Cherished

It is hard to put into words

what I’m feeling today

 

for my boy,

who became a man,

 

the boy

who I spent minutes

and hours

and days

and weeks

and months

and years

 

nurturing

 

found a beautiful girl

and will marry her today

 

and he loves her

 

Such depth of love they have

and it enlarges my heart

 

 

And joy is right on the tip of my tongue

this day

while melancholy is not far behind

 

My thoughts are all over

 

This child I have poured into

will hold fast to the beautiful girl

 

He will be a husband,

and a good one too

 

And all those minutes

and hours

and days

and weeks

and months

and years

are cherished in my full heart

 

knowing they were worth it

 

and thanking God

for the love He has allowed me to share with this child

 

I gladly

with joy

and a few tears

hold my arms open

 

for both

when it used to be for one

 

for that is the way it is meant to be

and my mama heart knows it

 

and I will add it to my memories

fully cherished

 

– Susie Stewart

 

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

– 3 John 1:4 (NIV)

 

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her

– Ephesians 5:25 (NIV)

 

Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

– 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NLT)

 

5

 

Settling

I realized something

this morning

 

I realized that I

have been settling

 

No, it’s not what you think

 

God has given me

health and strength

to be fit

 

and I settled for little exercise

 

God has given me good food

to eat

 

and I settled for boxed crackers

and unearthly-orange cheese dip

 

God gave me an endless variety

of things to explore

 

and I settled for the couch

and Facebook

 

God gave me abundance wide open!

and I settled for mediocrity …

 

And it’s a slow, deceiving slope we go down

 

Sinking deeper and deeper

until we are comfortably settled

and the ground is swallowing us up

 

And we wonder how we got here…

 

We realize it was choice

after little choice

after little choice

 

A settling for lukewarm

and blah

and less than

 

Which is NOT

what vibrant God

has called us to

 

But…

 

As His mercies are new every morning,

so are my chances

 

And today I choose

to take care of my body

and take care of my mind

and most importantly,

take care of my spiritual life

 

which encompasses everything

 

No more settling

 

On PURPOSE today

for His glory

 

– Susie Stewart

 

*  This was tough for me to write, but I want you to know you’re not alone if you are in this place too.  God has called me to expose things to the light of Him and then do something about it.

 

Don’t you know that your body is a temple that belongs to the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit, whom you received from God, lives in you. You don’t belong to yourselves. You were bought for a price. So bring glory to God in the way you use your body.

– 1 Corinthians 6:19,20 (GW)

 

Beloved, I pray that in every way you may succeed and prosper and be in good health [physically], just as [I know] your soul prospers [spiritually].

– 3 John 2 (AMP)

 

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what He wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

– Romans 12:1,2 (MSG)

 

So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

– 1 Corinthians 10:31 (NLT)

 

Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God. The best invitation we ever received! We were also given absolutely terrific promises to pass on to you—your tickets to participation in the life of God after you turned your back on a world corrupted by lust.

– 2 Peter 2:3,4 (MSG)

 

Photo by Arik Stewart

 

College Graduation

I gaze down at you

from my bleacher seat perch

with a sea of black square-top hats before me

 

and I pick you

out of the crowd

staying fixed on that one square hat

 

for you are my son

and my heart is set on you

 

This is a monumental moment

when the boy we raised

becomes an independent man

 

and I’m proud,

so proud,

but my emotions start to stir

 

for when I close my eyes

and open them again,

you are standing there with a white square hat

 

x5

and my heart skips a beat

 

I can never convey to you

what raising you all these years

has meant to me, Arik,

 

and God’s heart for you

rests in me

for He put that love for you there

 

I thank Him,

with tears that words cannot express,

for allowing me

and your dad

to watch you all these years

become the man you were meant to be

 

I love you, Arik ❤

 

– Mama – Susie Stewart

 

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

– 3 John 4

 

Photos by Andy and Susie Stewart

 

Loving Yourself

Jesus shares the the two most important commandments – to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself.

I think we probably remember the love the Lord part.

And we likely remember the love your neighbor part, too. But that as yourself part—those are the words we forget…

Jesus knew that our self-care wasn’t just about us. Loving ourselves has a positive ripple effect on our families, our neighbors, our communities and the world.

We are the body of Christ. We belong to one another and desperately need one another’s love. But that starts with the way we love ourselves.

Just think of what the world would look like if we really embraced Jesus’s commandment.

If we started exercising and took control of our eating habits.

If we made time to be creative.

If we spent time in the Word.

We would be healthier.

We would be happier.

We would love our neighbors better.

We wouldn’t neglect our friends when they are going through painful seasons, too wrapped up in our own busyness.

Instead, we would be able to radically love the way Jesus has called us to do.

This new year is already looking different for me. I chose the word SLOW as my word for the year and I am embracing it deeply.

I have turned down work opportunities and not over-scheduled myself.

I have made room for a Bible study and book club.

I have already had lunch with three different friends, and several more dates are on the books.

And while slow might be my word, that doesn’t mean days aren’t going to be full and sometimes messy.

That’s not how life works—all of us know that firsthand. Three kids to parent, 9-5s to report to, meals to make, laundry to fold and the list goes on.

Yet, in each day, fringe hours can be found. Those bits that might be missed or wasted all together can be redeemed for beautiful, soul-filling hobbies and habits.

When we redeem those hours, life-change happens. Beauty is found. Friendships are nurtured.

We are the best versions of the people God created us to be.

– Jessica Turner

 

“And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”

 – Mark 12:30-31 (NLT) 

 

Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, 20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.

– 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NLT)

 

Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit.

– 3 John 2

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

 

Love Does Not Delight in Evil But Rejoices In the Truth

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth.

– 1 Corinthians 13:6 (NIV)

 

True love rejoices in what is right and good. Anything that covers up sin or seeks to justify wrongdoing is the polar opposite of godly love. Love does not try to find ways to get away with bad behavior, and it does not put up with injustice. Instead, it treasures truth, celebrates good behavior, and promotes virtue. True love has nothing to hide.

– Philip Ryken

 

Think about a time that someone reaped a consequence of their own actions and you delighted in knowing that they got what was coming to them. Love, instead, would mourn that the person had made an unwise choice…love would seek to bring the person to righteousness through truth.

– Matthew J. Cochran

 

My beloved friend, I pray that everything is going well for you and that your body is as healthy as your soul is prosperous. I was thrilled when the brothers and sisters came and told me stories of your faithfulness as you continue to walk in the truth. The greatest joy in my life is hearing how my children are walking in the truth.

– 3 John 2-4

 

Photo by Susie Stewart