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Forever Wanted {+ a book giveaway!}

We all struggle with identity—who we are, why we are, and what we have to offer the world. And just about the time we find a sliver of worth or significance, something happens to make us fully aware of how much we lack. A harsh word. A broken relationship. A failed attempt. Then, in spite of our best efforts at positivity or affirmation, we can’t escape the insecurity and aloneness we experience as a result.

When it comes to this epidemic of misplaced identity, my dear friend Michele Cushatt understands the struggle first hand. Without giving away her story (which you can read in her books), Michele knows what it’s like to lose her footing, and to wonder if she’d ever again be able to stand. But she also knows what it’s like to cry out to God for grace and discover the miracle of His Presence and His Purpose right here, right now.


The night held magic.

I knew it before the sixteen-year-old boy standing next to me reached for my hand.
Although we went to the same high school, I couldn’t believe it when he asked me out. He was an athlete, part of the popular crowd. I was completely average, an insecure academic.

So when he asked me to dinner, I fell all over myself saying yes. Clearly, my high school luck was changing.

I remember nothing about the date except for its ending. After driving us back to my parents’ house, he grabbed my hand and took me outside for a walk.

The moon and stars filled the fall sky like scattered shards of crystal. The evening was just cool enough to require a light jacket, but nothing more. Idyllic conditions for a romantic, hand-holding walk. Everything about the night seemed perfect. Which is why I didn’t balk when he pulled me to a stop and leaned in. His lips touched mine in an explosion of adolescent fireworks.

My first kiss.

Magic. In seconds, I went from unwanted to wanted, average to extraordinary. I floated like a balloon on a string held in his hand as he walked me back home.

The magic of the moment carried over to the next morning. Someone liked me! After years of girlish longing, it felt amazing to be wanted. Little did I know, the dream wouldn’t last. Too soon, the magic proved nothing but an illusion.

The truth became clear when I arrived at school. Within seconds, the girl sitting next to me in class said words that stopped me cold: “Something looks different about you today, Michele. Like something happened last night, for the first time.” It wasn’t her words as much as the gleam in her eye that gave her away.

She knew.

Heat filled my cheeks. I tried to shrug it off, but even my naive self knew something was amiss. My fears were confirmed when another girl—someone I’d known for most of my life—said something similar. Throughout the day, more smirks and comments came my way. Then, when the boy never again acknowledged my existence, reality made itself plain.

The entire thing had been a setup. A sham. A few weeks before, I’d confided to a friend that I’d never been kissed. She spilled my secret to a high school full of unmerciful teenagers. What I thought was magic was merely a popular boy’s response to an adolescent dare.

Nothing but a game. He won. I lost.

I lost far more than my first kiss that day. I lost my innocence. I’d been duped, manipulated, and misled. I wasn’t wanted; I was used. A prop to propel a teenage boy a little farther up the popularity scale.

As a result, I bought into the belief that the only way I’d ever be wanted is if I worked at it. I needed to put on a good show and put some effort into being worthy.

My experience with human love has, at times, left me jaded and self-protective. I’m afraid to trust love, to lean into it. I’m afraid I’ll find myself once again duped and used. And yet the Bible promises God’s love can be counted on. Do I trust His sincerity? Do I believe His love will not fail me?

There’s a story in the Bible about a woman who needed to be noticed by a man. When Ruth’s husband died suddenly along with her father-in- law, she became destitute, along with her adored mother-in-law, Naomi. Wanted one day, alone and without resources the next. No spouses, no means of income or provision. Alone.

Until Ruth discovered she had a kinsman, a relative who could assume the role of husband out of respect for his deceased relative.

But it was a long shot. Why would this relative, Boaz, want to give up his independence for a widow and her mother-in-law? An unnecessary burden. And yet Ruth and Naomi both knew it was their only option.

So one night, after the day’s work was done, Ruth walked over to the field where Boaz worked. She found him asleep on the threshing floor, likely exhausted from a full day’s work, and she curled up at his feet to sleep. As custom dictated, when he awakened to find that Ruth had “thrown herself at his feet” during the night, Boaz had a choice to make: receive her as his wife—and become her kinsman-redeemer—or reject her request. It may seem difficult to understand, but Ruth’s life hinged on the whims of one man’s wants.

Have you been there? Maybe you’re not a woman waiting for a man. Maybe you’re simply a person longing to be wanted. You trusted love once upon a time. But then a rejection or loss. An injustice or betrayal. Something hardened within. Never again would you throw yourself at the feet of anyone. Never.

I understand. But I’ve learned something since that devastating first kiss.

Human desire is a flawed echo of a flawless love.

While there is merit in romance, it was never meant to be the apex of all love. Instead, even the most beautiful and perfect human love is merely a hint of something far better.

God’s is love.

That means we are wanted by one who plays no games and hides no ulterior motives. He became the one who was used, unwanted and rejected so we would always know what it felt like to be protected, wanted and received. His love heals our wounds and soothes our hearts. And when we throw ourselves at His feet, there is no fear of what the morning will bring.

For the morning brings with it the knowledge that we’re already wanted. We’re redeemed by the one who holds the power to do the redeeming.

Every lesser love is merely child’s play.

~ Michele Cushatt, I Am: A 60-day Journey to Knowing Who You Are Because of Who He Is
Copyright 2017, Zondervan Publishers.


These words pulled from the pages of Michele’s most recent book—I Am: A 60-day Journey to Knowing Who You Are Because of Who He Is—were penned during her long and grueling recovery from a third diagnosis of tongue cancer, during which she was permanently altered physically, emotionally and spiritually. In it, she speaks with raw honesty and hard-earned insight about our current identity epidemic and the reason why our best self-help and self-esteem tools aren’t enough to heal our deepest wounds.

Michele is one of my best buddies and dearest friends. But she’s also one of the most powerful communicators of the spoken and written word. Her book came at a time when my foundation had been rocked and my security needed shoring up. Here’s the endorsement I wrote after reading it last summer: 


Using personal stories, insightful biblical teaching and soul-searching reflection, Michele Cushatt helped me reframe my life through the lens of who God is and who I am because I am His. Through this powerful 60-day journey of I Am, I found hope and courage to let God re-write the narrative of the story I am living and the story I am telling myself every day. ~ Renee Swope, author of A Confident Heart


ENTER TO WIN

From the moment a woman wakes until she falls, exhausted, on her pillow, one question plagues her at every turn: Am I enough?

When a brutal bout with cancer changed how she looked, talked, and lived, Michele Cushatt embarked on a soul-deep journey to rediscover herself. The typical self-esteem strategies and positivity plans weren’t enough. Instead, she needed a new foundation, one that wouldn’t prove flimsy when faced with the onslaught of day-to-day life.

I Am reminds us that our value isn’t found in our talents, achievements, relationships, or appearance. It is instead found in a God who chose us, sent us, and promised to be with us—forever.

HERE IS HOW YOU CAN ENTER TO WIN

1. LEAVE A COMMENT below this post, where it says “Share Your Thoughts.” 

2. SHARE this POST on Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter, with the hashtag #IAMbook

That’s it! Your name will be entered into a random drawing. Be sure to tell your friends so they can sign up too. The drawing will take place on Monday, March 13th! {Contest is limited to US & Canadian readers only.}

How to Be Kind to Your Future Self {+ Book Give-away}


“What would you call someone who …

• …demands that you be someone you’re not?
• …ignores your needs?
• …refuses to let you use your God-given gifts and talents well?
• …sets you up for failure, even disaster, over and over again?
• …does all of the above over and over and over?

Sounds like a bully, perhaps even an abuser, doesn’t it? Look in the mirror and ask yourself, ‘How often does ‘who I am today’ treat ‘who I will be tomorrow’ (or next week or next year) this way?'”

Guilty as charged. That’s how I felt when I read these words. I’m not so awesome at taking care of my future self. And when I read those wise words a few months ago, God got my attention!

I was reviewing my friend Kathi and Cheri’s upcoming book, and I’d been honored by their invitation to write its foreword. But this was no longer  just an honor for me and a favor for them. THIS was a message I NEEDED TO HEAR right then and there! And after reading the whole book, I’m convinced it’s a message every woman needs.

I asked Kathi and Cheri to share some of it with you today. Here’s more from the pages of “Overwhelmed” by Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory… 

It happens every single day. 

We tell ourselves that although today we don’t feel like taking the pets to the vet, filling out on those forms, or scheduling that root canal, our Future Self will get right on it.

Tomorrow, we tell ourselves, I will have more drive, more energy, more excitement!.

Then, tomorrow comes, and we feel overwhelmed because we placed unrealistic expectations on our Future Selves.

So how can we help a sister out? The best way to take care of your Future Self is Pre-Deciding: making intentional decisions ahead of time about particulars and principles.

The Magic of Pre-Deciding
You’ve probably seen that word art on your friend’s walls that says, “In this family we …” (My favorite picture on Facebook is one where my friend has a wall art that says, “In this family we love each other …” with her son standing next to his sister, who gave him a bloody nose while wrestling.)

Now, I want you to consider your own, “In my life I will …” type statements.

Pre-Deciding—before you’re facing an overwhelming situation—who you are as a person, what your core values are, and how you will act saves you time, energy, and agony.

You chose ahead of time—before the question is asked, before the problem occurs, before the dilemma arises—what you will and will not do. Who you will be and who you will not be.

Pre-Deciding puts your core values in action long before they are put to the test.

Because deciding in the moment to do the right thing is exhausting. And completely overwhelming.

Pre-Deciding makes sure that your Future Self is your very best self.

Clarifying Your Personal Principles with a Personal Manifesto

I (Kathi) first came up with the idea of a Personal Manifesto when I was making some big decisions in my life and wanted every decision to spring out of the values that I held dear.

A Personal Manifesto is a personalized list of values—who you are and who you aspire to be. It’s like your own personal code of conduct that is not decided in the moment but Pre-Decided before you’re in crisis.

Even though I may not be living out each point fully, it is my goal to grow in each and every one of those areas.

I (Cheri) find that having a Personal Manifestos is especially important for me since I’m a Highly Sensitive Person. Even when I’m feeling completely overwhelmed, Pre-Deciding helps me act on my values rather than react to my circumstances.

The purpose of a Personal Manifesto isn’t to limit you—it’s to help you focus your time energy and even money on the areas that are important to you.

Here are ours:


So how does my Personal Manifesto keep me from being overwhelmed?

1. It keeps me from saying yes to things I should say no to.
I recently was asked to donate to a worthy cause, but as I prayed about the amount to give, I felt no nudging from God to give. My PM says, “I give generously as God directs.” I kept the money, and we used it the next time God directed us to sponsor a child through Compassion.

2. It reminds me what I should say yes to.
If it’s a choice between supporting a friend at her art opening or Roger the night before Good Friday at church (one of his busiest times of the year), I choose Roger. Other people will go to my friend’s art opening, but I’m the only wife who will bring Roger dinner during that incredibly busy time. Yes, he can get his own dinner, and has told me that. But I’m on his team. Always.

3. It reminds me of what—and who—is important.
If I’m tempted to take on a new project, but keep complaining to my husband that we aren’t spending enough time together because my schedule keeps getting in the way, my PM reminds me that I’ve already chosen my priority: I just need to live it out.

Make your own Personal Manifesto. It will take a little time right now, but it will save you a lot of overwhelm in the days to come.

It’s worth the effort.

You Future Self is cheering for you! 


Feeling overwhelmed? Wondering if it’s possible to move from “out of my mind” to “in control” when you’ve got too many projects on your plate and too much mess in your relationships?

Kathi and Cheri share five surprising reasons why you become stressed, why social media solutions don’t often work, and how you can create a plan that finally works for you. As you identify your underlying hurts, uncover hope, and embrace practical healing, you’ll understand how to…

  • trade the to-do list that controls you for a calendar that allows space in your life
  • decide whose feedback to forget and whose input to invite
  • replace fear of the future with peace in the present

You can simplify and savor your life—guilt free! Clutter, tasks, and relationships may overwhelm you now, but God can help you overcome with grace.

ENTER TO WIN: Kathi and Cheri would like to send a copy of Overwhelmed: Quiet the Chaos & Restore Your Sanity to one of you!To qualify for the drawing, simply do these TWO things:

1. LEAVE A COMMENT below this post on my blog, where it says “Share Your Thoughts.” All entries must be on my blog. Click here to leave a comment.

2. SHARE this POST on Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter, with the hashtag #OvewhelmedBook

That’s it! Once you do both, your name will be entered into a random drawing. Be sure to tell your friends so they can sign up too. Our random drawing will take place on Monday, March 13th. {Giveaway is limited to US & Canadian readers only.}

Want help creating a Personal Manifesto? Sign up here for great ideas and resources about how to get out from Overwhelmed and you will receive “How to Write Your Personal Manifesto” as our gift to you! 

renee-kathi-and-cheri-photoKathi Lipp is a busy conference and retreat speaker and the bestselling author of several books, including Clutter Free, The Husband Project, and The Get Yourself Organized Project. She and her husband, Roger, live in California and are the parents of four young adults.

Cheri Gregory spends her weekdays teaching teens and weekends speaking at women’s retreats. She’s been married to her college sweetheart, Daniel, for more than 28 years. The Gregorys and their young adult kids, Annemarie and Jonathon, live in California.