Friday, November 27, 2015

The 25 Books Of Christmas

Now that I'm 30-something years old, I get to give myself a Christmas present!

Ok, so I put a gift in my own stocking a couple of years ago because it was something small that I really wanted - but that doesn't really count, right?

So I'm reading a story about Christmas, since it's almost December already, and they were promoting reading with children. The suggestion was to give them a stack of books on December 1 and let them open one each day until Christmas.

I love this idea for two reasons:
1. I love books!
2. All children should be given the gift of reading.

If you have children, I beg you to do this for them. You don't have to spend a fortune, either. Just keep your eyes open for books at sales, thrift shops and consignment stores. The dollar store here always has shelves full of books, and there's usually a bin of kids' books at the grocery store, too.

Don't stop there. Read with them. Have them read to you. Read in different voices. Have them retell you the store just by looking at the pictures. This may be the best time you'll have this Christmas season.

And if you don't have kids, you can do what I am - do it for yourself! I have a stack of 25 just waiting to be read. I'd love to read one whole book every day, as I often do, as a present to myself. There is a variety of topics and lengths in here, and most of them came from discount book sales and thrift shops. And having them all wrapped up is a good thing - I've already forgotten what half of them are, so it really will be a surprise!

Share the gift of reading this Christmas with someone special.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

A Day Of Thanks And Giving

On this special day, may the Lord bless the food before you, the loved ones around you and the love between you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

DIY Fabric Napkin Rings

'Tis the season to decorate your holiday table! And don't just bring out the same things you used last year - create something fun and different, something that everyone will enjoy.

On our Thanksgiving table, we're going to use my holiday napkin fold. For more information on making it, click here. The burlap and flower napkin ring pictured here is a variation on that theme. The other three napkin rings are made from two old sweaters and the jeans I used to make my craft shop apron.

They're incredibly easy and fun to make. You could use this as a kids' craft at any holiday, or turn it into a seasonal tradition in your family. All you need are the sleeves from some old sweaters and paper towel tubes.

Cut each tube into three or four sections, then cut the sleeve off the sweater, leaving the cuff. 

Use hot glue to attach the sweater piece to the tube, leaving an overhang of fabric on either end.

Then lay it down and glue the sweater the rest of the way around.

Trim off the excess fabric, leaving just a little bit to tuck inside.

 It's ok if it's a little ragged, since this part won't show.

Run a line of hot glue around the inside edge of the tube and fold the fabric over. Don't press it down with your fingers, as the glue is very hot and will seep through the holes in the sweater. Instead, use your scissors or a popsicle stick to press it down firmly.

I was able to use this same process with the denim, making a cute little set of napkin rings. Why throw those old clothes out when you can make something clever with them?

Monday, November 23, 2015

Direct Responses To Your Questions

There are hundreds of questions asked in the Old Testament. Abraham asks how God could use two older people to bring life into the world. Moses questions why God chose him. The Israelites question Moses about wandering in the wilderness for so long. Gideon asks how God plans to use him to save Israel. On and on its goes.

We may shake our heads at the wishy-washy tendencies of the Israelites as they wandered in the wilderness, but we might have done the same thing if we were in their sandals. We laugh at how Abraham thought he and Sarah were too old to have children, but isn't our God fully capable of doing anything? And we accuse Gideon of not having faith in the Lord's decisions, but we seem surprised when God answers prayers and uses us for His glory.

The New Testament is no different. Now that Jesus was walking on earth, He was physically present to hear their questions. They weren't always pleased with the answer, but they were meeting face to face with the Son of God and posing their questions.

In all of these situations, both the questions and the answers were recorded. This is a blessing in disguise, as we now have the opportunity to read God's answers in the Old Testament and Christ's answers in the New testament. Many of them are variations of the questions that we would ask ourselves, and now we can read the back of the book and see how it turns out.

One of the best examples of this is in the book of Matthew.

But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Matthew 22:34-35

The Pharisees ask Jesus a seemingly simple question, but it was asked to tempt Him, just to see what He would say. This is the same Son of God who just stop the Sadducees in their tracks with His answers, and the Pharisees wanted the same opportunity - puzzling the One who puzzled the Sadducees, as Matthew Henry once wrote.

Jesus' response was immediate and simple.

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. Matthew 22:36-40

While we could study His response itself for days, let's focus on the bigger picture here. The Pharisees asked Jesus a question that we might have asked Him ourselves that day. They wanted to trip Him up and guessed at what His answer would be, but we would have asked out of a need to know the truth. When this question crosses our hearts and minds, we only have to turn to Matthew 22:37-40 to hear the response. No mixed message, no misunderstandings - just answers.

Do you have a question? Search the Scriptures.
Do you wonder about something? Read until you find the answer.
Do you wish you could ask God something specific? Someone long before you probably did, and their question and answer session will be in your Bible, too.

Scripture is an amazing resource filled with answers to life's greatest questions. The writers heard the question and recorded the answer, and the Lord worked very carefully to preserve it for us today.

Don't sit around letting questions run through your mind. Ask them in prayer and search for the answers in God's Word.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Sunday Sketch

It's so much fun to play with Christmas colors and patterns, and today's the day to get creative.

This sketch starts with a simple patterned background. You can mat it on card stock for an extra layer if you'd like.

Then pick a coordinating pattern, layer it with card stock and make a panel down the middle - like a runner on your dining room table.

Stamp your sentiment and mat it on card stock, then punch a hole in the corner and tie it onto the panel with ribbon.

Tuck a small image behind the ribbon and you're all set!
For my card, I started with a green pattern that had several coordinating patterns and card stocks with it. The less thinking I have to do, the better.

I took one of those patterns and matted it on green card stock so it would stand out from the other pattern and used it as my panel.

Before adhering it to the card, I stamped my verse and matted it, then tied it up and taped down just the lower right hand corner.

The ornament is just a piece cut from another coordinating patterned paper and tucked behind the ribbon.

This card, along with many other paper crafts and word gifts, can be found in our Etsy shop. Come visit today to get more great ideas and maybe a gift or two.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

A Weekend Of Contentment

Now that the days are getting a little chillier, it's not difficult to find the puppies. Just look for the patch of sunshine on the living room carpet. Oh look - there they are.

While they still love to go outside and romp a little, they are perfectly content to just lay in the warmth and relax. Food and cuddles are also a must, but it's not unusual to see them just like this - all day.

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 1 Timothy 6:6-8

We could take a cue from our puppies. As long as they're fed, sheltered and loved, they're perfectly content. It's the humans in the house who worry and fret and strive to get more.

Make this a weekend of contentment. Make a determined effort to be perfectly happy with what you have at this moment. Don't buy anything unnecessary, don't try to keep up with the Joneses and start a praise journal of everything wonderful God has provided you with. It's amazing how content you can be with what you've already been blessed with.