Saturday, December 29, 2012

an announcement.

Ack! I'm so excited to finally announce the big project that I've been working on!

For the last few weeks, I've been hard at work on a new blog series. It's something that I've never done before, and I'm really excited about. Ever since I started this little blog, I've been creating my own blog designs. I'm quite particular about how I like my blog to look. Back in the beginning, things didn't look quite as pretty around here. 
But, in the last four years, I've learned a lot about design. Google is a great thing- but sometimes it gets a little overwhelming. HTML can get really confusing- especially if you delete something important (like your comment box, but whatever!). But, I've learned so much (even from my mistakes). In addition to creating my own blog designs and designing my website, I've also created some designs for friends and family members. And all of this has led to lots of questions on how to do different things. 

So, I decided that it was time to do a blog class. No, I haven't done one before. I'm not even sure that anyone will read it/learn from it/do anything from it. I feel a little under qualified, but I decided that if I stick with the basics, then we can do this! For this class, we won't be learning HTML. There may be some minor tweaks, but we're going to stay away from the scary stuff for the most part. Most of the class will focus on how to create the various blog graphics (header, background, sidebar headers, social media buttons, blog buttons, etc). 

All you will need for this class is a Blogger blog and an image editing program, like Photoshop. Since Photoshop can be a costly investment, I will be doing most of the tutorials in Photoshop and GIMP. GIMP is a free download, so I'd recommend that you go ahead and download it if you don't already own something like Photoshop. That way you can play around with it a little before we get started (though I will be explaining everything, so no worries if it confuses you!). We'll be creating all of our own graphics, so you won't need to purchase a digital scrapbooking kit or anything like that. There will be some fonts that I may suggest you download along the way, but all of them will be free. :)

Oh! I'm just so excited. This is going to be so much fun. We'll focus on one "topic" a week. Some weeks may have more posts than others (for example, a post on how to make backgrounds in Photoshop and a post on how to do it in GIMP), but there will be at least one class posted each week. We'll move at a slow enough pace that you should be able to keep up, but if you fall behind, it's okay! At the end, I'll show you how to install your new blog design (and where to upload different things). I'm thinking that the class will last about six weeks, but I'm still working on it. Along the way, if you have questions, you can always leave a comment and I'll get right back to you (plus, other people can help if they see your comment and know the answer!). 

Come back January 2nd for the first installment of Blog Design Basics (and tell your friends, maybe they'll learn something fun too!). It will be a super easy first class, because we'll be talking about brainstorming- but you won't want to miss it! :)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Night That I Saw Santa

On a dark night almost sixteen years ago, I saw Santa Claus.

No, I don't mean the man at the mall. I mean the real deal. The man who enters houses through the chimneys. The man who spreads the Christmas joy by bringing presents to children all around the world. That Santa.The magic of that moment still hasn't left me. I remember it like yesterday. It's a vivid picture in my mind that replays itself every Christmas season. I remember the rush of excitement- and the following fear.

I was six years old, and it was Christmas Eve (well, technically "Christmas Morning", but it was early and wasn't light outside- so I wasn't allowed to go downstairs to see what Santa had brought yet). I was so excited about what Santa would be bringing that night, and I was having a bit of trouble sleeping. As I woke up for the umpteenth time that night, I heard a sound that can only be described as magical and wonderful. If I listened really close, I could hear the ringing of jingle bells. If I listened really close, it almost sounded as if someone was walking on the roof!

Needless to say, I got a little excited, so I quietly got out of bed and tiptoed towards my bedroom door. I remembered my parents saying something along the lines of "If Santa sees you peeking, he'll take all your presents away", so I knew that I needed to be careful. I carefully peeked my head outside my door and took a peek into the living room. And then- I saw him.

I saw him in all of his splendid, magical glory. As I peeked out my door, I saw a man standing in the hallway admiring his arrangement on the fireplace (and I was really excited when I saw the Doodle Bear that I had been wanting). The man in the red coat captured my complete attention for just a moment- and then it looked like he was moving to leave. So, remembering my parents' warning, I hurried quietly back to my bed. I squeezed my eyes shut as I heard the footsteps and the bells once again. I held my breath as I listened for the quiet "Ho ho ho." But, it was hard to fall back asleep. I was too scared. What if Santa had seen me? What if he took away all my presents? My stomach seemed to be all tied up in knots.

The next thing I remember is someone coming into my room to wake me up. My first thought was full of fear. But, with much excitement, she told me that Santa had visited our home the night before, and had left some presents by the fireplace for ME! I rushed down the stairs to see if she was right- and she was! There was my Doodle Bear (the one that I was so excited about), and lots of treats in my stocking. The cookies that had been left out for Santa were all gone. It was real. Santa had been here. It wasn't a dream- it wasn't a figment of my imagination (I mean, he ate my cookies!). That Christmas morning was full of so much joy, mostly because I was thankful that Santa hadn't taken my toys away.

Now that I'm older, I've been told "things". I've heard the rumors. But, I still believe. I still believe in the magic. I still believe in the joy. On Christmas Eve, I still find myself lying awake at night, straining to hear the beautiful sound of the jingle bells and footsteps. When I have children someday, I can't wait to tell them the story. I can't wait to introduce them to the magic and wonder and awe of Santa. No, I haven't seen him since that night sixteen years ago. But, I won't forget that night. The night that I saw Santa.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Thrifty, Frugal Sewing Fun! (and a random cat dress)

I'm a huge thrift store freak.
I mean, I love shopping and clothes, but I hate spending lots of money. Plus, I love the rush of adrenaline that comes with finding a particularly good deal. I love being thrifty and frugal (and you'd know that I come by it honestly if you knew my mother). I talk a good bit about how I ought to teach classes on this stuff. :)

I also like sewing. Sometimes if I'm working on a big project it gets stressful, but most of the time I do it for stress relief. It's actually really enjoying, fun, and distracting (which can all be good things!). There's a blog that I've admired for a few years called New Dress A Day that really inspired me. I've wanted to do a dress refashion for a few years now, but I was just waiting to find the perfect dress to start with. I'm still a beginner sewer (or is it seamstress?), so I needed something simple for my first project- preferably something that just needed hemming. 

Then-one day at the thrift store, I struck a goldmine. 
Thank you dear brother for posing. Sorry for not telling you that I was going to post it on my blog. 
No, it wasn't this homemade cat dress (even though I really did want it- I mean, cats, pink polka dotted ribbon, what more could you want?). You see, when I was in fourth and fifth grade, I went through a phase where my favorite two dresses that I wore all the time were these little cotton GapKids numbers (or they might have been Lands End, I don't remember). I tried to find a better picture, but this is the best I could find. You get the idea.

It was a really awkward time in my life. I loves these two dresses (a purple short sleeved one and a long sleeved blue one) mostly because it felt like I was wearing pajamas (or rather a nightgown) all day. They were really super comfy, and I was really upset when my mom told me that I had outgrown them.

So, imagine my joy when I found this little number at the store! It was nice and soft (probably because it's so worn) and reminded me of the dresses that I used to love to wear.It just had a small problem- it was kind of long. While I love the maxi-dress look, the style of the dress was a little too Duggar for me. I kind of felt like I was stuck in the 90s- and that I really would need that cat lady shirt if I wore the dress as is. Since my favorite dresses were knee length, I thought that would be a good length to start with. (I'm also going to apologize for the messy bathroom with a fire hydrant...I share a bathroom with two boys, but it's the best place lighting wise for full-body pictures at nighttime- my best crafting time). 
Please note, I have nothing against moms who home school. I totally want to home school my future children someday...I just don't want to dress in frumpy clothes. Just going with the stereotype here. :)

This project was really simple. All I did to the dress was hem it- but it made the dress so much better (and more practical and wearable!).
I used a dress that I already owned to get a basic idea for length. Then, I pinned a hem onto the bottom. And then- I realized that it was still too long. So, I got frustrated and put the project away for a few weeks.

Tonight, I picked up the project again and I decided to cut a few more inches off. I didn't use a guide this time, I just put it on and then eyeballed it. Since the dress has a rounded/circle hem, it was really difficult to pin. So, since it is made of a t-shirt kind of material that shouldn't fray easily, I just rolled it up as I sewed on my machine. I may end up having to fold it over again and re-hem, but it was worth it to not have to fight with the hem and sharp pins. :)

Now I have a nice "new" cute dress! I really like the fact that I can wear it year round. Since it's short sleeved, I can obviously wear it in the warmer months (80% of the year in good ol' Alabama). But, I can also wear it with a cardigan and tights in the winter months. It also looks pretty cute over jeans as a tunic. :)

For three bucks, I think this one's a winner! :)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

three random things

This blog post is going to be totally random. Sorry for that.

1. While I finished up classes about 2 weeks ago, my brothers still have had school. Max is a freshman this year, so he is getting to be exempt from his midterms (which makes him really happy). The other night, Mom and I were talking about a text that I sent her back in my Freshman year of college. It was a silly little text sent after my theater class, and I told her in the message that I was dropping out of college and joining the circus (I was kidding of course, but she wasn't sure if I was serious or not. Silly Mom. Circus animals are stinky and I don't like heights!). In the midst of our conversation, Max decides to chime in that he's dropping out of school to become a traveling country-western performer. And from that...this song came forth.
I should add that my brother is pretty talented. That's all improv...he came up with the lyrics as he went. :)

2. I'm totally addicted to Netflix these days. I love the fact that I can watch Disney movies (hello, Pocahontas and the Brave Little Toaster), documentaries (Pompeii...I love history), and interesting TV shows (Deadliest Warrior and Sherlock) all in one place (Yes, I know that I have a wide variety of interests...only I would watch Brave Little Toaster and Deadliest Warrior back to back). For some reason, I got this idea that watching LOST would be a good wasn't. Watched about 15 minutes of the first episode and freaked out. I somehow didn't know about the whole "plane crash onto the island" thing or the "big scary jungle monster" thing...which just isn't good for someone with flight anxiety who is scared of scary monsters under the bed. Sorry that have the entertainment tastes of a five year old.

3. I'm ALMOST done with my grad school application! I haven't written about it on my blog yet, but I'm applying for a Masters of Social Work program at the University of Alabama (yes, I'm an Auburn fan. But this is the only place in the state to get a MSW). Now if my professors will just send in their recommendation letters, I'll be done with the grad school application (and just have two pages left for a school of social work application). Writing essays isn't my favorite thing to do over Christmas Break, but luckily they weren't too difficult. It's possible that I brought up some humor in my essays (like the time that I was out delivering Thanksgiving food boxes with some people and a man answered the door in his underwear), but whatever. Maybe it will make the reviewers giggle. :)

Monday, December 17, 2012

the end...or is it?

Since the world is ending on Friday and everything, I thought that I'd do a short post on Revelation. :)

Some of you might remember that I took a class on the book of Revelation this past semester. While I was dreading it at the beginning (because I REALLY didn't like the book of Revelation), I actually ended up learning a lot and enjoying the class. While there is SO much that I'd love to share with you guys, I really don't want to bore you to tears. I know, I know...not everyone loves learning new Greek words. I get it. :) But, I thought that if I could come up with a way to summarize the class in just a few words, a few paragraphs...maybe some of you might enjoy it?

I don't know about you, but typically when I hear a reference to the book of Revelation, my mind instantly shifts to thoughts of the end times, the apocalypse (in a “2012”or “Day After Tomorrow” kind of sense), the rapture, or other similar things. Over the course of the past semester, I’ve come to realize that my view on this book could not be more wrong. Apokalypsis, the Greek word from which we derive the word “apocalypse” from does not mean “end of the world” or “destruction” or anything like that. It simply means “revelation”. Oh wow. The word “revelation” doesn’t mean anything scary either. To reveal something, according to Merriam-Webster, is “allowing a look at or an understanding of something inner or hidden”, which is exactly what John does in the last book of the New Testament. Mind blowing, right?

When all of these thoughts began to come together inside of my brain and I really began thinking about what Revelation really meant, my whole view on this book shifted. Rather than being a book about “really bad things” that would happen to “really bad people” and about the antichrist and the rapture, I realized that it was a book about Christ. Michael Gorman says in his book Reading Revelation Responsibly that
Revelation is not about the antichrist, but about the living Christ. It is not about a rapture out of this world but faithful discipleship in this world.
 Revelation isn’t just a book for the people “long ago” or the people of the future. It’s a book that still matters today and that can guide us on what it means to be a follower of Christ. If you look at the little word cloud that I posted above, you can see this. This word cloud was created by pasting the ENTIRE text of Revelation into a website called Wordle (I even used the KJV version, because I always think of that version as being more wrathful). As you can see, the biggest word on the cloud is "God". If you keep looking, you will eventually find some not so nice things (like beast,), but how hard fdo you have to look to find "war" or "judgement"? Look real hard, and you still won't find "fiery pit of Hell" or "antichrist" or "Obama". What if we've been looking at this book the wrong way? As followers of the Way, we shouldn't have anything to fear in the book of Revelation. It really shouldn't seem scary to us, if we are confident in God. For us, this book isn't a message of "gloom and doom"- it's a message of HOPE!

Revelation seems to emphasize a specific theme that repeats frequently throughout the book- hope for a hopeless world. In the midst of "dark" times- times of Christian persecution and martyrdom- John asks people to look towards a more hopeful future. Being a Christ follower, according to John, is not supposed to be an easy thing. Fallen Babylon will not want to submit or conform to the ways of New Jerusalem. Christians are called to stand in opposition to the order of the world, which sometimes may lead to the giving of one's life for the sake of the gospel. But, there's hope found in the image of a coming conqueror! There is hope found in imagery relating to God handing power and authority to the followers of the Way.

So, I don't want to go on and on about the topic, but if you're interested, here's some places to further your knowledge:
  • Last week, I posted my term paper from this class on a blog that I use mostly to post various writing samples. It's called Paradise Restored and is a look at the New Creation found in Revelation 21-22. It's a message of hope for the future. A small warning, it is a term paper, so it's a little lengthy (about 10 pages).
  • One of my favorite books that we used as a textbook for the class is a book called "Reading Revelation Responsibly: Uncivil Worship and Witness: Following the Lamb Into the New Creation." It is written By Michael J. Gorman and is a pretty easy read (for a theology book). While I don't agree with everything written in the book, it opened my eyes to some things that I hadn't previously thought about. It explains some of the symbolism and historical facts in a way that is easy for readers to understand (even non-Seminary, non-theologian people).
  • If you are looking for something that goes more in depth on the symbolism and history behind Revelation, I would recommend "Tales of the End: A Narrative Commentary on the Book of Revelation" by David Barr. It's definitely not an easy read, but it has some great information. It is separated by the various sections in Revelation, so  I tended to use this as I went for things that confused me. For example, when I was trying to figure out the section in Revelation 17 with the harlot and the beast, I turned to this book to try and understand the symbolism. It's almost more of an encyclopedia/reference book...just not that long. 
  • A really great website for articles, books, websites, and simple explanations of Biblical topics is NT Gateway. Once again, I don't agree with everything on the site (and I haven't read everything), but it is a great resource for the entire New Testament (with some pretty awesome articles on Revelation!).
Hope that wasn't too overwhelming, but I figured that with the end of the world coming on Friday, we should probably start preparing! :) 

I think the biggest thing we can do (since we know that God is in control and he's got it covered) is remain hopeful. Remember the cross. Remember the love. Remember the conqueror- he's already conquered! We don't need to fear silly dates because of Mayan Calenders, because we have our trust and faith in a mighty God. While doomsday scenarios may get our adrenaline pumping, they aren't what we need to spend our time worrying about.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


If you've fallen of the face of the planet and weren't aware of it, today is 12/12/12. Since #33 on my 101 in 1001 list is to document everything that I did on 10/10/10, 11/11/11, and 12/12/12...I guess you're going to get a blog post about my day. :) I feel like each year that I do this, my days get more boring.

12pm: Wake up. Sleeping in has been wonderful these last few days. Back to business tomorrow. No more sleeping until noon!

1pm: Eat lunch. Little piggies in blankets by my daddy with conecuh sausage and pizza dough. Post about it on Instagram.

2pm-6:30pm: Work on blog designs for the upcoming launch and start working on revamping my website.
This is one of the blog designs I have been working on. I like to call it "Classy and Fabulous." 
6:30pm: Decide that it's time for dinner. Fix a peanut butter sandwich to eat with some goldfish. :) Forget to take a picture.

6:30pm-9pm: Work on website design some more, and then declare it finished! While I liked the pink stripes and the cute illustration, I wanted something that was a little more "grown up" case future employers see it. 

And that was my twelve-twelve-twelve, for anyone who was wondering. :)

Monday, December 10, 2012

what next?

I've been trying to take a little break from the blogging world lately. Part of it was due to the fact that this past semester was busier than I first thought, and the other part was due to the fact that I needed a break. I needed some time and space to evaluate why I'm really blogging. I feel like in some ways, I'm running fifty-million blogs in one. I want to be a "college blogger", so I blog about college and school. I want to be a "photography blogger", so I post lots of meaningless pictures. I want to be a "deep, spiritual blogger", so I blog about deep, religious topics. I want to be a "professional blogger", so I do blog series like "31 Days". I want to be a "crafty blogger", so I blog about craft projects that I'm working on. While all of this stuff is good and great, it gets exhausting. I feel like I spend so much time trying to please people that I've lost the reasons why I blog.

  1. I blog to keep a journal of the things that are going on in my life. I want to be able have something to look back at 10 years down the roads and laugh at.
  2. I blog to create relationships and friendships with people that don't necessarily live near me, but that I share common interests with.
  3. I blog as a means of evangelism and teaching. I feel a call on my life to share the gospel with other people. I feel a call on my life to teach other people about the Bible, God, and other things like that. It also keeps me accountable and keeps me learning. :)
I make lofty goals like "Project 52" or "Project 365" and I end up failing horribly. I review things and do sponsored posts and try to do blog ads and get more followers, and I fail horribly. Maybe God is trying to use all of these situations to teach me something. Ultimately, the reason I blog is for God. He is supposed to receive the glory of this little spot on the internet. The next person I blog for is myself. This blog is a safe haven for me to share my thoughts and record my memories. After that, I blog for you. I blog for relationships. I blog as a method of teaching. But, my worth as a blogger is not defined by statistics. My worth is not defined by how many followers I have (Hey- my follower widget has been broken for months. I have no idea who follows me!...but if you know how to fix this tiny problem, let me know!). My worth is not defined by how many people link to me. My worth as a blogger is not defined by how many sponsors I have breathing down my back or how many free products I receive in a given month. 

So, now that life has slowed down a bit (and I'm a COLLEGE GRADUATE!), I'm planning on blogging a little more frequently. But, I want it to be with a purpose (Quality over quantity, people!). I've got some blog posts written up that I'm waiting for the right time to post- and waiting to make sure that they are the message that I'm intending to share. I'm hoping to go from the fluffy, filler posts that I've been blogging into a little deeper territory (not too deep, mind you. I still do stupid things like get into the wrong car). The reality is that I'm not quite sure what I'm doing next. I'm not sure where I'm going next. These next few months are SO full of uncertainty. I've applied for jobs, I'm applying to grad school, and I'm praying that God will show me where I need to be and place a peace in my heart. Between December not being a good month for seeking permanent employment and a bad economy, I don't know where I'm going next. I am planning to finally start expanding on some of my graphic design/blog design that I've been working on for the past year- look for an update on that situation in the next week or so. I'm still working out the logistical side of things, but it's something that I want to pursue (for fun AND as a resume builder)!  

So, what next? Who knows.
What I do know is that whatever may come, I want to stay true to myself and to God. 
I don't want to "sell out". I don't want to "give in". I don't want to take the easy way out- in my blogging OR in my everyday life. I'm called for a higher purpose...and my worth is not defined by the things of this world.