December 25, 2011

merry christmas!

I hope all of you wonderful people have the merriest Christmas ever!

December 23, 2011

a christmas story

I have two Christmas stories for you today.
The first one you already know, but I like it. So you get to read it again.
And the second one you don't know. And it's special. It's dear to my heart. So you get to hear that one too.

The Real Christmas Story:

John 3:16
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Luke 1:26-38
And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,
To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.
And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.
And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.
He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.
For with God nothing shall be impossible.
And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

Luke 2:1-20
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

Such a beautiful, amazing, miraculous story.
I try to put myself there and imagine it like it was, and I can do it... until I get to Christ as a newborn baby. I tend to see Him on a white horse, His vesture dipped in blood.
Lord of Lord and King of Kings.
And then my imagination is like, wigged out.

God is a Giver.
Giving is His love language.
He gave His Son for us, and each day He gives more and more of Himself so that we can live full.
People talk about giving being the spirit of Christmas, and they're right on. Because God gave and without that giving, Christmas wouldn't be here.
And He only asks for one thing in return for all His wonderful giving... My son, give me thine heart.

So now for the second story.
This story is all about God's giving spirit. This story is, in my opinion, what God's love is all about.

I have a super duper, dear to my heart girlfriend. I asked her if I could write this story and she said sure, but I'm still going to change her name just 'cause... I don't want her to be embarrassed.
I'm going to call her Bob. I just like the name Bob. Sometimes I call myself Bob. For fun.

Bob was such a quiet, meek, incredibly shy, sweet teenager. And at about age 19, she met the man of her dreams and married him the next year. Over the next few years, they had five kids.
It was the perfect life. Happy, lots of kids to love on, starting homeschooling, cooking dinner, breaking up squabbles... it was a family.
Then one day, the man of Bob's dreams came home and said, Goodbye. I've decided I want something different.
That kind of thing has this way of breaking you.
But Bob got a full time job, and started going back to school, and put the kids in public school, and rented a little house, and found a beater car, and tried making ends meet, and life goes on.
And my heart broke watching her.
And Bob started thinking all men were untrustworthy, and maybe she should just give up on happiness, and who could blame her? And almost two years went by.

But Bob's mom told me she prayed the whole time, Show her how much You care. Show her how much You love her. Take care of her.

I visited with Bob not too long ago, and she said she felt like she was floundering around, and I could see the guard being let down a little. And when we got done with our visit, I thought maybe my heart would burn straight thru with all the ache Bob was holding inside. I hate seeing her struggle. I love her.
So I prayed harder than I ever have that God would really, really show Bob what He can do. I prayed for Him to step in and make her struggles less. Because no matter how hard I try, I can't do for her what He can.

Maybe a week later, I got a text from Bob that she had been offered a new job by some church friends.
Full time. Better pay. And best of all, the hours worked around the kid's school schedule. They wouldn't have to be home alone so much anymore.
And God said, Watch Me do My thing, little girl.
Then the same friends bought new tires for her beater car. And did a little shopping for her and the kids too.
And a couple weeks ago the kid's school called and said they had money for her to buy Christmas presents for the kids.

Then Bob took her kids to the school Christmas program, and her youngest girl ran around the room and told everyone how the school had given them money.
Bob was mortified and considered throwing her girl in the trash can.
But she didn't. She went to Walmart instead. And while she was there, a little girl ran up to her and said, I go to school with your kids and my mom is going to buy all of your kids brand new Northface coats for Christmas!
Bob was mortified again. This little girl's daddy had been killed in a train accident not too long before, but here this family was... giving to Bob.
That little girl and her mom came by the house later and the mom cried when she said this had all been her little girl's idea and it blessed her heart to give to Bob's family.

And right after that, Bob sent me this text:

sometimes i wonder why God is so good to me.

And then she sent me this picture with the words, blessed beyond measure:

And God said to me, Wipe your tears. Ease the ache. I'm the Great Giver. When I take care, no one wants. When I comfort, hearts unclench and heal.

Maybe this story doesn't mean much to you. You don't know Bob.
But I know her and I know what she's been thru, and when I see God reaching down and taking her shattered pieces and gluing them back together with His love... I'm a happy, emotional mess.
These are little things. A job, tires, a little money, a new coat.
But really they're not so little. They're big because God shines thru them. Because God knows how to get under a great big ol' pile of hurt, and make Himself real.

Bob's story has made this Christmas different for me. It made me stop and think. It made me stop and give thanks. It made me say to Him, This is one of the reasons I love You so.
God is a Giver.
And what better time of the year for Him to give so much than this?

December 21, 2011

december random

Bet you guys thought I was dead, didn't you?
Bet you've been ready to call 911 and ask them where I've been, huh?
I'm not dead, but my laptop has been all sick and viral. And I had to send it off to a friend's house to be fixed. And now it's fixed.
... Except the clock down there in the bottom right hand corner says 22:02.
... And I, therefore, have no idea what time it is.
It's like on the movies when the one soldier screams thru all the blood and guts to the other soldier, Soldier! 6 o'clock! Fire! Magnum 350! Meet up at oh 900! 360 degrees! 10 4 hut!
And I'm like, What the heck do all those numbers mean?
And I holler back at the TV screen, 2 plus 2 equals 4!
And somehow all the soldiers live.
That's what I think of when I look at the clock on my laptop.

It is now 22:07.

Anyway. It's December, guys. The busiest month of the year for my family. A good busy though.
Did you know that we have 6 birthdays in December? In my immediate family? Including mine? Did you know my 28th birthday was Monday, and that I'm still accepting presents? You can mail as many presents as you like and I'll never complain or anything.
I'm growing up so fast. It seems like only yesterday, I was 12 years old and still wetting the bed. It seems like only yesterday, I was learning how to walk. It seems like only yesterday, I was covered from head to toe in mosquito bites. It seems like only yesterday, my mom could talk about my Christmas presents in front of me by spelling them out loud because I couldn't spell C-A-T out loud if my life depended on it. Oh, wait... that one was yesterday.
I had a good birthday.
I got pie instead of cake because I've never been a huge cake fan unless it's Karen's chocolate cake or Olive Garden's lemon cream cake.
I got presents.
I got a handmade rosette hair clip from Lucy. It was her first time to make one and she did it all by herself. Then she made me a little birthday card. It said,

Dear Aunt Sunny,
I love you!
I hope you like this.
I made it on Sunday night.
It was my first one. So it is not so good.
If you don't like it you can give it back.
Love you!

It looks better than the ones I make. I'll keep it, Lucy Goose.
And I got these from my big sister, Karen...

Be still my heart. I had no idea they sold these in a jar. I've said for years they should do something like this. Kraft listened.
I don't like real marshmallows at all, but I have a thing for the little dried up marshmallows in Swiss Miss hot chocolate mix.
And the ones in Lucky Charms.
They're a fat free food. Very nutritional.
My big sister, Shelly, saved packet after packet of those Swiss Miss marshmallows and put them in a box and gave them to me for my sweet 16th birthday. It was one of the most wonderful presents I've ever received.
I love sisters. They know me.

I got this from my fellow blogger friend, Jaime...

It's autographed and everything.
I love it. I laughed like a hyena.
Considering Jaime's never even met me, she knows me pretty well too.

And I got a dress, and shirt, and a ring, and earrings, and letters, and Christmas ornaments, and homemade chocolate sauce, and a picture I've drooled over all summer for my room, and a teeny pink glass pig to go along with the rest of my teeny glass animal collection that I started when my Moma gave my great grandmother's teeny glass animal collection to me when I was 12, and a homemade bracelet that's the brightest yellow I've ever seen, and a coffee mug complete with coffee and whipped cream and a straw and the entire thing was made out of chocolate, and finally... my sister-in-law, Jenny, had part of my blog made into a book. Which made me cry. She thinks of everything. Her gift is giving perfect gifts.

Then I bought myself a couple birthday presents too.
They were on sale so I had to. It was my destiny.

I don't things wrapped around my neck, but I love scarves and that scarf was only 4 bucks and I found this tutorial the day I bought the scarf.
Obviously, God wanted me to buy this scarf.
Karen bought those boots for Leah. I liked them. And even though I made a New Year's resolution 8 years ago that I'd never buy my shoes or clothing in the children's department again, I went and bought them for myself. From Target, on sale for 20 bucks. They've been on my feet ever since. They eat my knee socks, but my love is unconditional so I wear them regardless. I wear them to bed. And to the bathroom.

Me and the girls decorated for Christmas.
The decorating is one of my favorite things about Christmas. I like all my old stuff.
The tree skirt that Moma made for me, the old lady in a shoe music box that I've had since I was a kid (except the old lady is actually a mouse and her mouse husband is putting the star on the tree), the table runner that has the lace my great grandmother made sewed onto it, the vintage ornaments my friend Gloria gave to me that she had used since she was a teenager, the train set that's been around for years and no longer works and the weird little pinecone gnome man that acts as train station master. We used to have more of those weird gnome guys, but this one is the only living survivor.
I love bringing those things out every year.

See the card in the background? Sune... that's how my 7 year old niece, Mik, spells my name.
Look at all those fancy curlicues!
I love it. I love Mik.

Hey, Sun... get a picture of me kissing my pink tree.
Lily loves Christmas stuff. I have pictures of her kissing all kinds of Christmas decorations.
I say good morning to my Christmas stuff so I can't really blame her for the kissing.

I made almost all of my Christmas presents this year.
Never done that before. Thank you, Craftgawker. You're a blessing.

I made a mercury glass jar...

Then I put it in the closet and it reproduced all by itself. Very creepy.

Then I filled them with cookies, candy, and flowers and gave them away.
Wanna make your own mercury glass jars? Wanna put them in the closet so they can reproduce and creep you out?
I have this thing for glass jars. I have a large collection of them taking up space in my kitchen cupboard and I thought I'd use them for this project since I never do anything with them, but... I couldn't bear to part with my beloved jars. So I went to Walmart and bought these spaghetti sauce jars instead.
So now I still have lots of jars that I don't do anything with.
And I have lots of frozen spaghetti sauce if anyone needs some.

I made a wreath...

To see how to wrap your wreath in yarn, click here.
To see how to make the felt rosettes (because it's different than making fabric ones), click here.
To see the cutest yarn wrapped wreath in the world, click here. (That one's for fun and I'm going to make it someday and keep it for myself.)

And the girls made gingerbread houses.
Because what's Christmas without making a huge gingerbread house mess?

Lucy and Lily made this one.
Notice anything different about it?
It's not a house. It's a manger scene.
Lily wanted to know why she couldn't add a TV in there for baby Jesus to watch.
And I believe the day the girls made these houses was the same day I had this text conversation with Karen:

Karen: im about 2 throw out all the gingerbread houses, men, women, candies, hot cocoa, mnm's, toys, paper, crayons, beds, dressers, closets, carpet, sink and counters full of dishes, 100's of christmas cards, wrapping paper, ... or else i may just go put my head under a blanket and pretend its not all there.

Me: i was thinking about coming and getting the girls so we could make a craft thing I bought all the stuff for today. they could spend the night. k?

Karen: k. if they're still alive and not in the trash can when you get here :)

If you're a mom and you just read that, aren't you glad you aren't the only mom out there who has considered throwing your kids in the trash can?
Disclaimer: Karen didn't really mean it. Maybe. I think.

Our kids put on a Christmas program at church.
They were so cute and sweet and talented and getting so big since I first moved here that I had to cry.

There's Lily up front being a sheep. And drinking her cuppy.
And here's the little sheep who stole the whole show...

That's Baby Hannah.
She doesn't like for me to call her a baby, but I have to in order to distinguish her from the other two little girl Hannahs we have at church.
And see what I mean about them being so cute I cried?

We had our church's annual Where's Waldo event.
Half of us dress up and "hide" in the shopping crowds at the mall, and the other half of us "seek" the hiders.

Here's the best costume winners...

Cute little girls aren't they? Only they aren't girls. They're brothers. Those boys have guts.

Here's the "least found" winners, Ben and Janel...

Let's see that again so I can point out all the important details...

I think Janel should be on The Office in that outfit. She could sit next to Pam.
I didn't hide this year, but I did for 3 years in a row.

My favorite year.
I went as a 12 month pregnant woman and my fake husband carried my newborn infant.
I'm not very good at math and adding up months and all that.
And some super concerned shopper stopped me and told me I should rub creams and lotions on my poor belly. It was awkward.

One more thing before I go.
This is my freckled, 9 year old niece, Marianna...

 This is her little sister, Charity...

Cute aren't they?
They belong to my big sister, Shelly.
I got this text from Shelly the other day:

marianna walked past me holding a gift she wrapped about 1-2 weeks ago n says "this is for Charity. i gotta c if its not dead."

I hoped Marianna hadn't wrapped the neighbor's pet fish up or anything.
Turns out it wasn't the neighbor's pet fish. Turns out it was a slug. Turns out the slug was still alive and kicking.
Charity is so lucky to have a sister like Marianna.
You can have so much with a slug...

It is now 18:14.
I don't know what that means exactly, but I think it means I need to go get ready for church.

December 06, 2011

craft diy: mostly easy peasy

I made Christmas coasters.
Coasters are what you put your cups on.
I guess some people don't like water rings left on their furniture.
I'm not one of those people. I couldn't care less.
I used to have one solitary coaster. I got tired of looking around for it every time I needed it and finding it in places like: the refrigerator, the microwave, my sock drawer, under my pillow, etc.
Geez Louise, how'd it end up places like that anyway? I threw it away.
But I saw some cute coasters on Craftgawker and had to try them out...

Cute, right?
I love them. I want some for myself. I'd hunt in the fridge for these babies anytime.
But, these particular babies are going to be someone's Christmas present.
I'm not mentioning any names though.

Then I made these and hung them in my sliding glass door...

Umm. So basically... they don't look anything like the picture that inspired me to try making them...

Photo stolen from EM Designs

Can you tell the difference? Probably not. I'll point them out for you since they're so subtle.
Their ornament is calm and classy looking. Mine are kinda like the trailer park version.
They have a glass ball with a feather in it. I have a plastic ball (Plastic is unbreakable and therefore the smarter choice for me. Also, it's cheaper and therefore the smarter choice for me.) with multiple feathers in it. They have organic twine looped on top. (Just so you know, organic twine is healthier than non-organic. Your life could depend on it.) I have non-organic glitter and bows and ribbon slathered all over mine.
And then I hung them with a tack instead of a nail. Because I am tacky and it was therefore the smarter choice for me.

And then finally, I tried this...

Photo stolen from The Cheese Thief

That is not my fingernail. Nor is it my ornament.
That fingernail and ornament belong to some really patient person who didn't mind spending half her life trying to achieve marbleized fingernails.
I love those fingernails though. And I wanted those fingernails bad. So I tried doing them. An hour later, I had five marbleized fingernails that didn't look anything like the one in the above picture.
I also had: One exploded bottle of white fingernail polish (Explosion is what happens when you decided to bang your nail polish bottle's lid against the kitchen countertop because even pliers didn't work to unscrew the dang lid. What the heck? It works when I can't get the pickle jar open.)
Nail polish on the tabletop.
Nail polish on the kitchen floor.
Nail polish on my yellow braided rug.
Nail polish on my favorite Lucky jeans.
20 used Q-tips.
13 used toothpicks.
A used up roll of paper towels.
10 used cottonballs.
An used-to-be-full-but-now-empty bottle of polish remover.
Very shiny white hands from all the exploded white polish that the nail polish remover wouldn't remove.
A very shiny white streak down my thigh from where the nail polish soaked thru my favorite Lucky jeans, thru my skin, and into my bloodstream.
A bad mood.
A headache.
A stomachache and an earache.

Anyway, now I'm too scared to try that marbleized ornament.

If you want to know how to make some super cute, super easy coasters for yourself, click here.

If you want to know how to make classy feather-in-a-ball ornaments, click here.
If you want to know how to make trailer park feather-in-a-ball ornaments: stick a bunch of feathers in a plastic ball, slather Elmer's glue all over the outside, smear it with your fingers, pour loose glitter all over the glue, check the glue every ten seconds to see if it's dry and therefore smear the glue even more, get frustrated with how long it takes to dry and try blowing on it, reapply all the glitter you just blew off, add a bow, get glue on the bow because it takes 40 hours for Elmer's to dry, watch a movie and bite your fingernails the whole time wondering if the glue is dry yet, get mad because you realize you just bit one of your five marbleized fingernails off, hang the ornaments with a tack.
Admire your handiwork.
Wonder if this is how God felt when He made the stars also.

If you want to know how to marbleized your fingernails (and ruin your favorite pair of Lucky jeans), click here.

I just love Christmas time. And I love tutorials that involve Christmas stuff.
And now, excuse me while I go google a how-to-make-your-favorite-ruined-by-nail polish-Lucky jeans-look-like-they're-supposed-to-be-that-way tutorial.
Aka, distressed jeans tutorial...

December 03, 2011

forty thousand dead things

I have chronic bad breath, it smells like forty thousand dead things.
I work for some marketing company, part time.

Those two comments are related.

This company sends me into different stores and I set up displays of whatever they tell me to.
I run into lots of lovely, interesting people.
Like Brad, the creeper. Pretty sure Brad is a pedophile on the side. I dart behind whatever I can find when I see Brad coming.  And Nancy, the girl who laughs at everything I say like I'm the funniest person she's ever met. I love Nancy, by the way. And the Hershey's guy, who is tall and cute and who's name I don't know, but one time I was having a bad day and he loaned me his pen. I've wanted to marry him ever since. And Ron, the straight guy who acts gay and is always all up in my personal space. I have this tendency to walk backwards when Ron is talking to me. And Nick, the guy who told me he was gay the other day when we were getting product out of the back freezer. I wasn't sure what I was supposed to say...  
I'm grossed out?
I'm very disappointed in you? 
Remember Sodom and Gomorrah?
Am I going to get fired for saying all that to you?
Instead I said something brilliant, I like chicken and cheese taquitos. 
He looked kinda confused for a minute, but I figured he was already confused and a little more wouldn't hurt him.

So the other day, I was in this one store, back in the freezer (that freezer is a happening place), yanking my product off the shelves when in walks Rob.
Rob is about eighteen.
Rob is kinda cute.
Rob is certain he's the awesomest stud ever and the perfect gift to all womankind.
Rob likes to give me his best James Dean look whenever he gets the chance.
He swaggered over and squeezed himself into the 4 inches of space that was between me and the wall.
Leaned over me... whispered huskily in my ear, Can I get anything down for you?

Pause: This is the part where I get to be creative. This is the part where my forty thousand dead things, dragon breath comes in handy. This is the part I love.

I breathed sexily back at him over my shoulder, Think you can reach those Sara Lee pies? 
Poor Rob. Forty thousand dead things hit him square in his cute little face.
He flinched.
Forty thousand dead things hung frozen between us.
I fluttered my eyelashes.
I got an eyelash stuck in my eye.
Rob remembered something he desperately needed to do and exited the freezer.
I hollered at the back of his head, Hey Rob, next time I'm here I'll bring my teenage pictures for you to see. Oh yeah, baby.

For a minute there, we had been like James Dean and Marilyn Monroe in that freezer, standing next to the frozen Sara Lee pies.

December 01, 2011

craft diy: candy cane wreath

I hate crafts.
But, thanks to Craftgawker, I can't stop making crafty stuff right now.

I think I'm going thru my mid-life crisis or something.

Anyway. I hate to hog all the cool Christmas tutorials I've found to myself.
They're simple, cheap, and suh-weet. Anyone can do them.
So, because it's Christmas time, as I do them, I'll share. (Just in case you're going thru your mid-life crisis too.)

Check out this candy cane wreath...

I made it last night, and it's going to be someone's Christmas present.
But I'm not mentioning any names.

If you want to know how to make the wreath, click here.
If you want to know how to make the felt rosettes, click here.
If you want to know how to make the leaves, you're on your own. I winged it. Pretty much closed my eyes and whacked the felt all over.
I bought all my supplies at Michaels. It cost me about 8 bucks altogether. But that's only because I took Moma with me and used alot of 50% off coupons.

So go, be as the butterfly, rip off Michaels, and make yourself a candy cane wreath.

Speaking of candy canes.
Here's the best ice cream DIY ever:

1. Go to the nearest grocery store.
2. Buy Dreyer's Limited Edition Slow-Churned Peppermint ice cream.

Photo stolen from some random blog.

3. Take it home.
4. Put it in a bowl.
5. Squish it all up with your spoon until it's like soft serve.
6. Eat it.
7. Die.
8. Go straight to Heaven.

I love this ice cream right now. I have a thing for mint.
When I was a kid, I would squish my ice cream all up and pretend it was medicine. I still do that. You know, like Wendy on Peter Pan? Here lost boys, drink your medicine.
When I was a kid, Blue Bell Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream was my favorite.
I remember happily opening one of the bottom kitchen cupboard doors, sitting on top of it, swinging myself back and forth, and singing brightly, Mint chocolate chip ice cream... mint chocolate chip ice cream... it's my favorite... it's my favorite...
And then I cheerfully, happily, brightly said to Moma who was cooking across the kitchen, Hey Moma? Think we can get mint chocolate chip ice cream for dessert tonight? It's my favorite!
Then Moma turned to me with biscuit dough and flour on her face and shrieked, HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU NOT TO SWING ON THE CABINET DOORS??? Oh, Lord... what shall I do unto these children You have given to me?

I didn't get mint chocolate chip ice cream very often...