Saturday, December 20, 2014

Easy Peasy Pillowcase

This is not my typical blog post here, but since this is my space on the web for things about my family, this loosely has to do with that...

While everyone else is saying "only 5 shopping days left until Christmas," you're more likely to hear me say, "only 5 CRAFTING days left until Christmas." I absolutely love giving friends and family homemade gifts-I enjoy praying over them and thinking about their favorite things and how I can incorporate them into something that will make them feel loved and special. Also, since DH is a minister and I'm a SAHM, making gifts, rather than buying them, is much more doable for us financially. One of my favorite things to make for children are pillowcases, and GP is just now at the age where I feel comfortable letting him sleep with a pillow, so this Christmas, one of the things I'm making for him is a Thomas the Train pillowcase. There's nothing very difficult about making a pillowcase...although I've discovered you can make ANYthing more difficult than it has to be. There are SO many tutorials for making pillowcases, but I've yet to find one that I haven't felt the need to adapt. So, rather than continually searching for a tutorial I just love and trying to remember how I want to execute my own pillowcase projects, I figured it was time to write down the way I like to make what I call the "easy peasy pillowcase."

Easy Peasy Pillowcase

one yard fabric (I like flannel the best, but I've used cotton many times, too.)
Sewing machine

iron your fabric (this will make it so much easier to fold and sew straight without having to pin anything.)
You want the main piece to be about 27.5" in length (and 20" in height when folded, so 40" total in height.) For my flannel, I needed to fold up about 7" to get it to that length--DON'T CUT, but just fold the WRONG SIDES together and press with your iron (seriously, don't skip this step!)

Now zig zag stitch that folded side: 
And cut the fabric as close to your stitch as possible to avoid fraying when washing. 

This is what the other side will look like at this point (see the zig zag stitch?):

Now fold your length in half, RIGHT SIDES together and iron (the zig zag piece you just sewed will show the right side):  

You can now zig zag stitch all across the top and the side (the other side-not the side you folded over.) 

I like to do a regular stitch on the inside edge and a zig zag on the outside edge: 

Now flip it right sides out and iron and there you have it! Easy peasy, right?!;-) 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Just Jesus...

It seems like we literally left for vacation amidst Halloween costumes...
(we went to trunk or treat at our church on Friday evening and then left while it was still dark outside on Saturday morning to get on our ship!)

and then came home to Santa and his elves adorning every store window.  And even though everyone has said this is going to be a super cold winter, we are currently hanging out in 70 degree weather.  I still refused to take my cowl off today though;-)  In true Texas fashion, we're experiencing all of the seasons at once: Christmas tree in our living room, leaves COVERING our driveway, short sleeve t-shirt weather, and cloudy skies.  Winter, fall, summer, would be hard to tell what season it was if it weren't for the constant stream of facebook posts regarding the Elf on the Shelf's daily shenanigans.

 No offense to those who participate in the Elf--I actually admire the creativity and the TIME people put into it.  We are doing good during the Christmas season trying to get everyone in bed before 10 'o clock though (rehearsals, programs, church Christmas parties, etc.), so no Elf here.  (Unless I count when using my "Elf" name of "Jingle-Nipper Toe Bells";-)  Instead, the main Christmas decoration we put out for the kids each year in our house are our various Nativity sets.  My mom has added many unique pieces to our collection, but the favorite has to be the one that started them all: the Fisher Price Little People Nativity Set.  I love that it's something that all three kids can plan with (because, let's face it--when you have a 7 year old and a 2 year old and a BABY, you usually spend all of your time making sure your youngest isn't chewing on a small Polly Pocket that's fallen to the ground.) but I love even more the type of play and thinking it encourages.  While Gabriel tends to throw all of the pieces around in various places throughout the living room, and Annie showers them all with "kisses" (teething), Lucy is very meticulous in the positioning of each and every character. I can always tell when Lucy has been playing with the nativity set, because I will find all of the little people with their backs facing us, each one, wisemen, donkeys and all, facing into the manger. Their gaze isn't facing outward towards us.  No.  Their eyes are fixed on the tiniest, yet most important, piece of the nativity set: Jesus.
I truly just love that little girl's heart.  Maybe she doesn't realize it fully at this point, but her actions remind me so much of what I desire we keep our focus on this Christmas season--not the packages and bows, or the trees and the lights, or the treats and the characters.  Just Jesus.  And while it seems like that's a pretty simple task, keeping our focus on "just Jesus" during this season can often be quite a challenge.  I suppose Lucy learned from the very best though, because her Daddy's heart led out in this desire to bring the focus to our heavenly King this holiday season.

Back in August, DH was beginning the preparations for our choir and orchestra's Christmas program.  I'm not sure how many dozens of musicals he listened to, or how many stacks of CDs filled with Christmas songs he and the music secretary went through, but he had such a clear vision: to create a worship experience that pointed to Jesus; to allow those presenting and those listening to prepare room in their hearts for the Son of God.  This past weekend, we presented "Prepare Him Room" to our church, and it truly was such an amazing worship experience.  It really set the tone for this Christmas season.  For years, I have sung the song "Joy to the World" simply by  rote: "Let every heart, Prepare Him room," but I don't think I ever really focused on what it means to truly prepare room in my heart for Jesus' coming. Just like I was caught off guard returning from vacation to rows of stocking stuffers and brightly colored lawn decor, it's easy to get caught offguard and forget what Christmas is really about. I'm so thankful for a husband who desires to keep the main thing the main thing though.  This past weekend wasn't about a performance. No, it was about making a place--THE place--for the coming King.  Simply put, it was about Jesus.  Just Jesus. 

But DH and Lucy aren't the only ones who have reminded me of the true reason for this holiday season.  Even though still at such a young age, our precious little Gabriel has wrapped up the true meaning of this season with one simple phrase...

As I mentioned before, we like to decorate with nativity sets, and Gabriel really enjoys playing with all of them.  He is quite familiar with the "cast of characters" in the scene: the animals, the angel, Mary, Joseph, and Jesus...but Gabriel has a different name for the characters.  Whenever you point to the nativity and say, "Who is this?" his response isn't the typical name, "Jesus," but rather, he responds with, "Jesus loves me!" At first, I thought he was just being reminded of the song, but after having him do this on multiple occasions, it's become quite obvious that when Gabriel sees a nativity scene, he immediately is reminded of the love of Jesus.  And honestly, isn't that what Christmas is REALLY about--about the fact that God loved us SO much, He sent His one and only Son to this earth so that we might be able to have a relationship with Him?

And then there's my sweet little Annie Beth, 
just soaking in everything that is around her. She is quite taken with the Christmas tree and all of the decorations hanging within her reach, but she's also very focused on the twinkling lights. Though the wonder in her eyes, I'm reminded to soak in the wonder of my Saviour, the Light of this dark world. 

Sometimes we can get lost in the glow of the Christmas lights and the presents, but when I look at my tree, I'm reminded of the light of the world, and when I wrap up my presents, I'm reminded of the greatest gift of all. Yes, we can easily be distracted, but I hope that just like Lucy, I can fix my eyes on the manger.  And like DH, I pray that I will prepare room in my heart for my Lord.  And like my Gabriel, I don't ever want to forget that Christmas is the celebration of knowing that Jesus loves ME!  What about you? Will you fix your gaze on Him this season?  Will you prepare room in your heart to celebrate His worth?  Will you overwhelm yourself with the knowledge that He loves you so very much?  Don't worry about anything else but Jesus.  Just Jesus...

Such a tiny babe
in such a lowly place
Yet noting but greatness filled the air
And they had all been told
How the story would unfold
But still there weren't many to greet You there
But I don't want to be one of these

When was the last time
I gazed at the manger
And thanked you for coming to earth
When was the last time
I gazed at the manger
And let my soul fill its worth?

So many busy lives
So very little time
We've lost our focus of Who you are
And we have all been told
How the story did unfold
But still there aren't many to greet You there
But I don't want to be one of these

When was the last time 
I gazed at the manger
And thanked You for coming to earth?
When was the last time
I gazed at the manger
And let my soul fill its worth?

We spend so much of our time trying to fill
The void that we feel in our souls
That we've overlooked that the answer, it lies
In the baby born so long ago

So when was the last time
I gazed at the manger
And thanked you for coming to earth
When was the last time
I gazed at the manger
And let my soul feel its worth
 And let my soul feel YOUR worth