In response to last week’s foray into nostalgia, I trundled out my scrapbooking projects again. The whole kit and caboodle—paper and pictures, scissors and punches, stickers and ribbons. And up to my neck in faded photos and bittersweet reminiscences, I got to scrappin’ with God too.
How come, dear Lord, my life isn’t a bit like all these sweet little quotes in my album pages?
FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS. Ahem, if I did, I wouldn’t be here. You’d more likely find me lounging in a hammock in Bora Bora, sipping from a coconut. That sounds dreamy.
Or how about… LIVE, LOVE, LAUGH…? Well, absolutely, and alliteration is always awesome.
Is it all bad advice? Or banal cliché to airbrush an ordinary life? Feel-good placebos to block out reality?
But in my scrappin’ with God, He reminds me that many of the things I considered hardships and heartaches only later demonstrated His goodness:
“I learn as the years roll onward
And I leave the past behind,
That much I had counted sorrow
But proves that God is kind;
That many a flower that I longed for
Had hidden a thorn of pain,
And many a rugged by-path
Led to fields of ripened grain.” –Unknown
As you can no doubt tell, I’m not a person who has everything together. I can’t even keep my stuff sorted, let alone my life. I may not live long enough to accomplish all my plans, write all my stories, label all my photos. Maybe never see every piece of trash turned into treasure.
So…here’s the basic work plan. My scrapping’ techniques answer the five W’s:
1. Choose a Theme
WHY am I doing this?
A dear cousin introduced me to scrapbooking—both manual and digital—ten or fifteen years ago. I probably would’ve made a total mess of my first attempts, but she patiently taught me to focus on a theme. That is, one main event or season. That idea of the album’s purpose or story has aided me more than once while scrappin’ my life.
Or scrappin’ with God.
My Bucket List Reimagined is all about the spiritual places I need to visit and the lessons I need to learn there. And this is one of the most important:
Droplet Gift #24: I will try to look at the album of my life from start to finish as God does. The big picture, the broad strokes. If I saw through His eyes, perhaps I’d arrange things the same way He does.
Sometimes we don’t perceive any why, any reason for life’s random happenings. Those occasions when BELIEVE and FAITH – FAMILY – FRIENDS just don’t cut it and when nothing goes according to the scrapbook memes.
Here we get tangled in the trees and can’t see the forest, obsessed with the pages and don’t catch the point. Too absorbed in our day-to-day lives that we fail to step back for perspective on what’s important. And what doesn’t matter in the overall scheme of things.
In those lost moments, the theme of my every chapter becomes TRUST, end quote. Whatever the plot of my story, I’m in this difficult time and place because He has brought me here. I’ll rest in that, platitude or not.
2. Match the Colors
WHAT now? What’s next?
“Happy people don’t ask ‘why?’ They ask, ‘What shall I do now?’” –Unknown
After deciding on the pictures I’m going to use and gathering a few ideas, I then consider the colors in my photos. What decorative papers should I select to best match…sepia?
How those old photographs have faded. And I start scrappin’ with God again: Why do so many of my pages dull to brown and gray tones?
Why may always be a mystery, and even what’s ahead lies beyond our field of vision. But color me brave. I refuse to be intimidated by shades of monotony.
I’ll seek out and highlight whatever muted colors I find. Add sparkle, explore new combinations, look on the bright side instead of giving in to the gloom.
Often, beauty depends on taste anyway. Or on harmony within a palette. In God’s color scheme, I know He has a part for me to play. He’ll surely adorn me with grace to boldly SHINE, as the scrapbooks suggest.
3. Fix the Format
Now…WHERE am I headed?
Layout can make or break your pages, which is where designer talent comes in. I usually try out several formats, but only so many different arrangements work in my small Chilean albums.
At the end of the book, as at the end of the day, you occasionally find it didn’t turn out the way you intended. But the answer lies in sensing the best pattern and placement. Switching a picture around or even setting it aside altogether can transform the whole look.
I tend to fight the format. I think my jumbled outlines are better, my scrambled sketches infinitely more appealing.
But when I’m scrappin’ with God about His plan, I tend to miss the marvel of the design—to mold me into His perfect image. I forget the Designer knows where He’s taking us on this project.
4. Crop to Fit
WHO am I? Do I even know anymore?
It seems I’m the photographer of most of my pictures since I don’t appear in many. While I may feel nonexistent and left out, perhaps I noticed more of what was happening at the time than anyone else.
Good photographers balance elements such as composition, scale, and focus. A good scrapper, in a sense, has to do the same: cut out the extraneous, crop the irrelevant, pare down the superfluous.
This probably sounds odd, but I have this funny little affair with my paper cutter. I just love clipping and shaving my pictures. Snip, snip. So why do I keep scrappin’ with God when He gets near the cutting edge of my heart? He just won’t leave me alone.
BE YOURSELF, urges the popular quote. Who you are is what makes you special, so don’t change for anyone. True enough, to a point.
Yet, in my scrappin’ fever, I’ve figured out that less is often more. Editing eliminates the excess baggage I’m so attached to, in order to emphasize the best. In God’s shaping process, the pruning prods the growth. Staying the way I am means stagnating.
5. Embellish with Trims
But WHEN will this be over? Whatever this is today…
These finishing details of a scrapbook page are my favorite part: frames, ribbons, stickers, quotes, etc. I think of the embellishments as the small joys of life.
But it’s so easy for me to overdo the decorating. I need a dose of restraint, or the garnish just resembles garbage. What’s meant as the crowning glory decays into clutter and chaos. Because when everything catches your eye, nothing does. Ah, balance…what a jewel.
Isn’t this about making wise and wholesome choices, ones we won’t regret at the end?
“God is in the detail.” –attributed to Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
“The devil is in the details.” –Unknown
The above two quotes make me smile. Which is it? I think the difference is that all that’s good and beautiful in this world can be corrupted. And on the other hand, all that’s hurtful and hateful will be redeemed and rearranged for good.
The empty spaces, the dark places in my life…are as essential as the embellishments. “He has made everything beautiful in His time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
It’s so hard for us to remember—and fully believe, except in fleeting moments—that this life is not all there is. We have all eternity to see our dreams come true. So…
Follow your heart, but follow God first.
Live with faith. AND faithfulness.
Love your family. And God most of all.
Laugh with friends. Forever.
Lord, don’t take me home until all my scrappin’ ends… in Your masterpiece album.