"Where there is creativity, there is hope." ~ Donna Karan

Monday, May 20, 2019

New Church Glow

Quote by Natalie Snapp, made with Canva.

In January of last year I didn't have a church to call home. The negative experiences I encountered in a church I thought would be my forever church had broken me beyond what I thought possible, leaving me feeling hopeless, worthless and ashamed. I had no church friends to turn to on bad days or to celebrate the good ones with. I was without prayer support and encouragement, feeling isolated and depressed; virtually doing chronic illness alone.

This wasn't because of some minor grievances; I was struggling with significant church hurt where I was so deeply wounded and broken I couldn't set foot in a church for five years.

My struggle with church hurt is something I've kept relatively private for a long time because it's not an easy thing to talk about and it's something that has left me wracked with shame. And then there's the belief that hurt experienced in churches should never be spoken of because it's wrong and fosters gossip. This belief only causes more hurt and isolation, and adds to the aforementioned shame.

Church hurt needs to be talked about with vulnerability and honesty. It's something that pastors and leaders need to address more to build better church relationships and a more caring culture. Experiences need to be shared to help heal and encourage.

Church hurt is very real and damaging. It's not a joke; I was at rock bottom for several years because of it. It catapulted me to a place of darkness, misery and despair I didn't know existed. It shattered my confidence and ate away at my self-esteem. I experienced hell in what should have been a place of refuge and peace for me. Sometimes it was a hell more fiery than chronic illness; one I wouldn't wish on anyone, not even those who do the hurting.

I wanted to share my story briefly for those who may need some hope and encouragement. (I endeavour to share it in full at some point but for now I am just dipping my toes in the water.)

Throughout the difficulties, insensitive words and hurtful actions I encountered in church, I felt completely alone. It appeared I was the only one in the congregation who dreaded attending church. For many years it felt like I was the only person in the world who was struggling to find acceptance, support, encouragement and friendship at church. The hell I endured felt like it was somehow my fault, that there must have been something wrong with me, that I was unworthy and just not good enough.

It wasn't until I had honest conversations with some Christians about my feelings and fears that I discovered I was in very good company. Churches aren't perfect; there are people all over the world who have been hurt by careless Christians. It was an incredible relief to know I wasn't alone in navigating the deep waters of church hurt and comforting (as well as saddening) to hear that my experiences were not unique.

Source: Symphony

It's important to know you're not alone, so I want to let you know that I too understand what it feels like to have your spirit crushed by people who you thought the world of. 

For years I questioned my faith and the goodness of God after finding myself lost and broken in the wilderness because of how a group of Christians treated me. For years I doubted if I would ever enjoy church again and find a place I could truly call home. For years I struggled with self doubt; I felt unworthy, useless, unlikeable. For years I prayed that God would lead me to a more supportive, nurturing and accepting church where I could grow and flourish. There were many moments I doubted the church I was longing for existed.

Just over a year ago I discovered that it existed when I picked myself back up, gathered all the courage I could find, and got myself through the doors of a church I felt God was calling me to. I started afresh and trusted God again by giving another church a chance, and I haven't looked back.

That new church glow.

After several years since walking away from the church that was no longer right for me, God is answering my prayers. I am now connected in an amazing church I feel God has planted me in to bloom. I am surrounded by supportive, kind, encouraging and genuinely caring people. I am meeting the people I've prayed to meet. I'm now receiving the support I've desired my entire journey with chronic illness, and I'm seeing dramatic improvement with anxiety and depression. It makes me proud and happy to say I am finally enjoying church again.

I was scrolling through Pinterest when this quote hit me in the face. Whoa. It's what I've been trusting God for- that he would fix what is broken, make things right and put me back together even stronger. I can already see His hand in bringing me out better off than I was before.

No church is perfect but no church should be a place of immense hurt, struggle, pain, isolation and despair. To sum up my past hurtful experiences in a nutshell: The church I was in just didn't care. They didn't value or respect me like they should have and they sure didn't care that I was struggling with having my life upended by chronic illness. They proved this time and time again but I wanted to believe they cared. I spent years trying to force them to care because the church should care. But you can't force people to care.

It was hurtful to accept that they didn't care but it was also powerful and life-changing after many years of denial. Believing the church that treated me like they didn't care, then walking away has been the best thing I've ever done because I've now discovered a church full of people who genuinely care. I've found my tribe.

If my church hurt experience and my journey to finding a new church home has taught me anything it's this: Your church should be your sanctuary. And if it isn't? Leave. Hightail it out of there. You are allowed to leave. You are allowed to have standards and expectations. You deserve to be heard, supported and valued. You deserve to feel welcome and included. You deserve to belong. You deserve better because you are a loved child of God.

If people are mistreating you, the best thing you can do is believe their actions and believe that you deserve better. It's time to hold your head up high, know your worth, and go find your tribe. God has a place for you out there and there is hope after church hurt. You can get back up again. No matter how broken you are, you are not destroyed.

Though badly hurt at times, we are not destroyed. {2 Corinthians 4:9}


Wednesday, February 27, 2019

March & April 2019 Goals


Following on from sharing about the big goals I'm trying to work towards over the next few years, I thought I'd share the little goals I plan to focus on every couple of months, however mundane they may be. I enjoy blogging about my goals because it helps give me the motivation and determination to see tasks completed and goals achieved. Declaring my goals gives me accountability and fuels my desire to succeed. It also helps me enjoy the process of working towards a goal and celebrate the small victories along the way; I'm learning to be proud of my progress.


I'm not confident I'll be able to accomplish everything I want to over the next two months as I've got a bunch of new symptoms on my plate, but I will sure try my best. Here's what I'm aiming to achieve:


Clean out kitchen cupboards and reorganise

Why I want to achieve this goal: I'm not proud of it but my kitchen shelves have turned into a pigsty. Before illness I used to be an organised neat freak and I want to get as close as I can to being that person again. I want to see everything I have at a glance without needing to pull several things out to get to something. I want to make writing grocery lists easier, and cooking more enjoyable.

What is holding me back? What obstacles am I facing? The design of our apartment's kitchen storage is frustrating and challenging. Case in point: there is a tiny cupboard which is only good for storing things like long life milk. I'm still struggling with maximising cupboard space three years in. Out of frustration I've adopted an ''Oh well'' approach and things get shoved wherever they fit. The way some cupboards were designed means I have no choice but to stack things in front of other needed items, so having an organised and functional kitchen feels like an impossible challenge.


Our infamous milk cupboard.

How am I going to accomplish this goal? Search Pinterest for inspiration and try out some different storage solutions for small spaces. Shopping for kitchen storage that ''sparks joy'' will also help motivate me to create and keep more visually appealing cupboards.

My reward: New kitchen decor from Kmart and Ikea.


Investigate new symptoms

Why I want to achieve this goal: I encountered some new, uncomfortable and persistent symptoms towards the end of last year- drenching body sweats, flank pain, and shortness of breath with minimal exertion. Initially, it was diagnosed as a UTI, then a virus turned post-viral syndrome. For now, it's being labelled as part of my fibromyalgia, which I don't feel it is. All of this is hard to deal with on top of my other problems so I want to find the cause, and hopefully a treatment or cure as soon as possible.

What is holding me back? What obstacles am I facing? Negative test results so far mean that doctors aren't taking this as seriously as I'd like them to, and they don't understand how uncomfortable these symptoms are to live with daily. My regular GP seems confident to chalk these symptoms up to fibromyalgia and hyperhidrosis, which is a problem because I know my body best. This is my thirteenth year living with fibromyalgia, so I'm well acquainted with what symptoms are ''normal'' for me. I know what pain and symptoms are most likely from a flare-up and when things are really out of the ordinary, like now.

What is my life?!


Also, conflicting advice is a problem that strikes again. My integrative doctor has recommended I see my rheumatologist for these symptoms to rule out rheumatoid arthritis because it can cause sweating and fevers. This frustrates me immensely because my GP told me that it's muscular when I questioned if it could be arthritis coming back (I've been in remission for the last 18 months). I'm at my wit's end and have reached the point where I don't want to see doctors any more. I've had enough.

How am I going to accomplish this goal? See my rheumatologist and gynaecologist to have arthritis and endometriosis medication side effects ruled out. Attend my echocardiogram appointment as recommended by my GP just in case we happen to ''Catch the beginning of something''.

My reward: I think I deserve a box of doughnuts or a celebratory cake after sorting out this nightmare.


Catch up with one or two friends from church

Why I want to achieve this goal: I haven't had much contact with anyone from church so far this year because I've been focussing on dealing with new symptoms, but I'm beginning to feel depressed so I need to hang out with some uplifting people for my mental health's sake. I want to get to know friends better and make my social life more of a priority.

What is holding me back? What obstacles am I facing? Brain fog and mental fatigue crushes my confidence and makes holding a conversation incredibly challenging at times. Usually I have an attention span of 10-15 minutes before my brain slows down and I have trouble recalling words and processing what people say. It's embarrassing. There have been many times when conversations have given me intense mental fatigue and eye pain which is very difficult to cope with. CFS is frustratingly absurd and I don't think I will ever come to understand it.

How will I accomplish this goal? Ask someone I've been meaning to catch up with to meet for a coffee on a week where I have no other energy demanding activities.

My reward: The obvious reward here is coffee... well, a chai latte for me because I'm trying to do low caffeine.


Clean my shower  

Why I want to achieve this goal: My shower is getting grotty and we have an upcoming rental inspection, so it needs a good clean.

What is holding me back? What obstacles am I facing? Cleaning my shower is a chore that sucks the most energy from me, so I'm not motivated to get it sparkling clean.

My spirit animal. Image via Pinterest.

How am I going to accomplish this goal? Concentrate on one section each day instead of cleaning everything in one hit- wall tiles one day, glass screens the next, followed by floor tiles.

My reward: Spend a gift voucher on some new bathroom decor.


Complete 3-4 craft projects

Sneak peek of bookends I made for my sister.

Why I want to achieve this goal: I want to make some beautiful birthday gifts as well as some cute Easter cards if I have the time and energy. I've just finished a birthday gift for my sister using some lovely Kasiercraft goodies I got during their boxing day sale, so now that's done, I want to focus on completing a gift for my mum. It was supposed to be finished for her birthday in April last year but the project turned out to be more work and way more challenging than I was expecting. I've had to take a long break from the project as it was doing my head in. I feel like a terrible daughter, so I'm determined to get it finished and make it as beautiful as I can for her birthday this year.

What is holding me back? What obstacles am I facing? Cognitive dysfunction because of fatigue can make crafting challenging, and sometimes it's hard to get motivated.

How am I going to accomplish this goal? Craft in 20 minute blocks whenever I can.

My reward: Check out a craft store I haven't been to. There's a paper craft store I've been meaning to check out just 15 minutes drive from me. Having a peruse through will be a nice reward once I've finished all my planned projects.


Change blog name and template

Why I want to achieve this goal: I've been wanting to change my blog name for a few years now as I'm not the only Chronically Creative any more. I'm now one of several bloggers and Instagrammers with this name and it no longer feels like my own. Now it looks like I'm copying others and I don't like it. I don't want to be associated with these people, I enjoy travelling in my own lane and doing my own thing. So it's time for a name change, a new look, and a new direction.

What is holding me back? What obstacles am I facing? Feeling like it's to late to change names and ''re-brand'' after so many years. I'm terrified of making mistakes when it comes to changing things over and fear I'll permanently stuff up my blog as I'm unsure of how to change my domain name. (Google instructions are very confusing and I don't know if some of them even apply to my account.)

How am I going to accomplish this goal? Run blog name ideas past some friends, find a new blog template that best reflects the new name, and pray before I make any changes.

My reward: Pizza and board games night with a friend.

Fingers crossed I still have a blog come May.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Sparkle Christmas Cards



I'm disappointed that I wasn't able to get a post up before Christmas detailing the cards I made and sent out in December. Chronic illness is a real pest like that, it never lets me do all the Christmassy things I want to do. It was a Christmas miracle though that I could even make 18 cards and get them sent out just in time, let alone write about them, so I did pretty well considering.

So today I'm excited to share my Christmas card-making adventure with you. Yes, a Christmas post in February! I'm a mess but let's just roll with it...

Back in August when Kaisercraft released their first Christmas collection for 2018, Sparkle, I fell deeply in love. The pink, the glitter, the blooms, the marble, the rose gold- what a stunning combination. I knew this was the collection I wanted to create some Christmas magic with, so when it went on sale in mid-August I used a bad pain night to my advantage and got my online order in at 12.30 am before everything sold out; which it did, apparently before 7 am. (You gotta get in early because us crafty bitches mean business.) 

Getting the gorgeous craft supplies you want at half price is a great consolation for terrible pain, I reckon. If only retail therapy was covered by health insurance. It seriously needs to be a thing.

While I had planned to make my cards before December rolled around, important things kept demanding my energy so I didn't get started on them until the first week of December. It was a stressful time but also a fun and rewarding one. Making and posting Christmas cards became a priority because it had been a few years since I'd done it because of moving house, and I wanted it to be a little thank you to some special people who helped me last year.

I was blessed to have my mum clean for me so I could focus on finishing my cards. Without her these cards probably wouldn't be possible. I also had to sacrifice a lot to get them done and missed out on doing so many Christmas activities, but I think it was worth it. Luckily I finished them in time and got them sent out at the end of the second week of December. Phew. The sense of achievement I felt when I popped them in the post was unbeatable. I felt like I had just defeated Goliath.

 I was so impressed with myself and proud of what I made despite intense mental fatigue. While I would have loved to have come up with more elaborate designs with more textures and layers, I didn't have the time or energy to experiment; I had to keep them simple, but stunning.

At first I didn't quite know what to do with the papers. I found them intimidating because most of the designs already had a lot going on so I wasn't sure how to go about layering. After some trial and error and having a look at what others had done on Instagram, I quickly got in the groove and the ideas kept flowing. I am still bursting with them! All products used are Kaisercraft unless otherwise stated.


Reindeer Radiance

Materials used: Francheville A6 Cardstock- White; Sparkle Radiance 12x12 Scrapbook Paper; Sparkle Paper Pad; Decorative Die- Reindeer; American Crafts Christmas Glitter Speciality Paper Pad.

I've had this reindeer decorative die in my stash for quite some time now but haven't made good use of it until now. I guess I was waiting for the right moment and for some inspiration to strike, and the Sparkle Collection provided it. When I saw the beautiful rose gold marble paper, I knew I had to try pairing it with the reindeer decorative die; and it's the perfect match. I added a strip of the Sparkle Shiny paper so that the reindeer doesn't get lost in the marble paper and is the focal point of the card.


Glint Glam 

Materials used: 12x12 weave cardstock- Tutu; Sparkle Glint 12x12 Scrapbook Paper; Sparkle Paper Pad; Decorative Die- Christmas Pine; Rhinestones- Black.

It's a tough pick but I think this is my favourite out of the six cards I made. It's a simple one to throw together so I love how it turned out looking more glamorous than simple. I found the poinsettia paper the most difficult to incorporate in a card but I love how it looks as a backdrop for the Christmas Pine Die Cut. I also love the strip of the gorgeous Vivacity paper (glitter side) as a layering base; it's so pretty and magical! 

For an easy sentiment (I had no time for stamping), I used one from the Sparkle Paper Pad and attached it with foam squares. For the tree I die cut two using my Cuttlebug and stuck them together with foam squares, then glued the base down flat on the card. Using foam squares gives the tree a 3D effect which helps it stand out from the busyness of the poinsettia paper. Black rhinestones hide the spots where the foam adhesive pokes through, which I incidentally found helped tie everything together nicely. I didn't cover the whole tree with rhinestones as I didn't have enough but I kind of like it that way; it's quirky.


Bauble Aglow

Materials used: Sparkle Aglow 12x12 Scrapbook Paper; 12x12 weave cardstock- Snow; Rhinestones- Silver; Decorative Die Script Bauble; Sparkle Clear Collectables.

When I saw the Bauble Script Decorative Die Cut from Kaisercraft in Spotlight, I knew I wanted to use it with this collection somehow. This was the first card I came up with and the one that took the most work. The die cuts are intricate and delicate, making them difficult to glue down. The glitter cardstock I cut them with also didn't help the situation. My fingers were covered in glue trying to wrangle glitter paper into place; as much as I love working with glitter it was a bit of a nightmare. I ended up piling the glue on and wiping away the excess with a baby wipe.

When arranging my mentally planned layout for this card on my desk I thought it looked great, so I went ahead with it. But once everything was glued in place I didn't feel as happy with it. I haven't put my finger on what's not right yet, maybe it's the alignment? I questioned if I should have put the tree die cut in the centre and flowers on both sides, but picturing that in my head didn't look right either. In the end I sent them as is because I didn't have time to experiment. Then I saw the card sitting on my auntie's kitchen mantle and I suddenly liked it more. It looked better and prettier up on that mantle which made me feel better about sending it. If I saw this card in a shop or on display at a market, I'd probably buy it, so it's not that bad. I still want to experiment with this decorative die though.


A Vivacity Christmas

Materials used: Sparkle Radiance 12x12 Scrapbook Paper; Francheville A6 Cardstock- White; Sparkle Paper Pad.

I used the flip side of the marble paper (Sparkle Radiance) as the base for this card. This was such a fun, quick card to throw together. I love how the strip of glitter elevates everything and how the fussy cut poinsettias add a cute finishing touch that's perfect for a dreamy Pink Christmas.


Glistening Reindeer

Materials used: 12x12 weave cardstock- Tutu; Sparkle Glistening 12x12 Scrapbook Paper; Sparkle Paper Pad; Decorative Die- Reindeer; American Crafts Christmas Speciality Paper Pad.

To keep things easy, I used the same layout as Reindeer Radiance for this card. To switch things up, I used the gorgeous pink and rose gold snowflake paper. I was contemplating on whether to use a rose gold coloured reindeer as well but I think the gold glitter stands out more and exudes elegance.


Reindeer Joy

Materials used: Kaisercard 12x12 weave cardstock- Coal; Sparkle Illuminate 12x12 Scrapbook Paper; Decorative Dies Words Joy; Sparkle Paper Pad.

This rose gold reindeer paper is to die for. Initially, I planned to combine this paper with some others in the collection but decided it made a beautiful card all on its own. I attached the paper to black cardstock and to make the card pop I used Kaisercraft's die cut sentiment 'Joy', which I cut from the rose gold paper in the paper pad. I glued the top half of the sentiment to the card and left the bottom unglued so it stands out and doesn't look too flat. It's such a cute and simple card to make, which I see being my go-to when a last minute Christmas card is needed.

I think the Sparkle Collection may be my favourite Kaisercraft Christmas release to date. I recommend getting your crafty hands on the entire collection if you can. It's absolutely gorgeous and such fun to create with. I stocked up on the collection during their Boxing Day sale- that's how much I love it!

Now I'm looking forward to sitting down and having a stress free play with these papers with no time constraints. I have a few more ideas I'm keen to try, and I'd like to take these simple layouts to the next level.

Which card is your favourite?

PS: I'm experimenting with font because Blogger is a wally, so bear with me. xx


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