Sunday, November 27, 2011

Spiritual Sundays: Secret Santa

Last year I wrote this story as a submission to a blog about service. Because we're in the middle of "Secret Santa Season" right now, I thought it would be an appropriate time to share it with you! :-)

It’s just after seven o’clock on a Wednesday night as I drive slowly past the single-story brick house. There are lights on, but the blinds in the front window are closed. Excellent sign. Less chance I’ll be caught.

I turn around at the end of the cul-de-sac and drive slowly back the way I came, past the house again, this time carefully planning my strategic approach. There’s a thick row of hedges right up against the wall- if I can stay low and hug the bush, I should be able to make a clean getaway.

I begin to slow the minivan and carefully pull off to the side of the road just past the house. I debate leaving the car running for a quick getaway or turning it off to avoid drawing attention to the lights…I finally decide to turn it off. I’ll lay low and wait, then I’ll go once it’s all clear.

I pull my long black coat tighter around me, then tug on a black cap that I borrowed from my husband, pulling it low over my ears. I grab the black scarf from the seat next to me and wrap it around my neck, pulling it up over my mouth and nose as well. Better safe than sorry.

“Mommy, you look like a ninja!!”

“SHHH!!!” I say. Then I stop. We’re in the car. Nobody can hear me. Boy, am I jumpy.

“I mean, I know Mommy looks funny, sweetie,” I say in a normal voice, “Just sit tight in the car for a second and I’ll be right back.”

I grab the gift bag from behind my seat and carefully open my door, feeling the rush of cold air as I step out into the night. I immediately get down into a crouch, taking long, swift steps as I slink sideways across the lawn, heading for the bushes. Suddenly, I bright light is shining in my eyes, illuminating the yard and everything in it- including me!

It’s a motion light! Curses!! Suddenly my swift slink turns into an all-out sprint as I fling the package onto the front porch while simultaneously ringing the doorbell. On the way off the porch I skip the steps altogether, taking a flying leap off the landing onto the walkway below and immediately breaking into an all-out run as soon as I hit the ground. The bushes!! The bushes! Must make it to the bushes!

Just before I reach the safety of the boxwood hedge I catch a glimpse of my minivan out of the corner of my eye. I can just barely make out my six-year-old son with his wide-eyed face pressed up against the glass, watching my manic sprint with what I believe to be surprised awe. I manage a quick smile and a wave before throwing myself to the ground out of sight.

My breathing is heavy as I wait, my heart pounding in my ears…I really need to get in better shape for this…I can hear voices inside, gradually growing louder as they reach the front door, and becoming clear as the door opens wide.

“Oooh!! I think I got something from my Secret Santa!!” she says. “Thank you, whoever you are!” she calls out into the night.

A smile spreads across my face as I hear the door close and the voices recede once more into the house. I peek around the bush just to make sure the coast is clear, and then I walk quietly but quickly back to my car.

As I slide into the driver’s seat, my son yells, “Mom, I’ve never seen you run that fast before!! That was AWESOME!!!”

I just laugh and say, “Yeah. Yeah, it was.”

And so it is every year in our ward. The little holiday tradition that started with a few friends has now grown to an annual event that involves nearly half the Relief Society. Young mothers, single women, even grandmothers have found themselves suddenly acting like they are twelve again, sneaking around leaving small gifts and planning acts of service for women they often didn’t even know before their name showed up in their e-mail inbox.

Every year these six weeks of secret service culminate in a holiday party where each participant learns the identity of their Secret Santa, and sisters laugh and cry and hug as seemingly silly tokens of affection take on a greater meaning when the givers learn how much a particular boost was needed that day, and when recipients learn how much the giver went through to share an act of love.

For those six weeks every year, we are all sisters in the gospel, warm in spirit and young at heart. We “delight in service and good works”, and we find ourselves loving women we barely know because we are serving them. We expand our capacity to love and we discover our ability to run- really, really fast!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Random Acts of Kindness Week: How Did You Do?

How FUN it was to look for opportunities to perform random acts of kindness this week!! Here's how my week went:

Monday- Got my hair done and gave my hairdresser an extra big tip.
After that I went to a store and I overheard a grandmother talking to her young grandson who apparently had to go to the bathroom. She seemed flustered and told him they would have to look around and try to find the restroom. I was familiar with the store (it was Michael's. Ha.) so I told her where the restroom was.
When it was time to check out the line was kind of long and I had several things in my cart. There were two sweet ladies behind me who only had two things so I offered to let them go ahead of me. They were so grateful!

Friday- My kids are doing a food drive at their school and the class with the most items in their box in each grade wins an ice cream party. I was going to be going over to the school anyway to help out in my daughter's kindergarten class so I stopped by the store on the way there and picked up about 50 non-perishable items. It was great to know that I was helping the hungry and making my kids happy at the same time! The teachers were a little shocked to see me lugging all that food through the door! :-)

So I probably didn't do as much as I could have, but it was just great to have that constant attitude of service. I'm hoping to make it last beyond this week!

So tell me, how did you do this week? Any random acts of kindness going on out there? Leave a comment and let me know!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

More Twilight Delight!

Behold, the latest addition to the Etsy shop! Isn't this one just lovely? I just mod-podged my way into Twilight bliss with this mirror/frame.

I also took some cues from other crafters around the internet and created these fun flower embellishments. I would share the link, but Pinterest seems to like deleting things from my boards lately...

Anyway, to make the rose I basically just used a similar technique to my tissue paper peonies- just make a bunch of petals in various sizes, and then this time I curled them a little bit (didn't do that with the peonies). Then I started with the smallest petals in the center, kind of spiraling them around, then just gluing and adding more petals as I went along. I used my hot glue gun on a low setting.

For the medium-sized flower I simply used my scallop-edged scissors and cut out a circle, which, because I used those scissors, looked like a flower. I cut out 3 sets of circles (3 layers of paper in each set), small, medium, and large. I stacked them on top of each other (largest on bottom, smallest on top) and then poked through them with a paper piercer and inserted a brad to hold them together. Then I just lifted each layer, one sheet of paper at a time, and scrunched them around the brad. Then I just kind of fluffed the whole thing. Nice, huh?

Here are some close-ups so you can read the juicy text. ;-)

And there is my mirror! Oh, and I painted the outer and inner edges black, because really- who wants to mod-podge a beveled edge? ;-) I also like the nice contrast.

Can I possibly mod podge anything else with Twilight? Why yes, yes I can...stay tuned!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Random Acts of Kindness Week! Nov. 13-19th

Wow, 3 posts from me in 3 days? What's going on??

Well, what's going on is RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS WEEK!! I found out about this from a post that my sweet bloggy friend Alyssa did over at Live. Love. Craft. She got the idea from another friend who got the idea from another blog...well, anyway, I've decided to jump on the bandwagon.

Alyssa posted:

"From November 13th - November 19th, I challenge all of blogdom to complete just ONE random act of kindness (or more if you like). Do one thing that you know will help someone other than yourself and blog about it. Then on Saturday, November 19th, we will have a weekend linky party and everyone can link up thier Random Act of Kindness and we can all see the good that was done in the world for just that week. With all the pain and suffering we see everyday on a very regular basis, wouldn't it be beautiful to see a linky party filled with nothing but good?

* * *
What could you do for your Random Act of Kindness? Is there someone who could use your help?

Join us in this venture to spread just a little bit of kindness and cheer in the world in the name of Thanksgiving."

I am totally in! Let's all look for ways to brighten the world this week!

Spiritual Sundays: Do the Impossible (or Part II of My Thoughts are not Your Thoughts)

This is me approaching the finish line at the 10k. My shirt says, "You don't have to go fast, you just have to go."

Sorry about the hiatus in Spiritual Sundays posts- I have been trying to get over bronchitis and last Sunday I was only semi-conscious most of the day...Anyway, I promised a Part II to my last Spiritual Sundays post, My Thoughts are not Your Thoughts, and I am excited to share that with you today!

In that last post I mentioned another story that I thought fit with my topic. This story was told by a sweet and very funny woman, Laurel Christensen, who confessed that she had been struggling with her weight. She ended up going to a "Biggest Loser"-type camp, and the experience was really tough for her. She told about a particular experience she had one day on the treadmill. Her coach was having her and her group set their treadmills for the highest speed they could possibly go for two minutes, then she gave them a 1 minute recovery. Then they had to go hard again for another minute and a half, then rest for less time than before, and so on. She started running her hardest and then she started to falter. She said that she didn't just think she couldn't complete the two minutes- she KNEW it, beyond a shadow of a doubt. Her coach saw her difficulty and she "got all Gillian" on her and said, "Don't you dare be the one thing standing in your way." Laurel recalled that she was pretty sure that was something inspirational and she'd appreciate it later, but it wasn't helping her a bit in that moment! She still knew she couldn't do it, but she kept on. Before she knew it, her coach said, "30 seconds." Laurel thought, Okay fine, but I'm not going to make it 30 seconds. Her coach said, "15 seconds." Laurel thought, 15 seconds? How am I still alive? And then before she knew it her coach was counting down, "3, 2, 1, and stop."

Laurel was shocked. She hadn't just thought she couldn't do it- she had KNOWN she couldn't. So how on earth did she finish? The realization that she could do something she had been thoroughly convinced she could not do was astounding to her. She began to wonder, What else have I been wrong about all these years? How many things have I told myself I could not do?

Laurel then went on to explain that we all spend a lifetime putting limits on ourselves that are just WRONG! I really appreciated her story because I have taken my own journey with running that has completely shattered some lifelong limits I've had. Even as a kid I struggled with the required mile run in school. I KNEW that when I got older it would just be harder. If I couldn't do it as a kid, then how could I possibly do it as an adult? But then one day I got a tiny inkling of a thought in my head- I want to run a 10k. It was a completely ridiculous idea, and I knew it was entirely unattainable, but I thought hey, if I shoot for the moon then maybe I'll land among the stars, right? If nothing else I'll get some good exercise out of it.

Well, long story short, I started training and soon I was able to run for more than a minute without stopping- huge accomplishment. Then I was able to do a mile! Then I could run my neighborhood- without stopping!- 2.2 miles. After that it seemed whatever farther distance I aimed for, I reached. 3 miles? Check. 3.5? Sure. 4? Heck, it's just 1 more than 3. And then I ran the 10k (6.2 miles)- the whole way, without walking. It was slow, but I did it.

It's amazing to me how pushing yourself to do something that you really don't think you can do and reaching your "impossible" goal can just fling open doors in your life. Without that 10k, I don't know that I would have started my etsy shop. I probably wouldn't have finished and submitted my book to a publisher. I was able to blow the top off my tightly-set limits for myself and realize that I am a child of God. He is limitless. He has given me talents and abilities not so that I can tuck them away for a day when they might come in handy, but so that I can magnify them and begin to scrape the surface of His purpose for me.

One of my favorite quotations is by Marianne Williamson:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

God has created us for greater things than we can imagine for ourselves. If we allow our thoughts to rule our lives rather than His thoughts, then we can never reach our true divine potential.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways saith the Lord.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." - Isaiah 55:8-9

What is our divine potential? What are His thoughts for us? One more quotation that I LOVE:

“The command Be ye perfect is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do the impossible. He is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command. He said (in the Bible) that we were 'gods' and He is going to make good His words. If we let Him … He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or goddess, a dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly (though, of course, on a smaller scale) His own boundless power and delight and goodness. The process will be long and in parts very painful; but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. He meant what He said.” – C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity Ch. 31
"With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible." - Mark 10:27

So what is the impossible thing you know you cannot do? Isn't it about time you did it? ;-)

To learn more about what I believe as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please visit www.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Get outta town! Look what I made!!!

You know that feeling you get when you see an idea for something you can make and it just looks so simple and doable that your heart starts racing and you run to find your supplies and get started??

Oh, well maybe it's just me.

Anyway, that's what happened when I saw this tutorial for making Christmas bows! And since I've been all Twilight-y this week, I decided to use book pages from Twilight!!

Is it not just so adorable?

And in case you were wondering what I meant by Twilight-y, here are the newest additions to my etsy shop, just in time for the release of Breaking Dawn and the upcoming Christmas season!

I'll admit it, I am a Twilight fan. Not the screaming and crying and woooo-hoooing at the movie theater kind, just the kind who loved the books and is really enjoying the movies. I thought I'd combine my Twilight love with my crafting and make some pretty things that other fans would also enjoy!

Stay tuned to see what else I can do with a $0.25 paperback copy of Twilight... ;-)

Linking up to:

Keeping It Simple
shabby creek cottage

Monday, November 7, 2011

Because I'm Hungry

I've done it! I've joined the cult! I have succumbed to that devilish guilty pleasure....


We all knew it was just a matter of time, right? Well, I've found it a lot of fun, mostly when I'm sitting on the couch with my husband at night and he lets me commandeer his iPad so I can pin away. I love showing him the fun, funny, beautiful, yummy, and sometimes crazy things that pop up on pinterest.
So today I thought I'd share a few things I've pinned for the upcoming holiday treat season.

You might remember my tendency toward small, ball-shaped, bite-sized treats like my Easy Decadent Truffles and Cake Balls. Here's a new delicious round morsel:

Pinned Image

Up next is some more raw-flavored goodness: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Fudge. That title right there may have all my favorite words in it.

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Okay, I'm going to TRY to be a little bit healthier. Apple nachos, anyone?
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And since I was totally kidding about the "healthy" part, here's some ooey-gooey goodness of the smooshy deliciousness kind:

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I feel fatter already.

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