bird art on the fly

*.*  Have you entered my giveaway?  The winner will be selected on New Year's Day! *.*

I have a pair of birds similar to these lovelies hanging in my dining room.  I bought them for five dollars at a local discount store.  My mother-in-love almost always comments on how much she loves them.  So I scoured every mall, every store, every online boutique for something similar and could. not. find. a. single. one.  I had a choice.  I could either paint the birds onto glass--which, trust me, would have resembled a third grade art project--or find some other way to get the look.  They say invention is born of necessity.  I found another way.

.". How to make instant bird art on glass .".

.".  Buy frames and remove the back using a hobby knife
.".  Find two bird prints you like (make sure you check for a copyright)
.".  Edit the pictures to fit the size of your frames  (the ones I made in the above photo were 5 by 7's)
.".  Print the pictures in the correct size
.".  Take the copies to a local print shop and have them color copied onto transparencies.
.".  Cut out your prints.
.".  Turn your frame face down and remove the glass.
.".  Run a strip of clear silicone around the edge of your frame where the glass will rest.
.".  Quickly place the glass into the frame, using a cloth to press the edges down  (just to     keep the smudges off)
.".  Apply another layer of silicone around the edges of the frame, this time on the glass surface.
.".  Place the print right side down onto the glass, using your cloth to smooth the edges.
.".  Allow to dry over an hour before hanging

This post is linked to the fabulous Today's Creative Blog, A Soft Place to Land, and A Silly Little Sparrow.

a new year's giveaway

Now that all the gifts have been opened, I can finally share what I've been so busy making!  
It truly was a handmade Christmas this year and I enjoyed the challenge of creating gifts with personal meanings behind them.  In fact, I had so much fun I've decided to give one of my creations away!  

The prize is a "love letter in a bottle" pendant necklace with a message from God penned in a tiny scroll. 

The winner will be selected by a random comment generator on New Year's Day.
To enter this giveaway, simply leave a comment with some form of contact information so I can notify you if you win (if your e-mail is somewhere on your web page that is sufficient).  
If you have participated in my Christmas Link-Up, The Five Senses of Christmas, you will get 2 entries! 

Just because I love you.

I got gifts, too!  The best kind.  Awards that make me feel special.

Thank you, Mrs. Buckster for the Happy Award.  You make me laugh and are seriously the coolest person ever. 

And thank you beautiful Natalieh, for the Jesus Blog Award.  You have the purest heart.

*I'll be posting more of my handmade creations this week.



the surprise.
the relishing.
the delight.
the fascination.

the reason.

Jesus' birthday!

starting all over again at Mimi's house...

the wonder of Christmas unwrapped!

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1: 17


The {Touch} of Christmas

The {Touch} of Christmas

Holiness birthed in a bed of dirty straw
A squirming baby grasping the hand of Eve's daughter
Homeless, would we have noticed him
Ignored the stench and filth to embrace a babe born in a barn

A perfect God with a perfect plan
Exalting the lowly and confounding the proud
The Son of God seeking a home in the hearts of man
Undeterred by the stench and the filth of our sin
Embracing us even in our dirty skin
A holy God making us holy from within

God does everything on purpose.  He chose that damp and dusty stable in Bethlehem, almost as if to say, "My ways are not your ways..."  Our King Eternal deserved all the honor and the riches of this world, yet He never sought after wealth or renown.  He didn't even seek "appropriate" shelter for his birth.  His life was all about people.  Me.  You.  Us.  Them.  

He touched the untouchables, loved the unlovables, forgave the unforgivables.

How can we not do the same?

*Every Tuesday, we've shared on one of the Five Senses of Christmas and I've so enjoyed reading about your experiences!  This Tuesday, it's all about the {Touch} of Christmas.  Feel free to share anything that comes to mind--the touch of Jesus on your life,  how you are reaching out to touch others with his love, maybe a kindness that was shown to you during this season that you will never forget, or maybe just a fond memory.  There really aren't any "rules", just share your Christmas with us!


christmas stockings

"Mommy, we have to get them this, they will LOVE it."
Two eager hands grabbed toys off the shelf and dumped them into our shopping cart.  I resisted the urge to explain we had a budget, after all this was supposed to be about giving and I wanted him to be wholeheartedly involved.  It warmed my heart to see him so animated about choosing gifts for little kids that may not get any this year.  We had three big stockings to fill with toys and other more practical things like socks and warm shirts.  On the way home, Thaddeus chatted excitedly about giving away toys that he didn't need anymore  (which is a big step for him, my little hoarder).  We talked about sharing Jesus tomorrow with the kids we were going to visit and how happy it would make them to receive the gifts.

Our church met bright and early on this Saturday morning, stockings in hand, and hearts ready to share.  We unloaded in a soggy field, set up the Superstar Kids Club trailer and eagerly welcomed the kids that began to stream in.  It was beautiful to watch the message of Jesus shared as arms hugged children starved for affection.  Joel started a wrestling match and was soon buried three feet below a mass of delighted little boys.  A young girl of 9, with chilly bare arms and sock-less feet stuffed into worn tennis shoes tugged my heart the hardest.  It was then I wished I had brought more.  We had already given away our stockings.  Thaddeus had eagerly passed them out, his face alight with a newfound joy.  He had watched in anticipation as each child opened their gifts.  It didn't seem right for that little girl to return home still cold, still coatless.  I had an extra sweater jacket in my van and I knew it would fit her.  I only wish I could have given her more.  She lingered for awhile, shyly thanking me and accepting my hugs with a need that left my heart broken but full.

My son's words from a couple nights ago now slip back into my thoughts.
As he was dropping a few coins in his gas tank  (that's what little boys use for a piggy bank, don't ya know), he had said,
"I want to save all my money and give it to Jesus."
Who better to give it to than the One whom it belongs to, the One who can multiply it one hundred fold?

My Jesus, help me hold onto "things" less tightly, and open my hands without hesitation to give what you have so freely given me.


meet Becca and {One Very Cold Night}

Hi, I'm Becca from The Stanley Clan and my husband and I work for a ministry called Vision Atlanta. The goal of our ministry is to be a bridge between the resources of the suburbs and the needs of the kids living in at-risk areas of inner-city Atlanta. We provide summer camp to kids who couldn't otherwise afford it, and foster mentoring relationships for those children who live in poverty right here in Atlanta. We love our kiddos and are passionate about serving them and seeing them walk in freedom in Christ.

An excerpt from my post One Very Cold Night:

...There's this one family we work closely with, and their mama is an absolutely gem. She is the most grateful, sweet, loving person. Who never asks us for anything. Truly. Now granted, she has made some BAD decisions. And as a result, she has 7 kids and one grand-baby who live with her, in one bedroom. Not a one-bedroom apartment, just one bedroom. Period.

This sweet lady, April, told her daughter's mentor that she didn't have any winter jackets for her kids. And people, it has been COLD up in here lately. So I felt a little panicky for my kiddos. And we gathered some folks who all bought coats and we ended up with some really nice winter coats for her kids. Adam and I wanted to bring them to her right away, so Friday night after a dinner meeting, we headed downtown.

We pulled up to their building, waving off all the people who naturally assumed we were there to purchase some of their wares (
if you know what I mean). We grabbed several big Gap bags and shivered on the front porch while we waited for her to answer the door. Entering her room, I was able to make out all seven kids huddled on the queen sized bed, by the light of one small flickering candle. She explained that they only had one outlet that worked, and they were using it for a small space heater since there was no heat. I looked down as a small hand slipped into mine, and I embraced little Raymone tightly, tears slipping down my cheeks as he asked if he could please some stay at our house. I opened my mouth to tell him yes, forever, but Adam explained that we had brought him a winter jacket and would be back to pick him up for church on Sunday.

I sat down and pulled Ray Ray into my lap. He softly whispered in my ear: "Becca, I love white people." Surprised, I looked at him and asked "Why?"
"Because they are SO nice," he said earnestly. I responded with a hug, and explained that it isn't the color of your skin that makes you nice or mean, but rather what's inside your heart. I told him that the reason we were so nice to him was only because Jesus lived inside of us, and Jesus loved him so so much.

At one point during our little conversation, I looked up to see Adam telling April that we wanted to move downtown so she could bring the kids over to play, and sit with us and drink coffee. Or to do her laundry. Tears streamed down her face, and babies snuggled on the bed, Ray Ray sat in my lap, and Lee was holding my hand.

And all of a sudden I knew just a little bit of what it felt like in the stable so long ago, as Jesus lay sleeping in a manger: a bed not fit for a baby, let alone a King. And yet it was holy, peaceful, joyful even. Because Jesus IS the least of these, and His presence can warm even the darkest room, the draftiest stable.

It is moments like these that I remember how much our Savior loves and provides for every single one of His children, and I remember how blessed we are to be able to serve Him in the darkest places. Because that's usually where we find Him, where we expect Him the least and need Him the most.

christmas choir craft

Our Christmas Choir

**I found this adorable craft in a Family Fun magazine and you can view it online as well.** 

We had so much fun making these and we decided to name them Astair, Boston, and Thaddeus.  Stunning, the resemblance. (smile)  I only now noticed that Astair and Boston's song sheets are upside down!  Oh well, they can't read anyway!  But they sure can sing!

What you'll need:
Toilet paper and/or paper towel tubes
construction paper and/or scrapbook paper
old socks and/or fabric scraps
ribbon or yarn
song sheet
black marker

What you'll do:
1}  In the online instructions it suggested painting the tubes, but we were a bit impatient and decided to cover them in construction paper instead. 
2} Cut out shapes for the face out of construction paper and glued them onto the tubes. 
3} Cut out rectangles of sheet music approx. 1 1/2 inches tall and 3 inches wide.
4} Cut out mittens in patterned paper and glue the mittens to the sheet music and then to the tubes.
5} Cut an old sock or scraps of fabric to make a hat and tie it with string.
6} Make your sweet faces



God is breaking my heart.
I've always thought of myself as a compassionate person.  Now, I'm realizing how little compassion I truly have compared to the love of our Father.
I can't stop weeping and for once my tears are not for myself, but for others.  So many others.  The cold, the hungry, the hurting, the little ones in need of a kind touch, a warm embrace.
While I sit here in my cozy home worrying about paying a mortgage, when really I should be thankful I have a mortgage to pay, I realize I want my heart to be broken.
So broken, that I must do something.  
So broken that I cannot sit back and watch children shiver because they have no warm coat while ten hang in my closet.  
So broken that I can no longer avoid the bad neighborhoods, but seek ways to bring them the Light of Jesus.
So broken that I can't ignore the homeless man on the corner, the mother addicted to drugs, the teens living on the streets.
The tears are blurring this screen now as I pray,
"Break me, Lord, and show me what you see everyday.  And may my feet move where your heart leads."

Wiping my eyes, I glance at the picture I've opened up.  A dejected little boy huddled on the street, and these words written above him in a handwriting I now recognize, "I WAS HERE".  God.  Here.  In the loneliness.  Walking with the abandoned, hurting with the destitute and the outcast.  I sense his invitation, the gentle imploring of His Spirit.  

Will I scribble in the handwriting of God on the walls of the oppressed, "I was here"?  Will I go where He goes?  Will I look for Him where I least expect Him?

This post is linked to:

holy experience

live the gospel

*This week and next week, I've invited some guest bloggers to share their incredible stories of compassion.  God is calling.  His love is restless, longing for our feet to carry it, our hands to offer it.

a {very etsy} christmas and gelato

My friend, Stephanie at The Hanes Family Chronicles is hosting a fun little link-up called "A Very Etsy Christmas".   Now, you know I could not resist adding some etsy love.  Since everything is handmade on Etsy, many things can't be rush delivered.  However, being the late shopper that I am, I was pleasantly surprised to find that some sellers are offering expedited shipping.  The lovelies that I'm featuring today are not some of those (small pout).  But, there's always next year!
I absolutely LOVE this nativity scene of vintage knit figures! Find it at judygovintage.
My boys would love this wooden t-rex by banished
Our floors are so cold and Astair's toes would be cozy and darling in these MATILDA Mary Jane Crochet Shoes by CurlyBirdie.
I'm positive my little womb baby kicked in exclamation when I saw these Baby Ankle Boots by crochetvalley.

Notice a slight theme here?  I think I need to learn how to crochet!!

Daddy flew in last Saturday for the weekend!  He had to leave again Monday morning and we were all sad to see him go, but we had the most WONDERful time with our favorite guy.  We took the troop to the New Orleans Children's Museum and had a blast.  Then we stopped at our favorite place, Angelo Brocato's Italian pastry shop.  We feasted on Italian gelato and fudge brownies.  What a perfect weekend.


The {Tastes and Smells} of Christmas!

The {Tastes and Smells} of Christmas
Every time I smell the sweet citrus of an orange mingled with the spicy aroma of cloves, it floods me with memories equally crisp and delightful.  My mother used to make these festive spiced orange balls by the dozen.  She would tie them up with ribbon and give them away as gifts.  The air in our home danced with their colorful aroma.  Growing up, I was always a bit leary of my mother's incessant craft projects and her creative ideas (little did I know how much like her I would become!), but this one drew me in.  We would sit at the dining room table, plunging spikes of whole cloves into juicy oranges, creating patterns in orange and brown and reveling in the pungent scent. To this day, I love that smell.

I can't get enough of it!  In fact, every year around this time I make homemade apple cider because it has undercurrents of that same aroma woven through it.

My Favorite {Homemade Apple Cider}

8-10 gala apples
1 small orange
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. white sugar
4 cinnamon sticks
1 Tbsp whole cloves
3 Tbsp allspice

{1} Chop unpeeled apples and oranges and toss them into a large stock pot
{2} Add water until all apples are covered
{3} Add sugar and spices
{5} Boil uncovered for one hour
{6} Cover and reduce heat, letting simmer for at least two more hours
{7} Turn off heat and let cool.
{8} Mash the fruit.
{9} Strain the fruit and spices from the pot into a large container and enjoy!

What are your favorite Christmas tastes and scents?  Link up and let us know!

Christmas Tour of Homes

Christmas Tour of Homes with The Nester

The DIY Show Off

A completely "child proof" christmas tree...or so I thought!
Yes, it is crooked!

A wreath that reminds me of angel's wings...
Instructions on how to make this "Fly Away Wreath" here.

The stunning reminder of Jesus' sacrifice in the bright red of a poinsetta.

Yarn ornaments to make with your kids.... for the how-to see this post.

The reason for it all...

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."  Isaiah 9:6

*Tomorrow we're linking up for the Five Senses of Christmas and we're exploring the {Tastes and Smells} of Christmas!


my favorite pictures

A couple months ago, my picture-takin' friend Michelle called me to tell me two of her photographer friends were in town for a photography workshop and they needed to take pictures of kids as one of their "assignments".  Could I loan them mine for the day?  Ummm...YES!  I threw some clean clothes on them, wiped their noses and prayed for their attention span to be lengthened by at least 30 seconds.

Amee Sorensen, one very talented and lovely lady, just posted some pictures from the shoot on her photography blog.  She was able to capture what I try desperately to every day but give up on after 100 failed attempts.  Thank you, Amee, for your patience with pouty faces and distractedly busy toddlers!  I think you're awesome!  I've posted just a few of my favorites here (of course they're all my favorite!) and there's many more to see on her blog.

Thad, you're the best and the brightest little boy!  Your warm chocolate eyes melt my heart.
Your "I love you's" and impulsive hugs brighten my day.
Twins holding hands....
You really do love each other and your big brother, too.
Sweet Astair, you are my child of joy, of genuine beauty.
You can tell by your choice of blankie that you are one stylish gal.

Boston, there is just so much personality in every ounce of your spit-fire frame!
I think you're absolutely charming.

Mommy loves you, her little gang.


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