Fear Not For I am With You {FREE printable + giveaway}

FightCourageously

 

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God,
and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)

My 8-year-old son walked into my room before school one morning and declared, “Mom, I don’t want to have any anxious thoughts today!”

“I don’t want to worry about you not being home when I get off the school bus. I don’t want to worry about my teacher not liking my science project. And I don’t want to worry about Dad getting in a car accident! I wish I could be like other kids because they never worry.”

Listening to him describe his fears made my stomach ache. Anxious thoughts had been a companion ever since I was a child, so I knew just how he felt.

However, I assumed my fears stemmed from hard things in my childhood during my parents’ divorce. My anxiety had solid reasoning behind it. My dad left before I was ever born. And by the time I was 2 years old, their divorce was final.

For as long as I could remember, I feared my mom would leave me too. Fear of rejection and abandonment followed me into every relationship I had for the rest of my life: with friends, boyfriends and even my husband.

Somewhere along the way, I accepted worry as a disability and settled into believing I didn’t get to decide how it impacted my life.

Now here I stood with my son who’d declared he wanted a day off from worry! And I was determined to help him get it. I wanted to rip those threads of fear out of his thoughts and make sure he knew what to do with them.

I couldn’t take my child’s fears away, but I could equip him with truth to face them courageously and fight them victoriously. I told Andrew, “You get to decide what to do with your worries.” And I shared three powerful truths to help him:

Truth #1: Other kids do worry; they just don’t talk about it on the playground.

Truth #2: Worry and fear must be a normal because God tells us not to, over 100 times in the Bible.

Truth #3: God doesn’t just tell us not to worry or fear, He tells us what to do when we do!

Then I read 2 Corinthians 10:5 to him, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” But a puzzled look on his face told me Andrew needed to know how to do that, so I described it in terms he could understand:

“Andrew, when you have a thought that makes you feel anxious, you can decide to catch it like a baseball and see if it’s worth keeping.” I then cupped my hand like I was holding a ball and told him to look at it and ask, “Is this something Jesus would say to me?”

If the answer is “no” — then throw your thought back into the outfield!

For instance, worry says: “Your mom isn’t going to be home when you get off the bus.”

“Would Jesus say that?” I asked.

“No,” he replied.

“Then it’s outta here!” I told him, as I threw the invisible ball across the room.

Worry says: “Your teacher isn’t going to like your science project!”

“Would Jesus say that?” I prompted.

Again, “No.”

“Throw that one away, too!”

We talked through each worry, processed his fears, and I helped him decide what to do. Then we prayed and asked God to replace each worry with a promise that would give him confident peace. Finally, we thanked God for ways He’d protected Andrew in the past, reminding him how good He is at being God.

After our collective “Amen” I looked up and Andrew had a big grin on his face. Then he said, “Thanks Mom!” as though all his worries were gone.

My sons are 17 and 20 now, and there have been many days I’ve wanted to take away their worries. I’ve been tempted to fix problems and sticky situations. But I’ve learned that doesn’t strengthen their faith or their ability to decide what to do when hard times come.

Instead, what our kids need most is for us to be there: to talk through their struggles, listen to their stories, pray through their worries and be willing to share God’s truths that have helped us decide how to face ours.

There is nothing more powerful than our hearts hearing our lips proclaim our trust in God’s truth. Again and again. So I created a FREE printable to help us do just that! I pray it will lead your anxious thoughts to Jesus as you hold those worries in your hands and ask: Is this what Jesus would say to me? If the the answer is no, YOU GET TO DECDE that it doesn’t get to stay!

ReneeSwope.FearNot-Printable_Small.CLICK HERE to download my “Fear Not For I am With You” FREE printable.
If you can’t see the image displayed, click here to go to view it on my website.

ConfidentHeartDevotional

Confident Heart Devotional GIVEAWAY
Enter to win a gift-pack that includes my A Confident Heart Devotional book and my favorite prayer journal from DaySpring.  Perfect for summer and life on the go – my Confident Heart Devotional book is filled with powerful stories, practical life-lessons and biblical insights to help you and your loved ones overcome fear and worry through the power of God’s truth each day!

ENTER TO WIN:
How much doesfear or worry impact your daily decisions and joy (or your child’s)? Click “Share Your Thoughts” below this post on my blog, and do just that. Your comment will be your entry to win!

***If you are reading this via email, please click here to enter the giveaway on my blog.***
ALL entries must be entered on my blog. Thanks! 

How God Answered A Not-So-Small Prayer In A Really Big Way { + a GIVEAWAY}

When Laura Sobiech and I planned time to talk about her memoir, “Fly a Little Higher,”
we had no idea God had already connected our lives in the most unexpected way.

What unfolded just two days before our interview left us both in tears and in awe of God. 

If you’re reading this via email CLICK HERE to watch a short video that will give your heart a huge dose of HOPE and encouragement! I promise, you do not want to miss it!!

It’s been two weeks since Laura, Andrew and I talked via SKYPE and
I’m still undone by God’s grace, mercy, kindness and sovereignty.  

Andrew.FlyHigher

FALH Target edition cover TARGET Holiday Book Club Pick: Laura’s memoir, FLY A LITTLE HIGHER: How God Answered a Mom’s Small Prayer in a Big Way” is the Target Holiday Book Club Pick! And it is the perfect gift for your self and those you love! This exclusive edition created for Target is signed by Laura and includes special bonus materials: an in-depth Q&A with Laura, discussion questions for readers, small groups and families, and really powerful devotionals in the back!

ORDER a copy for yourself and a few friends for Christmas.

DOWNLOAD  Chapter One for FREE

ENTER TO WIN
What part of today’s videos impacted you most? CLICK “Share Your Thoughts” and do just that. Each comment will be entered to win one of the 5 copies of “Fly A Little Higher.”

Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at 11.59.52 PM SUBSCRIBE to MY YouTube CHANNEL and you’ll  be the first to know when the rest of Andrew’s conversation with Laura is ready for viewing. PLUS I’ve made all of Laura’s interview segments really easy to find in their own section on my front page.  After her Q&A with Andrew, I got to ask Laura how she balanced her own loss and grief while guiding and supporting Zach through his cancer journey. She was also planning a wedding for her oldest daughter and loving on her other children and husband. I’ve never met anyone like Laura. Her faith and courage are rare. Her insights come from a humble, wise heart that has been broken and made whole by the love of Christ. Be sure you don’t miss the next segments coming up.

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 Don’t miss my next post, a big announcement and more giveaways!!
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“I Need Some Help Here” {book giveaway} WINNERS!

inshh.OrderButtonIt’s easy to feel worried and anxious as a parent. There are so many areas of your child’s life that can go wrong along the way. What’s a mom to do? In I Need Some Help Here! Hope for When Your Kids Don’t Go According to Plan Kathi Lipp meets you in your moments of panic or despair with wit and wisdom.

In each chapter, Kathi offers the most powerful tools, from prayer to practical tips, for you and your child. The book covers all of the stages of your child’s life from toddler to young adult and tackles the most common issues that cause stress and anxiety, sharing:

  • Practical wisdom when your child makes poor choices
  • How to pray when your child is running away from God
  • Comforting words fore when your child feels left out
  • “been there” advice for when your child is different than other kids

Whether you are at the end of your rope, or simply need a little extra support as you walk the parenting road, you’ll cherish Kathi’s heart, humor and experience! 

And the winners of Kathi Lipp’s new book from my giveaway post earlier this month are…
  • Missy Boone
  • Jen Manginelli
  • Jessica Hulen
  • Jane Sumner

Didn’t WIN the BOOK? No worries.
Kathi’s got a GIFT for EACH of YOU!!

5 Days of Hope for those Bad Mom Moments
A FREE 5-day Email Series
by Kathi Lipp

When You Need A Little Help & A Lot of Hope

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My friend Kathi Lipp has written a book every mom needs to read. And I promise I’m not saying that because she’s my friend. I’m saying that because {you} are! Maybe we’ve never met but, because our hearts and lives are connected through my blog or Facebook page, I see you as a friend God’s brought into my life to encourage. A friend to pray for. A friend to offer hope to and remind you of God’s truth for you.

Kathi’s book is unique and the timing of it is perfect! Over the past few months, I’ve heard from countless moms who feel guilty, overwhelmed and like a failure as a mom. They are discouraged and depleted. And I’ve been there.

One of my favorite chapters in Kathi’s book is chapter 2, Don’t Hang Out in the Motherhood Alone. Now that will preach! Gosh we need to know we’re not alone, and that our kids aren’t the only kids who struggle or make horrible choices.

Today, I’ve invited Kathi to sit across the table and give us a little help and a lot of hope for our hearts. {And if you’re not a mom I hope you’ll keep reading and share this encouragement with a mom you know!}

Screen Shot 2014-06-07 at 8.31.12 PMMy kitchen table has become the Confessional, only better, since I also serve banana muffins.

“My teenager is having sex.”

“I found pot in her dresser,”

“My son got kicked out of school. Preschool.”

I’ve heard it all. All of it.

And what everyone thinks is that as soon as they confess – as soon as they tell someone else about their son cheating at school, that they will automatically move from one category to the next.

They move from Good Mom to Bad Mom.

And now everything that your friend has known as fact is up for debate:

If I’m a good mom, I will raise great kids.

If I take them to church, they will grow up trusting God.

If I pray for my kids, they will turn out fine.

All the things that parenting books and Christian talk radio promised them has gone out the window, along with their sense of self and their hope for their kids. Because of a child’s lousy decision, you or your friend’s world has fallen apart.

So what do you say to the crumpled mom who feels like a mess? The one sitting at your kitchen table or looking at you in the mirror? Here are a few things that have been said to me (and I’ve said to other moms,) that have actually helped when my kids didn’t go according to plan:

  1. “Don’t judge your parenting on one bad day.” This is especially helpful when it’s a younger child who bit their teacher, hit their brother in the head with a tool box, or had to have security called at Target because they were throwing such a fit. We all think we have great kids – until they’re not. But one bad day doesn’t undo all that parenting that you’ve poured into them.
  2. “I’m still a fan of your child!” When our child has royally messed up, there is something about another adult who you admire seeing something besides “future adult delinquent” in your child that will give you hope. Let them know how smart, funny, creative and helpful their child is. It really can make a difference. And if it’s your kid, find something to remind yourself, that is good about him.
  3. “Don’t put your faith in the sheep, put it in the Shepherd.” We base the outcome of our lives on the actions of our children. Wrong. Our hope is only in God.

Psalm 25:1-3

In you, Lord my God,
I put my trust.
I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.
No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame,
but shame will come on those
who are treacherous without cause.

When our hope is in our kids, we are slaves to shame, but when we put our hope in God there is no shame.

  1. “God has not given up on your child.” Some the greatest mentors and friends in my life were the ones who were running the furthest away from God in their teens, 20’s and 30’s and causing their parents to be on their knees constantly. God loves your child and will use other means than you to pursue his heart.
  2. “Me too.” We all need to know that we are not alone. We all need to hear the two sweetest words of community: “Me too.” Let your friend know of your failures – and your child’s failures. “Me too,” is a great sting removed to a hurting parent.

And can I say, thank you? Obviously, if your friend is confiding in you, you have done something to demonstrate that you are a safe place – a refuge. We need more yous in the world.

kathilipp-inshh-pin1ENTER TO WIN: (Thanks so much for stopping by, the GIVEAWAY is now over, but I would still love to hear from you!)
It’s easy to feel worried and anxious as a parent. There are so many areas of your child’s life that can go wrong along the way. What’s a mom to do? In I Need Some Help Here! Hope for When Your Kids Don’t Go According to Plan, Kathi meets you in your moments of panic or despair with wit and wisdom.

In each chapter, Kathi offers the most powerful tools, from prayer to practical tips, for you and your child. The book covers all of the stages of your child’s life from toddler to young adult and tackles the most common issues that cause stress and anxiety, sharing:

  • Practical wisdom when your child makes poor choices
  • How to pray when your child is running away from God
  • Comforting words fore when your child feels left out
  • “been there” advice for when your child is different than other kids

Whether you are at the end of your rope, or simply need a little extra support as you walk the parenting road, you’ll cherish Kathi’s heart, humor and experience! 

Enter to WIN 2 copies by clicking Share Your Thoughts” below!
(Thanks so much for stopping by, the GIVEAWAY is now over, but I would still love to hear from you!)
What’s one thing Kathi shared that you will tell yourself or share with a friend this week? And let us know why you’d  like to win a copy and what friend will you give the 2nd copy to if your name is chosen?

 

Surprised by Motherhood

PopcornTree.March2014.jpg.

Her small hands peel back the covers to see if my eyes are open. Gently, I feel her fingers against my cheek as she loudly whispers, “Time to wake up mommy!”

I smile {with my eyes closed} and roll over.  It will take more than her sweetness to convince this tired mama to get out of bed. Hours of driving, sitting on wood bleachers, shouting and cheering for her big brother’s basketball games at a tournament the day before… has worn me out!

I tell Aster it’s still dark and that she needs to go back to sleep. Disappointed yet determined, she walks her little self over to the window, feels her way along the curtains to find the plastic wand so she can pull them back and show me it is NOT still dark. 

Not only is it NOT dark, it is time for breakfast and she knows just what we can eat!

PopcornTree2

Look Mommy!” She says, as she points her finger to the parking lot. “Wake up and eat popcorn. Seeeeeeeee. There’s a popcorn tree. When you shake it, popcorn falls off!”

Ahhh. Motherhood. It doesn’t come with much sleep, but it does come with popcorn trees! And so many other surprises.

Aster is one of God’s biggest surprises so far in this motherhood journey of mine. Only He could know how much I needed this girl of mine.

God birthed Aster in our hearts and brought her into our family four years ago, just as our boys crested the waves of teenage manhood. Obviously I needed a little more adventure, a lot more carpooling and a huge dose of unconditional love.

And God made sure I got it! All wrapped up in pink bows, giggles, snuggles, sleepless nights, developmental delays, sweet kisses, celebrations,  questions,  fears, happy tears, laughter and memories. So.many.memories.

Today I have a surprise just for you! Im giving away five copies of my new favorite book for the heart of moms, and those who mother in  other capacities: Surprised by Motherhood written by my friend Lisa-Jo Baker. I’m reading it now and  it’s so much more than a book; it’s dessert and friendship for my soul! Today, Lisa-Jo’s publisher has offered to give away 5 copies to five of you!! But first {this}! For days when you wonder if what you do matters, when it feels like the same thing stuck on repeat 365 days a year! Let this be your reminder:  you are braver than you know because you mother!

SurprisedByMotherhood BookcoverWhether you are a mother, have a mother, or have mothered in other capacities and felt inadequate for the job… this is a needed reminder that there is nothing ordinary about being a mother.

Enter to WIN: Simply click “Share Your Thoughts” below and do just that, or share your biggest “surprised by motherhood” moment or memory. We’ll randomly choose five winners and announce them here next week.

Summer Sanity, Prayers & Goals

May You Understand the Depths

Hi friends! I’ve missed you tons. It’s just about killed me to be connect with you each day like we were during our Spring online study!

I don’t know about you, but summer throws me for a loop when my kids get out of school and normal is nowhere to be found.
And all this amazing plans for things I wanted to d
o get topsy turvy.

One of the things I decided last weekend that I had to do is set some summer goals to keep me sane. Ya’ll should see me; one minute Im playing doll house, 10 minutes later Im checking emails and trying to return a few calls, while blowing bubbles and re-filling a juice cup; then I’m helping Andrew make flyers and set prices for his new lawn-mowing business while cooking pizza. It’s fun and crazy all at the same time!

So, about my summer-sanity goals… my first goal is to to become more consistent in praying for my kids. This week I decided I’d choose a promise each week to pray for my each of my kids. I thought you might want to join me. Here’s my prayer for this week:

Lord, thank you for the gift of being my children’s mom. I pray that You – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – would help each of my kids understand just how wide, how long, how high and how deep YOUR love is for each of them. Eph 3:18I pray Jesus that You would reveal Your love to them in a unique and personal way this week with a gift that speaks their love language – for Aster the gift of a rainbow, Joshua the gift of words and encouragement and Andrew the gift of knowing You are real, You are present, pursuing and speaking to him.Will You do immeasurably more than this mama can think of or imagine when it comes to how much my kids know Your love. And make me a praying mom, a pursuing-You mom, a vessel You can use to live and love the way you do in my home. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Want to you join me in praying God’s promises for someone you love?
{Click “Share Your Thoughts” below.  I’d love to pray with you for those you love!}

PS. I am still planning on us doing a study on listening to God, but with my kids home 24/7 and them needing food for breakfast, lunch and dinner – every day. Hmm, that little plan and hope of mine got a little postponed. But God’s teaching me a whole lot about listening to Him this summer so I’ll have lots to share on that topic soon. And I’ll keep you posted!

When Setting Boundaries Sets Me Free

Art Source

{I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.}
Psalm 119:32

I never thought boundaries could actually give me freedom.

But I’m learning they do.

I’ve recently needed to set some boundaries on my time and my commitments. Not because I wanted to. But because my husband asked me to. He noticed that weary look in my eyes and told me that my heart needed room for down time.

It felt constraining to not just do what I wanted to do – when I wanted to. Yet, it’s been good for me.

His limit-setting encouragement that felt so constraining reminded me of the day we realized our daughter Aster was getting tall enough to reach everything she wasn’t supposed to.  The day she discovered she could open the drawer where we keep scissors and safety pins. The day she was determined to touch every dangerous object in there.

That weekend we put child locks on the drawers and cabinets that were now within her reach. Although it seemed like we were taking freedom away from Aster, these new limits actually gave her more freedom to roam around the kitchen safely.

In Psalm 119:32, King David wrote about how he wanted to run in the path of God’s commands because they set his heart free.

Reading his words reminded me that boundary lines show us where it’s safe to go. So, I’m learning to embrace what may feel like limits, because within God’s boundaries my heart can rest… and roam free!

What are some boundaries you sense you need to set? Have you been resisting like me? I’d love to pray for you today and I could surely use some prayers, too. I’m not very good at setting boundaries, especially when it comes to taking care of me.

Peace-giving Promises

Welcome to my NEW website!! I’m so glad you stopped by today! If you found your way here from the Proverbs 31 Ministries invitation to join us on The 7-day Doubt Diet, click here for more details or simply sign up in my sidebar.

If you’re visiting after reading my P31 devotion, “When Worry Makes Me Wonder” thanks for hopping over. In my devotion, I shared how a few years ago I felt like I was suffocating under everything that was going on in my life. Have you ever been there?

Slowly, I let worry weave it’s way into my thoughts and wear me down. Eventually, I came to a point where I was exhausted and ready to resign from just about everything…life, ministry, etc.

I ran out of fuel and felt like I didn’t have enough energy to handle all of my roles, relationships and responsibilities.

I also ran out of faith. I started doubting my ability to to hear God clearly and to do all I assumed He wanted me to do.
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