Monday, February 29, 2016

What Your Life Story Really Says

Your life is the story of what God can do in a woman.

God knew everything about you before you were even born.

Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, Jeremiah 1:5

He gave you your first breath, rejoicing in the miracle that was you.

The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life. Job 33:4

He watched you take your first steps and led you down the path of His perfect will.

And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left. Isaiah 30:21

He has rejoiced with you in good times.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. Psalm 16:9

And He has strengthened you in bad times.

Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that a ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Ephesians 6:13

There has never been a single moment when He left you alone.

Have I not commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. Joshua 1:9

He has done great and wonderful things through you ...

Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathens, The LORD hath done great things for them. Psalm 126:2

... for you ...

He is thy praise, and he is thy God, that hath done for thee these great and terrible things, which thy eyes have seen. Deuteronomy 10:21

... and before you.

God thundereth marvellously with his voice; great things doeth he, which we cannot comprehend. Job 37:5

He has provided for us without exception.

When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the LORD thy God for the good land which he hat given thee. Deuteronomy 8:10

And He has blessed us beyond measure.

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worth in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

Your life is the story of what God can do in a woman. Share that story everywhere you go.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Sunday Sketch

Just like the crossing guard sash you wore in elementary school, today's design includes a slash of pattern that will  make your card stand out in a crowd.

A single background color will make the patterned paper pop, making it the real focal point of the layout.

Choose a long sentiment that will run alongside the diagonal border, something thin to break up some of the white space.

Tiny embellishments in the corners will help the eye travel across the entire card.
For my card, I didn't use a color at all, choosing instead to use the plain white card stock that I always use as my base for the background.

Then I matted the rose petal paper on a slightly lighter pink decorator paper. The right edge of the new border starts in the point of the upper left hand corner, which the left edge hits the bottom right hand corner. This makes it level and straight from corner to corner.

A vellum phrase and six white gems complete this dramatic design.

You can find this card, along with many other paper crafts and wood gifts, in our Etsy shop. You'll find lots of great ideas, and you may want to leave with a surprise or two for someone special.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

A Weekend Of Studying To Answer

I was never a very good test-taker in school. If you asked me to explain what I knew rather than regurgitate information, I did much better.

It has never been easy for me to just recall details at a moment's notice. Studying at the last minute was futile, but experiencing it and talking about it made more lasting impression.

The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the mouth of the wicked pouter out evil things. Proverbs 15:28

Make this a weekend of studying to answer. As you do your daily Bible reading and study, pay special attention to the truths and promises that you've experienced in your life. You may be the only Bible some people will see this weekend, so knowing what God expects from you will be vitally important when the time comes to share your faith. Each verse that you commit to memory or mark for future use will be a gem in the treasure of your heart.

Having this knowledge and wisdom will make you an effective vessel for sharing the gospel with your family, neighborhood, city and beyond. Hide God's word away in your heart so that it will be ready and waiting for the moment you need it most.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Transfering Ink To Wood With Just Water

 When I put together my welcome sign for our entryway, I used the wax paper technique to put the lettering onto the wood. The details can be found here. Then I heard about an even more simple technique for lettering that just requires water and a paint brush.

Print your word in a word processing program and flip it horizontally. The easiest way to do this generally is to put it in a text box, click on Arrange and flip it horizontally. If this isn't an option in your program, just do a search in the help section.

With the ink side down on the wood, use a slightly wet paint brush to damped the back of the sheet of paper. This gets the ink wet through the paper and transfers it to the wood. Don't use too much water or it will just run and ruin the letters.

This technique worked best for me using thick, bold letters. It's a very weathered, aged look, which is absolutely wonderful. Instead of working hard to wear the letters down to look decades-old, this is a simple solution that takes just a few minutes.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

BBQ Baked Chicken

Chicken has been on sale several times lately at our local grocery store, so I've been able to stock up several times and buy several different kinds of chicken.

Most recently I was able to get four chicken thighs for $3, so I bought two packages to make some BBQ chicken on a grill pan in the oven.

It's definitely a recipe we'll be repeating.

I doctored up my own BBQ sauce, so I've included that part of the recipe as well.

8 chicken thighs
salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup packaged BBQ sauce
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp cinnamon-pear balsamic vinegar (or whatever you have on hand)
2 Tbsp Sriracha

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Heat the olive oil in an oven-safe grill pan over medium-high heat. Once heated, reduce heat to medium.

3. Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken and sear two minutes on each side.

4. Place the grill pan with seared chicken in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until cooked through.

5. While the chicken is baking, prepare the BBQ sauce with the remaining ingredients. Refrigerate until chicken is finished.

6. When chicken is cooked through, pour sauce over them. Bake for 5 more minutes. Serve immediately with veggies.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Cute Baskets From Leftover Denim

If you remember my tutorial on how to make a craft show apron, you'll no doubt recall the amount of denim I had left in that pair of pants. There was no way I was throwing it out.

Since the apron used the waistline and pockets of the jeans, both legs and much of the seat were left. Using those two sections I was able to make an adorable set of denim baskets.

I started by cutting off the bottom part of each pant leg, one at 10 inches and one at 12 inches. This number will vary based on the width of the jeans: wide pant legs won't stand up if the basket is too tall, and thinner legs won't hold much if they're too short. Eyeball it and adjust accordingly to the style and fit of the jeans you choose.

Now you need a little math - but just a little, I promise. You need to find out how big of a denim circle you will need for the bottom of your basket. Use a tape measure to find the distance around the bottom seam of the jeans leg. (Mine was 20 inches.) Divide that number by 3.14 and that's the radius (half the distance across) of your circle. If you have a circle cutter, it's super easy to set it and use the pen attachment to draw your circle and then cut with scissors. (Mine was 6.2 inches.) If this is too many numbers for you, you can always stand the pant leg on end and trace around the outside, but it's much less precise that way and it won't be even when you go to put it together.

For this no-sew method, all you'll need is a hot glue gun to attach the bottom circle to the leg. I wanted the darker side of the denim to show both on the sides and the bottom, so I turned the pants leg inside out. Then I tucked the circle into the leg, dark sides facing, and hot glued around the edge. This will make a clean seam on the outside, with the cut sides glued together on the inside of the basket.

When I finished gluing all the way around, it looked like this before I turned it right-side out.

Then I just rolled the cuff to finish it off! These only take a few minutes each to make, plus you're using up something you would ordinarily donate or throw away. Now I have some darling accessories to organize any room of the house - everything goes with denim, you know.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Watching What Happens When You Promote Other People

One of the greatest parts of having an Etsy shop is the community that comes along with it. Teams are open to shop owners interested in sharing tips of the trade, helping promote each other and taking an interest in what other people are selling.

My favorite team, Spiritual Elegance, is made up of Christians from all over the world. In addition to the promotion side of owning a business, they also have several boards to discuss Scripture, give prayer requests and offer praise for answered prayer in their lives.

Etsy also has a fun way to search for new and interesting items called Treasuries. Anyone can make collections of themed items, each one from a different shop. You then just let them know that you've loved and featured their item, then tell the world about all the neat pieces you just found.

I recently made a treasury made up of items exclusively made by the Christian shop owners in the Spiritual Elegance team. I called it "Words Of My Faith," and it was so uplifting to search through shops filled with Scripture and read about the testimonies behind these artisans. By the time I was done, I was so filled with creative inspiration that I worked in the craft room for hours.

What I didn't realize was how much these collections would affect other people. There is a space at the bottom of the list for comments and questions. Most of the shop owners featured will leave a lovely thank you note, which is always appreciated, but some go a little further. This is what one of those women featured wrote:

"Thanks so much for including me in this beautiful treasury. I needed to see God's word today so thanks to all the participants, also."

God's word will never return void, and putting it out in such a public forum touches hearts that I will never meet personally. I know from the times that I have been featured in such a way, it is so heart-warming to have someone appreciate and support what you do. Never seeing them face-to-face doesn't change the fact that Christ's love moves among His believers in great and powerful ways.

To see more of my treasuries, just click here.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Sunday Sketch

Today's sketch is a great opportunity to use up a bunch of those scraps you have stored up. Don't try to tell me you don't have any scraps. I know better.

The background of this sketch is a solid color, but it's made much more interesting by combining three patterned papers into a row of panels across the back. Cut one to fit on the left hand side of the card, then use it as a template to cut the other ones.

Run a sentiment and a fun image across the bottom, and choose three tiny embellishments to balance the page.

For my card, I matted two solid colors - black and teal - to make my background. (I love layers.)

Then I cut three panels of coordinating decorator paper. All of the edges are ink-distressed in black to stand out from the teal background paper.

I printed out the word and double matted it to run across the bottom and under the three punched circles. Three pretty gems down the side and it's a one-of-a-kind coordinated card!

For more card layouts and some great gift ideas, come visit our Etsy shop. You'll find hundreds of cards, paper crafts, pens, puzzles and other wood gifts, so you're sure to find something wonderful for someone special - and maybe something fun for yourself!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

A Weekend Of Strengthening Your Hands

Take two minutes and think about all the things you do with your hands each day. Without them it would be difficult to type, play the piano, give a thumbs-up, hold something tight in your grip and use utensils to feed yourself. It could be done, but you would have to put in a great deal more effort.

Nehemiah knew that strong hands would be needed to repair the wall around Jerusalem. As he explained the call of God on his heart and the support of the king, the people’s hearts were stirred to join him in this endeavor.

Strong hands, stirred hearts.

Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king’s words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work. Nehemiah 2:18

They were not only strengthening their physical hands, they were strengthening their resolve and the dedication of their neighbors to get this work done. 

Make this a weekend of strengthening your hands - both literally and spiritually. God will call on you do to things this week that you’ve never done before, but He wants you to be prepared in body, mind and heart to obey completely. This may mean physical exercise, Bible study, rest, organization to be ready to do whatever He asks.

So increase your endurance, learn all you can from God’s Word, soften your heart and determine to be faithful in whatever comes your way. Strong hands and stirred hearts are all that He requires.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Don't Let Your Mind Give Up Too Soon

I looked at today's workout plan and almost laughed. It was the day to increase both reps and sets, and the list in front of me looked much too daunting. Is weight loss and a healthy body worth fainting, throwing up or just keeling over dead?

Ok, that might be a slight exaggeration, but it's what my mind was thinking at the time. Each exercise, let alone all of them - one right after another, seemed like climbing a mountain. It was just too much ... wasn't it?

Well, I decided not to do all of them, just the first one or two. Then I'd go get my protein shake and move on with my day. After more high-knees than I'd ever done at one time before, crunches didn't seem so bad. My core was on fire, but I could switch to biceps and triceps and let my lower half rest for a while.

Once my arms were screaming, squats were a welcome respite - if there is such a thing with squats. My heart rate was up and my breathing labored, but so far it wasn't nearly as bad as it looked on paper.

By the time I got to lunges, I was in the zone. (If you exercise regularly, you know exactly what I'm talking about.) I was ready to plank all morning and Russian twist until I dropped.

Which I eventually did, but not until I had completed every last one of those exercises.

What made the difference?

My mind gave up before I even got started. It saw the monumental task before me and said "Yeah, right. You'll never make it through all of that. Why even start?" O ye of little faith.

My body may have struggled in places, like the last few reps in a set, but it was ready to push on. It was overcoming the mindset that it would be impossible, which it definitely wasn't, that was the real challenge.

Once it was over, I not only felt incredible physically, but I was intensely proud of myself for not throwing in the towel before I even started. Imagine if I hadn't done any of it. I would have felt discouraged with myself, which is no way to start the day.

And now I'm encouraged to do whatever comes next. Different exercises, longer times, more sets - it won't seem as overwhelming because I've already proven to myself that I'm capable. It's hard to talk yourself out of something that you've already accomplished!

What is your mind telling you you're unable to do? Whatever it is, just for today, DO IT. Do that exercise, have that conversation, finish that task, try something new. Your mind will give up way before your body will, so don't let that stop you.

Not only will you feel better for having accomplished the un-accomplishable (if that's a word), you'll have a new set of expectations for yourself because you are able.

What a way to start the day!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

White Chocolate Stuffed Blackberries

This is more an idea than a recipe today - but a tasty idea none the less.

As anyone who loves food will tell you, fruit and chocolate make a wonderful combination. But a presentation like this one - or lack of presentation - falls flat.

Take it one step further, take just a few minutes and take a bite of a beautiful combination.

I believe strawberries, raspberries and blackberries were designed specifically to hold wonderful sweets inside.

Strawberries hold cheesecake filling in a lovely way. (Click here if you don't believe me.) And the holes left from the stems of raspberries and blackberries are the perfect size for a single chocolate chip.

Pictured here are blackberries that I took to church fellowship recently, and each one has a creamy white vanilla chip tucked inside. Needless to say, I didn't bring any home.

Play around with the combinations you like best, as there are dozens of chips and berries to choose from. You may need to cut a small slit in some berries just because of the way they grew, but that's a fairly easy process.

So enjoy berries, enjoy a tiny bit of chocolate and enjoy the combination!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Spring Lattice Card

As we sit through another cold, snowy winter, our thoughts turn to spring sunshine and beautiful gardens. Let's run with that idea and put together a beautiful lattice cover for a handmade card.

Start by cutting white card stock down to a square card - any size will do, so mine is 5.25 inches square. (Because I have a new package of 5.5 inch square envelopes. Then cut a slightly smaller square out of the front panel - mine is 4.25 inches square.

Cover the front of the card with decorator paper, then trim the edges and cut out the window.

Cut 10 strips of white card stock to make your lattice boards. Mine are 1/2 inch wide, so you'll want to cut in proportion to the size of your window - there are five for each direction.

Weave the strips together, alternating over and under, spacing them out and taping them together as you go. Double stick tape is best for this project, but feel free to experiment with whatever adhesive you have.

You don't need to adhere every single joint, but a few here and there will help keep its structure.

When all 10 strips are in place, trim off all the excess from the edges.

Go back around the edges of the backside of the panel with adhesive. Then attach your flowered background paper - patterned side to the front so it shows through - and trim the edges.

You can make an entire set of these lattice cards for a gift, changing out the flower patterns in the background. Then you can share your beautiful garden layout with someone special.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Why You Shouldn't Pray For Life To Be Easy

We feel devastated when things change - after all, we’ve found stability and safety in the way things are right this minute. They’re familiar and comfortable, and we know how to act and react there.

If we prayed for everything in our lives to be easy, we would stay in that stable, comfortable place. We’d feel exactly like we do right this minute, and we’d know what was coming in the future because it would be more of the same.

Do we really want more of the same?

When I taught fourth grade for a year, we didn’t welcome the students on the first day of school and promise them that they would leave in nine months the same child they were when they walked in. No, we told them about all the things we planned for the year - topics, field trips, activities that would help them learn new and wonderful things. It was exciting to see their faces light up with all these amazing new possibilities.

If we had promised no change, no growth, no improvement and no increase of knowledge, their parents probably would have come and taken them to a different school. The whole idea behind getting an education is to learn and grow and change with each passing year. If they read the same books and did the same activities every year from kindergarten to college, they would still have the mind and experiences of a five year old when they should have been thinking on an 18-year-old level.

Praying for God to make life easy, to take away all of our burdens and troubles, is like asking a teacher to never introduce new topics. We’re stalled right where we are because desiring “easy” means turning down an opportunity to grow and change the way God would see us grow and change. Here seems nice, but we don’t have even a glimpse of the possibilities that await us.

He chose David also his servant, and took him from the sheepfolds: From following the ewes great with young he brought him to feed Jacob his people, and Israel his inheritance. So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands. Psalm 78:70-72

David might have been completely content caring for his father’s sheep, watching over them and guiding them. Until the Lord called him out to be a leader of men, he did his job to the best of his ability. He might have been the greatest shepherd in the history of the world, but God had another plan for David.

God’s plan involved David running away from the people he loved most. It involved heartache, death, fear and times of bitter defeat. But David didn’t pray for life to be easy, to just life his days sitting on the royal throne and playing his harp. Leaning back relaxing wouldn’t have done anything for his character.

Knowing full well that David would need these experiences in his life, God brought Saul, Jonathan, Samuel, Bathsheba, Uriah and many other people across his path for very specific reasons. They would change him, grow him, increase his knowledge and give him life experiences that he wouldn’t have had any other way. Change was necessary for David to be the man after God’s own heart he was at the end of his life.

The plans God has for you and me will take shape the same way. We could sit just as we are right now for the rest of our lives, but all we’d get would be blisters from an uncomfortable chair. Without change, difficult times and challenge that stretch us to our limits, we’ll never know exactly what our limits are. Without giving a test every now and then, we wouldn’t put in the preparation time and be prepared to show God what we know and what we’ve learned from Him.

When I said, My foot slippeth; thy mercy, O LORD, held me up. In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul. Psalm 94:18-19

Just as Jesus (our perfect example) prayed in the garden, we can always ask God to take this cup from us, but it must be in His timing and in His permissive will. If we don’t do the spiritual workouts now, we’ll never be prepared for the heavy lifting He wants to have us do in the future. Our faithfulness, prayer and obedience today will set the stage for what He has waiting for us tomorrow.

Don’t pray for your life to be easy. Pray for God to give you the grace you need to endure with hope. If life was easy, we’d miss out on too many of the blessings and miracles the Lord would delight to shower upon us.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Sunday Sketch

Sometimes just changing the shape of your finished product can trigger some hidden creativity. So this week, instead of using a rectangle, let's be square.

Start with a lightly patterned paper in your chosen theme, and then two coordinating patterns for the two sizes of circles. Use a punch or circle cutter to make this easier.

Find a sentiment or verse that will overlap both circles, tying them together, and some small embellishments that won't distract from your patterns.

I made my card from an 8 1/2x11 sheet of white card stock, cutting it down to 5 1/4 inches square. (This isn't an arbitrary size - it actually fits a new package of envelopes I found.)

I chose three coordinating patterned papers, using one for the matted background and two for circles.

In my Valentine's Day bag of embellishments I found this wonderful 3D sticker and matted it on two colors of card stock. Three red gems finish it off.

For more great ideas and a gift or two, come visit our Etsy shop. You'll find a wide selection of handmade cards, journals, paper crafts, hand-turned pens, wood puzzles and many other gifts.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

A Weekend Of God's Love

Did you know that there are 281 verses in the Bible with the word "love" in them?

Some of them talk about romantic love between a husband and wife. Others are about treating a neighbor with respect. And many describe that happy feeling that's a little more than "like."

The most frequent, though, talk about what God feels for us. Then, in return, we can spread that love far and wide.

As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. John 15:9-12

Make this a weekend of love. With Valentine's Day tomorrow, this may seem like a no-brainer, but let's love with a different kind of love. Instead of lovey-dovey love that comes with a stuffed bear and some candy, let's love with the same love we have been loved with. (Get it?)

Abiding in the love of God brings about a new understanding of how important and powerful love can be. With His perfect love in our hearts, we overflow with His joy - something we'll never get enough of. And then we're able to spread both love and joy everywhere we go because He commanded that we love as He has loved.

What a joy it is to love.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Valentine's Day Heart Napkin Fold

Make your Valentine's Day table a little sweeter with a beautiful, yet incredibly easy, heart-shaped napkin fold.

Open your napkin out flat. If you're using cloth napkins, you'll want to have a hot iron close by to crease the folds in.

Fold the top edge down to meet the bottom.

And then again, creasing the edge tightly.

Using the center fold as your guideline, bring each end up on the diagonal make the top edges match. Be careful to crease these folds well.

Flip the entire napkin over with the point at the top. 

Fold and crease small corners oo the two square ends. This will create the "rounded" look when you flip it back over.

When you turn the heart over, you can work the layers a little and make all your edges match. Crease everything one more time so it will stay in place.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Homemade Heart Marshmallows

Made as either a special Valentine's Day gift or a fun project to do together, these homemade marshmallows are an extra-sweet treat.

nonstick cooking spray
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1/3 cup cold water

1/3 cup water
1 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla

1. Spray a 9x12 baking dish with nonstick spray. Line the pan with parchment paper and spray again.

2. Spray the bowl of a stand mixer, with nonstick spray, then combine water and gelatin in the bottom. Allow to stand about 5 minutes.

3. Combine sugar, corn syrup, salt and water in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil, making sure to stir and keep the sugar from burning.

4. Stir mixture until it reaches soft-ball stage, 238 degrees, on a candy thermometer. Immediately remove it from the heat. If any of the sugar burned and hardened, carefully and quickly spoon it out now.

5. Stir up the gelatin mixture to remove it from the bottom of the bowl, then turn mixer on low. Pour in the hot syrup, letting it run down the side of the greased bowl. Increase the speed every other minute until it is on high. Beat for a total of 10-12 minutes, until it is white, fluffy and at least twice as much as in the beginning.

6. Add vanilla and beat on medium until combined.

7. Spray a large rubber spatula with nonstick spray and scrape marshmallow mixture into the prepared pan. Spread the top out smooth.

8. Wrap the pan in cling wrap and allow to set overnight.

9. Spray a small heart-shaped cookie cutter with nonstick spray and begin to cut out marshmallows. Re-coat with spray as necessary so the marshmallow won't stick. Store in an air-tight container or bag.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Have A Pun-ny Valentine's Day

Tired of giving a store-bought card and a box of chocolates on Valentine's Day? How about giving the gift of humor instead?

You could give any of the following gifts with these notes attached:

* a banana, "You're my favorite of the bunch."
* a package of apple slices, "You're the apple of my eye."
* a pear, "We make a great 'pear.'"
* teddy bear-shaped crackers, "I love you BEARY much."
* an orange, "'Orange' you glad we're in love?"
* a box of crayons, "You color my world with love."
* a package of candy, "You make life a little sweeter."
* a pizza, "You've stolen a 'pizza' my heart."
* a stick of margarine, "You're my butter half."
* a loaf of bread, "All you 'knead' is love."
* cup of coffee, "Words cannot 'espresso' how much I love you."
* a stuffed rabbit, "No bunny compares to you."
* a pencil, "I think you're just 'write.'"
* watermelon, "You're one in a 'mellon.'"
* strawberries, blackberries or blueberries, "I think you are 'berry' special."
* a package of light bulbs, "You light up my life."
* a baseball glove, "You're the perfect catch."
* socks, "We're a perfect pair."
* chocolate, marshmallows and graham crackers, "Every day I love you s'more."
* a jar of pickles, "You're kind of a big 'dill' to me."
* a box of donuts, "I wouldn't be 'hole' without you.
* a stuffed sheep, "I love 'ewe.'"
* a pair of sunglasses, "You are 'spec'tacular."
* a pack of gum, "Won't 'chew' be mine?"
* a box of paper clips, "You hold me together."
* a bottle of glue, "I'm stuck on you."
* a bottle of honey, "'Bee mine.'"
* reading glasses, "I only have eyes for you."
* a can of root beer, "You are the 'root' of all my happiness."
* a package of trail mix, "I'm nuts about you."
* a bicycle, "I 'wheelie' love you."
* a paper airplane, "You make my heart soar."
* a toy sailboat, "You float my boat."
* a pair of shoes, "I love you from the bottom of my 'sole.'"
* a box of breakfast cereal, "I 'cereal'sly hope you'll be my Valentine."
* birthday candles, "You blow me away."
* coffee beans, "I love you a 'latte.'"
* a cactus, "I'm sticking with you."
* friendship bracelets, "I would 'knot' be the same without you."
* a thimble, "I 'thimbly' can't do without you."
* a portable fan, "You're fantastic."
* a jigsaw puzzle, "I love you to pieces."

Monday, February 8, 2016

Love God First

It feels like one more thing to check off your to-do list.

Something else accomplished today in a day full of things and more things and then some more.

We've heard the words all our lives, but they often seem robotic, rehearsed, rigid.

"Love one another."

Love is supposed to be this happy, giddy, gooey word. It's supposed to stir up feelings and emotions and pretty things.

This week before Valentine's Day, it's vibrantly displayed in advertising, in stores and in our conversations. What are you giving? What are you getting? must love them a whole bunch.

But love isn't about puffy hearts or sparkling gems or boxes of chocolate.

Love is a verb. It's an action that we choose to make on a minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, day-by-day basis.

Love is when a woman honors her husband, serves her family and makes home a wonderful place to be.

Love is when a man leads his home, treats his wife with respect and provides all the things a house needs to be a home.

Love is when church family come together to worship, help one another and give support in the midst of messy, real-world problems.

These are all acts of love, but perhaps we've put the cart before the horse.

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 1 Corinthians 2:9

Before we can truly pass on pure, unadulterated love to any human being on earth, we have to love God. If our motives are anything but obedience to the Lord and treating one another as Christ would if He were here right this moment, it's not true love.

It is a joy for husband and wife to demonstrate love for one another, but it means nothing if God is not in the midst.

It is sweet for church members to reach out to one another, but it falls short if it's not a reflection of their love for the Lord.

We see things and heart things and feel things that come from God's love for us in a much different light. We could never imagine what His love could do when it is passed along. Human love is no match for the great and mighty love of our heavenly Father.

The Spirit reveals these treasures to us, we finally understand that our love for God was just the first step. By placing Him first and waiting for the time of revealing, we're blessed beyond measure by things we didn't even imagine He could give.

He has prepared something special, something amazing and awe-inspiring for those who love Him. As we grasp this love, we can't help but pass it on. It's a gift that we just can't keep to ourselves.

And what a wonderful Valentine's Day gift that would be.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Sunday Sketch

A few simple papers, a fun image and a great sentiment will help you knock today's sketch out of the ballpark.

Instead of running a banner of decorator paper all the way across your card, you're going to cut a chunk out of the middle and mat each one on coordinating card stock. This gives the focal point more emphasis and hopefully breaks you out of the routine of creating the same parts and pieces every time.

Choose two colors of card stock for your background mats, or maybe one card stock and a very subtle patterned paper. You don't want to draw attention away from your circled image until they look down at your all-important sentiment.
For my card, I started with a pink card stock that matched the pink in my focal point - a 3D Valentine image. Then I matted the pink with white so my colors would stand out even more.

I used a circle cutter to make backgrounds for the stamp, and then used a pink and yellow patterned paper that matched the stripes in the stamp itself.

Before cutting the strips of striped paper, I applied the rub-ons at the bottom so there would be plenty of room. Then I was able to center the stripes int he remaining space and make them wide enough for the stamp and circles to fit snugly inside.

For more great ideas, come visit our Etsy shop. You'll find hundreds of cards, plus lots of paper and wood gifts. You never know, you might walk with some ideas plus a gift or two!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

A Weekend Of Making A Joyful Noise

There's a joke among church musicians that we're all just making a joyful noise - with an emphasis on the "noise" part. This is often how we laugh off any mistakes or finger fumbles.

This play on words is actually referencing Psalm 66, but we don't usually get past the fourth word, let alone the first line.

Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands: Sing forth the honor of his name: make his praise glorious. Psalm 66:1-2

The word noise here doesn't mean something that sounds awful, like we would describe it in today's terminology. Instead, it means to shout, raise a sound, cry out or give a blast. It's specifically used to describe a war cry or alarm of battle. In military terms, it would be their battle cry.

Make this a weekend of making a joyful noise. Be one of those making a joyful noise, letting the songs of praise to God be our battle cry in a lost and dying world. If we don't lift our voices, who will? Even if it's quiet or a little off-key, it will still be a shout of war against the evil all around us.

That sounds like a beautiful noise to me!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Does Creativity = Messy?

There's something to be said for neat, tidy, organized workspaces.

Others would argue that being so rigid kills all their creative vibes.

Want to guess what the right answer is?

It's not really a secret - it's whatever works best for you.

If you were to spend an entire day being as creative in your craft space as possible, what would it look like? Would it be straightening things up first, organizing projects and collecting all the supplies you need into one place?

Or is it using the disorganization as inspiration? You might stumble (literally, perhaps) over something you forgot you even had. This could lead to the most brilliant idea you've had all day!

Don't try to fit yourself into someone else's mold. Personally, I am much more creative when things are neat and tidy. Clutter makes me confused and anxious, so sorted, dusted shelves clear some room in my brain for new ideas.

You might be exactly the opposite, and that's just fine. Work with one pile at a time and have fun with it. You might create ten new pieces out of a tornado that would drive other people crazy. And that's wonderful.

Maybe you're trying to go from being a Messy Mable to something a little more workable. This is a great aspiration - if it's actually doable. Don't change everything about how you work just because you think you're supposed to be organized. You might miss out on some great ideas because you were too focused on the room around you.

Creativity and organization are both gifts from God, so use them exactly the way He has spoken to your heart to use them.

And have fun!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

White Chocolate Peppermint Hearts

 With just more than a week until Valentine's day, you'll want to add this adorable little edible gift to your "I love you THIS much" list.

You'll use miniature candy canes and two bricks of almond bark (one of my all-time favorites). Add a few sprinkles and you're all set.

Start by unwrapping all the candy canes and pairing them up on a cutting board or baking tray covered with parchment paper. Choose canes that are approximately the same length or your love will be a little lop-sided.

Put the two bricks of almond bark in a microwave-safe dish and heat for 30 seconds. Store and put back in for 30 more seconds. Continue until it is soft and runny. Then use a small plastic spoon to pour in a small amount of bark. Start in the largest opening and use the spoon to smooth it out and up into the rounded parts of the canes.

Quickly, before it cools and starts to harden, add a few Valentine-themed sprinkles. Tuck the whole board into the refrigerator until the candy has set. Then carefully pack them into an air-tight container.