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It Is Well With My Soul

I heard that hymn as a girl growing up in church but never did it really mean anything to me until the last few years.

My soul is that part of me that stays still and at peace when everything else around me is in chaos, or out of my control or just plain busy with life. But in the midst of the busyness, is it well with my soul?

Yes, it is. Today it is. Yesterday it was. Tomorrow it will be.

But it hasn’t always been that way. You see, I like things now. Do it on my timeline. Fast like a drive through and pick it up at the window for immediate satisfaction. And for the most part, things have happened like that for me. I’ve had lots of favor. Not by chance so much but because honestly I’ve prayed for favor over myself speaking Luke 2:52:.

And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.

I mean, if Jesus had to grow in favor with God and man and didn’t automatically have it, why should I automatically have it? So I prayed for it. All the time.

But to be honest, I haven’t felt like I’ve had much favor the past few years. Maybe I’m being selfish but if I made the promise to be transparent by opening up in my journals, then that means I have to let you see my selfishness and all the ugliness that penetrate my thoughts. I just have to believe I’m not alone in this big online world…so maybe let me know. Okay?

Nothing can explain it better than a quote I read this past week in Draw The Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge: “Too often we pray ASAP prayers – as soon as possible. We need to start praying ALAT prayer – as long as it takes. “

When I read that I couldn’t help but to think, “Yes, I do want ASAP.” I don’t want to pray ALAT because it’s already taken too long! How much longer can it take? If I have favor, pray for favor, seek wisdom and counsel, shouldn’t my prayers be ASAP?

I’ve looked for that scripture…it doesn’t exist (Frown face, violins playing).

So why do we get such big visions for our lives if they don’t happen right now? Our vision not just for ourselves but for those around us as well (if not, they should be just FYI). If you’re reading this blog which is hosted on our Created Woman website, then you probably know who we are as a foundation, an organization and ministry. You’ve met me, the team, come to one of our events or have just hung out with us online. So you know, at least a little bit, of the vision of CW. And I have to tell you, as passionate as I am about CW there are those moments when I’m just as frustrated.

Working – believing – breaking through – taking steps back – moving forward – resting – wondering.

The seasons rotate almost every day. It’s been five years of wonder, bliss, heartbreak and rejoicing hearing your stories, praying for and with you, and laughing a whole lot over our fashion faux pas.

So when the New Year rolled around, like most of you, I sat down to ask, “What’s this year?” It’s my 40th year on earth – yep, I told you my age – and I am super excited about this decade. I felt like the 30’s were my building decade – marriage, having babies, transitioning jobs and trying to figure out who we were as a family of four (that’s ongoing). So this decade, I would love those ALAT prayers to now become ASAP prayers.

But this is the revelation I got. “What’s in your hand?” What that meant was, “What gifts have I given you and are you using them?” So I opened my journal and wrote out the gifts God has given me based on a test I took this year, Spiritual Gift Test. My top three gifts are as follows in this order:

  • Leadership – Discernment – Faith

Paired with the one of the two words God has given me for the year, intentional, this is what I came up with.

  • Leadership:
    • Be intentional about leading the CW Family. This is an area I was challenged on at the end of last year. As the leader, I’m responsible to share the vision, empower them, and lead them in a deeper relationship with The Lord (as per definition below).
      • Definition of Leadership: Care for God’s people and lead them into deeper relationship with Christ and each other.
  • Discernment:
    • Be intentional about stopping and listening. I can’t discern if I don’t stop, watch, and listen. Ask and discern where God is leading me personally, with my family, and within our organization.
      • Definition of Discernment: to clearly recognize and distinguish between what is God and not of Him.
  •  Faith:
    • Be intentional about believing that if God said “Go” that it will happen in His perfect timing. Trust Him in all things; not just when things look good, I have favor, or happen on my timeline. But in all things.
    • Be intentional about building others up in their faith through my words, actions, and what I speak.
      • Definition of faith: build up the church in her confidence in God.

So there it is. I have to run the race set before me with the gifts God has specifically given me, not what He’s given to others. Because, like I’ve confessed before, I’m good at getting things done. Administration was not too far behind faith and when I get to check something off my to-do list it makes me wave my arms wide open and sing the Frozen song. But did I lead anyone by doing that? Maybe. Maybe not.

So whether my prayers this year happen ASAP or ALAT, I’m determined that I will be intentional about pursuing the gifts that I’ve been given and that is Well With My Soul.

Journal Entry #3√

XO,

Heather

P.S. Take the test and if you dare, share with us in the comments below how you will use them this year. Let’s be intentional about 2016 to use what we’ve been given.

Spiritual Gift Test Adults

[title subtitle="Previous Journal Entries"][/title]

#1 What Was It All For?

#2 Fancy Writing & Gold Letters

 

 

Live, Laugh, Love...

I woke up one morning in July of 2012 and decided I was no longer happy with my job.  While I loved the people that I was working with, the tasks I was completing each day filled me with no joy.  There was no excitement; my professional life was stagnant.  It was then I realized I was much too young to be having these feelings.  In my head I had 3 choices; stick it out and be miserable, find a new job in a new company, or relocate to our company headquarters in California.

Live

"So I recommend having fun, because there is nothing better for people in this world than to eat, drink, and enjoy life.  That way they will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives them under the sun."  Ecclesiastes 8:15 (New Living Translation)

Laugh

"So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while."  1 Peter 1:6  (New Living Translation)

Love

"Three things will last forever: faith, hope, and love.  The greatest of these is love."  1 Corinthians 13:13  (New Living Translation)

After much prayer and discussion, my husband & I have decided to LIVE.  I was offered and accepted a job at my corporate office in California.  I've moved ahead of them which isn't nearly as easy as I thought it would be.  A small price to pay; we'll all be together again soon and I can't wait.  Until then, I'm entertained nightly by my family via Facetime, they are a LAUGH a minute!  All of these things are made possible for me because I believe in a God who grants the desires of our hearts and because I have a husband who LOVES me enough to follow me to another new city, and be both Mother & Father to our daughter while I pursue new opportunities for my career.

STOPLIGHT PRAYER:  Father in Heaven, thank you giving me life and for guiding me through it.  Thank you for making your will for my life the desire of my heart and for guiding me through life.  Help me to listen for your voice amidst the static that tries to throw me off course.

My Family This is my beautiful family.  I love them for supporting me in everything I do and can't wait to start this new adventure with them.

A Thankful Heart

This Thanksgiving will be the first holiday I spend away from the hustle and bustle of my extended family.  Life happens, retail is demanding and lets face it, IH 35 is a road created by the devil himself. While I won’t be traveling to my family this year, I can say that my childhood is jam packed with memories of Thanksgiving.  My grandmother waking up early to serve me Post Toasties, the smell of tamales being warmed on the stove, dry turkey (I thought it was a compliment), cranberries, cheesecake, lemon meringue pie and crispy warm and serve Hawaiian rolls.  My father's family knew how to celebrate!

“And with the money get whatever you have a desire for, oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your soul's desire may be: and make a feast there before the Lord your God, and be glad, you and all your house.”  Deuteronomy 14:46 (Bible in Basic English)

Those memories warm my heart and remind me of just how much I have to be thankful for.  It’s easy to be thankful for material things, or angry because you lack them; but I challenge you this week to look deeper.  Think about your character, who are you when no one is looking?  Who molded you into the woman you are today?  When was the last time you said thank you?

This week as you download new books, get your playlists ready and charge both work and personal cell phones for your trip remember the most important part about Thanksgiving – giving thanks.

“It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to the Most High.”  Psalm 92:1 (New Living Translation)

Square Earth Studio: Introducing Maryna Marston

I was terrified of my grandparent’s basement. It was cold and damp, and smelled like dirt. Nestled in the corner at the bottom of the stairs was a spooky closet. I dreaded being sent down there. Perhaps the thing that unnerved me most was the black and white portraits of my steely-eyed ancestors that hung on every wall. How could I be related to these people? My mother said we were lucky to have those pictures. I never understood. Photography has come a long way from the historical record of my family tree to the limitless art form we know today.

Created Woman would like to introduce you to one of Austin’s premier fashion photographers. Maryna Marston was born in Ukraine. Her mother introduced her to photography and used their bathroom as a darkroom. She experienced broad exposure to various art forms in her early education and enjoyed drawing, painting and sculpture. In those formative years she cultivated an excellent eye for framing and composition.

Maryna never considered photography a career option. Her family guided her toward a business degree. She graduated in 2005 with her Masters in International Business Management from Kyiv National Economic University. It wasn’t until she moved with her husband Justin to the US that she was free to pursue life as an artist. She was looking at the banking industry when Justin intervened and said “Maryna, you are one of the lucky people who can pick anything they want to do in life. What would you love to do? What are you passionate about?”

Maryna reflected on their days in London. Armed with her 3 megapixel Canon digital camera, she became the photo journalist for her family and friends. She never expected people to enjoy her photos as much as they did. She also remembered her experience with a London modeling agency, being treated like a beautiful girl with no brain. She swore if she ever went back to the fashion industry she would be on the other side of the lens. A designer friend introduced her to the work of fashion photography pioneer Richard Avedon and modern legend David LaChappelle. Finally the artist of her youth found expression.

She enrolled in photography classes and met business partner Marco Gutierrez. They challenged each other to new levels of creativity and have earned a collection of prestigious awards. Together they opened Square Earth Studio in June of 2012 specializing in fashion, editorial and product photography. Unlike those first photographers who wandered onto my great-great-grandparents farm, their goal is not to simply capture an image but to create art with each image they capture. Be watching for their work right here at Created Woman and in our digital version available at createdwoman.net.

Read about Square Earth Studio's co-owner, Marco Here

 

 

Lynn Marie Cherry has a heart to encourage women towards freedom and plant seeds of hope. She enjoys sharing insight from God’s word and the world around her. She has been married for almost 20 years to the same great guy, they have two amazing boys. You can read more at http://lynnmariecherry.blogspot.com/

 

What Can I Control?

In this season of singleness in my life, I have had many things to rejoice over. The opportunity to pursue an education in a field I am passionate about. Traveling the world. Having deep friendships.  I enjoy the freedom to watch a movie when I want to, get deeply involved in a good book all day if I so choose, go spend my money on deals at the mall without having to answer to anyone. This season also presents many obstacles. Sometimes, the array of choices can be overwhelming. I worry about messing up. I am also prone to worry and loneliness. I secretly sometimes wonder if I will ever settle down and get married and have a family of my own. And to be honest, the thought of being single forever scares me.

This is where I have to stop and remind myself that there are a lot of unknowns not only in the life of a single woman, but in the life of every woman. Instead of fretting over what I cannot control, why not take a proactive stance on what I can control? Isn’t this what God wants for me?

First of all, God loves me with an everlasting love, and he has not forgotten about me. My self-esteem must flow from what he says is true about me, not whether my needs are being met in any human relationship. Second, I cannot mess up his plan for me. The latter part of Psalm 139:16 says, “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” What an amazing truth by which I can set my mind at ease!

I am single, and I desire a relationship, but I refuse to settle for less than what I truly desire.  Can I control the fact that what I want to happen right now isn’t happening? Not really, but I can sure make a mess of myself worrying about what the future holds. A better choice would be to focus on what I can control. I can control my attitude. I can work on myself during this season of life in a way that no other season can match, because I am not hindered by pleasing someone else. I can fulfill my dreams of traveling, learning foreign languages, and working with kids.

Proverbs 31:25 says, “She is clothed in strength and dignity, she can laugh at the days to come.” No matter what the future holds, I pray that by the power of Christ in me, I will learn to control the things I can, and what I cannot control, will be left in his hands.

 

 

My name is Jordan Starling and I live in Jefferson City, TN. I am studying to be a teacher and I plan to graduate in December 2013. I enjoy cooking, backpacking, reading, writing, and going on mission trips. I recently returned from a mission trip to Africa, where I had the opportunity to do church planting in remote villages.

 

 

What to Wear to: Weddings!

Tis the season, no, not Christmas, but wedding season! Every weekend is full of going to showers, engagement parties, and weddings. With all of these parties going on, how are you supposed to remember and coordinate what outfits you want to wear? Not to mention picking out shoes! Not to worry, we’re here to help make these decisions a little easier with these tips!

Wear something that’s colorful. It’s spring and a happy occasion so wearing something bright in the pastel family is sure to please.

J.Crew Lucille Dress in Cotton-Silk Faille

If you’re feeling really fashion forward, try a really nice wide leg jumper. It gives the look of a long maxi dress but you’ll certainly be unique in original look.

 Trina Turk Marianela Jersey Jumpsuit

Stick to the protocol. Check the invitation, if it says formal; opt for a long dress or a conservative cocktail dress. You can’t go wrong putting your hair up and wearing pearls, it will class up whatever you’re wearing.

Be sure to check the weather! Bringing a cardigan can always help in drafty churches and if it’s an outdoor wedding you’ll know to wear something light and breathable.

Time Saver- Invest in a pair of nude heels that look great with everything. Not only will this save you time but money, no more having to invest in new shoes with each dress! The below shoes I swear by!

Marc Fisher Joey Peep Toe Pumps

Giveaway

What you can win- A $25 gift card to Plain Ivey Jane's online site (valid only for clothing)

All entries must be received by Fri. May 18th, at 11:59PM PST. 2 winners will be chosen at random and announced on Monday, May 21st. Here's how to enter...

How To Enter (required):

  • Like Plain Ivey Jane on Facebook
  • Like Created Woman on Facebook
  • Leave a comment below and tell us which item off the Plain Ivey Jane site you’d purchase if you won.
For bonus entries please leave separate comments for each:

Giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents 

Sarah Reeves- Originally from the suburbs of Atlanta, Sarah studied Apparel Merchandising and Entrepreneurship at Auburn University. After school she moved to New York and worked for J. Crew Corp for a few years before opening her own boutique in Austin, TX called Plain Ivey Jane (if you’re ever in Austin go say hello!). It's an overstock boutique that receives shipments of over 120 different brands and lines at a discounted price! Be sure to check them out online!

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.

Whistle While You Work

As far as I can tell and as much as I hate to admit it, I'm a cliche. I'm a 20-something year old who's fresh out of college and trying to ''figure out my life". I thought that once I finished school last year, I'd quickly find a fun job that I loved and....I don't know. I guess I thought I'd be starting the "rest of my life". What I ended up doing was getting fired from my part-time student job, sending out 50 resumes with no responses, and accepted a job working for my husband's family business. It wasn't exactly the destination I had in mind while in school. While whining on my mom's shoulder recently, she said, "Life's  a roller-coaster and that's what you do at your age. You fumble around a bit and try to figure things out. You have to wait to see where life takes you." It's an uncomfortable place to be in for someone who loves preparation and planning. I mean, really, is there any way to plan for waiting?

The temptation that comes along when you're not exactly where you want to be in life is to not give 100% of yourself to your every day comings and goings. For example, maybe you really dislike your job so you decide that you don't have to work as hard at it. Maybe you dislike your co-workers who never do their share of work so you find yourself wondering, "Why should I do as much work as I'm doing if they slack off?"

At my last job, I realized my thoughts were going this direction and I wanted to nip it in the butt. I decided I always want to do my best because God is always watching. I decided that I always want to aim at pleasing Him.

"From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things,     and the work of their hands brings them reward." -Proverbs 12: 14

If you're in a season of life and just wanting to move on to the next season, you may be missing valuable teachings. Maybe God's trying to teach us to honor people to the best of our abilities even when we're not exactly happy with where we are. Maybe He's trying to teach us faithfulness. Whatever He's doing, don't miss out on His wisdom just because you only have eyes for the next season of your life. Learn how to 'whistle while you work'! And commit to being the best person you can be in whatever path you're on right now!

Hearty Pumpkin Pancakes

Fall and winter are the perfect time to incorporate pumpkin into your menu. Our family appreciates the versatility of this fruit ( seen by most as a vegetable) as evidenced by Pumpkin Cake which has replaced pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving and Pumpkin Fluff , a low fat and low sugar appetizer served with apples and graham crackers is  recommended  and prepared by our daughter, the registered dietician. Our newest addition to the pumpkin-fest is the pumpkin pancake.  I took a delicious recipe made with white flour and tweaked and tweaked until I came up with this whole wheat version ( I'm always on a quest for healthy and yummy). This recipe makes about 8-10, 4 inch pancakes.

Ingredients:

In one bowl mix the following:

1 1/4 c whole wheat flour

1 t pumpkin pie spice

1/2 t salt

2 t baking powder

2T sugar ( or Splenda if you cut sugar whenever you can)

 

In a separate bowl, mix the following:

1 +1T milk

1 egg

1 t vanilla

2 T melted butter

7 T pumpkin

Fold liquid into bowl with dry ingredients. Using a 1/3c, pour onto a hot griddle. Flip, when top side appears somewhat dry. These pancakes are nice and dense. They stick to your ribs and hold you for several hours.

My family  loves these  because they taste good but I  love pancakes because they they're like fingerprints, no two are alike. Each one swirls just a little differently from the one sizzling just beside it.

You're fingerprint is your mark of uniqueness. No one else looks like you, laughs like you or has a birthmark in the same place as you. Your hips or the texture of your hair may not be exactly to your specifications but you can be certain that there are things about you that others admire. Are you the organizer that  scattered women can't survive without or  the one with witty sarcasm that keeps the office in stitches?

I hope the next time you cook up a pancake, you'll check out how special each one is, then think about yourself and remind yourself that your swirls are practically perfect!

New Beginnings; CW launches into 2012

May 2012 will mark the 2-year anniversary of Created Woman Blogazine!  It’s seems like only yesterday the team was sitting around a table, excited with anticipation and wondering what would become of CW.  Our passion was just simply Women; single girls, fashionistas, CEO's, mommies or adventurous - we love them all! It was definitely a leap of faith that was so exciting and so scary, all at the same time.  But that’s what happens when you begin to step into your destiny, becoming who you were created to be. To me, that’s what resolutions should be about every year; making a promise to be the woman you were created to be, both inside and out, and carving out the steps to get there.

As we step into 2012, we wanted to share some of the ways we plan to stay the course for 2012 in our own personal lives.  We hope, too, that as we grow at CW, you’ll continue to share your life with us. We hope to watch as you reach new heights, begin new journeys, and continue to down the path of becoming all the you were created to be!

 

Nadia began as our bride-to-be last year and now, as a newlywed, her writing marries fashion with outreach. She's  showing us how we can be stylish and socially aware at the same time.

“My resolutions are to love better, to budget wisely, and to travel more!”

Martha has always been a writer with a passion to educate.  From her Saturday morning devotionals to her passion for the world around us, Martha teaches us so many lessons in each article.

“I have a dream of being accepted by a publisher to publish my first book”

Nichole  is a recent graduate of the University of Texas and is embarking on a new season of life. She'll be starting as an English teacher in the fall and will continue sharing her journey with our CW readers.

"I want to be better at quality time with people and remembering birthdays. I want to travel to a new city,  start taking Pure Barre classes, and read at least one book a week. Oh, and be a GREAT teacher!"

Cheryl is a diverse writer for CW. From fashion, to outreach, to food,  she's a phenomenal speaker who covers it all.  Her life experiences show just what it means to live out who you were created to be and inspires those around her to do the same through her ministry Mosaic Life Network.  Cheryl is a friend who always launches dreams!

“I would like to engage with family and close friends on a deeper level.  Rich conversations, sending cards and significant moments are important to me.  Life happens so fast, at times, I tend to operate in task mode - I plan on slowing down and taking delight in those special moments.”

Coby is a hairstylist who understands that the uniqueness of each woman must shine through, from hair to toe.  Coby’s own unique style of writing comes through in every article like a cheer spurring us on to new heights in our relationships and life journeys.

“I want to trust that I am capable, God is faithful and the best is yet to come.”

Crystal is CW's source for living well.  Launching her brand new business this year, Your Fitness Designer, Crystal has shared her 20 years of experience in the health and wellness field.  She is living out who she's created to be and keeps things simple this year, outside of building a business.

"This year, I want to add yoga into my workouts once a week"

Yvonne leaves her fingerprint wherever she goes!  As our first published author of Fingerprint: Uniquely Marked for  Purpose, she leads our Saturday morning devotional team, leaves our mouth watering on so many Monday Meals, and has a passion to honor women who are living out their destiny.  Thanks for your Fingerprint!

“This year I plan to love my family best by taking care of myself emotionally, spiritually and physically.”

Kala, just like her mother Yvonne, crafts her life experiences into simple, 'easy to relate to' nuggets of inspirations that are life changing.  She just published her first Monday Meal as well and we can’t wait to steal some of her kitchen masterpieces.

“This year I plan on taking time to make new friends and keep the ones I already have.  No more excuses!  I also want to learn French, but that might have to wait until 2013.”

Jessica is another girl who has so many talents; she’s the girl that can do anything!  Fashion, Health, cupcakes and more…this girl will keep anyone on their toes and is the kind of friend everyone should have.

“Looking at my schedule for the coming year with working full-time, a hard-core school load, and making time family my 'resolution' list is not nearly as long as it usually is...and that's ok with me. Some things just have to wait for other, more important ones.  Love Jesus - Laugh a lot - Get enough sleep.”

Heather- As the founder of Created Woman and a new mom, my life is full of many joys.  My resolutions for 2012 are to continue bringing you amazing, talented women to share their lives with you; to enjoy all the special moments with my little girl, Hadley; to never stop taking pictures of her; and to find the best shoes to wear at the best prices!

Thanks for being a part of Created Woman, a fashion blog that highlights family, health, fun and personal living!

Planning for the future at CW