Christmas Crafting

Day 8:

For today’s advent post I would like to share with you several holiday crafts I found on the internet.

 

We did this once for a church Christmas party! Here’s the link: http://myblessedlife.net/2010/12/gum-drop-pomander-ornaments-tutorial.html

 

I love the bright colors they used for these trees! We’re doing this craft right now, and it’s turning out great!

http://www.livinglocurto.com/2011/12/yarn-christmas-craft/

 

You may not want to eat this candy cane, but it sure is cute!

http://anightowlblog.com/2012/12/trim-your-tree-diy-twine-candy-cane-ornament.html/

 

I soooo want to do this!

http://www.shelterness.com/easy-to-make-christmas-ribbon-wreath/

 

These are so elegant and pretty!

http://www.familyhomeandlife.com/2012/11/scripture-ornaments.html

 

Bottle cap snowmen!

http://www.funholidaycrafts.com/christmas-crafts/bottle-cap-snowmen/

 

Isn’t this an awesome idea!

http://diyordont.blogspot.sg/2011/08/tutorial-dixie-cup-light-garland.html

 

Wouldn’t these make an adorable gift for a younger child?

http://thelongthread.com/?p=1604

 

I hope you have a blast crafting this holiday season! Make sure you let me know in the comments how your homemade Christmas crafts turn out! ~Ally

 

 

Christmas Nail Art

Day 5! Hello! For all of you who like a little glam during the holidays, here are a couple nail tutorials I put together: Winter Slope French Manicure: photo 1  1.  photo 2  2. photo 3 3. photo 4 For this nail design I used a shimmery, white polish, a silver nail art polish pen, light blue glitter, and a top coat.  In Figure 1 I only used 1 coat of the white polish. Do not let this dry before applying the glitter, unless you are using a glitter polish. I used a damp cotton swab, and dabbed the glitter across the top of the nail like in a french manicure, and down to one side of the nail as shown in Figure 3. This does not have to be perfect. 4. photo 5    5. photo 1    6. photo 2                                                      I used a silver nail art polish to line the glitter, which covers any little mistakes you may have made with the glitter. You can also use a fine-tipped brush with regular silver or white nail polish to paint the line. Add a top coat and voila! It isn’t an overly complicated design to do, and it has a nice, elegant look to it. Violet Snowflake Manicure: Do you want to do your nails for Christmas, but only have pinks and purples to work with? Not a problem! This nail project is fun and festive, even without red and green. photo 3            1. photo 3                                         2.  photo 4  In this design I used a deep lavender color, and silver and white nail art polish pens. Paint a snowflake or two on your nail in white, once again, either using a nail art pen, or a fine brush. Mine likes to goop up on me, so it was a little smudgy. 3. photo 1                                          4. photo 2 After painting your snowflakes, you can use a pinhead to dab dots on the tips of the snowflakes. Believe me, pins are amazing tools for dotting your nails. I suggest that you only dot 3 or 4 of the tips of the snowflake for a more playful look. Then I used my silver polish to dot around the snowflake. Add a top coat and admire your work! If you don’t have the time to do all ten nails, then use it as a design for an accent nail. I hope you liked my designs, and that you will have fun playing around with them! – Savy

A Woman of Obedience

Mary: A Woman of Obedience

Did you know the name Mary means bitterness? In some ways it fits, Mary’s life was bittersweet. She experienced the joy of raising the son of God; cuddling with him, watching him grow, and seeing him begin his ministry. But she also felt the sorrow of raising a perfect boy in an imperfect world; she watched him die a horrible, violent death on a cross. Did Mary fully understand what her life would be like when Gabriel delivered his special news to her? Beyond raising Jesus, she was told she would become pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Can you imagine how scary that would be? She was a lonely teenage girl, already engaged, and about to become pregnant. She could have been stoned on grounds of adultery. I’m sure her conversation with Joseph wasn’t a pleasant one. She must have been terrified when the angel told her she would be the mother of Jesus, the long awaited Messiah. Yet she didn’t hesitate to accept God’s plan for her life. Her exact words were, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38) She offered to be his maidservant and do whatever he told her to do. Mary didn’t argue or tell God to find someone else, she simply accepted his will. The next few months would have been terrifying, but she kept praising the Lord for his love. Luke 1:46 says,

“And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,

47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.

48 For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;

For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.

49 For He who is mighty has done great things for me,

And holy is His name.

50 And His mercy is on those who fear Him

From generation to generation.

51 He has shown strength with His arm;

He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

52 He has put down the mighty from their thrones,

And exalted the lowly.

53 He has filled the hungry with good things,

And the rich He has sent away empty.

54 He has helped His servant Israel,

In remembrance of His mercy,

55 As He spoke to our fathers,

To Abraham and to his seed forever.”

She considered herself blessed, even when most girls would have been falling apart. She raised Jesus under stressful circumstances, and then watched him die on a cross, but she never lost faith. She trusted God with her life and her family. She obeyed him, even though it could have cost her everything. She was truly a women of obedience.

A Trusting Heart

Hannah: A Trusting Heart

    When I first started working on these devotionals, I intended to write about Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist. As I was finishing Esther, however, I felt it more important to do a devotional on Hannah. Don’t get me wrong, Elizabeth’s story is very important, and perhaps I will do a devotional on her later. However, Hannah’s story is more pressing at the moment.  Hannah’s life, upon first glance, is quite tragic. She was the favorite wife Elkanah, who also had another wife. She lived during a time when this was not only accepted, but normal. Hannah was childless. In the Hebrew culture at the time, bearing sons was hugely important. Not having someone to bear your husband’s name was shameful.  Elkanah’s other wife, who had several children, was cruel to her. All of Hannah’s life she probably dreamed of having children, but when she married she was barren.  When she went to the temple with Elkanah to offer sacrifices to the Lord, she prayed to God for children. She poured out her soul to God, and pleaded with Him. She vowed that if he gave her a baby boy, she would give him back to the Lord. She would dedicate him to a life of serving God, as his Lord and Savior. She wept and prayed some more, and the Priest, Eli, thought she was drunk. When he reprimanded her for drinking, she said, “No, my lord, I am a woman of sorrowful spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor intoxicating drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord. Do not consider your maidservant a wicked woman, for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief I have spoken until now.” -1 Samuel 1:15b-16. Then Eli told her to go in peace, that her prayers may be answered. Hannah went home, and a few months later she became pregnant. Then she had a baby boy, and named him Samuel. When Samuel grew a little bit older she took him to the temple, and dedicated him. When it came time to leave, she left Samuel with Eli. Then she prayed to the Lord. 1 Samuel 2:1-10 says,

“My heart rejoices in the Lord;

My horn is exalted in the Lord.

I smile at my enemies,

Because I rejoice in Your salvation.

2 “No one is holy like the Lord,

For there is none besides You,

Nor is there any rock like our God.

3 “Talk no more so very proudly;

Let no arrogance come from your mouth,

For the Lord is the God of knowledge;

And by Him actions are weighed.

4 “The bows of the mighty men are broken,

And those who stumbled are girded with strength.

5 Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,

And the hungry have ceased to hunger.

Even the barren has borne seven,

And she who has many children has become feeble.

6 “The Lord kills and makes alive;

He brings down to the grave and brings up.

7 The Lord makes poor and makes rich;

He brings low and lifts up.

8 He raises the poor from the dust

And lifts the beggar from the ash heap,

To set them among princes

And make them inherit the throne of glory.

“For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s,

And He has set the world upon them.

9 He will guard the feet of His saints,

But the wicked shall be silent in darkness.

“For by strength no man shall prevail.

10 The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken in pieces;

From heaven He will thunder against them.

The Lord will judge the ends of the earth.

“He will give strength to His king,

And exalt the horn of His anointed.”

Hannah was rejoicing, because God had given her son, but she had to leave her baby behind. As Samuel grew he went into ministry, from the time he was child. Each year Hannah would make her little priest a robe, and bring it to him. Doesn’t this story seem quite sad? First, Hannah is barren. Second, she’s made fun of by her husband’s other wife. Third, she has a baby, but has to give him up when he’s still a toddler. It doesn’t seem quite fair. Why couldn’t God had just given her a baby? Sometimes what we think is perfect for us, really is not what is best in the big picture. Samuel grew into one of the most famous and godliest priest of the Bible. He anointed the first two kings of Israel, one of which was the most famous king of all time. Are you noticing a pattern? All of the women we have studied so far, with the exception of Esther, have raised amazing children. Rahab’s son was boaz, Ruth’s son was Obed, and Hannah’s son was Samuel. We don’t know who Esther’s children were. Mother’s affect their children so much, the mold them and form them into the people they become. Who they are, and the lives they lived, shape their kids into who they are. But what can we learn from Hannah specifically? Hannah showed amazing trust and perseverance. Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;” She never gave up believing God would work miracles, even when she was mocked. When she did have a son, she gave him up just as she said she would. She never broke her promise, because God never broke his. You know what else? Because Hannah trusted God with Samuel, God blessed Hannah with more children.  How about you? Are you entrusting your life to God?

~Ally

“…You say to God, “I have never seen you provide for me.”

God says to you, “You have never trusted Me.” ~Corallie Buchanan

For Such a Time as This

Esther: For Such a Time as This

    What girl doesn’t love the story of Esther? Full of adventure, romance, and heroic acts, the story would make a perfect dime novel. The plot is perfect! After the king kicked the queen out of palace for not displaying her beauty to his guest at a party, the king needed a new wife. Therefore, he had all the single girls of marrying age brought to him to inspect. Of all the girls he could have chosen he picked Esther. Why? Esther was beautiful both inside and out. What he didn’t know was that Esther was Jewish. Raised by her cousin Mordecai since birth, Esther didn’t think twice about obeying when he told her to hide her heritage. When Mordecai overhears a plot to kill the king, he tells Esther, who warns the king. When the king discovered later that it was Mordecai who saved his life he planned a parade in honor of Mordecai. But Haman, the king’s jealous and evil right hand man, had other plans for Mordecai. Haman hated Mordecai because he had refused to bow down before him, saying that he was a Jew and worshiped one God.  Burning with jealousy and vengeance, Haman built gallows which he planned to hang Mordecai on. However, it wasn’t enough for Mordecai to just kill Mordecai, he wanted to destroy all of the Jews in the country. Haman tricked the king into writing a decree stating that all the Jews would be destroyed. Mordecai heard about the decree, and he knew that the only person who could save them was Esther. So he went to Esther and begged her to go to the king for him. In Esther 4:13b-14 he says to Esther, “Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” In those days no one was allowed in the king’s presence without permission, not even the queen. If they did enter his presence without asking, he would either extend his scepter to them, signifying he was pleased, or they would  die. Esther was very afraid of going before the king without permission, because Esther knew she was risking her life. The queen asked Mordecai to gather the Jews together, and have them fast and pray for her. When she entered the king’s court, he favored her, and lowered his scepter towards her. Esther 5:3-4, “ And the king said to her, “What do you wish, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given to you—up to half the kingdom!” So Esther answered, “If it pleases the king, let the king and Haman come today to the banquet that I have prepared for him.” The king accepted her invitation, and at the banquet asked her again what she wanted. She invited him for another banquet the next day. She was buttering up the king!  The next day the king and Haman went to Esther’s banquet. The king asked Esther once again what she desired, but this time she said, ““If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request.” (Esther 7:3) The king was livid, and demanded to know who would do so such a thing! Esther responded, “ “The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman!” (Esther 7:6) You can imagine Haman’s horror! The king stormed off in his anger towards Haman, and Haman pleaded with Esther for mercy, but she would give none. When the king returned he ordered Haman be hanged on the gallows he had built for Mordecai. Then they all lived happily ever after! Well, except for Haman, he died. Isn’t that a pretty story? What can we learn from Esther? Esther was a woman of great courage. Like Rahab, she risked her life to save other people, like Ruth she was devoted to her family. She was scared to go before the king, and she was frightened to accuse Haman, the king’s right-hand man. Yet, she did it anyway. Courage isn’t the lack of fear, it’s doing what you know is right even when you are afraid. “Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.” ~John Wayne. While Esther didn’t really “saddle up”, she did what she knew was right despite her fear. She went into the king’s court, even though it would most likely cost Esther her life. She accused Haman, even though the king respected and trusted him. She was terrified, but she saved her people anyway. Why? Because she knew that she was never alone. She had a God who cared about her, and loved her, and he would protect her. Joshua 1:9 says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” This was a verse Esther lived out in her life, and it’s a verse we should try to live out every single day.

~Ally

A Woman of Devotion

Ruth: A Woman of Devotion

My all time favorite Bible story is Ruth. I love Ruth’s devotion, Boaz’s caring, and their love. Being a teenage girl I honestly love romances, therefore Ruth and Boaz’s story is very enjoyable to me. I also love how devoted Ruth was Naomi. The story of Ruth begins with famine and suffering, but ends with new beginnings and fresh starts. Perhaps that’s another reason I love the book of Ruth, I’m a sucker for happy endings. In case you haven’t heard the story of Ruth or don’t know it very well, let me give you a quick summary. Judges ruled Israel, and there was no king. Everyone one did as they pleased, and not what God had commanded them to do. It was at this time that famine struck the land. In Bethlehem there was a man and his wife Naomi, who had two sons. They left Bethlehem and moved to Moab. While they were in Moab their sons married Moabite women, Ruth and Orpah. Then Naomi’s husband and sons died, leaving all three women widows. Heartbroken, Naomi took her two daughter-in-laws and started back to Bethlehem. But on the way she changed her mind and urged them to return to their families. They wept, and begged her not to send them back. Eventually Orpah gave in, and returned to the Moabites, but Ruth would not. In Ruth 1:16-17, Ruth says to Naomi, ““Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” Naomi relented and allowed Ruth to come with her. They arrived in Israel just as the Barley harvest was beginning, and Ruth went into the fields to collect the leftover grain. She happened to go to the field of Boaz, the son of Salmon and Rahab, and a relative of Naomi. Boaz asked his overseers who she was, and they told him that she was a Moabite woman, who had come back with Naomi. Boaz came to Ruth and told her not to go into anyone else’s field, but to always harvest in his field. Ruth asked him why he would treat her, a foreigner, with such kindness. In Ruth 2:11-12 it says, “11 Boaz replied, “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. 12 May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.’” For the remainder of her time in Boaz’s field, Ruth was treated with kindness and respect. Boaz gave her extra barley, which she took home to Naomi. Naomi asked who had treated her with such kindness, and when she heard it was Boaz she said, “The Lord bless him!” Naomi said to her daughter-in-law. “He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead.” She added, “That man is our close relative; he is one of our guardian-redeemers.” (Ruth 2:20)  A guardian redeemer was a person responsible for taking care of a needy relative. One day Naomi told Ruth to wash, dress in her best clothes, and put on perfume. She sent her down to the threshing floor to lie at Boaz’s feet, after he fell asleep, so he would not know she was there. But in the middle of the night Boaz awoke with a start, only to find a young woman at his feet. You can imagine his surprise at finding it was Ruth. There, in the middle of the night, she practically proposed to him! Boaz loved Ruth and wished to marry her, but there was another guardian-redeemer, who was a closer relation. The next day he went to the other relative and asked if he could marry Ruth and buy Naomi’s land, and the man agreed. Ruth and Boaz had a son, and they named him Obed, and through Obed Naomi’s family was continued. What I find very interesting about this story is the similarities between Boaz and Ruth, and Salmon and Rahab. Both Boaz and Salmon loved and married women who were looked down upon by their people. Ruth and Rahab were both foreigners, who came from a wicked culture. They would have been mistreated and disrespected by most Israelites. Yet in their great love, both Salmon and Boaz were willing to overlook their backgrounds and baggage. Perhaps it was because of his father’s unconditional love for his formerly prostitute mother that Boaz was so quick to love Ruth, or maybe he was impressed with Ruth’s devotion to Naomi. Either way both stories are beautiful illustrations of God’s unconditional love for us. No matter what we’ve done in the past, no matter what baggage we carry with us, God loves us. We don’t deserve it, but he gives it to us anyway. Why? Because he made us, and in his eyes we are precious jewels. He will never leave us or get sick of us. In a way, it’s like Ruth’s devotion to Naomi. Ruth could easily have left Naomi and gone back to her own family, but she didn’t. Instead she suffered through the challenges of a new culture, a new faith, and a new life. All because she loved Naomi so much, and was devoted to her. That’s the main attribute we can learn from Ruth: devotion. Devotion to God and devotion to our family. ~Ally

“Taken as a whole, the story of Ruth is one of those signs. It was written to give us encouragement and hope that all the perplexing turns in our lives are going somewhere good. They do not lead off a cliff. In all the setbacks of our lives as believers, God is plotting for our joy.”   ~John Piper

 

Beautiful By Grace

Rahab: Made Beautiful By Grace

The Bible is full of incredible stories of men and women who devoted their life to God, and God’s grace and mercy on those people. Perhaps one of the most remarkable, however, is the story of Rahab. Rahab’s tale contains everything a good story should; adventure, faith, and a touch of romance. But more importantly, it really happened, and can have a lasting impact on our lives today. Rahab was a prostitute, a harlot, she lived a life of sin and immorality. She was raised in Jericho, a wicked city, which stood in the way of the Israelites getting to the Promised Land. Two hebrew spies were sent into Jericho to search it, and they found refuge in Rahab’s home. Rahab, a woman known for her sinful life, risked her life to hide the spies from her own people. She hid the two men on her roof, and then covered for them while they escaped. Why did she do this? Because she had heard of God’s great works, and feared him greatly. In Joshua 2:8-11 it says, “Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof and said to them, “I know that the Lord has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed.  When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.” She knew that God was powerful and that he was going to destroy the city, so she begged for mercy in return for her protection and help. She even asked that her entire family, her mother, her father, her brothers and sisters, be protected as well. They agreed, and promised that she would be treated kindly, because she had obeyed the Lord and protected them. She then helped them sneak out of the house, by climbing out of the window using a red rope. They told her to hang the rope in her window, and no harm would come to anyone in her house. She agreed, and when Jericho was conquered, Rahab and her family remained safe within her house. But Rahab’s story didn’t end there, she later married Salmon, one of the spies she had helped. Isn’t that romantic? Salmon was the chief man of the tribe of Judah. Their son was Boaz, and her great-great grandson was King David, who the line of Jesus came from. Isn’t God’s grace amazing? Rahab was a prostitute, the lowest of low, and yet God used her in an incredible way. She helped save two hebrew spies, and later married one of them. She became the great-great grandmother of one of the most famous kings of all time. Her story is truly remarkable. But what can we learn from it? Ultimately it was Rahab’s fear of the Lord that led her to help the spies. When we fear the Lord and serve him with our lives he does the most incredible work. He changes us and makes us pure through his grace. If you think about it that’s really what Rahab’s story is, a story of grace. God took the life of woman who had lived in sin, who was dirty and corrupt, and made her into something truly beautiful. A woman of faith, who is now remembered as a woman of great courage and bravery. Are you willing to give your life up to the Lord and let him do something wonderful with it? ~Ally