Crafting My Testimony

Crafting My Testimony

 

Illustrated Scripture Journal - Moroni 10:2-5

Illustrating your scripture notes can help you gain deeper insight into even the most familiar scripture.

Sometimes despite all we do, it can feel like our testmonies are hanging on by a unraveling thread.  It’s so easy for us as mere mortals, to get sucked into the humdrum of life.  We feel out of control.  We percieve ourselves as victims of either circumstances outside our control or at the mercy of other peole’s harmful decisions.  How easly we forget or even give up our agency, our ability to act for ourselves, to make our own decisions, and to reep either the rewards or consequesces of our actions because we forget who we are.  We forget we are children of a dvine being.  We forget that Heavenly Father’s greatest power is also His greatest gift to us.  We forget that just like our Father in Heaven, we too are creators.

As creators we aren’t just bystanders in the game of life.  We are the players.  But when it feels like we are just watching everything happen around us, we do better to remember that we have the same creative spark in us as Heavenly Father does.  Whether it is exercising our ability to create human llife or singing a hymn, creativity brings us closer to the the unvierse’s preeminent creator, God.

As I said, sometimes my testimony feels like it is just hanging on.  I”ve come to realize that this is a result of me ceasing to be a creator in my own life.  I get caught up in fear and worry and anger, and forget to use creativity in all asepcts of my life.

I’ve decided to counteract this tendency by using creativity to enhance my testimony.

I hadn’t been able to go to the Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in a very long time due to one prologued hospitalization after another.  To bring my focus back to the Temple, a friend and I made custom Temple Recommend Holders  We used scrap paper and the We R Memory Keepesrs Photo Sleeve Fuse tool.  I added sequins and a mini key inside to shake areound.  I got to go to the Temple two weeks ago and it was fun to use my new holder.

Handmade Temple Reccomend Holder

Handmade Temple Reccomend Holder

I’ve had a hard time with Scripture Study lately.  With all the time in the hosptial, it’s hard to stay with a good habbit.  I decided I need to study and ponder the scriptures more than just read them to really have a desire to read every single day.

I decided to start an illustrated scripture journal.  I’ll make an entry for my favorite scriptures I encounter each day and week. Here’s what you need to know to make your own:

  1. Illustrating the Book of Mormon

    Affix the scripture onto the journal page

    Search The Scriptures

  2. Find a scripture you want to journal while doing your daily scripture study.  Look for somethign that jumps out to you and speaks to your heart.  Listen to the Holy Ghost. He will guide you to the right scripture.  I chose Moroni 10:2-5.

  3. Trim It
  4. Cut out the sripture you’d like to use  out of an inexpenive extra missionary copy of the Book of Mromon.  (Actually to do this properly you’ll need two Books of scripture – one for the front sides of the pages and one for the back side of the pages.)

  5. Affix Your Verses
  6. Glue the scripture to a page in an art journal.  I used a journal with watercolor paper so I could use water-colors and other mediums in it.

  7. Take Colorful Notes

    Take notes on the scripture in vivid colors of words and images.

    Mark It Up

  8. Mark the scriptures with the words and phrases you want to highlight or that are especially meaningful to you.  For this I use Staedtler Triplus Finelliner Pens because they have an exceptionally small felt tip point and don’t bleed easily.

  9. Illsutrate with Inspiration
  10. Using watercolor colored pencils, draw your thoughts on the scripture in words and images.  This really made me think about the deeper meanings contained within the versus I chose.

  11. Continue to Illustrate

    When using watercolor colored-pencils, started painting water over parts of the illustration.

    Make it Vivid

  12. If you are using water colored color-pencils, next go over all your drawings with a paintbursh and clear water.  This will make all the colors blend and appear more vivbrant.

  13. In The Details
  14. Finally, go back over the words and other key drawings with felt tip, metallic, and other kinds of pens.  Make sure you title the journal page with the scripture reference and date.  Add a page number in the lower left corner, so that Iyou can make a table of contents of all the scriptures in the front of the journal.

Not only am I pleased with what I created, but I learned a lot more from this intense and creative study session than I had during many attempts to sit down and read scriptures.

Illustrated Scripture Journal - Moroni 10:2-5

Add details with metallic or other pens.

Maintaining a testimony can be difficult when life doesn’t go the way we want, but I have a testimony that as we engage in our divine creative abilities we will realize our potential, purpose, and a relationship that’s closer to Heavenly Father and Christ than we ever realized.

Be Mine: Valentine’s Day

Be Mine: Valentine’s Day

Today was Valentine’s Day.  That means a lot of different things to a lot of different people.  So whether you thought today was  a day to eat lots of chocolate or a day to send lots of love notes or even a day made up by a card company, I think today was a good reminder to appreciate the love we have in our lives.  Sometimes it’s overwhelming to think about how much I’m blessed with love in my life.  It’s  funny, even though I occasionally have feelings of loneliness or not being cared for, when I start really thinking about the blessing of love in my life, I realize my cup is overflowing.

 

Valentine's Day Love Card Front

Valentine’s Day Love Card Front

One main source of love in my life is my friends and family.  Their love and support through even the darkest of times strengthen me.  And I have some much love for them in return.  One of the main ways I show my love is through crafting.  So I made some Valentine’s to give to some of my closest loved one.

Valentine's Jar Flowers Card Front

Valentine’s Jar Flowers Card Front

Best Friends Love Heart Valentine's Day Card Front

Best Friends Love Heart Valentine’s Day Card Front

Valentine's Jar Flowers Card Inside

Valentine’s Jar Flowers Card Inside

Best Friends Love Heart Valentine's Day Card Inside

Best Friends Love Heart Valentine’s Day Card Inside

Unfortunately Valentine’s Day only lasts one day, and now it’s already come to a close… until next year. But all the grand Valentine’s gestures don’t have to be a once a year thing. Wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t wait to shower each other with tons of extra signs of affection until there was a designated day? I for one want to strive to spread a little bit more Valentine’s Day love during the other 364 days of the year.

So what can you do to keep the Valentine’s Day spirit year round?

  1. Love Connection

    Text, Email, or Call your loved ones to let them know you care and are thinking of them.

  2. As You Wish

    Tell the people in your life, “I love you” often and sincerely.

  3. Sweet Gifts

    Little token gifts now and then make loved ones feel remembered.  Remember it’s not about how much you spend, but about how much thought you put into it.  It can even be something handmade like a card.

  4. Heart to Heart

    The most profound way to show your love is simply by being there for your loved one as they experience the ups and downs of life.  Be a listening and compassionate ear!

What other ideas do you have to create an atmosphere of Valentine’s Day love all year round? Please leave your suggestions in the comments!

Fancy Valentine - John 3:16

VALENTINE
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
John 3:16

Reopening My Box of Hope

Reopening My Box of Hope

Wouldn’t it be amazing if, during our darkest hour, we could reach under our bed and open up a box of hope?  A “box of hope” could be a figurative thing that we reach inside ourselves or out to God to find.  But sometimes you need something more. Sometimes you need a literal box of hope.  And that is just what I created for myself during my darkest hour.

When I was 16 years old, during my senior year of high school, I was immersed in a deep and serious clinic depression.  My Obsessive Compulsive Disorder had just been diagnosed but was not yet under control.  I had constant intrusive thoughts of hurting myself – of ending my life.

Looking back I really had amazing self control on the whole.  But I could only handle so much.  The second time I caved in to the constant bombardment of intrusive images of self-harm, and I ended up cutting myself using razor blades my parents had forgotten to hide out in the garage.

Afterward I was on the phone with my therapist at the time.  She was telling me I was at a crossroads… that if I chose to continue down this path of cutting I would probably end up in a hospital.  I wasn’t really listening to what she was saying.  Instead, I was transfixed by what was sitting on the desk in front of me – the candle-lighting piece my mom had made for my younger sister’s Bat Mitzvah.  She had glued this tiny shells all over the outside of it go with my sister’s tropical theme.  And it struck me then with incredible intensity how very beautiful those tiny shells were – how simply amazing it was that something SO tiny could be SO beautiful.  And if something that tiny in life could be that beautiful… well all of life was beautiful and precious as well.

I rushed to get off the phone with my therapist.  I knew that I had to find a way to hang onto this feeling.  I had stumbled upon my internal box of hope!  But I knew that it wouldn’t be easy to tap into again.  I had to find a way to make it physical while it was fresh in my mind.  I had to find a way to remind myself of this epiphany every day because I knew there would be many dark days ahead where I would desperately need to draw on my box of hope.

So I had my mom (who is good at crafty things) help me cover an old shoe box with some bright pretty wrapping paper.  I wanted my box of hope to be private and inconspicuous on the outside.  I didn’t tell her what it was for, but perhaps sensing my urgency she kindly helped me anyway.  Then I took the box upstairs to my room and set to work.


IMG_1262Going through pictures and old magazines I decorated the inside of the box with things I wanted to do with my life, places I wanted to travel, people who cared about me, things that filled me with hope.  I hadn’t yet found out if I had gotten into USC Film School (a few months later I did), so I put a picture of a director’s chair with “USC Alumni” written on it.  I glued in some of the very shells that had led me to make the box to remind me of how beautiful life could be.

 

IMG_1263

I put a picture of myself as a child to remind myself of happy memories of my childhood innocence.  I was obsessed with The X-Files and desperately wanted to know how it would all end, so I put a picture of that as well.

Most importantly I wrote in large purple letters:

I CHOOSE TO CONTINUE LIVING

I WILL GET THROUGH THIS


IMG_1278Then it was time to fill the box.  Inside I placed a smiling drama mask to remind me of my love of theater and the creative arts since creativity had always sustained me during dark times and given me something to look forward to.


IMG_1265I placed my childhood comfort animals – my blanky, kitty, and lamby – inside.  Though nubby and threadbare from a lifetime of being loved the went into the box to remind me to always feel safe.


Next went the rug I wove myself while learning about Native Americans in elementary school.  I had always hated looking at it when I was younger because I hadn’t done it perfectly like my best friend Jennifer.  But over time I came to love it for it’s imperfections.  In the box, it reminded me that imperfection could be beautiful too!

IMG_1266


IMG_1277I put in a bracelet I made when I was 11.  All the beads were pretty by themselves but together well… it reminds me that you can have too much of a good thing.  But also to have fun and to have a sense of humor in all things.


IMG_1275Second to last I put in a rope I tediously made myself during Outdoor Education in 5th grade.  I spent over an hour with my hands going numb in an icy cold river laboriously pounding all the moisture out of a reed before braiding it into a rope.  It reminds me of the power of hard work.  And the rope itself, which could hold my whole body weight, reminds me to always be strong.


Finally I included a letter that saved my life one day.  I was home alone after school and feeling very suicidal.  I was searching for a knife to cut myself with.  Suddenly, I had a prompting to go check the mail before I got any further.  I almost never received any mail, but on that very day the following letter was there for me.

Letter

I cried when I read the letter.  It quite possibly saved my life that day.  I stopped looking for a knife and starting trying to figure out who could have sent it.  I didn’t think about hurting myself at all for the rest of that day.  The letter reminds me that I am loved even when I don’t realize it or it doesn’t feel that way, and that God is there working miracles in my life.


I looked at my box of hope every day for about a year. It got me through a lot of very dark hours and days and months. Then there came a time when I could carry my box of hope around with me in my heart, and I didn’t need to look at it so often.

Now it mostly sits in my closet, but I always know it is there if I need it.  But today I was talking with a friend who is going through a very dark time in her life, and I told her about it.  I offered to send her photos of it, but, I thought, why not go a step farther and share it here?  Perhaps there is someone else who needed a little box of hope today.

I first published this post on my Box of Hope in 2010 on my now mostly retired blog, NovelPatient which chronicled my life with multiple chronic illnesses.  At the time, I was surprised by how positively the post was received.  I have since realized that everyone needs a box of hope to draw on in times of trouble.  For most people that box is figurative.  But for me… my hope is now something I can pull out of the closest whenever I need it.  I can wrap myself in my blanky and see, feel, smell and touch the contents of box, encircled in eternal hope.

Has anyone else made a box of hope or something similar?  Please share and post about it in the comments!

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Crafting Handmade Greeting Cards

Crafting Handmade Greeting Cards

All Wrapped Up With A Bow Birthday Card

All Wrapped Up With A Bow Birthday Card

Most people feel that snail mail is dead.  When they want to communicate favor email, cell phones, text messages, Facebook, and Twitter over sending a letter through the United States Postal Service.  But most people I know still love receiving heartfelt cards and other physical mail.  I know that I always feel warm and fuzzy when I get a card from someone I love in the mail.  In fact, a well timed letter in my mailbox most likely saved my life as a teen.  That’s why I make it a point to devote a large portion of my crafting time to card making.  I enjoy making them and I know that people get a kick out of receiving them.  At the very least, it’s certainly better to get one of my cards in the mail than a bill. Over the years of card making I’ve picked up a few useful tips for making beautiful handmade greeting cards more effectively.

  1. Save Your Scraps:

    I keep a large file organizer or all of my scrap papers, organized by color.  This is so useful for making cards which don’t require large pieces of paper for purposes of decorating.

  2. Plan Before You Plant:

    I always cut and lay everything out (including stickers which I explain next) before I glue down anything.  Following a measure twice, cut once philosophy results in much more efficient card making and more professional looking cards.

  3. Pre-Sample Stickers:

    Sometimes it’s hard to plan out where to put stickers without actually placing them, so I cut out the stickers still on their backing so I can place them on my layout without sticking them down.

Here are some examples of cards I’ve made:

Floral Gem Birthday Handmade Greeting Card

Floral Gem Birthday Handmade Greeting Card

Floral Moving To A New Home Handmade Greeting Card

Floral Moving To A New Home Handmade Greeting Card

Floral Bird Collage Handmade Greeting Card

Floral Bird Collage Handmade Greeting Card

Mother's Day Flower Handmade Greeting Card

Mother’s Day Flower Handmade Greeting Card

Dear Friend Handmade Greeting Card

Dear Friend Handmade Greeting Card

Beautiful Daisy Handmade Greeting Card

Beautiful Daisy Handmade Greeting Card

Vintage Butterfly Handmade Greeting Card

Vintage Butterfly Handmade Greeting Card

Planting Seeds of Faith with Visiting Teaching

Planting Seeds of Faith with Visiting Teaching

Visiting Teaching Flower Garden

Visiting Teaching Flower Garden

Christ charged us to love one another as He loves us.  He wouldn’t want anyone to be forgotten about or anyone to fall through the cracks.  I can’t think of a more organized way to make sure that all of God’s daughters are being taken care of than through Visiting Teaching.  Visiting Teaching is a crucial part of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  It is a program that assigns Teachers in teams of two to minister to other women in the church.

LDS.org explains that The Purpose of Visiting Teaching Is to Minister:

How do we minister?

  • Pray daily for [the sister you visit] and her family.
  • Seek inspiration to know her and her family.
  • Visit her regularly to learn how she is doing and to comfort and strengthen her.
  • Stay in frequent contact through visits, phone calls, letters, e-mail, text messages, and simple acts of kindness.
  • Greet her at Church meetings.
  • Help her when she has an emergency, illness, or other urgent need.
  • Teach her the gospel from the scriptures and the visiting teaching messages.
  • Inspire her by setting a good example.
    (See “How Visiting Teachers Love, Watch Over, and Strengthen a Sister,” in Daughters in My Kingdom,page 123.)

“The purpose of ministering ​is to help others become true followers of Jesus Christ. Ministering to others includes:

  • Remembering their names and becoming acquainted with them (see Moroni 6:4).
  • Loving them without judging them (see John 13:34–35).
  • Watching over them and strengthening their faith ‘one by one,’ as the Savior did (3 Nephi 11:15; 17:21).
  • Establishing sincere friendship with them and visiting them in their homes and elsewhere (see D&C 20:47)” (Handbook 2,3.2.3).

When I was asked to serve in my Young Single Adult Ward of the Church as the Visiting Teaching Coordinator, I tried to think of ways I could inspire and remind the girls in the Ward to do their Visiting Teaching each month.  So, I decided to get crafty.  I (with the help of my friend Raquel) created a Visiting Teaching Flower Garden Box to provide a visual aide for the program.

The theme was planting seeds of faith with Visiting Teaching.  Through Visiting Teaching we can help build and strengthen each other’s faith and testimonies.  The idea was that each girl, each being a unique individual with special needs and talents, would each have her own flower with her name in it.  When each teacher Visit Taught her girl, she would turn her name around so that the flower was facing forward instead of the girl’s name, showing that she had planted a seed of faith in that girl.

  1. We used scrabooking flower pieces (from a craft store) in two layers with a small jewel to make the center of each flower.
  2. We then glued the flower to one side of a popsicle stick and the girl’s name to a small plaque on the other side.
  3. We then covered a large, fairly flat cardboard box with pretty scrapbooking paper.  I attached a sign I designed on the computer that read, “When you plant seeds of faith, flowers will grow – Visiting Teaching.”  We covered the corners of the box with ribbon to protect them and make them look more finished.
  4. We filled the box with bricks of green dry foam used to do flower arrangements (you can purchase this at any craft store as well).
  5. Taking a popsicle stick, we pushed rows of holes into the foam to hold each flower.  We made the rows at the front of the box deeper than the ones towards the back.  We also staggered the holes.  This made it easier to see allthe names and flowers once they were all in their slots.

The finished product was even more colorful and beautiful than I expected.  Putting it out at each meeting, seems to remind everyone to do their Visiting Teaching which is the most important part.

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Snail Mail Love

Snail Mail Love

I love getting snail mail.  (I think everyone does really.)  But there’s only one thing I love more getting snail mail, and that’s sending it.  I enjoy letting my friends and family know how much I love them and how awesome they are.  What better way to do that than to write it out and stick a stamp on it?  I like to take it one level further by making the cards I send out by hand.

Using blank note cards, scraps of pretty papers left over from larger scrapbook pages, stickers, gems, and other embellishments, I try to make each and every card a little work of art.  I see it as a challenge to make each one as unique as possible – otherwise I just get bored with the whole process.  I usually spend longer planning the card than I do actually assembling it because to me the layout is the most important part, followed by the materials.

Here are some examples from Christmas:

And here are some examples from Valentine’s day this year:

Finally, here are some miscellaneous examples from some other occasions:

Why do I go to such great lengths to make greeting cards?  Well not only is it a fun creative outlet for me, but I never know what kind a difference a small gesture like a handmade card or a hand written letter might have in someone’s life.

When I was 16 years old, I was going through a very rough time emotionally.  I was struggling with under-treated OCD and suicidal depression at the time, and on this one particular day, I was feeling like harming myself, but something made me decide to get the mail.  I almost never got snail mail at that age, but when I peered into our mailbox there as a hand addressed envelope waiting for me.  Inside was a letter that literally saved my life that day.

That day I became so obsessed with figuring out who had sent the timely and exceptionally kind letter, that I was totally distracted from my dark thoughts.  (I did figure out who had sent it by the way.)  Someone else’s heartfelt consideration for me a few days prior, came in my hour of need.

It made me realize that small kindnesses like these can change someone’s whole life just as it had changed mine.  Someone else acted as God’s instrument and was an answer to my unarticulated prayer, so now years later I try to send out home made greeting cards as often as possible never knowing what effect I may have on someone I don’t even realize is in need.  I figure at the very least I’ll brighten someone’s day.  Just like someone did for me, I hope to pay it forward and forward and forward.

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Mother’s Day Tribute

Mother’s Day Tribute

First Birthday

First Birthday!

I share a special relationship with my mom, but it hasn’t always been that way, and it hasn’t always been easy.

Growing up I didn’t feel I was loved unconditionally by either of my parents, but especially not by my mom.  It’s strange looking back at how I felt because it is so clear to me now that my mom completely adored me and doted upon me.  At the time though, I took her tendency to be critical to be a reflection on me when it was really just my mom’s struggle with anxiety showing itself.

My mom worked full time when I was very young, but she would come home from work and play with me for hours before I went to bed even though she must have been exhausted.  She read to me endlessly.  I attribute my love of reading and creative writing to all the hours I spent curled up in her lap as she read me picture books and eventually entire novels.

Car Trip

My mom, sister, and me on a car trip.

I consider myself so fortunate that she always was supportive of all my creative endeavors.  She praised my writing, drove me to all my theater rehearsals, and supported my decision to go to Film School.

My mom created amazing childhood memories for me from the little things like the home cooked meals we always shared to the family vacations we took.  We drove up the coast of California over two weeks, went to places like Mexico, New York, Hawaii, and Canada.  Every trip was a success because of my mom’s gift for planning.

I admire her other gifts as well.  She is an accomplished architect and an amazing crafter.  She paints, knits, crochets, and sews.  She painted me the most spectacular secretary desk.  It is one of my most favorite treasures.

Most of all I admire my mom’s strength and perseverance.  When my parent’s separated after over 25 years of marriage, she went back to work for the first time since my early childhood.  She also took on caring for me, her chronically ill daughter, both physically and financially.

26th Birthday

On my 26th Birthday.

I cannot count the hours she’s spent being there for me through the hospitalizations and other aspects of my illness.  It was rough on our relationship at first.  I had been a fiercely independent person and had a difficult time accepting help from her graciously.  She wasn’t used to giving up her freedom to be there for me constantly.  But in the end it brought us closer together as we grew to really value each others company and spending time together in every context.

I am so blessed and grateful for my mom!  I only hope that someday I can be as wonderful a mom to my children as she has been to me.