Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Prince of Peace

Hopefully you're not so over Christmas that my little Christmas Eve sermon serves to irritate. With no further ado: 
In 2004 the top selling German newspaper, the Bild, printed only good news in its Christmas Day issue. "No parking tickets today - traffic wardens have day off!" the newspaper with 12 million readers wrote. They still ran the so-called hard news, too, but just spun it differently. Their article on a government official who had to resign under duress had the headline “Merry Christmas! Fantastic severance pay package for Laurenz Meyer.” The paper found positive news from overseas. An Israeli scientist had developed a laser treatment against bad breath and a mugger in Zagreb, Croatia who was always polite to his victims was finally captured by police.
Explaining why the paper had taken that approach for the Christmas Day paper, a columnist for the paper wrote "That's the conflicting aspect of our time - that it keeps producing bad news and puts horror on the assembly line even though we are all craving good news. But the good is never completely lost." That is what we celebrate this night, good news of our Savior has never been lost.
The good news for our time came to some shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. An angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and 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!”
That is what this child brings into the world: peace, peace beyond our understanding, peace without end, without limits. Peace, as many of us think about it today, is something we think of in contrast to war. And that is certainly part of it. Using that measurement, so little of our world is at peace. It is a special blessing that our part in the war in Iraq is over, and soldiers are home with their families for Christmas.
Even in the midst of conflict, peace can be made, if we want. During the First World War, in 1914, a number of ceasefires broke out along the Western Front, between German and British soldiers. The soldiers began to exchange seasonal greetings and songs between their trenches. In some places, they even walked across the lines to exchange gifts and even in a few rare cases played football together. This peace was not something organized by officials or even sanctioned. In fact, those at the highest levels thought it was a bad idea. They ordered the soldiers to not be at peace the following years.
But peace is stronger than that. Peace triumphs over indifference, sin, hopelessness. Peace is not just the absence of conflict. Peace is the possibility of good things, like kindness and compassion, justice and hope. Jesus was called the Prince of Peace. That is, his reign would be one where peace would rule.
Do we believe this peace is possible? Not just an absence of war around the world, but contentment and lack of conflict in our communities and families and even our own souls? Have we given up entirely on the idea, and see it as something naïve and unattainable? Have we just resigned ourselves to conflict and restlessness?
On this night, we celebrate newborn peace. We celebrate that God thought so highly of peace that one of the names for his son would be Prince of Peace. God knew that his people had been in conflict in so many ways through the centuries, in Egypt in slavery, through the journey to the Promised Land when they fought about whether they would ever get there, to the conquests we can read about in Kings and Judges, to the exile, to oppression by the Romans. The people had not really ever had peace, long-lasting deep in your soul peace. And so his son came into the world, born for us, to bring peace.
God has this planned perfectly for his people. God knew he would have to come into the world to transform it and God's people. Then he chose a form that was ultimately inviting, that fulfilled the words of the prophets and proved that He continues to act in the world for his people.
Let us not just hear the words of the angel, but trust in them, of peace on earth, and goodwill to men, of the miracles that happen. Jesus came for you and for me, for everyone who believes that God loves us enough to come into the world, not for His good, but ours. And the world was never again the same.

Jesus comes each day into the hearts of those who love him. Jesus, who took on a human life, gives us a gift that we can never earn, never give back, and never lose. It is the gift of salvation, freely given in love. The good is never completely lost. The peace of Christ be with you. Amen.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

You are Amazing Part 2

I made this card for a friend who was giving it to another friend. It is so fun to be able to make custom cards for others to pass along. The sentiment, which is hard to see here is from Paper Smooches and says "You are amazing". The doily is from the kitchen section at Hobby Lobby. The paper flowers are Recollections, as are the gemstones and pearl. I love the impact of doilies on cards :)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Swanky Candle Tag

I am really lucky to be visiting with my family this week. I am also lucky to be on the type of vacation which does not need a computer, so I'm working with my Mom's. I'm sure you can tell where I'm going with this: I don't know how to edit these photos, which are pretty terrible. I hope you'll bear with me. My first attempt ended with me shutting down the computer so I could stick tweezers into the drive and free my flash drive. Man, did I feel quite tech-y. Not. These were taken with my iPod.

This tag was inspired by the Just Us Girls   call for a decorated pillar candle. I also wanted to play along with the Paper Smooches   inspiration photo (which is at the bottom of this post). Isn't that crazy cute? I was inspired by the Christmas theme, funniness of the picture, reds and stripes of the photo.

And, last but not least, I used the pretty colors chosen by the Play Date Cafe   Design team.

Supplies: Swanky Snowdudes from Paper Smooches stamps, colored pencils, red stamp pad from Ranger, sparkly red cord

  

  

  

Krafty Friday

Those nice ladies over at Cas-fridays chose kraft and twine for this week's theme. Two of my favorite things! I whipped this up using a Hero Arts stamp (French writing - I think, the tag was long gone) stamped in maroon, and a Skipping Stones stamp for the bird, which I fussy cut. The card has a top fold, which is such an easy way to go when wanting ribbon or twine across the middle. Thanks for coming by!

Monday, December 26, 2011

You are so amazing Part 1

Woo hoo! Life of the Party papers from Basic Grey. Aren't they fun? The sentiment is from Paper Smooches and I punched the multi-colored strip with a Fiskars punch. There are also 2 little gems and a teeny pearl in the purple set of Hero Arts gems and pearls. I wasn't really sure that I would find a way to use pink woodgrain papers when I bought the 6x6 pad, but lookee!


My Mind's Bird



This pretty paper comes from My Mind's Eye's Lost and Found Portobello Road. The card style is called Side Swing and is very fun and easy to do. And look, there's my thumb :) I couldn't manage to get it photographed while laying flat, so I went low tech.  This card is for Simon Says Stamp's challenge. I chose the left side of the Bingo, which included multi-fold, twine, and a die cut.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Mojo Malady


I had kind of a crazy day yesterday, which I thought I could remedy with an hour of cardmaking before collecting the kids from daycare and preschool. I snuck home, pulled out some papers and made one disastrous card after another. It was almost remarkable how crummy they were. After 3 horrible cards in a row, I took a little break and turned on the really compelling movie Into Temptation which stars Kristen Chenowith and Jeremy Sisto. It is REALLY good, which my husband had been telling me for months. Thank you Netflix.

Thankfully, after a few minutes of that I was able to uncover my mojo and ended up with this card. Perhaps not my very best, but also not a scandal in the cardmaking world. Now that's a funny image, all the cardmakers getting together online to gossip about how horrible someone's card is? Never would happen. Cardmakers are inherently nice people, especially online. Anyway, I was pleased with this card and pleased that I hadn't been deserted by my creativity. Phew. Now, go see Into Temptation. It's really good.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Blue Christmas

Every year my church has a Blue Christmas service, which is especially for people who are having a hard time during the holidays because of grief, or some other kind of hardship. Sometimes all the chirpy carols are unhelpful, and people need a minute of somberness in the midst of all the joy. With permission from my friend Lee, whose story inspired the intro illustration, I'm sharing my sermon here. 

My friend Lee, who is a pastor in North Carolina recently wrote this story:
“After two and a half months of getting up to feed my new son Jonathan at least once a night, I pretty well have the routine down. So when he woke up last night around 4:00, I did my usual – I dragged myself to vertical, reached for my glasses, stumbled sleepily into his room, and brought him back to into my bed to nurse. He ate well, but something felt a little bit off – I had to turn on the light midway through to get him positioned right, and when I took him back to change his diaper, everything felt a little foggy – but I couldn’t figure out what the problem was until I swaddled him back up, laid him in the crib, and went into the bathroom, where I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror.

I was wearing my sunglasses. In my pajamas. In the middle of the night. While feeding and diapering my baby.”

Grief can be like that. The world can look almost right, but have a sort of heaviness, a fog over it that affects how everything looks. Even in the midst of Christmas cheer, you can feel remote and detached, distanced from the happiness around you. The familiar Christmas songs can make the loss of your loved one more pronounced and the familiar rituals can feel hollow without the one with whom you made them.

People all over the world are struggling at this time. Some because of death of a loved one or a relationship, others because of loss of a job or home, others because life isn’t going the way they thought it would or should. Some people continue to battle chronic pain and illness. Life can feel very uncertain and unsteady. That isn’t all that different from the world into which Christ was born.

When the time came for Christ to be born, an angel of the Lord came to the people where they were. The angel did not come into a special fancy place or to the temple during holy worship. The angel came to the people in their regular life, to intervene and tell them good news. With the angel came the glory of the Lord which shone around the people. They were terrified at what this could mean, but the angel reassured them that good news of great joy was coming, a newborn king, one who would bring light into the world, light that darkness cannot overcome.

The promise was that the darkness cannot overcome the light. No matter how dark, no matter how terrible or hard or painful, the light will shine into it. The light cannot overcome the darkness, but it can continue to shine into the darkness, a hope and promise for better days.

The light of the Lord is coming, to shine in the darkness. The light of the Lord will banish every tear, strengthen every heart, bind up every wound. The light of the Lord, come as a baby, will continue to the cross and the promise of eternal life for all who call upon the name of the Lord.

Each year we remember the angels coming to Earth to proclaim the miracle, that God himself was coming to Earth, to experience all the things we experience in our human lives. God himself would experience the joy of love, the pain of separation, the weight of sin on people’s lives, hard choices, fear, doubt, loss, hope, and peace.

Several hundreds of years before the birth of Christ, the writer of Ecclesiastes wrote about life and time. He wrote:
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

Tonight is a time to let your soul rest, to not feel a burden of experiencing these holidays in any particular way, but rather, if you need, to grieve a little. Whatever brought you to this service, you can bring it to the Lord at this time. God already knows the burdens on your heart, and promises his Son, the Light of the World, will shine into the darkness. No matter how deep the darkness feels, it will never overcome that light. Let us pray:

Prayer from Ted Yoder, Guerrillas of Grace
O God of all seasons and senses, grant us the sense of your timing
to submit gracefully and rejoice quietly in the turn of the seasons.
In this season of short days and long nights, of grey and white and cold,
      teach us the lessons of endings; children growing,  friends leaving,
                  loved ones dying, grieving over, grudges over, blaming over, excuses over.
          O God, grant us a sense of your timing.
                            (Time for silent prayer)
In this season of short days and long nights, of grey and white and cold,
          teach us the lessons of beginnings;  that such waitings and endings may be the starting place,
                  a planting of seeds which bring to birth what is ready to be born--
      something right and just and different, a new song, a deeper relationship, a fuller love
                                           in the fullness of your time.
               O God, grant us the sense of your timing.
                                            (Silent Prayers)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Skipping Lace

I adore this lace stamp from Hero Arts. I stamped it onto a kraft envelope that I had mangled in an attempt at making a matching envelope for a different card set. It gave the lace image a nice texture. I added some My Mind's Eye Lost and Found paper and used this great sketch from Skipping Stones, which I rotated 90 degrees.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Monday, Monday

My husband and I both get Mondays off which we get to use for family fun. Since our kids were possessed by the holiday devil so we absolutely had to get out of the house where there were witnesses if I felt like choking them. Kidding, kidding. We hopped on the train to downtown and partook of the Christkindlmarket. That is not a market for Kindles. Aha haha hahah, I crack myself up. We scarfed down some potato pancakes, with sour cream for me and some salmon thing for my husband. The boy ate all the applesauce and the girl partook of pancakes and cocoa.

We also ate some apple streudel that tasted like an entirely different food from what they call streudel at the grocery store. Holy cow. We split it 4 ways and were still swooning over it on our way back to the train. 

"Mommy, train!" says the boy. "Mommmmmeeeee! Choo choo! Choo choo!" says the girl.  (Yes, she picked out that hat. Why?)

Here the girl and I are next to the manger scene. That's not a camel in downtown Chicago. Those are only in the suburbs.She has perfected her riding-on-shoulder technique. She gently holds onto the side of my face, rather than trying to direct me using my hair like the rat in Ratatouille.

 Waiting for Santa, watching the model trains.Who wouldn't give this kid whatever he wanted? Oh, right. His scroogey parents. We just give him some of what he asks nicely for.


The boy is not entirely sure about this, despite demanding we wait in line for Santa. The girl calls out "Sansa! Sansa!" every time she sees something red and white. Anyway, we were glad to see him, even if we have complicated feelings about Santa's role in celebrating the birth of the Christ child.

Who don't we have complicated feelings about? Our friends from Geneva. Look how cute their girls are!
And yes, our girl is now choosing her own clothes. What? You don't wear your red Univ of Wisconsin sweatshirt with flowered pants? Whyever not?

My Time with Just Us Girls


My Time Made Easy and Just Us Girls blogs used red, green and kraft or white as their colors for this week's challenges, so I whipped up this little one. It's kind of a meld of a Christmas and an Anytime card. I was wishing I had a poinsettia stamp until I remembered this Hero Arts stamp, which I got as a gift. I thought I'd give coloring the flowers red a try and see if it looks Christmassy. Maybe like holly?

I started by embossing the image in black so as to not have to worry about smearing ink while coloring with pencils. From there, it was pretty easy. Coloring is so soothing, isn't it?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Black and White Joy

This card came from this digi. In theory, the ornaments can be changed to different colors. Well, either I don't have the proper program or the proper know-how, because these babies are black and nothing could seem to make them change into something sparkly. I think I might try it with a white background and swirly cardstock as the base for a more dramatic look. What do you think?

Also, how cool did that ribbon photograph? It looks like it's coming off the page. Just lucky with that one - I'm still hopeless with my camera. Yep, slowly sliding into middle age despite my recent totally young birthday.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Heroic Steampunk


Another card using the Ode to Steampunk digikit. It is absurdly versatile. I mostly bought the kit to make things for my brother, who is obsessed with Steampunk, but it has been really useful in a wide range of card endeavors. I entered this in the Hero Arts monthly challenge to use a sketch, which I interpreted liberally. The sentiment reads "plane, train or bicycle, Come on home for the holidays". 

Are you using digis? What do you like or not about them?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

My Coolest Friend

Oh Paper Smooches, how you've seduced me with your cuteness. And I'm not a cute person. But these swanky snowdudes are getting it done for me! I CASE-d a card from the PS blog which showed the dude peeking in from an angle. So cute. See? I can't stop using the word cute. Eeh. Well, I'll let you judge for yourself.



This patterned paper is from Echo Park, and comes doublesided. The first picture shows the inside.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Cas-ual Play Date Thank you


Recently the lovely Virginia Lu had a birthday party and as part of the party, she gave away gifts. I guess that's how we can tell we're adults, right? We give away gifts for our birthday? :) I won one of the gifts, which included some gorgeous stamps. I used this pretty Hello stamp from Hero Arts to make this card. I started by embossing in black onto white paper. I didn't want any ink to run, so I chose to emboss instead of simply stamping in black. Then I colored with my colored pencil.

The Cas-ual Fridays challenge was for a decorated card with matching envelope, so I whipped out this Clean Simple stamp. I tried to make something work with the HA stamp, but after 3 tries, I needed to try something else. This card also follows the Play Date Cafe challenge to use black and white with a splash of teal. These are such pretty colors.




Misty Penguins


I adore the penguins from this digi. I love the spiky hair on this guy. I paired him with some smooch spritz and pop dotted him up and called it a day. Do you think Penguins surf? Because this guy looks like a surfer to me :)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Merry Mojo


This is a pretty lazy interpretation of the sketch over at Mojo Mondays. I still need some Christmas cards (that's still happening this year, right?), so I wanted to use this great sticker as my focus for the card. The paper are Little Yellow Bicycle. They have some gorgeous Christmas papers.

Oh, and my friend Lee? I'm sure she's an amazing racquetball player. :)

The Mojo sketch:

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Snowdudes


I finally gave in, stopped stalking the Paper Smooches blog and bought these snowdudes stamps.They are officially Swanky Snowdudes which is a totally fun stamp set name. I started this card by misting with the smooch spritz (my card products are getting sillier in name by the second). I then stamped the snowflakes with fine linen distress ink. I stamped the snowdudes (saying that has not gotten old yet, snowdudes, snowdudes, snowdudes, nope, not yet), onto white paper, trimmed around them and affixed them to my card. The top is just adhered with regular adhesive runner. I pop dotted up the top section to give it a little dimension. Some coloring with Marvy markers and some pearls, and all done.

I wanted to get all four snowdudes on one card because there are four of us in our family. I think we might be sending a few of this design for our Christmas card. What? No, I don't have our Christmas cards done. There are days and days until Christmas (she reassures herself). 

Another awesome thing about the PS stamps? They stamp like a dream. Totally clean and clear straight out of the package. I will definitely be ordering again.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Some on Tuesday

In the next 12 days I have 5 worship services to lead. I say that not because I feel sorry for myself, but to explain why I'm probably going to need to disappear for a few weeks. DON'T PANIC. Kidding, kidding. I hope that this is a holy and blessed time for you too.

In case you miss me, how about checking in on these people?

Katherine Willis Pershey, writer, pastor, mother, racquetball partner extraordinaire.

Lee Hull Moses, ditto, except for the racquetball. She's a runner.

Rage against the Minivan. This blog is doing a series of reader-submitted essays called "What I want you to Know". They are brilliant and gorgeous. Today's was about a woman who works in an orphanage. They are about all sorts of topics.

Alex Waller, politics, religion, sciency things.

I'm hoping for some carding time tonight. If I can manage it, I'll share soon. Thank you very much for coming by. It means more to me than I can say.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Sometimes I feel discouraged

I wrote recently about hope, particularly as it related to my church's financial situation and my extended family situation here. Since then things have calmed down at home, thankfully. The kids are doing well and making big plans for Christmas. The boy seems to think he can make Christmas come by talking about it all the time. I guess that probably makes sense to a three year old. He is also trying that technique with getting extended TV time, also to no avail.

Since that old post we had a Congregational Meeting to discuss the financial goings-on of the church and the projected budget shortfall.We had about six categories from which we could cut. The rest of the budget is fixed, thanks to the price of utilities and such. It was a good discussion, and lots of people participated and felt they got to be a part of the conversation. 

But, it was a hard discussion, and I've been feeling pretty discouraged. And then I went and did something to my back, perhaps pinched a nerve, perhaps pulled a muscle. Either way, I couldn't move for the whole of Tuesday night and am only now feeling marginally better. Ibuprofen and I have become fast friends, while I resist taking medicine most of the time.So I was generally feeling pretty sorry for myself. 

Then the emails started pouring in. Someone offered to clean the church twice a month. Someone else offered to underwrite one line item in the budget. Someone else found a way for some of the utilities to be paid. It was frankly, sort of obnoxious of God. I mean, when you're having a good sorry-for-yourself moment, the least God can do is let you wallow in it, right? 

But no, over and over God reminds me that I'm not alone in this, that it's not about how well I perform my job, that the ministry of my church is valid and thriving. We are not going to be a mega-church. And for that I thank God.But we are doing vital, important ministry which changes lives for the better. For that I thank God, too.

Yesterday I finally cleaned my craft desk.  A small sentiment I had printed onto some cardstock a while ago was at the bottom of a huge pile. It read "When the world says, "Give up," Hope whispers, "Try it one more time." Fine, Jesus. I guess we'll do it your way. Thank God.

Steampunk flower


Oh, how I love the Ode to Steampunk digi set from Hero Arts. You can get it from Two Peas, if you wish. There are so many images in the set, clocks, bikes, flowers, planes, trains, maps. I chose to pair the flower, which I stamped with faded lipstick distress ink, with some dingy 7gypsies paper. A little ribbon donated by my mother-in-law's Christmas work party present, and all done. I really like that color of distress ink. Very bold. Thanks for coming by!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Runway


I was over at Cristina's blog last week and read about a new challenge which uses fashion for inspiration in paperie. Sounds good to me. I need all the inspiration I can get. This is the very first challenge and they chose a very pretty dress (below). For making my card, I used a stamp from studio g that has a kind of line drawing appearance. I added a few lines in yellow because of the color of the dress. Also, because I needed more birthday cards in my stash, a small birthday sentiment. I really liked the DT cards as I am definitely a CAS girl at heart. What fun!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Deck the Moxie Halls


The Tuesday Trigger for this week at the Moxie Fab World was this gorgeous sparkly ball collection (last photo). I pulled out all of my misters, green, red, blue and sparkly white and went to work on this pink sparkly cardstock.

I don't know if it happens to you all, but whenever I use my misters it makes the paper curl. Any advice? Because no, you're not imaging that this card's middle is bumping towards you. :)
Then I embossed the tree in silver tinsel. The tree is a Hero Arts stamp. I added a bunch of gems in various colors and voila! Shiny happiness.

From this angle you can see a little better the different colors of misters. Green on the left, blue on the right, red on the top, clear/sparkly all over.
Here's the gorgeous trigger.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Seven Skipping Stones


I really liked the sketch this week at Skipping Stones Design. I have a couple of their stamp sets, and used one of the sentiments from a set with this patterned paper from 7Gypsies. I hope you like it :)

Cas-ual Birthday


I was woefully short of birthday cards after making 20 for one of my husband's uncles, so I wanted to be sure to use the opportunity to make another one. He ordered 20, not we're planning to send him 20. Ha ha.

I chose to play along with the CAS-ual Fridays tic-tac-toe game. The grid is below. I chose the diagonal on the left, scallops, kraft and aqua. This gave me a chance to use my Fiskars punch, Verve stamp (Tender Mercies), SRM stickers and the tiniest bit of twine I had left. I've gone to the store twice to pick up more and each time it's been sold out. I should probably just buy some online, but I love the excuse to touch all the paper at the store on my way to the twine display :) Thank you for coming by.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Canvas Star


I found the canvas star here while decorating for Christmas. I made it last year as part of a workshop at Archiver's. I added it to some Jillibean Soup paper and twine. Classic Christmas. :)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

My Time Made Taylored

I participated in the card drive for Breast Cancer Awareness over on the Splitcoast Stampers site in October, and won this stamp set. It's totally unlike anything else I had, so it was a stretch to figure out how to use it. After a coloring misfire, I went with paper piecing.

The card here is for the My Time Made Easy challenge to use red, green and yellow. I've competed each week this month. I really enjoy color challenges, and these have been good. I think my favorite was last week's, which you can see here. The sentiment here reads "Once you choose hope, anything is possible" from Christopher Reeve. The wrap on the girl is really a ribbon, and the rest of the stamps in the set are for cancer ribbons or hope themes. It's pretty versatile.




Supplies: Stamps, Taylored Expressions, Moka Hope
Patterned Paper: October Afternoon