3 Steps to Get God’s Peace {Printable & GiveAway}

WhenWorryComes

When life gets overwhelming, do you ever feel like you might suffocate under everything you need to do? 

Does worry ever weave it’s way into your heart and consume your thoughts with concern?

If I’m not careful, worry can wear me out and make me want to quit… just about everything!

In my Encouragement for Today devotion  today, I shared about one of my melting points from a few years ago. And how I took my husband’s advice to write down everything on my plate so I could ask God what needed to be cut back.

I listed my commitments and concerns, deadlines and dates on my calendar with every appointment, event, conference call and meeting I could think of for the next six months.

And I prayed: Please God, show me where I need to make changes.

I assumed the Holy Spirit would suggest adjustments in my schedule, but that’s not what happened. God didn’t tell me to make cut backs at work or in ministry. He didn’t show me our family had too many activities. He didn’t challenge me to take a sabbatical, although I was hoping He would.

Jesus showed me it was worry not my workload that was making me weary. 

You see, without realizing it I was spending as much time thinking and worrying about concerns, commitments, circumstances and deadlines as I did working on them.

It was not only how I spent my time, but how I spent my thoughts that left me depleted.

But it wasn’t until I brought it all to God, and wrote it all out, that I recognized what was happening. I wonder if that’s why Peter tells us: “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT)

The apostle Paul tells us the same thing, and shows us how:

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and A him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7, NLT)

But it’s not easy. Honestly, our natural tendency is to take control. And we have an enemy who suggests we do. His whispers sound something like this:  “Don’t be calm about anything; instead worry about everything. Tell God what He should do. Then take control if He doesn’t listen. And your concerns will consume your heart, eroding your peace with worry and doubt!

But we don’t have to listen to the lies. Instead let’s listen to God’s promises, and take these 3 steps to get God’s peace:

3 Steps To Getting God's Peace (1)

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Heart & Soul GiveAway {Comments pt 2}

ENTER TO WIN
Click “Share Your Thoughts” and do just that on my blog today. Your comment will be your entry into my “Heart-and-Soul Spa” gift-pack GIVEAWAY that includes my A Confident Heart Devotional book, my favorite prayer journal and a Bath & Body Works gift card! {If you are reading this via email, join us on my blog to enter to win!}

 

3 Truths To Hold Onto When Our Plans Don’t Go As Planned

20150415_ReneeSwope_imperfections-EDIT

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 turn into “the frazzled friend” I can become when planning a get-together, I banned myself from Pinterest and my own desire for “perfect.”

I planned ahead and recruited help from a friend. Together we would be prepared. Simple appetizers and decorations. A few pretty touches. My biggest desire? I just wanted to be ready early, with time to spare and room to breathe.

I wanted to enjoy this night. I wanted to feel calm and happy when guest arrived. I wanted to greet each friend face to face and let her know she was not only welcomed, she was wanted.

But even the simplest of plans don’t always go as planned.
A crisis at work kept my husband from being able to help me get the house clean. Traffic was horrible and my friend/co-host got stuck on the other side of town, unable to come early to help 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 was coming undone.
My kitchen was a mess. Food wasn’t ready. And just as women started arriving, my tech-savvy-son told me our computer wasn’t compatible with our television, which meant streaming the inRL sessions (a highly anticipated part of our evening) was looking like another fail.

Deep disappointment and a slight sense of panic came crashing in.

Why do I even try??  I so desperately wanted to enjoy this night. These friends. And then I remembered…

CLICK HERE to join me on the (in)Courage blog today, where I’m sharing three powerful truths I learned that helped me 1)reset my perspective 2) see my imperfections as a gift 3)enjoy the party!

By His side, I’m led. {a Promise & a Prayer}

Wisdom&Vision

The longer I live, the more I realize how much I desperately need Jesus.
On my own, I’m overwhelmed, confused, torn in a million directions.
By His side… I’m led.

Jesus, as I walk into a new week please keep me close.
I need Your wisdom and vision to see my circumstances
(no matter what they may be)
through Your perspective and grace.

 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously
to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.
James 1:5, NIV

EasterWreath_Psalm118

http://reneeswope.com/2015/04/resurrection-hope/

I want what I want… and I don’t want to wait for it.

When I Give God Control

Patience is not a strength of mine.

I want what I want… and I don’t want to wait for it.

Some days my inability to wait without complaining is painfully obvious.

Like one recent afternoon I sped up, instead of slowing down, when the light turned yellow.

And my son asked why I did that. Before sifting my thoughts through a filter of wisdom, I told Andrew I didn’t want to stop and wait at the red light.

Not good. Not good at all. Where is the duck tape when you need it?

That same week I heard myself grumbling to JJ about waiting on God for direction in a decision I was trying to make.

I didn’t like how it sounded after it came out of my mouth.

I know better and I want to do better.

After all, my oh-so-patient Father calls me to live “with humility, gentleness, and patience.” (Col. 3:12)

But patience isn’t possible unless my heart is closely connected to HIS.

I have to attach my hope to the fact that He is in control.

Stoplights are good for the  soul.

And I can trust Him.

When I give God control, His ways and timing are always better than mine. @ReneeSwope {Click to Tweet}

A Promise & A Prayer {new every morning}

GreatIsHisFaithfulness

Jesus, I’m so grateful for Your love and compassion
that never fails. They are new every morning.
Not just on my good mornings, or mornings that follow good days.
But every single morning. Your faithfulness is so much more than I deserve.  

 

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23

Instead of Giving In…

GodEmpowers

I’ve always admired people who never give in.

You know, the ones who don’t consider defeat when they blow it?

I wish I were that brave.

But honestly, I tend to beat myself up a little when I fall short of the woman I want to be, or the woman God is calling me to be. Like the other day when I got upset with my son and went on a rant about his room being a mess.

Soon after, my internal bully (the mean voice in my head) started ranting about the mess I had just made and how I’d blown my chance of being a good mom that day. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve let failure knock me down, tie me up with ropes of regret and hold me hostage for a day, or two.

Maybe you’ve been there? If so, let can I whisper some assurance into your heart. You are not alone. I am with you and so are a boat load of other women just like us. In fact, while I was writing  A Confident Heart, I surveyed over a thousand women and discovered two of the most common causes of self-doubt are rooted in our past failures and our fear of failing in the future.

The greatest defeat comes when we allow failures, sins, and broken relationships to convince us we might as well give in.

But look at what God tell us in Psalm 37:23-24, and insert your name in the blanks as you read it:

“The steps of ____________ are established by the Lord, and He delights in ____________’s way. When ____________ falls, __________ will not be hurled headlong, because the Lord is the One who holds ________’s hand.” (NASB)

Instead of giving in, Jesus wants to empower us to get up again. {Read the rest of today’s post on (in)Courage) where I’m sharing more about giving in or letting Jesus help us get up again. I’d love to connect with you there!

Oh my word{s}!

KeepItShut

Why did I say that? Why couldn’t I just keep my mouth shut? If only I had zipped my lips!

At least once a week I say something I regret. Sometimes it’s more like once a day. Or more.

Words come too easily for me. Especially words fueled by flaming-hot-emotions.

Sometimes it’s the words I say but other times it’s the way I say them.

The struggle is real. And I’m seeing a correlation between my emotional exhaustion and my verbal exhaust fumes.

The more depleted I feel, the more impatient I become with my tongue, my timing and my tone.

Thankfully, my good friend Karen Ehman has written a whole book to help me. In her new book, Keep It Shut: What To Say, How To Say It, and When To Say Nothing at All, Karen shares her own honest struggles, regrets, and hard-fought wisdom packed with a humorous punch. And today, I asked Karen to share something I loved from Chapter 9 that has significantly helped me (and thousands of others) reduce my word-regret.

Karen_headshot1“I am the proud owner of a  Snuggie®. Yep, I have one of the “amazing blanket with sleeves.”

It was a surprise gift from my husband last year along with some dark chocolate, sort of as a joke. But do you know what? I absolutely adore this wacky infomercial item!

Not only can I stay toasty warm in the Michigan winters while typing on my laptop with my arms completely free and functional, but that cozy wrap is the softest blanket I’ve ever owned. It just begs me to swaddle myself up inside its fluffiness and sit for a spell. My only trouble with it is that my kids often steal it for themselves!

Softness feels good. It calms me down. Comforts me. Makes me feel wanted and welcomed.

I want my words to be like a Snuggie® – something soft and calming and comforting. Especially when I’m trying to answer a question asked by someone I love who is getting on my nerves. For example:

“Mom? Where’s my football jersey?”

“Honey, you don’t mind if my mom comes to stay for a week, do you?”

“Mom? Will you make your oatmeal dried-cherry cookies for my first-hour class? There are thirty-two kids, and I told Mr. Billings you would make some for me to take. Oh yeah. Tomorrow.” (Question posed at 10:15 p.m.)

“Do you mind sending me that information right away?” from a coworker who lost the emails already sent two other times.

So, what is the the biblically best (and softest) way to respond when irksome questions come flying our way? Proverbs 15:1 tells us: “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (ESV)

Sadly, this is wisdom I don’t always follow. I can snip. Be snarky. Escalate the climate by barking back with another question like, “Well, how am I supposed to know where your jersey is? I’m not the defensive tackle for the junior varsity football team, and it isn’t my job to know where your things are, so deal with it, bubba. You can wear your sister’s pink dance leotard for all I care!”

Un-soft answers only worsen the mama drama in my house. And they don’t win many points with my coworkers or neighbors either. When we give an un-soft answer, we drizzle a little gasoline on the tiniest spark of a potential spat. It may combust and flare, setting off a big old blaze. However, when when we are intentional about giving a gentle answer to (sometimes foolish) questions, it prevents the anger from escalating into an inferno.

Giving a soft answer doesn’t mean I don’t give a truthful one; I just give it in a respectful and kind manner. The mark of a soft answer is that it doesn’t spark higher levels of friction and irritation but instead sets the stage for a healthy discussion. For example …

“I don’t know where your jersey is, but I need you to take charge of it yourself. I already have so many things I need to keep track of.”

“What week are you thinking of? I’m snowed under right now, so even thinking about having a houseguest stresses me out.”

“Honey, I wished you’d told me sooner about the cookies. I guess you’re just going to have to disappoint your teacher. We can pick up some store-bought ones on the way to school.”

“Here is that information. Lost emails are a bother, aren’t they? I’ve had that problem too. You might try an archiving service.”

In addition to these “softer” answers, I’ve asked myself a few questions to help pinpoint when and why I become irked, so I can plan ahead, and I encourage you try it. Just get a way by yourself for a few minutes and jot down your answers:

List the last three to five times you verbally let loose, and regretted something you said and/or how you said it.

Are there commonalities in these situations? ie. people, circumstances, physical or emotional states, etc.

Write down one or two patterns or triggers you see about why or when your anger gets the best of you? 

Which patterns or triggers happen most often? For example: We’re running late for school or church. I’m interacting with a difficult coworker. I am tired. I am hungry. I’m overwhelmed.

Briefly consider the patterns that happen at home or at work, and how you and your family members/co-workers could do things differently to begin breaking bad patterns and create new, healthy ones. For instance: Can someone else help pack lunches for school and work? Is there a shortage of supplies? If so, how can you all identify items ahead of time so it’s easier to make sure everyone has what they need?

And for the next week, when someone asks an annoying question and triggers some sparks, silently pause (count to three) and shoot up a prayer asking God to help you craft a truthful, helpful and soft answer. Then watch to see how gentleness softens the climate in your home and at work. God’s word is true: “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

More about Keep It Shut:

kis.book_The average women speaks over 20,000 a day—not to mention the ones we type online. Karen Ehman—a woman whose words have often landed her in a heap of trouble— shares from experience the how’s (and how-not-to’s) of dealing with the tongue in her new book Keep It Shut. Using biblical examples, as well as her own personal (and sometimes painful!) stories, Keep It Shut will equip you to know what to say, how best to say it, and when it’s better to keep our lips zipped! You’ll also learn:

      • The difference between gossip and properly processing with a trusted friend
      • A helpful grid for using our digital tongues as we talk online or on social media
      • How to pause before you pounce, attacking the problem but not the person
      • How to avoid saying something permanently painful just because you are temporarily ticked off
      • What the Bible teaches about making our speech laced with grace, as sweet as honey, and yet seasoned with salt.

Buy-Now-ButtonBuy now from  Proverbs 31 Ministries

 

Buy-Now-Button Buy now on Amazon.com

 

CLICK HERE to watch the the Keep It Shut book trailer on my blog! It’s so good!

 

 

{FREE DOWNLOAD} 3 Steps to Get God’s Peace

Welcome friends!!
I had a technical hiccup with the link from my P31 devotion “When Concern Consumes Me”

CLICK HERE to find my FREE DOWNLOAD “3 Steps to Get God’s Peace
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{See you there. And thanks for joining me today!}