But I Don’t Like Being Told I Can’t

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I’m not a natural rule follower or a limit-liker. I love last-minute plans and just-because adventures.

If you let me stay up as late as I want, and sleep in as long as I can, I will be in heaven.

God gave me a soul that craves freedom and a creative heart that thrives on spontaneity.

Budgets and boundaries are not my friends. Feeling like I might suffocate during discussions about either, or both, have taught me it’s good to go into those kinds of conversations with the right mindset and lots of chocolate.

I feel like a child admitting this, but if someone tells me I can’t do something, I feel sad and determined to change their mind. Hearing “you can’t…” makes me feel locked out, at least until my heart understands the good within my guardrails.

So years ago when my husband, J.J, put child locks on our kitchen drawers and cabinets because our baby girl could reach inside them, I should have been grateful. But I felt sad instead.

As I watched J.J. drilling little screws into the wood to secure the white plastic locks, all I could think about was the joy in Aster’s eyes when she discovered her little hands could open the drawer that held colorful pens and countless paperclips.

Quite pleased with herself, she smiled at me with a handful of shiny silver treasures and sprinkled them on the floor. She had no idea how quickly she was going to lose access to her sparkly new friends, and it broke my freedom-loving heart.

Yet I knew it was for her good. I knew those paperclips weren’t safe and drawers that held more dangerous objects like scissors and matches needed to be off-limits. It was love that motivated her daddy to put boundaries in place to protect her.

I’ve needed to remember that lately, as I sense God setting some new and needed boundaries for me in a place where I have loved roaming free. {keep reading here}

Do you like boundaries or, like me, do you resist them? I’d love to hear your thoughts and chat about it over at (in)Courage where I’m hosting the conversation today. {Click here to join me.}

When You Need Prayer But Feel Hesitant to Ask { & a prayer journal giveaway}

Today, I’m talking with my friend Kathi Lipp on her podcast about the topic of prayer and I wanted to invite you to join us! As one of my regular readers, you may notice today’s post is familiar – half of it was shared here in April. Today I’m sharing the whole thing, in case you didn’t get to read it last month, and for new friends visiting from Kathi’s podcast. Welcome if you’re visiting from Kathi’s page. I’m so glad you’re here!

I would love to pray for you today, and have us all pray for each other. I’m also giving away my new favorite prayer journal. Keep reading to find out more.

Asking for prayer

It was supposed to be a prayer request, but my email started out more like an apology. I needed friends to pray, yet I was hesitant to ask. I didn’t want my burdens to burden them.

They already had so many problems of their own: illnesses, a job loss, death of a loved one,  relationship strains, overwhelming stress, and overloaded schedules.

I questioned whether my need rated high enough on the urgency “Richter scale.”

Was it really bad enough to ask for prayer, or should I wait to see how things turned out?

The first sentence in my email went something like this: “I hate to add to your list of burdens, but I need prayer for JJ.”

A few years ago, my husband had a routine check-up and blood test results that caused his doctor to be concerned about his liver, which led to a biopsy that week. We didn’t know whether it would be anything serious in the end. I just knew I didn’t want to walk through it alone in fear, denial, or my own strength.

Within fifteen minutes of me hitting “send,” friends who were on their computers started telling me they were praying. And not only did they pray, they thanked me for sharing what was going on and for letting them be there for me.

One friend shared how someone she knew had been through a similar situation. Another asked questions and made some great suggestions. Then another cracked a funny joke that made me laugh, which I really needed to do!

The night before we went to the hospital, my friend Amy sent an email saying, “I’ve been lifting prayers heavenward for your family since your last email. Know that you’ll be in my thoughts and prayers tomorrow. Let us know as soon as you hear results. We’re all in this with you, friend.”

As I read her last sentence, I could almost feel the softness of her hands gently squeeze my shoulders and hear her saying, “We’re all in this with you, friend.”

And then it hit me, what if I had not shared our need?

I would’ve missed the comfort of having friends “with me” and peace that came through the power of their prayers.

They would’ve missed out on a chance to be the “body of Christ” by guarding our hearts and minds with God’s promises and the power of prayer. And they would have missed being part of what God was doing, the joy that came when medical tests went well, and the recovery that was quick. And as we waited that week for biopsy results that ended up coming back normal, their prayers and God’s peace were constant companions.

Are you are carrying a burden today? Don’t listen to doubts that make you question the validity of your need. Even if, like me, you hate to impose on others.

Asking for prayer isn’t about putting burdens on our friends.
It’s about letting them walk by our side down a path we were
never intended to walk alone.

Lord, thank You for never seeing my prayers as a burden. Help me remember the power and purpose of prayer in my life and in my friendships. 

Let’s walk together and carry each other’s burdens this week by sharing a prayer request and praying for each other in the comments by clicking “Share Your Thoughts.” I’ll be praying for each of you! And would love if you could leave a short prayer for the person who shares their need in the comment above yours!!!


ComeToMe_CoverEnter to WIN
I’m giving away my favorite prayer journal! Leave a comment or prayer, you’ll be entered to win. 

Come to Me {journal} by Renee Swope
Jesus invites us to come to Him: to receive, rest, be renewed, and remain in His love. Experience the power of God’s presences and rejuvenate your soul with the living water of His word as you are reminded with the truth of who God is and who you are in Him.Filled with inspirational quotes and prayers, this journal will help you position your heart to receive God’s peace, plans, perspective and purpose for you each day. 6×8 Hardcover, 144 Pages

Order a journal for yourself, or a friend, by clicking the image below to order on Amazon

If Amazon runs out of journals when you try to order it, send an email to connect@reneeswope.com with your name and email. We’ll contact you to get your order taken care of!

God’s Not Worried {Friday GiveAway}

Pressing-Pause-CoverJust in time for Mother’s Day weekend, I’ve invited my friend Karen Ehman to share a devotional with us from her new book, Pressing Pause: 100 Quiet Moments for Moms to Meet with Jesus. We’re also giving away TWO COPIES of the book and one beautiful bracelet. Keeping reading to find out more.

As a little girl I loved being outdoors. I could often be found playing kickball with the neighborhood kids or riding my bike around the block. I liked to splash in puddles and jump in piles of leaves. There was one aspect, however, about being outside that I didn’t particularly care for: the critters.

Spiders were scary … dogs terrifying. And I couldn’t even bear the thought of snakes.

My intense fear of these creatures often kept me from fully engaging in play.

Unfortunately, even when I didn’t encounter creepy-crawlies outdoors, they occasionally wound up in my dreams at night. I would have the same reoccurring nightmare of snakes slithering toward me while I stood frozen, unable to run away. When I would wake up, I would be in a panic, heart wildly beating, palms sweating. I never thought my fears would go away until the one summer when I had no other choice.

The summer I turned 20, I took a job at a nature center teaching four-year-olds. It didn’t cross my mind that keeping company with critters would be a part of my duties. I had to capture insects to examine and release, scoop tadpoles to study pond life, and even hold the snakes that were kept in glass tanks in the main building.

Although everything in me wanted to run away, there were little eyes on me. So, I whispered a prayer for strength, pushed past my fears, and made those kids think I was a critter-lovin’ instructor whose calm demeanor (and lack of screaming!) showed them there was nothing to fear. If their teacher wasn’t freaking out, why should they?

Even though I worked through my fear that summer, as an adult now, I’m still tempted to “freak out” with fear. My imagination concocts all sorts of scenarios peppered with dread and doom. Sometimes I can’t shake fear as I try to fall asleep.

But I have come to trust this perspective-shifting truth: God is not worried. He’s not in heaven wringing His hands, wondering just how everything will eventually turn out. He is in control. He is loving.

God longs to use the circumstances of our lives to mold our mind, craft our character, and chase away the fears that threaten to slither in, paralyzing us and rendering us ineffective.

Ever the patient and wise teacher, if He isn’t freaking out, why should we?

Proverbs 3:24-26a is a sweet promise to us…

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Now that passage doesn’t promise that we won’t ever encounter sudden disasters in life. But it does reassure us that we have no need to fear them. Why? Because the Lord—our gracious and wise teacher—is our security. He will be there to comfort and to guide as He teaches us the lessons we need to learn.

With God as our security, we can have calm in our present.

With God as our security, we can face the future without fear. And we can share this confidence we gain to inspire others, helping to keep them from unnecessary fret and worry.

Why it even helps me deal with little critters that get inside my house without squirming.

Well . . . without squirming too much.

PressingPause-Prayer.

PressingPauseEnter to Win
We are giving away two 
Pressing Pause devotionals and a beautiful bracelet from Fashion & Compassion. Written by my dear friends Karen Ehman and Ruth Schwenk,  Pressing Pause: 100 Quiet Moments to Meet with Jesus offers us a calm way to start our day, to refresh ourselves in Christ and drink deeply of His presence so we are ready to pour out love, time, and energy into the people who matter most!

These 100 encouraging devotions for moms has helped me start each day with Scripture, drawing on God’s power, soaking up His Word, and learning practical ways to love and PPopenserve my family more like Christ each day. And one of my favorite features is the set of questions and optional journaling or notes area at the end of each day’s devotional.

Just a few minutes each day can help you center your heart and mind on what God has for you as His beloved daughter. So resist the rush. Halt the hustle. Press pause and find some calm in the chaos.

 

TO ENTER TO WIN simply click “Share Your Thoughts” below today’s post and do just that. Your comment will be your entry into the drawing! Two winners will be chosen and contacted on Monday, May 9th.

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When You Feel Like You Can’t Measure Up

Welcome friends! I have some awesome giveaways for you, and a beautiful FREE printable bookmark packed with God’s truths about you! Keep reading to find out more…

Do you ever compare yourself to other women and feel like you don’t measure up?
Maybe you feel think you’re not as smart, pretty, fun, organized or as good at _______ as they are.

I’m sharing my heart over at P31 today about how easy it is to think that if we had more or knew more, we’d be secure. But the truth is, even people who have it all still struggle with feelings of insecurity. The Bible opens with teh story of a woman who had everything but it still wasn’t enough (Genesis 2).

Even though God established Eve’s worth as His child; the crown of His creation and lavished her with gifts of intimacy, beauty, security, significance, and purpose – it wasn’t enough. Satan convinced Eve to take her eyes off what she did have and focus on what she didn’t have.

Have you also heard Satan’s whispers, saying  you’re not all you could be — or should be?

Just like Eve, you and I have an enemy. The Bible calls him the father of lies, and tell us there is no truth in him (John 8:44). Interestingly, the meaning of the word lie  is “a falsehood with the intent to deceive.”

Satan doesn’t just lie. He has intends to deceive us by getting us to take our eyes off of who we are and what we have in Christ. It’s exactly what he did with Eve:

“Then the eyes of both [Adam and Eve] were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’

He answered, ‘I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.’” (Gen. 3:7–11)

In response, God asks who told them they were naked. In other words, “Who told you that something is wrong with you? By asking this, God made sure they knew someone was casting shame on them—and it wasn’t Him. 

The enemy whispered lies into their hearts, causing them to move away from Him and from each other.

Satan’s intent for us is exactly the same as it was for Eve. He wants us to believe his deceptions and fall into the distraction of feeling inadequate, insecure and like we’ll never measure up. But we don’t have to go along with him. Instead we can pray, “Lord, help me recognize Satan’s lies, refuse his temptations and rely on Your truth about me instead.”

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If we have put our trust in Jesus as our Savior, we can stand on the promises of who we are in Him. And when we are tempted to measure up, we can choose to focus “up” instead as we rely on these truths to remind our hearts of who you are in Christ.

I am accepted . . .

  • I am God’s child. John 1:12
  • I have been bought with a price and I belong to God. 1 Corinthians 6:19–20
  • I have been chosen by God and adopted as His child. Ephesians 1:3–8
  • I have direct access to the throne of grace through Jesus Christ. Hebrews 4:14–16

I am secure . . .

  • I am assured that God works for my good in all circumstances. Romans 8:28
  • I am free from condemnation. I cannot be separated from God’s love. Romans 8:31–39
  • I have been established, anointed, and sealed by God. 2 Corinthians 1:21–22
  • I am hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:1–4
  • I am confident God will complete the good work He started in me. Philippians 1:6
  • I have been given a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7

I am significant . . .

  • I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit. John 15:16
  • I am a minister of reconciliation for God. 2 Corinthians 5:17–21
  • I am seated with Jesus Christ in the heavenly realm. Ephesians 2:6
  • I am God’s workmanship. Ephesians 2:10
  • I may approach God with freedom and confidence. Ephesians 3:12
  • I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

___________

For MORE ENCOURAGEMENT

    • Want to receive a weekly gift of powerful prayers and God’s promises from my inbox to yours? Enter your email in this box below and you’ll be added to my “Promise & A Prayer” list. {PS. I promise not to share your information with anyone else.}

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ENTER TO WIN the “Contagious Confidence” Give-Away!

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One winner will receive a copy of  my book A Confident Heart  and a beautiful 8×10 “All Things Through Christ” canvas!

 

 

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Plus 3 more winners will be chosen to receive either a set of Confident Heart postcards, a set of 32 Confident Heart scripture cards OR my new 100-day Confident Heart HeartLifter, created by my friends at DaySpring and inCourage!

 

 

ENTER TO WIN by clicking “share your thoughts” below this post and simply share the truth from today’s post/devotion that spoke to your heart most OR which “Who I am in Christ…” promise you’re holding onto today! Your comment will place your name into the drawing to win!

PS. Wanna help make today’s encouragement contagious?
Just click the share buttons below. It’s super easy!

When You Don’t Want To Be A Burden

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It was supposed to be a prayer request, but my email started out more like an apology. I needed friends to pray, yet I was hesitant to ask. I didn’t want my burdens to burden them.

They already had so many problems of their own: illnesses, a job loss, death of a loved one,  relationship strains, overwhelming stress, and overloaded schedules.

I questioned whether my need rated high enough on the urgency “Richter scale.”

Was it really bad enough to ask for prayer, or should I wait to see how things turned out?

The first sentence in my email went something like this: “I hate to add to your list of burdens, but I need prayer for JJ.”

A routine check-up and blood tests results earlier that month caused my husband’s doctor to be concerned about his liver, which led to a biopsy that week. We didn’t know whether it would be anything serious in the end. I just knew I didn’t want to walk through it alone in fear… {keep reading here}

Ever hesitate to ask others for prayer, because you don’t want to be a burden?  Join me at inCourage where I’m sharing the rest of this story, and what God is teaching me about letting others walk by our side, down a path we were never intended to walk alone. I’d love to pray for you today. Join me here

Hoping you see this in time! {ends at midnight}

Some affiliate links are in this post. You can read my disclosure page here.

Mar 2016 ebook .99

Guess what?? I just found out the eBook of A Confident Heart is ON SALE for ONLY $ .99
until midnight today – 3/15/16! {TWEET THIS}

I found out through these sweet tweets below.

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And gosh, I hope my post doesn’t feel sales-y. If I could give each of YOU a copy to keep and give away,
I would!!  I guess that’s why I always tell you guys about these “almost free” deals! And I pray it’s a blessing- not a burden. :)


Spring 2016 Ebook DETAILS button

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE

PS. I’m thinking about hosting a Summer BOOK CLUB with A Confident Heart. 
My heart really needs a refresher. And I’d love to read it with you!

Would you be interested in an online Confident Heart book club?
If so, you can sign up for my Sweet Summer ’16 Book Club interest list below. {I promise not to share your email with anyone}

If you are reading this via email, please CLICK HERE to go to my blog
to enter your details for the interest list. THANKS!!

A Confident Heart Slider

Lord, I Want to Know You {printable + giveaway}

1.KnowingGod


I used to be afraid to trust God. 
And it bothered me.

I wanted to slip my hand in His and let Him lead.

I wanted to put my concerns in His capable arms 

and believe He could take better care of them than I could. 

I wanted to have more faith.

But I didn’t. And one day I realized why.

It’s hard to trust someone we don’t really know.

Therein was the reason for my hearts hesitancy to fully rely on God.

You see, I knew a lot about God but I didn’t really know God.

So I decided to start spending time with Him like a friend, getting to know Him.

Talking to Him with simple-sentence and conversational prayers

listening to Him through promises in His Word

depending on Him in different circumstances

relying on Him in faith as I struggled with different fears.

Over time my “knowing” and trusting God got stronger and stronger.

And my depth of dependence grew as I depended on Him and found He is dependable. 

What about you? Do you ever struggle with trusting God, like really trusting Him and fully relying on Him to meet your needs like I have? One thing that has really helped me get to know God and push through my fear of dependence is remembering the names of God and giving Him a chance to show me the faithfulness of His character through the power of His names.

The truth is we can’t know God as Jehovah Jireh, our Provider, if we aren’t in need. And when we are, we can learn to trust Him as we depend on Him to meet ours needs. The more we do this, the more our trust will deepen and our relationship with Christ with be strengthened.

Our confidence in Him will grow as we live in the powerful promise of this beautiful verse: “Those who know your name trust you, O LORD, because you have never deserted those who seek your help” (Psalm 9:10). Let’s pray: Lord, I want to know You for who You really are. I desire to trust and follow You more and more each day.

Psalm9.10

Knowing God By Name – printable
I’d love to send you a FREE “Knowing God By Name” printable. Simply enter your email below ( I promise not to share it with anyone.)

 

ENTER TO WIN: I Know His Name by Wendy Blight

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My friend, Wendy Blight, has written a five-session Bible study about discovering power in the names of God. This study is for any woman who wants to move beyond simply knowing about God to really knowing God in a very personal way. This study will help women to:

  •  Realize their infinite worth as they explore the nature of the God who created and formed them.
  •  Live with bold assurance that their God is a personal God who sees them, hears them, and knows them by name.
  •  Walk confidently in knowing both who they are and Whose they are.
  •  Arm themselves with seven tools to pray more confidently and effectively in any situation or circumstance.
  •  Transform their walk with Jesus as they discover how He fulfills the Old Testament names of God.

ENTER TO WIN by sharing why you’d like to study this topic and have a copy of Wendy’s new book. Simply click SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS below. One winner will be randomly selected on Friday and notified via email.

Lord, I Need Your Help

Cry Out to God (1)
One evening after an intense “discussion,” my husband, J. J., told me that no matter what he did or how hard he tried, it was never enough for me.

He was right. I constantly found fault with him as a husband and as a dad.

But when he implied that I was impossible to please . . . well, that sent my already-out-of-control emotions reeling. I grabbed my coat and stormed out the front door. Hot tears streamed down my cheeks as I replayed our conversation in my head.

I was determined to figure out what J. J.’s problem was and get Jesus to fix him. So I started filing complaints against my husband in what you might call a prayer. And I finally heard myself — all the ugliness, all the anger. That’s when I realized, I need help.

I needed God to help me figure out— after seven years of a happy marriage — how we had gotten to this ugly place.

Instead of just crying, I found myself crying out to God for help.

King David had a habit of crying out to God for help when he was in distress. In Psalm 18:6 he wrote,

“In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help.” {NIV}

One Bible scholar notes that the phrase, “‘In my distress’ refers, most probably, not to any particular case, but rather indicates [David’s] general habit of mind, that when he was in deep distress and danger he had uniformly called upon the Lord, and had found Him ready to help.”

That night, when I stopped talking and started listening, I sensed God showing me I wanted J. J. to make up for all the ways my dad had fallen short as a father to me and as a husband to my mom.

Years as a child in a broken home with a broken heart had led to a significant sense of loss and deep disappointment. Yet, up to that point, I had never grieved the happily-ever-after that I longed for but didn’t have.

My unfulfilled hopes had become bitter expectations… [keep reading here]

Is there a place in your life where you could use God’s help? I’d love to pray with you today. Join me at inCourage where I’ve shared the rest of this story and how God became my help plus a simple prayer for YOU today. I’d love to be praying for you and with you! Join me here.

When You Feel Discouraged {a promise & a prayer}

The other day I had a hard conversation with a friend and her criticism towards me stuck to my heart like dried up Crazy Glue.

I tried to stop thinking about our conversation, but I couldn’t. And as the day went on, my heart started sinking into discouragement. Eventually my runaway thoughts were woven into a prayer for help.

Lord, show me what I need to do to let this go. I need your help.

Within minutes, these words from one of my favorite verses came to mind, “a generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:25

I knew it was God’s way of telling me what to do next. My magic memory eraser wasn’t working. The way I could overcome my discouragement was by pouring encouragement into someone else.

So, I texted my friend Angela to see if she wanted to lunch the next day.

And it worked. We met for lunch and I gave her my full attention. Asking about her kids, telling her what a great mom she is… giving her all of me changed everything.

Somehow in God’s economy of grace, when we give we get.
When we pour out, He fills us up.

Encourage Someone Else


When I feel discouraged Lord, show me who to encourage

When I feel sad Jesus, show me how to give someone a little bit of happy.

When I feel forgotten, show me who in my life needs to feel seen. 

When I feel like I have nothing to offer, remind me that the greatest offering I have is YOU. 

Help me give Your love, Your attention, Your encouragement, Your smile to someone today.

When Change Is Inevitable & Hope is Optional

This post includes some affiliates links. You can find our disclosure page here.

WhatIs.GirlMeetsChange

Sometimes you must leave the comfort of what is to embrace the potential of what will be.  @KristenStrong | #GirlMeetsChange {Click to Tweet}

I love these words written by my friend Kristen Strong in her wonderful book,Girl Meets Change: truths to carry you through life’s transitionsGod is stretching me with Kristen’s words, encouraging me to open my hands and let go of what is or what I thought would be, that isn’t – so I can embrace the potential of what will be.

Today, I got to hang out with Kristen and talk about change, and her book on BLAB! Have you heard of BLAB? It was new to me but so fun!! Anyway, we spent time together in a live video conversation with our two dear friends, Crystal Stine and Jennifer Dukes Lee.

We shared our struggles and our stories; how we’re learning to stay close to Jesus in the midst of hard transitions. I also shared some practical ways Ive had to make adjustments so my heart can survive and my family can thrive in the midst of big and difficult changes we’ve been walking through the past year.

GirlMeetsChange_Blab.Week3You can watch the replay of our conversation on Blab.  But… I need to warn you: I was a slight mess for the first few minutes because my mic wouldn’t work. And you will get to see my cute husband trying to figure out what to do while the rest of the girls acted amazingly calm and refrain from shouting, “Shut your computer, Renee!” because hello, we were quite a distraction :). But once we got going, it was so encouraging to listen to what these amazing ladies had to share. So. So. Good! Click HERE to watch the replay.

 

RESOURCES MENTIONED
During our conversation, we talked about a few new resources I’ve created to help my heart and maybe yours, too. I wanted to make them easy to find here, so they are shown below. My journal just released and  it’s on Amazon. The other two products are coming soon from DaySpring. I’ll announce when they are available – here on my blog! So, be sure to sign up for my EMAIL UPDATES – in my sidebar – you aren’t already!

ComeToMe_Cover

Come to Me {journal}
by Renee Swope

Jesus invites us to come to Him: to receive, rest, be renewed, and remain in His love. Experience the power of God’s presences and rejuvenate your soul with the living water of His word as you are reminded with the truth of who God is and who you are in Him.Filled with inspirational quotes and prayers, this journal will help you position your heart to receive God’s peace, plans, perspective and purpose for you each day.

6×8 Hardcover, 144 Pages
BUY NOW on Amazon

 

 

 

A Confident Heart {100 Days of Living in the Security of God’s Promises}
DaySpring HeartLifter (Coming Spring 2016)

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A Confident Heart {Scripture Shareables)
from DaySpring (Coming Spring 2016)

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Girl Meets Change
ENTER TO WIN a copy of Girl Meets Change
Whether you’re walking through a transition now, see one coming, or are recovering from the last one, change is inevitable. But thriving is optional. With Christ close by, be okay. As Kristen shares in her book,If God is calling us out of one place, He is sending us to another with His blessing.” 

Want to enter to win a copy of Kristen’s book, Girl Meets Change: truths to carry you through life’s transitions? Just let us know why you’d like to read it or who you’d like to give it to. Click  SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS (below this post) and do just that.