I’m Breaking Up With Perfect

Have you ever been in a relationship you knew was bad but didn’t know how to end it? Whether it is a friend who betrayed us, a boyfriend who ignored us, or a coworker who undermined us, unhealthy relationships are bad for the soul. But there is one relationship that steals potential from all of our ther relationships—including our relationship with ourselves and our relationship with God. It’s our relationship with Perfect.

Perfect is a bad friend. No matter what we do or say or give or take or create…it’s never enough. Perfect always demands more, but it’s never satisfied. Never.

My friend Amy Carroll has written a new book I just love!! And she’s on a mission to help us all break up once and for all with our unfaithful friend: Perfection! And today she stopped by to share her heart and her book with us on my blog – plus she’s giving away a copy too

AmyC“As I rummaged through the damaged store, I hurried toward a colorful decoration that caught my eye. A hurricane had ravaged the seaside store’s merchandise, but there were a few treasures left.

My prize that day was a papier-mâché figure of Santa Clause directing a band of animal musicians. Since my husband was a band director, seeing Jolly Old Saint Nick with his conductor’s baton poised made my heart sing even though it was a balmy North Carolina summer outside.

I carefully carried the figurines to the cash register and made them mine.

Nearly skipping with joy down the sidewalk, suddenly I tripped and dropped my fragile treasures. My face fell with dismay as I peeked inside the bag only to see pieces of Santa and his friends lying jagged and free-floating at the bottom.

When I got home, I gently removed the pieces and lay them out on a table. One by one, I drew a thin line of glue on the narrow edges and began to put them back together.

The results weren’t altogether terrible.

Santa’s pedestal is webbed with cracks and the beaver is missing a leg, but unless guests get too close, they’ll never know the trauma Kris Kringle endured. He’s broken but still beautiful, and a smile stretches across my face each Christmas as I unpack him from his protective box.

Why do I struggle to believe that others could see me the same way?

All of us have a level of brokenness from our own sin nature or from sin leveled against us. We all have cracks of insecurity, shards of sin, and flaws of failure, but for most of my life I’ve wanted to hide mine. I’ve wanted to glaze over my brokenness with a façade of perfection.

If I had found only a perfect Santa acceptable, I would have either tossed him after his fall, or I would have hidden him away in the box with the other outdated, worn-out ornaments.

That’s ok with an object, but we’d never do that to an imperfect person. We’re all in the same boat! So why are we afraid others will do it to us? That maybe God will too?

So we keep others at arm’s length, never allowing anyone to get too close, or we hide behind our walls of shame or false perfection. We try to earn acceptance and love with our just-right words and our thought-out actions, feeling more and more lonely all the time, when in truth…

Authenticity is the antidote for isolation.

Jesus doesn’t despise us in our brokenness, tossing us away or hiding the fact that He loves us. He gently takes our pieces and glues them back together with His grace, compassion, and forgiveness. If we’ll only lay down our masks of perfection and surrender to His perfecting work, Jesus lovingly sets us out for the world to see and claims us as His own.

I’ve been on a journey to break up with perfect, and I’m finding my relationships with others are deeper than ever when I’m real about my flaws. In the process, I’m able to point to Jesus as the Perfect One, our ultimate hero, and I’m resting in the lavish love I’m finding in Him.” ~ Amy Carroll, from her new boo: “Breaking Up With Perfect”

To celebrate the release of her new book “Breaking Up with Perfect” Amy Carroll is giving a copy away!

ARE YOU READY to BREAK UP with PERFECT? If so, leave a comment below this post where entries will be gathered and a winner will be chosen. Please CLICK HERE if you’re reading via email. All comments must be shared on my blog to be entered. THANKS!!


Instead of Giving In…


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!

You’ll Never Be Perfect {and that’s a good thing}

I couldn’t silence the words used to describe how much I’d disappointed her.

An email filled with criticism had slipped into my inbox that week and it hurt my feelings … for days.

The shooting pain of failure, regret, and flaw-focused thinking struck like lightening through my heart.

That one email set off a storm of self-doubting emotions. It’s amazing what one person’s criticism can do.

When my children or someone criticizes me as a mom, I’ll start doubting myself as a mom. When someone criticizes me as a friend, it will doubt my ability to be a good friend. Ten people could say something nice to me or about me, but what I will remember most is that one person’s criticism. How about you?

After being tossed and turned by the winds of my people-pleasing tendencies, I finally called a friend to process my emotions and the harsh email. With wisdom she told me:

“Renee, you’ll never be perfect. And if you ever get to where you are, you will be all alone!” 

Boy, she was right!

I am not perfect.

I’ll never be perfect.

And if I ever get there, I will be all alone.

Sweet friend, I don’t know if you ever feel like a failure ~ completely imperfect and full of flaws – like I do sometimes. But here is what I do know ~

Jesus was the only perfect Person to walk this earth… yet He was constantly criticized.

But, guess what? Nowhere is it recorded in scriptures that Jesus ever doubted Himself. No matter what, He stayed secure in His purpose and confident in His calling.

That day, my friend spoke reality into my reeling feelings. And God used her wisdom to reminded me: Jesus depended solely on His Father’s approval. 

What His Father said {about Him} was all that mattered {to Him}. And that is what He wants for you, too.

No matter what, God loves you and He is there for you… not to criticize you but to encourage you.

  • He is there in the midst of your sometimes lonely, imperfect life… when your disappointments and failures leave you empty and make you doubt your worth and purpose.
  • He is there when you’re going through the motions, aware of what needs to be done but afraid you won’t be able to do it all.
  • He is there when you’re criticizing yourself and questioning whether you have what it takes to be a godly woman.

He sees you. He notices all you do and He knows what you need. Today He is pursuing you with the gift of His perfect love — love that is patient and kind, love that keeps no record of your wrongs, love that won’t ever give up on you!

Swope_ConfHeartDevo_3DsmENTER TO WIN
Enter to WIN my new Confident Heart Summer Devotional gift pack! It includes a copy of my A Confident Heart Devotional, a beautiful prayer journal and a Starbucks gift card! 

Simply click “SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS” and do just that.
To enter to win, you must comment on my blog under this post. {All winners will be chosen from blog comments only.}


Sometimes We Need More Than a Blog Post
Do you ever feel alone or unnoticed? Need a friend to walk with you and help you see how much you are loved, pursued and created for a purpose? If so, A Confident Heart may be just the book for you!

Looking for the perfect summer devotional? Each day my new A Confident Heart Devotional: 60 Days to Stop Doubting Yourself offers a personal, powerful and practical way to live in the security of God’s promises right where you are!

Triggers & Truth

Welcome! If you’ve linked over from my Encouragement for Today devotion through Proverbs 31 Ministries, I’m so glad you stopped by! I hope you’ll enjoy today’s video, enter today’s drawing, and stay for a while.

If you’d like to receive my blog posts via email you can sign up for FREE Email Updates in my sidebar. 

Have you ever noticed how something can happen or someone can say something and all of the sudden thoughts like “I’m not good enough” or “What is wrong with me?” will trigger  a string of negative emotions?

Then, before you know it that awful, yucky feeling of self doubt comes over you and makes you want to shrink back in a corner. Self-doubt is like a bully. It makes us feel small, inadequate, less than and insecure.

But we don’t have to put up with being bullied anymore. We can live as more than a conqueror through HIM who loves us and gave His life up for us!

I’ve got a short video message to share from my NEW”Confident Heart” DVD . I recorded it to equip and empower you to stop letting doubt and discouragement beat you up and start letting God and His Word build you up instead!

If you’re reading this via email, click here to watch today’s video and enter today’s giveaway!

Confident, strong, and free – it’s closer than you think!

Join the next Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible Study of my book, A Confident Heart. Filled with daily insights, powerful promises, weekly video messages, and Scripture-based teachings, this online study will be life-changing! And it’s being led by Melissa Taylor and her amazing Online Bible Study. Find out more about the study and sign up here.

The P31 online study is FREE! All you need is my book A Confident Heart: How to Stop Doubting Yourself & Live in the Security of God’s Promises. AND if you order a copy through Proverbs 31 Ministries, it will be signed and you can receive a link to download over $40 in FREE “Confident Heart” resources. Get your signed copy here and find out more today!

TODAY’S FREE BLOG OFFER: Confident Heart “Triggers and Truths” Printable.

Swope_ConfidentHeartDVD_3DSwope_ConfidentHeartDVD_3DConfidence Boost” GIVEAWAY:
Today I’m giving away a copy of my NEW”Confident Heart” DVD and my book, “A Confident Heart”  along with my message “Don’t Throw Away Your Confidence” on CD!

To enter, click “share your thoughts” below this post and  let’s talk about the things that trigger our doubts and a truth God spoke to your heart through today’s video message and/or my P31 devotion.



Condemning Thoughts

Condemning Thoughts

A  Guest Post by 

“He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:44b (NIV)

Do you ever question if you are good enough? Are you more likely to dwell on what’s wrong with you than what’s right?

One day I realized I was scrutinizing myself to find out what my problem was. The more I picked myself apart, the more it dawned on me another voice was egging me on: the voice of the enemy, Satan. As I listened to his lies, they zapped my sense of worth and security.

For a long time, I didn’t recognize the enemy for who he was. The negative thoughts and deceitful suggestions simply sounded like my own voice.

The Bible opens with a serpent slithering into the lives of Adam and Eve. This snake is also known as Satan, and he filled their heads with lies they believed. Lies which separated them from God. From the start, Satan’s goal has been to trick and deceive. John 8:44b tells us “He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” This liar also tempted Jesus. He was always ready though, with the Word of God, to defeat the evil one.

We too can have this weapon in our arsenal. As we fill our hearts and minds with Truth, we can defeat the lies we tell ourselves, and the lies Satan whispers in our thoughts.

When I compare my negative thoughts to God’s Word, the differences amaze me:

My thoughts: I want to give up.
God’s Word: Be committed (Philippians 4:13, Galatians 6:9).

My thought: I’ll feel lost.
God’s Word: He watches my paths and establishes my ways (Proverbs 5:21, 4:26).

My thought: No one loves me.
God’s Word: He loves me more than life (John 3:16).

My thought: I’m ugly.
God’s Word: I’m wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).

My thought: I’m all alone; no one understands me.
God’s Word: He will never leave me. He has plans for my life (Deuteronomy 31:6, Jeremiah 29:11).

My thoughts: I’m just not good enough.
God’s Word: I was created in His image (Genesis 1:26).

When the enemy tries to slither in with false accusations, we must be ready to combat him with what God’s Word says about us. To get started, evaluate your thoughts and pray for wisdom to distinguish the voice of the enemy.

Condemning thoughts that steal your confidence of who you are in Christ aren’t from God. Let’s commit today to renew our minds with the Word of God each day, and replace those worn-out, deceitful lies with truth.

Dear Lord, thank You for Your life-giving truth. Please fill me with Your Word so that I can live in freedom and confidence! In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Confident Heart Cover 3D.REVRelated Resources:

Join thousands of women participating in Melissa’s Taylor’s P31 newest Online Bible Study of A Confident Heart by Renee Swope, starting October 13th! Click here to be part of this powerful study and community.

Dive into God’s Word and be inspired and encouraged with our next A Confident Heart Real Life Connection Call Series, featuring special guests Natalie Grant, Renee Swope and more!

What others are saying about A Confident Heart:

• This book pierced my heart, as no other reading, hearing, or experience has.

• This is so what I need! I love how you remind us to pray God’s Word. His truth is only what makes a difference with toxic thoughts.

• I felt like you were writing about me. I find myself not doing things that would bring joy because of not being good enough. This book describes how I have felt all my life.

Reflect and Respond:
Are your thoughts reflective of who God’s Word says you are?

If not, what one or two things will you begin to change based on the verses above?

Power Verses:
Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (NIV)

Romans 8:1, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)

Copyright 2013, Melissa Taylor

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS: Leave a comment under today’s post and let us know which one or two of the thoughts from God’s word you’ll cling to today – and we’ll be praying that promise over you for the rest of this week!

When You Don’t Know What It Is…

 I hated feeling so uneasy and uncertain. Lost within my own heart. If only I knew what was making my emotions so wobbly. If only I could name it. Then I could figure out what to do about it. One morning, Jesus whispered it’s name in the quiet of my heart.  It was doubt. It wasn’t fear. It wasn’t worry. Self-doubt was making  me question everything I thought, felt and said. Naming it helped me know how to pray. Naming it led me to confessions I needed to make and promises I could claim. Naming it made me feel like I could finally stand up to it. Two summers ago, I got to visit the Farm and sit on the porch with my friend, Ann Voskamp. We talked about the power of naming things- the hard and the holy everyday grace things. How essential it is to our healing. We shared how doubt and fear had overshadowed our lives for so long, but how we both found hope and freedom once we learned to name them. Would you join us on the porch? {Be sure to turn up the volume. A tractor passes by and it gets kind of loud.} If you’re reading this via email, click here to view the video on my website.

“When you don’t have a name for something, you’re haunted by it’s shadows…But when you can name something… It loses it’s mask and you can find a strategy to deal with it.” (One Thousand Gifts)

Just days after Ann and I chatted on the porch, I received these two notes. “Renee, I just finished reading the first chapter of A Confident Heart . Thank you so much for writing a book like this and knowing exactly what it’s called that I’m going and have gone through all my life and didn’t know what it was called. ~ Sharon “I’ve always doubted myself, but like you I called mine different names. It felt so good to know and hear that I am not alone and that I can find my God-Confidence. ~ Megin


Lord, thank you for showing us just how much we need to name that doubt, that fear,  that worry – so we can find a strategy to overcome it with You! There is power in Your Name, and power in naming the things that hold us captive. Give us wisdom and insight to name them, and courage to claim and walk in the overcoming power that is ours in Christ. In Jesus Name Amen! Join Us On The Porch Slip a note in the comments below this post by clicking “Share your thoughts.” As a special gift, each of you who join Ann and my conversation will be entered for a chance win one of three copies of A Confident Heart and one copy of Ann Voskamp’s New York Times Best-Seller, One Thousand Gifts.

Meet Us On the Porch Again This Week? Ann and I kept talking, and we’d love for you to join us on the porch again on Thursday, when we’ll share more. If you’d like a little reminder, enter your email in the box in my sidebar that says

RECEIVE EMAIL UPDATES and I’ll slip a note in your inbox when it’s posted.

When You Feel Like You’re Not Enough…

I was completely blindsided. I’d been called into a meeting at my church with another women in leadership who was upset with me. She’d been upset with me for months, but I had just found out about it.

Someone had told her I didn’t agree with the way she was leading. But that wasn’t at all what I’d said – months before – in a meeting with several other leaders. I had simply been asked my opinion about a situation and I shared my thoughts and they weren’t directly about her at all. And I was so sad that I was just being asked about it, several months later.

I was hurt. She was hurt. We both volunteered countless hours in ministry, pouring our hearts and our lives into women in our church. All the while, we were on the same team and assumed we both fully supported one another. But now the trust we had built for years was coming unraveled.

It was a mess. I was a mess.

I was done. I decided I wasn’t strong enough. Wasn’t resilient enough. And I was exhausted from trying.

That afternoon I went home and cried. Told God I was ready to call it quits. Laying my head down on my desk, I said I couldn’t do it anymore.

But… {my heart whispered} there was more to it… “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

I knew in that moment if I was willing to die to myself and completely rely on Christ in Me I could experience resurrection power. 

I could walk away from God’s calling on my life or I could allow Jesus to live HIS life through me.

 I could die to my desire to protect myself from getting hurt again and choose to tap into His power by relying on the strength of His Spirit in me .

I wasn’t enough … wasn’t strong enough, resilient enough, or humble enough.  But Christ in me was more than enough.

In my P31 devotion today, I talked about how we can turn away from our feelings of defeat and doubt by living in the Light of God’s Truth. And here is one of the most important truths:

Jesus did not die on the cross just to get us out of hell and into heaven. He died on the cross to get Himself out of heaven and into us! That is resurrection life – and the very place where we get our enough!

If you have been crucified with Christ, you no longer live, but Christ lives in you!! The life you now live in the body, you can choose to live by faith in the Son of God, who loved you and gave himself for you.”

When you feel inadequate, remember God says: You are CHOSEN.

“‘You are my witnesses,’ declares the Lord, ‘and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he’” (Isa. 43:10).

When you feel afraid, remember God says: You are REDEEMED.

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine” (Isa. 43:1).

When you feel unloved, God says: You are LOVED.

“You are precious and honored in my sight, and . . . I love you” (Isa. 43:4).

When you feel forgotten, God says: You are REMEMBERED.

“See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands” (Isa. 49:16).

When you feel insecure, God says: You are SECURE.

“Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders” (Deut. 33:12).

When you feel unable or unstable, God says: You are ABLE.

“The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights” (Hab. 3:19).

When you feel worthless, God says: You are CALLED.

“Youare a chosen [woman], a royal [priest], a holy [daughter], God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Pet. 2:9).

DOWNLOAD PRINTABLES of today’s promises {in MSWord} OR {in a PDF}.

A Confident HeartLasting Confidence Giveaway
 Enter to WIN 2 signed copies of my book, A Confident Heart,  a Starbucks gift card and a Bath& Body works yummy fall treat! To enter, simply leave a comment below this post where it says “SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS” and do just that – you can share your thoughts about about today’s post or my devotion :-).



PS. Be sure to DOWNLOAD a free PRINTABLE of today’s promises {in MSWordOR {in a PDF}.


How to Grow a Girl with Confidence

Photo Source

If only someone could have peeked into my heart.  If only someone could have known what I needed and planted seeds of His unconditional love and truth in my heart as a girl …

From the heart of my friend and amazing author/ministry teammate, Lynn Cowell:

All summer she’s been so free; so confident. Days of pony tails and swimsuits, my daughter wakes up each day to her carefree world. No worries about her make-up; she doesn’t wear any! No concerns about her wardrobe; gym shorts fit most every occasion.

As the first day of school approached, I watched her fight to hang on to her confident summer-self. Not wanting to go backward, she has struggled to stand in God’s love and embrace who He has created her to be. It’s been a daily fight as she counted down the days.

Confidence is a major factor in young people when it comes to how they feel about themselves and profoundly affects the decisions they make. Craving acceptance, approval, and affirmation, they’re tempted to make choices that will move them forward on the popularity scale or at least not cause them to stand out. Uncomfortable, miserable even, they don’t know they were made for more than fitting in.

I have found a major key in building confidence in my daughters: teaching them that Jesus is wild about them.

Understanding Jesus is the one who fills the love gap in their hearts, empowers them to not grasp at love from guys and girls alike. Truth that Jesus was wild for them (Psalm 45:11), He sees no flaw in them (Song of Songs 4:7) and He actually enjoys them (Zephaniah 3:17) transforms the way they see themselves. But before that transformation can start, they have to know this truth and that begins with hearing it every day.

Lasting confidence only comes from one source: knowing who they are. Only a foundation built on unconditional love stands. Do you see a girl struggling with low self-image? Can you read in her eyes, “Won’t someone love me the way I am?”

She needs to know when Jesus looks at her, He is not disappointed in her. She needs to know that love from a guy, be it a dad or a boyfriend, can never fill the love gap in our hearts…but He can. This is the truth she needs every day to combat the lies the world tells her.


 ENTER TODAY’s GIVE-AWAY: What  is one thing you would tell your 14-year old self or a teenage girl growing up today about God’s Love? Lynn and I would love to know. And she’s going to give one of you a signed copy of “Devotions for a Revolutionary Year,”. To enter to win, simply click on the word “comments” right below this post and type in the white box to share with us.

Do you want to help pour this truth into the young women in your life? On her website, Lynn is offering a FREE “Faith Builder” –  seven devotions taken straight from her new book, “Devotions for a Revolutionary Year: 365 Days of Jesus’ Radical Love for You”. These devotions will build up the faith of the girl in your life, be it your daughter, niece and/or granddaughter so she can be filled with a confidence that is true and can stand the pressure of this world.

To celebrate the release of Devotions for a Revolutionary Year, Lynn is giving away over $75 in free contentwith each purchase! Simply purchase Devotions for a Revolutionary Year from September 4th – 11th and e-mail your receipt to freebies@lynncowell.com. You will receive in an email with a link to this free content on Lynn’s website at www.LynnCowell.com.




 And the WINNER is…. Jennifer {announced September 19, 2012}