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! 

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)

CLICK HERE to Download “3 Steps to Get God’s Peace”

 If you can’t see the image displayed, click here to go to view it on my website.

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 from DaySpring and a $10 Bath & Body Works gift card! {If you are reading this via email, join us on my blog to enter to win!}

When My Sunday Heart Dreads the Monday Hurry {a promise & a prayer}

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.
Tell God what you need, and thank 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

WhenWorryComes

As I look at the week ahead, Lord, my mind is crowded with thoughts and things.
Competing thoughts fight for my attention; cutting in front of each other to be first in line.
Too many things on my to-do list that feel urgent; tempting me to neglect what is most important.

Jesus, I want You to be first in line, leading my days and decisions.
When concerns consume me and worry comes, hel[ me pause and tell You what I need and
thank YOU for what You have already done. I long for Your peace to surpass my understanding,
and for Your promises to guard my heart and my mind as I live in {and follow after} You.
In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

When We Belong To Jesus

WhenWeBelongToJesus

We had what felt like a storybook Christian romance. Mike was tall, dark and handsome. He had a successful business and he loved Jesus. But to top it all off, instead of asking me for a date, Mike asked if we could “court.”

Our lives were connected on so many levels. We lived on the same floor of the same apartment complex. We attended the same church. And we had several mutual friends. We loved when people told us we made a great couple, in life and in ministry.

Eventually we started praying about marriage and talked to our pastor. Not long after, Mike proposed.

But two weeks into our engagement he looked into my eyes and said: “I’ve made a horrible mistake. You are not the one God wants me to marry.”

I was devastated and wondered what I’d done to make God change His mind.

After counseling and walking through a painful process of forgiveness, I eventually recovered. Much to my surprise, Mike showed back up in my life and asked me to consider rebuilding our friendship.

I was shocked and hesitant. But I also wondered if God wanted to redeem our story. Eventually I gave Mike a second chance. We spent time with friends and took things slowly. But in time, the topic of marriage came up. He proposed again. And he dumped me again!

That time I got smart and kept the ring, holding it as collateral to get Mike to counseling with me. In our first session, the counselor explained that Mike had a fear of commitment. Having a name for it helped me feel better, but Mike felt embarrassed and ashamed.

One night I woke up with a deep sense of concern for him, so I drove to his apartment. Sitting in the parking lot, I felt compelled to get in his van and pray for him. Afterwards I opened my eyes and noticed his journal sitting on the console.

Though I shouldn’t have opened it, I turned to the entries he had written when he called off our engagement. I came face-to-face with why he didn’t want to marry. There were many things about me he wished were different.

After reading Mike’s journal, every time I stood in front of a mirror, doubt whispered: No man will ever want you. You’ll never be good enough.

Rejection. Betrayal. Abandonment. Our greatest fears can become reality. Maybe your father abandoned you, or your husband betrayed you. Maybe your best friend broke your trust, or your teenager has shut you out.

The deep pain from broken relationships can make us doubt our value. We begin to see ourselves as disposable. Easily replaced. Not good enough.

One morning, I woke up and felt the heavy weight of rejection. Opening my Bible, I read through the book of Isaiah and landed in chapter 54. There, God showed me He is my Maker, Husband and Redeemer – the One who bestows the honor and acceptance I long for.

As devastating as it was, I learned two life-changing lessons from the pain:

I have to choose to separate myself, and my worth, from a man’s decision to want me or not.

I have to hold others’ words and preferences up to God’s Word and choose which one I will rely on.

Although people’s preferences will change, God’s desire for us won’t. Others might not think we’re good enough, but God always will. And even if someone decides they don’t desire us anymore, God most certainly does!

The truth is, when we belong to Jesus we are loved and accepted forever. We are covered in His goodness, and His goodness makes us good enough!

*****

The more we grasp God’s love for us, and let Him really love us,
the more confident and secure we become.

LetGodLoveYou.ContestTitleOnly

To help you experience the depth of HIS love, I’m hosting “Let God Love You” {love} fest and contest! Here’s what you can expect and how you can enter to WIN: (The giveaway is now over, but would still love to hear from you!)

  • I’ll be sharing a few devotions from my new Confident Heart Devotional to help you experience the depth of HIS love right here on my blog all month!
  • My publisher and I are giving away 2 Prize Packs that both include: a $50 gift card, 2 signed copies of my devotional book and an 8×10 print by one of my favorites ~Emily Burger Designs!CLICK HERE to find out how you can enter to win by sharing the {love} on Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter! BUT first enter to win….

     TODAY’s GIVEAWAY
    Share your thoughts about today’s post in the comments, and let me know who you’d give a copy to, if you won 2 copies of my new Confident Heart Devotional. I’ll be giving away 2 copies. Winners announced next week. Enter and share with friends today!

Today’s post includes a partial excerpt from my NEW A Confident Heart Devotional book. Used with permission from Revell Books.

 

As this week winds down to an end…

InMyDistress.Ps18.6

As this week winds down to an end, Lord, I feel like I’m already at the end — of myself.

And I guess that’s ok, because I can never come to the end of You.

You know all that is pulling on me.

Instead of letting it all pull me apart or pull me down — will you help me pull away with you.

Please show my heart what matters most and help me trust You with what is left over.

In Jesus Name, amen.

My personalized & slightly paraphrased Psalm 18:6:

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;

my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,

my shield. I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise,

and I have been saved from my enemies.

The cords of  [doubt] entangled me;

the torrents of [demands] overwhelmed me.

The cords of [worry] coiled around me;

the snares of [discouragement] confronted me.

In my distress I called to the Lord;

I cried to my God for help.

From his temple he heard my voice;

my cry came before him, into his ears.

Psalm 18:1-6

 If you’d like to know when I write a new post, offer an online study, have a giveaway or add a new Free Resource, be sure to sign up in my sidebar where it says“Receive Email Updates” — and you won’t miss a thing!

{Week 9} Is Worry Making You Weary?


I have a P31 devotion today and want to say hello and “welcome” if you found your way here through it! I’m so glad you stopped by!
I wish we could sit in a coffee shop and chat today

I’d love to talk with you about things that are weighing you down or worries that are making you weary. They always seem to lighten when shared with a friend.

I’d tell you about the year I let my problems pile up and how all that pressure almost took me down. It’s all in chapter 9 of my book including the story about  how I accidentally took my dogs medicine one morning. 

In my devotion, I shared how God has been changing me and rearranging me. I also promised to share three steps to overcome worry and a practical way to physically give God your concerns! Since we can’t chat in a coffee shop today, I decided to share my heart in a short video post.

Message Notes: You can download my “Video Message Notes” in a PDF here or in a Word doc here.  They include the points of my message, verses and blanks to fill in. {If you’d like to watch more FREE Confident Heart videos based on my book, click here.}

Let’s Connect & A Giveaway: I’d love to hear your thoughts and one thing you want to apply after reading today’s devotion and hearing the video message. Click “share your thoughts” right below this post and do just that. 🙂

Your comment enters you in today’s “Come to Me” stress-relief gift pack giveaway which ncludes a Bath & Body Works Eucalyptus Mint candle, God-iva Dark Chocolate and an Chamomile Lavender scented Anti-Stress Comfort Wrap that can be refrigerated or microwaved depending on your preference – my favorite home spa treatment!!


For More Ways to Live Worry-free 

Receive daily promises and more encouragement by joining
 my Confident Heart Facebook community.

Receive my posts (like today’s) in your inbox!
Just
 
sign up in my sidebar where it says: Receive Email Updates.


When Worry Makes You Weary


A sweet little somebody crawled in bed with me the past two nights. She’s been coughing and running a fever. Seems like someone gets better and another one gets sick or injured. If I’m not careful, worry will weazle it’s way into my mind and I’ll start worry about what might go wrong next.

What if Aster gets pneumonia, like Josh did? What if she can’t go to preschool tomorrow and I can’t get those devotions edited for work? What if Andrew’s collar bone doesn’t start healing? 

I’m sure you have a lot of what ifs of your own. I wish we could sit in a coffee shop and talk about and pray about things that are weighing you down or worries that are making you weary.

I’d tell you about the year I let my problems pile up and how all that pressure almost took me down. We could laugh about how I accidentally took my dogs medicine.

There are lessons I learned that I want to tell you about because they changed me – and rearranged me.

I learned how to process my worries with Jesus in a way I never had before. The load didn’t get smaller (hardly ever does) but the same but the weight got lighter because I learned how to let God carry it for me.

Since we can’t meet in a coffee shop, I want to share some things in a short video message I filmed weeks ago. I’ve been saving to share with you this week. In it, I’ll share three steps you can take to help you stop your concerns from consuming you and a powerful “visual” you can use to remind you to cast your cares upon the Lord. {Just click the arrow below to watch it.}

Message Notes: You can download this video’s “Message Notes” in a notes in a PDFor in a in a Word doc here.  I encourage you to watch it once and just let God speak to your heart. Then if you want to, watch it again and follow along with the message notes which include parts of the message, verses and blanks to fill in. :-)

***

Lord, help us turn our burdens over to You, and
{rest in knowing} You will take care of us.
Psalm 55:22, GW

***

Let’s Connect:  I’d love to hear your thoughts and one thing you want to apply after hearing today’s video message.

Also, if you’re in my online study please share some of your answers to the questions from the end of Chapter 9. Click “share your thoughts” right below this post and do just that. 🙂 Let’s turn our burdens over to God and carry them to Him for one another, too, by praying for the person who leaves a comment before ours.

Day Four – The 7-day Doubt Diet

Day 4: Sometimes Worry Makes Me Wonder

Taken in part from Chapter 9
© 2011 by Renee Swope with Revell Publishing. All rights reserved.

Food for Thought: She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” (Luke 10:40 NIV)

When life gets overwhelming, do you ever start to wonder if God notices and cares about everything you have going on—like how hard you’re trying to take care of your family, pay the bills, find time for Bible study, your marriage and the ministry He’s called you to while working two jobs, caring for your aging parents, commuting to work, and carpooling your kids?

Several years ago, I was having a hard time balancing my life, and there were days when I wondered if God noticed and cared about all I was doing. I didn’t understand why He wasn’t taking better care of the details in my days so things would run more smoothly. Sometimes I felt like He might be expecting too much of me.

Looking back now, I can see that I was expecting too much of myself.  The truth is, I was doing a lot of good things, but not all of them were God’s things for me during that season of my life.  I had ended up in a place where I was serving God more than I was seeking God. Finally, I came to a point where I was exhausted and ready to resign from just about everything.

Eventually I ran out of fuel. I didn’t have enough energy to handle all of my roles, relationships, and responsibilities. I also ran out of faith, which made me start doubting my ability to manage my life, to hear God clearly, and to do all I assumed He wanted me to do.

My life was out of balance and so was my heart. I had taken on too many commitments, and I worried about all of them all of the time. I knew I should trust God more, but I was secretly afraid that if I stopped worrying about everything and everybody He would too. And all that worry started making me weary.

One day, while reading my Bible, I noticed how Martha’s worries were making her weary, and making her wonder if Jesus cared that her sister left her in the kitchen all by herself to do all that work. Listen to how Jesus responded: “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41–42 NIV)

How do we choose what is better? How do we find confident peace and assurance that God notices and cares? First Peter 5:7 tells us: “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you” (NLT).

The apostle Paul tells us how: Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank 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. (Phil. 4:6–7 NLT)

It sounds so doable, but why is it so hard? I think it’s because Satan whispers the opposite. He says, “Don’t be calm about anything; instead worry about everything. Tell God what He should do. Then take control if He doesn’t listen.”

The enemy wants our concerns to consume us like acid in our hearts, eroding our confidence with worry and doubt! I say it’s time for us to stop listening to him and start listening to and living in God’s promises instead. When our concerns become consuming, let’s commit to:

Stop worrying—Press the pause button on our consuming concerns.

Start praying—Talk to God about all we’re doing and ask Him if there’s anything we need to cut back so we have time to seek Him as much as we serve Him and others.

Keep thanking God—Thank God for what He’s done in the past and will do in the future. This helps us remember how good He is at being God.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts. When concerns consume me, remind me that You are with me, holding me by my right hand and guiding me with Your counsel. I want to seek You as much as I serve You and others. Help me balance my life and give my burdens to You, knowing with confidence that You care about me and are good at taking care of me! In Jesus’ name, Amen. (See Psalm 139:23; 73:23–26)

Doubt Diet Tip: Lose the weight of worry by “giving all your worries and cares to the Lord because He cares for you!” Write your concerns on an index card and give them to Jesus. I have a tabletop cross by my bedside where I lay my “concerns card.” Maybe you could get one too. Then, when you start worrying, go back and write your worries on your card, and commit once again to cast your cares upon the Lord. Also, write a promise on a card and carry it with you today. Here’s a link to More Peace-Giving Promises

Let’s Talk: What is one concern you want to lay down at the foot of the Cross today? I’d love for us to pray for each other and bear one another’s burdens.

Please return to my website (if you’re reading this via email), then scroll to the bottom of today’s post and click on “Share Your Thoughts” so you can let us know how to pray for you.  If you’re not comfortable sharing details, just say “Pray for me please.”

Laying it down: My biggest concern is my mom. While I was flying home from speaking all weekend in IL, my husband was rushing mom to the hospital. She’s in ICU with large blood clots in both lungs. One is very close to the main artery that leads to her heart. We’re praying and trusting God is not surprised by any of this – although we were. Today’s devotion had already been written – just for me (wink!). And my closing message on Saturday was about Jesus calling us to come to Him –  when we’re weary and burdened with worry – so that we can find rest for our souls (Matt 11:38-39), rest in His presence, rest in His plans and rest in His promises.  He’s gone ahead of me and left gifts of peace and reminders of His promises along my path. I pray you see His hand in the timing of today’s devotion and His heart for you, too.