A Simple Christmas Gift

I have a confession: I didn’t know what Black Friday was until I dated my husband. Growing up in the boonies, there was no such thing as Black Friday. Prices were the same the day after Thanksgiving as they were the rest of the year. There was no online shopping back then, so Black Friday was unknown to me. Some of you avid Black Friday shoppers are probably shocked, but that’s the truth. However, this Black Friday, I was going to be brave and stopped at Target to find a bargain or two. I walked in, assessed the crowd, took a deep breath, grabbed a cart and started browsing the $1 and $3 section. Only to put my cart back and walk out the door five minutes later! It was too much. Couldn’t handle the bustle. Oh well… I tried.

Christmas is really about Jesus, and spending time with family and making memories anyway, right? I’d rather be able to do more of that and less time browsing crowded stores trying to find the “perfect” gift. 

After the Target fiasco, I decided to make gifts. Something simple. Perfectly imperfect maybe. I really enjoy simple, homemade Christmas gifts. Even the dish cloth Grandma crocheted can be appreciated. It’s the time and effort someone puts into crafting something special that counts. And if it’s either useful or beautiful, that’s an added bonus! 🙂 

A couple summers ago, I came across an ad on Craigslist for free wood. Someone was tearing down their old barn. And wouldn’t you know, it wasn’t far away! I excitedly drove my car over and loaded as much beautifully weathered Ohio barn wood as I could into the back of old Betsie. I didn’t necessarily know what all the wood would be used for, but I knew there were projects in the future where it would come in handy.

Like today. My simple Christmas gift. Totally doable on a cold, snowy day.IMG_0627I found a couple boards of varying width and used my saw to make them the size I wanted. Using gorilla wood glue, I made the cross and put a bunch of library books as weights to hold them while they dried for a couple hours. Then I looped jute string around the center, with just a little bit of hot glue on the back to hold it in place.

Christmas is about Jesus humbling Himself, coming to this earth as a baby in a manger (can you imagine?), and thirty-three years later, dying on a cross to redeem fallen mankind. What better way to remember what He did for me?

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“On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross, the emblem of suffering and shame. And I love that old cross where the dearest and best for a world of lost sinners was slain. So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, till my trophies at last I lay down. I will cling to the old rugged cross, and exchange it someday for a crown.” (The Old Rugged Cross, by George Bennard)

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The Red Door

My son and I were driving home from a lunch/shopping date when we spotted this door leaning up against a tree in someone’s front yard. I turned around for a better look, then hopped out and saw a tiny sticker that read “$25 OBO”. I knew that meant that I could probably talk them down to $20 at least. Thankfully I had a 20 dollar bill left over from our shopping trip. Josiah helped me scrounge up as much change as we could find in the car. I knocked expectantly on the front door, but no one answered. So I left $23.46 on their front porch and happily loaded my new red door into the back of my car. PTDC0186 The door stayed in my garage for a couple days until I had a minute to clean it up. I used Windex and cleaned the whole thing. I made a Pinterest board and started pinning ideas. The possibilities were endless! Would I use chalkboard paint and cover a couple of the panes for leaving sweet notes and writing lists? Would I make a shelf and mount it below the windows? Maybe I could add hooks and turn it into a place to hang things? IMG_3906 IMG_3908 In the end, I just brought the door in and leaned it against the wall, deciding to decide later what I would do. IMG_3952 Before I found the red door, my friend Jen was working on a new art piece for my blank wall. She is a talented photographer and artist and I love her style! She came over, eyed my wall, and started brainstorming a piece that would not only compliment, but be an inspirational focal point. What she came up with is amazing!

The piece is called “Timeless Ballad”. It’s based on Hebrews 13:8, an extremely meaningful verse to me. “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.”

I remember sitting on our small apartment floor as a 21-year-old newlywed. I was sobbing. My dad had recently gone to Heaven after an accident and I was struggling. My new husband spoke calmly and reassuringly as he comforted me. He shared Hebrews 13:8 with me and God spoke to my hurting heart. My Savior. He was the same God He always had been. He was good. Even when I was walking through the valley of the shadow of death. I didn’t have to be afraid, for He was with me every step. Every day.

As I shared this story with Jen, she listened thoughtfully. I also gave her a letter I’d found that was written to my dad when he was 8 years old. It is from his grandmother. It is a happy letter that talks about kittens and ducks. A special treasure.

Two weeks later, Jen brought me the finished piece. She had artistically inserted clocks with no time (Jesus is timeless), the sentimental letter, the words of Hebrews 13:8, and sheet music, all in a field of wildflowers. Very “organic” as she described it. And very symbolic and special to me. IMG_4101 IMG_4103IMG_4097 Initially I hung “Timeless Ballad” on the music room wall, but decided it looked better next to the red door. “Timeless Ballad” and the red door are a good pair and a special reminder to me of God’s grace in a difficult time. IMG_6072IMG_9862