Hmmm...where were we?
Well, I finally got a shower today. Boy do I feel and smell better! Andrew was snuggling with me tonight, rubbing my fleece sweatshirt and then told me how soft I was. Ahhh. Felt like a big cotton ball. (Love it when he's sick b/c he reverts back to childhood and lets me get close to him). He seems to be getting better although he was still coughing pretty bad tonight. He has asthma so I have to really watch him close when he gets upper respiratory yuck. We have a doctor's appointment in the morning just to make sure his lungs are clear.

Now back to where we were...I went digging through old journals tonight, trying to remember ALL that God has taken me through. It's a journey of many years. It's good to go back and remember. I am looking forward to sharing it with you. I know it will take time and I'll write as often as I can while also traveling to speak and keeping busy with P31 radio, devotions, etc, which I love. I just sometimes wish I could press the pause button and write everything I want to share all at once. I am going to try to write a little each day. Will you pray for me to be able to blog more often? I love to write but life has lots of things attached to my time these days.

The story I shared about finding the real me and discovering your uniquely you came from a very hard time in my life. In 1999, I came to a breaking point. I had been a Christian for 10 years. I knew Jesus said He came to give us abundant life, but there was nothing abundant in my life except busyness, obligations, guilt and self-doubt. I felt like my heart was shriveling up to die. I had lost the closeness of my first love - Jesus.

He hadn't moved away, but I had. Although I had been walking with Him for 10 years, somehow I had gotten lost along the path. The patterns of people-pleasing and performance-based living had found their way back into my life and were guiding my every thought; my every decision. I was now bowing down to the idol of others' opinions.

The odd thing is that it looked like I was living for God and serving Him with all of my heart. I was a stay-at home-mom, volunteering 15-20 hours each week for P31 from my living room or kitchen table (thanks to internet). I was on the women's prayer team at church. I co-lead a mom's Bible study. I attended another study at church on Wednesday nights. I reached out to women in my neighborhood. I dropped everything to help a friend in need. My house was way to clean and my family probably felt like they lived in a display case instead of a home. It was my way of trying to be "perfect" - I know it's sickening and believe me it eventually made me sick, at heart.

Some say to be careful when talking about finding the real me, and I understand. There is an important balance. I am not saying find the real "you" so you can neglect everyone else and be "happy." I am saying, delight yourself in HIM and He will give you the desires of your heart - to match His desires for you. I am saying find out who God wants you to be. Find out what makes your heart come alive.

One of my favorite quotes is, " "Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." -- Harold Thurman Whitman

My heart was no longer alive. It had gone numb. I was slipping into a pit of depression. Focused on serving other people for the wrong reasons, I felt hopeless when my accomplishments or their compliments didn't satisfy. I had assumed God wanted me to busy myself with good things in His name. But instead of asking Him what He wanted, I became who my mom and dad wanted me to be. Who my husband and kids needed me to be. Who friends and co-workers expected me to be.

So, today I want to encourage you to ask God to show you two things. First, His absolute delight in you. Just simply be still and let Him love you! Then ask Him to show you one thing that makes your heart come alive. Is it reading? Is it writing? Is it colors, flowers, smells, bubble baths, music, artwork, laughter, order, encouraging others, making something with your hands, exercise, ___________?
  • Is there time in your busy life for you to experience this regularly?
  • Are there things you may be doing to fill the emptiness but they don't bring any joy? (ie. tv, email, excessive blog reading, eating, gossip magazines, more tv, overspending, overcommitting)
Let's share them here by clicking "comments" below, and encourage one another with ways we can carve out little pockets of time to help our hearts come alive. This is just one small thing I started to think about way back in 1999. It brought hope to my heart and helped me find my joy in Christ and the unique desires He wanted to fulfill, instead of me seeking to be satisfied by my performance and others approval.

I pray also that the eyes of your heart will be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints and his incomparably great power for us who believe. Ephesians 1:18-19


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Finding the real me has been a journey a process and an incredible finding. The real me loves to listen to classical music, paint walls and play drums. The real me loves to sing out loud and dance before the Lord. The real me loves to listen to the heart of friends and strangers. The real me loves to watch the morning come a live and the evening take over. The real me isn't sorry for who she is but rather celebrates what He has created. The real me doesn't feel like she has to say sorry for just being me. Thank you for stirring this in my heart. I love you my friend. Keep up the writing, I so enjoy all you share, thanks for keeping it real.
Turtle Chick

Blogger Joyful said...

WOW - I love it! I wrote not that long ago in my own journal that I want to come alive for the first time. Thank you so much for writing this - my heart is filled with hope and expectation of what God is going to do. I've been exactly where you are, but God is doing amazing things and I'm believing Him for the rest of the journey. When I figure out what the real me loves, I'll let you know.
Continuing in prayer for you,

Blogger Amy L Brooke said...

First, no pressure about the blogging every day. I love it when you do, but it's no fun if it is pressure!

A couple things come to mind that make me kind of come alive. One is riding. Unfortunately, I can't afford it at the moment. But I loved the initmate connection with the horse. They are so in tune with you . . . . Sometimes that is good and sometimes bad. But it also put me in the barn weekly for lessons and around others. And I felt like I could just go there and hang out. I so miss it . . . . Just got to get finances turned around so I can get back to it.

Writing definitely makes me feel alive.

And children. I love them. I feel alive around them. Maybe it is because they love so unconditionally.

But I do struggle with the emptyness. I struggle with it a lot. Honestly, I think I try to fill it too much with people. I need to connect with people. But my first connection needs to be with God. Sometimes I short circuit that time I could be with him or turn to him by turning to others.

It's not necessarily wrong to want to connect, I just get my priorities of connecting out of line at times.

Blogger Joyful said...

As soon as I pushed that "Publish Post" button, I got a visual of who I am right now. If you've seen the movie, "Runaway Bride", do you remember the scene where Maggie Carpenter (Julia Roberts) runs from the engagement party and Ike (Richard Gere) chases her outside? He begins questioning her about what she really likes, and the truth surfaces - she has no idea what she really loves because she has lived all her life trying to please other people. It's funny - the one line that hit home to me so forcefully in that movie was when Richard Gere says, "You don't even know what kind of eggs you like". It had effected every area of her life.

Well....just call me "Maggie". So glad God is on a search and rescue mission and He is showering His love and acceptance on me and calling me to be who He created me to be.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hola Renee... I try to write as good as I can, I was reading the devotional. I feel very sad because I know that God want we do that our parents wants, but what if I can´t give it them, yet. I refeer to my studies. For that reason I start another carrer that I don´t want to be or don´t have that dream in my heart.I feel bad, afraid and terrified. I feel better when you said that you has to do things for others. So Is right that i have to do this ( two carrers)I just have to rest because it is the command of God.I don´t know... I ask if that is normal because with the other carreer I don´t feel in that way. The problem is that so many years have gone. What is more, My parents don´t let me go to the church. They said that while I am living in their house i are not allow to go to the church. But here i am. Thanks for writing daily. Blessings.XXX

Anonymous Patti VZ said...

Hi Renee...

Great post again today... I am right with "Joyful" as another Maggie. I am running right with you! I liked her description of God on a search and rescue mission. Renee, good stuff IN your post and also BECAUSE of your post!

Blogger Alyce said...

Hi Renee,
I read your post and was like.."hmm..I really dont know what I love or want". My one passion is cooking/baking. And I do those already. I am a stay at home mom. Another passion is to just learn more about Jesus and to have peace and order in my home. Right now I am focusing on those. But as far as extracurricular..I have no clue.. When I was in school and in college..I did the things that my parents wanted me to do..especially going to college. The entire time I said..I just want to get married and have children. Well I got the degree and the husband and kids. So I did accomplish what I wanted. I am just kinda wondering if I'll learn more about myself once my youngest is off to school, when I have time alone to really reflect..
Have a good day..

Blogger Melissa said...

Hmmmm, can I relate to any of this????? YES YES YES!!!! You know my journey girl and oh how I continue to search for the "real" me (in a good way like you mentioned), because truly I really just want to please the Lord, but I want to do it in the way He designed and purposed me for.

Glynnis blogged yesterday about becoming overwhelmed and that the same thing doesn't work in our lives because we or those around us are constantly changing. That's what's hard I think. Life keeps's often hard for me to adjust and keep up!

Your writing has been superior lately girl, so don't stop!!! Even if you just post a short paragraph, write your thoughts.

I have 2 sick ones home with me today. Sounds like it's similar to Andrew. Fever and crud. Hayley Grace is going to the dr today.

Love you sweetie! Happy Valentine's Day!

Blogger MaryLu said...

I really hate to respond with a "me too" but I'm right there with Joyful and Patty. I sometimes fit the "Maggie" mold. I usually know what the "real me" wants, but it gets lost in what everyone else wants of Mommy, Wife, friend.
Maybe that is where I need to get "the Real Me" in line with what God wants for me. To have a servant heart, to have joy in the journey.

Blogger Lysa TerKeurst said...

That Whitman quote is just about one of the finest I've ever read!!! Oh my stars this is good stuff in your blog lately.

When did you say that your book was coming out?


Blogger muser said...

Renee, after I read every one of your blog entries, I just whisper "Wow." I am so amazed that God has led me to P31 and a few of the ladies' blogs to help guide me through what I am considering my new journey.

My mother died when I was eight years old. It was the defining moment of my life. (It's something that is difficult for others to understand, I know.) As I neared the age of 40 (the age my mom was when she died), I began to dwell on how her life was compared to mine and how she felt when she found out she wasn't going to live on this earth much longer. I've always wanted to be like her, and I do actually have the same interests (which could be conscious), but I am like her in my mannerisms and personality, which I know are not conscious, because I didn't know her as a woman, I knew her as my mom.

Last week, I became older than my mom. What a weird feeling. But, after a difficult week emotionally, I was reading my Bible, and I feel like God was telling me that he needed to wash my hurt away, (create a pure heart in me) and all of the bad things I've held in my heart, and live for ME--not my mother. I began to realize that I'm now at a stage that my mom never was, and I need to do what God wants me to do. It's going to be difficult, I know, but I want so much to see what God has planned for me. I know the gifts God has given me, and I want him to use them for his glory.

Thank you, Renee, for sharing your heart and helping others!

In His Love,

Blogger Digging for Pearls said...

It is always such fun to read your blog entries Renee. We understand that you do them as you are able.

Two of the things that make me come alive are writing and trying to be an encouragement to the various women in my life, or who God brings across my path.

I look forward to what you will have to say in the coming days. Thanks for your openness. You are a blessing to so many! :)

Anonymous Joanie said...

Hi Renee!

The one thing that truly makes my heart come alive is to spend time out in the woods. Just me, nature, and my God. Sometimes I will occassionally share this time with my little dog, but for me to really come alive I need to not have another human present. I could make time for this, except during these cold months I would not enjoy being outside for long. So, I am saying, "Come on Spring!!"

The one thing that I found myself doing too much of to fill an emptiness that I was feeling just recently was spending too much time on an internet support group for patients who have Parkinson's Disease. I needed the support of others who understand my daily struggles, but I was spending too much time answering questions from others and trying to lend what information I could to help others cope with this disease. I realized that I needed to cut back on the amount of time I spent in this manner. So, now I drop in to see what is going on, but I rarely reply to any of the posts, unless it is something I feel that God is leading me to respond to.

I can relate to your desire to post daily to your blog. I love to write and share also, but I too have not been able to find a way to post to my blog daily. It is hit and miss at best.

Thanks for making us think and encouraging us to share. You are an inspiration!

Blogger MrsProverbs31 said...

Wow! That was great. I was in the same pit not too long ago. I felt awful. Little by little He's bringing light into this soul search thing.

Thank you for sharing your heart with us.

Blogger grey like snuffie said...

So time appropriate to find your blog. 38 years of walking with God. For 6 1/2 years I haven't heard His whispers. I shut down and now all that was seems wrong, like there has to be more. 18 years of abuse growing up seems to have left more of a mark on my life than I realized. God has dealt with it all for years, stripping away walls and healing. Now the kids are gone, we've sold our business, trying to sell our home, don't have a church home and my husband wants to kill my diva dog. :) Talk about a mid life awakening. Coming out of the abusive home I forgave and God healed the brokeness but I had learned to survive and those bad habits seem to have carried over. He has blessed me with a wonderful, gentle husband and glorious daughters who are both still walking with God but I hit a wall of "I can't". I looked GREAT for 20 years in our church, giving out the wazoo--- Not sure where this season of life is going to take me but I know what He has for me---just not sure how to find the breakthrough I need to get there. He has kept me His for 38 years, kept me from ever walking away from Him. Now I find there are a few things I need to start believing for myself and not just encouraging others in their walk with Jesus. Somehow I can "live" again and not fear the swinging punches of life. I trust that He will comfort me with a comfort that I can then turn outward to comfort others. So much head knowledge that needs lived out in my heart. Being real---I'm with you. God created us intimately to be loved by Him and used by Him for His glory---we're definitely on a journey.

Blogger dr_tawnda said...

I regularly watch too much tv and spend too much time on the internet. Rarely do I get joy from it and I'm sad to admit that it takes me away from truly enjoy life. Sometimes it's too hard to be what everyone wants me to be so instead I chose do nothing. My house won't be clean enough or will be just as messy 5 minutes afterward to why clean it? Why make the bed when we're going to sleep in it tonight anyway? I find that the day to day monotony has stolen much of the joy of my favorite things.

One of my favorite months was in August before my daughter was born. We took the Family life challenge of NO tv for a month. It was the hardest and best thing we've ever done. We read our favorite books, played games, did devotionals, I scrapbooked and we talked. About ourselves, God, our life together and this amazing new life. After Evie was born we slipped back into old habits. And now that I am home with the baby all day I leave the tv on. It's a horrible habit. Just writing it out makes me want to re-do August even if on a small scale.

In writing this I've discovered one of my biggest passions. Scrapbooking. I love recording our past, present, and life. I love to see where we've been and where God is leading us. I look forward Renee going on this journey with you and the other ladies. The journey of MY heart.

Blogger Heather@Mommymonk said...

Renee, That quote has greatly impacted our household too. John Eldredge's thoughts have caused me to consider who God has made me to be. It's a step by step process though. I'm learning that it's not like God says, "you're a mom" for all your life and that's what defines you. In each season of life, He has different things for us. And we have to be aware and listening for His voice in our hearts.

Anonymous ~Trisha!~ said...

wow! i just wrote something on my xanga about this very thing!! great to hear that other people are experiencing the same things! for me tho, it took rejection and a broken heart to get to this place. but i would say that the thing that brings me most joy is people: just being with them, listening to them, hanging out with them, and trying to relate to their experiences to help in any way. that, and simply going to the mountains to have quiet time with God. this is what makes me alive!! and thank you for sharing! :)

Blogger Kelly said...

Hmmm, I think some things that make me feel alive...things to do with clothes, wardrobe, style, be it planning or shopping or coordinating (I would love to be a fashion stylist of sorts)...I love knitting and reading and writing too. I love to take long walks with my dog when the weather is good. Make bath salts. But I really love to send cards and little gifts in the mail to friends/family acquaintances for birthdays/holidays but also just to encourage and bless them! I LOVE doing that!

Blogger Christy said...

That was a great quote by Whitman. What makes your heart come alive? What a great question that is? It means so much more than just asking what is your purpose in life. What we think our purpose in life is may not make our heart come alive.

My heart comes alive when I can help someone see who they are in Christ - when I can help someone think about scripture in a new way - when I can listen and share from my story and help someone see that God takes great delight in them. I love the light bulb moments. I love to see someone really "get it".

Blogger willngracemom said...

This is EXACTLLY where I am at the moment! I am sahm and love my children, husband and friends but have felt left flat when doing for others. Thank you for your openness and allowing us to know that there are others that have these feelings and "this too shall pass" if we hand it over to God <3

Blogger Tammy R said...

Renee, thank you for you willingness to share your heart.

I needed to read your message today. there are days when I think I know the real me. Then there are days when I not sure. You have stirred my heart heart.

Blogger Rea said...

Thank you Renee for giving us direction in finding our hearts desires....sometimes you desire so badly to do things, but have no idea how to get there.

I must say that God has opened my eyes to something SOOO important in this process.

Years ago, before I was a Christian, I got pregnant in high school. I didn't tell anyone other than my boyfriend and his answer was of course abortion....this was not my desire but he made me feel as though this would ruin his life. Being the people pleaser that I am, I was not about to be the cause of someone's life being ruined.

I went through with the procedure.


I did not know the Lord, so it was not a religious conviction that broke me....I believe that it was simply the truth that God has ingrained in our hearts that did so.

All that to say that when I came to know the Lord, he clearly revealed to me that He had allowed this to happen in my life so that I could be a light to other girls. SOOOO, I got involved with a CPC and began the process to become a CPC counselor. I failed. This was not for me. Let me just tell you that this KILLED me. I felt like I could not do what God had designed me to do and I was lost and confused. I let it go and honestly I think that Satan has used that to harden my heart.

Over the past few weeks the Lord has given me such wisdom and lightened this major burden on my heart. I felt, once again, led to a CPC. I didn't know what in the world I was doing trying to volunteer again UNTIL I came across a CPC that wanted volunteers for things other than counseling. Things like encouraging other counselors and helping plan events and working at their resale store!!!!! WOW!!!!! This was HUGE for me. I realized that God had a different plan for me within the CPC world. I didn't have to counsel....what a relief.

This was a major revelation for me. I was able to see that our vision is so limited next to God's. When we are trying to do what we think God has called us to do and we are getting burned out, maybe we need to reevaluate. Maybe we need to step back and take a look through God's eyes. Maybe, just maybe, there is a gift or circumstance he wants us to use but maybe in a VERY different way than WE thought.

Lord, help us to see YOUR vision for our hearts desires!

Blogger Cheri said...

Every time I come to your blog, it touches me in some way. Now, I am going to add you to my favs so I will remember to come. There is just something about you. I know I just need to come back....often. Maybe we are kindred spirits. I am right where you are. It can be lonely, it can be joyous, and it can be downright painful.
But I am coming back here so that I don't have to go through it alone. Thanks for the encouragement to find out who I am.I know I want my dreams to be what God dreams for me....if that makes sense.I just have to figure out what they are!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi REnee - oh my goodness - i love the content of your blog lately. I'm so glad you're talking about this journey with us because I think it's such an important for women. AGain, I am amazed at how similar our journeys are. first- i have my old journals in a pile to go through - to remember this journey in my own life. Secondly - i just was writing aobut the delight yourself in the Lord verse. Interesting... thank you again for sharing your heart! mel

Blogger Mocha with Linda said...

Ironic....I read but couldn't comment yesterday as I've been swamped getting ready to help lead a workshop at church Sunday on caring for others when they are hurting.

Such a catch-22 for me. This is definitely my spiritual gift and I thrive on doing things for other people. But like so many things, it's a two-edged sword. Our strengths can also be our weaknesses.

I was brought up SO much to never think of myself. Always, always put others first. Good sound Biblical advice. But, for example, if someone would take me out for dinner, I was brought up to be so conscious of what I order (always order cheaper thing on menu) that I often don't order something I enjoy.

And of course it's magnified as a wife and mom. Choosing a movie - I watch what they want. Going out to eat - where does my husband want to go?

And as I've thought through this since this post, I've realized the other aspect that was ingrained in me as a child was that as the youngest (and way behind the rest - 7, 9, 11 years behind), my opinions didn't really matter, nor were they given much serious consideration anyway. (I could tell a story about turkey vs. rosasted chicken at Thanksgiving to illustrate!) So that just reinforced it.

I'm not bitter and I'm not a miserable woman. It's just interesting to mull it over and try to reconcile and balance sacrificial giving with speaking up for my desires.

Always love love love to read what you have to say!!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Renee,

I've been reading your blog for a few months now and have it enjoyed it so much. Thank you for being faithful to share the things that the Lord has put on your heart. He has used your words to bless and encourage my heart many times! Your series on friendships was wonderful.

I know that you're so very busy, but I wonder if I could ask a favor of you? My husband and I just purchased our first home and are getting ready to paint. I loved the pictures of your home that you posted at Christmas time (it's adorable - you did a great job with your decorating!). Would you happen to know what the green color was called that you have on the walls in your kitchen/family room area? Also, it looked in one picture like there is a desk area behind your table and the wall was painted maybe a "caramel" color? I hope you don't mind me asking.

Thanks so much; have a wonderful weekend with your family!


Blogger Renee Swope said...

Hi Beth,

Congratulations on your first home! How exciting. I'll be happy to share my paint colors. I am glad you like my decorating. I have a friend who helps me some. She's great!

I am out of town speaking so I don't have access to the information. Will you email me to remind me to look in my garage at paint cans when I get home.

Have a great weekend!

Blogger BethAnne said...

Over the past year, I have been learning this same lesson. I love writing and teaching Bible study, but I spent years doing other 'acts of service' because I wanted to do everything instead of doing one or two things well. Great word!

Blogger Laura said...

This post is so poignant to me right now. I am on a similar journey right now! I've been diving into my past these past few weeks to seek healing from some tough times. God has been faithful, and He is revealing new insights to me every day about the person I am now and how my past relates to that. Thank you for this encouragement. You are a great lady!

Hi Renee,

I am backtracking a few days, but saw this blog and felt I must respond. Last year was an extremely hard year for me. I came face to face with the reality that I had been going down what may have seemed like a Godly path, but for the wrong reasons. What started out as a noble cause, wanting to help those who are hurting know the love of God and that there is hope, ended up being a journey in fulfilling empty parts of my own life. And in the meantime leaving my life in shambles. The 'blinders' fell off my eyes in a very life altering way. Life as I knew it evaporated and what was left was not a very nice picture. It's taken me almost a year to get back to the point I am at now...not fully healed, wounded, but leaning on God to lead the way.
Your blogs and posts on P31 devotionals have been right in line with my struggles this past year, and I can't help but feel that when God moves in big ways and reveals himself, and hidden things to people, it just may do it in groups. Then bring us all together, somehow, across states, countries, the internet, to find comfort, support, and community so we may travel together through our trails. All to the glory of God.
Bless you for being courageous and sharing your struggles.


Blogger Sal said...


May God bless you...

I have just started to read your blog.

Your walk with the Lord and obvious integrity inspire me.

Thank you so much!


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