have what it takes. I can will it, but I can't do it. I decide to do good, but I don't really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don't result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.

It happens so regularly that it's predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God's commands, but it's pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.

This is exactly how I feel right now. I'd made up my mind to be a good and charitable Christian and offer our home to someone in need, and here I am losing my temper with her. It's obvious God has brought someone into our lives who is clueless when it comes to managing her life. And it's made us angry.

And, yes, it "happens so regularly," just as Paul says. About the time I get myself under control and repent for losing my patience and my temper, I see her do something else that irritates me and shows her total lack of manners, and I fly off the handle again. It's a viscious circle, and I so want to quit living like this.

Paul expresses my frustration exactly:

... I'm at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me?

Then he answers himself with the same response that I know is true. And so do you.

... The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions.

I just wish I could remember what the answer is before I lose it again. Surely, God is trying to teach me something by this experience. Mercy for sure. And being out of my "comfort zone."

Still, though...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Message, Developing Patience, Romans 5

I have to admit this applies to me more than anyone knows. I was absolutely born without any patience. I've seemed to get better over the last few years -- only because it's gotten me in trouble so many times. The worst thing is that my husband is the poster boy for patience. He is never in a hurry. Living with someone like him can get on the nerves of somebody like me. People who are too laid back drive me crazy. They'll probably live longer than me, though, so I'm trying to change.

... We continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next.

Don't you love the term "passionate patience"? Oh, that I could become passionate about something that valued, that strong. I guess to develop passion for something, you'd need to spend a lot of time studying it, thinking about it, trying it out in different circumstances, actually using it. You know, to get good at something, do it over and over again on a consistent basis.

I'm a jump-right-in person with my emotions. When I get angry, I want to shout it out right here and now. When I want something done, I'm talking right now! I'm just pitiful.

But today's reading gives me hope for myself. I'll begin practicing patience every day. Put reminders around the house to remind me. That kind of thing. I'll let you all know, as we go along, how that's working.

Read. Think. Pray. Live.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Story Circle Network

From the Story Circle Network, National E-Letter, June 2008, Joyce Boatright writes:

"Spiritual memoirs are about those experiences that cause us to breathe quicker or slower or deeper, or to catch or to hold our breath--we inhale and recount our soul journey in acts of self-discovery.

Exploring our faith means recollecting and reflecting about our spiritual growth from our battles of faith and the lessons we learned--about our victories, our convictions, and God's grace...Sharing our trials and tribulations is an important part of our testimony. By writing our soul journey, we create our own personal parables, story by story."

I absolutely love this quote. It speaks everything I feel about writing the stories of my memories and God's grace, my testimony.

This one segment of writing above by Ms. Boatright has convinced me to join the Story Circle Network.

Privet & Honeysuckle

Journaled on May 29, 2008.

"Looking at my desk in the corner, next to the open door to the side yard, where the mixed scent of honeysuckle and privet is almost too strong to breathe in, my little space enclosed on three sides by shelves of books. A Mother's Day card from my children, chosen by my granddaughter Vicki, that plays "I Just Came For the Party" when opened, is proudly displayed on a shelf, and a plastic long-stemmed rose sticks in a hole on top of my monitor. Darling husband placed it there for me to look at when I work.

The calendar on the wall, closeups of flowers for each month, from my granddaughter Jesi.

The tote I won at the scrapbook retreat, filled with pictures to crop, a pen with a flower on top, trinkets, tools, adornments for my album pages. Life is good."

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Scrapbooking, Writing, and Wake-Up Call

It's that time again... National Scrapbook Day and National Photography Month! A busy time for me.

I've been working on my webpage -- and finally have the first part of my LifeWriting Workshop up and running.

Of course, this Saturday, May 3rd, the official National Scrapbook Day, I'll be hard at work at Chappell Acres here in Coopertown, hosting our NSD, a lively spring annual event.

Recently went on a ScrapShare retreat with 27 other awesome ladies. What a time we had. We're already planning our next one for October. If you're a scrapbooker, go to and get involved!

Great News! I'm now the Christian Literature Editor for BellaOnline. Click here to check out my page. Also, please, visit my forum. It's been lively lately. If I could write about anything in the world, it'd be books, seeing as how I'm a reading addict, so God knew what he was doing when he guided me here.

We've talked and debated on Oprah's new favorite book, A New Earth. I read the book and wrote a review on my site you can go to. Lots of different opinions on this subject, and that's good.

I'm reading an awesome book now, The Apple You Were Fed, which you can find out more about by visiting my Bella site as well. This book will get you thinking in a way you haven't before. More great books coming up too, so stay around, hang out in the Bella forums, make some new friends and contacts.

Another newsworthy event that's happened in my life -- I went to a writers' conference, Chattannooga Festival of Writers, the end of March. This was an outstanding session, and I learned much. Also made new writer friends.

My favorite workshop was John Sedgwick's "Writing the Memoir." Seeing as how I'm all into writing family stories and researching my German ancestors, I thought this would be ideal. And it was. It packed a special bonus I wasn't anticipating, though. When this very talented author started talking about his book In My Blood, I almost fell off my chair. Then I became riveted to my seat, as did all of the other writers there. This was the only workshop that was standing room only. This book's subtitle is "Six Generations of Madness and Desire in an American Family."

As Sedgwick described his episodes of depression, some of us writers were looking at each other and admitting he might be telling our story. There has to be something common in writers like that I guess. I actually hadn't read the brochure well enough to know that's what his book was about. I just saw "memoir," and knew that was the right place for me.

God knows, he really does, what I'd been going through with depression, what my doctor calls "clinical," but I also believe is genetic. And to find myself in this room with this author, and all these other people nodding their heads at his words, hit me light a flash of lightening. God meant for me to be here.

I'd been dubious about going off for the weekend alone and expressed to my husband before I left my concerns. I'm a person who has never been afraid to go anywhere by myself. I drove from Tennessee to Minneapolis by myself. I was a court reporter who wasn't afraid to stand up in a packed courtroom and administer the oath to witnesses or butt in right in the middle of a lawyer's question to tell him to slow down or speak louder for the record I was creating.

But, yet, for no reason known to me, I was nervous about this trip.


All the way driving home, I pondered what I'd learned in that one session, and as soon as I saw my husband upon arrival, I grabbed him and said, "We need to talk." I knew I had put him through a horrible ordeal with my ups and downs. My extreme highs followed by sudden and quick down-in-the-gutter lows. We agreed that night we would get help for me, more than what I was already getting from my primary care man, who is outrageously wonderful and the best doc I've ever been to.

Things are good right now, thanks to a very low dose of medicine. But they are good more so because I am aware of what's going on with me. I'm thoughtful of the situations that come up in my life and move slowly these days in tackling them. I do not want to enter that dark place again if possible. For me, this wake-up call was a miracle.

That's about all the updating I've got. I'll be checking in real soon with some good stuff on writing and scrapbooking and our faith that holds everything together.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Great Book for Writers!

Recently received a book from my online swap site -- Paperback And by the way, if you read as much as I do, you need to check this site out. And it's not just paperbacks either. Some of the books I've received are alomost new hardbacks.

Anyway, it's Writing for Story by Jon Franklin. I do believe this is the best book on writing I've read so far. I'm going to do a google later and see what I can turn up on him other than this awesome book.

Working on website --, but not fully set up yet, so don't hope for much. I wanted, but already taken. Need to check and see what the other Betty Schmidt does on the web.

I've been working on the book, and that's why I'm also setting up the new website, and still researching the Germans in Cincinnati. Trying to tie it all up, but genealogy isn't so tidy. Wrote first part of "Clara," which is to be an article, hopefully, for magazine publication plus an excerpt from the Life Message book.

Once I started writing, Clara (my paternal grandmother) really came to life. She has a story, and I'm glad to be telling it.

Women's Memoirs

Women's Memoirs
Women's Memoirs