Embrace 2018

Embrace 2018

2018.

EMBRACE.

To fully and enthusiastically accept.

All that this year has to offer, all that God has to offer, and MORE.

Embracing calling, identity, challenges, celebrations, and the small moments.

Embracing love, joy, and peace in ALL things.

Embracing courage, fearlessness, and boldness.

Embracing who I am, imperfections and all,

BUT Not letting who I am go unchanged, instead embracing growth!

I choose to welcome others with open arms,

Grace, and a smile on my face.

A warm embrace.

Mark 11:23-25 The Message (MSG)

22-25 Jesus was matter-of-fact: “Embrace this God-life. Really embrace it, and nothing will be too much for you. This mountain, for instance: Just say, ‘Go jump in the lake’—no shuffling or shilly-shallying—and it’s as good as done. That’s why I urge you to pray for absolutely everything, ranging from small to large. Include everything as you embrace this God-life, and you’ll get God’s everything. And when you assume the posture of prayer, remember that it’s not all asking. If you have anything against someone, forgive—only then will your heavenly Father be inclined to also wipe your slate clean of sins.”

The Advantage of Bumpers

The Advantage of Bumpers

Today as I was thinking about life and such, God brought this picture to my mind.

Bowling has gutters and if we aren’t careful or skilled, the ball will end up in the gutter. However, someone came up with this wise idea to put up bumpers in order to guide the ball to where it needs to go (for those of us less skilled at bowling).

Often in life, we can foolishly end up in the gutter and miss the mark completely. However, God put wisdom in place to guide us to where we need to go. James tells us that we don’t have to do anything special to receive that wisdom except ASK!

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5

We only need to ask God for wisdom and he will generously give it to us without finding fault!
We have the opportunity to live with wisdom to get us going in God’s direction, and help us make that mark. We cannot do it on our own, we just need to ASK GOD!

Will you ask Him today?

 

New Balance for a New Year

New Balance for a New Year

2016.

Here you are, and everyone has wonderful intentions of doing better. We have hopefully made our peace with all that 2015 embodied and are well on our way to a successful 2016. We loved. We remembered. We lost. We hurt. We fought. And now, we survived. I’ve heard many people say 2015 was their hardest year yet, and I would probably be one among them. With all that did or did not happen, many of us are relieved and hopeful for all the promises of a new year.

 This past week, I had the opportunity to go over to New Balance of Omaha and check out some of their new looks and do a little fashion shoot. I’m sure you’re wondering how exactly this fits in with New Year’s and all. Well, when I think of the new year, I think of creating a new normal, a new balance to life and getting things accomplished.

So it only seemed fitting to end 2015 by preparing for my new balance of 2016 at New Balance of Omaha! My friend Art Martinez, the manager there definitely made my experience there amazing!

At New Balance, they offer three things: size, selection, and service. I am going to add the fourth S—style. Almost immediately, Art knew which pair of shoes I would eventually choose, though we did have fun trying on multiple styles and colors.

 

   The first step is measuring the feet. Both length and width are taken into consideration in order to find the best fit and style for your feet!

   He then proceeded to bring out several styles both the running shoes, and the lifestyle.

 

 To try them on, he laced them up and tied the shoes so they would fit securely. Then I got to test them out and take some pictures! –Awesome service!

 

 He asked what my style was and I described it as classy with a little bit of vintage, but also some sparkle. I like a lot of neutrals, especially for shoes, and he was able to find the perfect shoe to fit my style. Grey with some wool fabric and a touch of sparkle!

Yesterday, I decided to test out my New Balance lifestyle shoes in the real world and got a couple compliments on them right off the bat. They were comfortable and perfect to run my errands in style with ease.

 


Right now, they have 20% off all apparel through Jan. 15th! You can get this waterproof jacket! (We tested to make sure the claims were accurate!

  Stay tuned for more on how I plan to live out my new balances of 2016.

Confessions

Confessions

I love the picture of humility and unity that was displayed at our staff meeting this past week: people coming together. Our leaders outwardly confessed, reconciled and forgave one another for bitterness in their hearts that may have been unbeknownst to the other party. It was amazing to see the love that was spread in these small confessions and brought healing to many! Really, forgiveness has more to do with the person doing the forgiving than the person forgiven.

I have realized that on social media, I have held bitterness in my heart and I have not been completely real or honest. The pictures I post are the life I want to portray to the world but not exactly the whole story. I post the good moments and am silent during the bad or pretend like it is all ok. Yes, I want to live by faith and not make it a habit to complain or gripe, but I also do not want others to think I do not struggle and am some inhuman perfect being. It is quite the opposite actually.

So this goes out to all of my readers, I am sorry for becoming bitter about the lives portrayed and the half stories I receive. But I also ask for forgiveness for perpetuating the very same thing that I do not like!

It’s hard to humble yourself and admit you’re wrong. Let me rephrase that. It is hard for me to humble myself and admit I am wrong. I want to be right! And if I am honest-I would like to think I am always right!

While I love the idea and picture of humility, and appreciate it in others, it is so much more difficult to actually make it happen in my own life. I want to be liked, or perceived in a certain way.

A while ago, in the midst of some difficult times, I was on the phone with a friend whom I had not spoken with in a while and she said, “it looks like your life is great right now!”

And I thought to myself, what is she seeing that makes my life so great, why would she say that?!

It wasn’t until I took a look at what I portrayed to the rest of the world when I realized just how bad it was. While sometimes I may want it to be good so I act like it is, sometimes it’s not and instead I am silent. I wonder who else out there, instead of faking like it’s ok, they are silent? The moment they find one ray of hope, they share it with the world and the world thinks life is perfect.

Forgive me for acting like I have it all together all the time.

Social media is a fragile and complicated thing. One can over share- complaints, TMI, or nonsense, but one can also portray themselves in the way they would like to be seen instead of who they are—flaws and all.

I’m working on it. I don’t have it all together or know exactly how to walk this thin tightrope of reality and truth mixed with respect and dignity. All I ask is that you join with me in not only speaking the truth, but in living it as well.

Discipline and Creating New Habits- Part 2

Discipline is hard. Lately I have been experiencing the grueling realities, but also some of the surprising blessings. Also, I have been too enveloped in becoming more disciplined and developing other habits, that my habit of blogging was pushed aside. Balance is also hard.

Nonetheless, I will press on because I know it is worth it!

In part 1 of this series, I discussed Hebrews 11 and 12, and just the other day, I had to reread the words again. I have been reading through the Bible, and am currently in the first half of the Old Testament. As I read Hebrews 11, it was amazing to read the highlights of everything I have just been reading for the past couple weeks. I also noticed something at the end of Hebrews 11 that I had not noticed before.

These, though commended by God for their great faith, did not receive what was promised. That promise has awaited us, who receive the better thing that God has provided in these last days, so that with us, our forebears might finally see the promise completed. Hebrews 11:39-40

Our great acts of faith, that belief in something not yet seen (vs. 1), may still be unseen in our lifetime. Our goals and dreams of something better may not be accomplished in our lifetime. Thankfully, we know that God is the one ultimately working in us and through us, and he will complete his good work. At the same time, we have been created with a longing for eternity, and some of the things we set our sights on will not be accomplished until we reach that completeness in Christ. Here on this earth, we will never be fully mature and complete. However, in this life here and now, we can still prepare for that eternity. If we hold eternal values and seek eternal goals, we possess that eternal mindset. Sometimes, however, our values that we hold and the values that we want to hold do not always align.

Understand your values and set your goals accordingly. 

Recently, I got a chance to meet with a friend while I was in Chicago. She discussed how important it was in a marriage relationship to know and understand your values because it helps your spouse better understand why you do things the way you do.

I think the same could be with our goals, passions, and desires. When we can understand our values, we are better equipped to know why we have the passions that we do, and set goals according to both of those, using values in conjunction with our passion and strengths. Sometimes, the values we hold are not always the values we want to hold. We can set goals to create habits to form ideal values within our lives, that were not there before.

You can find a list of 400 value words here, or you can look up another list.

While it may take some time to go through the list, you will gain a better understanding of yourself and might learn some new words in the process. At first glance, you may find about 20 words that you may think are your values. Now whittle that down to five. Those are your five current values, and ask yourself if that matches up with what you want to value or what you would like to think you value. This requires us to take an honest look at ourselves, with our current habits (including money-spending habits and time-spending habits) and see if all of the things we are currently doing matches with what we currently value.

In the last post, I ended with Hebrews 12:12-13, and today I will end with it again, but for a different reason.

Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.

Aligning your goals and habits to match with your desired or intended values helps you on your way to straightening your paths. One step in front of the other, and we will do this together!

This post was originally part of a two-part series, which will now be a three-part series. I would love to hear of the steps you are taking to create new habits in your life to align with your desired values! You can comment on this post or you can email me at elstewart12@hotmail.com.

Discipline and Creating New Habits -Part 1

Summer is a time where many of us have that little bit of extra time in our schedule to do with as we please. For me, that means I finally get around to all of the things I have been wanting to do, but simply did not have enough time for during the rest of the year. AKA Goals, aspirations, book lists, exercise habits, eating habits, money budgeting, the list is endless. It seems like every day I find another thing to add to my summer goal list. The hard part, however, is actually creating the time and space to accomplish those things and do what you want to do. Life happens, you get tired and want to veg on the couch or sleep in that extra five minutes, and before you know it, the summer is over and it is back to a packed schedule and shorter days.

This summer, I am stepping up and not letting the long days pass me by. But, I did not realize how hard it is to form new habits. Sleep seems so much more vital in the morning than when I set my alarm the night before, and it seems so much easier to watch a quick show on Netflix (or maybe two, or three) than to read a couple chapters of that book, or my Bible.

Thankfully, quite a long time ago, I wrote this verse on a notecard and placed it on my wall. Normally I walk right past it, but today I paused and read it over again and thanked God for his sovereign timing and wisdom.

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Hebrews 12:11(NIV)

I would encourage you to read Hebrews 11 and 12 in their entirety to fully understand the context and direction of the entire passage. Chapter 11 speaks of all the great people throughout the history of the Bible and chapter 12 goes on to encourage those in the present day to not give up. Now the content of this particular passage in chapter 12 discusses discipline as discipline in the form of hardship or similar to that of a father disciplining his child. Discipline is a part of training a child in the way he or she should go, meaning it is not always an act when the child misbehaves or makes a mistake, but a constant presence guiding and directing the path of that child to help him or her learn and grow to one day become a mature adult.

Sometimes God can give us the direction or desire and it is up to us to obey and take those steps of forming the habits that will set us up for success in what he wants to do in us and through us.

How are we able to do this?

Verses 2 and 3 tell us to look at the life of Jesus for our example of someone who did not give up and lived a life devoted and disciplined, because his eyes were focused on the joy set before him.

What is the result?

Like verse 11 above says, discipline produces a harvest of righteousness and peace.

Maybe the discipline you are experiencing is in the form of a trial, or maybe it is in the form of creating new habits to take you to the next level in your relationship with God or his call on your life. Whatever it may be, I encourage you to keep pressing on and take a look at the two verses following verse 11:

Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

Hebrews 12:12-13 (NIV)

The discipline, that leveling of the paths for your feet, is worth it, the harvest of righteousness and peace is coming!

to be continued

 

 

This blog post is one of a two-part series about discipline and creating new habits.