The Toll of War

No one likes war. My dad was born during WWI and survived as a member of the US Army in WWII Germany. He is 94 years old as of this month and has rarely spoken of his experiences – especially about the liberation of the concentration camps. Although it was not one of the major death camps, the horrors were just as real in the smaller camps. He took pictures of mass graves and when he did talk to me about the war, it was because I was reading about WWII Germany and the concentration camps. He would say that pictures only capture part of the war. You can’t capture the smell of death that lingered in the air.

I first scrapbooked his photos of the destruction of the city of Frankfurt.

“When you go forth to war against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and an army larger than your own, you shall not be afraid of them; for the LORD your God is with you, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.” ~Deuteronomy 20:1

 

I spent the night in Frankfurt last November following a trip to the Holy Land. Because of flight problems, Lufthansa put us up at the Sheraton hotel at the airport. It is all very modern and the hospitality was wonderful but the scars of war can last for generations.

My dad took these pictures in 1945 of the destruction in Frankfurt as his unit made its way through the city. Not much was left of St. Bartholomew Cathedral. Devastation was widespread.

“. . . therefore the tumult of war shall arise among your people, and all your fortresses shall be destroyed.” ~ Hosea 10:14

His unit headed to the little town of Wetzlar where he spent several months. There, he made friends with a number of German children. They followed him everywhere and called him the Pied Piper.

“No greater joy can I have than this, to hear that my children follow the truth.” ~ 3 John 1:4

From Wetzlar, he wrote a v-mail home to family.

“For I wrote you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you.” ~ 2 Corinthians 2:4

A landmark in Wetzlar was the bleistift or pencil. It was actually a tower that looked like a pencil, thus the name.

“Remove not the ancient landmark which your fathers have set.” ~ Proverbs 22:28

After over 60 years, my dad still remembered the names of most of the children. He told of a birthday party where the cake was very bland. Sugar was a scarcity at the end of the war. At the end of the party, the elder brother comes walking in. He had been taken prisoner after the war and had just been released. My dad’s back was to the door, but he turned around to see the man when the children began to snicker and giggle.

Most of the photos taken with his camera were of the children, but there is one of him at the foot of Bleistift taken by a young girl named Liselotte.

Then there was the man who was struggling to provide for his family during the war. My mom said that she used to send clothes that my oldest sister had outgrown for their little girl who was just a little younger.

“Give of your bread to the hungry, and of your clothing to the naked. Give all your surplus to charity, and do not let your eye begrudge the gift when you made it.” ~ Tobit 4:16

As my sister outgrew clothes, my mom would mail them to this family. My dad lived with this particular family and had a number of stories to tell about the time he was there.

I also learned about two other towns my dad visited. One was Michelstadt, far south of Frankfurt. The other was Braunfels, just a short distance from Wetzlar.

In Braunfels was a castle that he visited while on leave.

New Braunfels, TX – south of Austin and north of San Antonio – was actually founded by the Braunfels family who lived in this castle.

Daddy finally returned home in 1946. He had done his part to bring about justice for those imprisoned in the death camps.

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good tidings to the afflicted; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;” ~Isaiah 61:1

 

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It’s All in the Paper You Choose

The paper you use for any layout is important to the end result of your faith/scrapbooking. A great example is this layout I made of me and my two sisters sitting on our mom and dad’s bed.

The pictures are, of course, black and white, so subtle colors had to be used in the layout. Look closely at the wallpaper in the photo and you will see that it is almost identical to the background paper in the layout. My parent’s bedroom had wallpaper that was a lattice of roses – minus the vertical stripes in this paper. A dark paper behind the print makes it “pop” so that it isn’t just some ordinary page. I just love making a page “POP”!

Although I haven’t journaled on the layout yet, I’ve left plenty of space on the striped paper.

The second page has the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, which I somehow remember being on the wall or next to the bed.

I eventually added an embossed rose to the top right corner of the page. Of course, a scripture verse would be nice on this page too. Maybe I will use this one somewhere on the lattice:

he said to them, “my mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”  ~ Luke 8:21

This statement of Jesus would of course include sisters, not just brothers. We are all called to hear the word of God and keep it and by doing so, we will surely be blessed – for keeping God’s word is doing His will. Although my blood relationships with my sisters are important, I must remember that my relationship with God is more important.

Other verses that could be used are these:

“Let the children come to me, do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God.  Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”  And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands upon them. ~ Mark 10:14-16

“Truly, I say to you, there is no man who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God,  who will not receive manifold more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.” ~ Luke 18:29-30

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Sweet As Honey

I have a special affinity for bees and honey. My dad kept a hive when I was little and sold his honey locally. My gardening table area in the garage is a tribute to those years. I have parts of the wood hive that I’m using for shelves. On the shelves I have his smoker, a jar with a honey label with his name on it, and other various and sundry bee-related paraphernalia of his and things I’ve collected over the last4 years.

When I made this blog, I looked for a background that would be appropriate and I finally found it. I thought it was a fun idea to add a background that included bees, yet looked almost like scrapbook paper. I found this free background on the internet and uploaded it to my blog. The three bees are a reference to my dad, but also coincidentally represent the Trinity and the Word of God.

Psalm 119:103 says: “How sweet are thy words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”

Psalm 19:9-10
…the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever; the ordinances of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether.  More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.

But it is also a reminder to mind my tongue

The wise of heart is called a man of discernment, and pleasant speech increases persuasiveness.  Wisdom is a fountain of life to him who has it, but folly is the chastisement of fools.  The mind of the wise makes his speech judicious, and adds persuasiveness to his lips.  Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.  There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.  A worker’s appetite works for him; his mouth urges him on.  A worthless man plots evil, and his speech is like a scorching fire.  A perverse man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends. ~ Proverbs 16:21-28

How often does our tongue – through our own words – become an instrument of evil. It is so easy to fall into gossip, criticism, blame, . . . and other speech that stings others and makes us less holy. At such times, our actions do not reflect the Word of God which is always sweet. Although I haven’t put the story of my dad’s bee-keeping in a faithbook, it lends to the medium. I just had to share the story about how I found my blog background and its significance.

When you are scrapbooking, a lot of it is about the paper you use. It makes all the difference in the world to have the right paper.

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Goldilocks

A while back, I decided to FB (Faithbook not Facebook) some of my favorite photos of my mom when she was a little girl. My mom was probably only a year old in these photos. She had the most luscious crown of golden curls you could find and a toothy little grin to match. The pictures reminded me of the buttons and bows, ribbons and lace,  so typical of little girls – especially in the early 1900s.

This is the layout I made. I loved the sepia tones of the brown patterned papers And because there was a little bit of green in them, I accented with the green floral paper as the background. The layout includes a lock of her hair and an ivory-handled button hook that could have been the one used to get her ready for this photo session.

Here is the first page. My mom loves butterflies so I added the butterfly. It adds a sense of beauty and grace. I found some rub-on lace when making this page and it was a perfect fit. As I was working on this layout, I was also going through the old children’s clothing I inherited from my mom not long before. I discovered that I had a very similar version of this little dress.

 

Not too long afterward, I went to my sister’s house in Dallas and sure enough, in her office, was hanging this exact dress with the little tatted medallions above the rows of lace across the bottom. She had no idea that this was the same dress in the pictures until I let her know. I showed her the tatted medallions in the photos. (Note the stamped & embossed medallions on the bottom outside corners of the layout.) She was delighted!

What is the poem I wrote for these pages?

Buttons and bows
Ribbons and lace
Nothing compares
To the smile on her face

Isn’t it one of the greatest joys in life to see a smile on the face of a little child? Can’t you just see Jesus with the little children smiling as they gather around Him and He tells His disciples,

“Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” ~ Matthew 19:14

My mom was 18 when this photo was taken. It was her highschool graduation picture. I have yet to scrapbook this picture and the one below because they are very large. I need to scan them and resize. I have a few other pictures of her in this dress as she stands in the front yard of their house on Old Sycamore street. The house no longer exists. Apartments have taken its place. My grandparents moved from that house when I was very small, but I have fond memories of sitting under the piano and playing with an old doll house. My but that was a very long time ago. My mom is now 90.

I am not certain how old my mom is in this picture. I would think that she is probably in her early 20s. This may have been her graduation photo from the University of Texas. She still has the beautiful golden curls from when she was little.

For several years, Mama worked with Catholic Charities. Then she married my dad and started a family. With 6 of us, Mama was a very busy lady. Three of the six inherited the curls although I was the only goldilocks. A number of years back, I put this photograph next to my face as I looked in the mirror and was surprised at the resemblance.

Finally, here is my mom on Father’s day, 2009. Though she has lost the gift of youth, her beautiful spirit remains. She and my dad have been married almost 70 years. What an example to her children and grandchildren! All six girls are married and remain with their partners. What a gift in this day of divorce and dysfunction! Marriage is meant to be a reflection of the relationship within the Trinity. That bond of love is unbreakable. As society comes to see marriage as a secular institution,  the image of the Trinity is distorted and disfigured.

Jesus’ first miracle was performed at a wedding feast in Cana in Galilee.  His Mother told the waiters to do whatever Jesus told them. Mary’s advice to us is the same: “Do whatever He tells you.” What was Jesus’ teaching on divorce?

And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”  He answered them, “What did Moses command you?”  They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to put her away.”  But Jesus said to them, “For your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment.  But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’  ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife,  and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh.  What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.”  And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter.  And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her;  and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”  ~ Mark 10:2-12

It seems that hardness of heart has spread throughout our society. I pray that a Culture of Life prevails – that we see a renewal of our hearts and minds to the teachings of Christ.

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The God of the Living

Today at Mass, the Gospel reading was from Luke 20. Jesus tells the Sadducees that their interpretation of scripture is wrong concerning the resurrection from the dead. He tells them that our God is a God of the living, not of the dead. He refers to Moses statement that the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob is one and the same. He is the Great I AM. All time is at His fingertips for after death to this world, there will be no need for time as we know it. God IS and that is what matters.

What is the message here for those faithbook pages we create of family members who have passed from this world? This world is NOT the end! But how we live our lives is important in how we attain the next. The Old Testament reading was from the 2nd book of Maccabees. It was the story of the mother whose seven sons were tortured for their faithfulness to God. It wasn’t really about not eating pork, but about their willingness to sacrifice when it came to being faithful to God or saving their own lives. We can learn from this story.

My Paternal Grandfather sacrificed a life he knew in Norway to come to this country. He was eleven years older than my Grandmother and I never knew him as he passed away before I was ever born. But I am certain that he believed his sacrifice was worth it. Had he not come to this country, he never would have met my Grandmother and my Dad would never have been born.

I will fill in the blank sections with reflections from this blog post. I loved the beautiful papers used for this layout. The green speaks of the life my Grandfather left in Norway and the new life he created with my Grandmother here in the US.

My Grandmother was Czech and I remember her kolaches well. She was a woman who loved to be creative and she passed that on to my Father and my Aunt. The tag with her maiden name is covered with a stamp of a beautiful flourish. It complements the stamp I used to mimic her handkerchief in the journal box. The mock kerchief was made from embossed vellum. The stamp just happened to be similar in pattern to the embroidery on her handkerchief.

My Grandfather owned a construction company. Back in those days, the sons learned from their fathers the family business. What my Dad learned from my Grandfather was priceless. Not only did he learn the art of carpentry and construction, my Dad became a man with tremendous pride in his heritage and a life ethic that moves me to this day. The old eyeglasses remind me of my own father’s eye for detail and beauty. The old timepiece reminds me that my Dad made all his daughters a Grandfather clock as a wedding gift. It wasn’t the clock that meant so much as the time and love he put into making each one.

My Dad is truly a #1 Dad. I made him this card for Father’s Day in 2009. I loved the image of the mouse in the lemonade. On the inside of the card, I told him that he taught me one of life’s greatest lessons: “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!” It has been one of his themes in his old age. Daddy suffers from advanced Parkinson’s. The disease has altered his looks on the outside, but inside he is that incredible man I know as “My Dad”.

The God of my Paternal Grandparents is the God of my Father and my God as well.  Each generation lives on in the next. I know that one day, I will be proud to meet my Grandfather who helped shape the man my dad is to me. But on that day, I will know truly my Father in Heaven Who gave both these men and my Grandmother the many gifts they have shared with the world.

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A Family Christmas

Since Christmas is just around the corner, it might be nice for you to have some new ideas for your scrapbook pages. When I started scrapping, I didn’t have a style and some of my pages were pretty primitive. Over time, my scrapping has taken on a style of its own. Since I didn’t start scrapbooking until several years ago and faithbooking came after that, I started by getting most of the family Christmases done all at once.  Only my later pages have the hint of faithbooking, but you will see the progression. Although I didn’t start chronologically, I did most of the pages by decade at one time, starting with the ’80s when my boys were small.

I have to admit that as I’ve grown in the art, I learned to use LOTS of paper, but other scrappers tell me that is what they like about my style. I make the pictures POP and tell the story. Even some of my earliest attempts used layers of paper to frame a photo, but I was still learning about different uses of ink. The layout below shows how I used embossing, but little else. It is interesting that as my faith grew, so did my faithbooking. My earlier pages pretty much showed where my faith stood at the time. Although I have always gone to Church at Christmas, in these pages there is little reference to  the “Reason for the Season”. Only the tag hints with the saying, “Wise Men Still Seek Him”. I don’t think this was the first set of pages I scrapped for the ’80s.

Page 1 – Christmas 1984: the top photo was taken on Christmas Eve at the house of my in-laws.  The ones in the bottom section were Christmas morning at home of first son’s 2nd Christmas. He is in my lap in the 2nd photo and I was pregnant with Chris.

Page 2 – Christmas 1984 photos all taken on Christmas eve.

Page 3 – Christmas 1984 photos taken Christmas day in the home of a family friend. It was truly a Christmas in the woods. You can see I was working on new techniques. I found out how to make an origami Christmas tree and used square buttons for packages under the tree.

Page 4 – Christmas 1984

I evidently was only getting the photos into the book when I scrapped 1984 and 1986. I actually payed no attention to faith in those pages. I was just trying to play catch-up on all those years. After all, my boys were already grown when I started and I was way behind.

Page 1 – Christmas 1986 taken at home before going to visit family. My two sons open gifts. I am pregnant with my third child. Instead of a whole Christmas tree, I put a branch on the page with ornaments. Decorating the tree has always been a special part of the Christmas preparations for me.

Page 2 – Christmas 1986 with my family. I think the message of these pages is in my pregnancy and the overall “gift” theme of the pages. A number of friends were pregnant at the same time and lost their babies. In my ignorance, I felt so much guilt for a pregnancy I had not planned. I read something during that time that changed my life forever. A gift reflects both the giver and the person given to. My third child was my special gift from God who I would not “unwrap” for 6 more months – my 1987 “Christmas in July.”

O.K. Compare the style of those pages to the next four from 2007. There is a HUGE difference both in style and content. Although only the second set contain the faith in faithbooking, they complete the whole effect for the year of 2007. Take a peek.

Page 1 – Traditional Christmas (2007) group photo of the sisters and my niece. The circle photo is of my great-niece with her new Raggedy Ann given to her by one of my sisters.

Page 2 – Traditional Christmas (2007) group photo of the “outlaw” brothers and some of the nephews. The circle photo is my great-nephew with the Raggedy Andy he got from one of my sisters.

Page 3 – Christmas 2007 photo of my oldest son and his wife, who was 7 months pregnant with my grandson. Below is the caption, “To Love and Be Loved Is Everything”. Inside the heart-shaped wreath, it says, “Let not our hearts be busy inns that have no room for Him.”

Page 4 – Christmas 2007 photo of my second son and his wife. They got married in the summer of 2007, so this was their first Christmas as husband and wife. My son hates having his photo taken, so my niece sneaked this one while he and his wife were taking their Christmas nap. The caption for the page is the Gospel verse, Luke 2:11

“Today in the city of David a Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord.”

Faithbooking, for me doesn’t get any better than including a prayer or a verse from Scripture. This layout has both. It’s one of my favorites!

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Faithbooking

Lots of people scrapbook! How many of us “Faithbook”? I would be willing to bet that there are a lot of people of faith who either do or would love to incorporate their faith into their scrapbooking. What do I mean by faithbooking?

Faithbooking is basically scrapbooking with an emphasis on how an event has blessed our lives. It is a tangible way of looking at life through the eyes of faith. God blesses us every day and faithbooking is how we remember our God stories. Just as a typical scrapbook is for us, and our loved ones, to enjoy and remember us, faithbooks offer us and future generations a wonderful way to look at the “God moments” they capture.

We will tell the next generation the praise worthy deeds of the Lord, His power and the wonders He has done. ~ Psalm 78:4

We are called to see and remember life through the eyes of faith. Scripture often calls us to remember.

…remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me… ~ Isaiah 46:9

Traditionally, God calls His people to remember an event by creating a ritual – an action for us to repeat again and again – to sort of re-member a special event. Ritual sacrifice reminded the people of God of the covenant between them and Yahweh. For the Israelites, the Passover meal recaptured the moments of God’s providence in the Exodus – setting the Israelites free from slavery in Egypt – and it reminds Jews to this day of God’s deliverance.

And Moses said to the people, “Remember this day, in which you came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage, for by strength of hand the LORD brought you out from this place . . . ~ Exodus 32:13a

In the New Testament, Jesus gave us a new command at the Last Supper – the Passover meal He celebrated the night before He died.

And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” ~ Luke 22:19

And so at every Mass, Catholics remember through liturgical ritual the actions of Jesus at that First Eucharist which He forever united to the events of Calvary. Remembering through ritual makes the original even present to us in a special way.

By faithbooking, we integrate our God stories into our being and pass them down to future generations. The process uses pictures and God’s Word to help us recall His action in our lives. Through the activity of pasting pictures and paper – using scissors to cut and ink to share God’s Word – we re-member our God stories and share them with future generations who learn from us Who our awesome God is.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were no people but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy but now you have received mercy.~ 1 Peter 2:9-10

Once the faithbook pages are made, we remember the story through the ritual of looking at the pages. My hope for this blog is that the faithbook pages I create become a  reminder to others that He is indeed the one who calls us out of darkness and into His marvelous light. He is an awesome God and there is no other. His deeds are indeed praise worthy!!!

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This page is from a memory album I helped make for our former pastor before he left. It was very therapeutic to make this memory album. We dearly love this priest whose one goal was to form us into disciples for Christ by helping us to become holy. We wanted him to remember all the good things about the community of St. William that he shepherded for 10 years.

Service was often a focus of Fr. Joel’s homilies. This tag had one of the scriptures that he often used.

…whoever would be great among you must be your servant,  and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. ~ Mark 10:43b-44

During his 10 years as pastor, the parish moved from the location on McNeil Road to 620 Round Rock West Drive. The 1999 photos were taken in the church on McNeil. The 2009 photos were taken in the new sanctuary. In 10 years, Fr. Joel brought us a long way in our dying and rising with Christ!

The Celtic cross is mindful of the Irish heritage of Fr. Joel. The scripture verse reminds us of how we must follow Jesus.

“If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me….” ~ Mark 8:34b

It is what Fr. Joel did with us so well.

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