Don’t Scrap This (Part Two)


Today’s post contains the notes from the second part of a talk I gave recently at the Ladies’ Scrapbook Retreat at Lamoine Christian Camp. I hope you can enjoy it in its unpolished form. Part one can be found under the Mama Mia Monday section of my blog.


Adding to the concepts of templates and adhesives, tonight we are going to quickly talk a little about cropping. Cropping is great when it’s a picture. Snip, slice, or chop, whatever method you prefer, we remove unwanted or unnecessary images from our pictures, leaving us with a close up what we really wanted to focus on—the thing which leaves the greatest impact on those who will look back through the pages of our lives.

Well, you guessed it. Not only is God in the template business, and the adhesive business—God is in the cropping business.

God desires to trim us, shape us and crop us in ways that leave a focused image of Him—one that will also leave the greatest impact on those who come into contact with us.

And like we eagerly go at the cropping of our pictures, we CAN eagerly embrace the cropping that God wants to do in us.

We call it cropping.  Some call it chiseling, molding. I like what God calls it—sanctification—a setting apart, being freed . . .  from sin.

John 17:17   Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. –God crops us through His word.


I Thessalonians 5:23  May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  –God crops us in order to keep us pure and ready for His coming.


2 Thessalonians 2:13   But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as first fruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.   God crops us because we are His.

When we allow God to trim, shape, crop, or prune us, we are allowing Him to reveal to the world more of His character, more His grace, more of Him. As the unnecessary and undesirable parts of our life are cropped away we have a greater impact on those who see us.

Sometimes I think we confuse cropping with corner rounding. Corner rounding is just, well; it’s just making the picture look a little more inviting, a little softer maybe. But corner rounding, well, it’s really just cutting corners. And cutting corners is not cropping. You just can’t cut corners on the sanctification process. It takes commitment!

In I Corinthians 4, The apostle Paul asked the Corinthian people how they would like to be cropped suggesting two methods:  a whip or in love with a gentle spirit.

Ladies, I would ask you the same question, “How would you prefer the Lord to crop you????” Yeah, me too, gentle trumps whipping every time. . . In my mind, but in my actions, sometimes not so much. . . .

Don’t be afraid to ask the Lord to crop away the parts of your life that may need to go. It may be an attitude, a habit, a grudge or fear. Ladies, let him crop so that He can shine through you for the world to see.

Now as we work our way through our weekend, we have talked about our templates, our adhesive, the cropping process and to finish it all off, we embellish.


Just the word itself is pretty awesome. Embellish. . . .It just sounds fancy y’know? It doesn’t really sound like a sit in your pajamas in a big gym in the middle of the night kind of word.

Embellishing is like a work of art. Embellishing is to beautify by or as if in ornamentation to adorn.  And adorn comes from the word adore.

So again, The Lord had this down way before we did. He has adored us, and adorned us since the beginning of time.

Ephesians 2:10 says, For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.


I Peter 3:3-4 remind us that the beauty and adornment that God desires doesn’t come from our clothes or hair, but the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit


I John 3:1 tell us that God makes us beautiful—he adorns us by lavishing us with His love

I think that God’s embellishing work is really a lot like ours. Most of our books look quite a bit the same on the outside. But when you look inside you see what makes them special. You see the love, the care, and the personal touches that make the stories on the pages captivate our hearts.

That’s how God loves us. He is a God who works from the inside and on the inside. You know our outside is just a shell that will someday pass away, but as we set our hearts to follow His template for our lives, adhering His truths to our hearts, willingly letting him gently trim away that which isn’t needed, His lavish and abundant love transforms the pages of our lives into His-story– A story that reminds us who we are, where we come from and can ultimately point us to where we are going when the One who loves us returns.




Don’t Scrap This (Lessons Learned at a Scrapbook Retreat)

scrapbook lane

Below are the notes/ideas I used this past weekend at the LaMoine Christian Camp Scrapbook Retreat I had the pleasure of speaking at. Ladies, you asked for them. . .now you’ve got them. Well, at least Friday nights. (Ok, minus the naked child making brownies on the counter story!) I wil post Saturday nights notes on next week’s Mama Mia Monday. Sorry they aren’t a bit more “developed”,  (Ha! That’s a little pun, there!) but it is Light the Night week at church, and I’m working on some photo opportunities for our HiSKidZ moms!!


As Scrapbookers, we use our photos to preserve memories, tell our stories, and ultimately pass on a legacy… Stories of families, events, trials and triumphs which when assembled reveal much about who we are, where we have been and even where we are going.


I think God was the original scrapbooker. He has preserved for us memories and snapshots of himself and His children who throughout History tell a story of who He is, who we are as His people, where we have been and where we are going.


This weekend, I hope to take four scrapbook terms and connect them to God’s story in order for us to have a little greater insight into the awesomeness of the God we serve.

For example:  The Template!


The template—God’s Word is the perfect template for our lives. Micah 6:8 says, “I have shown you oh, man, what is right. You should act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.” A simple template for living.


Or I Thessalonians 4:11 which says, “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life. You should mind your own business and work with your hands as we taught you too. Then your life will win the respect of outsiders.”


And of course, Luke 10:27 which says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and all your strength. Love your neighbor as yourself.”


All templates for what it looks like to follow Christ, and live as His.


And then there’s adhesives. . .


We all know what adhesives are for. They are for sticking, attaching, adhering and keeping things in place so that what we put down on the page sticks.


Well, I believe God is in the adhering business as well. He would like for us to adhere to His instruction.


Matthew 28:19-20 says, “Go and make disciples, everyone of you, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded.”


He didn’t just say teach them everything I have commanded, he said teach them to obey everything I have commanded.


James 1:22 says, “Don’t just listen to the Word, do what it says.”


Make it stick.


Deuteronomy 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.


See what  I mean?  It sounds to me like God is in the adhering business.  Because he wants us to remember. Did you know that the word, remember, is in the Bible almost 150 times. God is all about having us remember. Remembering for our good and so we can pass on what has been given to us.


Even cooler than us remembering Him is that He is all about remembering us.


We scrapbook to preserve, and we scrapbook to pass on. We scrapbook because it helps to know who we are which helps us to live out who we are.


God does the same thing. He has preserved for us His words and the events and experiences of our spiritual ancestors so that we will know who He is, and He is faithful, just, caring, compassionate, a shield, defender, father and judge. . . .


When we make it a priority to stick these truths, His truths, into the stories of our lives, we are able to remember, and know and share who we are because we are reminded and we know in our hearts who He is and that we are His.


His templates show us again and again what it looks like to belong to Him, and as we choose to stick them firmly into our hearts, we live them out in our daily lives.

paper cutter

Tomorrow evening I’d like to share a bit about cropping. Now don’tcha know cropping is such a great thing!! When it’s a picture.


It’s also a great thing when it’s our lives, and because we can trust God’s perfect design, we can trust Him to crop just the right things out of the picture so that the very best shine through.


As we look forward to more of the truths of God found in scrapbooking, let’s pray about what God wants to stick onto our hearts this weekend, and ask Him to show us more clearly His template for the story of our lives.

Take Note: Thank You Still Matters– Mama Mia Monday

thank you

I went to mailbox Friday and there it was. In its simple white envelope, with my name slightly misspelled, was a true treasure–Real Mail! Not only was it a piece of real mail, it was a real thank you note. I mean real, as in hand made, hand written, straight from Abby’s heart to ours!

Mama Mia!

The message was short, but definitely sweet:

thank you note

In that instant, I remembered, yet again, why thank you notes still matter. That note made us feel special. It made us feel like our niece appreciated our gift and our love for her. It made our relationship two way and not one way.

As we parent our children, some of the greatest gifts we can give them are to learn to make other people feel special, to appreciate not only what they have been given, but those who have given them those things and that relationships are two way streets.

The not-so-simple thank you note is a great way to instill those precious values in our children. It’s not always easy. At first, you may need to require that they be written. There were occassions when we wouldn’t let our boys play with their gifts until a thank you was written.

What began as lessons in respect, love and thankfulness became the character of our boys who would all to soon become men.

Here are a few things to consider when teaching your children to write their thank you notes:

1) Start with a greeting. A simple “Dear Auntie and Uncle” is perfect. (Well, only if that is the name of the person you are sending the note to.

2) Say thank you. Just be upfront and direct. “Thanks so much for the birthday money. I can’t wait to use it when I go school shopping.”

3) Make it personal. It’s great to add a line about how the person is special to you. I love how Abby did this in our card when she said, “Thank you so much for always remembering me, and it’s cool how my friends met you. Some of them told me you were really awesome, and I was like, duh, she’s a Farris!”

4) Humor is okay! Abby did a great job adding a little splash of humor at the end–which I loved! Sometime we think that our thank you’s have to be all business, but it’s good to share something you know will make your recipient smile!

5) Say it again! Close out with something like a “Thanks again!” and then. . .

6) Sign out. A simple “Love, Abby” or just “Abby” is always appropriate. (Again, only if Abby is your name!)

Then just pop that puppy in an envelope, address it, stamp it and mail it. I have to add this final step because it’s not uncommon that after going to the effort to get the notes written, we forget to put them in the mail. And then someone, like me, misses out on the joy of receiving their real, live thank you card and their real, live blessing!!

Mama Mia! Let’s get writing some thank you cards today!

farris women
Here are some of those amazing Farris women–including my niece Abby, some of her sisters, her mom and me after a quick meal at Subway. I’m overwhelmingly thankful for them!

Manners Matter–Mama Mia Monday


They do! They really do! Manners Matter! Mama Mia! This is one we should talk about.

Manners are simply basic rules we follow to show respect to one another.

Today I was reading in Proverbs 11 and a couple of verses jumped off the page at me:

“A kindhearted woman gains respect.” Verse 16a

“Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.” Verse 22

These verses got my mind going in several directions, in part because I realized how rare it is to find women who exemplify the simple qualities of kindness and discretion anymore. Thankfully I am fortunate to know several, and they continually make a great impact on my life and the lives of those around me.

Sadly, we now applaud exhibitionism, and the foul-mouthed, drunken, immoral woman has become our hero. So, it’s no wonder our sons, daughters, and sometimes our mothers and fathers, are confused as to how to behave.

Manners matter.
Discretion is a virtue.
Self Control is a good thing.
Thank You needs to rejoin our vocabularies.
Kindness gains respect.
Other people are important, too.
Respect is a good thing–not just to receive but to give.

The list could go on and on, and the fact remains that as moms, we need to, I mean, we really need to, slow down and make sure that we are teaching our children to honor God and honor others by the way we treat them and ourselves.

As I’ve mentioned before we had an intern living with us this summer. Precious girl. A girl whose mom and dad and grandparents have most definitely taken the time to teach and model to her the preciousness of God and others. She was, without a doubt, the most thankful person I have been around in a long time! She was always telling us thank you for everything. I mean everything. Candy bar. Bottle of Dr Pepper. A cookie. So we like sugar . . . treat us well, this is a blog about manners!

But she wasn’t just telling us thank you. She was thankful. She had within her a true kindness and spirit of appreciation for even the smallest things in her life. She is, the woman of Proverbs 11:16a
“A kindhearted woman who has gained respect,” and she made an impact on pretty much every life she came into contact with while she was here.

Mama Mia!

Seriously, moms! These are the things I believe you want for your children. Sometimes we may get a little off track and begin to think that what we really want for them is to gain a spot on “Dance Moms” or their own show on the Disney Channel–or at the very least stay near the top of the food chain in middle school.

But in reality, those things don’t matter. The things that do matter are God and others, and how we treat and respond to both–with love, honor and respect–which is why. . .

Manners Matter–Mama Mia! They really do!

A great resource on Kindle for teaching your kids about manners is Manners Made Easy for the Family by June Hines Moore. There are 365 little tidbits of manners that can be shared one day at a time or whatever pace you choose. It’s also available for teens and in a workbook format for homeschoolers.


Finding Flowers Among the Weeds–Mama Mia Monday


Today I had the privilege of spending a couple hours in Hannibal, MO, with our summer intern, Rebekah. She’ll be leaving in a few days. VBS and camps are finished, and it was time for a bit of Sabbath rest enjoying God’s goodness along the river.

Near the banks of the Mississippi, we strolled down to a statue of Samuel Clemens which was surrounded by several flower gardens. Despite a summer of both flooding and a bit of drought, the flowers were doing quite nicely. We stumbled across the bed pictured above noticing the small, yet beautiful flowers and commenting on the fact that they were nestled among the weeds.

It struck me that as moms we can be tempted to forget that beautiful things can grow up among the weeds in our lives. What I mean is that, God is more than able to work in spite of our imperfections. Our children can grow–bloom even–despite the imperfect conditions we may present for them.

Mama Mia!

Now, I’m not suggesting that we throw all caution to the wind and not being careful or intentional about the things we do or say or teach our children. I am simply suggesting that we can rest assured that the God of the Universe can and will work in our children while He is working in us.

And that truth, like a walk by the river, is a very restful thing to experience. Flowers among the weeds, who knew?

He who began a good work in you


The Initiative Initiative–Mama Mia Monday

artwork courtesy of rethink group and 252basics

Mama Mia!
I had a little breakdown today.
It was short, sweet and to the point.

Well, let me explain. It’s almost VBS week. For those of you in the church, those words say it all. There’s some good, godly pressure goin’ on as last minute details are taken care of and the calls come rolling in from those who were going to help but can’t and those who weren’t going to help and still aren’t! (Just kidding)

Today I was told that someone wasn’t helping because no one had asked them yet. (Can I share the fact that it’s been in our bulletin, FB page, in the local newspaper, on a light up bulletin board, displayed with a banner over the sign up area in the church, and announced from the pulpit along with Tshirt give aways) So anyway, I had a slight Mentos and Diet Coke moment–y’know–exploding for a second or two but then the show’s all over–before settling back into work.

But Mamas, as my friend Tiphani would say, “Here’s the thing.”

As our children grow and we are packing up virtues into their lives, we need to be sure initiative gets into the suitcase.

Seriously, we need to take the initiative to train our children to have initiative. Something I like to call the “initiative initiative.” Now I have to say that I’m more than certain that this person’s parents taught them this virtue, yet somehow it slipped through the cracks this time.
But still I was reminded how important initiative is in our lives.

The curriculum we use at church describes initiative as “seeing what needs to be done and doing it.” Not “seeing what needs to be done and letting it stay undone until someone asks you to do it.” Or “seeing what needs to be done and hoping someone else will do it.” Or. . . well, anyway, you get the picture.

Too often we refuse to step up and help because no one asked us. We expect or assume someone else will do what needs to be done, or maybe it’s that we just don’t care enough to help someone else who is in need. Ouch! That last one hurts me sometimes.

Hey, now! I’m not just talking about helping out at church. It could mean helping out with household chores, putting away a lost buggy in the parking lot at the grocery store, sending a card, carrying the equipment bag at ball practice, visiting someone who is sick or lonely or stepping up at work to help where it’s needed. . . before you are asked.

Seeing what needs to be done, and doing it. That’s initiative, and it’s sorely needed. In showing initiative, we look different than the world. In showing initiative, we show the world what Jesus looked like when he saw what needed to be done and did it–for us.

Mama Mia! Powerful stuff that initiative. So take the “initiative initiative.” Ask God what He needs you to see that needs to be done to help someone else see Him!

Putting Church Before Sports–Mama Mia Monday

It’s not a rant. It’s not legalism. It’s just something to think about–I promise.

As a children’s pastor, one of the greatest challenges I face is inconsistency in the attendance of our kids and families. Knowing that at best we offer 2-3 hours a week for teaching kids at our church, and knowing that only a slim percentage of families attend all services, it is increasingly difficult to help instill Biblical truth in today’s kids. In increasing measure, the commitment to sports–practices, teams, games, competitions and tournaments is trumping commitment to the church–attendance, Bible learning, service and worship.

Although sports aren’t the only thing that competes for church time, it is a big contender. Here are 5 things you might want to consider before making the choice to choose attendance for sports and hobbies over your child’s attendance at church.

God says:
1) Don’t stop meeting together with other believers, which some people have gotten into the habit of doing. Instead, encourage each other, especially as you see the day drawing near. Hebrews 10:25-27 Be careful that your habit isn’t games over meeting together with other believers. God understands this temptation and warns us of the danger in it.

God says:
2) For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 2 Timothy 4:8 God understands physical training is a good thing, but that it won’t last, but that godliness is a better thing and it will last forever.

God says:
3) Seek first the kingdom of heaven and its righteousness, then all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33 God never says it is wrong to participate in sports, but He does tell us to make seeking Him the priority of our lives.

God says:
4) Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. I Corinthians 9:24-28 God understands our desire to win, but He also understands we are easily tempted to put the wrong value on the wrong trophy.

God says:
5) As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, … I Corinthians 12:20-25 God understands team. But church is a team, too, and when someone is gone from the “game” or from “practice,” it affects the whole team. Everyone is needed.

There’s a lot of pressure for our kids to do it all–to achieve and to succeed. But there’s a lot at risk, and there’s a lot of wisdom in the words, warnings and encouragements God gives us in making the wisest choices for using our time, setting our priorities and helping our children to learn to do the same.

Mama Mia!

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