She Overcame
I had planned to share my verse from She Speaks earlier this week, but I didn't want to start talking too soon. Reading your stories in the comments for my last post makes me feel like we're sitting on our beds in our jammies talking about our promises and what they mean to each of us. My favorite part has been listening. It's felt so right to not say anything so I could simply read about how HE SPEAKS to each of us.

God spoke to me Saturday night in a powerful way with a new Word. I was so taken back because this word wasn't on any of the cards. It wasn't something He'd ever given me before. It was something only He knew I needed to hear. He delivered it through a messenger much like Gideon's angel, who called him out of his hiding place so he could fulfill God's call on his life.

Like Gideon, I am a woman who struggles with doubt. I don't want to struggle with doubt. I want it to GO AWAY. I look at so many resilient and confident women and want to be like them. Yet God keeps me dependent on Him through my doubt. It can push me towards discouragement or pull me into His truth for perspective, strength and direction.

Doubt had come on like a storm in the weeks preparing for She Speaks. I was wrestling with what to say, how to say it and how to weave it all together. I knew God wanted me to share my testimony, but I was hesitant. I didn't know what part to share and I didn't want my message to be about me. Voices of doubt tangled my thoughts as I tried to untangle my testimony for the message. In the end, I shared things I've never shared before all for the purpose of telling His story in my life.

I also knew God wanted me to share the gospel. Although it was a Christian conference, with 560 women in attendance I sensed there would be some who didn't know Him. It became clear during my prayer and prep time that I needed to explain the power of the Cross, why Jesus made Himself our sacrificial lamb, offering up His life as our perfect sacrifice so that we could be free to live in the Truth. If God was going to lead us out of the shadow of doubt, we had to end up in the shadow of the Cross. It changes EVERYTHING!

As I stepped down from speaking, I joined the audience worshiping, soaking in God's presence and trying to grasp the reality of His promises. The music faded, the lights went up and a pretty woman with blond hair came up to me. She handed me a piece of paper with a verse reference on it. Then she spoke these words over me:

"For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony;" Revelation 12:11

She looked into my eyes and said, "Renee, you OVERCAME the accuser by the blood of the Lamb and the word of your testimony!"

Praise God, she was right!!!!!!! The accuser, who had been taunting, threatening and discouraging so many hearts (including mine), had been defeated! I had not stayed in the the shadow of darkness. I had ministered from the shadow of the cross. Through my testimony of God's redemption and the power of the blood of the Lamb, I OVERCAME the enemies of my doubt and fears. It's a truth we can all claim!

As I read your comments and other blogs this week with your testimonies, I can't help but feel like we're watching this promise be fulfilled again and again.

So that my friend is my promise and my Word. OVERCAME. It's not just what is going to happen, but what already did. He is so faithful, isn't He?

She's Speechless
I came home from "She Speaks" without words.

It could be that I talked too much. I averaged 5000 words a day, at least! It could be my lack of sleep. I averaged 3-5 hours each night, at the most. But I think it's more.

I am undone.

I cannot even find the words to describe all that I feel, all that God did. His presence was so powerful, so real. The aroma of Christ filled each room and each heart. I saw Jesus in every woman I met. I remember thinking last week that I couldn't wait for Him to take my breath away - and He did.

The most beautiful memory I have is watching so many different and beautiful women come to the cross Saturday night to meet with Jesus, to lay down their doubts, fears, disappointments and pain, to experience the power of His Truth, His love, His resurrection.

I couldn't help but remember how I had lived this moment just weeks ago in my own life, as I battled with overwhelming doubt and cried out to God to rescue me. I had been to the Cross and layed in His shadow. I had sat at my desk and written out promises that God brought to my mind, to lead me out of the shadow of doubt and into the shadow of the cross.

Something happened that night because God gave me more than promises. He gave me a new name with each one: CALLED, ANOINTED, FREE, REDEEMED, REMEMBERED, LOVED, SECURE, CONFIDENT, ABLE, BLESSED.

God gave me a new strength as I read these words. I ran into the shelter of the Most High, and experienced the power of the Almight overshadowing me. The darkness of doubt lifted. God had allowed this struggle to draw me into a deeper dependence on Him. As I prayed over the list, it also became clear that this was for more than me. This was going to be His gift to His girls at She Speaks.

Hundreds of cards with eleven different promises were created and placed at the foot of the cross on Saturday night. We anointed them with prayer and watched, knowing that as women came forward to lay down their doubts they would pick up God's personal promise and His new name for them. It was beautiful!!!!!!!!!!

The next day I heard that many women didn't know there was a "word" shadowed on the card behind their verse. The news spread that there was more. It was SO powerful to watch women look beyond the first promise to see the second one in a shadow behind it. And again, God took my breath away...leaving me speechless.

If you were at She Speaks, I would love to hear about the promise you picked up, your shadowed word behind it, and what it means to you!!! I'll share mine if you share yours :-).

She Speaks!
Hey there! I am at the She Speaks conference. And I wish all of you were here. I know a lot of you are and I am loving that I get to see you, and meet you and hug you. So much better than that non-touchy feeling the computer tends to have.

I have snuck away into my room for a little while to rest and review my notes for tonight's message. I am a wee bit sleepy. I woke up at 5am on Friday and 6am today. I am so NOT a morning person but I am so excited to be here that I can't sleep!

Well, I need to go type up my notes again - changing the message a little - and play with my powerpoint - changing that too. It's like trying to decide what I'm going to wear! I just want this message to be so clear, so anointed, so powerful! I think I have too much in there so I need to cut a little or condense some stories.

Anyway, I'd treasure your prayers if you happen to pop by today before, during or after I speak. Tonight's session is scheduled to start at 8:00pm.

Father, thank you for loving me, for loving on me, for changing me from the inside out. Thank you for the story you have written in my life that I don't always embrace so easily. Thank you that the hurts, the scars, the pain and the lessons learned have prepared me for this day. Thank you for entrusting me with this message on doubt. Thank you for allowing me to experience the power of your love and the transformation of your life in me that is accomplished when I believe You. I pray that you would anoint me abundantly with your Holy Spirit as I seek to communicate what You want to say to each woman here. Lord, I simply want to usher them into your presence and lead them to the Cross. Help me not to focus on me and what I'll say or even how I'll say it, but turn my eyes upon Jesus. I want to look into the faces of these women and see who you see - who they are, where they've been, but more so who they are becoming.

I love you Lord and I depend on you in this moment and all throughout this day and evening. You are the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Amen.

My Hero!
This is my hero! The morning after my last post about my overwhelming emotions and situations, Andrew woke up with 101 fever. In two weeks my sweet little man had fractured his hand, gotten poison ivy all over his face, been to urgent care twice, had watched someone drive by our house and crush his new skateboard (and didn't stop), had to miss field day due to fractured hand and then woke up with 101 fever on field day which meant he could not go to school for the year-end party afterwards! What a bummer two weeks, but he just kept smiling and cracking jokes.

It was right after we dropped off plates and napkins for the "party" at school that his eyes got a little misty. The reality of missing the fun had hit. So I took his sweet hand in mine and told him how much he had inspired me with his amazing attitude in the midst of all he'd been through. I told him how I'd been struggling with being overwhelmed but how I'd been watching him respond to hard stuff and choose to find something to laugh about. Then I told him I wanted to take his picture so I could tell the world about my hero. He got the biggest grin and then posed for me.

I have had the most amazing past few days since I last posted. Things haven't gotten much easier. I got poison ivy from a little man who hugged me after scratching his face. I didn't realize you can get it that way. Then I had an allergic reaction. The first round of prednisone wasn't enough so I am on round two. But instead of getting overwhelmed and panicking about my preparations and lack of sleep b/c I am itching all night, like I was a week ago, I am intentionally setting my heart and my mind on the promises God gave me last week. Even if I don't get to prepare as much as I want to for She Speaks, He will be faithful. He will show up and speak through me. He knows what He wants to say. I just need to listen and let Him lead. (Easier to say than do when you have such stinkin' high expectations of yourself.)

God has continued to rescue me with His love through encouragement from friends like you. Thanks so much for your sweet comments and prayers. He also gave me some down time last weekend while the boys went camping with JJ. I have had little pockets here and there to rest and to review my notes. I am believing that if I give Him what I have in little offerings, He'll take it and make it what He wants it to be.

I pray that you have a wonderful Monday! Sweet blessings,

Rescue ME!
I know, I disappeared again. I've been living in the land of the blahs and I didn't want to lure you guys there. It's hard to write when you have nothing encouraging to say!

I've felt a heaviness over me ever since we moved into our new house. I didn't recognize what was going on until this week but I've been oppressed spiritually, physically and emotionally. We have been in survival mode and it's not a good place. God moved us here for a bigger reason than we even know and there's someone jumping on every opportunity to get us down. I am trying my best to pray through it, believe through it, fight through it and move through it; but let me tell ya, what I want to do is sleep through it!!!

There have been non-stop demands, unexpected needs and mini-crises every day that are exhausting me. I got sick last week with asthma which really wore me down until I got meds this week. Yesterday, Andrew got poison ivy all over his face and near his eyes which meant another trip to Urgent Care. The Dr. prescribed the wrong form of meds (he can't do liquids b/c he gags) so I had to make two trips to the store after a long day of driving everywhere. I've been running back and forth to school and the drug store to get him, to get meds, to get year-end supplies for classroom parties, teacher gifts, etc.

JJ and I have both been battling doubts (mainly tied to his work/my speaking). We haven't been taking time to talk about it and didn't even know until this week that we're both going through the same hard stuff spiritually and emotionally. We'd spent so much time together the past two months praying, planning and working together to get moved that we got used to just talking as we went. Now we're in our new home and working separately to get different parts of the house set-up and guess what, you cannot communicate in different parts of the house.

Plus he's had to work A LOT of late night, has been discouraged about some things and has been sick with a cold, too. Last week he slept upstairs two nights b/c we was coughing so badly. This week we realized that a wall was being erected between constructed by bricks of frustration, disconnection, unmet expectations, opposing opinions on kid stuff, etc. A perfect set-up for the blahs and impending doom. Finally, last night after a heated discussion we prayed and confessed to God that we are too small to handle all that is going on. Honestly, we're slap worn out!

On top of all that, I found out that someone I love has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and it is breaking my heart. I've been a prisoner to depression and darkness in my past which only makes it harder to imagine a sentence of 10 years behind bars. I know God is God and in control, but my heart is still very heavy and sad.

Then I feel guilty as I think about how completely and indescribably blessed we are by all that God has done in our lives and provided for us - why can't my thankfulness bring me out of the pit? Then I remember David and Solomon and I stop beating myself up, knowing that material blessings can't rescue me from defeat and discouragement. So I wonder how I can do what God has called me to do in the coming weeks in the state I am in...

Then Jesus comes, and He rescues me. He draws me to Himself, He turns my eyes away from my circumstances and emotions, and reminds me of His promises that have been my light when the shadows of doubt threatened my hope in the past. And He whispers, "You are..." (read below to see what He whispered to my heart and what He whispers to you now...)

You Are...
“For you are a chosen (woman). You are a royal priest, a holy (daughter). God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine.” Isaiah 43:1

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

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

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. Deuteronomy 33:12

The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights. Habakkuk 3:19

“You are my witness," declares the LORD, "and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am He.” Isaiah 43:10

For the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared. Proverbs 3:26

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the LORD , "and will bring you back from captivity.” Jeremiah 29:13-14a

The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor. Luke 4:18-19

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may 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