Forever Wanted {+ a book giveaway!}

We all struggle with identity—who we are, why we are, and what we have to offer the world. And just about the time we find a sliver of worth or significance, something happens to make us fully aware of how much we lack. A harsh word. A broken relationship. A failed attempt. Then, in spite of our best efforts at positivity or affirmation, we can’t escape the insecurity and aloneness we experience as a result.

When it comes to this epidemic of misplaced identity, my dear friend Michele Cushatt understands the struggle first hand. Without giving away her story (which you can read in her books), Michele knows what it’s like to lose her footing, and to wonder if she’d ever again be able to stand. But she also knows what it’s like to cry out to God for grace and discover the miracle of His Presence and His Purpose right here, right now.


The night held magic.

I knew it before the sixteen-year-old boy standing next to me reached for my hand.
Although we went to the same high school, I couldn’t believe it when he asked me out. He was an athlete, part of the popular crowd. I was completely average, an insecure academic.

So when he asked me to dinner, I fell all over myself saying yes. Clearly, my high school luck was changing.

I remember nothing about the date except for its ending. After driving us back to my parents’ house, he grabbed my hand and took me outside for a walk.

The moon and stars filled the fall sky like scattered shards of crystal. The evening was just cool enough to require a light jacket, but nothing more. Idyllic conditions for a romantic, hand-holding walk. Everything about the night seemed perfect. Which is why I didn’t balk when he pulled me to a stop and leaned in. His lips touched mine in an explosion of adolescent fireworks.

My first kiss.

Magic. In seconds, I went from unwanted to wanted, average to extraordinary. I floated like a balloon on a string held in his hand as he walked me back home.

The magic of the moment carried over to the next morning. Someone liked me! After years of girlish longing, it felt amazing to be wanted. Little did I know, the dream wouldn’t last. Too soon, the magic proved nothing but an illusion.

The truth became clear when I arrived at school. Within seconds, the girl sitting next to me in class said words that stopped me cold: “Something looks different about you today, Michele. Like something happened last night, for the first time.” It wasn’t her words as much as the gleam in her eye that gave her away.

She knew.

Heat filled my cheeks. I tried to shrug it off, but even my naive self knew something was amiss. My fears were confirmed when another girl—someone I’d known for most of my life—said something similar. Throughout the day, more smirks and comments came my way. Then, when the boy never again acknowledged my existence, reality made itself plain.

The entire thing had been a setup. A sham. A few weeks before, I’d confided to a friend that I’d never been kissed. She spilled my secret to a high school full of unmerciful teenagers. What I thought was magic was merely a popular boy’s response to an adolescent dare.

Nothing but a game. He won. I lost.

I lost far more than my first kiss that day. I lost my innocence. I’d been duped, manipulated, and misled. I wasn’t wanted; I was used. A prop to propel a teenage boy a little farther up the popularity scale.

As a result, I bought into the belief that the only way I’d ever be wanted is if I worked at it. I needed to put on a good show and put some effort into being worthy.

My experience with human love has, at times, left me jaded and self-protective. I’m afraid to trust love, to lean into it. I’m afraid I’ll find myself once again duped and used. And yet the Bible promises God’s love can be counted on. Do I trust His sincerity? Do I believe His love will not fail me?

There’s a story in the Bible about a woman who needed to be noticed by a man. When Ruth’s husband died suddenly along with her father-in- law, she became destitute, along with her adored mother-in-law, Naomi. Wanted one day, alone and without resources the next. No spouses, no means of income or provision. Alone.

Until Ruth discovered she had a kinsman, a relative who could assume the role of husband out of respect for his deceased relative.

But it was a long shot. Why would this relative, Boaz, want to give up his independence for a widow and her mother-in-law? An unnecessary burden. And yet Ruth and Naomi both knew it was their only option.

So one night, after the day’s work was done, Ruth walked over to the field where Boaz worked. She found him asleep on the threshing floor, likely exhausted from a full day’s work, and she curled up at his feet to sleep. As custom dictated, when he awakened to find that Ruth had “thrown herself at his feet” during the night, Boaz had a choice to make: receive her as his wife—and become her kinsman-redeemer—or reject her request. It may seem difficult to understand, but Ruth’s life hinged on the whims of one man’s wants.

Have you been there? Maybe you’re not a woman waiting for a man. Maybe you’re simply a person longing to be wanted. You trusted love once upon a time. But then a rejection or loss. An injustice or betrayal. Something hardened within. Never again would you throw yourself at the feet of anyone. Never.

I understand. But I’ve learned something since that devastating first kiss.

Human desire is a flawed echo of a flawless love.

While there is merit in romance, it was never meant to be the apex of all love. Instead, even the most beautiful and perfect human love is merely a hint of something far better.

God’s is love.

That means we are wanted by one who plays no games and hides no ulterior motives. He became the one who was used, unwanted and rejected so we would always know what it felt like to be protected, wanted and received. His love heals our wounds and soothes our hearts. And when we throw ourselves at His feet, there is no fear of what the morning will bring.

For the morning brings with it the knowledge that we’re already wanted. We’re redeemed by the one who holds the power to do the redeeming.

Every lesser love is merely child’s play.

~ Michele Cushatt, I Am: A 60-day Journey to Knowing Who You Are Because of Who He Is
Copyright 2017, Zondervan Publishers.


These words pulled from the pages of Michele’s most recent book—I Am: A 60-day Journey to Knowing Who You Are Because of Who He Is—were penned during her long and grueling recovery from a third diagnosis of tongue cancer, during which she was permanently altered physically, emotionally and spiritually. In it, she speaks with raw honesty and hard-earned insight about our current identity epidemic and the reason why our best self-help and self-esteem tools aren’t enough to heal our deepest wounds.

Michele is one of my best buddies and dearest friends. But she’s also one of the most powerful communicators of the spoken and written word. Her book came at a time when my foundation had been rocked and my security needed shoring up. Here’s the endorsement I wrote after reading it last summer: 


Using personal stories, insightful biblical teaching and soul-searching reflection, Michele Cushatt helped me reframe my life through the lens of who God is and who I am because I am His. Through this powerful 60-day journey of I Am, I found hope and courage to let God re-write the narrative of the story I am living and the story I am telling myself every day. ~ Renee Swope, author of A Confident Heart


ENTER TO WIN

From the moment a woman wakes until she falls, exhausted, on her pillow, one question plagues her at every turn: Am I enough?

When a brutal bout with cancer changed how she looked, talked, and lived, Michele Cushatt embarked on a soul-deep journey to rediscover herself. The typical self-esteem strategies and positivity plans weren’t enough. Instead, she needed a new foundation, one that wouldn’t prove flimsy when faced with the onslaught of day-to-day life.

I Am reminds us that our value isn’t found in our talents, achievements, relationships, or appearance. It is instead found in a God who chose us, sent us, and promised to be with us—forever.

HERE IS HOW YOU CAN ENTER TO WIN

1. LEAVE A COMMENT below this post, where it says “Share Your Thoughts.” 

2. SHARE this POST on Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter, with the hashtag #IAMbook

That’s it! Your name will be entered into a random drawing. Be sure to tell your friends so they can sign up too. The drawing will take place on Monday, March 13th! {Contest is limited to US & Canadian readers only.}

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. Wow!! This is a must read for me.

  2. I need this book

  3. I need this book!

    How do I enter to win? When I click the Enter to Win it takes me to Pinterest to save the image to one of my boards…

    • Sorry! The button wasn’t working. Hopefully it is now 🙂 I added more details at the bottom of the post about leaving your thoughts here (which you did) and also sharing on social media to enter to win 2x!

  4. Sounds like an Amazing book 🙂

  5. Kathy Brandt says:

    I feel so lost these days. The thought of not being enough Invades my mind constantly. This book could be an answer to my prayers.

    • That “lost” feeling is so tough, Kathy … been there too many times over the last couple years. Please know you have a home, with Him. A place, secured and steadfast. You are wanted, rescued, loved, gathered, saved. That means you are enough. <3

  6. I need this book so much .

  7. Dawnielle says:

    This sounds like a great book. I also had problems when I clicked the enter to win. It would only allow a Pin It.

    • Sorry! The button wasn’t working. I tweeked it and hopefully it will now 🙂 Also, added more details at the bottom of the post about leaving your thoughts here (which you did) and also sharing on social media to enter to win 2x!

  8. Yes this messsage!!

  9. This book sounds amazing and will help so many women who struggle with this very topic. Too bad the link above didn’t work to enter for the book.

    • Sorry! The button wasn’t working. Hopefully it is now 🙂 I added more details at the bottom of the post about leaving your thoughts here (which you did) and also sharing on social media to enter to win 2x!

  10. What a much blessing this would be?

  11. sounds like a book I need.

  12. I love books that share from the heart. This book fits the bill.
    would love to win a copy. I’ve had self esteem issues my entire life and I’m 61! I know what God says about me in the bible but it still doesn’t keep those negative thoughts at bay. People pleasing or simply being aware of and meeting the needs of others, often results in a time to ridicule or the brunt of someone’s joke. I’m trying but maybe I’m trying too hard.

    • We never really get over it, do we? I think, by the grace of God, we make progress as we get older. But it will only cease to be a struggle the moment we see Jesus face to face, when He makes us whole once and for all. So thankful to share this journey with you, Lynn!

  13. Sarah Pinault says:

    Sounds great

  14. Lesly Verbeten says:

    I NEED this book

  15. Christie says:

    This book is perfect for this season of my life. Since my illness, I battke constantly with identity. I am no longer able to work as an RN, I keep up my CEU’s but they say there is no cure for Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. I dont question God though nor his healing nor his timing. Its hard to let go of pride let others see you weak or in pain. Or ask for help, I am Mom I am Nurse. Yet most days I cant wait to go home. I know I cant I have to be strong and keep pushing. I wish I could find the old Christie she was strong confident. But see that is my flesh again. Its notbabout me, I am to suffer to his likeness ( You only need to be still and the Lord will fight for you) that way He will show his strength ( I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength) through my weaknesses. I just need to renew my mind in this daily! I need his strength! My God is so good!

    • How many times have I said the very same thing??? “I wish I could find the old me …” Such a hard place to be, wrestling between an awareness of God’s faithfulness and love, and yet our very human desire to look and be a certain way. Like you, I have to renew my mind in this DAILY. Sometimes moment by moment. With you, friend.

  16. Kristi Genna says:

    WOW! Right where I am in life.

  17. What a great testimony of God’s flawless love!

  18. Pat Thompson says:

    I am not sure how to enter tour win, but this book is a must read for me. I struggle with am I good enough for God to love. Some days are so overwhelming it’s hard to function. It sounds like this book would be very helpful.

  19. a macdonald says:

    I would love to read this book! This would be such a great help right now! I am looking forward to it! I would like to enter to win this book!

  20. Elizabeth says:

    Sounds like an amazing book…. especially when you’re working on your own self in order to be selfless, you have to be ok as well and confident….

  21. Robin R says:

    As I read this excerpt from the book. I began thinking how much I struggle in my own healing journey. But I know that there is a God. There have been many times that I have had to reach out to God lately amidst the black storm that rages inside of myself.. I can’t wait to read such an amazing book. God Bless!

  22. Melissa says:

    I would love to win this book!

  23. I have always struggled with self worth. I know God loves me but I could use this book.

  24. Rebecca says:

    Thank you for sharing these truths! I definitely need to read this book! I am struggling with negative thoughts. I need to remember who God is!

  25. Mary Townsend says:

    This devotional would be a blessing for myself and my daughters. Thx for the chance to receive a copy.

  26. Jill Kuiper says:

    Want to share with my daughter

  27. Christina Serrata says:

    I’m going to guess its pin it / share it to win it. 😉 The excerpt holds stong and true words, many of us can relate to. Very good writing style. 🙂 Look forward to reading it soon.

  28. Martha Troxel says:

    I tried to entire the contest,but the button didn’t work! ?

  29. Sorry! The button wasn’t working but now it does!! Your messages here are your entries, and I added more details about sharing on social media to enter to win 2x! 🙂

  30. Heather says:

    This book looks amazing! I NEED this! 🙂

  31. Lisa Reed says:

    Would be a welcome gift at this time in my life.

  32. Definitely will read and pass on to MANY friends and family! WOW! Beautiful words. THANK YOU!

  33. This looks like a great read, a great tool for us ladies.

  34. Thank you for sharing your story, Michele ?

  35. Alison Nicole Lindauer says:

    I would love to read win and read this book❤ It sounds like something I need right now and that will be a good reminder that God’s plan for me is far greater than I can imagine and that I need to continue to trust in his plan no matter what happens in my life?

  36. This book is what I NEED ! I struggle so with my identity < esp. appearance

    • We live in such an appearance-driven culture, don’t we?! It’s tough, every day. But fight it, we must. God says our value isn’t based on appearance, and His truth gets the last word.

  37. Wow this sounds like a really great book. Thanks for the chance.

  38. Sounds like something I need. Thanks for sharing.

  39. Mary Foster says:

    Just the excerpt tugged at my heart. Anxious to read.

  40. I’ve been so blessed by your honesty and transparency Renee and it’s a Message of Who I Am is Found only In the Great I Am!!! We especially Women need to meditate on this everyday, all the days of our lives.
    We were fed lies for decades many of us. It’s time to know and live the truth. It’s tough, but I’m learn daily to trust Him to live with authenticity.

  41. Karen Combs says:

    What a powerful testimony to trusting Our Father even thru whatever battles we face. No matter what emotional and physical battles we go thru, we can still impact the lives of others when we hold on to God’s hand and follow His leading. Our physical and emotional battles may scar us, but they don’t define how we are in Christ

  42. Elisabeth Loewen says:

    Would Love to own this book!
    Thank You

  43. Thank you for giving us this opportunity to win.shared on fb.

  44. This book is so good, and Michele you are an amazing writer! What a gift! Thanks for the giveaway, Renee.

  45. Brenna Blume says:

    I have been taking care of my disabled mom and brother for the past 25 years and raising a son on my own. He is getting married next spring and I am finding it difficult to figure out who I am aside from being a mom. I would love this book. I really need to find some direction

  46. stephanie carrington says:

    this is a must need in my life growing up from abuse, rape etc I lost who I am days I forget who I am now that I’m saved not because I forget God love for me but I question who I am vs who everyone wants me to be. old habits do die hard, between anxiety & codependency. God is good, He is love! And I’m greatful for his grace without it. I truly would be lost then I am.

  47. This spoke straight to my heart. Will be looking for Michele’s book.

  48. Tasha Beck says:

    Definitely a must read for my current season of life.

  49. I would absolutely love to read this book! Thank you for allowing me to enter your drawing!

  50. This sounds like an exceptional book. I remember writing a note to David B. in high school about me being the “Chosen One.” I was trying to get him to notice me, and maybe go out. I really did not know what I was asking… except I felt I was the chosen one for him. He ended up making comments about me = too fat, not very pretty, and on and on. That was when I was in high school and I never dated during those years nor during my college years. My confidence went down.
    Now at 62 years old I have remained single, no children, and have a cat! Sure I miss relationships and yet == I value my friendship and relationship with my awesome God. That is more important to me.

  51. Beverly Wright says:

    This is on my to-read list for this year! Cannot wait to get to read it and would be great to win!

  52. Thank you for the opportunity to win the book. I can’t wait to read I Am. Michele’s words are so inspiring.

  53. Mary Tate says:

    I need to read this book. I had a very hard time in high school and would not want to return to that time for anything, unless I could go back knowing what I know now about Jesus and how much He loves us.

  54. Shared on Facebook and Twitter.

  55. I really need to read this book.

  56. Dianna Sharpd says:

    Would love to read this book.

  57. Karen Massey says:

    I need to read this book. Thank you for an awesome giveaway!

  58. Michelle says:

    Sounds like a great book. I will be adding this to my list of must reads!

  59. Looking forward to reading this book.

  60. Patricia Dettman says:

    So true how this plagues me daily and hourly. Must add this to books to read!

  61. Definitely have been here…….This book sounds like a must read for me!

  62. This topic can be plaguing to a woman’s soul. It has mine! I would love to be refreshed during this season of life! Thank you for the opportunity, Renee. What a blessing.

  63. Dana McKinney says:

    Would love to have this book!

  64. Life. Just. Hurts.

  65. Jennifer Chatman says:

    This something I have struggled with and I’m still learning how to look at myself the way God would want me to see myself. Thanks for a chance to win!

  66. Alice Graham says:

    I need to read this book. I struggled to see myself as God see me.

  67. Lori Hitz says:

    Who we are in christ is so important to know. Thank you for writing this book.

  68. Lori Bodkin says:

    Zing!!! Straight to the depths of my soul. The wisdom of this book hit me in dark places. I need to read more…

  69. Penni Rogers says:

    Can’t wait for this book.

  70. I’m always looking for a good read . Would Love to check out this book.

  71. This sounds wonderful ~ I would love to win!

  72. Stasha Feret says:

    This would be a great read for women struggles. Thank you ?

  73. Barbara Swarthout says:

    I am struggling with a couple of different medical conditions and I have a lot of time in my hands and I think this book would be very helpful. Thank you and God Bless.

  74. Yep, I often feel I not enough…

  75. The books sounds wonderful! I would love to read it

  76. Divagal30 says:

    After my divorce and no luck with dating feeling unwanted.

  77. I would love to read this. I struggle with confidence and of course being a mother, a wife a co-worker etc… How do I balance doing all of these roles as best as I can. I want to be a good example at work but sometimes its hard not to get caught up in stuff or to not feel jealous.

  78. This is just what I need right now. I’m working on improving myself and this likes right. Thank you for the opportunity.

  79. This devotional sounds amazing♥️

  80. Kimberly Huntley says:

    Exactly what’s on my mind heavy this morning and there it is… great timing. God’s timing.

  81. Grace Thompson says:

    I would love to have a chance to win this and be encouraged!

  82. a macdonald says:

    I would love to have this book! It looks like it will be fantastic!

  83. Nancy Van Surksum says:

    This is a book that I need to read. It speaks to the question on my heart lately. Am I wanted?? My mind knows the answer is yes. My heart struggles to believe this.

  84. Patricia Clinesmith says:

    Wow!!! This book will no doubt speak to the hearts of many and change numerous lives. I NEED to read this. ❤

  85. Denise Tallant says:

    I could really use this book as I’ve been dealing w some identity issues, since I was in the hospital w pneumonia several years ago. The RT made a mistake during a routine bronscopy, letting my oxygen drop dangerously low. As a result I suffered multiple anxoxic strokes, woke up from a coma in CC ICU, in a different hospital, a month later, no memory, completely paralyzed on my left side, a ventilator tube down my throat, chest tube in my right lung, feeding tube, 14 IV abx in both arms as well as my neck, wasn’t supposed to’ve lived? The life I’d always known & had when I’d been admitted for “the 2 day stay,” was nothing more than a memory now? along w my health, independence, paralegal career, the ability to do so many things I loved & now realized I’d taken for granted, along with many of my friendships, family members, too many things to name. Funny how hindsight really is 20/20? Suddenly being a “new
    medically disabled person @ barely 47 didn’t hold much appeal;no job, being home alone w very litte if any understanding, empathy or support. Learning as much as I could about strokes, the affects the have on survivors, what to expect, what behaviors to watch for; what could be done to help or over come them as much as I possibly could. All while attending outpatient rehab 3 days a week for 10 hours, terrible anxiety. Later a major depression I didn’t know to expect that 98% of all stroke survivors have? Guess somebody forgot to mention that’ll me; you think? Then having to somehow re-create myself as well as a life for myself now; this new person people cldnt accept bc I wasn’t exactly 100% the same I was before? What an overwhelming challenge; talk about an identity crisis, crisis of faith; crisis period! wondering what my purpose could possibly be in life now? Everyone acted like I was a leper; could catch some awful disease if they were nice to me much less spent any time with or near me? Things are some better today; bc the passage time; not the same. Sadly I’m starting to think they never will be. People can’t accept & love me today until they can let go of & forgot the person I was who died when I had the strokes. But I can’t make anybody understand? I’m learning to deal with the fact I’m an oddity that most people can no longer accept for some reason; forget love?Possibly bc of the medical issues “I” still live w daily? Who really knows. I think I’d I known about this book from the beginning it wldve been very helpful & no doubt saved buckets full tears as well…but then again, I suppose it is what it is; who really knows? Hope I win a copy; Sounds like an amazing read; one I know countless people including myself need to hear❤️To revive our weary souls & remind us w our Father ALL things are possible, if we ask; and ask believing!?even creating an identity @ 47. Isn’t that wonderful; how awesome is our God! John 16:33 Thanks so much for allowing me to share??

    • Sue Hofbauer says:

      Thanks for sharing Denise. Sounds like you’ve been though a lot. If I knew how to get a copy of this book to you , I would!

  86. Patty Vance says:

    Sounds like a wonderful book – but I would expect nothing less!

  87. Regina Lopez says:

    Sometimes I struggle with feeling like I’m loved and accepted. I could use this book.

  88. Melissa Alonso says:

    Would love this book – would love to read with my girls to help us realize our worth is nor in this world or in guys, school, extra curricular activities ❤️

  89. Therese Metzger says:

    Thank you for following Gods calling to help others I. his Name be the glory. Amen

  90. This sounds like a great book. I would love to read this.

    Thank you for the opportunity.

  91. Christie Luadzers says:

    This book sounds fantastic! I’ve recently been waiting for God to direct me to the books I need to read to further my independence from this earthly world to Him and I just happened across this page!! Either way, I would love to read it. Congratulations on having your books published also. It’s refreshing to read christian women’s writings.

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