3 Ways To Boss Your Heart Around


I caught my heart heading to the pit of discouragement for spring break. It was supposed to go to the beach with my family and me, but it was not cooperating.

We had been hit by one emotional and financial crisis after another. A close friend had just found out that, after a year’s worth of abdominal pain, extreme fatigue, and an undiagnosed illness, she had a large tumor that appeared to be ovarian cancer.

Earlier that week our upstairs air conditioner broke, again. And a week later, we were told our international adoption expenses would not apply as a deduction that year, which meant we owed significantly more on taxes than anticipated. Yet, our savings had been depleted by adoption expenses and failing air conditioning systems.

My heart was overwhelmed. My spirit was depleted. And my body was completely exhausted.

I couldn’t stop worrying about my friend. I couldn’t stop fretting over our finances. And I couldn’t stop wondering, “How am I supposed to rest and relax on vacation with all of this happening?”

Although I had packed my bags for the beach, my heart decided it wasn’t in the mood and started marching straight toward the pit.

I didn’t want to go on vacation, but I didn’t want to camp out in a place of despair either. I knew somebody needed to take charge of my emotions, and my husband knew better than to try. So, I decided it was time to boss my heart around!

King David was really good at getting bossy by telling his heart and soul what to do. In Psalm 103 he starts out with this:

“Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy name.” Psalm 103:1

Nothing in me wanted to do this, but even in the midst of my turmoil and troubles, I told my soul to praise the Lord. And I had an attitude about it, too.

This was no “sweet bedtime prayer” talk to my soul. No, I needed a deep-down, preach it to my inmost being sermon: “Renee Swope, GOD IS GOOD no matter what your feelings are telling you!”

Then I bossed my heart with some more Truth and pulled it away from the pit by telling myself to “forget not ALL his benefits” {Psalm 103:2}. Next, I followed King David’s lead by walking down memory lane and reminded my heart how good God is at being God: the One who . . .

Forgives all [my] sins and heals all [my] diseases,
redeems [my] life from the pit
crowns [me] with love and compassion,
satisfies [my] desires with good things
so that [my] youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Psalm 103:3-5

No matter what the answer would be to my friend’s diagnosis, or how costly our air conditioner was going to be, or how much we owed on taxes — my soul needed to do this. And, my emotions eventually got in line and filed behind my words as they led my heart out of the pit.

My circumstances didn’t change, but my perspective did when I re-directed my thoughts and my focus, which then re-directed my emotions.

Are there circumstances that have pulled you into a place of discouragement? Do you have concerns that are causing your thoughts to head down a path of despair? I pray you won’t go there….

Join me on (in)courage, where I’m sharing the rest of my story and 3 steps you can take to “boss your heart” into a good place. Click here and let me know how I can pray for you to be brave and a little bossy with your soul this weekend! 


When Grace Kneels Before You

Welcome Encouragement for Today friends! I’m so glad you hopped over after reading my devotion!  I’ll explain in just a minute how to enter today’s giveaway. But first I want to share 3 ways we can replace our guilt-induced doubt with grace-infused confidence pulled from Day 12 of  my “60-Days to Stop Doubting Yourself Confident Heart Devotional“:

“She never thought anyone would find out about their affair, but now her secret and her sin would be public.

Just as the people gathered in the temple, surrounding Jesus as he sat down to teach them, the teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman who had be caught in the act of adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus,

“Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.” (John 8:2–6)

They hoped Jesus would condemn her, but the opposite happened.

Instead of lording over her, Jesus lowered Himself before her. Grace knelt down to write on the ground. {tweet this?}

“But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. (vv. 6–8)

The Bible doesn’t tell us what Jesus wrote but I’ve always wondered if it was the Ten Commandments, since her accusers said Moses’s law commanded them to stone her. Plus, after writing, Jesus challenged them to examine their own sins and see if any of them were without fault.

When Jesus stooped down to write a second time, perhaps He wrote over the law with redemption. Could it be that He covered the commandments with words like grace, forgiveness, and mercy. Scripture doesn’t say. But we do  know that something radical happened. Everyone dropped their stones and walked away.

“At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?'”

“No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (vv. 9–11)

In my Proverbs 31 Ministries devotion today, I shared about a time when I really blew it and guilt convinced me I was no longer qualified for my calling. But God used my friend and spiritual mentor/mom, MaryAnn Ruff, to show me what the redemption of God’s grace looks like. And ever since that day, Jesus has been teaching me how to replace my guilt-induced doubt with His grace-infused confidence.

3 Ways to Replace Guilt-Induced Doubt with God’s Grace-Infused Confidence


Remember: Remember sin is not who you are; sin is what you do. 
Although Jesus knew this woman had sinned, He made sure she and the crowd knew her sin was not who she was. It was what she had done.

Her sin didn’t get the final say. Jesus did.

Refuse: Refuse condemnation, but lean into loving conviction.
They hoped Jesus would condemn the woman, but the opposite happened. Instead of lording over her, Jesus lowered Himself before her.

When you fall into a trap of the Accuser (Rev. 12:10), close your eyes and picture Jesus – the person of Grace – kneeling down before you, looking into your eyes and loving you out of your sin.

Ask Jesus to help you recognize condemnation’s accusing statements like “You’re a failure” or “You can never be counted on.”Refuse to listen to his lies. Instead lean into God’s loving conviction that is specific. Instead of a broad, sweeping you-are-a-loser label, Jesus will point out our sin and show us what to do to right the wrong.

Instead of “You’re such a failure,” God might say: You were critical in the way you talked to _________ . You need to say you’re sorry and ask forgiveness. Then tell _____ something to build them up.

Replace:  Replace the guilt of sin with God’s redemptive grace.
In the presence of Jesus, the woman’s accusers walked away. He dismissed them one by one, until He was the only one left standing. He replaced their position of authority. He was the only One left speaking into her life.


Jesus help me replace my guilt-induced doubt with God’s grace-infused confidence. @ReneeSwope {click to TWEET}

God’s grace lures us out of darkness; His kindness leads our hearts to repentance. (Romans 2:4)

He wants to draw us away from destructive behaviors that hinder our relationship with Him and others, so we can live in the freedom of His forgiveness and the security of His love.

Lord, You say there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, and my life is hidden in You. Thank You that because of Your love and grace, my sin never gets the final say about me—You do! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Set Apart


“What are you good at? Is there something you would love to do?”

When Miriam, the facilitator of our team-building exercise asked these questions, I didn’t have an answer. Here I was, thirty-two years old and I didn’t know what I was good at or enjoyed.

I’d never had the courage or time to think about what I loved to do. Instead, up until that point, I had tried to do what others wanted, expected, or needed me to do. And I was pretty good atthat.

But I was fairly miserable, too.

After I fumbled for an answer and recovered from the embarrassment of my lack, we took a break for lunch. Sliding up beside me, Miriam encouraged me to ask God what He created me to do and what would give me joy, if I did it.

I wasn’t designed to be who others expect me to be or want me to be. I was created to be all God planned and purposed for me to be. {tweet this}

This is one of the truths Miriam shared with me that day, and then she suggested I take time to discover my passions, abilities and spiritual gifts. In the weeks that followed, I took her advice and completed a spiritual gifts assessment.{PDF Download}

Immediately, I recognized strengths and abilities that came naturally to me and sensed there was a reason God made me who I am, with my mixed bag of passions and preferences. It was the first step toward getting to know the woman God created me to be.

Looking back 15 years later, I wish I had known then what I know now. I wish I had known the promise of Jeremiah 1:5, where God says:

“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.
Before you were born I set you apart” {NLT}.

Just like God called and equipped the prophet Jeremiah to be His mouthpiece to the Israelites, He has a specific call and gifting for each of us. And He establishes both before we are even born.

Isn’t it easy to neglect ourselves to meet the needs of everyone around us, and call it self-sacrifice? It sounds godly. But in doing so we risk shutting down a place in our soul where God has gifted us and set us apart — to serve and thrive.

Do you know what God has wired you to be good at and what you to love to do?

I’m sharing more of what I’m learning over on (in)courage today. Click here to keep reading and join me.  I’d love to hear your thoughts! 

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When Fear Paralyzes Your Faith



I crawled into bed and slipped under a blanket of fear. My husband was out of town for work, and I was afraid to go to sleep. Fear had become a constant companion during his nights away.

I knew I needed to trust God, but I didn’t.

Instead, I went through the motions of what good Christians do: I prayed, read Scripture and taped Bible verses on sticky notes to my lamp and bedside. But then I also put a phone under my pillow and a neighborhood directory beside my bed.

The next night, I took it a step further by putting toys on the stairs — to trip possible burglars. I brought my children into my room to sleep there as well, and moved the dresser in front of our bedroom door.

Although I thought I was controlling my circumstances, fear had taken control of me. Frustrated that I still couldn’t sleep, I opened the Bible and read a familiar passage:

“‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze’” (Isaiah 43:1b-2).

As I read each word slowly, God showed me something I’d never seen: My fears were like flames and my efforts to protect myself were like gasoline. Every attempt to ease my fears was like dousing fuel on the fire, and now it was consuming me.

Gently, the Holy Spirit reminded me that God had not given me a spirit of fear but a spirit “of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7b, NKJV).

Suddenly I knew the only way to overcome my fear was to walk in faith through what I feared the most. I had to put away the props in which I’d placed my faith and go to bed trusting God, realizing that even if my fears came true, He would be with me.

I crawled out of bed and put everything away. The dresser went back in place. My kids went back to their rooms and I went to sleep without my phone under my pillow. And that night, I slept better than I had in weeks!

Fear loses its power when we actively trust God more than what we fear. {Tweet}

Let’s ask the Lord to show us today what we’re afraid. What could be paralyzing your faith, and keeping you from living confidently in His peace and freedom? And let’s be brave enough to give God a chance to come though for us by taking one small step of faith in that area where we’re most afraid.


Welcome Encouragement  for Today friends! I’m so glad you stopped by after reading my Proverbs 31 devotion.

What small step of faith could you take to walk away from or through one of your fears today? 

Share your thoughts below and ENTER TO WIN the audio version of A Confident HeartChristianAudio invited me to do the reading, so you’ll actually hear me telling the stories and sharing the teachings when you listen to it. And I’m so excited to give one to two of you that enter to win!



The Day I Lost It


Sometimes I wonder how I can go from being in such great place with God — feeling peaceful, patient, and kind – and all of a sudden something happens that sends me into an orbit of aggravation!

The other day I was working from home. Alone. The house was quiet, and I was feeling all kinds of productive. That afternoon marked the final stretch of a big project, and I was looking forward to family dinner and game night. Life was peachy.

Then my kids got home from Grandma’s, and one of them did something that was not-so-peachy!A few minutes later, another one did not do something I asked him to do.

And, I lost all my peace and patience right there in the middle of my kitchen.

Later that night, the soundtrack of my words replayed in my head as guilt tried to convince me I had permanently damaged my kids’ emotional well-being. Then shame shook its finger in my face and told me I was the worst mom on earth.

I was about to agree with both of them when I remembered something a pastor once taught about the difference between conviction and condemnation.

He explained that condemnation sweeps across our thoughts with generalized statements: You’re such a failure. You’re so hypocritical. You can never be counted on!

That is the accuser. His tone is condemning, questioning, and confusing. His accusations lead to guilt and shame.

In contrast, the Holy Spirit’s conviction will be specific….

CLICK HERE to read the rest of today’s post on the (in)Courage blog, where I’m sharing how we can know the difference between conviction and condemnation. I’d love to hear your thoughts. 

You Are Not Alone

I don’t know what you’re going through this week,
but I’m wondering if maybe you’re feeling a little beaten up by life?

Maybe you’ve gotten through a storm or two, yet as soon as you could dry off and breathe again, another one hits.

Deep disappointment, physical pain, broken relationships and
fractured hopes can take a toll on us, can’t they?

I don’t have all the answers, but I do know this:
You are NOT alone.

I’m right in the middle of overwhelmingly HARD with you.
Facing non-stop “impossible” circumstances, physical pain and heart-hurts that
are taking more time to heal than I feel like I have.

And maybe like me, you just need to know that you’re normal.
That crazy-hard stuff isn’t an indication that something is wrong with you.
Hard circumstances and hurts aren’t signs that we’re forgotten by God or
disqualified from His promise of protection. 

I guess I just want to tell you what I’ve needed to hear:
DON’T GIVE UP! No matter what, don’t let go of hope.
Don’t stop believing that God is a Redeemer, a Healer, a Restorer and
that nothing is too difficult for Him. 

Maybe we could pray these words together???

Jesus please use the hard circumstances in my life to make me stronger and
let my hurts draw me closer to You. Amen.


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Only Jesus

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Only Jesus

Sometimes I wonder if God gave us a longing for unconditional love
because He knew it could lead us back to Him?

Throughout high school and college, I struggled with an aching emptiness that eventually led to depression. I remember there was one afternoon I was thinking about my life, wondering why I felt so empty.

“I thought about my dreams of marrying my high school sweetheart. Dreams that crumbled because I expected him to be everything I needed and wanted.

I thought about my professors and friends whose approval I so desperately wanted.

I thought about how hard I’d worked to graduate with honors to prove my worth, and wondered why none of it was enough.

Then, all of the sudden, I sensed God whisper to my heart a thought I’d never had:

“All you’ve ever wanted is unconditional love, but you’ll never find the love you need in anyone but Me!”

All my life I’d been looking, and HE was there the whole time. Waiting for me to receive His unfailing and always-filling love.

A love I had looked and longed for; a love I couldn’t find in anyone or anything but Him.” from Chapter 6, A Confident Heart 

Only Jesus offers the unfailing and always-filling love we long for. 

CLICK TO TWEET? Only Jesus offers the unfailing and always-filling love we long for! @ReneeSwope ‪#AConfidentHeartBook http://ctt.ec/htmR5+

I’m Breaking Up With Perfect

Have you ever been in a relationship you knew was bad but didn’t know how to end it? Whether it is a friend who betrayed us, a boyfriend who ignored us, or a coworker who undermined us, unhealthy relationships are bad for the soul. But there is one relationship that steals potential from all of our ther relationships—including our relationship with ourselves and our relationship with God. It’s our relationship with Perfect.

Perfect is a bad friend. No matter what we do or say or give or take or create…it’s never enough. Perfect always demands more, but it’s never satisfied. Never.

My friend Amy Carroll has written a new book I just love!! And she’s on a mission to help us all break up once and for all with our unfaithful friend: Perfection! And today she stopped by to share her heart and her book with us on my blog – plus she’s giving away a copy too

AmyC“As I rummaged through the damaged store, I hurried toward a colorful decoration that caught my eye. A hurricane had ravaged the seaside store’s merchandise, but there were a few treasures left.

My prize that day was a papier-mâché figure of Santa Clause directing a band of animal musicians. Since my husband was a band director, seeing Jolly Old Saint Nick with his conductor’s baton poised made my heart sing even though it was a balmy North Carolina summer outside.

I carefully carried the figurines to the cash register and made them mine.

Nearly skipping with joy down the sidewalk, suddenly I tripped and dropped my fragile treasures. My face fell with dismay as I peeked inside the bag only to see pieces of Santa and his friends lying jagged and free-floating at the bottom.

When I got home, I gently removed the pieces and lay them out on a table. One by one, I drew a thin line of glue on the narrow edges and began to put them back together.

The results weren’t altogether terrible.

Santa’s pedestal is webbed with cracks and the beaver is missing a leg, but unless guests get too close, they’ll never know the trauma Kris Kringle endured. He’s broken but still beautiful, and a smile stretches across my face each Christmas as I unpack him from his protective box.

Why do I struggle to believe that others could see me the same way?

All of us have a level of brokenness from our own sin nature or from sin leveled against us. We all have cracks of insecurity, shards of sin, and flaws of failure, but for most of my life I’ve wanted to hide mine. I’ve wanted to glaze over my brokenness with a façade of perfection.

If I had found only a perfect Santa acceptable, I would have either tossed him after his fall, or I would have hidden him away in the box with the other outdated, worn-out ornaments.

That’s ok with an object, but we’d never do that to an imperfect person. We’re all in the same boat! So why are we afraid others will do it to us? That maybe God will too?

So we keep others at arm’s length, never allowing anyone to get too close, or we hide behind our walls of shame or false perfection. We try to earn acceptance and love with our just-right words and our thought-out actions, feeling more and more lonely all the time, when in truth…

Authenticity is the antidote for isolation.

Jesus doesn’t despise us in our brokenness, tossing us away or hiding the fact that He loves us. He gently takes our pieces and glues them back together with His grace, compassion, and forgiveness. If we’ll only lay down our masks of perfection and surrender to His perfecting work, Jesus lovingly sets us out for the world to see and claims us as His own.

I’ve been on a journey to break up with perfect, and I’m finding my relationships with others are deeper than ever when I’m real about my flaws. In the process, I’m able to point to Jesus as the Perfect One, our ultimate hero, and I’m resting in the lavish love I’m finding in Him.” ~ Amy Carroll, from her new boo: “Breaking Up With Perfect”

To celebrate the release of her new book “Breaking Up with Perfect” Amy Carroll is giving a copy away!

ARE YOU READY to BREAK UP with PERFECT? If so, leave a comment below this post where entries will be gathered and a winner will be chosen. Please CLICK HERE if you’re reading via email. All comments must be shared on my blog to be entered. THANKS!!