Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Why is that blob of snow stuck there in the tree, when all the rest of the snow already fell out? Do you ever feel like you are stuck in a tree waiting to fall out? I do!

In fact right now I feel that in a very big way. Some events I don't need to share here have left me feeling a bit vulnerable. Now, before you start calling me and asking, let me just say this is not a thing of physical safety, and nobody is attacking me. In fact, give me a few days and I'll say "What are you talking about, I don't remember any issues like that arising.

I've just come to realize that many times when we feel settled into a situation we can suddenly look around and see that it really isn't as comfortable as we thought in the first place. It is PRECARIOUS!

I'm finding myself a bit unsure in one area, and it spreads. Yep, like ivy it entangles itself into all areas of my life, not just the place it started. So, suddenly I question whether I want to enter a certain contest with my scrapbooking, not because anything about my scrapbooking has changed, not because the contest has suddenly changed. Instead, I get this feeling because some other totally random thing in my life has become unsure.

And other things are impacted as well. Should I call that person to follow up on what we last discussed? Oh, no, since I'm unsure in that other thing, I better become irrationally unsure in my relationships as well. Throw in some insecurity relative to my parenting, my role as wife, and my ability to be a friend to anyone while I'm at it. You know, I might as well go all the way once I've started down this path.


Does this sound familiar to anyone? I hope not, but at the same time, I suspect I'm not the only human being out there who plays these stupid mental games with myself.

So, how do I stop it? Easy - Go to the Word of God. Yep! I know not everyone out there in Blog world is going to see the logic in this. But, when I look at verses like: "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." (Ephesians 2:10) I just have to realize that no matter how precarious I might feel, I have purpose and value! I was created for a purpose. God does have a plan for me. And boy does that help when that little tiny ivy cutting of insecurity tries to take over the whole world - or at least my whole life!

So, am I going to enter the contest? I plan to, but I'm not going to work on the entry tonight as I planned. I'll wait until tomorrow or the next day when I am more relaxed - I can't get any creative mojo going when I'm feeling precarious. Am I going to follow up with my friends? Yep. Am I going continue to do what I know is right as a parent, wife and friend? Yep. Why? Because it is right. Because it is me. Because I can do it.

But for right now, I'm going to go to bed and start tomorrow with a new perspective.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


So, on Friday when I left off I did not think this weekend would be offering much in the way of interesting blog material. I thought (and was correct) that my Saturday would be full of teaching a class on journaling at a teacher's workshop sponsored at my church, and then going and tending to class sign-ups at the Keepsakes By Design open house event, and then falling into bed exhausted at the end of the day. Yep, went pretty much as planned.

But, today, Sunday, was a bit different than planned. I knew it would be a full day, and did not anticipate getting anything in but the teaching Sunday School class (doing Nancy Leigh DeMoss' Seeking Him series with a group of women at church), going to worship service, coming home and combing over the Senior Pastor applications for the Search Committee meeting in the evening, and then attending that meeting. But, somehow, Andy and Jansse and Bridger concocted a scheme where we would go for a run/walk up Cottonwood Canyon in the snow. It goes something like this: Andy and Bridger run to a certain point. Jansse and I walk until we meet up with them on their way back down the canyon, and then we all walk back to the car together. (For those of you wondering, more on who Bridger is later). So, we did that. And, here are some photos of my wonderful boy, you know, the one I enjoyed walking with today unexpectedly!

Yes, he is a ham!

Bridger is an 18 year old young man we know through Andy's law practice who found himself cold and homeless in our town that has a new multi-million dollar animal shelter but absolutely no homeless shelter for humans. So, through God's calling and directing, he is living in our home. To simplify things, let me just say, it is complicated, challenging, frustrating, and stressful. But, God has put it on both our hearts that this is what we need to be doing today. Tomorrow, who knows what God will put on our hearts to do relative to this situation. That may not seem logical to many, and I'm sorry I can't explain it any better than that. He's been with us for a little over three weeks now. It is a learning experience for Andy and I, and hopefully not for Jansse in so many areas. As for whether we are doing anything that will be of lasting benefit to Bridger, only God knows that. Some may ask: What benefit is there in this for the Breuners? Well, at this point, we just trust that God has a plan, and He will use this to mold and sculpt us more into His image. It is so much a leap of faith, I cannot even begin to fathom it, yet, here we are living it. I often ask myself "What are we DOING?" with a lot of condemnation for our decision. But ultimately, I know that right now this is what God wants. That just has to be enough.

Not the busiest week coming up, but lots of tasks to do around the house. Hopefully something fun to blog about and some fun photos to post!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Beauty all around us...

This is what the view out Jansse's bedroom window looked like last Monday morning - going into the full moon cycle. It was a frosty -27*, but as you can see, it was going to be a clear day. The sun wasn't up yet, but there was just a peacefulness to the blue landscape.

Later, at the tail end of the afternoon, that full moon began to show itself before the sun went down. This photo is one I took at the top of Gouch Hill, about 4 miles from our home. One of those driving times when I just catch my breath and try to focus on driving instead of on the beauty God provides.
When I got closer to town I found this view of that same moon! It is just hauntingly beautiful!

So, that's it for today - just wanted to share a little of what we get around here. Off to do battle with a very busy weekend - unfortunately, nothing too interesting, so I won't have any great blogging topics unless something unexpected happens.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Book Club - That's Life by Nic Howard

Tonight was the big night for sharing our projects inspired by the "That's Life" book by Nic Howard. Here are the projects (I think most if not all of them) that were presented tonight, along with a brief description of what in the book was the inspiration for the project. This time all of the projects are scrapbook pages.

Let's start with Barb's pages. She brought three to share that were inspired by this book. First is this one with the heart sewn over the photo. The idea of sewing over photos and using sewing to frame elements in scrapbook pages is prevalent in the book, and really a great idea.

This next one by Barb is inspired by the subject of one of Nic's layouts - Caffeine O'Clock on page 103 of the book - it seems that Nic is not the only one who must get a caffeine fix during the day. Barb and her daughter turn it into both an infusion and a chance to catch up with each other.

Barb's got some great details going there with the numbers, the clock face, and a tag for journaling.
This next one is of Barb's son as he left for a long (I think a year or so) trip to Japan. It is inspired by Nic's account of world travel these days on page 59 of the book. Barb included that brilliant red sun because it is what she saw through tears as she drove home from the airport that day! So appropriate for sending off her son to Japan!
Now, switching gears to Jan's projects. Jan always impresses, and no disappointment here! She felt inspired by the layout on page 101 about a woman's husband's mental health issues. Here Jan bares her soul about her own wrestling with OCD after her son was born - and in class she warned us that it is not an uncommon postpartum issue ( I assume somehow related to the postpartum depression we hear so much about. Anyway, here is the two page layout:

And here are a couple of chances to see some of the details:

And this is another project from Jan, inspired by Nic's call to scrapbook about everyday things that will help those who see the pages to get to know the people highlighted a little better. This one is about the sleeping habits of her family - really, quite humorous when you get a chance to read all of the journaling!Take a look at this pull-out hidden behind one of the main photos! This is something Jan is known for, and it is well executed here!
Jan said these papers and embellishments were RAKed to her, and not what she would have selected left to her own devises, but look what a great job she did with them! Way to expand your horizons Jan!
For the first time tonight we were joined by Kristii, and is she ever a great scrapbooker. She was inspired by Nic's "Five" layout on page 57 of the book - especially by the circles! Great use of circles (and really, a stunningly beautiful daughter as well!)

But look at the detail in these three dimensional butterflies! They are gorgeous!
So beautiful, we have to get another look at them!

Wow! What a beautiful page!
Last, but hopefully not least are my three lay outs. Now, before showing them, I have to say that for me Nic and her book have been a huge inspiration since the day I got the book four or more months ago! I just love the distressing and sewing techniques she uses, as well as the paper layering. And I'm am really excited about the expanded horizons when I get away from event scrapbooking and begin to do something more about life in general. So, here are my pages:
This first one is inspired by the "Neighbour" layout on page 69 - using the idea of a block of multiple photos. Also, I love incorporating stitching into the mix of a page!
Next I've got a layout inspired by two different pages from the book. I, like Kristii was very impressed with the Five layout on page 57 - I got my circle on the side of this layout from that.

And I also love the cluster of elements and decor down in the corner, which was inspired by the "So Cool" layout on page 39 of the book.

These photos are of Jansse several years ago, before Halloween. We went on a hike, and he was so in love with his costume that he insisted on wearing it and bringing along the wooden axe accessory for the entire hike. So typical of Jansse, even to this day! He was just three, and seeing him dressed as some sort of knight/viking out in the woods was so magical!
Next is a layout that really is so inspired by Nic's style in general - distressed edges, sewing on each of the many layers of paper, and lots of layers! And, its just about Jansse carrying his package from the gate to the house! Not that he gets packages every day, but the idea of photographing this part of the surprise was so fun!

The detail shots show some of the distressing and sewing I'm so enamored with. Also, I got the idea of using layers of paper within the journaling from the "Beautiful" layout on page 96 of the book.

So, that's it for this month - several people were not able to attend tonight, so we don't have as many projects as we'd hoped. But, if they get me photos of what they've done, I'll be sure to post them so you can all get a good look at them.
Next month we meet on the 18th, and we are doing projects inspired by the book "Designing with Details" from the wonderful team at Autumn Leaves.
By the way, it is still freezing here - well below -20*F by the time I pulled into the driveway after the meeting. So these women are wonderfully dedicated to have ventured out on a night like this. Talk about loving to scrapbook!
And, wouldn't you know it, I pull in to find that Andy had the truck stuck in the snow where he was attempting to plow a track around the front field so he can go for a run tomorrow. It took a good half an hour for me to pull him out - and it certainly wasn't getting any warmer as we worked at that! Excitement never ends around here!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A Blustery Day

So, as I sit here at the computer it is -5*F, which it has been since about 3 p.m. this afternoon - its now 9 p.m. While that is cold, even I admit it, the killer part is the constant winds at umpteen million miles an hour. I don't know how to calculate wind-chill factors, but believe me, the reality of the outdoors is a lot colder than -5*F.

When it was still light out, I thought of the poor horses in the field next door. So, I bundled up in two layers of capalene, gortex, and wool, and took my little camera out there to see what was going on with those horses. Here it is:

Oh my gosh, doesn't he look cold? Yes, that is snow on his back and neck, not grey hair or white speckles!

And these guys are cold too! That's right, huddle in a group for warmth!

By the way, because it is not blue sky out, it was a good day to get a photo of the back of our barn without getting too much blow back glare.

Here it is, lovely and dilapidated as it is! But, Hey! It's got potential. Anybody got $50K to give us to fix it up so it's weather proof and more usable? Right now it functions primarily as a glorified storage shed for all our friends who don't have enough room for all their stuff. And really, that is a pretty good function! You'd be amazed who's stuff is in there! All safe and sound, and covered so it doesn't get covered with bird droppings. Oh, that reminds me, the barn is also home to multiple birds, I think a wild cat or two, and to lots of little rodents that I don't like to think much about. I'm guessing that the cats help to keep the rodents from getting out of control. And, we have a grand owl who uses the top of the barn as a perching place in the evenings. It is lovely! And, truth be told, I love our barn! Do have dreams of fixing up the insides some day, but until then, I still think it adds visual interest to our property!

So, time to climb into my flannel sheeted bed, cuddle up to my warm husband's body, and try to get my teeth to stop chattering - maybe the next post can let you know just how drafty a relatively poorly built thirty-something year old log home with weird non-log additions can be! But not until I warm up first!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Fences, Saddles, Thorns . . . Different Lessons Than You Might Think

Yesterday I went to help my friend Carin put up a couple - three of fence rails. It was hard work for two middle-aged women to do in the snow, but it was a beautiful day and we enjoyed it anyway! Her life has been a challenge for decades, and especially this past year. We've grown close, and we enjoy each other's company. Plus, we hold each other accountable for many things in life as we are both believers and wanted to work on living more in the image of Christ.

So, while there, holding a rail as she pounded away with a large heavy hammer, I looked and saw this in front of my face: See how God has put that big nasty thorn to protect the bud on this beautiful January day from any deer, elk, moose, or bird that might want to munch on such sweet and tender food. Wow!

Then, when it was my turn to hammer, and my forearm was burning from an unaccustomed use I looked up, and this is what I saw! Isn't it stunning!
Just pure beauty in color and contrast. Again, Wow!
This last photo is the reason I had brought my camera to Carin's house - I wanted to take photos of this old saddle, which was at her house in dilapidated condition when she and her family moved in seven or eight years ago. It looks so useless, but for some reason it has just been set aside in various places on her property, moved out of the way, but never quite making it to the dump heap. I saw it last summer and told her I wanted it. Yep, I want it for art. I've never done an altered art piece, let alone something this large, but I'm inspired.
The saddle has definitely seen better days when it comes to usefulness in mounting horses. But, in ways it is symbolic. You see, over the years Carin's family has been hit by deterioration similar to this saddle, culminating this year in a divorce she had feared and dreaded for years, the corruption of her sons in ways that leave her heart broken, and a brokenness for her spiritually that is beyond most of our imaginations. But, like that ugly old torn up saddle, I believe there is potential for beauty in her life. God can heal her - it is happening already. God can take the worst of situations and turn them into amazing life experiences of growth and maturity. And, the best part of it is, that's what she is seeking, craving, desiring, praying for, and beginning to take hold of.
So, assuming I can indeed turn that torn-up, worn-out, dirty, useless old saddle into a thing of beauty, I plan to give it back to her to symbolize the potential that is in her life - or if it takes me too long, the rejuvenating of her life that I know God will have accomplished.
Now, isn't that a wonderful goal to have? For me, it fits just right. Now, I just have to find the time to make the saddle into what I can see in my mind's eye.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Busy Life - What do I expect?

It has been busy already this year. Not what I want, but the way it has to be. Last week, unexpectedly, I substituted in Jansse's class two half days due to a death in his teacher's family. That got me behind on all those "fresh start for the New Year" projects I wanted to do during the days while he was gone. So, I'm now lacking the motivation I had last week, but seeing those items on my "To Do List." Ugh!

I'm also busy gearing up for a new set of classes at Keepsakes By Design. Here is one of the pages that I completed - the point of this page is to use see-through elements in the page. In this case that is the bridge between the two pieces of paper. It was fun to do, and will be accompanied in class by another page, which I have ideas for but have not finished yet.

When I get more of my class projects finished I'll post them.

I haven't forgotten about all my friends out there, just been busy.

Also on my list of "To Do" is the end of the year filing to get taxes ready for the accountant by January 31 - yes, I am determined to do that this year, even if it kills me. I'm on the call committee at church for a new Senior Pastor, which requires some reading of applications and attending meetings. I'm trying to finish some other scrapbooking projects for a contest I have dreams of entering, but not sure if I'm going to make the deadline. Plus, I have all those family things to do to - you know, keep house, make meals, love on my boys. And don't forget the office responsibilities - billing to do, filing to do, clients to call, bills to pay, ugh! I'm tired already!

So, when can I expect to not be busy?

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

2008 Is Here

You already know this, but I like to say it any way - 2008 is already in progress. I'm a bit nervous about this. I don't usually do resolutions - they scare me, and I can never think of anything realistic. But, as I was browsing some blogs I found the following list, and thought I might be able to do that. So, I cut and pasted, and here it goes.
One habit you'd like to break totally: How about watching T.V. It is such a waste of time, with little to offer me, and it prevents me from doing some things I really want to do - like scrap booking and crafting, or playing games with Jansse.
One person you'd like to get to know better: Kristii L., a member of the Keepsakes By Design design team and a really great scrapbooker. She is just a sweet woman, and I think we could become close if given the chance. I know she's a believer, and already that has given us a foundation to build a friendship on, so I'm hopeful I can get this done.
One random act of kindness that you'd like to make a habit this year: Being an encourager to people I don't necessarily know well. I sort of started this with a woman I met through the Two Peas In A Bucket web site, and it seems to be something God calls me to continue.
Something that you'd like to own by the end of 2008: A smaller, better gas milage car. I feel so guilty riding around in such a gas hog when we are such a small family.
Something that you'd like to get rid of by the end of 2008: Besides many pounds, I'd like to get rid of much of the paper stored in our house but not needed.
One change you'd like to see in your life in 2008: More laughter, especially with Jansse and Andy
One thing you'd like to memorize in 2008: A Bible verse a week. That would be a good start.
Something that you'd like to improve on: My indoor photography.
Something you'd like to learn in 2008: Enough Latin to be able to help Jansse when he begins the class in September
Something you're looking forward to this year: Going to the Inspired Artist Workshop in North Carolina.
One thing you're going to make sure does NOT happen in 2008: Leave taxes until the last moment.
One person that you want to be closer to this year: Cheryl A. - she's already a good friend, but I'd like to spend more time with her if possible.
One old acquaintance that you'd like to reconnect with this year: Just about any of them.
One place you want to visit this year: Oak trees in California - perferable in Oakhurst, but the East Bay would also be acceptable.
One thing that you'll move from 2007's to do list to 2008's to do list: Weight loss - and lots of it!