Finding Focus...Even In Our Romantic Relationships

(Excerpted from Stress Point: Thriving Through Your Twenties in a Decade of Drama by Sarah Francis Martin. Published by Thomas Nelson, Inc. ©2012. Used with permission.)

 Jesus is explicit regarding what He expects of us and where our daily, moment-by-moment focus should be. When asked about His greatest commandment, Jesus replied: “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).

This applies as much to dating as to every other facet of our lives. Every issue we encounter with regard to the opposite sex should be bounced off these questions:

 Do I still love my God with my whole heart, soul, and mind?

Is my boyfriend doing the same?

By using this standard as our barometer for future activities with men, we’ll not only please the Lord but prevent untold heartache as well. When we focus on Him, our priorities in dating will align themselves without a struggle.

When we train our focus on God and His Word in this area, we also come to recognize traits the Bible lays out for how a husband should love his wife. The Bible is unequivocal on this issue. Although its guidelines don’t pertain to the dating relationship per se, we do receive from its pages clear guidance on what we should be able to expect from our godly boyfriends. If there’s one phrase to which I return again and again when talking to my girlfriends, it’s this: Don’t settle for less.

I’ve had several friend accept their boyfriends’ non-committal attitudes and press on in hopes that their men might change.

When we’re in a continual state of communication with Jesus, we know in our hearts that this non-committal behavior on the part of the men in our lives doesn’t cut it and that it’s time for us to move on. But if we’re out of tune with the Lord’s guidance, we may well have no clue that a relationship of this quality isn’t what God has planned for our lives. If we want to move from a troubled relationship to one that both thrills and fulfills us, we need to take the first step of allowing the Lord to lead us.

Join Sarah's online Summer Bible study & purchase her book Here.




Sarah Francis Martin is the author Stress Point: Thriving Through your Twenties in a Decade of Drama (Thomas Nelson, June 2012) and blogs at










Leaving a Fingerprint- Sweetberry Farm

How is it I've lived in the Austin area for twenty years and never heard about Sweetberry Farm? How did I raise my children here and never take them to pick fresh strawberries? Within an hour's drive from our home is a family owned working farm where  customer service  is 11 on a scale of 1 t0 10 and children and adults cover the property carrying boxes filled with bright red , hand-picked berries .

Sweetberry Farm is located 1.2 miles outside of Marble Falls, Texas and as we drove onto the property, there were people swarming the acreage. We quickly spotted the Welcome booth , headed in that direction and made it know that we were visiting  for the first time. In a couple of quick minutes a young man explained the process,'Grab a box, head out to the fields and start picking. When you're through, bring them back, we'll weigh them and you pay for what you picked.'



We did just that!! Other pickers were young, old, teens and babies in strollers. People laughed and started up conversations with strangers.Everyone, relaxed in the blissful surroundings.

When we were done, we moseyed over to the picnic area, located under a grove of mesquite trees and unpacked our sandwiches. Off to the side of the picnic area were several goats, all accustomed to the Farm's guests and after purchasing mini containers of feed  made quick friends with the brown cuties. We closed out the afternoon with homemade strawberry popsicles and ice cream!

Not only is the Farm providing family entertainment in the spring, but they've also got a full lineup of activities in the fall. The autumn lineup includes hayrides, a pumpkin patch, face painting, Sweet Berry Express,  and let's not forget the homemade pumpkin ice cream!!

This is an aerial view of the Texas Maze, four acres of nature's corridors that guests explore, using a map traveling from destination to destination. There's fun to be had year around for the entire family!

Making memories is a way to leave a Fingerprint in your family, your community and the world. Memories are moments when we share a laugh or a tear and memory makers can be married, single, tall or short. Look around and find someone who could use your Fingerprint on their life.

Click for more information on Sweetberry Farm.

Strawberry Farm is also on Facebook.

Money, Lies and Profit

Often I hear women who own/operate small businesses make statements such as, "It is not the money that we are about."  The bible states clearly, "The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." (1 Timothy 6:10) God warns us about falling in love with anything that may distract from or tear down our relationship with Him. If you operate a business,  sell a product/service and are apologetic about making money, you are not a threat to the enemy in this area. If anything, he's won you over in this because he knows that you believe his lies and if you never make a concerted effort at making a profit, your business will have little, if any monetary impact on the Kingdom. He has a checklist of what your business will never accomplish and here is a sample of what Mr. Ugly's list looks like:

  • Her offering to that ministry she supports in will never be more than $100 a month. Yay!
  • Great! There's a cap on what she can give to the campus minister  who disciples college students.
  • Awesome. The women's clinic in Uganda; excited because it will take longer to build.
  • Oh, and that family that needs another $10K to adopt the Down's Syndrome baby, she can't make a dent.

If you run a business, any kind of business,

making a profit should be at the forefront of your objectives. In the absence of a focus on profit, what you have is a hobby not a business. Businesses make money. Hobbies cost money.

As women, there is a tendency to apologize or dismiss the impact of making money. We are by nature, nurturers, so some women believe that by focusing on making money, a contradiction exists that we cannot be caring, loving, generous if we have an intentional focus on making money. Having a profitable business does involve sometimes saying no to friends, raising prices, etc. and therein lies a conflict that we prefer not to deal with. Ugh. This is stinkin' thinkin' ladies.

Examine the monetary goals of your business, ask God to redirect your thoughts about money and entrepreneurship, and get your name off Mr. Ugly's checklist.

Party With a Purpose

I am a Princess I am very special

I am beautifully and wonderfully made

I deserve to be treated with dignity and respect

I am strong and I am smart

I promise to do my very best at everything I do…. Now and forever!

Once a Princess….always a Princess!

My Party Palace

My Party Palace in Round Rock, Texas is more than just a venue for little girls’ birthday parties although it is certainly stocked with tiaras, princess gowns, and every other accessory needed by a beautiful princess.

As well as  being a clean and attractive venue where a birthday princess can entertain her princess friends, it is a magical place where girls are encouraged  to dream about who and what they want to be.


Owner, Michelle Nieto Azuara, offers party packages that include tea parties, being crowned as a princess, and even an  adoption ceremony of a pink poodle. But there's more to My Party Palace than a magical makeup station.Their mission  is to empower girls of all ages and help  them understand that they are wonderfully and beautifully made in a setting of fantasy and fun.


Whether it's a birthday party, Summer Princess Camp or a Halloween event the message is the same,"You are beautiful, inside and out." Michelle says," We teach life lessons and instill self-worth into every girl that attends one of our parties. Sometimes Moms book a party just because she thinks her daughter will enjoy the fantasy aspect of The Palace and when they leave they tell me they tell me the girls leave with more than what they paid for."

- - Outreach - -


My Party Palace has a history of collaborating with agencies in the surrounding area by hosting social events, workshops, conferences, and seminars for less advantaged girls . They have provided makeovers and "My Special Day" affairs for middle school and high school girls with the assistance of  other like-minded organizations.



"There are those around us that aren't so blessed. We whole-heartedly believe  it is absolutely vital for all girls to know how valuable and precious they are. We believe that one special event, one special day, and one person can change the course of history for a girl."


"By encouraging girls to become all they were 'created to be,' I am' becoming all I was created to be."

-Michelle Nieto Azuara


To learn more about My Party Palace or to book your own event, go to:

I Can Handle It

I can handle it and figure it all out on my own. If I mess up, I do not need anyone to help me.  I am strong enough and capable to turn it around and make it right.  I know the exact time when things need to be done according to the clock, day, week, month and even year. That WAS the story of my life. My need to be morally perfect and in control caused me internal frustration, hopelessness and missed opportunities for deeper relationships. 

 All of my life, I have had a desire to do the right thing. I prided myself in “keeping it together”.  However, when I could not keep it together and failed in certain areas of my life, I was too embarrassed and shameful to ask for help.  I KNEW if I tried really hard I COULD do it without the help of anyone, including giving it to God.  After all, I needed to TRY and please Him.  This struggle left me feeling like a failure more than once.  It was only when I realized I was powerless by myself and took the courage to ask for help, I became secure in who I was as a woman and more confident with myself than trying to do it alone.

 After many years of infertility, multiple miscarriages and trying to “fix” things in my marriage on my own, I had to realize there are things in my life I can not control.  I had to be willing to submit those things to God and give up my fears, my timelines and plans of how I think it should be done.  For someone who prided herself on being organized, on time and prepared for any situation, the lack of control in certain areas of my life left me feeling hopeless. The internal battle of not being able to figure it out on my own was exhausting.

 What a happy day when I really understood what is now my life’s scripture

Philippians 1:6

For He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ.

What a relief. I am not expected to have it ALL together. God knows we are going to fail, so why shouldn’t we expect it of our self.

As a Fitness and Wellness coach, My purpose in life is to work with women who want to overcome the helpless feeling of not knowing how to maintain their weight and consistency in their fitness.

I understand the feelings of having control and discipline in so many areas of life, yet struggling internally in one area that is so important to a woman.

My heart is to empower women to feel confident in their choices with food and exercise and not allow this one area to dominate her thoughts.

I am passionate about helping women to overcome their fear of failure and to feel secure in all areas of their life by establishing a healthy lifestyle, no matter how BUSY life gets.


With summer around the corner, you may find yourself in a different routine. Vacations and weekend get-a-ways can easily get us off track from our normal health and fitness routine. However, no matter where you are, you can build in a work out and incorporate a few simple tricks to eat healthy. The key is thinking outside of the box from what you may normally do.  If you routinely take exercises classes, what will you do if there is not a gym around?  If you walk each day, what do you do if there is not a safe environment or treadmill available?  My favorite new workout is Tabata.  This is a great 11 minute workout for the busy, traveling woman that is proven to get results. It can be done anywhere with minimal equipment or none at all.

If you have a few trips planned this summer, start thinking about what you can do to get a little exercise and be in control of what you eat.

Can you do this?

  • Call ahead to see if there is a gym available at your hotel or in the area
  • Have a friend commit to walking with you
  • Pack pieces of equipment such as an exercise band
  • Take a quick trip to the grocery store and be responsible for your snacks

To receive Crystal’s Picks, email me to get a list of quick healthy foods for a busy lifestyle and travel

  • If you have to get fast food, skip the value meal and go ala cart


Don’t get in a rut by thinking if you can’t do your normal routine, you can’t do anything at all, be flexible and change it up.

To learn more about the Tabata or for your own 30 minute work out that requires nothing more than an exercise band, email me at

Spectacular Shopping on Small Business Saturday!!

I love the USA!! There’s a shopping day for everyone. With another Black Friday behind us, I was on board with Small Business Saturday and the idea of supporting locally owned businesses. The Austin Independent Business Alliance made the statement that if all people in the Austin area would shop local one day , $14,000,000 could be pumped into the local economy. Providing a place to shop are Nick and Cyndy Flores, Round Rock, Texas ,the proud parents of Ché Bella, a four day old gift shop  on Ranch Road 620. They carry gifts, accessories and apparel (some really cute t-shirts).  Their vision is to give something unique to the community by providing easy access to beautiful gifts, with an emphasis on items  crafted by local artists. A candle collection named after Henry David Thoreau and Jane Austen wowed the literature lover in me. Whimsical ID carriers  embellished with beads and minuscule pom poms are perfect for tweens or gorgeous g-moms,  and my very favorite were special occasion feather-covered purses!(exclusive in Texas to Ché Bella) !

The Flores are planning a wine-tasting, a book signing and invite the public to visit them

and see items exclusive to Che Bella!

16238N. RM 620,Suite E

Austin, Texas 78717


For more information email:

Created Woman Devo Team-Meet Kala and Nichole

Saturday morning devotionals begin on Oct. 2. The writers are  smart, courageous and they're women who are honest about life. Meet  two members of the CW Devo Team.

Kala has been working her way up the corporate ladder in the retail industry for 15 years, starting off hanging clothes in the stockroom and now an Operations Manager for 271 stores across the Central United States & Mid-Atlantic Area.  Kala has grown up along Interstate 35, spending her younger years in Laredo, TX, graduating from high school in Austin, TX and now residing with her family in Dallas, TX.  Her parents pray she doesn’t continue to follow the highway any further north!  No one would have ever thought that Kala would have ended up with a job crunching numbers & monitoring budgets, especially since her first loves were the theatre and her Victoria’s Secret credit card.

This young career Mom doesn’t have much free time on her hands, especially with her very active 3 year old daughter Ava in the house.  Her favorite thing to do during what little spare time she has, is to cook; which works out quite well for Eric, her fabulous husband of 5 years, who loves to eat.

“There’s nothing quite like chopping vegetables after a long day!”

Nichole is an eternally curious, art loving, forever hopeful young woman living in Austin, Texas with her husband, Christopher, and their beloved dog, Laila. She’s a student at the University of Texas and is earning her BA in English Literature. She believes in the power and beauty of literature. Her inspirations include C.S. Lewis, A.W. Tozer, Elie Wiesel, and countless musicians. She dreams of assigning papers over 'Fahrenheit 451' and 'Lord of the Flies' to high-school students, adopting a baby, and adding a few more dogs to the family. Born with a beautiful voice, Nichole’s a songbird who’s been able to minister to others through her singing at Shoreline Church. Chris and Nichole love catching live music downtown, watching Modern Family, laughing until they cry, and exploring all that God is and does.

Kala will publish every 3rd Saturday and Nicole on each 4th Saturday

on the Created Woman Facebook Fan Page.