Friday, March 28, 2014

A Tribute and A Testimony

Hello dear friends and followers,

Before you get into this post, I suggest you put on your wading boots because I'm about to get deep. Most of my posts are primarily card and paper crafting related because that is my target audience. I occasionally reveal some personal information about my life as it relates to paper crafting, but I usually keep it light.

Not today. Although I'm sharing a card, I also feel compelled to share the journey that led to this card, and the journey that took place afterward.

I made this for my dear friend, Mariana Geissel, while she was in hospice battling brain cancer. On Saturday, her battle ended and she is now cancer free in heaven. I could write that she lost the battle and most people would agree. But they don't know Mariana and they haven't yet read this amazing story I'm about to share. She didn't lose the battle. She won.

My dear friend was a woman of incredible faith. She felt God's protection since her journey began 19 months ago when she first learned she had brain cancer after suffering from a seizure. Her outlook on life and death is one of the most inspirational I have ever experienced.

Mariana would say:
"I win no matter what. If I beat cancer and live another twenty to thirty years, I win. If I don't beat cancer, then I will go to heaven and I still win!"
 I, on the other hand, struggled with understanding why God would let such a lovely person and mother of three young boys get brain cancer. I decided the best way to handle my lack of faith was to take it straight to God. After all, He already knew I was angry at Him because God knows all.

Me and Mariana at her birthday party shortly after being diagnosed with brain cancer.
We all wore orange, Mariana's favorite color, to show our support.

When Mariana was first diagnosed, I cried out "God, why?! WHY? How could you let this happen to her? I know you're supposed to have a perfect plan, but how could this be a part of it? I don't like it!! I'm angry with you, God!" My husband said "You can't be mad at God" to which I replied "Oh, yes I can and I am!"

During that time, I heard God say to me "Annette, you need to have more faith in me. Don't you think I'm going to take care of her?"  Those words gave me some peace and comfort until two months ago, when I learned the tumor was not responding to treatment and Mariana was in hospice.

I was shaken to the core and so was my faith. I could feel it weakening again as I questioned why this had to happen. Then, this past Saturday evening, the news came. I was devastated.

I knew going to church the next morning was going to be tough. Mariana was also a member of my church. In fact, that's how we met. I knew the entire congregation was going to be in mourning. We had been rallying around Mariana and supporting her and her family in every way possible including wearing her favorite color - orange - to church, bringing meals to her family and driving her to treatments.

I was tempted to skip, but I knew that I needed to go. I needed to see my church family. More importantly, I needed to be in God's house because my faith had been rocked. During worship service, I fought back tears and muddled my way through the songs. I was also doing something else. Inside, I was crying out to God. "How could you let this happen!?!"

Then, in typical God fashion, He revealed something to me. Something that seems so obvious, yet so profound. He simply said:
"Annette, you're looking at this all wrong. You're looking at this as though I am the problem. I didn't give Mariana cancer. I am not the problem. I am the solution."
 I was too dimwitted to completely understand what He was saying at the time, so I noodled on it for a couple of days while still feeling anguish over Mariana's loss. I'm going to be honest, I was a hot mess ... until Tuesday.

On Tuesday morning, I started Googling stories about people who had gone to heaven and come back. As I was reading these accounts from different people, I could feel God working in me again.

Every story I read had a similar theme. They all experienced this incredible joy. There was no pain and they felt nothing but love. Then it all clicked and God started revealing His plan to me.

He explained that we live on earth, where there is cancer There are other sicknesses on earth, too. There is also shame, guilt, lust, greed, anger and just plain sin. He didn't give her cancer. It just happened because she was on earth where there is cancer. He was not the problem.

He then revealed that in Heaven, there is no cancer. There is no pain. There is no sin. Because He reigned in Heaven, none of those things was allowed inside. As a result, nothing but love and pure joy was left because there were no sin and no pain. He had completely taken care of her!! He wasn't the problem, He was the solution!! She was with Him in heaven and she was experiencing nothing but pure joy!!

He then revealed to me that yes, he could have cured her from cancer on earth, but He chose not to because He had a better plan and it was Heaven!! He could completely protect her in Heaven because that is where He had full reign. Had she remained on earth, the cancer could have returned or she could have fallen ill from something else. She could still experience anger, hurt, guilt, etc. because those things exist on earth. Why cure her of one thing, when He could cure her of everything in Heaven? He could completely protect her there!!

Yes, God!! I get it now!! I totally get it!! You solved it all by giving us the opportunity to be with you under your full protection in Heaven, where you have full reign!! Mariana understood that and she is there with Him now!! She is experiencing nothing but pure joy!!

We will have trials and tribulations because we are on earth and bad things exist here. Yes, good things exist, too. (Have you been to Disneyworld?) Seriously, though, that's just how it is on earth, but in Heaven there is nothing but pure joy because that is all that exists because that is all God wants for us!!

Wow!!! Mind. Blown.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Paper Sweeties March Release Rewind!

Well, what do you think of the new releases? Aren't they just so happy and cheerful?

Today is rewind day when we showcase some older releases. The set featured in the card below is from last month's release called Home Sweet Home. I just love it. I love these houses. It also comes with accessories like a bird house, cloud, trees, shrubs and an outdoor lamp.

Don't forget there is also a monthly challenge going on at Paper Sweeties, too. Create a card based on the inspiration photo on the blog, add your link and include a link to the blog in your post. You do not have to use Paper Sweeties, but if you do, you get an extra vote and increase your chances of winning a prize!! The challenge runs until midnight at the end of the month.

Check out some of the rewinds from my design team mates:
Debbie Marcinkiewicz – Paper Sweeties

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Paper Sweeties March Release Party!

The day is here. The new Paper Sweeties March releases are now available in the shop. You will not be disappointed. If you're looking for stamps and dies to make spring and Easter themed cards, look no further.

I made this card from the Bunny Hugs and Kisses and Bloom and Grow sets. I first stamped the carrots and them masked them before stamping the basket and eggs. Then I colored them with my Prismacolor Pencils and Gamsol Oil. I added my sentiment and embellishments before adhering to the card base.

Here are some more fabulous ideas from some talented designers. Check them out for inspiration!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Pi Day!

Ladies and Gentlemen, I interrupt this regularly scheduled blog post to bring you a special report. Today is Pi Day! What is Pi Day? It's the day we celebrate pi - not the kind you eat. That's spelled pie. I'm talking about the unique constant number used to calculate the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Whew! That's a mouthful.

Pi rounded to the nearest hundredth is 3.14. Today, March 14, is also represented as 3-14. Thus, Pi Day. Check out this fun site that is all about Pi Day.

Here is a card I made for my son's math teacher. I know she will love it!!

I should add a disclaimer to this post: I do not know exactly how to use pi. I learned it in grade school, but I haven't used it recently. My husband, on the other hand, has used pi. In fact he used it to compare the amount of food you get in a 14" vs. a 16" pizza PIE!! So, if you think you don't need to learn it because you'll never use it, you're wrong! One day, you may want to know if you're getting your money's worth buying an extra large vs. a large pizza and you'll need pi to figure it out!

Okay, back to my regularly scheduled post. Have a great Π Day!!

Paper Sweeties March Release Countdown!

Today is day two of the Paper Sweeties March release countdown, which means tomorrow is the big day!! Woot! If you've been following along with the release countdown, you'll notice lots of spring images and sentiments. I don't know about you, but I like that! I'm soooo ready for spring. I'm soooo ready for scenes like the one in the card below. Flowers, sunshine, green grass ... aaaaaahhh!

Today's card was created with the Bloom and Grow set, which you will be able to purchase tomorrow!

Here are the rest of my teamies' projects:

Annette Witherspoon -- You are here
Debbie Marcinkiewicz – Paper Sweeties

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Paper Sweeties March Release Sneak Peeks!

The Paper Sweeties March sneak peeks begin today. Today's card features the stamps and coordinating Sweet Cuts from the Wagon Add On Bloom & Grow.

Check out the rest of the sneak peeks from my very talented design teammates.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Paper Sweeties March Inspiration Challenge #17 - 'Polka Dot Love'

It's March 1st, which means it's time for another Paper Sweeties challenge! The inspiration photo screams spring, unlike the weather outside, which is still wintry, cold and dreary. An impending snow storm is on its way with potentially 4-10 inches of snow and ice. Yuck. I jumped at the chance to make a spring card in hope it would pull me out of the winter blues.

Here is my interpretation. I pulled the pastel colors from the photo and incorporated polka dots, boots and a pink heart. Of course, I had to incorporate my signature bling! This time, it's in the form of sequins. Ahhh. I love bling!

In fact, I'm also entering this into the Splitcoast Stamper Free 4 All challenge hosted by my blog buddy Dawn. She challenged us to use sequins. I couldn't pass up the opportunity.

Come see what my design team mates made. I'm sure it's fabulous.

  March Guest Designer: Diane Hover


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