He Bends Down

It had been a hard day, running too many errands with two small children. My three-year-old didn’t understand why we couldn’t buy every toy his tiny hands could touch. And he insisted on climbing in and out of the grocery cart, which led to whining when I stopped him.

I was not a happy mama and wondered how all the other moms in the store seemed to know what they were doing. Their children listened when they told them no, and they had on cute matching outfits too.

I wondered how in the world those women pulled it off with a smile. I could barely get a shower, get my kids dressed, and get us out the door before lunch. When we got home that afternoon, I put my boys down for an early nap and searched for pink construction paper so I could write “I QUIT” on it and turn in my “pink slip” to my husband when he came home from work.

I was tired of feeling like such a failure as a mom. But ironically, I couldn’t find pink construction paper, so I decided to pull out my journal and file a complaint to God.

Filling blank pages with scribbled thoughts, I wrote:

I hate who I have become. I’m such a horrible mom. Why didn’t someone tell me how hard this was going to be? I’m frustrated with my kids and myself. I have no patience and I don’t know what I am doing! I feel guilty all the time. I couldn’t wait to be a mom and now I want to quit.

Just as I finished writing that sentence, I sensed God whispering to my heart: Renee, you are so critical of yourself. You focus on your mistakes and beat yourself up with accusation and condemnation but those are not My thoughts.

That afternoon, I sat before God and choked out the words, “I can’t do this.” (Read what happened next over at inCourage.me

Being Present Always Trumps Being Perfect

 

I had it all planned:
when they would all arrive
what I needed to do beforehand
how I wanted my heart to feel when they got here

Not wanting to become “the frazzled friend” I turn into when hosting a get-together, I banned myself from Pinterest and my own desire for perfect.

I wrote out a timeline and recruited help from a friend. Together we would be prepared. Simple appetizers and decorations. A few pretty touches. We could do everything ahead of time so I would be ready before anyone got there, with time to spare and room to breathe.

I wanted to feel calm and happy when friends arrived. I wanted to greet each one, face to face. I wanted to let her know, not only was she welcomed, she was wanted.

But even the simplest of plans don’t always go as planned.

A crisis at work kept my husband from getting home in time to help pick up the house clean. Traffic was horrible and my friend/co-host got stuck on the other side of town, unable to come early and help with setup. The food wasn’t ready. The kitchen was a mess. And my three hungry kids kept asking when dad would be home to take them out for pizza.

I was not calm. I was not happy. Things were not getting done, and I could feel myself coming undone…

Join me over at inCourage where I’m talking about my struggle and my shift from aiming for perfect to being fully present, mess and all. Click here to join us. 


 

I know I’ve been pretty quiet the past few months, so if you wondered why I’ve been missing on the internet, it’s because… summer. And we’re moving!  I didn’t see that last one coming but it’s consumed every bit of me. Despite the chaos, I see simplicity and goodness on the other side, and I can’t wait to get there.

Looking forward to being back in your inbox this fall, encouraging you each week! ~Renee

 

When You Don’t Know What to Say or Pray


I used to be hesitant to pray and kind of stumbled over my words when talking to God.
Yet, I desperately wanted to say the right things because I thought if I prayed the right way God would listen and answer my prayers, the way I wanted Him to. 

It took me a while, but eventually I got up the courage to talk with a friend about my fears and struggles. She assured me I was normal, and shared how she had dealt with the same hesitancies and misunderstandings about prayer. And she walked with me through Bible, showing me verses about prayer and encouraging me to talk to God in a conversational way.

As I think back on that time, over twenty years ago, there are two powerful lessons I learned:

Prayer isn’t about saying or asking the right thingsit’s about building a relationship with God by talking to Him. 

If you’ve ever struggled with what to say when you pray, take a deep breath and know you are not alone. There is no formula to getting prayer right and God isn’t listening for the perfect combination of words or measuring how well we pray. 

Yet there are still days like today when I want more power in my prayers. Days when I want to feel more confident in what I’m asking for from the One who rules our nations, the Maker of all things, the Shepherd of my heart, and the Creator of the ones I love.

And on those days, when I’m not sure what to say or how to pray, I turn to God’s word remembering “the confidence which we have before Him, (is) that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” 1 John 5:17 (NAS)

When we pray God’s Word, we pray God’s will.

When I long for my prayers to be filled with power and my heart to be infused with faith, I look for verses about God’s will and His ways. One is Hebrews 4:12, where God teaches us that His Word is “alive and active.” Some days I pray that truth, asking God to make His Word come alive in a situation and active in the person’s life I’m praying for, or my own.

Often times while I’m praying, verses in the Bible that I’ve memorized will rise up to the surface in my prayers. When it feels like plans are spinning out of control, Jeremiah 29:11-13 will come to mind. On those days, I’ll pray:

Lord, You know the plans You have for me, plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me a future and a hope. You say that if I come to You and pray, You will listen and will lead me. So, today I surrender my plans for Your plans. Please guide my decisions and thoughts to match Yours so I can experience hope and not harm. Even though things aren’t going so great today, I trust the plans You have for me.

I’m so grateful for the grace-gift of talking to my Heavenly Father without hesitancy. Now that the pressure to say the right things is gone, prayer feels more like a comfortable conversation. Sometimes I just sit still and let God whisper His promises into my thoughts, and then I ask for their fulfillment in my prayers.

What is a favorite verse of yours that you could pray for yourself and someone else today?  

Be sure to DOWNLOAD my FREE Scripture Prayer Printable.  Enter your email below, click “Please send me the prayer printable!” button, and you’ll go straight to my FREE Printable PDF page. ( I promise to never share your email with anyone.)

More Than A Mom

I love these people. They were so patient and sweet to take this photo with me for the “More Than A Mom” instagram series hosted by Fashion & Compassion. Once we finished outside, I knew I needed to write my post for my instagram page, so I asked Andrew, my 19-year-old baby boy on the left, what makes a mother “more than a mom”? Here’s what Andrew told me:

“A mom is the heart of her home. She creates a place where her kids feel like they belong; a place where they feel always accepted, loved and wanted. A place where they can be goofy and not be judged.”

I smiled for days, knowing this was the same son who told me he who couldn’t wait to move out, live on his own and go to college in a different state last fall. 

Whether we are mamas of little’s and big’s, or moms of a ministry we birthed, or kids and adults we didn’t birth but shaped through our prayers and love — our worth is beyond measure! Our role is beyond description. And what we do every day matters – so much more than we may ever know!

We are a safe place to come home to and a soft place to land when life knocks our loved ones down. We are the cheerleader they need and the coach they avoid. We are the one they want when they’re sick and when they feel lost.

We are heart-shapers, dream-encouragers, purpose-instillers, boundary-setters, prayer-warriors and memory-makers. 

And have you ever noticed MOM upside down spells WOW? (see Aster’s sign) It’s no wonder. I’ve said WOW more in the past 22 years than ever. WOW, I never knew I could love someone this much. WOW, no one told me how hard this would be. WOW, how did I get to be their moms? WOW, I have no idea what I’m doing! WOW, they’re so cute. WOW, this is overwhelming. WOW I love being a mom!

Why not WOW a mom or friend you love with the perfect gift, and bring dignity and beauty to the lives of women being empowered and equipped through the amazing ministry, fair-trade partnerships, and employment of Fashion & Compassion get FREE SHIPPING through this Friday, May 5th by using the code “MOTHERSDAY” at checkout. (Watch this video to find out more about ). CLICK HERE TO SHOP

 

 

Happy Mothers Day “month” to all you amazing moms – of children and adults, of ministries, of communities, of lives you may not have birthed but you’ve forever shaped with your love and prayers! WOW, you are amazing!

Never Unfriended: When Imperfection Becomes a Gift

I had it all planned. When the guests would arrive, how I wanted my heart to feel when they got here, and what I needed to do beforehand. Determined not to become the “frazzled friend” that comes out in me when I host a gathering at my house, I banned myself from Pinterest and my desire for perfect.

I wrote out a timeline and asked a friend if she’d help me host a little girlfriend get-together. Together we would be prepared. Simple appetizers and decor. A few pretty touches. We would get everything ready early, with time to spare and room to breathe. Imagining myself calm and happy when friends arrived, I’d be waiting at the front door ready greet each person.

But all my well-intended plans didn’t go as planned.

A crisis at work kept my husband from helping me get the house clean. Traffic was horrible and my co-host friend got stuck on the other side of town, unable to come early to help me with setup. I was on my own, with three hungry kids piling into the kitchen asking when dad would be home to take them out for pizza.

I was not calm. I was not happy. Things weren’t getting done and I felt myself coming undone.

The kitchen was a mess. Food wasn’t ready. And just as friends started arriving, my son told me our computer wasn’t compatible with our television, which meant streaming videos (a highly anticipated part of our evening) wasn’t going to work.  

Deep disappointment and a slight sense of panic came crashing over me. Why do I even try?  

In her new book, Never Unfriended” my friend Lisa-Jo Baker shares how “no one can make us quite as unsure about ourselves as another woman.” Ugggh. I hate that it’s true, but it was for me that night.

I wanted to have friends over, but insecurities tangled up inside me had convinced my heart I needed to be perfect and created the perfect setting and food so that my friends would want to be there, and maybe want to come back. How crazy is that? But it fell so real and true at the time.

The struggle is real, and I adore Lisa-Jo for writing a whole chapter about creating imperfect times and spaces together, because I needed to read it. She reminds us not to wait for our lives and houses to be perfect, because if we do, we might never let anyone come through the door.

Thankfully I took a deep breath and decided to let my “far-from-perfect” reality crash the party that night, and I learned two beautiful frienship truths:

  • Being present always trumps being perfect. The most important part of gathering some friends that night was to be “with” them. To be present. To create a place to connect and share our hearts, our stories, our lives. That was still possible.
  • Letting friends see my imperfections may be the best gift I can give them. Having a house, food and plans that appear like we have it all-together is not always inspiring; it can be intimidating. As women it’s easy to compare ourselves, our homes, and our party-hosting skills and feel less-than.  Maybe someone needed to see how not-all-together I really am. That night, they go to! 

Everything didn’t go exactly as planned, but what mattered most did. I got to enjoy my friends and they got to enjoy me, and each other. In the end, that’s all that mattered. And before everyone headed home at midnight, we talked about our next get-together. I even offered to host again – as long as they didn’t mind my house being a mess and me possibly being a lil bit frazzled.


In a world where women can unfriend each other with the swipe of a finger, my friend Lisa-Jo Baker is convinced that choosing instead to believe the best about our friends —  is a radical gift.

Starting with the example of the most faithful friend who ever lived—Jesus—in her new book – Never Unfriended Lisa-Jo offers a beautiful, authentic, real-life step-by-step guide to friendships you can trust. It answers the questions that lurk under the surface of every friendship—What are we afraid of? What can’t we change? And where do we start?—with personal stories and practical tips to help you make the friends, and be the friend, you always wish you’d had. 

Join the inCourage Never Unfriended Book ClubStarting April 25, we’ll share a Facebook Live video at 9 p.m. ET (8pm CT/6 pm PT) every Tuesday. Here’s the schedule of who will be joining us as we unpack the book, Never Unfriended:

  1. April 25 – Ann Voskamp
  2. May 2 – Holley Gerth
  3. May 9 – Annie Downs
  4. May 16 – Crystal Paine
  5. May 23 – Chrystal Evans Hurst
  6. May 30 – Jamie Ivey

You guys, this is gonna be so so good! These women are fun and funny and smart and the dearest most incredible kinds of friends. It’s completely free to join this book club, all you need is a copy of Never Unfriended book and sign up here so inCourage can add you to the private Facebook group (where the weekly videos and other encouragement will be shared throughout each week)!

This is Love

It’s been a decade since Andrew told me, but I’ll never forget the words that spilled out of my little boy’s heart effortlessly. Words that changed the way I pressured myself into believing I had to be the perfect mom.

Driving through carpool line, Andrew held his bag of Valentine treats and asked when they’d be passing them out in class. What he meant was, Do I have to I wait ALL DAY to stuff excessive amounts of candy in my mouth or will the teacher let us eat all the chocolate we want during morning snack time?

He didn’t care that his treats weren’t decorated with cool cartoon characters, hearts, or any Valentine Day indications at all. But I felt like the biggest failure as a mom.

The night before, Andrew reminded me he needed treats to give classmates the next day, and I had none. After we put our boys to bed, I ran to Target where the Valentines aisle looked like a bomb had exploded. Mismatched candy and gifts everywhere. No appropriate elementary school cards or treats to be found.

Humiliated, I grabbed a few packs of mini Kit-Kat bars and decided my poor child could write, “From Andrew” with a Sharpie on the back of each treat. I would apologize profusely and promise to never forget again.

The next morning as we drove to school, I wondered if I could make up my for my mom-fail with a big Valentines Day surprise when Andrew got home from school. Realizing it could mean another trip back to Target, I tried to get a sense of  what he’d want, so I asked Andrew, what makes you feel loved?”

He thought for a minute and then he said, “THIS.”

This?” I asked.

“Yeah. This. You being with me. You driving me to school and talking to me about my day. You telling me you’ll be there when I get home. That makes me feel loved and secure. Thanks mom. I love you, bye!”

And he hopped out of the car.

This is love?

You mean, I don’t have to work myself into a tizzy shopping for a toy that will convince my child I don’t forget him, even when I forget important things to him?

I can just be here for him and that will be love. Even though I was a grouchy mom the day before, so much that Andrew asked if I was mad about something, more than once.

This is still love?

I stopped to wonder if God were to ask me what makes me feel loved, what would I say?…. 

Keep reading over at inCourage where I’m sharing this story and how my heart answered that day. I’d love for you to be part of the conversation. Click here to join us. 

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.}

How to Be Kind to Your Future Self {+ Book Give-away}


“What would you call someone who …

• …demands that you be someone you’re not?
• …ignores your needs?
• …refuses to let you use your God-given gifts and talents well?
• …sets you up for failure, even disaster, over and over again?
• …does all of the above over and over and over?

Sounds like a bully, perhaps even an abuser, doesn’t it? Look in the mirror and ask yourself, ‘How often does ‘who I am today’ treat ‘who I will be tomorrow’ (or next week or next year) this way?'”

Guilty as charged. That’s how I felt when I read these words. I’m not so awesome at taking care of my future self. And when I read those wise words a few months ago, God got my attention!

I was reviewing my friend Kathi and Cheri’s upcoming book, and I’d been honored by their invitation to write its foreword. But this was no longer  just an honor for me and a favor for them. THIS was a message I NEEDED TO HEAR right then and there! And after reading the whole book, I’m convinced it’s a message every woman needs.

I asked Kathi and Cheri to share some of it with you today. Here’s more from the pages of “Overwhelmed” by Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory… 

It happens every single day. 

We tell ourselves that although today we don’t feel like taking the pets to the vet, filling out on those forms, or scheduling that root canal, our Future Self will get right on it.

Tomorrow, we tell ourselves, I will have more drive, more energy, more excitement!.

Then, tomorrow comes, and we feel overwhelmed because we placed unrealistic expectations on our Future Selves.

So how can we help a sister out? The best way to take care of your Future Self is Pre-Deciding: making intentional decisions ahead of time about particulars and principles.

The Magic of Pre-Deciding
You’ve probably seen that word art on your friend’s walls that says, “In this family we …” (My favorite picture on Facebook is one where my friend has a wall art that says, “In this family we love each other …” with her son standing next to his sister, who gave him a bloody nose while wrestling.)

Now, I want you to consider your own, “In my life I will …” type statements.

Pre-Deciding—before you’re facing an overwhelming situation—who you are as a person, what your core values are, and how you will act saves you time, energy, and agony.

You chose ahead of time—before the question is asked, before the problem occurs, before the dilemma arises—what you will and will not do. Who you will be and who you will not be.

Pre-Deciding puts your core values in action long before they are put to the test.

Because deciding in the moment to do the right thing is exhausting. And completely overwhelming.

Pre-Deciding makes sure that your Future Self is your very best self.

Clarifying Your Personal Principles with a Personal Manifesto

I (Kathi) first came up with the idea of a Personal Manifesto when I was making some big decisions in my life and wanted every decision to spring out of the values that I held dear.

A Personal Manifesto is a personalized list of values—who you are and who you aspire to be. It’s like your own personal code of conduct that is not decided in the moment but Pre-Decided before you’re in crisis.

Even though I may not be living out each point fully, it is my goal to grow in each and every one of those areas.

I (Cheri) find that having a Personal Manifestos is especially important for me since I’m a Highly Sensitive Person. Even when I’m feeling completely overwhelmed, Pre-Deciding helps me act on my values rather than react to my circumstances.

The purpose of a Personal Manifesto isn’t to limit you—it’s to help you focus your time energy and even money on the areas that are important to you.

Here are ours:


So how does my Personal Manifesto keep me from being overwhelmed?

1. It keeps me from saying yes to things I should say no to.
I recently was asked to donate to a worthy cause, but as I prayed about the amount to give, I felt no nudging from God to give. My PM says, “I give generously as God directs.” I kept the money, and we used it the next time God directed us to sponsor a child through Compassion.

2. It reminds me what I should say yes to.
If it’s a choice between supporting a friend at her art opening or Roger the night before Good Friday at church (one of his busiest times of the year), I choose Roger. Other people will go to my friend’s art opening, but I’m the only wife who will bring Roger dinner during that incredibly busy time. Yes, he can get his own dinner, and has told me that. But I’m on his team. Always.

3. It reminds me of what—and who—is important.
If I’m tempted to take on a new project, but keep complaining to my husband that we aren’t spending enough time together because my schedule keeps getting in the way, my PM reminds me that I’ve already chosen my priority: I just need to live it out.

Make your own Personal Manifesto. It will take a little time right now, but it will save you a lot of overwhelm in the days to come.

It’s worth the effort.

You Future Self is cheering for you! 


Feeling overwhelmed? Wondering if it’s possible to move from “out of my mind” to “in control” when you’ve got too many projects on your plate and too much mess in your relationships?

Kathi and Cheri share five surprising reasons why you become stressed, why social media solutions don’t often work, and how you can create a plan that finally works for you. As you identify your underlying hurts, uncover hope, and embrace practical healing, you’ll understand how to…

  • trade the to-do list that controls you for a calendar that allows space in your life
  • decide whose feedback to forget and whose input to invite
  • replace fear of the future with peace in the present

You can simplify and savor your life—guilt free! Clutter, tasks, and relationships may overwhelm you now, but God can help you overcome with grace.

ENTER TO WIN: Kathi and Cheri would like to send a copy of Overwhelmed: Quiet the Chaos & Restore Your Sanity to one of you!To qualify for the drawing, simply do these TWO things:

1. LEAVE A COMMENT below this post on my blog, where it says “Share Your Thoughts.” All entries must be on my blog. Click here to leave a comment.

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

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renee-kathi-and-cheri-photoKathi Lipp is a busy conference and retreat speaker and the bestselling author of several books, including Clutter Free, The Husband Project, and The Get Yourself Organized Project. She and her husband, Roger, live in California and are the parents of four young adults.

Cheri Gregory spends her weekdays teaching teens and weekends speaking at women’s retreats. She’s been married to her college sweetheart, Daniel, for more than 28 years. The Gregorys and their young adult kids, Annemarie and Jonathon, live in California.

The Things We Do For Love

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I had almost everything I wanted, yet I felt empty and confused.

I couldn’t figure out why all the relationships and accomplishments I had worked so hard to gain weren’t enough to fill me or fulfill me.

Tears streamed down my face as I thought about the guy I dated through high school and college. Our plans of a future together had crumbled under the pressure of me expecting him to be all I needed. I had been crazy about him—a little too crazy.

When I think about the crazy things I did for his love, I want to crawl under a rock. Like the day a friend mentioned that my ex-boyfriend was heading to our hometown for the weekend. We worked near each other, so I parked by his office and waited for him to leave on Friday.

We both “happened” to be at Wendy’s at the same time and bumped into each other. When I finished my order, I got in my car and followed behind him, hoping that if he saw my car he’d realize he couldn’t live without me and signal for me to pull over so we could talk. Seriously, what was I thinking? As you can probably guess, he never stopped.

I was hopeless and humiliated. Without his love I felt incomplete.

A few weeks later, while walking around my campus one afternoon, my eyes drifted to the buildings, dorms, and other landmarks of memories. Suddenly my mind filled with a collage of faces, reminding me of my efforts to win the approval of advisors, friends, and professors—hoping their affirmation could fill my emptiness.

Although I was graduating with honors, had a few job offers, and had achieved success in many ways, it wasn’t enough. I stopped walking and just stood there, taking it all in. I couldn’t help but wonder: 

Why is all that I have never enough to fill me and fulfill me?

A thought rushed through my soul, stringing together two words I had never put next to each other, and I sensed God was answering me.

Renee, all you have ever wanted is unconditional love.

Unconditional love? I didn’t know there was such a thing. Then I heard another whisper in my soul. You will never find the love you long for in anyone or anything but Me. I AM the unconditional love you are looking for.

The thought of God loving me without any conditions was inconceivable, yet something deep in my soul told me it was true.

I had been looking for love that didn’t have to be earned. Love I didn’t have to fear I could lose.  In John 4:11, we meet a woman who was looking for the same. A woman who questioned Jesus when He offered to completely satisfy her needs.

Like me, her desires were endless; the well of her soul was deep. But that day, as they talked, Jesus showed her what she was looking for and where she could find it, just like He had done with me—and just like He wants to do with you.

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In Proverbs 19:22 we read, “What a [woman] desires is unfailing love.”  That word “desire” comes from the Hebrew word ta’avah, which means to greatly long for, to deeply desire or crave. Interestingly, unfailing love is mentioned thirty-two times in the Bible, and not once is it attributed to a person. It is only attributed to God.

God gave us a need for unfailing love because He knew it would lead us back to Him. All He needs is His Spirit that draws us to Him. And as far as the depth of the well goes, it is our heart He is looking into, and we’re the only one who can stop Him from reaching the deep and hidden parts that need Him most.

My friends at DaySpring created something special just for you – my readers! It’s a sale coupon with free shipping + A Confident Heart collection where you can easily find all of my A Confident Heart products in one place! It has all my favorites: beautiful scripture cards, a 100-day Confident HeartLifter with quotes, prayers and verses from the book, postcards, and more! Use the code 25FORYOU at checkout to get 25% OFF + FREE SHIPPING on any purchase! Isn’t that amazing?

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When My Desire For Control Starts Controlling Me

When I Give God Control

Ever notice how when life circumstances feel out of control, you’ll try extra hard to grasp control? 
For me, I’ll try to control my kids, husband, my schedule or what ever I can get your hands on. And it’s usually not a pretty sight.

Like the day I felt like my life was out of control, so I decided to do ALL . THE . LAUNDRY like a ninja warrior! But when I went upstairs to put clean clothes away in my then fifteen-year-old son’s room, I discovered he had not put his clean clothes away the week before! Instead, he’d stacked them on his dresser, thrown dirty clothes on top of them and his big pile of clean clothes had fallen over into his dirty clothes basket on the floor – filled with sweaty stinky boy socks, shirts and shorts!!!

I was not a happy mama! My words to Joshua were harsh and my reaction was excessive. Instead of taking time to breathe and coach my son in laundry etiquette, I yelled at him!!! And a few hours later I felt so guilty I couldn’t sleep.

I lost my temper, but that’s not all. My need for control was starting to control me. 

I wanted to do laundry and for his room to be clean so I’d feel like something in my life wasn’t a mess!  But what I needed was God’s perspective and peace. What I needed were tools and ahead-of-time strategies to deal with frustrating circumstances that set me off.

My friend Lisa-Jo knows how I feel and she’s created a life-giving resource for weary ones like me and you! I’ve watched her let God use the most shameful, raw places of her anger struggles to give hope to other moms. And dads. Honestly, at our house it’s helped my husband too. And even if you’re not a mom, some of just need to know we’re alone if we struggle with our temper.

IF YOU’RE LIKE US and could use simple tips that have made radical, life-giving difference I wanted to let you know about The Temper Toolkit  Lisa-Jo created.

The Temper Toolkit includes:

7 self-paced teaching videos, downloadable audio (so you can listen on the go) and key takeaways from each lesson beautifully designed as phone lock screens, computer wallpapers or a print so you can choose which format is best to help you take the lessons with you on the go.

5 bonus videos including special videos for how to talk to your husband about your temper journey as well as how to talk to your kids. If our kids also struggle with big feelings, here are some practical ways to help them put words to what they’re feeling. And to help them understand all the potential for good packed into their passionate temperaments.

Beautiful prints you can frame like the one designed for What to Tell That Kid Who is Pushing All Your Buttons.

TEMPER TOOLKIT REGISTRATION – CURRENTLY CLOSED 

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And you get all this for $29 – the cost of one exhausted drive-through dinner with the kids after a day of meltdowns (with a 30 day money back guarantee!) That’s right! If this isn’t a good fit, you’ll get your money back with the 30-day money back guarantee. 

PLUS the first 30 friends who purchase The Temper Toolkit using the links on this post, 
will receive a FREE set of 31 Scripture Cards from ME!! (valued at $5 )

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If you’re tired of losing your peace, patience and temper,
let me know and I’ll put you on my waiting list
notification email for the Temper Toolkit.

I know you’re going to love it as much as we do!

Cheering you on! ~Renee