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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!

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[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.

The Shark Tank

“In looking for people to hire, look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy.  And if they don’t have the first one, the other two will kill you.”   - Warren Buffet Last week as I stood in line at Target I chatted with a woman who was shopping with a daughter the same age as mine.  After a few minutes she asked where I worked and without thinking I answered, “A Shark Tank.”  We laughed and continued our conversation about snacks, short shorts and the long lines that seem to plague all California retailers.

I’ve only been in my new job for 6 months and while I’m enjoying the change of scenery, the change of pace and the new challenges my job has presented; this office has already left a bad taste in my mouth.  One of my first observations when I got here was that everyone was smart and ambitious, just like me.  However, there is a trait missing amongst some of my colleagues – integrity.

Trust and integrity take years to build; projects completed on time, fair prices and billing, promotions for those that work for you.  All it takes is one lie, one bad choice to destroy it all.  Having an “end justifies the means” mentality may get you the result you need in the moment but it could also be beginning of the end.

“Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.” Proverbs 10:9 (English Standard Version)

I see some of these people rewarded and I know who they have stepped on and over to get their results.  As much as I would love my share of the limelight I know that it’s a path I cannot choose.  When I first decided to take this job I’ll admit I was enticed by possibilities of promotions, new titles and more money.  I will always strive for more, to be better, to grow – it’s who I am, but it’s the path we choose that sets us apart.

“Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.”  Proverbs 28:6 (English Standard Version)

It may take me longer to get where I want to be, but I have faith that things will happen as they should; and I can’t put a price tag on the example I set for my daughter.  At the young age of five, she sees, hears and absorbs everything.  When she is an adult I hope she can be proud of the decisions I’ve made and understand why I made them.

“The righteous who walks in his integrity— blessed are his children after him!”  Proverbs 20.7 (English Standard Version)

Stoplight Prayer:  Father in Heaven, Thank you for making me who I am and giving me direction and correction.  Help me to be a woman of integrity, a woman who lives her life in private the way she lives in public.

Stay In Your Lane

  Several weeks ago I was playing with Wii bowling with my daughter.  The best part of electronic bowling is that it’s impossible to be really bad.  You might get a few gutter balls from time to time, but at least you’ll always stay in your lane.  We were neck in neck as she proudly announced, “I’m a great bowler.  Right Mommy?”  I happily agreed.

After our game was over, she opened her box of Bob books and began reading to me.  “Mommy, I’m a really great reader.  Right?”  Again, I happily agreed.

Twenty minutes later we moved onto singing and dancing to Ava's jams.  She climbed onto the coffee table, microphone in hand, and began singing “All Star” by Smash Mouth at the top of her lungs.  “I’m a great singer.  Right Mom?”  This time I froze.

God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.  1 Peter 4:10 (New Living Translation)

It’s a natural response to tell your children that they are great at everything they do and that they can be anything they want to be, but there comes a point when you realize that might not always be the best choice.

God gave each of us special gifts and talents that he intended for us to use.  When I was younger I wanted nothing more than to be an actress.  As I grew older, I still wanted to be an actor, but I wasn’t interested in being a starving artist in Hollywood.

I found way to use my gifts working for a non-profit organization.  For a time I traveled the state of Texas doing drug and alcohol prevention school assemblies, it was then that I met a cute teacher who would later become my husband.

While it is good to stretch yourself and grow in the areas you’re not so great at, I encourage you to incorporate your gifts.  Stay in your lane; you never know what kind of surprises He has in store for you when you operate within your gifts.

As for Ava, I told that she was great at a lot of things and that as much and Mommy and Daddy loved to hear her sing there were other things she was so much better at like drawing and making up great stories.

Stoplight Prayer:  Father in heaven, thank you blessing me and making me special and unique.  Please open to door for me to share my gifts with those around me.

Ruins

Your people will rebuild the old cities that are now in ruins; you will rebuild their foundations. You will be known for repairing the broken places and for rebuilding the roads and houses. Isaiah 58:12 (New Century Version)

 

Nehemiah was a man who lived comfortably in the service of a king. Though he was a servant, his place was one of honor because to serve a king his wine was to protect his life. Had someone wanted to kill the king by poisoning the wine, Nehemiah was the one trusted to guard him.  Yet, when Nehemiah hears of how the walls of Jerusalem have broken down to ruins, his heart breaks. His comfortable position in the palace means nothing to him in comparison to the land of his fathers being broken and its people living in shame. So he bravely asks his king to allow him to return to Jerusalem in order to rebuild her walls.

We live our lives walking amongst ruins. The remnants of once great cities are cracked pillars and broken walls. There are people around us each day who are living in their wreckage; the co-worker who’s been divorced and now thinks she’ll never find love, the young teenage girl who’s grown up without a father and thinks it’s her fault, the young man who believes he can’t succeed because others have told him he would fail. The different forms of ruins are countless. Dreams, ideals, hopes, families, self-esteem, ethics, careers, marriages, friendships...all of these can be broken down into ‘ruins’.

Yet God has given us His Spirit and it has the power to rebuild. These ruins are not hopeless rocks, but cities waiting on our love to rebuild them. The scripture says, “We will be known for repairing the broken places...” We must be aware of these places and take the opportunities to help restore them. We can offer an encouraging word, give a compliment, take someone on a coffee date, value someone’s ideas, etc,. If we open our hearts and pay attention, we can find the ruins around us and begin to build them back up again!

 

 

Block It Out - Hot Trend

Color! It's everywhere this fashion season. But it's being used in a more un-common way than before.The new trend is "color-blocking".The concept couldn't be easier to comprehend: wearing articles of clothing in chunks, or "blocks" of color.

The idea is to piece together vibrant colors you normally wouldn't think "match".

This can range from a casual capri, to a tailored skirt, or just a fun and funky bag.

I've also noticed, I've spent less on purchasing clothes because I can mix-and-match pieces more so than before. You can go weeks without having a repeat affair.

And saving money always makes a girl happy

Be bold! Throw caution to the wind and trying pairing a few things together. There's really no way you can go wrong.

 

1.) I love a polished pencil skirt at the office and yet there's still room for a little jazz.  A V-Neck sweater follows the same tailored effect, but the blocks of color come in way of green and lilac and small hints of red and gold in a belt and necklace.

2.) Neon's like this yellow are a must! The richness of the blue on bottom, heighten the concept while still keeping a classic look. It's been paired with a red purse and longer necklace with hughes of orange. (Hint: Necklaces should hit either above the breast line or below, but never on. This keeps "the girls" from becoming a main focus)

3.) Going for a more casual look? Try your color in a skinny capri. Here, it's paired with a less vibrant blue and then a burst of yellow in the belt and necklace off-set the combo.

What's Hot Poolside: Summer Swim 2012

Summer time can come with an excitement and dread at the same time; after all, it does mean it's swimsuit season!  But don't you worry, long are the days when the only option is the itsy, bitsy, teenie, weenie, yellow polka dot bikini!  Swim itself has become a fashion statement and there's a style for every girl!  Plus, don't forget about the fun accessories that come with the season, too.  I don't leave the house without my favorite aviators and am constantly adorned with my comfortable flip flops.  Summer time screams pedicure with a girlfriend! So as you pack your bag to head to the the water this summer, here's What's Hot poolside.

High Waisted

Thanks so the staying power of Mad Men on HBO, the pin-up girl-like bathing suit has made it's return.  The great thing about high waisted is that it hides a multitudes of sins while still making you feel and look young.

 

The Cutout

Not a bikini yet not a one piece, cut out suits hit the runway in almost every show.  The fun styles are functional and fashionable.

 

Orange/Tangerine

No matter what style you choose, this sun-kiss color screams summer and is the hottest color you'll see poolside.

 

2 Poolside Fashion Tips from Helen, Watch!

Sunglasses:

Cat Eye

This year's newest trend in eye wear is the cat eye. Fun, fashionable and sassy!  Try in a cool leopard print or solid, but try you must!

 

Ray Ban

No, it's not 1984 but the Risky Business Ray Ban is back - actually, they never left - but they are hotter than ever!  Great new colors flank every sunglass hut!

 

Aviators

My personal favorite of all summer!  Like my American Express, I never leave home without them!

 

That's What's Hot Poolise in Summer 2012 Poolside.  What do yo never leave home without?

Solitude

Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter...I've got 'em all. My generation is full of social media junkies. People rave about how Facebook put them in touch with friends they've lost contact with or how Facebook let's them keep up with their family who live far away, yada yada yada. And as a girl who has family spread across the continent, I think it's great! But Facebook and other social medias can have their darker sides. Maybe we've seen people going on vacations or buying new, pretty things and it stirs up a little jealousy or materialism in us. Maybe we've felt the need to show off a little for all our online friends. Or maybe we've seen what our friends have said online and just been annoyed. Whatever it is, we've probably all had moments like these. Now, I'm not trying to say that Facebook is pure evil and you should never use social medias! But I do think we could all use a bit more disconnect in our lives.  A writer I enjoy, Marya Mannes,  once said, "The great omission in American life is solitude...that zone of time and space, free from the outside pressures, which is the incubator of the spirit." And in Mark 6, we find Jesus telling His disciples that they should find a "quiet place". There's something that happens when we get alone and quiet ourselves a bit. It lets us pay attention to ourselves and helps reconnect us to the most important thing in our life, our own spirit.

So if you're a social mediaholic like me, take some time this week to consciously disconnect. Maybe you can give yourself a time limit or maybe you just don't get online at all for a whole day. And if you want to see how someone's day is going, just give them a phone call rather than checking their Facebook. It's more fun that way!

Growing Green

With gas prices skyrocketing , I'm willing to cut back on luxuries but  I won't compromise the quality of food that comes out of my kitchen!  I love using fresh herbs  and each time I have a glass of ice tea at Shirley Ray's house, she always throws in fresh mint. So, I thought I'd ask her for a little education in regards to  planting a mobile herb garden.  Recently I showed up with a clay pot and a few herbs and my lesson began. She took me step by step through the process .

Herb gardens have few limitations. They can be planted in the ground , a clay pot or any kind of a wire basket. They can live by a kitchen window, a back yard or an apartment balcony. Shirley begins by lining the basket with her favorite landscape fabric,  WeedFree Pro. This allows water through but keeps roots inside the container.

On this particular afternoon, she put together a couple of herb gardens. I thought this aged bicycle basket was  a perfect place for a mobile garden as well as  the traditional clay pot I brought with me.

Shirley prefers inexpensive gloves, rather than a name brand.

With  numerous choices of herbs to choose from we started off with basil, rosemary and mint. She keeps several kinds of  mint in her garden like pineapple mint, chocolate mint and spearmint. She planted multiple  herbs in each garden, but left sufficient room for each to grow and spread.

Fennel has a long droopy leaf and she planted it in the bicycle basket by the outside edge, giving it room to fall over the basket. She doesn't really cook with fennel but she informed me that caterpillars are attracted to it and  by planting fennel she'll also have butterflies in her garden.

This is called the Butterfly Bush, a member of the lilac family.Its rich nectar attracts butterflies, hummingbirds and beneficial insects.

Shirley plants lavender in her garden  just because she loves the fragrance. In fact, a small pouch of  dried lavender  tucked inside your pillowcase is supposed to help you sleep.

While she's not picky about her gloves, she is particular about the soil she uses and she pampers her plants with

Miracle Grow.

After just about an hour in Shirley's backyard, she had put together two distinct herb gardens and guess whose front porch this mobile garden calls home?

Shirley Ray: personal style-Texas casual

I'm inspired by memories of my grandmother's garden. Every time I walked into her backyard, it was wall to wall flowers.

Shirley is  also the founder of Shirley's Creative Solutions. She is a caterer, event planner, provides services as a personal assistant and whips up unique hand made gifts.

Serious Business

We've become too busy. It's tragic, really. We rush from place to place, make coffee dates in what little spare time we have, and find new ways to fill our time just in case we're not being productive enough. I know I've been guilty of this. When people ask how we're doing, "I'm just so busy."  I feel like one thing I didn't realize well enough while I was in school and running around like a crazy person was that I needed to make time for the things that actually made me happy. Charles Eames once wrote, "Take your pleasures seriously." And Ecclesiastes 2:24-25 says, "I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that these pleasures are from the hand of God. For who can eat or enjoy anything apart from him?"  We have to take our pleasures seriously, because they are actually gifts from God Himself.

My mother is a perfect example of this. When I was a young girl, she was a single parent living in a new city taking care of my sister and I. No matter how hard things were or how tight bills became, she always found a way to get her nails done. Not in an "I-don't-care-if-my-electricity-gets-cut" way, but in an "I-work-hard-and-this-is-one-thing-I-do-for-myself" way. For whatever reason, shiny red nails made her feel strong and happy. Of course, she could have written them off as a waste of money. But I think she understood that all the things she had to do depended on her feeling strong and happy. I think we could all use a little more strong and happy, couldn't we?

No matter how busy you get or how many people ask you out to coffee, make time to do the things that make you happy. One thing that makes me happy is traveling. My husband was raised differently and traveling wasn't really a top priority for him, but as we've been married, he's learned that it's something I need. So, we make it a priority. I've met mothers who make working out a priority because it's their "me" time. Maybe you enjoy a good book or movie but never find time for them.  Whatever those things are that let you breathe deeply and that you take pleasure in, make sure you're doing them! Because while the world does need you, it needs a strong and happy you!

What every single girl should know before they get married. Advice from 11 married women

  Eating, laughing, and enjoying one another’s company for some Christmas cheer, I was surrounded by eleven married women. Their ages ranged from twenty-five to fifty-six years old and the number of years married ranged from less than a month to over thirty years. It was girls’ night; yes, the beloved, girls’ night. We were celebrating Christmas. As if there needs to be an excuse for girls to get together. We love girls’ nights. They're filled with memories, famous and inappropriate quotes, and the rule is always that what happens at girls’ night, stays at girls’ night.

Our gracious and glamorous hostess posed the question, “What is the most important thing you've learned in marriage?” I grabbed my journal out of my purse and began writing frantically as the wisdom flowed. I didn’t want to miss a word of this. Each of these women is a role model to me, an incredible wife who loves and serves God, and a dear friend. Like a sponge absorbing all they had to share, I was blessed to be surrounded by them. My dream is to be married and have a family. It hasn’t happened YET, but I'm praying and believing it will happen very soon. And these women are on my side praying and believing with me. I want to grow and learn as much as possible about being an incredible wife, and what a great opportunity here before me.

As I’m reading what I wrote in my journal and typing it out, I hesitate as to what order I should write each thought in. There isn’t one that's more important than the other. Each thought has enough strength  yet vulnerability and transparency to stand on its own.

 

1. Be your husband’s friend. Be supportive, listen, and don’t interrupt when he’s sharing his heart. 2. Let your husband make decisions and be patient while he's making the decision. This will build confidence in him and he’ll feel respected by you. 3. Choose your battles. Not everything you’re thinking needs to be a discussion. 4. Have sex more times a week than you wash your hair. 5. Do the hard work even when you don’t want to. Don’t bury your head in the sand to issues. Confront them and resolve them. It’s alright to go to a counselor to get things taken care of. 6. Suck it up even when you don’t feel like it or you’re tired. If your husband wants to have fun, take advantage of it. The one to two hours of sleep you’re sacrificing is creating a memory that both of you will remember and cherish. 7. Respect your husband and have deep belly laughs with him every day. 8. Pray. Pray. Pray. 9. Forgive quickly. Support your husband no matter if you think he’s good at what he wants to do or not. You're his biggest influence. Make sure it’s a positive influence, not a negative one. 10. What you focus on will grow. Whether it’s negative or positive, it will grow. Choose to focus on the positive. 11. God put you in your husband’s life to compliment him. As a wife, you need to let him shine.

Remember,  Christ is the only one who can satisfy all your needs. Don’t look to your husband to meet all your needs or you'll end up very disappointed. Don’t forget he's your treasure too. So often we think of the woman as being the treasure, but the man is also a treasure. So the same way you expect him to treat you like a jewel, treat him like your treasure. Don’t vomit all over him about your day as soon as he walks in the door. Take some time to buff him and shine him. He’ll be more apt to hear all about it if he feels valuable to you. Marriage is doing life with your best friend in the best and worst of times. So put on your big girl panties and enjoy the ride. From the moment you say, “I do,” the enemy is working overtime to destroy your union of marriage. He hates it and will never stop trying to destroy it. Marriage is supposed to exemplify God’s relationship with His bride, us. The enemy hates successful marriages. Why do you think the divorce rates are so high? He does not want people looking in from the outside of your marriage and being pointed to a love relationship with Jesus Christ.

When I'm married and someone asks my husband what he loves about me and why he married me, I'd like his response to be this, “God made my dreams come true and gave me the treasure I was hunting for all my life.” My prayer is for God to make me that woman.

 

Stacy McVane loves to share with groups of people; to Inspire you to dream big, to Empower you to become better in spirit, mind, and body; and to challenge you to Share what you've learned with others. Some of the topics she's passionate about are: health and fitness, relationships, leadership, communication, and conflict resolution within any environment. Stacy loves to mentor young women and is available for one on one mentoring or small groups. She has been on staff at her home church, Shoreline Church, in Austin Texas since 2002. She is the Event Planner. Stacy McVane in a nutshell: Challenging. Leader. Mentor. Humorous. Loyal teammate. Credible. Competent. Straightforward. Candid. Courageous. Uncompromising. Witty. Health-loving. Sparkling-water-drinking. Minister of the Gospel.  To read more material by Stacy McVane go to www.stacymcvane.com.