New Space

Hello, friends and Happy New Year! Hope you are well and that this approaching New Year holds as much exciting potential for you as it does me.

The New Year is my favorite holiday because I love new beginnings! I love making lists of goals, cooking up pots of black-eyed peas and cabbage, and toasting in the New Year (if I make it up!)

As part of my "new beginnings", I've decided to let Upside Down B have a rest.... She's tired and bulky and just needs to take a long nap on the couch. She'll still be here, so poke around all you want.

I know I'm healthier and happier - physically, mentally, and spiritually - when writing and keeping a journal reflecting on the wonderful things God is giving me to delight in and the lessons He is teaching me. And I have learned and grown so much by living just a little bit in this virtual world of Bloglandria!  So, I've decided to keep blogging and posting - mainly for me, but also for a few friends and family.

So, if you are interested in seeing what God is doing with me and our family in North Carolina, please click over to my new blog - simply belindafurby.blogspot.com - and join me in this adventure called Life!



Content with the Divorce?

Happy to Be Divorced Man Greeting Cards
I'm still reading selections from The Valley of Vision for my personal devotions during Advent. The prayer titled "Contrition" reminds me that I am "in the embryo state of my endless being."  Much food for thought in that small phrase, isn't there? How easy it is for me to live like my time here on earth is all there is! My heart and soul knows better but what a hard-headed fool I am. I simply forget the only things that are eternal down here: God's Word and other people (myself included!)
I think of the NLT version of 
Ecclesiastes 7:4:

A wise person thinks a lot about death, 

while a fool thinks only about having a good time. (In place of "having a good time" I could insert material stuff, house, work, school, etc. Oh, to be a wise person and not a fool! )

Also, from Calvin Miller's The Path of Celtic Prayer which I've just started reading -

"Our failure to perceive Christ's imminent return as our "blessed hope" (Titus 2:13) has contributed to our feelings of separateness from God. The problem is not so much that we seldom think about his coming but that we are no longer excited by the prospect. Paul says there is a crown laid up for all those who love his appearing (2 Timothy 4:8). But do we love and anticipate his appearing? What of our blase contentment with things as they are, Christless and self-managed? Many of us are secular captives, separated from God and content with the divorce."

Do I love and anticipate his appearing? Or am I content with the divorce? How about you, bloggy friend?

Finally, from this morning's prayer (Shortcomings) -

I am sometimes discouraged by the way,
but though winding and trying it is safe and short;
Death dismays me, but my great high priest stands in its waters,
and will open me a passage,
and beyond is a better country.
May we remember today (and be encouraged!) that this life may be winding and trying yet it is (with Christ) safe and short and our Savior stands waiting for us, ready to open a passage to the Better Country.



Chapped Ground

Still away on vaca..... and lovely it is! But busy and very much on the move, so I am a tired B, friends.

I've managed to read  my three prayers for Advent this morning before hitting the road. The one I'd like to share with you today is titled The Divine Will and is from Section I: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the Valley of Vision.

The next to last stanza is worth committing to memory, I think:

"Teach me to believe that all degrees of mercy arise
from several degrees of prayer,
that when faith is begun it is imperfect and must grow,
as chapped ground opens wider and wider until rain comes."

As the prayer says, I'm asking the Lord to help me
  • to honor Him by believing before I feel, for great is the sin if I make feeling a cause of faith
  • and to strengthen me to pray with the conviction that whatever I receive is His gift
Oh, how I do sometimes often depend on my sin-filled "feelings" to determine whether I should believe in the Lord rather than on the truth of His Word!

And doubt what I receive from His Hand to be a gift? Every day.... every day, I do. You would think as I get older and look back at the "hard" things He has placed in my life and then see the blessings that come from it that I would be quicker to understand that all He gives me is a gift. And trust that this next new "hard" thing will carry blessings with it as I am obedient to whatever it brings.

Maybe I am learning just a bit, but my first instinct is still to doubt.  

May your imperfect faith grow and your chapped ground be filled with His living water, bloggy friends.



Valley of Vision - Advent Readings

A friend and I are going to read prayers from the Valley of Vision this Advent Season. We started yesterday and are using this schedule (see link at bottom of article). While neither of us think we'll be able to stop and read the prayers at the times specified each day, we plan to read all three assigned prayers daily. For me, with my current schedule and life, that means figuring out the best time of day. We are traveling this week (more on that later!) so there's an even bigger challenge with starting something like this while on the road. 

The very first prayer (Self-Knowledge from Section III: Penitence and Deprecation) gave me much to chew on - nothing less than my sinful self! From the prayer, here is a list of my "needs" - 

My lack of:

  1. Scriptural knowledge to know God's will 
  2. Wisdom to guide others
  3. Spirit of prayer (i.e. words without love - ouch!)
  4. Daily repentance (without which I keep God at bay)
  5. Joy in God and His will 
  6. Zeal for God's glory (seeking my own instead!)
  7. Love to others
Pretty complete list, I think. And as the prayer says - I'm asking God to give me the grace to recall my needs....

"And let me not lay my pipe too short of the fountain,
never touching the eternal spring,
never drawing down water from above."



Zooming In - IF

After taking the plunge and posting something for Illustration Friday last week, I thought I'd give it another try with this week's topic. 

The word was "zoom". Easy, right? Not so much for me....

Do you go with zoom like "zoom-zoom" for a car? That's what I thought at first and sketched and water colored a little car.....Meh.

Or how about zoom as in "zooming in" on something? Well, maybe, but nothing really came to mind. No inspiration. Zero. Zip. 

So, I gave up. IF just isn't for me. 

Then this weekend, I picked up a book I'd had on my nightstand for a while by J.I. Packer - Growing in Christ.  (My book's cover art isn't nearly as pretty or inspiring as the current edition on Amazon, btw.) In this book, Packer takes the Apostle's Creed, baptism & conversion, the Lord's Prayer and the Ten Commandments and drills down (i.e. zooms in on) into each with short, readable essays. Starting with the Apostle's Creed, I've made it through the "God the Father" portion. While reading, I was reminded of this pin a friend had put on one of her boards and I thought I'd try it with this part of the Creed. So - here's the black and white version:  

And here's the colored version via Photoshop Elements. Doodling this while reading Packer's essays (not at the same time, of course!) definitely made me "zoom" into what these words really mean when recited. 

There was so much I liked about Packer's essays. The view that "Almighty" speaks of God's sovereignty and how "men treat God's sovereignty as a theme for controversy, but in Scripture it is a matter for worship." Or in the essay on "Maker of Heaven & Earth" and his view on how Genesis 1 & 2 "tell us not how the world was made, but who made it" and that "Rather than criticize these chapters for not feeding our secular interest, we should take from them needed rebuke of our perverse passion for knowing Nature without regard for what matters most; namely, knowing Nature's Creator."

But, finally, the part that has stuck with me most from my reading is from the very first essay on "I believe in God." Packer says the more literal translation from the Greek would be "I am believing into God" which means "I am living in a relation of commitment to God in trust and union." "When I say "I believe in God," I am professing my conviction that God has invited me to this commitment, and declaring that I have accepted his invitation." 

And I even like it printed! So, here's my IF submission - "Zooming in on the Apostle's Creed."



New Tree and Mary Doodle Frame

A friend sent me this new tree shape as an idea for a Christmas tree doodle on our 2012 cards. Not sure that I like it, but I'll probably color it in today and see of it appeals to me more. 

And I played around in PSE with the doodle frame I did for E's picture....worked with the masking tool to get a better fit in the frame. Much better. (This is a picture I took of Mary some months back at Hobby Lobby. I just happened to snap it in front of the LOL! sign. Ha!)

Ok - off to work! Have a good one, bloggy friends! And go check out AEDM for some creative inspiration if you get a chance.



A Day with E

Yesterday was a good day... I got to spend all of it with my girl E in Raleigh. Her boyfriend was with us, too. We went to church, had lunch, shopped and shopped some more for a new "big girl" outfit she needs for a speech on Wednesday, had dinner, and then picked up a few groceries. She's such a good girl. And I love her puppy. And her boy is  pretty good fella, too!

I took this picture just before we left for church and doodled the frame this evening.



Down Time, IF and the Kitchen Project

Today started out with taking Mary to an early morning swim practice (for those who know me well, can we all say "deja vu" together?) and then about an hour of quiet time at Panera, sipping a latte, eating a very good (but very fattening) cranberry orange muffin, working on a new doodled Christmas tree, and scooting around on the internet visiting some lovelies from AEDM. Ahhh....

And guess what? I clicked over from somewhere to Illustration Friday which I've looked at before but never been brave enough to submit to. And who would have thought it but the topic for this week was "Tree"!!! Ha - sweet serendipity! That gave me the courage to submit my tree from yesterday's post. So, here it is posted with IF under pen-and-ink for the medium and cartoon for the style. I wasn't sure at all how to categorize it.... digital? traditional? Dunno, but I'm sure it doesn't really matter, the important thing is I did it! Yay, me! And maybe I'll give it a try again next week.... Here's a screen shot of my tree on the IF page:

Back at home it was time to start THE KITCHEN PROJECT. This involves a 15-year-too-late redo to remove floral wallpaper and orange Formica. (Secret: I actually like my orange Formica.) Today was a big step - removing the wall that separates the kitchen and one of our living areas. Gulp. A couple of friends came to help. Here is buddy John pulling off the wallboard. (Sorry for the poor quality picture.)

And here's the view into the living area with the wall gone.

And another from the living area into the kitchen...Sitting on the counter with his face hidden is The Boy home for the weekend from Savannah! So good to see him!! We always seem to have a lot of belly laughs with him around. 

This has been a long time in coming and - true to our typical form for home projects - probably will be a long time in finishing. But, you know, I'm so thankful for my home, for a husband who is willing and able to tackle almost any project, and for friends who will help him along the way. Next step: the plumber is coming Monday to relocate pipes from the upstairs bathroom. Hooray! I can tell I'm going to like this wall being gone so very much already!!

Here's the look we're going for but with yellow walls. I'll keep you posted, bloggy friends!

RED cabinets!

A very full day and still not over yet! Hope your weekend has been as good as mine so far!



Tree Doodle with Color and PSE Tutorial

I spent some time today coloring my doodle-tree in Photoshop (I use version 10.) I find coloring in a doodle electronically so relaxing. There's no worries of messing anything up like there is when you color with paint or markers. And I'm pretty pleased with the results. I still don't think this is the tree for our Christmas card, but I've really enjoyed the process plus I figured out something new with Photoshop: How to color in spaces without boundaries (like the petals that fall out of the "edge" of my tree shape).  

Here's a quick tutorial to fill an object without a boundary. I needed to fill in this green petal, but there's no boundary because my tree shape is design doesn't have any edges.

1. Select the eyedropper tool.
2. Pick the color you want to fill the petal with. (See the green color box in the bottom left-hand portion of the screen? Now the "paint" I use will be this color.)

3. Select the paint brush tool and choose a regular brush.
4. Set the size to about 6 or 7 pixels.

5. Draw a boundary line at the tip of your petal connecting the black outline.

6. Switch to the paint bucket tool and paint the line you just drew with the brush. (This makes it thicker and gives a more secure boundary.

7. Now you can use the paint bucket tool to fill in the empty space in the petal (make sure you have "contiguous" checked on the top tool bar) and "TA-DA!", you've filled in an object in Photoshop that appears to not have a boundary!! Yay!

I've never had a class on PSE so I mostly stumble around trying to figure things out as they come up. I'm sure there's a smoother, more elegant way to do this but for now, this works for me. 

Have a lovely weekend out there, bloggy friends!


Doodle Tree Attempt #1

I scanned in the doodle ornament and darkened the black lines with Photoshop. I like it!

Then last night I worked on my first attempt for a Christmas tree. That's the direction I think I'll go for our Christmas card design this year - a doodled tree with the four of us around it. And maybe something about Savannah since The Boy and The Girl are there now.

I scanned this first attempt in and darkened the lines. It was drawn with a Micron .01 pen. I might play around with coloring it in Photoshop and see how that goes. More to come....

Don't forget to check out the lovelies on AEDM!

Hope you are looking forward to a long weekend as much as I am, bloggy friends!



Clean Up

Here's my doodle ornament scanned in and black lines darkened in PSE. Loving AEDM! Making me DO SOMETHING CREATIVE every day! 

Go forth and create, bloggy friends!


Doodle Ornaments

Last year the Christmas cards we sent out were hand drawn.

The year before that they were a photo of Mary as the angel Gabrielle inserted in a hand drawn frame.

The year before that..... they didn’t exist!

Yep…. It took me 25 years of marriage to get it together enough to send out Christmas cards. *Sigh.*
But now, this year, I’m looking forward to coming up with a new design. And, like I often do, once I have a project in mind I’ll look to other artists for inspiration. I’ll practice their style and let it morph into my own with some new ideas. Last night I found this artist, took one of his cards, and gave it a try. Mine’s a bit more crowded than his and not nearly as smooth, but I like it just the same.
 doodle ornament 1 
doodle ornament 2
I especially liked the way he colored each flower in with one or two colors and left a good bit in black-and-white. I think I over-worked mine, though.
doodle ornament 3
I’ll be thinking on this one…. Maybe not a doodle ornament, but a doodle Christmas tree? And how to show the family? Maybe I can show us decorating the tree with doodle flowers?

For more doodle inspiration, here’s one of my favorite artists – Jennifer Judd-McGee. Isn’t she awesome?

Have a thrummy Thursday, bloggy friends! And stop by AEDM for more creative awesomeness!

Update: Scanned version posted here!




Ok, so since I want to make an angel garland, I thought I should try to figure out how to make these little girls a bit more efficiently, so I tried another one. Bleh. Not too efficient… but my blond angel has a sister…. She’s pretty scraggly looking, though!
Grrr…. part of her bangs fell out but, oh well! I need to rethink this whole hair process. And I’d like to find thicker felt….. Like this.  It’s expensive and I’d rather find a local place that sold 100% wool felt or a high wool content blend. I’ll keep looking.
And here’s a little felt inspiration for you at Checkout Girl. Pretty stuff, huh?
Have a lovely Wednesday out there! And stop by AEDM for even more pretties!



Angel Ornament


I had coffee with a crafty friend last week and she was making these sweet little angel ornaments from a pattern at Crafty Staci.  I decided to decorate the dress and put some hair and a mouth on mine. The feet need some work! I can just see a garland of five of these little girls on a golden cord, though. I’ll keep working…. I think I need better felt, needle nose pliers and a more organized workspace!
Happy AEDM, bloggy friends!



Butterfinger Bird

Mosaic I made this bird ornament today from a tutorial by Stephanie at Under the Table and Dreaming. For the past five years or so I’ve made a new ornament or garland for our smaller Christmas tree we put in the study. Sometimes I get really energetic and make ornaments for some of my girlfriends, too. I thought I’d play around with this one as a possibility for my 2012 ornament. I think I like him! You can’t tell from the photos, but he’s sparkly, too! Right now he’s decided to perch on the flowers on the dining room table until a proper tree is found.
Oh…and he’s the “Butterfinger Bird” because, as Mary pointed out,  the random dictionary pages I cut him from have the entries “butter dish”, “butter fat”, and “butterfinger.”  I think he and about five of his friends would make a great garland, too.
Well – here’s to one more day of doing something a little creative! Hope you had a great start to your week, bloggy friends! Stop by AEDM to see some creative loveliness all month long!


I sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4