Tracing My Steps

I’ve been reading through old journals this morning, tracing my steps with God over the past several years. Thank God for journals, because I never would have remembered the details of where I’ve been in my spiritual journey and how God met me in each place, revealing my heart to me and His heart towards me.

I was sharing with Lysa how perfectly timed her P31 devotionwas yesterday about running toward our dreams, using the parallel of running and writing a book. It really spoke to me because I avoid both of them for one reason – running and writing are hard and cause pain that I’d rather avoid!

I started to write a book a six years ago (May 2002). It was based on a parenting concept I’d implemented with my kids called “Mining for Gold in the Heart of Your Child.” I presented a proposal for the book in June 2002 to Moody Publishing and Focus on the Family. Soon after, I received a letter from Moody declining my proposal. I hadn’t felt a connection with them so I wasn’t completely disappointed, but it opened a wound in my heart where the fear of rejection had been festering. It was as though the enemy stepped off the page of that letter, pointed his finger in my face and shouted, “You will never be good enough. You may be on God’s team, but He will never choose you to do something this important. You’ll always be a bench warmer.”

Those thoughts caught me off guard and made me weep! I hadn’t even been rejected by the publisher I wanted, but I had gone ahead and done the job for them. As I sat on the floor crying, the Holy Spirit revealed to me that these thoughts weren’t just from the enemy, they reflected deep beliefs in my heart, and also revealed a false image of my God.

Then God whispered to my heart, “Renee, you are as valuable to me as Mother Teresa. You are as important as Billy Graham. I don’t look at the things that man measures as worth. I look at your heart and I see a woman of great value who I love deeply.”

That day started me on a healing path. I wanted to know and believe this was really what God saw and what He felt about me. I needed His love, His perspective, His value of to be my enough, so that no matter what happened – HE defined me. Over the next few months I pursued the love of God with reckless abandon. I read the book of John again and again. I read the Sacred Romance – and through it God took my breath away! Over many months, He revealed so much about my brokenness and opened wounds so that His healing could come over me like never before. This was all part of the process Lysa talks about.

A month or two later, I got a “letter of decline” from Focus. But amazingly I wasn’t wounded. Sure I was disappointed but strangely, I was also glad. I knew I wasn’t ready. I didn’t want any other love or dream to whisk me away. I didn’t want my heart to be that vulnerable to man’s approval and God didn’t either. This letter was God protection and God’s perfect timing for His dream for my life. If He wanted me to write a book, He’d make it happen.

In the meantime, I kept loving on Him and letting Him love on me. God continued to increase my passion for the message and for other parents, because it had changed my life and the whole landscape of our family’s life. He opened doors for the message I hoped to wrap in a book cover by giving me opportunities here and there to share it at MOPs groups, Bibles Studies at my church, parenting seminars and church services. Today as I look back, I see God’s process and preparation through assignments that were a better fit for me and His message, in that season of my heart’s journey.

The next summer, I was asked to volunteer as the coordinator for character development at my son’s charter school. I was hesitant because I knew it would take time away from my dream of writing. But I sensed God calling me. In the end, I got to share portions of the message each month with over 200 kids, parents and staff at our character assemblies. The message grew and so did I. Later that year I was invited to give a keynote to the teachers and administration based on this Christ-centered character development concept.

Six years later, I am sensing God calling me to write a book. I know many of you want to know how you know when God is calling you to write. Well, I can’t wait to tell you! God did something amazing next in this story, that I’ll share tomorrow (since this is getting so long). Also, I have a give-away you don’t want to miss on Monday!

But before you go, I’d love to hear what God is doing to draw you closer to Him as you pursue His dreams for you? Have you traced your steps with Him lately?

About Renee

Renee Swope is a Word-lover, story-teller, heart-encourager and grace-needer. She's also a wife, mom, friend, daughter and author of A Confident Heart, a Retailers Choice Award winning book that became a best-seller and has been published in six languages, with over 150,000 copies sold. Renee is speaks around the country at women's events and and serves on the writing team for DaySpring’s inCourage blog. For twenty years, Renee served in leadership at Proverbs 31 Ministries and as former co-host of the ministry's radio program, “Everyday Life with Lysa & Renee.

Comments

  1. I can’t wait to hear about more of your journey. Hope you have a great weekend.

    Blessings,
    Pearls

  2. Thank you so much for sharing that with such vulnerability. I appreciate that! Fear of failure, rejection, has been a great hindrance to me in writing, constantly wondering if I truly have anything worth saying. That encourages me a great deal to return to my Source for validation and encouragement. Bless you for sharing this!
    Love,
    Shauna Okongo

  3. Friend,
    WOW, what perfect timing. I am sitting on my front porch reading To Be Told and working on just the very thing you are speaking about. What God is doing in my life today is using my past to minister to those in my present. Just yesterday, someone from next door came over to check on a broken sprinkler and through small talk her struggle came up, the very thing the Lord has brought me through. I was able to invite her over for coffee and a couple of ears. She could not believe I had been where she has been. I have learned that the Lord wants me to be ready at any moment, to share the hope I have in Jesus Christ. Does that sound familiar or what. Thanks my friend for your faith, once again it spurs so many of us on to go deeper with Daddy. I love you, take care. Praying for you and the family……

    Loving my race in the lane called Grace.

  4. Renee, how your words resound and echo in my heart. THANK YOU for sharing so openly and honestly.

    Over the last several months God has been drawing me so near to His heart as I have been seeking Him. I know you are aware of the adventure God has had me on. I’ve been reliving and savoring each moment, yet I don’t want to live in past God-moments, but present experiences. Just this morning God spoke these words to me from Isaiah 43:18-19, “But forget all that – it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”

    My friend, I have a dream…we all do I’m sure. God’s Word says that a hope deferred makes the heart sick, but that is only if my hope is placed in something/someone other than God. He is the God of all hope, and when I trust in Him, He becomes the desire of my heart.

    Sometimes we have to leave our old dreams to move on to God’s new dreams for us. If Ruth had never left Moab to travel back to Bethlehem with Naomi, given up the familiar to embrace the new, she would have missed all that God had in store for her.

    Praying for you and dreaming God sized dreams with you,
    Love & hugs,
    Joy

  5. Renee,

    I cried when I read your touching blog. My life is falling apart right now. Four years ago I proubably won’t be here if these things happened then. I have seen and give God all the glory for the peace inside today. By the earth’s measure I “have ever right” to be angry with God. But His grace is enought.
    Thank you for reminding me.
    Diane

  6. Renee,

    I love this post! And I can’t wait to read the continuing saga tomorrow! 🙂

    You asked about what God is doing to draw me closer to Him. Well, I’ve been going through two studies this summer–one on Lelia’s blog where we are study Lysa’s book “What Happens When Women Walk in Faith” and one on Beth Moore’s blog where we are studying “No Other Gods” by Kelly Minter. This week I’ve posted two entries on my blog concerning where I think God is leading me through these studies…today’s post relates specifically to how He is drawing me closer to Him. Please hop over and read it if you have time.

    Prayers and blessings, Renee! And I’m super glad to hear about JJ…God is good all the time, and all the time God is good! 🙂

    Rebecca

  7. Renee:

    Can’t wait to hear tomorrow how the Lord is whispering to your heart about writing your next book. Keep telling His stories for His glory!

    As we just living abiding in Him, looking to Him and seeking Him first with passion and sincerity, He brings forth fruit, His desires and His dreams for our lives! It is awesome, humbly and exciting all at the same time.

    Hugs and happy dances for you,
    Sharon

  8. 2 Timothy 2:11 Here is a statement you can trust: If we have died with him, we will also live with him. 12 If we persevere, we will also rule with him…

    Simple faithfulness He keeps telling me. Simply be as faithful in the work I have ordained for you (in every respect) as I AM faithful.

    run (as if you are) winning because our praise comes from the LORD (Romans 2:29)!

  9. Renee,
    You’re transparancy is needed today. The enemy uses the same tricks, so we need to hear how others are combatting them with the Lord!

    I am living in my calling and it’s still fresh, I am sure that someday I’ll be looking back to today and remembering His fresh call on my life and how He drew me near Him with an amazing passion just to spend time with Him.

    Looking forward to your post on Monday!! You are such an encouragement.

  10. My son’s baptism has drawn me closer to God and is getting me out of a rut. He is holding me accountable, an I with him.

  11. These past few days, and the past weeks leading up to it, have been like a giant blog/jig-saw puzzle. Reading Lysa TerKeurst’s blog yesterday about following your dreams, reading various comments from all you lovely God-loving ladies, following rabbit trails throughout the Wonderful World Web, and this morning’s discovery of Renee and her Journey has renewed my desire to write.
    Thank you!!!!
    Jenny

  12. Joyful, it’s funny you mentioned “hope deferred” because I blogged on it just last month. I think our writing journey so often includes a period of deferred hope.

    This post is an encouragement to all women, not just those who long to write. God is so good to guide us when we are open to Him and only later as we look back can we connect the dots and see His handprint all over it.

  13. Your candor is SO appreciated, Renee.

    God is taking me a way I never would have chosen. Healthy all my life, I’ve recently endured some difficult health issues (I even wound up in Urgent Care the first night of She Speaks).

    Yet the Lord is bringing me into new levels of TRUST. He’s teaching me to trust Him when confusion and doubt swirl around my head.

    And guess what? I am walking out 2 Corinthians 1:5, “For just as Christ’s own sufferings fall to our lot as they overflow upon His disciples, and we share and experience them abundantly, so through Christ comfort and consolation and encouragement are alos shared and experienced by us.” (Amplified Bible)

    He is comforting and encouraging me in the midst of it all, so that I in turn can comfort and encourage others.

    I look forward to reading Part 2!

    Blessings!

  14. Renee:
    I’ve experienced the very feelings you’re having. In fact, I’ve had them recently.

    God has brought me so far in the past year. There’s more clarity now than ever before; still and yet, there are lingering doubts.

    Some days, my flesh longs to retreat. Some days, it wins. But then there other days when I hear the whispers of sacred hope that lead me down a better path…

    a path that continues to press on.

    That’s what I am praying for you and me and for all of us who hold some dreams as tender possibilities.

    Keep the pen and to the faith. God WILL do the rest.

    peace~elaine

  15. Renee,
    Feeling very nostalgic this morning, (I think it is because today is my 41st birthday), I headed to my office this morning to get a book to read. I was in the mood for something deep, so I grabbed “The Root of the Righteous” by A.W. Tozer. Like your journals, it reminded me anew of why it is that I have this passion to share with others that He is flipped-out, madly in love with them. Like you mentioned in your blog, sometimes when I am working on getting my book published, I hear the whisperings, “You don’t have “it””. Fortunately, I recognize quickly (now!) where that comes from. He is the IT and I have got it.

    Thanks for sharing your heart!

    Lynn

  16. Oh this is so good to read today! I definately have felt God’s call on me to encourage and love on other women.

    I have a passion to speak to women and/or girls but am not sure if this is exactly how God wants to use me right now or not.

    I have been taking a hard look at my schedule and have been giving up a few things. One being the children’s ministry I’ve done for 8years. It’s hard to cut back but I feel such peace about it and am trusting that God has a plan for me.

    With adding a fourth child to our family soon – life will be increasingly busy and I want to be available to my first priorities!

    So all this to say – I feel excited about what God has in store – unsure of what that will be but if I can live to love on and encourage others then I am a truly blessed women!

    Lots of love to you Renee! Thanks for being so real. I think you are real cool!!!! 🙂

  17. Thanks so much for sharing your heart to us. I see so many areas of my prayer life and my spiritual journey that started out as a dream and sort of wilted away. I am tryng to listen to HIM and let HIM guide me–without rushing it myself! It’s a process that will happen as long as I continue to trust and obey HIM. It’s not easy!!

    As I pursue HIS dreams for me….hmm…it’s quite interesting that you asked today. Deep down, I would love to write. Not sure when…waiting for HIS timing and lots of time in HIS Word. As my husband was telling me goodby this morning, he told me to make sure that I read an article published in his university alumni magazine. The author and I went to high school together!!! He played basketball, and I was a cheerleader. Great guy! Long story short, he’s written several books! It came out of nowhere–I don’t remember his enjoying Adv. Composition in 12th grade that much! But God had His plan in place with my friend. If he is bold enough to step out in faith, why shouldn’t I?? I need to email him this afternoon to congratulate him!

    Sorry about this long response, but things just clicked this morning. God’s clicking got louder while I was running and listening to Casting Crowns’s “In Me.” Reckon I need to use some of my newfound discipline and spend some time listening to what HIS plans for me are.

    Renee, have a wonderful day, and I thank you again for this post!
    Blessings,
    Susan

  18. Renee,I love how you just open your heart and share!

    I too,keep a journal and from to to time I look through at my thoughts,desires,disappointments and victories…how amazed I am.

    God has brought me to a place in my life where I have shared a secret that I kept hidden for a very long time.

    I have never had a great desire to write but in the last year or so God pressed on my heart to start a blog.I had no idea how or what to write about but He did. For awhile I just wrote,until a few months ago He said “Go ahead an write about your secret,it’s ok.”

    I have learned to be very still when He speaks and then to act quickly to His desires.

    Looking forward to reading more about your journey.

  19. I have a box full of journals marking my path over the past four years. God is making me real, He is more real to me than He has ever been.
    My dream, my calling is to inspire others, encourage others to Him and He is opening doors. After my pass it would be impossible on my own but I am in the baby steps and I am trusting Him and constantly searching for His direction and voice in this.

    I look forward to hearing the “rest of the story”. Do share!!!

    In His Graces~Pamela

    2:19 PM

  20. I began blogging in the Fall of last year. I have never been a consistant “journaler” but…for some reason 5-10 posts a month seems managable. I’m so glad I started. From prayers to events, I can look back over the past 10 months and CLEARLY see God’s provision and direction. Now, I have a finished cd and music/speaking ministry with hopes of publishing in the semi-near future. God is amazing! He enables us to accomplish things we didn’t even know we wanted to accomplish!
    Thanks for the post today!
    -Janet

  21. Oh dear – I was just upstairs feeling frustrated and overwhelmed by my children and thought about what I just wrote here.

    I didn’t mean to come across as having it all together and so focused on others because I don’t!!! I was feeling quite up and happy at that moment mainly because the children were all quiet! 🙂

    I am striving to live with others first but I fail MISERABLY SO often!! I just had to write in again…

    God bless! 🙂

  22. Thanks for the reflections. I will look forward to tomorrow and Monday!

  23. Dear sisters,

    Please visit my blog and help us pray for a 17-year-old girl who is currently battling for her life.

    http://www.wendyblackwell.blogspot.com

    I tearfully thank you all ahead of time.

  24. Renee,
    I am almost done with my 20th journal since 1998. It has been a long journey as I have looked back over them on and off over this past year. I can tell when I have been farther from God, by how little I journal prayers. I can tell when I am closer, when I am seeking Him more, when I am struggling with problems and hurts and depression.
    It has been rewarding to look back and see how in the past couple of years God has been answering prayers and longings of my heart from 10 years ago or more.

    I also have read “The Sacred Romance.” I tried starting it about 9 months ago or so. I got halfway through the first chapter and realized that it wasn’t capturing my attention, because I didn’t know what I had read. So, I set it aside, and picked it up about a month and a half ago. It not only caught my attention, but my heart as well. And, as you said, it took my breath away. Those two men were able to put into words everything I have been going through, my heart’s cry, the longings I was filled with, and the hurts as well. It completely blew me away.
    And to finally start to grasp that I am the princess that the Hero is pursuing. I am His beloved and He is mine. Talk about starting to heal my heart!

    God has been showing me how much I enjoy writing and putting things on my heart to write about. My blog has been one outlet, my journal another, and various Word documents as other outlets. I don’t know what will happen with these ideas, how God will used them. Whether that might be in speaking and teaching, magazine articles, or just giving bits and pieces to individual people as they need it… or if He continues to use my blog… I don’t care really, as long as I get to continue to write (which is one passion) and to sing in worship (which is my other passion right now.)

    thank you for sharing your process and for all the things you have gone through, that show others there is hope and light, and that God works in so many different ways.
    God bless,
    Heather

  25. Hey Renee – thank you so much for your encouragement. I really appreciated it! 🙂

    Have a great weekend…we just came home from the ER with Raegan. She fell down the steps and cut her head – life with kids is never never dull, is it! 🙂

  26. Renee,
    thank you for sharing your story.I’m learning that following your dreams is a journey. I do ok with that some days better than others! Through that process, God has gently taught me to lean on Him, trust in Him with confidence. It has been a sweet sweet trip so far…

  27. Enjoying your blog tonight. This journey with Christ is quite the adventure. I stand in awe of the work He has accomplished in me lately. My eyes have finally been open to some basic truths that for so long I could not see. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” I am learning how to be in complete dependence. This is new since for my entire Christian life I have been asserting my independence. Trying so hard to BE the right person. Clinging to the Law. Totally ignoring His Spirit that has longed to lead me and do all the work for me! The REST I have experienced recently in Him is a relief. Thanks for blessing me tonight.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Hi Renee,

    I am new to the blogger world but I felt compelled to share my story. God has been pulling me closer to him. Early this spring, I was struggling with when is it God talking to me and when is it me hearing what I want to hear….do you know what I mean? I have been praying for God to show me the difference. I want to really know Him. And, as always, He responded. My current job is part-time but I need to work full-time. So I began the search for a full-time job. I am in the school system, so my fellow co-workers are also looking at this time. Many of them were getting called for interviews and I was hearing nothing! But throughout, I felt God whispering to my heart. He would tell me to be patient, trust Him, He would provide for me. And He did. I just found out my position will be full-time for next year. Isn’t it amazing how God uses our current situtations to bring us closer to him? And now I know…..

  29. Thanks for sharing your heart. I look forward to reading more.

    God is stretching me out of my comfort zone to reach for Him and rely on Him. He’s also making connections with others to encourage me in my walk.

    Your wonderful words came at a perfect time yesterday when I was having a tough day. Thanks for visiting my blog and praying for me.

  30. Renee,
    Thank you for sharing, it’s wonderful to know we are all in this together. As you mention journals, I too have kept them from HS days and now at 32 have my own library. The amazing thing for me is to see how my perspective has changed in the last 8 years, when I became a Christian and even now in the last year as my faith has grown. It is amazing to look back and see how God has put the pieces together. As we live in the moment it doesn’t always make sense, but hindsight is 20/20 and to see God’s hand in it all is amazing.

    Over the last year God was impressing on me to put some of this info along with 8 years worth of email conversations together into a book. I doubted for quite sometime, but finally submitted and now have 60,000 words I’ve entitled “Letters from Leanne – The Beauty of a Spiritual Mother-Daughter Relationship.” I just keep praying and waiting to see what God has in store for it.

    I look forward to hearing the rest of your story and pray God continues to bless you, your family and ministry.

    Blessings and thanks, Jill

  31. Thanks for writing this post. I definitely can identify with the “bench warmer” thought – sometimes I think I convince myself that “bench warmer” is actually a legitimate role in the kingdom of God and one that He has assigned solely to me!

    But on those days lately I remember God’s word to my heart during one of the toughest seasons of my life that He was going to do something big through me. I still don’t know what that means, but I don’t think it has much to do with sitting on the sidelines and watching other people play ball.

    I’m still in great need of encouraging stories like yours, though. Can’t wait to hear the rest of it!

    In Him,
    Sam

  32. Anonymous says:

    First let me begin by saying that the daily devotions have been a blessing, I am in need of prayer for my financial situation, I am going through a rough period, I am trying not to lose all I have worked for my home, my car, my bills, and I have a son in his second year of college, I know the Lord will provide and make a way, I just need someone to pray with me. I don’t know what else to do besides pray. Thank You, Tonya Allison, Milton, FL

  33. Anonymous says:

    First i want to say that I am praying for you and your family.
    My prayer request is that Ihave trouble with DOUBT and ANXIETY! Like right now I am leaving my church that I have been in for about 10 years.So please if you would pray for my main two things i try and deal with everyday i sure would appreciate it so very much!May GOD BLESS YOU AND YOUR FAMILY!
    My name is BECKY and i am from WELSH,LOUISIANA

  34. Anonymous says:

    I just found this site the other day, read Renee’s personal story on prayer today and her blog. I have never asked for prayer from people I don’t know but here goes. I am a single mom I am looking for another job that pays better because I am barely getting by. There are days when I am so tired trying to be strong for my kids, encouraging them to pursue their goals. All I do is work, come home, cook dinner go to bed. As I’m writing this I’m on the verge of tears because I am just so tired of trying to keep my spirits up. Please pray for me to keep trusting God that things will work out, to get a better job so I don’t have to keep depending on my parents and to love myself.
    Thank you,
    Joy

  35. Anonymous says:

    I recently moved into a 3 bedroom townhouse thinking my 23 year old daughter and her two young babies were going to stay with me, well she has moved out. The financial burden is too much and I don’t have the money too move again so I am locked in for the next year. I am really lonely, scared and worried. Please pray that God would provide a the right roommate and help me to move on with my life that I don’t feel like I have. My name is Lynn from Chicago.

  36. Anonymous says:

    I recently moved into a 3 bedroom townhouse thinking my 23 year old daughter and her two young babies were going to stay with me, well she has moved out. The financial burden is too much and I don’t have the money too move again so I am locked in for the next year. I am really lonely, scared and worried. Please pray that God would provide a the right roommate and help me to move on with my life that I don’t feel like I have. My name is Lynn from Chicago.

  37. Anonymous says:

    I am asking for prayer for my sister Judy in Canada. She was diagnosed with breast cancer, and was 8 months short of 10 years of being cancer free. She was diagnosed again in September 07, and had to have a breast removed. She has recently gone for a bone scan, and they have requested for her to return and have it done again, but this time they would like to concentrate on her left rib cage, and back. The doctors’ are hoping to see a clear scan, and nothing black, or any holes. My sister has not made the appointment, because she’s afraid of the results, and so am I! I lost my dad 7 years ago from lung cancer, and I only have one sibling which is my sister Judy who I love, and couldn’t imagine my life without. Could I humbly ask for your prayers for her that all her tests will come back positive, and that Our Heavenly Father will remove every cancerous cell in her body that we may have her around for a long time? Thank you, and please pray for me that God will grant me the strength and courage to walk this road with my sister no matter what the out come may be. God bless you all… Donna

  38. Anonymous says:

    Prayer request- change of career for me. Divine Direction from the Holy Spirit and confirmation that I will know that this is the path God has for me now. Help with balance of all things in my life, body, and health.Thank you. Maria

  39. Anonymous says:

    Please pray for me Samuel and Joyce my wife for we have been praying that the good Lord will give us children in our marriage. we have been married for the past14 years but no children. Please pray for us.

    Samuel(London UK)

  40. Hey there, I am seeing some prayers being posted here instead of under today’s post.

    Be sure to click back to today’s post and click in the word comments right after that 2nd green box towards the top of this page. I just want to make sure others see your prayers and you see the one you are to pray for, too.

    Blessings,
    Renee

  41. Anonymous says:

    Please pray for a financial,and blessing for a new position. I am not asking for a triple digit job, but one that will pay well. I am looking for a job where I can be of service to others, not of self. To give hope, encouragement,and build people up. Please pray that the Lord will find my request in line with his will for my life.
    God bless,
    Donna

  42. Anonymous says:

    Hello Renee,
    I want to thank you so much for your encouragement
    I really think this is great,praying for each other.Thank you for giving me the opportunity to pray for so many.Thank you for all you do.GOD BLESS YOU AND YOUR FAMILY!BECKY
    hopsonbecky@yahoo.com

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