When You Just Don’t Know… {plus a Giveaway}

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God says you are His masterpiece.
That your life is a work of art.

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But sometimes life doesn’t feel like art.
Some days life looks more like a mess.
And you just don’t know how God could view you any differently. 

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You can’t see the layers of His grace and truth.
Sometimes is hard to recognize His hues of hope.

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It’s easy to forget that art is a process
and that you’re in the middle of being made.

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On those days when you just don’t {know}
remember you are {KNOWN}
by the One who is making you.

I recently received this beautiful print from Jennifer at  Studio JRU.  It’s been a such a powerful reminder of God’s work in my life, in my mess and in His making of me.  Jennifer recently shared at (in)Courage the story behind her new “Layered” art collection:

Layers fascinate me. I find such beauty in them. Each layer has a purpose. Each layer adds a bit of color, pattern and dimension. Beauty and interest. Using one layer would never have the same outcome. I need many layers to come together to create beauty in one painting.

Each layer matters.  Some layers are less visible, yet they are important to the whole. Without those layers, you wouldn’t have the beauty and complexity of the complete piece.

Very much like God’s work in us. Our experiences are layers of colors. Our journeys are layers of patterns. We are God’s beautiful masterpiece. And we have so many more layers to come. More wonderful, beautiful, complex, life-changing layers to come!

StudioJRU Art Prints for Renee SwopeWhich one of these prints above {from Jennifer’s “Layered Collection”} would you like to have as a reminder of something God is doing, or has done, in your life?  Click “Share Your Thoughts” below this post and let us know. You will be ENTERED TO WIN the piece of your choice. One winner will be chosen and announced next week. 

Jennifer is offering a special 15% discount in her art store - just for you, through 10/24/14. Simply use the discount code: creativity at checkout for 15% off. CLICK HERE to visit Jennifer’s online art studio and store!

Jennifer is a mixed media artist living in rural Nebraska – gravel roads, fresh air, peace and quiet. Married to her patient and supportive best friend and husband, Heydon, Jennifer has had a lifelong passion to create art that reflects the beauty of God, bringing joy and inspiration to those who see it. 

Magnetic & Messy Beautiful Love {Giveaway Winners}

photo The three winner’s of my Magnetic Giveaway are: Debbie F., Drisana G., and Maureen C.

You will each receive a copy of Lynn Cowell’s new book, “Magnetic: Becoming the Girl He Wants.”


We have your emails from your entries, so my assistant Megan will be in touch to get your mailing addresses. 


Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 2.44.52 PM The two winner’s of my Messy Beautiful Love Giveaway are: Sonia(@yahoo) and Jessica B.

 You will each receive a copy of Darlene Schacht’s new book, Messy Beautiful Love: Hope and  Redemption for Real-Life Marriages

We have your emails from your entries, so my assistant Megan will be in touch to get your mailing addresses. 


Pumpkin Spice Grace & Fall Book-Bundle Give-away


Have you ever gotten that awful pit-in-your-stomach feeling after finding out you let someone down? 

It felt like the wind had been knocked out of me as I read through an email from a client, sent to my manager and forwarded to me, describing how I had let some details fall through the cracks on a project.

A horrible sense of discouragement and embarrassment moved in for the kill.

In the past, I would have welcomed my uninvited critical thoughts to stay a while, resigned to the fact that I must be unable to do anything right!

But not this time; too many hurtful experiences had taught me to recognize failure as an opportune time for my opponent, the devil, to devour me with feelings of inadequacy and shame. This enemy is bent on making me believe that when my best isn’t good enough, I’m not good enough.

Fortunately, times of pain have also included hours of poring over God’s promises, gathering wisdom to deal with this unwelcome intruder. I have learned to be alert to the devil’s schemes and ready to stand against them. In 1 Peter 5:8-9, Peter tells us how:

“Keep your mind clear, and be alert. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion as he looks for someone to devour. Be firm in the faith and resist him, knowing that other believers throughout the world are going through the same kind of suffering” (1 Peter 5:8-9).

After reading the email and letting my thoughts run wild for a few minutes, I knew I had to clear my mind. I asked the Holy Spirit to help me un-clutter my thoughts with the clarity of truth from logistical, circumstantial and spiritual points of view….

Read the rest of this story and what happened in my Encouragement for Today on the Proverbs 31 Ministries blog. But BEFORE YOU go…

ENTER to WIN a Fall Book-Bundle

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I’m giving away 3 Fall Book-Bundles
including my Confident Heart Devotional and Lysa TerKeurst’ new best-selling
book, The Best Yes! I’m giving away 3 bundles that include a copy of each book
plus a fall-scented candle from Bath & Body Works!

How to ENTER: She your thoughts about today’s devotion OR how you’ve walked through needing to remember your best is in good enough in God’s eyes even when it’s not good enough in the eyes of others.
Just click SHARE your THOUGHTS below this post and you’ll be entered to win.
{If you are reading this via email, PLEASE click here to ENTER}

Happy Fall Ya’ll!

Messy Beautiful Love

A guest post from my friend, ~Darlene Schacht, The Time-Warp Wife

Darkness enveloped the sky drawing its curtain around us, while the rumble of thunder composed a symphony of sound that was carried by on the wings of the wind.

It was only 8 pm, but Michael was fast asleep. Stretched out on his recliner by the window, he dozed off while two little puppies wrestled under his chair.

The steady tip-tapping of rain made me want to curl up beside him and fall asleep too, but I had some dishes that needed to be cleared away and some laundry to do for the morning.

I wasn’t surprised to see him sleeping like that. I knew he’d be exhausted after the crazy week he just had. Working overtime every night, he was struggling to catch up at work.

And the weekend? It wasn’t much better. Since he’s been at the shop so much lately, the honey-do list was long and he was determined to get it all done.

He’s a hard worker, there’s no doubt about that. And weeks like this remind me of just how hard he pushes himself when the going gets tough.

There’s a lot of weight on that man’s shoulders. In fact, I can say that about most husbands I know. Even when they aren’t facing deadlines at work, they are dealing with the spiritual and financial responsibilities that come with leading a family.

While many of them appear to have everything under control, most of our husbands would not only appreciate encouragement from us, they would benefit from it.

Any mom who cares for a growing child knows the importance of praise in their children’s life. Not only does it help to build a healthy sense of self-esteem, it also reminds a child that he or she is loved.

In the same way, any wife who cares for her husband will also know the importance of praise in a marriage. It’s vital to a growing relationship.

Matthew L. Jacobson once wrote, “We need your affirmation – we have to have it and, oh, how we thrive with it. Typically, men are quiet about these things but that doesn’t mean we need and enjoy our wife’s affirmation any less. And every man feels it: When his woman is behind him, he can slay dragons.”

Do you realize that there are four verses in Proverbs alone that talk about nagging wives? They are referred to as quarrelsome, fretful, and a continual dripping. If you have ever experienced a leaky roof, you’ll know how annoying that is. We experienced one about 20 years ago in our back porch, and regardless of how many times I emptied the pail it would only fill up again.

That’s the danger with nagging. It becomes a never-ending habit if left unchecked, and unfortunately it festers resentment. Praise on the other hand has the reverse affect. It builds the bond of marriage and draws a couple closer together.

That’s only two of the benefits, but there are so many more. Let’s look at five of them:

  1. When you affirm him, you are affirming your love for him. Knowing that someone loves you deeply strengthens the bond of marriage. Think of it this way: we form the strongest friendships with those that we deeply trust.
  2. When you praise him for the little things he does, it’s more likely that he’ll be encouraged to repeat them in the future.
  3. When I praise my husband, whether it be in his presence or in his absence, we bear witness of our marriage covenant. Keeping in mind that marriage reflects the covenant between Jesus Christ and the church it’s important to honor our vows in the best way we know how.
  4. Kindness is an attractive quality. There’s no possible way a wife can be attractive when she’s constantly nagging her husband. Sure, you can put the pretty on, but unless you’re also attractive it wears thin. There’s nothing appealing about a critical spirit.
  5. He’ll be glad to come home. Let’s face it, the world is tough place. Many of our husbands are dealing with difficult situations at work and need a sense of relief when they walk through the door. Unfortunately, some other husbands are working with women who are building them up outside of the home. If we want a husband who is glad to come home to his wife, we can make him feel welcome by letting him know that we appreciate him, that we respect him, and that we’re glad he is with us.

You are loved by an almighty God,

~Darlene Schacht
The Time-Warp Wife

Check out Darlene Schacht’s newest book, Messy Beautiful Love: Hope and Redemption for Real-Life Marriages


Messy Beautiful Love delivers an incredible testimony of grace that offers hope for today’s marriages and a spark for rekindling love.

Love gets messy.

Financial problems, sickness, aging parents, a chronically unhappy spouse . . . trials will inevitably come that threaten your marriage. No matter how long you’ve been married or how strong your relationship is, sooner or later you are going to have a mess to clean up.

Messy Beautiful Love is about cleaning up messes God’s way, exchanging your ideas for His, and being prepared for both the best and the worst that marriage has to offer.

When you surrender your relationship to God, then and only then will you experience the blessing of marriage as He intended. This is the blessing of obedience.

Messy Beautiful Love is an invitation to that obedience. The cynical world says marriages don’t last, but God knows better. Tune out the world and tune in to Him. When you do that, a beautiful marriage is not only possible, it’s inevitable.

Want to win a copy?

We’re giving away two copies of Darlene’s book, Messy Beautiful Love. Enter to WIN a copy by clicking “Share Your Thoughts” below this post, and leave us a comment telling us something you love about your husband. We’ll randomly choose two winners. {If you’re reading this via email, click here to ENTER TO WIN by leaving a comment on my blog}

Got a girl you love? {#Magnetic Giveaway}



There is a longing in the heart of every girl. 

A longing to be wanted and pursued.

Each night when I pray for my beautiful girl, I want her to hear me thanking God for who she is and for the gift of being her mom! I want her to know she is wanted and valued. That I miss her when we’re not together. I want her to know she’s not a side-item on my very full plate, but she is my heart’s delight and dessert! And you know what? She’s thinks I’m pretty amazing too?

Well… at least for now.

But I’ve been a mommy before. And I know a day is coming when there will be competition for my girl’s attention. 

More than me. More than her daddy. More than her big brothers. One day Aster is going to want a guy to want her, to pursue her, to choose her.

And when it happens, I don’t want to panic and wish I could do something to get her to stop chasing after some guy, hoping he’ll notice her. I want her to know…

She’s already been noticed.

She’s already captured Someone’s heart.

She’s already being pursued.

And even though Aster is only five and a half years old, I’m realizing that now is the time for me to start planting these truths in her heart. But it wasn’t until I read my friend Lynn Cowell’s new book Magnetic: Becoming the Girl He Wants, that I realized I needed help to get started.

Lynn’s new book is for girls (and their moms) to walk alongside and help them discover how to become the best version of the beautiful girl God created her to be. There is so much I love about this message. And that is why I wanted to share with you an excerpt from Chapter One today {and I’ve got 3 copies to give away too!}:

Why doesn’t he like me? I just couldn’t figure it out.

What is it about me that isn’t as attractive as her? Am I not as pretty? Am I too loud? Are my friends not cool enough? The questions gnawed at me, eating away at my confidence. He had liked me once,; surely I could get him to like me again. There had to be a way.

I was determined to find out what was wrong with me.

Back in my own “wish I were dating” days, my highs and lows depended on whether or not I saw him in the hall; my happiness was determined by whether or not he noticed me. The crush I had was crushing me.

I wish there had been someone who could have helped me…someone who could have helped me understand that the longing in my heart pointed not to my need for a guy, but to my deeper need for something, Someone, even greater.

How I wish I had known sooner that I was created to be loved perfectly and unconditionally, made to have my heart filled each and every day with love from the perfect Man – Jesus.

Then I could have spent my time, energy, and emotions, not on a guy I didn’t have, but on the One I did. I could have moved from obsessing over why I wasn’t wanted to becoming the type of girl a godly guy would want. Not just someone to date but someone he’d want to spend the rest of his life with.

I remember making the list, a gargantuan description of everything I was looking for in the guy I would marry one day. The more powerful list would have described the woman I wanted to become, the woman he couldn’t resist!

What would happen if you made the switch now? Shifted your focus off a guy and onto the Guy?

What if, together, we discovered an irresistible beauty deeper than designer clothes, jean sizes, and flaw-free skin? A confidence so attractive, nothing could cause us to lose it? A glamour simply magnetic?

In my quest to discover true beauty, I began to see gorgeous as much more than the face in my mirror. Gorgeous is not skin-deep but heart-deep, a beauty that develops as my heart discovers and returns True Love.

This beauty, this attractiveness, is found in the girl who has what I call “captivating characteristics”—what the Bible calls “the fruit of the Spirit.” These heart traits are described in Galatians 5:22–23: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

These magnetic traits are the result, or fruit, of the girl who has given her entire life to Jesus. The girl who spends her emotional energy allowing Him to live His life through her.

But, you don’t have to burn yourself out trying to become perfect. These gorgeous qualities will show up as you spend time with God and He pours His perspective into you!

When you’re “planted” in God, He provides all you need to reach your full potential—to be the best you you can be!

And, instead of chasing after the guy running from you, you’re pursuing the One coming after you. In the process of seeking His heart, you’ll become the amazing individual He designed you to be, a girl who is irresistibly magnetic, beautiful inside and out!


Packed with honesty, encouragement and perspective-changing Magnetic, truth by Lynn Cowell,(available at AmazonB&NCBDeverywhere books are sold), will empower girls and young woman to reach their fullest potential by focusing on becoming who God made them to be! A girl who reflects God’s love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. A girl who will attract the right type of guy one day: one who loves God with all his heart and who will cherish her!

CLICK “Share Your Thoughts” under this post and ENTER to WIN! 

Lynn Cowell is a Proverbs 31 speaker and the author of several books including “Magnetic: Becoming the Girl He Wants”.  Her passion is to empower wise women to raise wiser daughters. Her husband and their three children live in North Carolina where they love to hike, raft and enjoy anything that includes chocolate and peanut butter!

#TheBestYes Giveaway Winners

The five winner’s of my recent #TheBestYes giveaway are:
Valerie H., LaTosha, Maureen G., Marie M., Missy L.

You will each receive a copy of Lysa TerKeurst new book, The Best Yes.

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We have your emails from your entries, so my assistant Megan
will be in touch to get your mailing addresses. 

#TheBestYes: Replay and Giveaways

Let's recapture US

Do you ever feel like those you care about most tend
to get “less” 
of you instead of the “best” of you?

I often do. Yet, I long with all my heart to put my head on my pillow each night with a smile on my face, knowing I lived and loved that day with no regrets.

Sounds impossible doesn’t it? Living with no regrets…

  • No regrets about the time I spent with my family or the time I spent at work.
  • No regrets about the commitments I said “yes” to or the ones I “passed” on.
  • No regrets about the way I did or didn’t spend my soul seeking and serving God.

But how? How can we give more of our “best” than our “less” to those we love? How can we recapture the {us} in the midst of our rush? I’m finally learning how.

Not perfectly. Not even consistently. But I’m learning… Slowly learning.

Page by page. Chapter by chapter. Decision by decision as I read my new all-time favorite book, written by one of my closest friends: The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst And, did you know Lysa invited us to her house to hang out and talk about all of this….and more during #TheBestYes Dinner webcast. You, me and a few friends from Proverbs 31 Ministries! I hope you’ll join us.

Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 2.46.21 PMWATCH & WIN:
I’m giving away 5 signed copies of #TheBestYes here on my blog this week! All you need to do is WATCH the webcast and ANSWER a question or two about the webcast in the comments below this post.

1. Look at the questions below and then watch the webcast at www.LysaTerKeurst.com 

2. Come back, click “Share Your Thoughts” and answer one of the questions in the comments.

  • Q1. How many of us were at Lysa’s house for dinner, and how many children did we {collectively} leave at home to be together?
  • Q2. I shared on the webcast how Jesus didn’t see interruptions as interruptions, but instead He saw them as ________________.  {Fill in the blank}
  • Q3. Lysa shared the three D’s that help her realize  her “people-pleasing” tendency is kicking in when she _________ saying yes, but feels powerless to say no. What are the 3 Ds? Hint: The first D fills in the blank and completes Lysa’s statement.
  • Q4. What is one thing we hope you’ll do after watching the webcast?

I can’t wait to read your responses! I’ll be back with more giveaways on Friday and next week to announce these 5 book winners too. 

We’re Celebrating 5 Years of (in)Courage:ment {& giveaways galore}

Five years. Five years and thousands of women across the globe gathering at (in)courage each new day with their words.


Five years ago, this place was created on the internet for women to gather.

A place that has become a shelter from the storm for so many. A heart-space filled with words that offer sanctuary in the midst of raging headlines, changing seasons and aching wounds of the world.

And this Spring my hand and my heart joined with theirs – becoming family – in this gathering of women who create a cathedral of words and hide in the shelter of His Word {together} at (in)courage! Oh how I love being part of this place where “we take off our shoes and come with our bare, dirty feet to sit and kneel and circle around one another… a place where we see glory in all our ordinary.”

A place where Jesus makes us sisters, every one… and you, you are one of us, too.

This week we are celebrating our 5 year (in)Courage birthday with thanksgiving & lot of giving of pretty, awesome, fun, encouraging gifts galore! Hop over to the party with me and ENTER TO WIN!



Words For The Weary


They met while Jill  was coaching Leanne’s 13-year-old daughter, Shelby, on a junior high basketball team. Years later, when Shelby was in high school she got seriously injured, and Jill reached out to her with encouragement, prayers and notes filled with words Shelby needed to hear.

One day Leanne sat down and wrote a letter to Jill, thanking her for the difference she was making in her daughter’s life. She described qualities of a great coach, and how she saw those in Jill, calling her a “bright light” that shined in many lives, including theirs.

What Leanne didn’t know is that months later Jill would go home one night to an empty apartment feeling bombarded by feelings of despair,  paralyzing self-doubts and a deep questioning of her purpose in life.

Battling clinical depression and living under the weight of feeling worthless, Jill contemplated suicide.

But that night as Jill pondered her fate, she opened her journal to write in it and a piece of paper fell out…..

CLICK HERE to keep reading Jill’s story in my post over at (in)courageIf you’re heart could use a big dose of encouragement, I hope you’ll join me there!


When Self-Doubt Weighs Us Down {a FREE 7-Day Doubt Diet}

7DayDoubtDietDoes doubt or discouragement every weight you down? Are you tired of carrying the heavy load of uncertainty and insecurity?

If so, I hope you’ll sign up for my FREE 7-day Doubt Diet. Created with some of the most impactful parts of my book, A Confident Heart, I’ve written a short devotional for friends like you. My FREE 7-day Doubt Diet is something you can do separate from my book or go through to see if overcoming self-doubt is a topic you want to dig into through my book.

Join me and over 80,000 women from around the world who’ve lost the weight of self-doubt and gained a confident heart! To get started, enter your name & email in my sidebar form--> and you’ll start receiving my 7-day Doubt Diet Devotions today!


[If you're reading this via email, click here to sign up for the FREE 7-day Doubt Diet on my blog.]

What is in The 7-day Doubt Diet?
Filled with daily insights, powerful promises, and daily scripture-based prayers, I’ve written a week’s worth of FREE Confident Heart devotions from my book! It’s perfect to do with a few friends, co-workers, neighbors or family and to make it easy for you to invite them to join you, here’s an easy invite to share on Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ or via email:

Invite a Friend
Do you want to join me in losing the weight of discouragement and self-doubt? Renee Swope, from Proverbs 31 Ministries is offering a FREE “7-day Doubt Diet.” Just click here to enter your information in her sidebar, and you’ll receive a week’s worth of devotions from her upcoming book, A Confident Heart. Let me know so we encourage one another along the way.

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What Women are Saying about The 7-day Doubt Diet

Wow what a wake up call..I have sat for months maybe years filled with doubt. I realize now it had consumed me and was contemplating taking my own life..that is until I heard you on the radio then looked you up and now on day 2 of the 7 day challenge..You have made a difference and changed a life. Thank you! 

“Renee, it’s as if you are speaking straight to my own life! Thank you for sharing your story and offering encouragement for others, like me!”

“As I was reading day 1, I felt like you were writing about me. I, too, have found myself many times not doing things that would have brought me joy because of feelings of not being good enough. I am so looking forward to these 7 days!”

Did you write these devotions especially for me?! Again, today’s was perfect for my life and thoughts. You are either a mind reader or His messenger of words on a topic no one else has dared to speak on before. (I know it’s the second). I love the details with the topic/Bible verses. I’m going to print that out as a reminder until it is etched in my brain. Also, I love how you incorporated the story of Eve! I had never thought of it like that — Eve was tricked into thinking she wasn’t enough… She needed to be more and have more — great point!!! Thank you!