life

A Shiny New Life

 

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.”

Ephesians 5:8 {NKJV}

   When I read God’s Word, I normally reach for my two favorite Bibles at home, my tiffany blue colored Bible that my sweet husband gave me and my ginormous (is that a word?) study Bible. This week, I was prompted to change up my routine and search for another Bible in the house to use. I knew that God was calling me to locate my pink one, my very first Bible from almost 15 years ago. Embarrassingly, I found it collecting dust in my closet. I didn’t know why I needed to grab that specific one since I had two other perfectly good Bibles at reach on my nightstand, but it all made sense to me once I had that book back in my hands.

   Holding that pink Bible again was like holding a pink newborn baby in my arms. I instantly began to feel all the good feels from that time when I was young and passionately in love with the new life in front of me! I was never going to be the same, in a good way, after experiencing Christ’s love for me.

   After those reminiscing thoughts, a verse from my pink Bible caught my attention as I opened it.  How appropriate this verse was at that moment.  

“For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”  2 Corinthians 4:6

   Yes, life was shiny and new for me when I first became a Christian.   My quiet time with God was turning out to be a special reminder of his love for me!  Before I began to think that morning was all about me, the Holy Spirit led me to a sobering thought that there are other hearts in the world that God wants to be shiny and new, too.   Instantly, certain people came to mind for me to pray for at that moment.  With 2 Corinthians 4:6 on my mind, I prayed Jesus light over their hearts.  Only the light of Jesus has the power to save hearts!

   The Book of Acts has one of the most remarkable heart conversion stories. Saul (popularly known as Paul in the New Testament) was an enemy of the Lord when he was stopped on his journey to Damascus.

“As he (Saul) neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.” Acts 9:3 {NKJV}

   The Bible goes on to add that Saul was blinded for three days upon experiencing this light, which was identified as Christ through the conversation shared between Saul and this light. Once Jesus had Saul’s sight restored, Saul’s heart and life changed forever. Saul was no longer persecuting Christians, but leading them in the movement to preach the Gospel to the nations.

   Saul’s story is just one of a million stories of heart restorations that happened over time. Every human heart needs Jesus today as it did over 2000 years ago.  I want to share the following song that I think sweetly encapsulates today's message.  Yes, it is widely known as a children's song, but it really speaks to every heart of a believer, including mine.  Would you sing this with me today?

“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.

Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.”

Father, thank you for sending your light to this world, your Son, Jesus.  Our hearts were once dark, but now they are shiny and new!  Thank you for your rescue!  May Christ shine bright through us so that others, who do not know you, will take notice and desire you, too.  Save those hearts that do.  We love you, Father.  In Jesus name, Amen.  

  • Has the light of Christ rescued your heart?  If so, meditate on that memory of when and how that happened.  If not, you can invite Jesus to become Lord and Savior over your heart right now!
  • Who needs Jesus' light over their heart right now?  If anyone comes to mind, this is the time to stop and pray for that person(s).  
  • If a believer, does life still feel shiny for you?  If not, invite Jesus to operate on any hurt that your heart has received lately.  

 "And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light."   Genesis 1:3, NIV

 “I am the world’s Light. No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in.”   John 8:12, The Message Bible 

Please Can I Have It?

     Do you have prayers that have been unanswered; requests you’re certain, God has ignored? Perhaps the answer is in your immediate surroundings and you just don’t see it. The Jews of Nazareth were waiting for the Messiah and yet, when He walked in their midst they couldn’t see Him because their eyes were “wide shut.” Hence, their prayers went unanswered and their needs unmet.

            The same woman that desperately prays for a friend complains to God that her marriage isn’t satisfying. Could her ‘BFF’ be her husband? Is it possible the friendship is waiting to be cultivated?

The single woman who’s stressed because her salary doesn’t cover her monthly bills might be the same woman who crafts one of kind purses for her friends. The purses don’t bring her any income because she’s too timid to try to sell them.

 We can stop the pacing and the mindless eating that results from worry. God knows about our problems and He is already at tomorrow with the solution, waiting for us to catch up to Him. Our task is to move from eyes “wide shut” to “wide open” and see where He is.

 

Prayer: Lord, sometimes I let my worries look bigger than my God. I want to open my heart and mind and see you as you are; greater than any challenge I could face.

Life’s speed bumps and collisions form who we are. We can be left with tire tracks on our back, run over by life or let God leave a distinct Fingerprint on our heart. Yielding prepares us to love and empathize with others.

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.

Embrace Each Season of Your Life

Fall is in the air, and a new season has begun.  Here in Southeast Texas where I live, we are elated that we have survived the heat, humidity, mosquitoes, and love bugs that accompany the long days of summer.  I passed a perfect stranger going into the grocery store the other day who paused to say:  “Isn’t this weather great!  I’m so glad summer is over!” The stranger’s statement made me think of our journey through life.  Just as Mother Nature takes us through different seasons with each one having its own distinct features,  so does life.

Take a stroll with me as I share the road I have traveled through different seasons of my life.  Perhaps you can relate.

  1. Sweet 16:  My first memory of anxiously waiting for a specific season to arrive - -a time for drivers license, and the awesome privilege of driving around town on Friday night.
  2. Twenty One:  College graduation, marriage, along with laundry, cooking, working 9-5, and attempts to hold onto the dating life we once enjoyed.
  3. Twenty seven:  The beginning of babies and diapers, which led into school, homework, carpools, ballgames, spend-the night-parties, fun times, crying times, proms, dating, college, weddings.  Whew!
  4. Grandchildren:  A time to relax and play, and not have to pay the bills.
  5. Aging Parent:  Sandwiched in between children, grandchildren, and aging parents, I now have the choice of pushing a baby stroller or a walker at any given time of the day.

Yes, I have reached the age where I have passed through many seasons along my  journey of life.  Many of those seasons were filled with much joy.  However, there have been many seasons throughout my journey that were filled with heartaches, which tested my faith.  Those are the ones I wanted over and done with just as quickly as I wanted the long summer days of heat, humidity, mosquitoes, and love bugs to end.

But, as I reflect back on my journey, if there is one thing that I have learned, it is this:

Embrace each season that life finds you in and know that God works all things for good.  It is within each season that we learn and grow or remain stuck, complaining about the pests that have invaded our life.

It is our choice which road we take

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”  [Ecclesiastes 3:1]

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.

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.

 

 

Summer Lovin'

It all started with my favorite fashion hippie, Nicole Richie. Years ago when she decided to part ways with Paris and become her own lady, we saw a gentler, tinier, more fashionable side of Mrs. Richie (er, Madden?). She wore head scarves and dangling necklaces to accent her bikinis. The jewelry/ swim suit combo can now be seen on celebs in nearly every summer edition papparazzo picture. So let's just be honest for a minute. I own an accessory boutique, I am a serious fan of fashion, and who doesn't love summer? But swim suits and bling on us everyday folk -- is it even possible? Indeed it is!

The key to this summer  trend, like with most things in life, is moderation. In everyday life I am sort of obssesed with arm candy; in summer accesorizing life, no one wants salt water trapped beneath a Michael Kors watch and 25 bangles. With that being said, tone it down a little ladies. Less is more when you're adding jewelry to your swim suit.

See how easy it is to add a little extra oomph to that two piece?

Another favorite of mine is adding length to the ultra simplistic beach look by throwing on a necklace or two. Layering different necklaces is an easy way to add to your look without going overboard. Chains and charms can create movement and length. Be sure to choose the right type of chain, one that won't leave a damp feeling that can be created by a heavy piece. See: Katie and Maryanne in subtle additions below

 

In essence, the trick to looking effortless is usually making the effort to look that way. A short and simple summary of how to accessorize like the stars without looking ridiculous can go a long way when summer is full of pool parties, beach days, vacations, and cookouts.

To find any of the pieces shown visit www.veritasboutique.com.

Photo credits: Jordan Ott (find her on facebook!)

 

What Really Matters

Fashion trends for the summer are one of my favorite things. As I look through magazines, I love to learn the basic essentials I need for the latest fashion trends.  It makes things easy for me to shop and dress when I just focus on those basic pieces.  I find that I don’t waste a lot of time when I focus on what the “experts” say really matters for the season. It gives me a sense of confidence in what I am wearing on the outside.  I have also discovered that, when I focus on the basics of life, life is much easier as well.  I then become more confident on the inside.  This week, I was fortunate to have time to sit on my porch one afternoon to relax and just read as my kids played. To be honest, I had used the very basics of life that day so I could enjoy that time.  Instead of going to the gym or killing myself with a work out, I had a long walk at home; instead of killing myself in the kitchen; I prepared a simple, healthy meal in the crock pot for our evening dinner; instead of thinking I had to work extra hours for my job or it would never get done, I gave my timeline to God; and instead of thinking I had to plan every minute of the day to entertain my kids, I realized they truly love “just playing” outside  

What I realized is this…when I focus on the basics of life, I’m able to enjoy what really matters.

As a Fitness and Food Designer for Busy women, I have seen many women who are chasing so many different things that it keeps them from enjoying the basic things of life and ultimately keeps them from living a healthy life physically, mentally and spiritually. 

Has life become so busy for you that you are no longer focusing on what really matters?

Are you so busy,

  • Trying to please other people instead of looking to please God which can keep you from feeling confident in who you really are in Christ.

 

  • Trying to be something you are not instead of learning what God created you to be which can keep you constantly busy, yet never feeling successful.

 

  • Attempting to do too many things at once instead of giving attention to one thing and left feeling exhausted with no energy for yourself, family or career.

 

  • Focusing on succeeding in things that are really not important that you feel like you are failing over and over or are not good enough.  I love what Francis Chan says in the book Crazy Love, “Our fear should not be failure, but at succeeding in things in life that really don’t matter.”

 These are things that can keep you so busy that you are unable to enjoy what really matters. Life can be easier when you focus on the basic needs of life, which allows you to learn how to be:

  • physically fit with proper diet and exercise
  • spiritually fit by spending time with God
  • mentally and socially fit by doing what you are called to do

 Ask yourself the question:  “What is keeping me too busy and keeping me from what really matters?”