Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Creatively Christmas

Creatively Christmas

 
Christmas is vastly approaching, and my husband and I happen to be part of families that have several birthdays going on within a dangerous vicinity of the Holidays. So with the economy being as it is, and money being tight (especially with a new baby in the house!) we have decided to try and be as creative and frugal about presents this year as possible. 

We are going to try to make gifts, but also keep our eyes open for great deals. I'm not the best bargain shopper, but in this day and age places like Ross and Amazon sometimes make it easy! (Keyword: sometimes... lol)

So, I keep my eyes peeled for things that I think people would like, or things I know they want. Luckily, my side of the family decided for extended family gifts (since there are so many of us and we are all tight on the green stuff) to do name drawings. This is always a great idea if you have a large family and everyone could use a break money-wise or even time-wise (who has time to shop for all those extra presents!?) So that means Gabriel and I only have to come up with two presents on that side. The thing that can get hairy is that we both come from decent sized families (don't laugh, because I do realize that many of my friends come from even larger families, but when it comes to gift giving I think our families are still pretty decent sized!) He is one of four siblings and has one set of grandparents still living, I am one of three with one complete set and my other grandpa still living as well. It makes it worse that my love language* is gifts! I love giving gifts, so I think of everyone in the family and it is so hard to leave anyone out! Including aunts, uncles, cousins, even if I rarely see them and they never give me a gift lol. But, fortunately for me, being creative about gifts can help you save money. 

We don't always have to go the stereotypical expensive route to give a good gift. Take for example the gift basket sold in stores, most can be replicated for half the price! Make your own Christmas treats and buy Christmas containers at the dollar store or half price at Hobby Lobby, and viola! A gift with a personal touch that costs very little, plus you can make a big batch of each treat all at once knocking out several gifts in one shot. You can also be smart about what to buy. It's easy to go for something that costs more that anyone would love, an ipad, ipod, recently released movies or video games, or even gift cards. But if you take some time to be creative about an intentional, personal gift you can save some serious money. For example, my dad is really hard to buy for, and he has expensive taste -he loves techy gadgets and things. I got him some Dallas cowboy (his favorite team) bar-b-q sauce last year, he loved it! Thoughtful and personal, but didn't break the budget. Or if there is something expensive someone really wants try getting a group of friends or family members to go in together, I have done this several times with my husband. When we were dating me and his family came together to buy him a Wii, when we were engaged we all pitched in on a guitar. He still got the gift he wanted, but I didn't have to go into debt (and spend the whole year until next Christmas getting out) to get it for him :) You can also go for a "quality time" related gift if the person you are buying for is one of those people who has everything or would appreciate that more. For instance, take them out to lunch, or to a movie they want to see. Not overly expensive, and fun for you both!

That brings me to making gifts! I recently taught myself how to knit using youtube* videos, a knitting website*, and a few books from the library. Knitting projects are fun, easy, and you can work on them while watching TV ;) Plus, knitted things are really in right now and super cute, you can make something with each person in mind by using their favorite color, making something specific to them and what they like, etc.
But if knitting isn't your thing, have no fear because there are tons of homemade gifts you can make! Gabriel, my husband, loves to draw, and is amazingly talented, he has made me many fun pictures as gifts. Photos are always fun and require little to no skill, buy a cute frame and put in a picture of you, your family, you with the person you are giving the gift to, or even something in nature you think they would like, easy and affordable. Also extremely personal.

And don't worry if you stink at coming up with creative ideas, Hobby Lobby* (both the store and the website) is full of fun craft and gift ideas complete with directions and a list of needed materials. There are so many cute things you can make! Buy the materials when Hobby Lobby has that department on half off, or keep your eye on their website for a 40% off coupon.

Pinterest* also has fun ideas! I found a recipe* for homemade sugar scrub for exfoliating the skin, very cute. A friend told me she took some lace or fabric and a soft hanger, sowed up the sides, adding a zipper or button to close the "bag" with a space for the top of the hanger to stick out, as easy as that you have a hanging accessory bag for your closet -perfect for hats, gloves, scarves, socks, lingerie, etc. You can add your own touches for decor. There are tons of things you can do if you just start looking, and using your creative juices. Whatever your skill is you can hone that and use it to make fantastic, homemade, personal gifts for everyone, and in the mean time save yourself a ton of money, and the stress of shopping during the Holidays lol. 



Please comment with your own fun homemade gift or money saving ideas! I would love to hear them. Only 27 days until Christmas! I'd better get started! =P 

Happy Holidays, everyone. 

=Nikki=




Friday, October 26, 2012

Bittersweet

Life isn’t always easy, in fact, I would argue most of the time it isn’t. Everyone goes through stuff, everyone has a story. This is a little piece of mine.

At first, I really identified with Joseph. God gave him a dream, he spoke to him in a very real way, with a word, and from a God who can’t lie, a word, or a dream means a promise. Crap happened, but Joseph never let go of his dream. How do I know? When he was in the bottom pit of a jail cell for something he didn’t do and someone said, “I had this weird dream last night…” What does Joseph say? “OMG! Don’t even mention dreams around me, I’m getting as far away from dreams as I can, it was a stupid dream that got me here in the first place!” Nope. He actually said, “You’re in luck, man, I can interpret dreams.” He wasn’t afraid of dreams, he could have let the enemy tell him, ‘You can’t interpret dreams, you fool, remember the last dream you tried to interpret? Your interpretation was totally rejected by everyone you loved. Even your father rebuked you! No one believed you! In fact, it made your brothers hate you more and turn on you, you’re here in this stinking pit because of that very dream. You should have kept your mouth shut and none of this would have ever happened.’ Hmmm…. Sound familiar? Satan may be cunning but he certainly uses the same pick up lines over the centuries. The sad part is many times we fall for it. The same old ones. So why get new ones?
No matter how ugly things got, how hopeless, how far from that dream, Joseph believed God. And guess what? His dream came to pass! And right in the face of those who had disbelieved, those who rebuked him, even hated him for what he dreamed, they all saw it come to pass. He was honored in the face of everyone who had opposed him. I’m sure Joseph didn’t know exactly how that dream was going to play out, he didn’t know the timing, or the details, but he knew the dream and he held on to it no matter what. I mean, after all, it was many years before Joseph saw his dream come to pass, and a lot of things happened to make it possible. I think one of the wisest things ever said was by Joseph himself, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good…” (Genesis 50:20)

I was given a dream, too. I thought I understood it, but I guess I didn’t, because as my crap happened life threw me a couple of curve balls I wasn’t expecting, they didn’t fit into my plan, my interpretation. So should I throw away my dream completely? Maybe it wasn’t from God… No way! I know that God spoke to me way back when He gave me the dream, which was indeed rejected by many, that I would be opposed, and things would happen that I couldn’t anticipate, but hold fast, because someday my dream will be fulfilled before my eyes and they eyes of all those who rejected it from the beginning. He spoke to me about Joseph. I choose to believe Him. He has never let me down. 

Now, I’m starting to feel a little like Job. Job said, “What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me”. (Job 3:25). I feel a little like Job, like my whole life has just gone up in flames. What I have feared the most has come upon me. My worst nightmare. It’s hard to cope, and sometimes I feel like giving up. Luckily… “When I tried to give up, Lord, you never gave up on me.” (Peter Furler, ‘Reach’).
God is still faithful, my father still hears me cry, and cares. It’s hard to understand what happened, and I feel like such a failure, but I know that I know that Romans 8:28 is the word of God, therefore it must be true. (“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him…” Romans 8:28). I have to believe that, and I have to hold onto it. I have to remember that He still has a plan. (“’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.’”) 

I am still believing your word, Lord, that no matter what happens, and no matter what the devil tried to tell me, no matter what the world says, even people I love, that your word is truth, and you are always going to be here with me. And even when I epically screw everything up, you can still redeem my mistakes, your mercies are new every morning. (Lamentations 3:22-23). Please forgive me for hurt that I have caused by my failure, my humanness. Please, bless those I have failed and lift them up. Please, love and heal them. Please, clean up this mess I call my life! And the mess I’ve made for others. Thank you, Father. And have mercy on me, because I desperately need it.



Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Journey

Sometimes we all come to that place in our journey when we forget what we were in for in the first place. Where are we going after all? What is this quest? Sometimes it takes a step back and a glance around to remind us. When our own plans fall apart, when people we loved betray us, when the goal starts looking less and less appealing and more and more not worth all this trouble, there is but a single shaft of light peering into our dark situation.


And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28 NIV

I like the way Jesus Culture says it in their song "Your Love Never Fails" they say, "You make all things work together for my good."

It takes that verse and makes it personal for you and me. We look into our lives, our futures, our dreams, and when everything seems hopeless and falling apart our Father's promise is boldly shining forth, He gently calls to us, "Just trust me, even know I am working all these things out -for your good." How deep the father's love for us, how vast beyond all measure! He is ever so faithful, and yet we always forget.

Still entering into this New Year, be encouraged, and remember that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither present nor future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)