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A Confident Heart Devotional

Finding Spiritual Whitespace {guest post & book giveaway}

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Do you ever wish you could just slow down and discover who you’d be if your life wasn’t filled with so much rush? 

The other day my friend told me she felt lost: lost in the hurry of carpool and kids, deadlines and dirty laundry… and she was tired, and I shared with her some things I’ve been learning through my friend Bonne Gray’s beautiful book Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest.

In, Bonnie shares how “underneath all of the stress and expectations we put on ourselves, and the ones that others put on us, our souls long for space to breathe.” Bonnie calls it “soul rest: a place where we can rest, not in what we could be or what we should be, but just as we are. Jesus invites us to come to Him when we’re struggling and carrying heavy loads, so He can give us rest.”

bonnie-grayToday I’ve invited, Bonnie to share a peek into her heart and inside the pages of her beautiful book, Finding Spiritual Whitespace.

“I once felt lost and tired.

Even though no one could tell.  By looking at my life from the outside.

But, deep inside, in my secret heart of hearts, I’ve always wanted something I could never quite keep a hold of — not long enough to make it my everyday home.  For my soul and for the me that wanted to be free.

I’ve always wanted to know who I really could be — if I was free to rest.

Do you ever wish life could be different? That somehow you could just rest?

Underneath all the stress, the expectations we put on ourselves and the ones others put on us, we all long for space.

Space to breathe.

Space to just be me.

Where we can be real.

To take care of our hearts, with the grace and kindness we often pour out to others.

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We don’t want to be numb anymore.

Just doing.  Coping.  Surviving.

All the while, there is a part of us that longs to come alive.

The part of us who longs for beauty, even though the daily road feels rough.  Or even broken.

The part of us who remembers what it’s like to have desires is hungering for quiet. For rest.

Who wants to feel more intimately connected with God.

To our dreams.

To our stories.

To who we really are deep inside.

Who doesn’t want to hide.

Who longs to be known.

With others.

A Deeper Part

There’s a deeper part of us who longs to uncover the stories we’re living in our everyday lives — hidden — so that they can be shared.

We don’t want to journey alone.

We don’t have to.

What we all long for is deeper rest.

Refreshment.

Comfort.

Real conversation.

Encouragement.

Peace.

Beauty.

As is.

What we all long for is soul rest.

Soul rest is a kind of rest we can savor — not as we should be. Nor as we ought to be.

We can enjoy rest for our souls — as we are.

This ache for soul rest is something Jesus longs to touch.

It is an ache that Jesus himself must have also felt as He journeyed in-the-the-skin through the realities of daily life.

Jesus invites us to experience this rest — by offering us an invitation.

If we dare to take the journey.

“Are you tired? Worn out?

Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest.

For I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Jesus’s invitation, Matthew 11:28-30

Will you dare to rest? Will you d
are to be real?

To whisper —

I am tired.

But, I still carry dreams. Desires. A story.

I want to be happy.

I miss the quiet.

I want to feel.

I want to let go of who I’ve been — so I can discover who I can be — when I take the time to rest.

I want to be present.

I want to love. And be loved.

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Jesus invites us on a new journey.

To pause.

To draw close.

To come into an intimate special space.

The rest we all long for really can be found.

Dare to take a new journey.

Create space in your life.

Feed your soul.

So you can care for what’s tender.

Because behind your most tired moments lie the deepest parts of who God made you — longing to be known and restored.

You’re loved.

You’re cherished.

You’re worth it.

The real you.

If you dared to rest — to uncover the real you God made — what would you want more of? What would you want less of? What can feed your soul today?”

FindingWhitespace_alt3DHow many of us find ourselves running on empty with no time for rest, no time for ourselves, and no time for God?  Bonnie Gray knows what that’s like. On the brink of fulfilling a lifelong dream, she saw her plans shatter into a journey through painful memories and anxiety. In her search for answers, she made an important discovery: we all need spiritual whitespace

Infused with biblical encouragement and thought-provoking prompts, Finding Spiritual Whitespace shows us how to create space in the everyday for God, refreshment, and faithright in the midst of our stress-frayed lives. And it couldn’t have come at a more perfect time in my life personally. I’ve loved reading this book {more than once}, and I know you will too!
Order a copy here.

Enter to WIN:
What is one way you could carve out time for whitespace and rest this summer? Let’s take time this summer to let our souls be breathe. Click “share your thoughts” and leave a comment under this blog post to enter. Two winners will be selected and announced next week. {if you are reading this via email, please click here to participate in the giveaway on my blog!}

 

Bonnie-familyBonnie Gray is contributor at Crosswalk.com, Relevant Magazine, and DaySpring (in)courage. A UCLA graduate, Bonnie has been missionary, ministry entrepreneur and Silicon Valley high-tech professional. Bonnie blogs at FaithBarista.com in Northern California with her husband Eric and their two sons.

Fear Not For I am With You {FREE printable + giveaway}

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“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God,
and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)

My 8-year-old son walked into my room before school one morning and declared, “Mom, I don’t want to have any anxious thoughts today!”

“I don’t want to worry about you not being home when I get off the school bus. I don’t want to worry about my teacher not liking my science project. And I don’t want to worry about Dad getting in a car accident! I wish I could be like other kids because they never worry.”

Listening to him describe his fears made my stomach ache. Anxious thoughts had been a companion ever since I was a child, so I knew just how he felt.

However, I assumed my fears stemmed from hard things in my childhood during my parents’ divorce. My anxiety had solid reasoning behind it. My dad left before I was ever born. And by the time I was 2 years old, their divorce was final.

For as long as I could remember, I feared my mom would leave me too. Fear of rejection and abandonment followed me into every relationship I had for the rest of my life: with friends, boyfriends and even my husband.

Somewhere along the way, I accepted worry as a disability and settled into believing I didn’t get to decide how it impacted my life.

Now here I stood with my son who’d declared he wanted a day off from worry! And I was determined to help him get it. I wanted to rip those threads of fear out of his thoughts and make sure he knew what to do with them.

I couldn’t take my child’s fears away, but I could equip him with truth to face them courageously and fight them victoriously. I told Andrew, “You get to decide what to do with your worries.” And I shared three powerful truths to help him:

Truth #1: Other kids do worry; they just don’t talk about it on the playground.

Truth #2: Worry and fear must be a normal because God tells us not to, over 100 times in the Bible.

Truth #3: God doesn’t just tell us not to worry or fear, He tells us what to do when we do!

Then I read 2 Corinthians 10:5 to him, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” But a puzzled look on his face told me Andrew needed to know how to do that, so I described it in terms he could understand:

“Andrew, when you have a thought that makes you feel anxious, you can decide to catch it like a baseball and see if it’s worth keeping.” I then cupped my hand like I was holding a ball and told him to look at it and ask, “Is this something Jesus would say to me?”

If the answer is “no” — then throw your thought back into the outfield!

For instance, worry says: “Your mom isn’t going to be home when you get off the bus.”

“Would Jesus say that?” I asked.

“No,” he replied.

“Then it’s outta here!” I told him, as I threw the invisible ball across the room.

Worry says: “Your teacher isn’t going to like your science project!”

“Would Jesus say that?” I prompted.

Again, “No.”

“Throw that one away, too!”

We talked through each worry, processed his fears, and I helped him decide what to do. Then we prayed and asked God to replace each worry with a promise that would give him confident peace. Finally, we thanked God for ways He’d protected Andrew in the past, reminding him how good He is at being God.

After our collective “Amen” I looked up and Andrew had a big grin on his face. Then he said, “Thanks Mom!” as though all his worries were gone.

My sons are 17 and 20 now, and there have been many days I’ve wanted to take away their worries. I’ve been tempted to fix problems and sticky situations. But I’ve learned that doesn’t strengthen their faith or their ability to decide what to do when hard times come.

Instead, what our kids need most is for us to be there: to talk through their struggles, listen to their stories, pray through their worries and be willing to share God’s truths that have helped us decide how to face ours.

There is nothing more powerful than our hearts hearing our lips proclaim our trust in God’s truth. Again and again. So I created a FREE printable to help us do just that! I pray it will lead your anxious thoughts to Jesus as you hold those worries in your hands and ask: Is this what Jesus would say to me? If the the answer is no, YOU GET TO DECDE that it doesn’t get to stay!

ReneeSwope.FearNot-Printable_Small.CLICK HERE to download my “Fear Not For I am With You” FREE printable.
If you can’t see the image displayed, click here to go to view it on my website.

ConfidentHeartDevotional

Confident Heart Devotional GIVEAWAY
Enter to win a gift-pack that includes my A Confident Heart Devotional book and my favorite prayer journal from DaySpring.  Perfect for summer and life on the go – my Confident Heart Devotional book is filled with powerful stories, practical life-lessons and biblical insights to help you and your loved ones overcome fear and worry through the power of God’s truth each day!

ENTER TO WIN:
How much doesfear or worry impact your daily decisions and joy (or your child’s)? Click “Share Your Thoughts” below this post on my blog, and do just that. Your comment will be your entry to win!

***If you are reading this via email, please click here to enter the giveaway on my blog.***
ALL entries must be entered on my blog. Thanks!