Friday, August 31, 2012
Labor Day weekend is upon us—a time to not only celebrate the economic and social contributions of workers, but also to do absolutely nothing and relish the fact that we have no where to be, nothing to do, and not a care in the world (for the time being, at least). We hope you have fun weekend plans with friends and family, and that you're soaking up the last days of summer with a smile on your face.
Happy Labor Day, girls! Have the best of weekends, and we'll see you back here on Tuesday (after all, we're taking a holiday on Monday, too!).
The Wonderfully Made Team
Thursday, August 30, 2012
by Allie Marie Smith
Get your copy here!
Hey lovelies! Just a few days left of August, which means the first print issue of Darling Magazine is on its way!
First, I want you to meet Sarah Dubbeldam, the chief dreamer and creative behind Darling. Sarah is a kindred spirit and a beautiful soul who embodies and lives the Darling mission.
Along with a few of my friends—including Natalie and Kristie—I had the absolute privilege of writing an article for this revolutionary and refreshing publication. (Side-note: Natalie is now the Managing Editor and I'm so happy to see her pursuing this dream—she is doing a fabulous job).
Writing for such a high quality, classy, beautiful and intelligent publication is a little girl dream come true!
In case you're new to Darling, I want to share a little about their vision and a few reasons why they are different than any other women's magazine:
- Darling challenges cultural “ideals” of beauty and questions its exaggerated importance. Sees beauty in every type of woman.
- Darling promotes respect for women’s bodies in fashion and photography, seeing modesty plus excellent fashion sense as “sexy.”
- Darling offers tangible, deep advice on painful issues facing women such as depression, anxiety, and eating disorders.
- Darling believes in bringing back etiquette, character and integrity, also focusing on increasing self-worth through living in more respect of your soul and body.
- Darling believes in expanding knowledge of spirituality and living a life connected to God in order to live well and love others.
- 140 pages of articles and photos which won’t be published online
- High-quality paper and a heavier, book-like cover
- 20+ exclusive photoshoots from several renowned photographers
- Over 40 original articles exploring our 8 personas
Lastly, you're invited to put on your best dancing shoes and join the Darling team for their Launch Party! If I wasn't in Hawaii for our Wonderfully Made Conference I'd so be there and would even show you my Appalachin-mountain-girl dance moves!
Will you subscribe to Darling? What about the magazine most appeals to you?
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
But what God tries to tell us is this: it doesn’t matter what you would have done. All those things had to happen to us, good and bad. We had to suffer heart break so we could appreciate the right one when he finally came along. We had to lose that job so that we could discover our true purpose and live out the plan God had set for our lives.
Your journey has molded you for your greater good. In the midst of our suffering, we can’t even think past the right now. Doubt and discouragement have us blinded to God’s greater plan for our greater good.
Imagine if during those times we stopped asking, “God, why am I going through this?” and started asking “God, what do You want me to learn from this?“ The Apostle Paul—who knew his own fair share of suffering—tells us in Romans 5: “We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us; because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.” (v.3-5)
How comforting to know that out of such dark and ugly times in our life (although we don’t realize it at the time) we will come out a better, stronger and a more beautiful person than when we first started. Because we persevered through our journey and through our suffering, we were molded into new creatures.
We are not on our own time and in due season we will see our purpose come into fruition. For now, enjoy life. And more importantly enjoy being in the presence of the One who controls it all...now and forever.
...And now is right on time.
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
by Ashley Perez
Lately I have been feeling the weight of things, not emotionally, but literally. I have too many things, we have too many things. Open your closet and it's overwrought with unworn outfits purchased with little consideration for necessity. Same goes for our fridge or pantry. We have enough to eat, yet instead of eating what we have, we buy more on a whim. Technology is perhaps the ultimate purveyor of the "thing problem" in that as soon as we've bought it, it's out of date and obsolete.
I am on a quest to simplify my life. I want to eat healthy, own less, and experience more. But my things keep getting in my way. A harmless vice, the love of objects, and yet there looms a deeper sense that something is very wrong. When we let the accumulation of things equal the accumulation of happiness, we quickly lose sight of everything that we as Christians stand for.
In Matthew 6:19-20 it says,
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal."Store up your treasures in heaven.
Jesus is constantly reminding us to get our heads out of this world, reminding us that life on Earth was never meant to be permanent. Things are not evil, they do not in themselves possess any evil qualities, but man unfortunately does. We are so quick to forget why we were put here in the first place, to be the hands and feet of God, and instead put all our effort into things that Solomon says are completely "meaningless". (Ecclesiastes 1:2-8)
Do not let the things of this Earth weigh you down, literally. Start looking through your life for excess and get rid of it. If you have clothes you don't wear, food you don't eat, or technology you no longer use, donate them, give them to those in need. But before you run out to replace those same things with the "newest model" or the "latest trend", think about why you feel a need to have these things. What value will these objects add to your life?
It's hard to change our habits, to let go of the things that once gave us value, and so we must constantly remind ourselves of why we're really here. We are sons and daughters of God meant to bring his love and goodness as far as our reach extends. However, we often get so caught up in the pursuit of ourselves that we forget to pursue others, to pursue rich experiences and simple goodness.
It's not that our daily lives are of little consequence, or that God hates interior design and new clothes, but rather that those things, our things, must be secondary to our pursuit of God's kingdom.
"Seek first the Kingdom of Heaven above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need." (Matthew 6:33)
What is holding you back from pursuing God's kingdom above all else?
Monday, August 27, 2012
by Kristen Leigh Evensen
“The grass is always greener.” Many of us have heard this phrase used countless times, as a response to our innate desire for something better, lovelier, or easier. Especially during moments when our circumstances seem too overbearing for words, who has not wished—prayed, even—for the “other side”?
If there is one thing we can learn from the yearning for the “other side,” it is the glory of a life fully and completely dependent upon the Giver of Life.
In all my times of hardship (and believe me, there have been many), none have matched the intensity of this past year. The Lord allowed many difficulties to come my way, from a broken relationship, to a lack of funds, to injury, to some lonely, teary nights. Have you experienced days or months or years like that? As we reflect and remember the days of old, one thing remains clear and steadfast: it took those wretched moments, those downright awful circumstances to reveal that we cannot find our fullest life in the things of this world. Our discomfort pulls us into the Father’s arms.
There, in the arms of the Father, we find safety, everlasting love, genuine concern, soft tenderness, and a shoulder on which to cry. There, we find ourselves eternally home, in the most comfortable of places. There, the cares of the world melt away and we are left resting and indulging in the One who supplies.
Our discomfort draws us to the Father. Becoming too dependent and comfortable upon the ways of the world tends to develop our human pride. God loves us too much to let that happen.
The next time you find yourself yearning for the “other side,” remember Who is with you right now, right here, on this side. He is your ultimate Comfort.
How can you trust your Father to be your ultimate Comfort?
Kristen Leigh Evensen is a singer/songwriter, blogger, and young peoples' life coach, who resides in Chicagoland. Her BFA degree in Music Theatre and her Life Coach Certification qualify her to work for the advancement of students, young professionals, and rising artists alike, especially in areas covering life purpose, life transitions, spiritual journeys, and artistic endeavors. Kristen is a creative communicator; she authors "The Identity Project," a women's forum centered on faith, identity and community. Her performance credentials and compositions can be found at www.kristenleighevensen.com. She also enjoys her Bible, quiet time, a strong cup of joe, family and friends, fitness, cooking, and reading. Join The Identity Project at www.secureandstrong.blogspot.com and follow her on Twitter at @kristenlevensen.
Friday, August 24, 2012
by Sammie Watson
"No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it."
-1 Corinthians 10:13-
Temptation doesn't always feel like a bad thing. Actually, it often feels really good—duh, that's why it's tempting! I think a lot of girls especially struggle with wanting to be around someone who gives them attention, no matter how bad that person could be for them. Attention feels really good, and a charming smile can be as hard to resist for a young woman as a piece of candy is for a kid. So, what on earth are we supposed to do when faced with temptation like this?
Step 1: Admit you have a problem.
No, seriously. I know it feels good. I know his smile is really nice and he told you you looked pretty and this feels like the first time that someone has really liked you in a long time, or maybe ever. I know you can think of a thousand reasons why he's great for you. But if you know that it wouldn't be pleasing God for you to be with this guy, then you have a problem. Admit it.
Step 2: Pray.
Am I being really cliche in this post? Well, I don't apologize. Do not expect to be able to resist temptation with your own strength—most of the time, it's simply not going to happen. Even if you could do it by yourself, what is the point in exhausting yourself that way? God is the one who will provide a way out (as the verse at the beginning of this post promises), so He will also show you the way out. Pray. It's going to be hard, but the Lord is your strength. Pray. Pray.
Step 3: Trust and Obey.
When I was younger, my mom used to tell me this a lot. I even wrote it in a really cool font one day on my sketch pad (when I was going through my "yeah I'm totally gonna be an artist one day" phase) and tacked it on my bedroom door. One day (after a certain incident when I hadn't trusted and obeyed her at all), she sat me down and explained how important it was for me to trust her and my dad, and to obey them even when I didn't understand. As I've grown up, I've realized how important it is to do the same in my relationship with God. Trust and obey. I'm not always going to understand. I'm not always going to want to trust that that guy isn't good for me—because let's face it, he knows all the right things to say. Trust God and obey what you know He's telling you. You will not regret it.
All of these steps have to be continuous. Don't stop praying just because you think you've prayed enough—because you haven't. Draw your strength from God and find your joy and worth in your walk with Him. Don't stop trusting just because it doesn't always feel good. Turning down temptation is one of the hardest things we have to do in this life, but Christ did it Himself and He will bring you through it. I am a living testimony of that fact, and I'm writing these words just as much to myself as to anyone else. But let me tell you this much: there are few things cooler than the power that God gives us through the Holy Spirit. We who have accepted the gift of salvation from Jesus Christ have also accepted the Holy Spirit, which gives us everything we need to resist temptation.
So there you go—admit you're being tempted, and that the temptation is not so great as it looks. Pray and draw your strength from God. Finally, trust and obey Him no matter what. You won't be sorry. I'm not.
"The Lord is my strength and my song, and He has become my salvation."
What is tempting you right now, and what way out is God providing to you?
Sammie is a college student studying Journalism, saved by the grace of God and eternally grateful. She loves to sing and play the piano and guitar, and is blessed to be able to use those gifts to serve God by helping lead worship at her church. Her love for writing is a rather recent discovery, but she sure is glad she found it. She's a bit of a klutz and a total nerd, and is absolutely addicted to Starbucks. You can find her blogging at www.melodiouslife.com.
Thursday, August 23, 2012
by Natalie Lynn Borton
Hey girls! This morning, we want nothing more than to encourage you—and what better way to do so than by sharing something true and pretty? We discovered the following prints via Pinterest (what's new?), and keep them filed away in our Truth For The Soul board. Read them, admire them, and know that you are so, so precious and loved.
P.S. Make sure to check out our Pinterest page for even more inspiring prints. Also, if you find other beautiful scripture-based prints, be sure to mention us in your pin and we'll re-pin it to our board!
Which of these is speaking into your life today?
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
We have an exciting opportunity for all you techie-creatives! We're so excited to announce our first ever opening for a graphic design intern. Please pass this on to any friends who might be interested and qualified!
- 1- 5 hour commitment per week (subject to vary)
- Work on projects as need which may include but are not limited to: designing event posters, blog elements, promotional material, text art prints and possibly merchandise.
- Skilled at Photoshop, Illustrator and/or other graphic design programs.
- Have access to a computer and the above design programs.
- Design in align with our desired style and branding guidelines
- Brief cover letter addressed to Allie Marie Smith.
- Sample portfolio of past projects
- 1- 3 minute video introduction of yourself and why you would be a good candidate for this position. Upload via Youtube and email us the link.
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
by Rachel Johnson
We’ve returned with the second part of Irvina Karanek’s Spotlight (click here to catch up on part one). Read on to learn how the founder of Rewrite Beautiful spends her free time, how she encourages readers to get involved with the organization’s work and her advice for young women interested in launching their own non-profit.
Q: It looks like you’re a writer/interviewer yourself! How often do you contribute to Rewrite Beautiful’s blog?
I try to update the blog once a week. Currently we have a series called Beautiful Girl of the Week, which is a series of young women who contribute to the world through their amazing actions! We feature the Beautiful Girl of the Week on the blog as an attempt to inspire other women to use their own gifts and talents to impact their communities. Our hope is that bringing positive attention to women’s actions will inspire them to embrace their own creative callings!
Q: What do you like to do in your spare time? (If you have any!)
I definitely make sure to find spare time! I am a sensitive gal and I know that if I’m not rested and enjoying life myself, I can’t help anyone find happiness in her own life. Great conversations and dinner parties make me giddy. I also love the outdoors. If I’m on a hiking trail, riding my bike, running, or pretending my neighbor’s dog is my own I am a happy camper! And when I wind down from the day, I love reading for my book club, the Gypsy Snipers.
Q: How can people get involved with Rewrite Beautiful’s work?
We would love to see people raise awareness about eating disorders by contacting someone from their local school, community groups, or church to see if they would like to partner with them in bringing a Rewrite Beautiful School Program to their area.
Q: What advice do you have for young women who would like to start their own non-profit organization?
It sounds so simple, but my advice would be to pray and listen. The way Rewrite Beautiful started was with a prayer asking God to protect the little girl I babysat from developing an eating disorder. That prayer turned into God asking me questions, like: “Irvina, what could have prevented you from having an eating disorder?” My answer was some kind of an awareness program at my school, or someone who had been through the disease telling me the signs to look for and how deadly this disease is.
Starting a non-profit was the last thing I thought I would ever do! My mom ran a non-profit and I decided early on that the same role just wasn’t for me. However, when I saw how the Rewrite Beautiful programs would take shape I could see that a non-profit was the right business model for us. It was a humbling and inspiring moment when I realized that something I had written off years ago was actually going to serve others and myself in a great way.
I suggest that you see how God can uniquely use your gifts. Then look around at other non-profits and companies and make sure they aren’t already doing what you’re hoping to accomplish. A very successful part of Rewrite Beautiful is there is no other program like it. No one uses street art to change how people see beauty in themselves. Don’t reinvent the wheel. There is a lot of pain and destruction in the world and we need people with unique, fresh and creative ideas to help with the healing.
Had you heard of Rewrite Beautiful before this WM Spotlight? How does their mission inspire you to create beauty?
Monday, August 20, 2012
by Rachel Johnson
Growing up with a mother who ran a non-profit organization made Irvina Kanarek believe that she would never pursue the same role herself. Her mother was a strong woman whom she admired, but Irvina simply had other aspirations. It wasn’t until her world was turned upside-down by an eating disorder that Irvina realized that God had a different story for her life—and that it would, indeed, include launching a non-profit of her own. Read on to learn about Irvina’s work with Rewrite Beautiful, an organization that uses street art to reaffirm womens’ beauty and worth.
Q: Thank you for joining us, Irvina! Tell us about the non-profit organization that you founded, Rewrite Beautiful.
Thank you for having me! I love the work being done by Wonderfully Made and it’s an honor to be featured here!
Rewrite Beautiful uses street art to change how people see beauty in themselves. Our programs are based off of a thought I had, which has now become our vision: “Street artists believe just because their art doesn’t sit in a gallery, doesn’t mean it isn’t art. Equally, just because society claims beautiful is found in your appearance, doesn’t mean it is.”
Rewrite Beautiful is a revolution to redefine beauty as an action. Beauty actually has nothing to do with the way you look; it has to do with the way you act. Beauty is found in the creativity, kindness, and strength you display in your community. You can either go along with what everyone else thinks is beautiful, or you can be revolutionary and redefine the term beauty. Rewrite Beautiful supports this vision through Art Shows, Beautiful Action Clubs, School Programs, and Street Art Workshops.
Our vision is to build a nation of revolutionary girls who don’t focus beauty as it relates to body image. Instead, these girls focus on beauty as it emanates from the gifts and talents they have been blessed with and figure out how to share those gifts with others.
Q: You travel to middle schools, high schools, and colleges to share the mission of the organization as well as your personal story. Can you tell us a little bit about your testimony?
Oh, yes – I thoroughly enjoy exploiting the years of my life in which I was one hot mess! ☺ No, really, my story is that I desperately wanted to be loved. The best ways I found to achieve that were by being attractive, smart, and funny. The problem with that is that sometimes I didn’t look very cute. Sometimes I did ridiculously, stupid things. Sometimes people didn’t get my jokes (cue tears). When that happened, I got really scared and tried to earn love all over again by changing my body, either by attempting to get thinner or by numbing my insecurities through overeating food. Confusing, isn’t it?
The wonderful thing is that my eating disorder taught me that you can’t control how other people love you. If I define my worth by whether or not someone loves me, I’m going to go crazy. I can’t control if other people love me, but I can control how I love me.
In eating disorder recovery, I learned that when I demonstrated actions full of creativity, kindness, and strength, I felt beautiful. Now when I have a rough day and feel like changing myself or hurting my body, I ask myself, “Was I creative today through my writing? Was I kind today by reaching out to lend a hand to someone? Was I strong today by sticking up for myself?” When I act beautiful, I feel beautiful. The rad thing is that I no longer need anyone else’s permission in order to know that I am beautiful.
Q: Street Art is a focal point of Rewrite Beautiful’s work. Can you tell us more about this aspect of the organization?
Street art has a very rebellious edge to it. If you were an artist and wanted to have your art hung at a prestigious gallery or museum, you would have to have gone to right schools, studied under renowned professors, and exhibited perfect form and techniques in your works. Street artists say, “Forget that! I’m an artist and I’m putting my art out there for others to see.” Street artists don’t wait to be accepted as artists; they just create their work, allowing everyone to have access to it.
This is the same concept we communicate in our School Programs and Street Art Workshops. Rewrite Beautiful stresses that we’re no longer waiting for someone to tell us we’re beautiful – we’re going to “rewrite” beautiful into what we say it is, which is an action of creativity, kindness and strength.
Q: Your website says that Rewrite Beautiful hosts Street Art workshops, which sound like so much fun! Fill our readers in on what participants do at these events.
Yes, the Street Art Workshops are pretty unique! Six times a year, we come up with a new street art concept in order to share the Rewrite Beautiful message with the public. I share the Rewrite Beautiful vision and show our Photo Documentaryhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQl9kCwB3tk that tells the stories of five women in eating disorder recovery. One woman then follows up the video by sharing her own recovery story at the event. Later, we have an art professor lead the participants through creative exercises to help them find their own unique creativity, kindness, and strength, which are then incorporated into the street art.
We try our best to use recycled materials in the street art. Again, we reiterate the message that sometimes we don’t see things accurately and need to creatively change them. I have a belief that there is no such thing as trash (neither in material form or human form), so using it in art pieces further demonstrates that we are capable of creating our own definition of beauty. When the street art is finished, we put it up in public for others to see it and understand our message.
Stay tuned for part two tomorrow! Until then, check out the Rewrite Beautiful Photo Documentary trailer below:
Thursday, August 16, 2012
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
by Raquel Rodriguez
SCRIPTURE FOR TODAY'S POST: “Go to the Temple and speak to the Lord for me and for the people and for all Judah. Inquire about the words written in this scroll that has been found.” So Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Acbor, Shaphan, and Asaiah went Huldah the prophetess; the wife of Shallum, the keeper of the Temple wardrobe. She said to them, “The Lord, the God of Israel, has spoken! Go back and tell the man who sent you, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am going to bring disaster on this city and its people. All the words written in the scroll that the king of Judah has read will come true. For my people have abandoned me and offered sacrifices to pagan gods, and I am very angry with them for everything they have done. My anger will burn against this place, and it will not be quenched.’ “But go to the king Josiah who sent you to seek the Lord and tell him: ‘This is what the Lord says concerning the message you have just heard: You your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I said against this city and its people—that this land would be cursed and become desolate. You tore your clothing in despair and wept before me in repentance. And I have indeed heard you, says the Lord. So I will not send the promised disaster until after you have died and been buried in peace.” (2 Kings 22:13-20)
Did you catch that? The priest did not go to Jeremiah or Zechariah, who were active prophets with very public ministries at the time. They went to Huldah, a woman.
What is the role of a prophet/prophetess? Prophet defined: An interpreter of the times and of people’s hearts; one who issues divinely spoken or inspired revelations from God. Huldah was, in simple English, a messenger filled with God’s words. She wasn’t the only prophetess we read in scriptures; there was Miriam, Deborah, Anna and the daughters of Philip, to name a few.
No where in scripture do we read that she was better equipped than the men to fulfill this role. Each prophet lived lives worthy of the ministry to which each was called to. I admire that Huldah was confident in the spiritual gift and ministry she received from the Lord. She was not pre-occupied with desiring the ministry of the public prophets. Nor did she usurp their roles. She remained in the Second Quarter of Jerusalem and led her God-given gift and ministry peaceably. She didn’t try to be anyone else but herself. Her small act of service paved the way for King Josiah to ravish all idol worship from the land and usher the people back to their God. Jeremiah, Zechariah and Huldah were used by God to prophesy and bring about revival.
As a prophetess, Huldah led a respectable life. Had she murmured against the Lord or been a gossiper, busy body, a meddler, she would have been disqualified to even hold the sacred lost scroll. The priest would not have sought her. And God surely would not have used her. She was however, a woman of wisdom. Her wisdom was not the world’s wisdom, but wisdom that can only be found in God’s Word. Her time was not marked by a lifestyle of worldliness. She was set apart because her life as a prophetess was (1)filled with the Word of God, (2)prayerful, and (3)available for God’s use.
Huldah was a courageous woman. Let’s strap her sandals on and imagine having to speak this curse. It takes bold courage to stand for the truths written in God’s Word. And though it can be terrifying, 2 Timothy 1:7 reminds us that we were not given the spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind. We too can be gutsy women for God, when we rely on the power of the Holy Spirit.
Huldah’s life and legacy is of great relevance to us 21st Century women. The prophet Joel spoke of a generation that, when equipped by the Holy Spirit, would prophesy. I believe that we are the present-day Huldahs. But that will not happen as we lose vision of the gifts and calling God has given us, by desiring the lives of others.
May we be as Huldah: She did not covet the position of others, did not fear the ministry of God, and did not do more than God asked of her. Within her sphere of influence, in the quietness of the Second Quarter, Huldah accomplished more for the kingdom of God than she could have ever imagined. I pray that similar stories be told of us.
How has Huldah inspired you today?
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
by Natalie Lynn Borton
You remember last month when we featured Sseko Designs in our Fashion + Compassion series? Well this month, I've had the opportunity to be one of the Sseko Tastemakers on behalf of Wonderfully Made. You know what that means? You get 15% off at www.ssekodesigns.com when you use the code WM30. You're welcome :)
Find out how you can get involved by checking out their social media accounts below:
- Facebook: facebook.com/ssekodesigns
- Twitter: @SsekoDesigns
- Instagram: @SsekoDesigns
- Hashtag: #30Days30Ways
How would you tie your Ssekos?
Monday, August 13, 2012
by Christina Stolaas
The Olympic spirit is still undoubtedly in the air. The display of athleticism, dedication, and athletic heart screamed so loudly from the tv screen these past several weeks that it it provoked our hearts with overwhelming pride. Our elite athletes sacrificed much to get to the games and our country has stood proudly in support. We cheered with them. Hoped with them. Believed in them.
Then, when the unbelievable dream of Olympic gold happened, we rejoiced with them! In the London 2012 games, young sixteen year old gymnast Gabby Douglas surprised the world with a breakout performance that earned her the gold medal in the all around gymnast competition. Throughout her interviews during the Olympic competition she spoke frequently of her faith in God and of the comfort the bible was to her during her rigorous training with the intense pressures of competition.
Immediately following her gold medal performance, she made a statement that will forever be recognized as one of the most outspoken and humble moments of sports history,
“I give all the glory to God. It’s kind of a win-win situation. The glory goes up to him and the blessings fall down on me.”As a teen this young champion has recognized that God is the source of our gifts and talents. With all the hard work she put in to get to the games (including actually leaving her parents home to train exclusively under a coach at a distance), she had every understandable right to be proud, arrogant, and to relish in her victory with an “I earned this” attitude. Instead, the first words of her mouth praised her Savior and, dare I say, accomplished a sweet sense of "making Him famous!"
As I watched her performance and the moments after I thought of a verse that has been most influential as I grow in my faith and in my unique calling from God:
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:17)Very few of us are called to be elite athletes, much less Olympic champions. Most of us will never have an achievement in our lifetime that brings the fame, honor or noteworthiness of gold medals. However, God has given us each a unique set of talents, passions, and abilities. Whether you are a student, parent, young, old, or somewhere in-between, the call on your life is the same and the concept is so beautifully freeing, “Whatever YOU do...”
Whether God has you sitting in an office, serving food at a restaurant, greeting customers at a store, making coffee as barista, or learning in the classroom—it can all be done for Him. No task too mundane, no job too stationary or of non-importance. As a Christian God wants to consume all of us. Every talent, ability and passion you are uniquely crafted with has a purpose in His kingdom. Thank Him for your individuality and use it to bring glory to God. You have a calling that no one else on this earth can fulfill, walk in it with enthusiasm and serve God with all of your being.
How does Gabby's story inspire you use your life to give glory to the one who created you?
Friday, August 10, 2012
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
by Allie Marie Smith
Hey Girls! Welcome back to our Fashion + Compassion series!
I’m so exited to introduce you to my dear friend Nicole Flowers and feature her brand new line of cute bags, called Hiip, which give back. Nicole and I met at Pepperdine (which is where Wonderfully Made originally started!) and she is one of the most dynamic, hilarious and inspiring girls I know.
Hiip, which stands for “helping individuals in passing,” is a line of hip bags that give back to the community. Hiip bags are kind of like sexy fanny packs, but they can be worn five different ways, and for each bag sold, Nicole and her team give a hip kit (think of it as a survival bag of sorts) to a homeless person in need.
The Hiip Story Nicole had an idea to produce a new and improved hip bag, instead of a purse that women would proudly wear around—not only because it would be stylish and redefined but because it gave back. “I started hiip with the local community in mind because they are so often overlooked by passers-by…” says Nicole.
Compassion: How it Helps
For every hiip bag you purchase, a hiip kit is hand-given to a person in need on the streets. Each kit is loaded with shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrush, socks, lip balm, and sunscreen. Learn more about the heart behind hiip here.
Fashion: Why They’re Hot The bags are pretty fashion-forward and can be worn five way: As a hip bag (hands and shoulders free!), messenger bag style, over the shoulder, as a hand-held purse, or as a clutch if you take the strap out. The bags come in multiple styles: solid canvas, striped canvas, faux leather, patterned, and soon to come sparkle and waterproof canvas (for gals on the go!)
Buy a bag! I just purchased the Sunset bag in Army Canvas and can’t wait to take it on my trip to Israel and Egypt – it will be perfect for traveling. And I might have to get the upcoming waterproof one for my stand-up-paddling adventures!
Help with a Hiip Handout. If you live in San Francisco, you can sign up to be involved in a hiipHandout and meet other community-minded folks to help pass them out. Email email@example.com to get involved. Hiip has big dreams and hopes to expand their efforts to more cities in the future.
Which style hiip bag is your favorite?
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
by Rachel Johnson
We’re back with the second half of Liz Forkin Bohannon’s interview (you can catch up on part one here). You won’t want to miss her opinion on why Sseko sandals are unique; her musings about her relationships with the amazing Ugandan women that she works with; and her advice for young women who are interested in creating their own cause-marketed products.
Q: How are Sseko sandals different from other footwear on the market?
Well, they are the only sandals I know of that directly empower high potential young women in Uganda, for starters! The product itself is also really unique. The base of the sandal is made from genuine leather and has five anchor points. The fabric straps are interchangeable, which means you can style them in hundreds of ways and change your straps as often as you change your mood! They are super comfortable and totally versatile. And you should know that we have an open door policy at our workshop. If you’re ever in our neighborhood, feel free to pop by and meet the women who made your Ssekos!
Q: It is so meaningful that you employ Ugandan women, many of whom would struggle to find fair work if it weren’t for job opportunities with Sseko. How have these resilient and beautiful women impacted you?
In so many ways! I am so challenged and encouraged by their bravery, their resilience, and their generosity. I often have people tell me how brave I was for moving to Uganda on my own as a young woman. But the only thing I can think of when people say that is if they ever met some of our women in Uganda, they’d realized I have a fraction of the courage and determination as them. Take, for instance, from our current class of women, Beatrice. She has five brothers, all of whom were captured by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Instead of allowing her fear to rule her, she used it as motivation to continue her education and make a life for herself. She is so adventurous and courageous. Bravery must run in her family because all of her brothers also eventually escaped from the rebel group.
Another one of our women, Betty, moved to South Sudan (all by herself! at 16!) after she was unable to find a job in Uganda. She worked in a nursery school for a year so that she could save money and afford to graduate high school. Not your typical 17-year-old girl.
We also have women on our staff that work with us full time and are not continuing on to university. These are women that we hope are with our company for many years. Just a few weeks ago I was sitting down with one of our full-time seamstresses who has worked with Sseko for about 2 and half years now. She is an older woman and she was sharing with me how much her marriage has changed since she started working with us. She told me how much more her husband respects her because she contributes financially to their family. She makes decisions and has authority in a way she did not before. He is learning to trust her and she is finding her voice.
We always say, “Every sandal has a story.” And we mean it.
Q: I love the blog posts you write on Sseko’s website. You cover a range of topics, but, if you had to pick, what one thing inspires you most when crafting a new piece?
Stories! I love thinking about ways to connect lives, especially women in Uganda with women in the US, which might not otherwise intersect. I love focusing on the things that as women we have in common, instead of the things that set us a part from one another.
Q: Other than buying Sseko’s fabulous sandals, how can people get involved with your work?
Wear Ssekos. Tell your friends. Write a blog post about your new kicks or simply share about Sseko on your Facebook! Seriously, the only way we’ve been able to grow at the pace we have is because of our incredible fans sharing our story. When customers tell local stores about our product and they start selling Ssekos, they’re making a huge impact. We’ve got lots of ways to get involved, ranging from hosting Sseko parties to joining our team as an intern, employee, or retail partner.
Q: What advice do you have for young women who would like to create a cause-marketed product?
Know that you can’t solve every problem in the world. If you, try you’ll fail. But even worse, you’ll become discouraged and burned out. Focus on one thing that you’re absolutely die-hard passionate about. And then run towards it with all your might. And don’t forget to celebrate the small victories!
How does Liz's story inspire you?
Monday, August 6, 2012
by Rachel Johnson
Liz Forkin Bohannon earned a degree in journalism, highly anticipating a career that would allow her to tell stories about world issues and other items of importance. After she graduated from college, Liz moved to Uganda, hoping to put her journalism skills to use by writing for non-profit organizations in East Africa. It was then that she realized that she no longer was interested in telling stories that might solely be printed in newspapers; instead, she wanted to share the stories of the beautifully resilient women of Uganda. Liz discovered that there was a way that she and these women could partner together to effect change in their communities, and throughout the world. Read on to learn more about Liz’s amazing story – and about the incredible stories of the women she serves.
Q: Liz, thank you so much for participating in our Spotlight Series. Tell our readers about Sseko, and about how you developed the idea for the company.
While living in Uganda (I moved there to pursue journalism), I met a group of incredibly talented and ambitious young women who needed economic opportunities in order to continue on to university and pursue their dreams. I knew that I was in a certain place in a certain time and that the story of these women would become a part of my own. I didn’t care how that took shape – I was motivated by a sense of urgency to react to the overwhelming needs of the women surrounding me. We needed to generate income. We needed to do something where 18-year-old girls could learn and grow, and then move on to pursue their goals. We needed to create something from the limited materials available in the East African region.
After several other ideas (including a chicken farm!), I was reminded of a pair of funky, strappy sandals I had made a few years earlier. I spent a few weeks scouring the country for the materials we needed and trying to learn everything I could about making footwear. I hired three young women to help me in making footwear and several weeks later, under a mango tree, a sandal company in East Africa was born!
Q: Like you said, were a journalism major who graduated college and then went to Uganda to use your communication skills to help non-profit organizations. What changed when you were there? What redirected your focus, causing you to launch Sseko?
It was less of a distinct change and more of just putting one foot in front of the other and following the path in front of me. When I met these women, I saw so much promise and hope in them. I became laser-focused on figuring out a way to generate income for this specific group of women. So I hatched a plan and committed to three young women who I believed in greatly.
I’ve since become passionate about social entrepreneurship and dreaming about the way business can be an incredibly powerful force for positive social change. One of the things I realized is that a lot of efforts from the West were devoted to solving the symptom of poverty, often by doing things like donating clothes or shoes. Although this absolutely solves an immediate need, I realized this wasn’t really getting at the root of the problem. And, in many cases, these gifts were stunting local economies. Economies simply cannot thrive when the market is flooded with free product. Instead of donating product to help meet immediate needs, we try to go back further into the cycle of poverty and ask how we can empower and enable communities to take care of themselves and one another. We believe that job creation is a critical response to that question. And there is nothing better than giving a woman the opportunity to work hard in dignified way so that she can provide for herself and her family. Give her the opportunity and she will do the rest!
Q: What resonated within you about Uganda specifically that made you want to continue working there?
Uganda is such a land of adventure! There is a rawness that exists that is hard to find in more “developed” places. You hear so many horrible stories about poverty, war, and corruption – and, yes, all that exists – but there is also so much beauty and life in this place. Uganda is a stunning country full of waterfalls and lakes and lush green forests. And the people! I have grown so much due to the relationships I’ve established in Uganda. I am constantly challenged and encouraged by how much Ugandans give of themselves. Their hospitality and openness challenge the selfish individualist in me. The perseverance and strength of the women on our team humble me and give me perspective and hope. For me, Uganda is kind of this magical place that is simultaneously filled with so many obstacles and challenges, yet also so much opportunity and hope. Uganda is a place where you can blaze new trails and dream big. And that is intoxicating to me
UPDATE: read part two here...
Have you ever changed your life plans to pursue something you felt passionate about or called to? Do share!
Friday, August 3, 2012
by Emily Sledge
I used to cry myself to sleep all the time, desperately jealous of people in happy relationships. I watched friends and people on TV, and it seemed practically everyone but ME had someone. It made me a little obsessed with the movie “The Notebook,” too. Especially the rain scene – remember, when she finally finds out that he didn’t stop writing and that “it wasn’t over” for either of them?! AH. I couldn’t WAIT for the day I got my own Ryan Gosling – 6’2, blonde, chiseled perfection that would care about and fulfill my dreams, do whatever it takes to make me happy, and ALWAYS love me. Oh, and he’d love Jesus – small detail. Sure, I realized my expectations were a little high, but I just thought, here’s hoping! THAT would make me happy, and I wouldn’t need anything else. But then, no guy lived up to my expectations.
But the problem wasn’t really my ridiculous aspirations to find this nonexistent, perfect man. It was my expectation that a man, any man, could make me happy forever. Even a Jesus-lovin’ Ryan Gosling. But most of us women believe this with all of our hearts, and it’s not just Hollywood’s fault.
Let’s go back to the first story in the Bible. Most of us know it – God created a paradise and gave the first two people that He made one rule: Don’t eat from the tree in the middle of the garden. But Eve decided to believe a talking snake that there would be no consequences for disobeying, instead of believing the God she knew and loved. Adam apparently couldn’t say no to his wife, and he went along with it too. So God cursed them both, and to the woman He said:
“I will greatly multiplyEver paid attention to that curse, or asked what it means? It’s a story many have heard since birth, and for that very reason we never stop to question it – but it explains the very depths of our nature. That word “desire” in Hebrew means consume, as in, we want to consume the significant other in our lives. We want to be their everything, what they live for, who they need and depend on.
Your pain in childbirth,
In pain you will bring forth children;
Yet your desire will be for your husband,
And he will rule over you.”
Think about Twilight – why are women so obsessed with it, no matter their age? It’s doubtful that it filled some secret fantasy of hooking up with vampires and werewolves. So what is it that appeals to us all on such an emotional level? Edward completely, irreversibly, falls for a totally average and unremarkable Bella. He can’t live without her, and he loves everything about her. Isn’t that what we want? For someone to feel that way about us? We’re totally convinced that if we had someone like that, life would be perfect. It’s engrained in our very nature to crave a man who needs us, who like Jerry McGuire desperately cries out, “You complete me!”
But here’s the reality – no human being can complete you. If a person is all you need to complete you, then he’s your god. If you’ve already picked your god, then why would you need the God who created you?
I can tell you this much – I was single for the first 23 years of my life, and I mean totally single. Not a SINGLE boyfriend throughout high school or college. I was raised with the idea that I should never give my heart to someone I couldn’t see myself marrying, and 99% of guys don’t grow up until their late twenties (and some not even then). Then, finally, God brought a guy into my life that met my expectations! He was attractive, fun, smart, and LOVED Jesus as much or more than anyone I had ever met! I thought, this was it, I won’t feel lonely anymore and he’ll make everything better in my life!
Then we got married, and yes – he’s the most wonderful gift God has ever given me outside of salvation. But…if he is my source of joy, security, and comfort, and something happens to him and he dies…my happiness gets buried six feet under in a hollow, wooden box. That’s dangerous to have to such a mortal, fragile god.
Even now, he’s not enough to make me feel totally full and satisfied in this life. Every time I start feeling really frustrated or depressed because he wasn’t being romantic, or he wasn’t making me feel valued, or meeting my needs, or whatever else, I always have to remind myself that he was never enough for me from the start. It’s not because he’s not an amazing husband – he is! But he’s human, not God! He’s simply not big enough to fill what’s empty and lacking in my life because only Christ Jesus can do that!
We are constantly trying to fill that emptiness – whether that’s with the mythically perfect man, or with whatever else that makes us feel valuable, known, and loved. We try to be righteous on our own, to be “good enough” for God or others to like us, admire us, appreciate us. We try to be hot enough; rich enough; popular, educated, accomplished, unique, awesome ENOUGH so we finally feel that we have and are everything that we want – and it’s exhausting!
But neither these things, nor the perfect significant other, can give us all this. I heard someone say today that we cannot become more significant, nor can we gain more significance by just trying harder or attaining more. Significance is given to us when we accept that God totally, deeply, powerfully, intimately, immeasurably loves us as we are, and that nothing we have done or can do can add to OR take away from that love. It is because of this great love that His Son died for us when we hated Him, rose from the dead, and gave us an opportunity to have a healed relationship with Him. So that kind of love that knows all of our deepest, darkest parts and finds us so incredibly worthwhile anyways; that never leaves us wanting more; that accepts everything we have or have not done and inspires us to do so much more; the kind we think we can actually find in a boyfriend/girlfriend or spouse – is only found in God.
You might not believe me, and you don’t have to. You can try chasing that man (or woman, for that matter) and try to stretch him from every side to the limit so that he fills that desperate need and desire deep in your soul. I’m just praying that every person who reads this – single, dating, or married – quickly discovers that no human being will satisfy you. I pray that you place all your bets on Him, because He will never let you down. Just chase Him with all your being. Psalms 34:8 says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good” – so put God’s promises to the test, and believe what He has told you! I can guarantee that He’ll make good on every word.
Can you relate? Where do you tend to find your significance (outside of God)?
Thursday, August 2, 2012
by Anne Taylor
Anne is one of the newest members of our Wonderfully Made Contributor Team. You can read her previous guest posts here, and check out her bio on our Contributors page here. We're thankful to have her on our team!
As a blogger, I have found the issue of readership and followers particularly troubling. It’s as if the number of followers I have gives value to my content and overall potential as a writer. In some sense, maybe a business perspective, this number is a form of measurable success. But is it the tell-tale sign of victory? I don’t think so. There are days when I sit at my desk, fidgeting and unsettled, and can’t get myself to put words on a page for fear that it will be just another post that doesn’t gain any new followers. A truly positive reflection of my success wouldn’t make me so unhappy.
I explained this worry to a friend the other day, and she wisely pointed out that my obsession with my blog’s number of followers is very similar to my obsession with the numbers on the scale. The scale’s hold over my life has been my truth for so long! It makes sense that I’d transfer this same frame of reference over to another important place of value in my life.
The more I meditated on how I look to numbers (followers or pounds) for value, I realized how hard it is for me to sit in my authenticity, and to have self-value in the joy of being me and doing what I’m passionate about. In fact, the quiet is usually completely unnerving. The days when I wake up calm, can mindfully and intuitively eat, not obsess about my body image, and can share my authentic self with others without needing a frame of reference from facebook, instagram, twitter, or my blog stats to tell me how I should be feeling.. well, those days are rare.
They don’t have to be rare, though. What if I collected the positive experiences? For instance, if I journaled a few sentences about those “rare” moments that I was talking about: eating mindfully without weighing myself afterwards, reading a book without feeling unproductive, or going for a walk without giving in to the need to check social media to quench thirst for connection. Then, in the difficult times, I can look to the track record of my positive experiences and choose to live the day differently.
I want to do some “myth-busting,” of sorts, so that when life is uncomfortable or I am having trouble knowing and believing my self-worth, I can look at the past with it’s positive experiences and say, “It’s been okay before, so I can be okay now.”
Through my recovery journey towards a life free of an eating disorder and poor body image, I have found and wholeheartedly believe that freedom comes in letting go. By choosing to not count calories or pounds on the scale (or count blog statistics), life may be more uncomfortable, but the mindfulness and the ability to connect with my authentic self boasts such a strong reward.
When you crave validation for your self-worth, do you look to places that leave you feeling anxious or unsatisfied? What positive and authentically-you experiences can you look to for hope when life gets hard?
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Hey girls! Have you ever shopped our wmBoutique? It's a place where we have lots of goodies that help spread the word about where our true value comes from—and all of the profits go toward keeping Wonderfully Made a sustainable nonprofit. Win-win, yes? We have two new items in the shop this week that you definitely don't want to miss:
Also, here are a few of our favorite items that have been around a little longer. They make great gifts—for the ladies in your life, or just for yourself!
Have you ever shopped the wmBoutique? What item is your favorite?