gift

The Journey: Life of a single girl

The Journey of singleness is a gift, an adventure, turbulent and chaotic at times, heartbreaking and rewarding all wrapped in one big bow.   Exploring who you are as an individual is really only possible to its fullest while single.  How amazing that is!  Of course, there were times when I felt like I was on the single journey way too long.  But as I look back on my journey, there isn’t one thing I would change….the good, the bad and the ugly!

Every season of our lives has a reason, a story to tell, a lesson to be learned, an adventure to be had, a heart to mend and learn from.  It’s life, and life is a continuous voyage into the next season.  Today, single women are finally getting noticed for more than just being single.  We’ve figured out that, although we are not married, we are strong and intelligent, make mistakes just like everyone else, date the wrong guys, own our very own companies, serve, are wonderful friends; we are on the journey just like the rest of the world.

Life goes by too fast and is too short to live in the future always thinking, “When this happens, life will be amazing.”  The journey of life is every season and creates us into the woman we were created to be.  Embrace it, love it, live it!  I embrace my past, the lessons I learned, the friends I made and the escapades I experienced.  There all “things” that made me who I am today…. they’re all a part of my journey.  The Journey of singleness helped me identify who I was as a woman and who my husband fell in love with.  It’s the journey that taught be how to be strong, confident, soft, loving, alive and worth the wait.

Today, as I reflect on the years past, I’m thankful for all that God has given, brought and loved me through.  It’s all set me on the journey to becoming the woman I was created to be and embracing who I am today.   Single ladies, you are worth the wait!  So embrace your journey, love it, live it!

Now, While You Are Single.

[title subtitle="Now, while you are single: Walking out your purpose before you say 'I do'"][/title]

Now, While You Are Single is a practical guide to help women discover and embrace their true identity in Christ through a journey of healing, ultimately revealing God’s purpose and plan for their life while they are single. 

books_created

 

Purchase for you or as a gift here

[title subtitle="Design Labs"][/title]

Single ladies! We will be hosting Design Labs in the Austin area this summer featuring Heather’s book. Follow us on Facebook for dates & times.

What's Your Worth? God's Top Priority

My favorite new place in the world is snuggling with my 3-month old as she takes a nap.  Every time we snuggle, I kiss her on her forehead and cheek whispering the words “I love you” over and over even though she has no idea what that means.  She is such a gift!  She has no idea how much she means to us, how much we wanted her, or how much we thank God for her every day promising to take care of this precious gift He has given us.  She has no clue of her worth yet.

As a single girl, I didn’t always know my worth either.  I had no idea how much God loved me, how much He had for me, or how much He actually thought of me throughout the day.  After all, I was single and my purpose would begin after I got married, right?  Because I believed that for a bit, I found myself feeling anxious believing I would be the last one married, the last one to have kids, the last one to reach my career goals, the last one to……the list goes on.  It wasn’t until I finally rested in God and allowed Him to snuggle with me, kiss me on my forehead and cheek while whispering how much He loved me, did I realize how much I was worth.  I was worth a whole lot come to find out!   Because my daughter knows we have food just for her, she instinctively opens her mouth when it's time to eat never doubting that we’ll have enough.  Just like her, all I needed to do was be open for all the good things God had just for me.

Once I knew my worth, I no longer settled for less.  I didn’t settle for a date with just anyone, drama filled relationships, unhealthy friendships and so much more.  I didn’t settle for who I was either.  I was worth the effort to be molded.  As I embraced my value, I was constantly amazed how much He entrusted me with.  He had plans for me; things I had better be doing even while I was single.

As my daughter grows up, I can only  pray I show her daily just how much she is worth.   I pray that while she is single, she understands God has a plan & purpose designed especially for her by His own hands.  This is exactly how God feels about you!  He wants you to know how much you are worth to Him; how valuable you really are!  All you have to do is open your mouth just like my little girl and receive what God has for you, now, while you are single.

Embrace and enjoy Snuggling with your Heavenly Father as He gives you little kisses on your forehead and cheek while whispering, “I love you” over and over again!

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

{Originally published 2011}

[title subtitle="Book: Now, While You Are Single: Walking Out Your Purpose Before You Say "I Do""][/title]

Now, While You Are Single is a practical guide to help women discover and embrace their true identity in Christ through a journey of healing, ultimately revealing God’s purpose and plan for their life while they are single. 

Purchase for you or as a gift here!

books_created

[title subtitle="Design Labs"][/title]

Single ladies! We will be hosting Design Labs in the Austin area this summer featuring Heather's book. Follow us on Facebook for dates & times.

Valentine's Gifts for Him

 

With each new Valentine's Day comes the new search for the perfect gift. If you're like me, it's a new puzzle to figure out what my guy wants. Unlike women, who are easy to please with new jewelry, scarves, or Chanel make-up (hint hint to any guys reading!), men are a little different. So here are some of our ideas for how to make your man smile.

 

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Art of Shaving Kit

artofshaving.com, $115

Thanks to Daniel Craig and the latest James Bond movie, my husband developed a slight obsession with the old art of shaving. This old-school process shouldn't just be routine; it should be relaxing and enjoyable. With a kit that includes a protective pre-shave oil, moisturizing cream, soothing aftershave, and a brush to make sure he stays smooth after the scraping,  this gift is a nice little treasure.

 

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Edwin Jagger Ebony & Nickel Shaving Set

amazon.com, $99

While we're at it, an old-fashioned razor set never hurt anyone.

 

 

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Dopp Kit, by Montana Enterprises

$30, amazon.com

Every man should own an elegant, leather dopp kit. The male equivalent to a woman's make-up bag, this classy pouch can be used to store toiletries for trips or just home organizing. To make this gift go above and beyond, you could fill it with new grooming goodies that your guy can use for your next date night.

 

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Noir, by Tom Ford

$90, sephora.com

Voted one of Huffington Post's best men's colognes of 2012, this scent by legendary designer Tom Ford is a great cologne to snuggle up to. With notes of nutmeg, sage, amber, and vanilla, this gift's one you and your guy will enjoy.

 

 

article20Brooklyn Brewshop, Beer Making Kit

$40, brooklynbrewshop.com

For the guy who likes to do-it-himself and enjoys home projects, Brooklyn Brewshop has created an easy way to explore the process of brewing at home. With different flavors of beer and kit sizes, you can surprise him with with this unique gift that'll let him brag to his friends about his new batch of beer.

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Dalmore and Macallan Scotches

I know my girlfriends love a great bottle of wine. Usually, the older the better, right? While your guy may not feel very manly sipping on a glass of white wine with you, a smooth, aged scotch is a perfect translation. A bottle of Dalmore or Macallan are two classic bottles to try.

 

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Whiskey Lovers Set

huckberry.com, $60

The perfect addition to a new bottle of scotch? A new set of glasses. This set of simple, elegant glasses come with an addition that's gaining popularity as of late: the freezing stones. I don't know one man in my family who didn't get these as a gift for Christmas last year. After sitting in the freezer for a few hours, these real stones help keep a good glass of whiskey or scotch from being watered down.

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Quentin Tarantino Box Set

$80, amazon.com

For the gritty, movie guy, this box set is a thing of beauty. The 10-disc collection from prolific directer Quentin Tarantino includes his 8 films (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Kill Bill [Vols. 1 & 2], Death Proof, Inglourious Basterds, and True Romance) with hours of bonus footage. The only downside? No Django Unchained just yet. Though he may not be every lady's cup of tea, Tarantino makes "Man Movies" like no other.

 

posters

Dope Prints Posters

$26, etsy.com/shop/dopeprints

Here's one more gift for the movie lover. Dope Prints is a great Etsy find that specializes in immortalizing memorable movie lines with elegant artwork. With almost 30 different classic movie lines, you're bound to find one that your guy loves.  

 

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Ruckstrap (Red)

$125, huckberry.com

In love with a man who's in love with a camera? Here's the way to his heart. You know those thin little camera straps that shout tourist? Buy him a stylish alternative. This thick strap of canvas, leather, and suede give a delicate camera some much needed ruggedness and style.

 

 

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Casetagram iPhone Cover

$35, casetagram.com

iPhone/Instagram lovers everywhere, take notice. For your tech-savvy honey,  you can now take his gorgeous, filtered squares of Instagram art and create a unique gift that will definitely be a conversation starter. This new website allows you to use your Instagram (or Facebook) photos and choose different layouts to create a one-of-a-kind phone case that will remind your guy of all the wonderful moments you share!

 

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 Juice Pack Reserve

$35, mophie.com

One more gadget for your techie. Though this may not be the most aesthetically pleasing gift, it's one your iPhone-toting guy will find useful. When he's used up his battery on all his apps and still has hours to go in his day, this keychain charger can be hooked up to his phone for a little more extra juice. Who doesn't appreciate a practical gift every now and then?                                                

 

article23Trademark Poker Set & Solid Wood Dart Cabinet

$65, $85, target.com

For the guy who loves having "Boys Night", these are two quintessential game sets. Though it might lead to some rowdy nights of gameplay, these are the gifts that keep on giving.

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Gingham Button-Up

$69.50, jcrew.com

Gingham's here to stay for awhile. To keep your man looking stylish, a classic, quality button-up will do the trick. Also, you can never go wrong with men's clothes, shoes, or tie clips from J.Crew.

 

books

Book Collections

$40, penguinclassics.co.uk

Is your honey a book lover? These sleek, modern sets of fictional classics from Penguin Classics Publishers are the perfect treat. Not only will these literary gems look elegant on any bookshelf, they'll also appeal to your guy's intellectual side.

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Quirky Staple Remover

$60, huckberry.com

This one is just for the laugh factor. When he's stuck all day at the office and needs a little sense of humor to lighten the mood, something like this will remind him of you and make him smile.

 

Lastly, are there any concerts, shows, or games your honey might like to go to? Tickets to an event are always a win. Or is there something your guy already has that could be perfected by a monogram? Personalizing wallets, flasks, and iPad cases with his initals are great gifts as well.

Hopefully by now your shopper juices are flowing and you've found a gift or two for your wonderful significant other! And just remember, your guy will love anything you put some thought into. Now, time to start dropping hints and helping him out a little with what you might like!

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!

A Thrill of Hope

You know those people who can wake up at the crack of dawn without an ounce of coffee and still be annoyingly energetic and chipper? Yeah. I'm one of those people. I'm the girl who pokes her husband awake way too early when he wants to sleep in. Something about the morning sunshine just makes me happy.  And there's nothing quite like watching the sky go from gray to pink to blue. When I watch a sunrise, I get a hopeful little flutter in my heart. To me, a sunrise means another day full of possibilities, exciting chance encounters with new people, surprising discoveries, and new ways of having fun. Sunrises are holy in my eyes. Christmas is a sunrise to me. It's a time when we come together with those we love the most and celebrate the gift of Jesus. We're reminded of how our Savior came to "...ransom captive Israel." There's really no better message of hope than this, is there? And not only did He "once upon a time" come to us, but He still brings us this message of hope today. His Spirit still walks beside us. So, again, Christmas is a sunrise. It signals a new year full of new possibilities. It means new chances for Jesus to burst into our lives and amaze us. Now, I must also admit that I can sometimes look back on a year and see the blunders and bruises. I see the goals I didn't start on yet or the job I lost. I see the friend I drifted away from or the vices I've yet to conquer. But then I remember the hope that Jesus really represents.

Lamentations 3:21-23 "Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning."

So, after the wrapping paper is cleaned up, after the kids have run off to play with new gifts, and after you breath a sigh of relief that you survived your wild family another year, start to dream a bit. Embrace a new year with arms wide open and a heart full of hope. Don't let anything that's happened this past year hold you back from what could be.  Whether it's fear, grudges, pessimism, or some other form of self-sabotage, don't let it steer you. God is with You! And Emmanuel came for you to have hope. Live in this and get excited! You never know what's around the corner.

"A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,  for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn."

God, thank You for the gift of Jesus. Thank you for the gift of hope You give us in Him. Holy Spirit, help us to embrace a new year in anticipation for Your work in our lives. Let us not linger on things past, but look joyfully at what is to come. We thank you for Your faithfulness. Amen.

 

 

The Heart of the Matter

The stress of working in retail the last 15 years has given me somewhat of a Bah Humbug attitude during the holiday season.  In fact my holiday motto has been “We Work Because You Don’t Have To.”  Retail employees live and die by the Vacation Blackout Schedule; the schedule that has kept me working during the holidays these last 15 years and even dictated the date of my marriage.  But holiday stress doesn’t just fall on those of us in the Retail profession; it touches everyone. Take a moment and reflect on the true reason for the season.  Jesus.  We celebrate the GIFT of life.  The baby who would grow up and GIVE his life for us.  Strange that the topic of giving should create so much stress this time of year.

When we think of Christmas giving we automatically think of shopping, spending money, wrapping presents and giving sweaters, jewelry and knick-knacks.  But that is not the only way to give, nor is it the best decision for everyone.  If you’re shopping on credit cards to give gifts to everyone in the entire office or every member of your extended family you may want to rethink your giving technique.

And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box.  Many rich people put in large sums.  And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny.  And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box.  For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”  Mark 12:41 – 44 (English Standard Version)

No, this verse is not telling you to spend your last penny on gifts when you need to pay rent!  It’s asking you to give with the heart of the widowed woman.  Giving is more than dealing with material possessions; it’s the heart of the matter.  Are you giving to suck up to the boss or because you truly want to bless him?

Baking cupcakes & cookies for the office, donating your hair, writing a poem, doing volunteer work or watching a friend’s child for an afternoon are all ways of giving and showing love to those we care about without breaking the bank.  Set budgets and guidelines for giving with your office pals, family & spouse then stick to them.  Money is tight for most people these days and with the rising costs of gas, milk and Starbucks discussing limits shouldn’t be considered taboo.

Stoplight Prayer:  Father in Heaven thank you for placing the desire to give in my heart.  Help me to understand how to bless people with gifts that show your love and mine without putting me / my family under financial strain.

Still Hungry?  Deuteronomy 15 instructs us to give cheerfully as does 2 Corinthians 9, which also reminds us that we reap what we sow (time, money, acts of kindness…).

The Gift of Hospitality

As a child growing up on a farm in Southwest Georgia, it was not uncommon for family and friends to drop in for an unexpected visit.  It was also not uncommon for my mother to greet them at the door with a smile on her face and say:  “Ya’ll come on in. Now, ya’ll just sit down and talk to Roy, (my daddy) and I will have supper ready in one hour.” And as they would say in Georgia:  “You can bet your sweet britches that in one hour flat, a spread would be on her table --- three vegetables, 2 meats, macaroni and cheese, and oh yeah, fried corn bread.”  Guests would remark:  “I never met anybody that could whip up that much vittles in such a short period of time.”

What amazed me was that Mother never sat down to eat with her guests.  She was up serving them --- filling their tea glasses before it got empty, and continuously saying:  “Ya’ll eat now, you hear!”  “I’ve got plenty more food left in the pots in the kitchen.”

And then there were the holidays. “Oh, my goodness!”  She baked tons of finger-licking goodies and cakes on top of cakes.  My mother could have put Paula Deen to shame!  After the death of my daddy, she sometimes remarked:  “I’d love to get a job as a hostess at a restaurant.”  “I just love greeting people.”

Yes, Mother definitely has The Gift of Hospitality.

What do we mean by “The Gift of Hospitality”?  Rather than define this gift, it is easier to describe it.  People with this gift:

  1. provide an environment where people feel valued and cared for
  2. meet new people and help them to feel welcomed
  3. create a comfortable setting where relationships can develop
  4. set people at ease in unfamiliar surroundings
  5.  friendly, outgoing, trusting, sociable and relational caring
  6. they are the greeters at church, the potluck host, hospitality dinner team leader   (Adapted from Cyber-Space Ministries)

In the book of Romans, Ephesians, and 1 Corinthians, various gifts are listed that God has given us.  However, 1 Peter 4:7-10 specifically calls out for HOSPITALITY.

The end of all things is near.  Therefore be clear-minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.  Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.  Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.  Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.  [NIV]

During this upcoming holiday season, the people with the Gift of Hospitality are about to “kick it up a notch,” as the famous chef, Emeril would say.  They don’t mind - - -they love it!  My Pastor, David Berkeheimer, says:  “the gift God has placed within an individual is the one they use with a minimum of effort, a maximum of joy, and with a maximum effectiveness.”

Back to my Mother:  She is 87 years old now, and her body no longer allows her to serve the way it once did.  Often I hear her say:  “It just kills me that I can’t cook up a big meal like I used to and have a crowd of people sitting around my table.”  That, my friend, is The Gift of Hospitality that is still in her heart.  Once God gives you a gift, no matter what it is, the passion for it never leaves you because that was the way He created you to serve others and bring honor to Him.

I just know that when Mother gets to heaven, she is going to be standing at the Pearly Gates waiting for all her family and friends to arrive.  I can just hear her saying:

“Ya’ll come on in. Now ya’ll sit here and talk to Jesus, and I will have supper ready in one hour.”

"You Have Cancer"

  "I can't believe it". "This is not happening to me". These are the words that were swimming through my head several years ago as my doctor delivered that dreaded phrase! I remember asking the doctor to bring my sister, Cissy, in the room and after sitting there for a few minutes we just agreed that we would face this head on. Full of fear and uncertainty, we began to make decisions and change our plans.

I am not very demonstrative with my emotions, therefore, no tears were shed when my doctor told me I had cancer. As I sat back in my seat, it felt like my blood became cold and was slowly and painfully draining from my body.  I was stunned.  And, I was angry.  My mother had just transitioned to heaven a few years earlier,  my family was still working through the devastation of our loss and now this! The prevailing thought racing through my mind, like a freight train that slipped off the tracks, was the notion that I would miss the opportunity to have children. "I am not going to have kids." Isn't this every girls dream? I was not married and would not have the chance to bear children.  I was overwhelmed and disheartened.

As I write this post, I am met with the same emotion I experienced when I first heard the news. I am, however, still alive and while I will never have the opportunity to 'have' children, I 'have' children.  I call them my God-kids.  My life has been enriched by several individuals that think of me as another mother.

Through my experience I have learned a few things:

  1. You only live once. Life is a gift, a free gift that will cost you everything you have. :)  My challenge to you: Live with audacious tenacity.  Enjoy those around you. Live with passion and purpose. Love without reserve. Forgive as you have been forgiven.
  2. We are not alone. We are designed to exist within the realm of relationship with others.  I found that I had (and still have) a number of friends and family members who were willing to stand with me in prayer, cook meals, sit and talk, or remain quiet or drive me to doctor's appointments if i needed or wanted them to.
  3. Life is not easy.  There is no way to know what one will face in life.  This is why I choose to stay connected to a Source that is much bigger that I.  Being a Christian, I trust God will give me grace to endure the challenges and victories that come my way.  I choose to believe He will take care of me through the storm. Even when it doesn't seem like it (there are times).
  4. Whether I live or die, I win.  This was a tough one for me.  I had to personally work through this reality on my own.  You see, I believe that the life I live, right now, is temporary. Death is a transition from this 'life' to eternity. I will see my mother and others who have passed on.  I will live forever.

If you, or a loved, have been diagnosed with cancer or any other disease, my sincere hope is that you have a community of people to surround you with loving care and commitment, as I have.

 

Connect to the Future

Whether consciously or subconsciously,women imitate other women. We draw from those we admire and those who take time to teach us . The best way to  "become who we are created to be" is to be led by our mothers and sisters. We might be biologically connected to these women or they might be people whose paths have crossed with ours  any place in the world. As a woman with a gift or talent (we all have them), we can then teach and lead others.  In our family, cooking and eating are  times to link generations and we begin to teach the culinary arts early in a child's life.  

 

 

Today is no exception as my daughter Kala and granddaughter Ava prepared a quick and easy summer appetizer.

 

 

Fresh Fig Appetizer

Ingredients

8 fresh figs

1/4c. honey or blue agave sweetener

1 fresh lime

cracked pepper corns

goat cheese

 

First, mix  the juice of one lime with the honey or blue agave.

 

 

Next, slice the figs in half (Ava is given a spreader and a couple of figs). Fill each fig-half with  1t. of goat cheese. Arrange figs on serving plate and drizzle the sweetener over them. Finish off with fresh cracked pepper.

 

While it takes a little time and patience to include a little one in food preparations, gardening or whatever it is that you do well, the payoff is great. Legacy is established, mentorship is birthed and trust binds lives together.

Time and love connect us to the future.