I love looking down and seeing my Valor Wide Ring while I practice my guitar. I wanted to design a ring with some heft to its appearance without straight lines. It’s a simple ring but the longer I wear it the more it takes on the marks of my daily life—from motorcycle riding to working out to handling my music gear.
I made it as a reminder that the mountains we climb in our lives—facing fears, taking risks, or engaging in personal growth—take determination and valor just to take the first step of the journey, let alone to press on once we’ve begun.
The best part about jewelry is that it takes the journey with us. Through obstacles and successes, our designs take on the memories. My Valor Wide Ring reminds me of all the times I took the first step towards something new and the courage it took to put myself out there. I need the reminder every time I begin to doubt myself.
When I started practicing guitar, I felt like I was beginning a long journey up a mountain. But with each practice session, I found the trail to the peak became less steep and more enjoyable. Now when I play, I feel like I’m on top of the mountain.
But I didn’t stop at this one peak, I kept trying to hit new heights. I put myself out there even more by performing in front of family and friends, and sometimes even strangers. I found that, while it requires me to be brave each time, performing music in front of others helps me grow.
That’s the true purpose of my ring. The first step of the journey takes determination and valor, and once we’ve finally climbed the mountain, we realize we haven’t reached the end, but have begun a journey that will carry on through our lives.
If not for you, I wouldn’t
be able to write this post today! Because you engage, read, and support my
online shop, Stephen David Leonard continues to grow and reach tens of thousands
of people and more all the time.
The past two years, watching stephendavidleonard.com come to life and grow so fast has been an amazing experience. I can’t believe it’s already been two years this month I launched Stephen David Leonard into the world!
Have you ever had vision,
or a dream or a passion you felt terrified to try, but knew you had to do it
anyway? Maybe you shared your dream with a few close friends and family only to
be discouraged away from it?
“Why can’t you be content
with what you have?” some ask. “Hmm, do you think you have what it takes?”
others question. “Do you really have something unique to put out there?” others
I’ve had a few different seasons
in my life. Professional student (actually, I was an amateur—I never got paid!),
Pastor, small business leader, entrepreneur, CEO. After working hard behind the
scenes for so long it was terrifying to launch a project in my own name and to
step out of the shadows into the forefront.
It feels easier to champion
someone else than to put your own creativity, your own thoughts and passions
into the world. I have many days I question why I ever launched stephendavidleonard.com
to Live the Life You Were Created to Live
Why is it so important to
put the Stephen David Leonard brand into the world?
I started Stephen David
Leonard back in 2017 because my mission is to inspire people like you to live
the life they are created to live. I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to be who
I thought people wanted me to be. I’ve worn various masks over the years trying
to fit in and be accepted.
Fearing I would be rejected
for who I really am, I gave my energy to being who I thought people wanted me
to be. In doing so, I ignored myself and the way I am put together.
Made In God’s Image
A few years ago, through reading the Bible, therapy,
and the help of mentors, I saw some words at the beginning of the Bible through
a new lens. In the book of Genesis it says, “God created man in his own
image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
I’ve read those words many times—even preached
sermons on them when I was a pastor. But I missed how important those words are
We are made as images of God—reflections of God in
the world. We are his creations, with inherent dignity, embodying different
parts of God’s character and nature to one another.
Designs Reflect the Designer
As a designer and entrepreneur, I am amazed at the
way the things we create reflect us. Whether it’s a piece of jewelry, a song, a
story, or even a business our creations reveal something about who we are.
How you ever
notice how you can hear a song you’ve never heard by your favorite band and
immediately recognize it’s them? It’s the same with God, when he creates, his
creations reflect him.
But when he made humans, he purposefully made us to
be embodied images of him in the world. Have you ever been to a museum, or read
in a history book and seen the little statues of gods in temples in the ancient
Those statues are representations of the gods they signify.
They physically embody characteristics of the god. The statue might be a bull
to represent strength. The statue might look like a crocodile to reflect the
The images of the gods and goddesses helped the
people worshipping the god understand who the god is. In the same way, God made
us to be living, breathing representations of himself so we understand who he
Designed with Purpose
This means we are designed with purpose! Each of our
personalities, talents, and interests reflect different parts of God!
Understanding God has designed each of us intentionally and with a purpose has
changed my life.
I know I am made with inherent dignity as an image
bearer. I know I am loved. I know I have been given my own talents and
strengths. And I know the same is true for you. You are created with dignity,
you are loved and you have been given your own talents and strengths.
Many people struggle against a sense of lack of
purpose, career misfit, even disconnection from their true selves. But when we
know God has designed each of us, we can see his design in our lives and find
new purpose. It may mean a new career, a new way of relating to people, a new way
to volunteer, a new hobby, or even a renewed way of living.
Sharing My Journey
The Apostle Paul told the Thessalonians he was, “ready to share
with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had
become very dear to us.” Through
Stephen David Leonard my goal is to share not only my insights as a veteran
pastor, parent, husband, and entrepreneur, but also my own self as someone who
has learned helpful insights along my journey.
I have experienced a marriage crisis leading to healing
and greater intimacy. Marriage is a crucible where we come face to face with
the hardest truths about ourselves. It’s also a place where we can truly know
and be known by another.
I am privileged to be raising two amazing boys. I
walk in the pain and joy of raising a son with a severe disability and another son
who has an insightful mind and artistic soul. I have experienced the suffering
and pain of parenthood in the midst of the happiness of watching my boys
I have battled depression on and off most of my
life. Feelings of unworthiness, rejection, and self-doubt. Understanding I am
created in God’s image is one of the single most grounding truths giving me
something to hang on to in dark moments.
I live out of a deep faith in Jesus and have devoted
years to studying and teaching the Bible in school and on my own. I do not
expect everyone to see everything the way I do. I do believe I have something
to offer whether you come from the same spiritual starting place or not as humans
are spiritual beings.
Designs to Inspire
In addition to sharing my story and learnings, I create designs to inspire and help you as you find and live your own purpose. Whether it’s a keychain you carry in your pocket, a bracelet you see on your wrist, or a bag over your shoulder (and more!), each SDL design is a reminder of your own unique design and the life you are made to live.
I started Stephen David Leonard to share what I have
learned and to help you in your journey to discover God’s design for your life.
From the content I share, to the ways I open up my life to the product on my
site, everything here is about inspiring you to live the life you are created
Thank you for letting me join you on your journey!