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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Praying for Our Boys

EncourageOneAnother

I noticed something different as soon as Andrew walked in the door. One evening, not so long ago, my 16-year old came home from working-out at the Y and told me a custodian had stopped him in the hallway and said he “looked like a champion” after working out. Andrew said he felt like giving the guy a hug because it made him feel good someone noticed his hard work lifting weights. Then he felt kind of awkard so he just told him “thanks” and kept walking.

But, when he got to the exit door, Andrew decided to drop his bag and run back to thank the guy for encouraging him.

The next morning as we were heading out the door for school, Andrew was still thinking about what had happened. He said he was tired of thinking about himself all the time and he’d decided any time he gets a sense in his heart that he needs to encourage someone, he’s going to follow through.

I did everything I could to hold back the tears. And with his permission I want to share why.

We have been on a hard part of Andrew’s journey this past year. A journey filled with doubts and hard questions about God, compounded by frustration and uncertainties about his purpose in life.

A journey that has broken my heart and brought me to my knees.

And while praying for my son, I’ve heard wisdom that could only come from his Heavenly Father.

  • Wisdom told me not to react, but to listen closely as Andrew vented words that were hard to hear.
  • Wisdom told me to keep my mouth shut, and let my actions speak louder than my emotions.
  • Wisdom helped me breathe deep and look for ways to affirm unique gifts I’d seen in Andrew that he could no longer see in himself.

I have admired Andrew’s natural tendency to notice and encourage others for years. But it had disappeared. So, I’d been praying 1 Thessalonians 5:11 for him, asking Jesus to help this boy I love remember what brings him joy and purpose.

And God had answered, using the kindness of a stranger to stir up that life-giving gift in my son. That day, a ray of hope broke through the clouds. And each day it gets a little brighter as I stay on my knees and in God’s word on my son’s behalf.

Parenting is hard. It can leave a mama feeling worn out and weary from the battle for the hearts of her children.

If that is you, please keep reading and enter today’s special giveaway. I’m excited to introduce you to my new friend, Brooke McGlothlin.  Brooke knows what it’s like to want to wave the white flag and give up the fight but she also knows God has called mothers to get in the battle. So how do we do that in the most effective way? By coming alongside them in prayer.

Praying-for-Boys.CoverBrooke just released a new book, Praying for Boys: Asking God for the Things They Need Most, And I love it! So I’m giving away a copy today!

From fun boy mom humor, to insightful biblical wisdom, Brooke helps mothers of boys discover their value and power as praying moms. In Praying for Boys Brooke teaches us to discover delight in the chaos of raising boys, and helps us have more peace in our hearts and homes. {Disclaimer: If you have a daughter, don’t worry I’ve got another friend whose written a book for you and I’ll be giving away one soon!}

But if you are a mom of boys, I want to tell you a little more because this book is a praying-boy-mom’s treasure chest!

Praying for Boys will:

  • Help you stop hovering, and start covering.
  • Give you permission to wave the white flag, while empowering you with the tools you need to keep going.
  • Help you recognize your value and power as a praying mom.
  • Overcome feelings of failure, and walk in confidence as a mom.

My favorite part is that Brooke includes over 200 topically-organized, Scripture-based prayer prompts for 21 areas in which boys struggle the most.

Brook McGlothinBrooke McGlothlin is Co-founder of Raising Boys Ministries, where moms and dads come to discover delight in the chaos of raising boys. You can find her writing about fighting for the hearts of her sons at the MOB Society blog.  Brooke is also a homeschooling mom to her two boys and happily married to the man she’s had a crush on since the third grade.

 

ENTER TO WIN: Click “Share Your Thoughts” below this post and tell me about the boys you pray for.

I’ll choose a winner Sunday night, and announce it on my blog Monday, along with the 5 winners that will be picked from Wednesday’s Giveaway.

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!

My Girl

In August 2011, our daughter Aster was diagnosed with a severe speech disorder, and was recently confirmed as  having Apraxia**. At the age of two and a half she could only say fifteen words. At the age of three she could barely say five, and those five were very hard to understand.

We didn’t know what the future held; we just knew we’d been praying and waiting for two years to hear her precious voice. And now it was diminishing. I was in shock. And honestly my heart broke a little more each day for the first several weeks.

I knew God was in control and that He could completely heal her. But my mommy-heart hopes and dreams for hearing my little girl’s voice were shattered. And my world turned upside down for a while.

When we shared our story on Facebook and at some speaking events, many of you spoke hope, grace and truth over our hearts. You comforted us with your prayers and claimed God’s promises over our little girl.

Aster has been going to speech therapy two times each week for six months. Her progress has been very slow. In January we discovered her two year molars never formed enamel so a little over a week ago she had surgery, and little silver crowns were put on them.

What happened next was almost miraculous! The crowns must have relieved severe pain we didn’t know about because she couldn’t tell us. And she never indicated it either. (Her pain threshold is incredible!) Her progress in the past ten days has been amazing. Then last weekend, when they came to get me from the airport after a speaking event, Aster started babbling a ton.

So, I got out my iPhone, turned it to where she could see herself when it was filming and we witness a break-through on camera!! Here’s a sweet little peak into God’s faithfulness! {Note, she had never done this before!}

I can’t help but celebrate the “good things HE planned long ago” for a little girl who needed a family to help her find her voice – and for a family who needed a little girl to help them experience the depth of God’s love!

Thank you Lord for the gift of our precious little Ethiopian princess!

Relying

I’m running on fumes this morning, practicing my scripts for Proverbs 31 Ministries Radio recording that starts in an hour and getting the kids settled before I go.

I woke up at 3am after a horrible nightmare that someone abducted Aster and we could not find her. I couldn’t even breathe to get the words out to tell people where to look for her. It was horrible! When I woke up my heart was racing and I couldn’t get back to sleep. I went upstairs to check on her two times because I just needed to see and touch her. Praying over her comforted my heart.

This morning I am asking Jesus to replace my fumes with His Holy fuel.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t do anything in my own strength on a few hours of sleep. My weary heart is searching for strength. I need the kind that is made perfect in my weakness. And I am so thankful that, in Christ, I find it. When I am weak He say’s He will be strong.

I keep thinking of Paul’s words, “To this end I labor, struggling with all (Christ’) energy, which so powerfully works in me.” (Colossians 1:29) Even Paul struggled, but this verse tells us he depended on Christ in him, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to do what he could not do.

So, I’m wondering as I write this… is there something hard that is happening in your life or in your day that might be the very thing God is using to show you how to rely more on Him? Is there an area where you don’t have enough, that He might want to be your enough?

Instead of resisting, or trying harder, will you ask Jesus to fill in a gap and be what you cannot be, or give what you don’t have today?

I’ve come face to face, again today, with the fact that I can’t do it without him, and I don’t even want to try. Let me know how I can pray for you. I would love to!

Happily Ever Aster

“And Esther won the favor of everyone who saw her.”
Esther 2:15b

Lord, thank you for my beautiful daughter whose heart radiates Your joy and love. May her beauty increase each day from the inside out as she comes to know the personal love and pursuit of Jesus. I pray she will always know that her King is enthralled with her beauty. Thank You for the gift of being her mother and the way You change me every day through her. May we both know You more and more as we witness together the unfolding of Your love story in her life. In Jesus Name, amen.

Praying, Believing and Trusting

Thursday afternoon update: Andrew is fever-free!!! We are so thankful to Jesus for His healing and to you all for your prayers!! His temp was 98.8 at the Dr’s office. Everything looked and sounded good, so they cleared him for take-off tomorrow. It was not strep so we’re hoping to get Tamiflu for all of us to take for prevention. So excited I can’t stand it. Now it’s time to finish packing!

Thursday morning update: According to my ear scan thermometer Andrew has fever of 100 still so we’re going to the Dr. at 12:15pm. Seems like every time my kids are sick and we go to the Dr. they don’t have a fever when the nurse checks them. That is what I’m hoping for! He’s in good spirits so we are believing God is healing him and we’re packing today as though we’re leaving for Ethiopia tomorrow.

Wednesday’s Post
Andrew came home yesterday from school not feeling well. He ended up with 102.4 fever, cough, sore throat, aches. I took him to Urgent Care last night just before 8pm. As soon as I explained his symptoms they asked him to put on a mask.

Bless his heart! He teared up and told me later it’s because he thought they’d take him to the hospital. I offered to wear one with him but he didn’t want me to.

They did a flu test and a strepp test. Both were negative but much to my disappointment, the doctor was not ready to shout hooray with me. He was still very concerned and explained that the flu test is only 50% accurate. He was especially concerned when I told him about our trip to Ethiopia Friday.

He flat out said, “You cannot go to Africa if you have the flu and with what I am seeing, it’s likely you are all going to get this.”

Andrew looked at me with big, sad, tear-filled eyes. Quickly I explained to him and the doctor, “We have tons of people praying and we are going to take it one day at a time, do what we can and trust that God’s going to take care of us.”
The good news is that we all had flu shots along with our other immunizations for our trip to Africa. So, if it is the flu it may be short lived and we may not all get it. Also, the Dr. prescribed Tamiflu, an anti-viral medication.While I was at Urgent Care I had twittered, updated my last post and FaceBooked about it and prayers were already in action. I dropped Andrew off at home around 8:45pm and when I got home from running around getting medicine and masks at 10pm, Andrew’s fever had dropped to 100.5!
I know the flu is going around and almost everybody is being affected by this, but with our Ethiopia trip Friday this is really bad timing. From the beginning we have said we are all going. If Andrew has H1N1 flu, we have been exposed and do not want to end up quarantined in Ethiopia when we get there.So, PLEASE FRIENDS PRAY for healing quick and that we all will not get whatever he’s got. I’ll post updates here, on Twitter and facebook throughout the day. This is all part of our journey and we are looking forward to seeing how God will work all these things together for good because we love Him and are called according to HIS purposes (Romans 8:28)!!!
Praying, believing and trusting the ONE who brought us this far!