Thursday, July 06, 2017

miracles still happen

Hello friends! This week marks eight weeks since my pacemaker replacement surgery. I thought it might be a good idea to give an update on my health and how it's gone since the surgery.

I had a complication with my surgery that I have not spoken publicly about. The first six weeks after my surgery were really some of the hardest days I've ever lived through. It's kind of a long story but it's too amazing not to tell!

When my pacemaker was initially put in, it was down deep, under a muscle. I had a scar but it was completely smooth to the touch and I really forgot that I had a pacemaker 99% of the time.

Flash forward to my replacement surgery on May 9th by a new heart doctor. Because of the urgent nature of the surgery, I did not speak to him about the procedure before going in. I met with him once weeks before but he was irritated with me for not getting the surgery the next day so our conversation was brief. On that day, he did not tell me that he was going to put the pacemaker in a different place! He certainly did not tell me he was going to put it so close under my skin that it stuck up and you could see the outline of it and even feel a button on top of it. (Gross, I know!)

Because of this, I was in excruciating pain after the surgery. The nerve endings around the pacemaker absolutely went wild. I could not walk, sit, lay down or breathe without being in pain. I didn't sleep for weeks. I didn't discover the reason until two weeks in because I was too queasy to look at it, I thought it was just the normal pain of healing. When I finally felt under the bandage and realized the device was sticking up, I almost couldn't breathe. Even now it makes my heart race just to type that, it was so horrible. The only way I can describe the pain is that it felt like I had an IV inserted in a place that was painful. I wanted to rip the device out of my body. I won't go into it, but I had horrifying thoughts about it.

Four weeks in, I saw the wound care nurse and told her how miserable I was and she said that different doctors put them in different places and she hated that I was in so much pain. Then she said the words I did not want to hear. She said, "Well this device is good for 14 years so he will not want you to be in pain that long. Every once in a while, we do have to go in and move the device. I'm making you an appointment for the end of August and you can tell him then if you need to have a second surgery."

All I could think of was the horrible experience I had the day of my surgery. It took seven hours to get an IV in me and get the surgery done. I did not want to go through that again! We drove home with me crying and asking Mike what to do and trying not to think about it or breathe or move so it wouldn't hurt as bad. I lived every day in limbo, not knowing what to do but miserable.

Then two weeks ago, I went to my friend's cabin. We had a wonderful time but it seemed like the pain escalated. She has a big SUV you step up into and it hurt me to get in and out. Her beds are the most comfy ever but I did not sleep the whole time. I was in so much pain and trying not to take pain pills but taking one every so often to just drift off to sleep. Then I would move and wake up and moan all night. I decided while at the cabin that I just could not live with the pain. Six weeks had gone by with no relief so I decided to schedule the surgery for this week, the first week of July.

Now comes the good part! I came home that weekend and went to church and there is a couple that prays for me when I need it. I told them what was happening and they prayed exactly the words I needed to hear. I sat back down on the pew and put my hand inside my shirt and felt it sticking up and it was pricking me to the point of almost having to go to the car and lay down. It felt like I was being shocked repeatedly.

Then...something wonderful happened. Wednesday of that week, I was in the kitchen with Mike and I said, "Mike!!!!! I just realized I haven't been in pain for two days!" He said, "What???" I said, "Yes! I absolutely have forgotten all about it!" We were both amazed and happy but I will be honest, I was still going to get the surgery. The thought of it sticking up was just tearing me to pieces! Seeing it through my skin was so disconcerting. I even had some shirts I could no longer wear. The pain was better on some days but would come and go. I laid in bed one night and said, "God, you are going to have to heal me. I cannot take this sticking up and I cannot live with this pain for 14 years. I know you have not brought me this far to leave me. I am giving it to you and letting go of the worry." And I did. I let it go. I made peace with having surgery or Him healing me. It would be up to Him to decide.

The next week, I was dropping off Caroline at work and I randomly put my hand in my shirt to feel the scar, as I had been doing often, and it was completely smooth. I screamed! I put my mirror down and looked at it in the mirror and you could not see it at all. There is a little bit of a shadow but you cannot see the outline of it or anything and it feels exactly as it did before. To be honest, if this had not happened to me, I probably would be skeptical about it, even though I know what a mighty God I serve, but I'm telling you, it is as flat as before. I feel it all day long now to make sure it still is and I still can't believe it. I cried my way out of the parking lot that day and called my family to let them know and they all cried too!

Slowly but surely I've gained more strength every day since. Last Monday, I woke up feeling refreshed and back to my old self. I attacked my house and this week I'm attacking my to do list. I am still a little weak and get winded quickly but praise God, for the most part, I'm not in pain. I'm having some shoulder pain which I had for years after my last surgery but Mike works on it for me. I can sleep again and have a peaceful rest.

All I can say is God blows my mind! I'm living in a state of thankfulness for all He has done for me.

I'll end this long story by saying we are still negotiating with the hospital on the cost of the surgery. I have a big stack of bills on my desk but we haven't paid any of them yet. The money donated ($8K) by my friends and listeners is still set aside and we will apply it to what we owe as soon as we figure out what that amount is. I found out today that the discounts we were promised were not applied so we are working with a financial counselor to get the final cost. Right now it's quite a bit more than we thought it would be but I am hoping we can get the cost down. It really doesn't worry me, God has brought me this far and will work it out for me.

I'm working my way through the list of donors and sending thank you e-mails, crying, reading their notes to me on each donation, saying they are praying for me and wishing me well. I should have sent them sooner but the last seven weeks, I was in so much pain, my life kind of fell apart around me. I faked it a lot of the time, taping podcasts and posting on Instagram and talking in our group and going about my life but my family and Tiffany will tell you, I couldn't even have a meal without moaning. I was miserable! I am just so glad to be through it all. I have experienced chronic pain before, after my last surgery, but this was a new level of horror.

The thing that has kept me going through it all, other than the grace and peace of God, is my family and friends, both local and online. I've received so many cards and messages and kindness from so many people. I thank God for the life I've been given. He's been talking to me about how I can repay people for their kindness and I feel Him urging me to give things away like classes and content and my life, as much as I can. I have plans to do just that!

I want to end this by saying that this trial has brought me to a new place in my relationship with God and my husband. It has increased my faith and trust in God in a way that is indescribable. As far as Mike goes, we have been married almost 26 years and I have always had a great relationship with him, but I've never known kindness from him like I have from him these past eight weeks. I have complained and carried on and he has held me, literally, mentally and emotionally. Even today, he text me the longest texts giving me scripture and wisdom to carry me through what I have to do. I could not have gotten through any of this without him. Really, I feel like I have fallen in love with him all over again. My Mom and sister have been wonderful and my dearest friends have kept in touch, asking me how I am and telling me they are praying for me daily. I could go on and on but I'll hush now and dry my tears from writing this and let you get back to your life!

Thank you for taking time to read this and for being in my life. God bless you and if you ever need a miracle, I would love to pray for you. Just e-mail me at I will even call you on the phone and pray with you. It's the least I can do after all God has done for me! If you don't know Him, or if you've lost faith somewhere along the way, I hope this encourages you to talk to Him. He's waiting with open arms and loves you so much.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

a Mother's Day freebie for you

I saw this beautiful plate in my Mother's house today and admired the words...

So I did a little lettering to make my Mom a card and thought I would share. Here it is several ways. Right click and save. This is sized to 4x6. If you'd like to print, I will probably need to e-mail you a copy so e-mail me at and let me know which version, 1-4 and I will send it back to you from my iPad where I created it. Enjoy!

If you share this on social media, please tag me! Thanks!

Happy Mother's Day to everyone! XO!

Friday, March 03, 2017

live inspired: six strategies for organizing your craft area

This week on the Live Inspired podcast, I'm talking about one of my favorite topics: organizing!

As you may know, I recently reorganized my entire studio and when I was done, I had a lot of thoughts about the best way to organize for maximum creativity and productivity. If you're feeling overwhelmed by your stash, this is the show for you; in it I offer six easy tips to help you tame your stash.

Here's my studio before my reorganization....

I've moved my desk to be parallel to the desk on the left wall. I'll share a video in the next few days that shows you exactly how it looks now!

I hope these tips inspired you and that you enjoyed listening to my tips!

There's still time to sign up for the Nashville Scrap Gals Retreat! Click this image to learn more...

Have a great weekend!

Friday, February 17, 2017

live inspired: craft a life you love with amy tangerine

This week, on the Live Inspired podcast, I'm talking to Amy Tangerine about her amazing new book, "Craft a Life You Love."

Amy's book offers proven tips for boosting your creativity. This inspiring workbook is a step-by-step guide to help you work through your creative obstacles. In this show, Amy and I discuss my favorite parts of the book and why it's so important to find time for creativity.

I know I say it a hilarious amount of times in the show but this book really is life-changing. My must-have books for creativity now are:

1) Clean and Simple by Cathy Zielske
2) The Big Picture by Stacy Julian
3) Craft a Life You Love by Amy Tangerine

I am looking forward to filling in each of the workbook prompts and I know this is a book I will read again and again. In fact, I'm starting over at the beginning this weekend. If you want to get in the creative zone and find out why you're not already - get this book!

The Nashville Scrap Gals Retreat is filling up quickly! Registration ends March 15, 2017. We must close it then to secure a venue and sponsors. You can find out more about the retreat by clicking the image below...

Let me know what you think about this week's Live Inspired and if you've read Amy's book, let me know your favorite part!

Friday, February 10, 2017

live inspired: kellie stamps owner, kellie winnell

This week, on the Live Inspired podcast, I'm talking to Kellie Stamps Owner, Kellie Winnell about her prolific scrapbooking.

Kellie shares how and why she makes time for memory keeping and why her personal Project Life album makes her happy. We discuss scrapbooking in a planner, random Traveler's Notebook inserts, Project Life in 9x12 and tips for remembering to take photos daily.

Kellie is a delight and I'm so happy to know her. She is someone who truly inspires me to JUST DO IT! :) I hope you feel the same way after listening to this show!

Be sure to check out Kellie's lovely line of stamps and other products and read her awesome blog at the links below:

Registration for our Scrap Gals Nashville retreat opens today (Friday, 2/10) at 5:00 pm Central! Registration will be a product in my shop, click the shop tab above at registration time. You may either register with a $100 deposit or pay the full amount of $295. Find out more details by clicking this image....

Don't forget, registration for our Scrap Gals Salt Lake City retreat closes at the same time. If you are interested in registering for Salt Lake City but were unable to by today, please e-mail me at and I can hold a spot for you. We have only four spots left so don't delay! 

Friday, February 03, 2017

live inspired: the beauty of minimalism with jen carlson

This week, on the Live Inspired podcast, I'm talking to Jen Carlson.

Jen designs for Ali Edwards, Kelly Purkey and One Little Bird. Her striking and minimalist designs are truly inspiring. Jen and I discuss scrapping 6x8, her love for pockets, how she developed her style and her carefully curated Instagram feed.

I really love Jen's striking and clean style. She has such a great eye for design and I think her scrapbooking seems very doable. Often we see examples of scrapbooking online that are beautiful but seem a bit out of touch. Jen's style is striking in its simplicity so I think that's why it inspires me so. I love artsy and fussy pages but my heart will always be with a clean and simple style.

I hope you'll take a moment to check Jen's work out at these links:

Thanks for listening and stopping by!

Friday, January 27, 2017

live inspired: the frugal crafter's lindsay weirich

This week, on the Live Inspired podcast, I'm talking to Lindsay Weirich aka The Frugal Crafter.

Lindsay has an astonishing 300,000+ on YouTube so when I saw her channel and heard her enthusiasm for crafting, I knew I had to talk to her! We discuss her video titled Is Scrapbooking Dead? and Lindsay offers some very wise insight into the decline of interest in our hobby in recent years. She also gives us lots of practical tips on living a life of creativity.

I loved talking to Lindsay about art and scrapbooking. It's fun to connect with someone new and instantly have a lot in common. I really had some a-ha moments during the show thanks to her. I will be mulling over my new thoughts on the decline of scrapbooking for a while after this episode.

I hope you'll take a moment to check Lindsay out at these links:

If you'd like to check out Lindsay's Class on Craftsy "Mix It Up, Mixed Media Step by Step," click this link to purchase with a 50% off coupon code! 

Lindsay is also teaching in a collab called "Life Book" with 23 artists teaching mixed media techniques! Here's a link to Life Book. Use the coupon code FIREWORKS2017 for 20% off discount valid through 1/31/17.

Finally, here's a link to Lindsay's to Angela Fehr's "Creative Watercolour" course. Lindsay was a guest teacher in this class and she offers 45 minutes of incredible content. This course is aimed at hobbyists and papercrafters.

Be sure to check her out!

If you'd like more information on The Scrap Gals Retreat in Salt Lake City, April 28-30, 2017, click this link. We would love to have you join us there for a weekend of fun!! Registration is now open, at this link. 

Monday, January 23, 2017

on disagreeing

I've been thinking a lot recently about the division that is currently happening in our country. We are in a time of civil unrest and there is a clear division on many issues. Every day, I see hateful rhetoric and name calling from both sides that makes me ashamed of the human race. Every single day. 

This leads me to believe many people are lacking a skill that is vital to the success of America: the ability to disagree respectfully. 

One of my best friends sat on my couch this weekend and we had a three hour conversation about politics and religion. Yes, politics and religion. We each shared our viewpoint on our faith, the election and current affairs and guess what? Although we are on opposite sides politically, we agree on many issues.

On the issues we don't agree on, we can at least understand the other's point of view. She understands that I am not going to waiver on some of my beliefs. I understand that she sees the world through a different lens and is more open minded in her interpretation of how the world should be. During our conversation, we didn't just talk to each other....we listened to each other.

When you love someone, you make an effort to truly understand them and you go on loving them, even when you disagree. During the three hours, not one hateful word was spoken.

You see that is the the way of disagreeing, there can be no hatefulness. There can be no name calling. You will never win anyone to your side by calling them a name. Arrogance is unappealing. Vulgarity never impresses. Profanity is unnecessary and disrespectful. Respect for your argument is only gained when you can present it in a kind and gentle way.

Speaking of respect, did you know you can disagree with someone and still respect the office they hold? I have disagreed with many presidents, politicians and even pastors but I still showed them the respect they deserve. I am teaching my child to do the same. I am raising a child who understands that people in authority deserve respect. Were we not all taught that from a young age?

When you disagree hatefully, you lose credibility; your argument loses all merit. Even if there is a grain of truth to what you say...the truth is lost among the hate. It boils down to this: I cannot respect you if you disrespect people who do not share your opinion. Disagree...don't disrespect because disrespect causes division.

This is a lesson Americans (and our children) desperately need to learn.

Friday, January 20, 2017

live inspired: the always inspiring stacy julian

This week, on the Live Inspired podcast, I am so honored to have as my guest, the always inspiring, Stacy Julian.

If you've listened to me for any length of time, you know that my approach to scrapbooking is very influenced by Stacy's philosophies and writings on the subject. We chat about her scrapbooking journey from taking a beginner's class to teaching core composition to becoming the Founding Editor of Simple Scrapbooks and Creator of Big Picture Classes. We'll find out what she's up to now and hear some words of wisdom from her about making our memory keeping more meaningful.

I started out this show feeling giddy and by the middle I was absorbed in her story to the point that I had to remind myself I was the host of the show. ha! By the end of the show, I felt tears rising as I realized what a profound affect Stacy's words have had on my life. Listening to her makes me remember why I am a memory keeper. This hobby is so important!

If you aren't already following Stacy Julian, I highly recommend you go now and follow her on Instagram, Facebook and at her blog.

If you only read one thing from her, read this blog post.

Here's a sneak at the project we discussed from Stacy's class called The 20% Club. You can still take four months of this class at Big Picture Classes. If you don't have a membership, sign up for a free trial! 

Hopefully she will get her books online soon but if you'd like to buy a used copy, here's a link to sellers on Amazon that have a copy of The Big Picture. It will change the way you think about memory keeping! 

I also love, love, love her book Photo Freedom and her book Simple Scrapbooks

If you'd like to learn more about The Scrap Gals Retreat in Salt Lake City, April 28-30, click this photo...

Thanks for all your support for my first 50 episodes of Live Inspired and thank you to my darling husband, Mike Claiborne, for composing my new theme song. It makes me so happy!! 

Friday, January 13, 2017

live inspired: documenting 2017 with crafty jen schow

This week, on the Live Inspired podcast, Crafty Jen Schow and I discuss documenting 2017 with Project Life. We also share our thoughts on social media: the role it plays in our life and how we can use it to inspire us.

We are super excited about our upcoming cruise to the Eastern Caribbean! We would love for you to join us February 11-18, 2018. Here's a picture from our last cruise. This ship is similar to the one we will cruise on. The upcoming cruise will be on The Oasis of the Seas by Royal Caribbean.

Can't wait to see that blue green water again! We'll be going to St. Maarten, Puerto Rico and my favorite, the private resort at Labadee, Haiti. I requested these spots and the lovely ladies at Cruise and Crop worked with us to find just the right cruise. We are making big plans for our classes and crop time on the cruise. To register or find more info, click this link.

The number one thing I'm excited about seeing is this beach where the plane flies right over you at St. Maarten!! Amazing! My friend went and said it makes you cry from the sheer awe of it.

Can you believe it? I'm going to stand right under that plane and take a million pictures!

Hope you can join us!