I’ve been blessed this Christmas, but I’ve also been blessed throughout the year by some pretty amazing friends. Friends that have encouraged me without saying a word, friends who have inundated me with kindness and laughter, and friends that are so special I know I could search the world over and not find their like in ten thousand years. They are the kinds of people who are difficult to shop for and so this year I decided to “make merry” instead of buying them something for Christmas. First up, my friends from work.
There, I’ve a friend who has inspired me to both search harder for the grace-moments even when everything goes wrong (it seems) and to respond quickly with gratitude to Christ and to others when I receive it.
She’s had many amazing things happen this year, and she’s also weathered some devastating events. She makes me want to be not more like her, but more like Jesus.
I’m reminded of a story I read recently of a homeless man who recently got saved and prayed each day that the Lord would make him more like Mike, the man who worked in the mission and helped the others who had no place to go. Someone asked him ‘Hey, why don’t you pray that the Lord make you more like Jesus’ and the man piped back “Oh, is Jesus like Mike?”
Replace Mike with her name, and you’ve got the idea of how she lives. Is she perfect? Nope, but she makes me hungry to ‘be like Jesus’ with the same kind of transparency and grace she possesses.
I wanted to give her a really special Christmas present. She’s a journal keeper so I knew right away I wanted to give her a journal. But not just any journal would do. I scoured Tuesday Morning(TM) for a C.R. Gibson(C) blank book (picked it up for just $3.99 shh don’t tell her) and found a black bonded leather one that was just perfect. Then I started thinking about what I was going to do with it to alter it, just for her. My friend’s life is a mosaic of places and people, nations and neighbors, family and friends and she really likes word games like Words With Friends(TM) and Scrabble(TM). I decided to incorporate the gypsy/bohemian feel of her life with her love of word games and that pulled the theme together.
I ransacked my altered letter stash and slowly started putting the words I wanted on the cover using superglue. It’s perfect for this kind of project where I’m bonding all kinds of materials to each other and I want them to stay put.
After the words were in place, I wanted to add some flash and fire to the layout, a look of gems scattered here and there against a dark background because she’s always finding precious things in the middle of a trial.
Oh, to have her sight when I go though my own hard times.
Finally, I wanted to put on a wing on the journal because she waits on the Lord and mounts up over the hard places with wing of eagles, and also because I have often prayed that she find rest in the shadow of His wings.
All the planning and cogitating paid off, I gave her the journal for Christmas, and she loved it.
That was the first journal I altered to give as a Christmas present, and it kinda opened the flood gates.
So for my second friend from work, I went with a Mead College Ruled Composition Book. She’s a writer, and a gamer, and just all together way cool. We’ve hung out once for coffee and to ‘talk writer talk’ and intend in the new year to do that way more often. She got me a fantastic Loki necklace since he’s my favorite hero.
Wait, what do you mean he isn’t a hero? Yes he is! He’s a tragic hero! His dad betrays him, his brother doesn’t understand him, he’s manipulated and played and.. .oh fine go ahead and believe the Avengers propaganda.
Anyway, I wanted to give her something just as cool as what she gave me and that meant, making something. She’s currently playing through the Mass Effect games (she started with Mass Effect, and then Mass Effect 2, and then Mass Effect 3 but had trouble importing her Shepherd so she’s toggling between playing a new Shepherd and working through ME2 as well as Knights of the Old Republic and other games)
Since I had little understanding of the mythos of the game, I was delighted to find there was a Mass Effect Wiki. That helped me pick the color red, and the metal plating as the game relies heavily on heroic sacrifices and there is a philosophical pondering throughout the universe about what does it mean to be sentient. Can inorganic be sentient? Can a hive-mentality created artificial life possess a soul? The game is much deeper than a simple ‘run through the universe and destroy enemies’ and it has solidified some thoughts I’ve had about story-telling in video game format. That is definitely another post.
For now, back to the journal.
After I laid down the kick-plate silver paper, I ‘ripped’ the red against itself and set that on top using UHU sticks. If anyone wants to cover notebooks like I do, invest in UHU glue sticks. They’re readily available at any craft store in the glue isle and come in two sizes. They come either colored (to help you see where you’re putting the glue and will dry clear) and clear. I used the colored. They work so much better than mod podge, they are not nearly as wet, and they bond BETTER to cardboard with less paper warping that any mod podge I’ve used. I learned this trick from a lady who makes books for a living, when I took a class on book making. (Yeah I can do that too but it requires WAY more prep time).
After I glued down the papers front and back it was time to put my wood cutting blade to improper use in cutting out the characters for her book. They’re from Mass Effect 3 Playing Cards I found at Think Geek and worked perfectly because they’re all ready printed and laminated. The only difficulty was their somewhat odd and incomplete poses. But I think they work. I had to pick who to put on the front (there are more on the back too) but I picked the ones that I liked the best, as well as some of the ones that I’d heard her mention at work. The gears are held on with superglue (really the altered book go-to adhesive) as is the game spinner, and the firey swarovski sequin.
The characters are stuck in place by UHU glue and they are bonded to that paper, really bonded. I always test their adhesion by using the element as a handle to open the book. If nothing moves, then I know it’s good for travels and adventures. The words are the only bit I wish I had done differently. I just stuck them down using their own adhesive and am all ready regretting it–several lifted and I had to ‘reglue’ with the UHU stick. Hopefully, the others will behave. I can repair for her, however, if they come off. The phase ties in both to writing and the game, as anyone who has played Mass Effect 3 will know, the Crucible is a device/ship/element that Shepherd has to decide to use, or not use. It’s also a “ceramic container where metals or other materials may be melted or subjected to very high temperatures” which makes the play on words that much more fun.
Here’s the front:
It reads “Friends walk beside you into the flames” continuing the thought on the front, and showing off several of the most endearing companions you can have in the game. The little metal disk says “journey”
I gave it to her for Christmas and, she loves it!
I know she’ll fill it up with some amazing words of her own, and hopefully get lots of compliments on it.
Whew, this is turning into a long-winded post, and I’ve two more to show you. I think I’ll stop here, and then post again.
So, watch for the second part and tell me in the comments below, what do you make and give away? Or what “made” gift did you get this year the blew YOU away?
Coriam Deo, Scribes