She Laughs

SheLaughs.P31Necklace


It’s so easy to forget our smiles and lose our laughter in the midst of busy days and endless to-do lists
.

But what a gift it is to others when they see us enjoying life and enjoying them.

As this Mother’s Day approaches, let’s take hold of the joy described in Proverbs 31:25 and share it with the mothers we love. This hand-made necklace, created exclusively for Proverbs 31 Ministries by our friends at Fashion & Compassion, can help us do just that.

Give the gift of laughter to your mom or a friend who brings joy to your life. Or buy one for yourself, knowing your purchase will help Fashion & Compassion rescue women from human trafficking and the depths of addiction. Order yours today {while supplies last}!

* The name of the woman who made it will be attached to your necklace, so you can pray for her.

 SheLaughs.P31Necklace2Proverbs 31 Ministries and Fashion & Compassion have partnered together to offer this genuine fresh water pearls, crystals and glass beads necklace. Each necklace has been hand-strung by vulnerable women and at-risk youth in Charlotte, NC. Fashion & Compassion is a non-profit dedicated to helping women overcome poverty and injustice through Christ-centered economic empowerment.

A stunning hammered brass pendant completes the 18” necklace, has been hand-stamped with “She Laughs Proverbs 31:25″ by women overcoming extreme poverty in Mexico. A portion of the proceeds benefit programs fighting sex-trafficking and serving at-risk youth in Charlotte, NC. Please join us in prayer for these women in their struggle to find salvation, strength, joy and freedom in our Mighty God.

We only had 2500 made, and we’re almost sold out! So, be sure to order yours now {while supplies last}!

You’ve Been Pre-Approved

What if this week, every time we look in the mirror and think … “Uggh, I need to ______ {lose weight, do something about these wrinkles, get rid of those dark circles under my eyes, etc.} you say this out loud:

“He calls me Beautiful.”

Because it’s true. He does!

You are chosen. Treasured. Redeemed. Loved. Cherished. Enough. You are Pre-Approved!!


PreApproved

What if we surrounded our hearts with truth seekers and truth-speakers, who told us these truths again and again? Friends who point us back to the One who calls us Beloved, Known and Valuable.

This week I’m  honored to be joining a community of women that do just that, everyday. Speaking courage, truth and Hope into the hearts of women around the world through their words, blog posts, community groups and more. Oh how I’d love for you to join (me) there as I join the contributing writers team of:

logo

Perhaps (in)courage is a place you already know? Or maybe it’s a community waiting for you? I’ll be sharing more in the weeks to come. But I hope you’ll hop on over this week, and find out more about (in)courage, see me with bed-head (in my favorite place on earth), and meet the other new writers here. BUT BEFORE YOU GO be sure to ENTER TO WIN!

loveIdolTo celebrate the (in)courage-ment, and the fact that this week will be different because we’re going to tell ourselves the truth every time we look in the mirror…  I’m giving away Love Idol: Letting Go of Your Need for Approval and Seeing Yourself through God’s Eyes, by my friend Jennifer Dukes Lee. Jennifer is also a newbie (in)courage writer along with several others and me who joined the (in)courage team today!

Jennifer wrote “Love Idol” for women like us—who’ve had “enough of the not-enoughs.” This book is her journey toward freedom from the approval-seeking-cycle where she invites us to a place where we can lay down every mirror, every tally sheet, every report card — everything that tells us we aren’t (____) enough.

ENTER TO WIN by  leaving a comment sharing one area of your life where you would love to see yourself as God sees you: loved and pre approved.

Last Week’s Giveaway {winners}

Thank you all so much for participating in last week’s giveaways on my blog! Your responses and stories drew me in as I read and prayed over each of you. I’ve got lots of book giveaways coming up this month so be sure watch your emails for blog post updates.

If you’re not subscribed yet, be sure sign up in the top of my sidebar so you don’t miss a thing. See right there where it says: RECEIVE EMAIL UPDATES –>

 

Here are the winners of last week’s 2 giveaways. We’ve got your emails so we’ll be in touch to get your mailing addresses next week! 

The_Mended_heart_2_largeThe 5 winners of Suzie Eller’s book, The Mended Heart are….
Chasidy
Betty Zaagman
Heidi Howell
Cassie Williams
Lee Boyd

 
 
 

Swope_ConfHeartDevo_3DsmThe 3 winners of my Confident Heart Devotional are…
 Lis 
Linda F
Christy Anderson

 

And the winner of my $15 P31 Online Store gift certificate is…
 Lori Johnson
 

No More Guilt-induced Doubt

Welcome Encouragement for Today friends! I’m so glad you stopped by. You can enter today’s drawing at the bottom of this post. And if you’d like to hear about upcoming giveaways or more confessions from an imperfect woman in desperate need of grace,
be sure to SIGN UP for EMAIL UPDATES in my sidebar –>

MyGraceIsSufficient

Sometimes I wonder how I can go from being in such a good place with Godfeeling peaceful, loving and patient.. but then something happens that sends me into an orbit of aggravation!! 

It happened just the other day…

Things were going well. I’d had a lovely afternoon working from home. Alone. Life was peachy.

But then school got out and kids came home. Within 15 minutes of arrival, one of my boys did something and said something that wasn’t so peachy. Then he did NOT do something I’d asked him to do and let’s just say… I lost all my peace and patience right there in the middle of my kitchen.

I was not happy.at.all. And I let my precious boy know it in a not-so-nice kind of way.

Then I felt GUILTY and like the WORST MOM on the planet.

For a few minutes I was pretty sure that’s exactly how God wanted me to feel ~ so I wouldn’t act so ugly the next time. 

But finally, after I’d almost convinced myself that I was the worst mom and had no business in ministry, I remembered something a pastor said about the difference between conviction and condemnation. He explained it like this:

Condemnation sweeps across our thoughts with generalized statements such as, You’re such a failure, You’re so hypocritical, or You can never be counted on. That is the accuser. His tone is condemning, questioning, and confusing. His accusations lead to guilt and shame.

But the Holy Spirit’s conviction will be specific. He will reveal a sinful action or attitude and instruct us on what we need to do to right the wrong: whether it’s restoring a broken relationship or returning something that isn’t ours. He’ll give us steps we need to take to change our behavior or attitude.

•       Instead of You’re such a failure as a [wife, mom, daughter, friend], the Spirit might say, You were really critical the way you talked to _________ (your husband, child, parent, etc). You need to say you are sorry and ask for forgiveness. Then tell them something that will build them up instead of tearing them down.

•       Instead of You’re so hypocritical, the Spirit might say, You judge others for gossiping, but you are doing the same thing when you talk about your neighbor at work. Tomorrow at lunch break, apologize for what you said and share a few things that are positive about her.

•       Instead of You can never be counted on, the Spirit might say, You didn’t keep your promise to go see your mom today. Call her to apologize and maybe set up a lunch date for this weekend.

Satan condemns accusingly, to make us feel guilty. God convicts lovingly, to lead our hearts to repentance. {tweet this?}

Jesus’ convictios draws us away from destructive behavior that hinders our relationship with Him and with others. His goal is to bring us out of the darkness of sin and back into the Light, so we can walk with Him in the freedom of forgiveness and the confidence of His love.

The next time we blow it or lose it, let’s ask Jesus to replace our guilt-induced doubt with HIS grace-infused confidence, as we hold onto the promise that His grace is sufficient because His power is made perfect in our weakness. 

Swope_ConfHeartDevo_3DsmIf my P31 devotion or blog post resonated with you today, I hope you’ll ENTER TO WIN a copy of my new Confident Heart Devotional. I truly believe the stories and truths in it will change your life {like they have mine}!  

 Based on honest struggles we all have with comparison, self-doubt, fear of failing, and the life-changing lessons God’s taught me and ten other women, {whose stories are in the book} you will discover how to change the way you feel by changing the way you think – which will transform the way you live! 

Expanding on what readers of my first book LOVED most: “When I say … God says …” statements, I’ve written 60 new devotions and new {WISGS} statements to equip you with a new a thought map and a promise – to live in every day! 

ENTER TO WIN: Click “Share Your Thoughts” below and do just that to enter to win one of three copies of my devotional book, and a $15 P31 Online Store gift certificate today!

****If you are reading this via email, click here to return to my blog and be part of the giveaway. {Your comment mus be left below this post to enter. Thanks!}

When Your Heart Needs Mending

Sometimes our hearts get to hurting and we don’t know where to turn. When our emotions are bleeding it’s easy to forget we have a Healer. It’s easy to run from the pain. My friend Suzie Eller is here today to remind us that we don’t have to run away. Jesus is inviting us to run to Him.  Here’s an excerpt from her new book, The Mended Heart. And… there just might be a way for you to win a copy at the end of this post.

Suzie.MendedHeart
“The Spirit of the Lord is on Me. He has put His hand on Me to preach the Good News to poor people. He has sent Me to heal those with a sad heart. He has sent Me to tell those who are being held that they can go free. He has sent Me to make the blind to see and to free those who are held because of trouble.” Luke 4:18 (NLV)

“Why can’t you get it together?”

“If you would just try harder.”

Have you heard any of these statements? Maybe you’ve even said them to yourself.

Perhaps those who stood on a hot hillside in Nazareth were asking themselves the same questions. Many tried hard to follow all the religious laws, but knew they fell short. Would Jesus give them more rules to follow? Imagine their surprise as Jesus spelled out His personal mission statement:

I’ve come to open the eyes of the blind.

I’ve come to set the prisoner free.

I’ve come with good news for the poor in spirit.

I’ve come to heal the brokenhearted.

The crowd must have been shocked by His words, for they expected a warrior, not a heart surgeon. Jesus Himself was setting the record straight. He came so that we might be made whole … through Him.

For those who had been trying harder, striving more, it was a transforming message. They were accustomed to following rules or meeting expectations of man, rather than resting in the power of their almighty God.

When I became a believer, I didn’t understand Jesus’ mission statement. I was dealing with untended brokenness and trying everything to fix myself. When I grasped the power of Luke 4:18, this truth changed me:

The power of the cross is not found in what I do, but in what has already been done for me.

Jesus didn’t mean for us to do this alone. It’s not our strength or power that will transform us. Yes, we make changes. Yes, we open our broken heart to His tender touch. Yes, we allow Him to move us in uncomfortable directions to discover new paths — and leave old ones behind. But we are in a partnership with God … and He’s bigger.

I also discovered I didn’t have to earn God’s love. Maybe, like me, you thought God would love you one day, when you had it all together.

Jesus’ mission statement proclaims that He loves us today. With our baggage and hurting hearts. When we grasp that kind of love, it changes us. It compels us to return that love, and to trust Jesus from our hearts.

This trust helps us listen for His voice. We sense when He is teaching or redirecting us. We weigh temptation in light of our love for our heavenly Father. This relationship helps us discover our “true selves, [our] child-of-God selves” (John 1:12, The Message).

Last, Luke 4:18 reminded me that I didn’t have to run away just because I felt broken.

A hurting heart can send us running down paths we may regret, searching for something or someone to ease our pain. Jesus’ mission statement invites us to stop running and rest in Him, expectant that our true selves will emerge with His healing touch.

The truth of Luke 4:18 is ours today to hold close, for Jesus came to heal our hurting hearts.

Dear Jesus, for the longest time I’ve been concentrating on my efforts, but today I expectantly rest in You. Thank You that the power of the cross is not in what I do, but in what has already been done for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

The_Mended_heart_2_largeIsn’t it such a relief to know you don’t need to fix yourself, or earn God’s love or run any more. In fact, the more we don’t do these things, the more we live in Him;  the more we build a foundation of rest and trust; the more joy we rediscover in our faith and in our lives.

What will you not do today?

Click “Share Your Thoughts” below do just that to enter to win one of 5 copies of Suzie’s new book, The Mended Heart.  

If you are reading this via email, click here to return to my blog and be part of the giveaway. {Your comment has to be left below this post to enter. Thanks!}

When You Have a Burden But Don’t Want to Be One

AskingForPrayer

My email was supposed to be a prayer request, but it started out sounding more like an apology. Although we needed friends to pray, I was hesitant to ask because I didn’t want my request to be a burden for anyone.

A few years ago my husband J.J. was having health problems and needed to have a liver biopsy. His doctor told us it was  precautionary, so we weren’t sure if it would end up being anything serious in the end. And that made me hesitant to tell people about it. Yet I knew I didn’t want to walk through it alone or in my own strength.

Fifteen minutes after I sent my email, several friends started telling me they were praying. Not only did my friends pray – they thanked me for sharing what was going on and for letting them be there for me.

For someone who hates to impose on others, I need to remember that asking for prayer isn’t about putting burdens on my friends. Asking for prayer is about letting our friends walk by our side down a path that we were  never intended to walk alone. {today’s post is a partial excerpt from my #AConfidentHeart #Devotional book}

Is it hard to ask others to pray for you?

Let’s stretch ourselves today and let others walk beside us  in prayer by sharing a burden and then praying for one another. Briefly share one things we can pray for you by clicking “Share Your Heart” below this post. Then  leave a prayer or say “I’ve prayed for you” under the request left before yours. Ready.Set.Pray.

for I AM {with you}

Nothing comforts me like God’s promises.  Nothing calms my heart the way He can.

And on those days when I need to be brave and know I’m not alone, I remember the first time He spoke these words into my fearful heart and it made all the difference, over 25 years ago:

So Do Not Fear

This beautiful scripture art and more is 10% off at Emily Burger’s Designs
through tomorrow {Sunday March 9th} at midnight.

Enter RENEESWOPE at checkout & 10% will be taken off your  purchase.
Find Emily’s beautiful {scripture art HERE} and {canvas prints} HERE.

This gracious discount is for your benefit only. I will not receive any proceeds from this offer.

Romans 8:28 Canvas Print {winner}

Roman8.28 Canvas

The winner of last week’s canvas print giveaway is Karen
whose email starts with “prov31_kdc”. We’ve got your email Karen, and we’ll be in touch to get your mailing address.

If you’d like order this Romans 8:28 framed canvas print, Emily is  offering us {ALL} a 10% discount through tomorrow – Sunday March 9th at midnight. It comes ready to hang, or it can be set on a desk for a great reminder of God’s promise in your life! The canvas  is 6 by 6 inches, and the frame around the outside makes this piece approximately 8 inches square.

Use the code RENEESWOPE at checkout on Emily’s site, and 10% will be taken off your total purchase. Find her beautiful {scripture art HERE} and {canvas prints} HERE.

This gracious discount is for your benefit only. I will not receive any proceeds from this offer.

He works {all things} together for good?

“I need extra praying power. I had a biopsy Thursday, and now I’m waiting for results. Having a tough time, both because of the pain and the unknowns.” 

As I read Michele’s text, my heart ached. Why God? Why now? Why this? Why Michele? Hasn’t she been through so much already this year? 

Roman8.28 Canvas

Michele’s reaction has been a  lot more mature and faith-filled than mine. She is determined to trust God’s promise to make {all things} work together for good.

And even in this place of not-knowing how He will keep His promise, she’s courageously sharing her story on her blog. Holding out the same hope she is holding onto – Michele wants God to use her not-knowing to help others who may be wondering how He’ll keep His {all things} promise to them.

From Michele’ s blog:

“I did everything I could to prevent it. But, in the end, it didn’t matter.

It was time for my regular check-up with my cancer surgeon. The one who did my surgery in 2010. The one I’ve seen every two months since. As of December, I’ve been cancer-free for three years.

Which is why I never again wanted hear these words: “Michele, I think we need to do another biopsy.”

My heart sunk when she told me. It’s what I feared; what I’d tried so hard to avoid.

But no amount of wishing and wanting changed the reality of what was.

So now, I wait. Life hovers.

This not-knowing place is all too familiar. It’s a place with which every survivor is well-acquainted. A space between suspicions and answers, between illness and wholeness.

I know I’m not alone here. We all have our unknowns. Those God-awful not-knowing spaces that shred us with worry and steal our peace.

The adult child who left home without looking back.

The marriage on the brink of a dissolution.

The church that might close its doors.

The struggling child who may never be “whole.”

The once-precious friendship that flounders.

The financial predicament without a solution.

The mental illness that scares you to death.

I’ve lost count of my not-knowing spaces. These are the places I most dread, when I have neither answers nor control. A painful limbo, a long stretching between what is and what will be.

But life doesn’t have to end in the middle of not-knowing. 

It’s possible to laugh, dance and celebrate all the goodness of this life, even knowing it could change tomorrow. Maybe especially then.

I’ve decided this: I will not put my joy on hold.

I will not wait for the phone to ring before I decide to laugh and dance. Not this time. It’s a cost I’m not willing to pay again. Instead, this time I choose to live.

So how do you keep living when your world has stopped?

Tell yourself the truth. Fear thrives on three lies: (1) I am alone, (2) I am powerless, (3) I am without hope. In the absence of answers, fear fills in the gaps. Instead, tell yourself the truth: You are never alone. God’s power thrives in impossible situations. And there is always, always hope.

Don’t get ahead of the calendar. This is a tough one for me. Somehow I think by worrying I can wield control. As if anticipating what might come next week or next year will help me cope with it once it happens. This is a lie. Worrying about tomorrow only serves to rob you of today. Instead, take each day as it comes. No less, no more.

Take stock of all the goodness. Even in the not-knowing, there is good to be found. The smile of a friend. The kindness of a family member. The warmth of the sun. The touch of a hand. The world may be collapsing around you, but beauty is hidden in the rubble. Reach for it, like treasure. Then, write it down. The person anchored in upheaval is the one determined to dig up the gold.

Allow yourself to be loved.  It’s okay to lean on someone else in your not-knowing place. It’s okay to say, “I’m weary,” “I’m scared,” or “I don’t know what to do.” Say it outloud. Write it down. Allow someone who loves you to hear the truth of your heart. Only then is the burden shared. Only then does the waiting place become a haven of relationship.

It’s been a week now. And Michele didn’t get the answer she (we) prayed and hoped for. Her biopsy results came in: the cancer is back. She’s cried and wished God’s plans were different. But she told me last night she has this Holy peace, almost like bubble-wrap, around her heart. A peace that could only come from knowing God is working {even this} together for good.

What messy not-knowing place are you in today? Which one of Michele’s four “ways to keep living” do you need most?

Roman8.28 CanvasENTER TO WIN
Slip a note with your thoughts or a prayer for Michele in the comments below. Each comment will be entered to win this gift from my sweet friend and amazing artist Emily Burger.

Emily is giving away a beautiful Romans 8:28 framed canvas print! It comes ready to hang, or it can be set on a desk for a great reminder of God’s promise in your life! The canvas  is 6 by 6 inches, and the frame around the outside makes this piece approximately 8 inches square. Emily is ALSO graciously offering us {ALL} a 10% discount this week!


Use the code RENEESWOPE at checkout on Emily’s site, and 10% will be taken off your total purchase. Find her beautiful {scripture art HERE} and {canvas prints} HERE.

This gracious discount is for your benefit only. I will not receive any proceeds from this offer.


Let God Love {YOU} Contest Winners

LetGodLoveYou.Contest2

CONGRATULATIONS 

Krystal Bowman Kirk & Sharon @faithhopecherrytea

You are the winners of my
#LetGodLoveYou
Confident Heart Contest!

We’ve got your emails! And we’ll be in touch to get your mailing addresses so we can send you:

2 signed copies of my Confident Heart Devotional book

a $50 gift card to Amazon or Target (you choose)

and a Scripture Print from Emily Burger Designs!

THANK {{YOU}} to each and every one of you who participated on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, your blogs, etc. We had over 600 entries!! More than anything, I have loved watching you share God’s promises and the power of His love with your friends and family!

Let’s keep sharing His {LOVE}!
I’ve got more inspiration and giveaways coming this week!