It's She Seeks & SHE SPEAKS Week!
It's our She Speaks Conference week! And I am living and breathing all things She Speaks.

More than anything, I'm praying He speaks and I'll listen. Today is my final day to review and soak in the messages God's given me. I'll be speaking Friday morning, Friday night and Sunday morning. Prayers would be so treasured as my brain is having a hard time keeping all this in one place.

One thing I love (and it makes it a little easier to remember) about the messages God's given me for She Speaks this year is that they are all about seeking Jesus. Seeking Him for vision not position; seeking His direction and modeling His leadership as a servant; and coming to Him for peace and perspective each day.

I pray that we leave seeking Him and resting in His purposes, His plans and His promises no matter what life holds for us after She Speaks 2009 fades as a memory and we step out into ministry.

This morning I was reading and praying through several verses about really seeking His thoughts, His face, His heart, His plans, His wisdom, His direction, His everything. It's my hearts desire but I have to confess, there are so many things that pull my heart away to seek after them instead of being captivated by Him.

Don't you just want God to say that we are a "generation of those who seek Him, who seek your face, O God of Jacob." (Psalm 24:6)

"The LORD looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God."(Psalm 14:2) I love knowing that I can say with confidence to Jesus, "Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you." (Psalm 9:10)

So today, this is my prayer:"One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. · (Psalm 27:4)

And then I'm gonna listen as He whispers back: "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:13)

No matter what is pulling at our hearts and our thoughts today, I pray that we would "Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always. (1 Chronicles 16:11), and "devote our heart and soul to seeking the LORD our God. (1 Chronicles 22:19)

For those of you attending She Speaks, Jen is hosting a bloggers get-together on the Veranda Friday night. I'd love to meet you there! Be sure to leave a link on her site here.

I am praying for you this week, that you will desire with me to seek HIM, really seeks HIM more than anything else. And if you are coming to She Speaks, I can't wait to see you soon!

It's like a pretty picture
One Saturday morning my son Andrew woke up early to go for a walk with his grandma. My mom has a pond with a path around it near her home, and he loves to walk around it with her. It was still dark when they headed out but as they walked my mom noticed the sun beginning to peak through the clouds.

After they walked a little ways, she suggested they sit on a bench swing nearby and watch it rise. Andrew snuggled up close to her as the morning sun cast hues of pinks, blues and golden beams across the horizon.

Soon grandma announced, "Look Andrew there it is. The sun is rising!"

Andrew responded back without hesitancy, "Yea, grandma, it's like a pretty picture - and we're in it!"

Hearing that story touched my heart so deeply. My little boy had seen the beauty of God's masterpiece and put a frame around it. But what I loved most is that he had not only seen it, he put himself in it!

It made me wonder how many of God's beautiful pictures I miss seeing, and being in, throughout my day. Perhaps because I simply walk by then. Too distracted to notice, too busy to stop.

Many days it's hard for me to slow down and see what God is doing in my life. And do you know what I am most likely to miss seeing? The beauty of the work He began in me and is now completing each day.

Our lives are not only full of "pretty" pictures that we are in, but to others we are the picture of Christ that they see. A portrait of beauty that reveals God's glory. A masterpiece that others can take notice of His Son rising in us each day, bringing hope as we reflects His work in us.

Finding the "real me" starts by getting to know myself and notice how God has uniquely created me. And that only happens when I take time to be still. To take notice. To allow God to work in my heart and in my thoughts. Being still is the first step. After all, have you ever seen a canvas running down the street while the artist chases it down?

Being still starts with a pause. A pause where we bow our heads and lift our hearts to Heaven and acknowledge - He is God. A pause where we surrender our desires, our dreams, our burdens and decisions and trade our plans for His purpose.

A pause where we say to our heart and soul, "I can trust Him. He is mine and I am His. I will let Him create in me a new new heart, a picture of His glory."

Are you willing to be still? Are you allowing God to paint His purpose on your heart through the vivid colors of your personality? Will you carve out time to consider the spiritual gifts He's given you that reveal His character in unique ways, and then look for opportunities to offer those gifts in service to Him and others?

Today, let's pause to see. Let's be still and put a frame around the masterpiece He is painting in us and in our lives. Let's cease striving in our hearts and minds so that we lean on, trust in and discover each day the woman He created us to be.

For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: In returning [to Me] and resting [in Me] you shall be saved; in quietness and in [trusting] confidence shall be your strength....Isaiah 30:15 (AMP)

How do I find the Real Me?
Finding "The Real Me" started ten years ago, in 1999. It was a big turning point in my life. It didn't happen overnight but I can look back and see how it was God's shaping me into the woman He created me to be, the woman I want to be.

You see, I'd become a Christian in 1989 and had been on a journey of getting to know Jesus for 10 years. I remember in the Spring of 1999 feeling very frustrated and disillusioned. The Christian life wasn't what I had expected or hoped it would be. I wanted joy, contentment and purpose. But there was so much searching and striving in my life - looking for something that would satisfy the desires of my heart to find security and significance.

I was sitting in my living room one morning reading my Bible and journaling about how Jesus said He came to give us abundant life but there was nothing abundant in my life except busyness, obligations, guilt and discontentment. I felt like my heart was shriveling up to die. I felt like I couldn't breath spiritually.

As I poured out my heart on those pages, I cried out to God for help. I remember Him drawing my memories back to when I first became a Christian. I'd spend hours reading my Bible, overwhelmed by His grace and truth. Then I'd write in my journal and pour out my heart to Him.

All those dusty journals sat in a drawer and God invited me to go back to them and remember. Through that remembering, He showed me that I had lost the closeness of my first Love. It wasn't that He had moved away, I had. Although I had been walking with Him for 10 years, somehow I had gotten lost along the path.

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 in bondage to others' opinions and expectations.

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 with a volunteer staff position at P31, which I did mostly from home. I was on the women's prayer team at church, co-lead a mom's Bible study, attended another one on Wednesday nights. I reached out to women in my neighborhood, 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 makse me tired and a little sick to list all that, and believe me it eventually made me sick. 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.

Some might say we need to be careful when talking about finding the real me, and I understand. There is an important balance. I'm not saying find the real "you" so you can neglect everyone else and be selfish. I am saying, first find your joy and fulfillment in who you are in Christ - not what you can do for Him and others. "Delight yourself in HIM and He will give you the desires of your heart" - to match His desires for you. (Psalm 37:4)

Find out who God wants you to be, who God created you to be and you will become the woman you want to be.

One of my first steps was finding out what makes my heart come alive. I was reading the Sacred Romance and this quote poured Living Water on my weary heart: "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

Today I want to encourage you to ask God to show you two things. First, ask Him to show you 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. For me it was reading, writing, planting flowers and going for long walks - which I never had time to do.

What about you? 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, ___________? Are you ready to find out?

Share your thoughts by clicking "comments" below. If you don't have a blog, simply click anonymous and write in the white box. I"ll post more this week about my journey in hopes that it will help you in yours.

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

The winner of "Shaped with Purpose : A Practical Guide for Discovering Who You Are" Workbook and CD is Heather at Congratulations Heather!!

We sold over 180 Shaped with Purpose workbooks/CDs after the devotion ran last Thursday! If you won or ordered them, we've got more on the way. We'll be shipping them to you next week.

Hmm, I wonder if we ought to do a Shaped with Purpose online study together. I'll be praying about it! Let me know if you'd be interested by leaving a comment below.

Uniquely You!

Have you ever wondered why you are the way you are or why you do things the way you do? I remember all the way back to Jr. High feeling like I didn't really like who I was. I'd compare myself to those around me and try to figure out who people liked most, so I could be like them. It was exhausting!

I want to to talk a little more today about something I shared in my devotion, "The Real Me" featured at Proverbs 31 and Crosswalk. The journey God's taken me on to become the woman He created me to be has totally changed my life, and all of my relationships, for the better. I hope I can encourage you today with somethings I've learned.

First of all, comparison can be my worst enemy. My friend Genia summed it up well one day when we were talking about it. She said, “When we compare ourselves with someone else, we can never measure up because we compare our insides with their outsides.”

She's right. I usually compare how I feel on the inside with how someone else looks like they have it all together on the outside. Paul talks about the comparison trap in 2 Corinthians 10:12, “but when they measure themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding.”

Comparison leaves us confused and discontent. It causes us to compete with each other but God never intended for women to compete with each other; He wants us to complete one another. Seriously, He wants us to encourage each others' strengths and then be who He created us to be.

Paul explains why in 1 Corinthians 12:18-20, “But now God has placed the parts, each one of them in the body just as He wanted. And if they were all the same part, where would the body be? Now there are many parts, yet one body.”

The truth is: You are uniquely you because God has a unique purpose for your life. God created you with a unique personality because you play an important role in the story He’s writing in your life. You are "God’s masterpiece...created anew in Christ so that [you] can do the good things He planned for [you] long ago.” Ephesians 2:10, (NLT)

There are certain thing He wants to do through your life and that is why He gave you a personality that is one-of-a-kind! In her book, Personality Plus, Florence Littauer describes four personality types. Most of us are a blend of two. See if you can relate to the desires and emotional needs of one or two of these:

Phlegmatic: Desires PEACE
Needs times of quiet, reduced stress, feeling of worth, relaxation

Choleric: Desires CONTROL
Needs appreciation for achievements, opportunity for leadership, and participation in decisions

Sanguine: Desires FUN
Needs attention, affection, approval, activity with people

Melancholy: Desire PERFECTION
Needs sensitivity, stability, support, space, silence

  • Which personality best describes you?
  • What are your greatest strengths? What are things you think you need to work on?
  • What challenges do you face in discovering your unique "you"?

Click on the word "Comments" below to share thoughts or questions. If you don't have a blog, click on anonymous, then leave your name and email to be part of a drawing I'll do this weekend to give away a copy of "Shaped with Purpose : A Practical Guide for Discovering Who You Are" Workbook and CD.

Each comment will be entered for the give-away so be sure to include your email in your comment, and I'd love to know your age and where you're from.

About Renee
Like having coffee with a friend and mentor, Renee's authentic style and soul-stirring messages draw women closer to the heart of God and each other. As a national speaker, author and co-host of Proverbs 31 Ministries' international radio program, Renee connects with women of all ages and stages in life. She has a unique way of knitting women's hearts together, inspiring them to no longer compare and compete but to encourage and complete one another. Sprinkled with humor and saturated with Truth, Renee's messages help women:

• Discern God's voice and apply His Truth in their lives
• Exchange insecurity and self-doubt with God-fidence and trust
• See beyond who they are to who they can become in Christ

Renee serves as Proverbs 31 Ministries' Executive Director of Radio and Devotions. She is a regularly featured writer for Encouragement for Today devotions and a contributing author to Leading Women to the Heart of God and God's Purpose for Every Woman. She has written for the P31 Woman Magazine, Christian Women Online and Focus on Your Child, a division of Focus on the Family. Her highly anticipated book "A Confident Heart" will be released in July 2011!

From Renee's Heart
I love to laugh. I love being with my family. And I love having fun with my girlfriends. Oh, and I really love coffee - especially sugar free cinnamon dulce or pumpkin spiced lattes!

I am a southern girl with a mix of Louisiana sass and North Carolina sweet - I think it's the iced tea we drink. I was born in New Orleans and grew up there until my mom re-married when I was twelve-years old. We moved to N.C. and I love it here. We are nestled right between my two favorite places to experience God's presence - the mountains and the beach.

I fell in love with Jesus when I was a senior in college. He took my breath away when I found out how much He loved me and I have never been the same.

Soon after, I felt God calling me to share my story with other women. My journey included years of struggling with clinical depression and days that were so dark it seemed that suicide was the only way out. But God rescued me from that pit, and from a whole lot of other things that had led me down the path that finally led to Him. I knew that was the story He wanted me to share, but fear of rejection and failure paralyzed me from telling my story for 10 years.

In 1999, I finally devoted my life to fulfill the life verses (Is. 61:1-3) that God had given to me in 1989, the summer after I surrendered to Him as my Savior. I finally said,"Ok Lord, I will trust you. I will tell your story. Even to just one, even to a small Bible study and even if you call me to a share with a larger group. I will do whatever you want me to do for you have set my heart free! I want to be a display of your splendor, not my own."

For the past several years I have gone wherever He has called me to "bring good news to the bind up the broken hearted and proclaim freedom to the captives and release to the prisoners of proclaim God's bestow on them a crown of beauty...the oil of gladness and a garment of they will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor." Isaiah 61:1-3

Sometimes it's to neighbor, my child, my friend...sometimes it's to many. Wherever He takes me, whatever He asks me to say, all I want is to make Him famous and help others fall in love with my Jesus. My prayer is that my love for Him and His Word will be contagious and that women will leaving wanting to know Him, be known by Him, and make Him one, to some or to many!

Here I am with my favorite people in the whole wide world - my best friend and husband, J.J., our sons Joshua (15), Andrew (13) and Aster (2yrs). They make me laugh, tell me I'm beautiful without make-up and remind me every day of what matters most - family!

I am blessed to co-host the Proverbs 31 Ministries' international radio show with with my dear friend, Lysa TerKeurst. Our show airs on over 3000 stations across the world each weekday. Click here to listen to a minute of God's peace, perspective and purpose that we pray will linger for a lifetime.

My Statement of Faith ~ I
believe in:

One God in three persons—Father, Son and Holy Spirit

Jesus Christ’s deity, virgin birth, sinless humanity, substitutionary death, atoning blood, bodily resurrection and ascension to heaven

The entire Bible is God’s infallible revelation to man

Salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone

The resurrection of the body: eternal glory for believers in heaven and everlasting punishment for unbelievers in hell

The one true church, the body of Christ, consisting of all believers

Obedience to our Lord’s command to lead people of all nations to faith in Christ and to grow in Christ-likeness

Christ’s personal return to establish His Kingdom on earth

The Holy Spirit indwells and empowers believers and is given as a seal and a pledge of our inheritance in Christ Jesus

Try Something NEW!
Thanks for prayers!!! My weekend away with Holly and Lysa was so great, in so many ways! We had lots of fun and we got so much done!!

Last week I posted about my big goals for the get-away. Well, I didn't meet them all. I could be disappointed but I know without a doubt I did accomplish all God wanted me to get done. I gave each day to Him and asked Him to direct my time and focus. I had some great extended
time with Him one morning, finished several She Speaks tasks, wrote my radio shows, and came home feeling so de-stressed and prepared for this week.

We worked from sun up to sun down. The first day, we went running in the morning, then showered and worked up til 11pm. The next day we could barely walk from running up and down those mountain hills so we just ate breakfast and started working. W
e were so focused on our tasks we didn't even take showers . Before we knew it, it was 5pm and we were still working' in our pajamas with greasy bed heads. I laughed as I looked around our cozy living area with each of us on our laptops and then listened to us clicking away on our keyboards.

Just listening to Lysa and Holly strategize their projects and discuss ideas was such a great learning experience. They are so smart! I gleaned great insights from both of them. We also had some really good God discussions and made some important work decisions.

I also made an interesting discovery about myself: I'm a little hesitant to try new things - especially slimy new things.

This discovery came during breakfast the first morning we were there.
Lysa and Holly are on this crazy kick of only wanting to eat all-natural, healthy food. When we woke up the first morning, they informed me that we would not be drinking coffee, we would be drinking hot herbal tea. My caffeine-addicted body screamed – what?

I started searching for Danishes and donuts when they announced we’d be eating poached eggs. I’d never eaten one of those! I wasn't even sure what it was. Basically it’s a steamed egg. I wrinkled my nose and voiced my complaints but then I heard my own voice telling me the same thing I tell my children, “Don’t be afraid to try something new. “

And you know what? They were delicious!!! Especially with a little bit of sea salt and cracked pepper sprinkled on top. Now I have to admit, I would've loved me some toast to dip in that yummy egg! But no mam. No toast. No coffee. No nothing except poached eggs.

I am so glad I tried that new thing, and enjoyed every one of them. I'm actually going to look for me an "egg-poaching" pot at Target today because I am an official fan of poached eggs now!

So, is there something you might be missing out on in life because you’re afraid to try something new? Do it friend. Do it. It just might be something you'd love if you'd just give it a try!

PS. After I posted this God reminded me of three things that I said, "No way!" to that are now such an important part of my life. Things that draw me close to Him like nothing else. Things that when I do them, I experience His nearness and His pleasure like I had never known. They are: writing, speaking and running. So glad I tried those new things :->.

A Great Give-Away and a Little Get-Away
Can you say whirlwind?

That is how my little life feels right now, in a good kind of way. It's been a whirlwind of a week with lots of decisions and meetings and planning and running kids to friends' houses and camps, serving yummy goodness to lots of boys and having some great family times.

We are re-arranging the furniture in my daily life to make room for sweet baby Aster to come into our world in the next few months, hopefully fewer than we think. Thanks for your prayers as we pray about me cutting back some things at work.

God's has gone before us and lots of ideas and great plans are starting to fall into place. This is a pruning process and I have to say it's been hard. Some tears have been shed when I get overwhelmed and just feel sad about not knowing how it's all gonna work.

I don't know what my new normal will look like but I know it'll be better than before if I let God define it for me.

Today I am going on a little get-away for 3 days with Lysa and Holly to do some writing and planning. My goal is to write 10 new radio shows, another chapter for my book and get all of my She Speaks messages completely outlined. Crazy, huh? I know. But I am believing God to do what I can't as I rely on His love and His ideas to come out of me. Cause with Jesus all things are possible, right??

Speaking of Jesus, I wanted to make sure you know about an amazing give-away on Lysa's blog that ties in with her new book "Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl" - it's about knowing Jesus and allowing Him to make a difference in our everyday lives.

Where I'm Supposed to Be
Last week I wanted to be omniscient. I don't think I've ever felt like that in such a strong way, but I was seriously envying God's ability to be in all places at all times. And to be fully present in each of them.

I couldn't stop thinking about the possibility of Hope going to see Aster in Ethiopia and wanting to be there with her!

Thursday morning my mind was filled with non-stop thoughts about where I was going and the many places where I wanted to be. I was headed to out of town to see a friend who's going through a horrific marriage break-up. She lives 6 hours away and I'd be driving with my other friend Marlo, picking up Glynnis at the airport in Atlanta and then spending the weekend together. This would be a long, hard trip and I was feeling very inadequate. Would I be able to be to say or be what she needed? I prayed for God to use me as His healing salve on her broken heart.

Then I started thinking about Hope emailing me and how I wouldn't be home. I wouldn't be near a computer all day and it was her last day before heading to a remote area in Ethiopia without email. I might miss my chance to talk with her.

Yet, I knew I was going exactly where God wanted me to be, and where I wanted to be. God had planned our trip with Divine details and timing. With all of my heart, I wanted to go yet I wanted to stay and be where I was.

I couldn't, but I knew God could.

I kept reminding myself of His omniscience. Yet, my heart was tangled with emotions and desires. I kept thinking about all the places I wanted to be and people I wanted to be with. So many needs I wanted to meet. So many "sides" I wanted to sit by.

JJ's parents were coming to see us and I wouldn't be here. They only come twice a year and I love spending time with them and visiting. I wanted to stay but I needed to go.

My friend Kim called to say they'd found out her liver tumors had grown and new ones had appeared in new places. I wanted to drop everything and drive to her house to see her.

My kids were asking where I was going and why I was leaving. Hadn't I promised I wouldn't be traveling until She Speaks? They had things they wanted to do and places they wanted to go.

I found out the staff's workload at the office had tripled with She Speaks nearing, and three of our staff were going on vacation. I wanted to fill in and help.

The list goes on and on. I wanted to be where I was headed, yet stay where I was. And every time I told God about my struggles, He'd whisper to my heart, "Just be where you are. Be fully where you are and look to see why I have you right there, right then."

Well, if you've read Tuesday's post, you know He exceeded my hopes of talking with Hope! That little chat was so much more wonderful than if I'd been at home. I did get to help Kim some this week. The boys survived and a had a great weekend with their grandparents, even though I'm still sad I didn't get to see them.

Our trip to Alabama was truly incredible. I saw God. He came there to meet with me in ways I hadn't anticipated. He showed up in amazing ways for my friend, and those of us with her. In the midst of tears and tearing away of what was and what will never be again, we cried, listened, laughed, watched chick flicks, floated on rafts in a lake, ate southern food, read God's Word, prayed and drank sweet tea.

I was so glad to be where I was supposed to be. I couldn't do all I wanted to do. I couldn't be in all the places I wanted to be. But God could and I was right where He was and where He wanted me.

I watched my dear friend be where she was, although her soul longs to be somewhere so different than this dark pit of despair. She wants to be where she used to be more than words can describe.

I saw her letting go of what she's lost while holding on to what she has left - Her faith, Her God, her children, her parents and her friends. Her past, even some of her present and much of what she thought was her future is gone. She can't be there any more but God is there - in what was, in what is and in what is to come.

Knowing this in a whole new way just makes me love Him that much more for all that He is and all the places in which He dwells. It's not easy accepting that I can't be everywhere I want to be. But knowing I am where God wants me assures me that I'm right where I'm supposed to be.