Last Week's Winners
It's time to announce some winners! I prayed for God to lead the choosing, closed my eyes and picked your names. Drum roll please...

Congratulations Hannah, you are the winner of the Made to Crave bundle from comments on this post and this one, too. Your Made to Crave bundle includes a book, DVD set and participant's guide.

And Sharon Telfer... you are the winner of the Gospel of John movie on DVD. For those who want to order it, I found it on sale today here.

Want to be notified when I write on my blog OR when JJ and I answer more of your questions?

It's simple. Just enter your email in the white box in my right hand sidebar (under the P31 logo). Enter your email and click on the "subscribe" button. I will not share your email address with anyone. Promise.

Made to Crave Q&A with Renee & JJ Swope
Thank you for entrusting us with your "Made to Crave " stories, struggles and questions. We are honored to pray this week for each of you and what you shared.

We had a hard time choosing between your great questions. So, we picked the most common ones this time. We didn't go over our answers beforehand and I JJ surprised with his first one. I was thinking, "Wow, that's not at all what I thought you were gonna say." It'll be fun to hear your thoughts. And your comments today (even if you don't have time to watch them all) will be entered into the drawing for the "Made to Crave" bundle that includes a book, DVD set and participant's guide. So, here we go. Welcome to our house!

We want this to be a conversation, so let us know your thoughts or questions. And let us know if you'd like to hear more answers to your questions. Again, today's comments will be entered into the drawing for the "Made to Crave" bundle which includes a book, DVD set and participant's guide. Winners announced Monday, January 31st.

Want to be notified when I announce the winner?
After you leave a comment, enter your email in the white box in my sidebar (right under the P31 logo). You'll also receive updates when I write on my blog. But I will not share your email with anyone. Promise.

Discerning God Voice - Part 2
Welcome "Made to Crave" webcast friends! I pray God encouraged you tonight through Lysa's message, Dr. Chilton's nuggets of eating and exercise wisdom, or something JJ and I shared about our "cravings" that are drawing us closer to God and each other. If you missed the webcast, you can watch it Tuesday at 12, 3, 8 and 10pm EST here.

Today, I'm continuing my mini-series on listening to God and discerning His voice. Tuesday JJ and I will be taking questions and then Wednesday we'll be sharing more about journey ing together through Made to Crave.


Years ago, my friend Melissa learned a powerful lesson about discerning God's voice. It happened on the soccer field one afternoon.
Melissa's son Hayden was really good at playing offense on his soccer team, and loved to score goals. But, although he was good at scoring goals, his coach recognized that Hayden was even better at defending the goal.

It was the last game of the season, and Hayden's coach had decided to put him on defense for the majority of the game. As the game came down to the final minutes the score was very close. Every one was excited, and many of the parents became a little vocal, to say the least.

At this point Melissa noticed the coach was shouting to Hayden “Back up and play your position.” While another adult yelled, “Kick the ball and follow through!” Then another said, “Come on, number 9, chase the ball, go for the goal, move up, go right, you can get it.”

The coach, beginning to get impatient, said “Come on, Hayden,
listen to me.”

Melissa noticed a look of extreme frustration on Hayden’s face, and she knew something was wrong. When the game ended, Melissa called Hayden over to the side and asked him what was wrong. He simply replied, “I couldn’t make up my mind who to listen to. I couldn’t tell which one was the coach’s voice.”

This is one of our biggest struggles in discerning God's voice. We are bombarded by voices all day. Some are audible voices, but others are non-stop choices and unending noises. Decisions and concerns. Discouragement and doubt. Desires and dreams.

If we want to hear God speak, we have to slow down, look God in the face and become so familiar with His voice that we can recognize it in a crowd...a crowd of thoughts. A crowd of emotions. A crowd of confusion. A crowd of great options and big decisions.

That is what Hayden would have had to do to determine which one was his coach's voice. Are you willing to do that?

Are you willing to spend time with Him, reading, talking, listening and letting Him whisper to your heart? Are you willing to turn off your computer, radio or t.v. and give some of your undivided attention to Him so He can give His undevided attention to you? Are you willing to let Him replace your thoughts with His by just being still and writing down what you sense He's whispering to your soul?

When you do, you'll become familiar with His heart. You'll begin to know His character and concerns. And you will learn to recognize His voice over all the others. But it will take time.

Sweet friends, there are no short-cuts to the deepest desires of our hearts. We long to hear God and He longs to speak to us.

All of us have different things that draw us closer to Jesus, and there are two practical things
that help me: reading through the gospel of John very slowly each year and watching the Gospel of John movie on DVD. The movie was in theaters a few years ago and it was breath-taking. It makes Jesus, His words, the people and the stories He lived in come to life in a powerful way. Now, after watching it, when I read my Bible I can see Him and hear Him. Which makes me want to spend more and more time with Him, which helps me know Him and recognize His voice more clearly.

So, what is one thing you will do this week to become more sensitive to and familiar with your Coach's voice so you can recognize it in the crowd?

Let me know your plans, thoughts or questions, and I'll enter ou into my give away that includes a copy of
the Gospel of John movie on DVD.


The winner of last week's give-away for Lysa TerKeurst's book
What Happens When Women Say Yes to God is MARY.

How Do I Know if it's God Speaking to Me?
UPDATE: Hi sweet friends! You moved me with your response to my devotion and your stories, questions and more.I've been praying for you as I read your comments. So many thoughts rush into my mind - things I'd love for us to process together. Please know I haven't forgotten to come back and write more. Unfortunately, I caught my 2yr old's cold and it slowed everything down. I'm better now but I have a project due to my publisher today for my book. With the weekend coming, let's plan on meeting here Monday. And I'll announce the winner of the book then too! If you haven't entered to win, read this post and you'll know what to do!


I've got a devotion today over at P31 and Crosswalk about becoming a woman who listens to God. If you'd like to read it, click here. In it, I shared how I used to wonder if I was hearing God's voice or just my thoughts. Does that ever happen to you?

Well, before we jump into our talk about listening, I first wanted to "welcome" any new friends who are visiting for the first time from Encouragement for Today. We're glad you're here and hope you'll stay a while! There is always a place for you.

One thing that helped me listen to God was learning how to capture my run-away thoughts that caused me to doubt my ability to discern God's voice. Several years ago, I came up with a few questions I ask myself when I sense God is speaking to me, whether it be through scripture, an impression on my heart, circumstances or through His spirit in me. I always look for Biblical consistency:
  • Is it consistent with God's Word and God's ways?

  • Is it consistent with wise Biblical counsel I've sought?

  • Is it consistent with God's leading through doors He's opened and closed?

  • Is there a consistent theme I'm seeing in my life or hearing during my personal Bible study time, through sermons, Christian songs, conversations, etc?
There is a little more I wanted to share about increasing our confidence in our ability to recognize and respond to God's voice, but I'm having technical difficulties as I try to pre-load this. So I'm pasting in the give-away I promised below, and will work on the rest behind the scenes. I'll try to have it loaded later on Weds. Aster is home so I never know how my plans will go :-). Be sure to come back for more encouragement. I'll add to this and leave the post up until Friday when I announce the winner!

If you want to become a woman who listens to God, and discover the adventure of faith He has for your life, you will want to read Lysa TerKeurst's book What Happens When Women Say Yes to God.

Today, I'm giving a copy away to one of you! Enter to win by clicking on the word "comments' right below this post and share your thoughts or questions about listening to God. Please include your email or friend me on Facebook so we can let you know if you win.

After you've entered to win, click here to download a great FREE resource from Lysa's book with more ways to hear and discern God's voice.

**To find out when this post is updated and to see if you are the winner, be sure to link up in the Google Friend Connect box or become a friend on Facebook!

Give God your Whispering Thoughts
I've needed to take a little blog break to review my book manuscript for final edits, but it's taking much longer than I expected. It's due Friday.

Like most of the southeast, we got LOTS of snow Monday, and the kids have been out of school all week due to ice on the roads still. So it's been a little distracting around here.

Today I went into hiding. For over 8 hours. Only came out to get some kisses and bedtime snuggles with baby girl and have dinner with my bear cubs. Just took a short break tonight since my eyes are crossing as I sit here in my little corner of the world, reading 60,000 words spread across 137 pages. This hibernation is hard for a sanguine girl like me who's been snowed in for days. So, I asked Jesus to meet me in this kinda hard place and speak the words my heart needed to hear. I knew He knew better than I did.

And He gently lead me to this from one of my favorite writers who always knows just what to say and just how to say it:

How do I live in God’s presence? How do I detect his unseen hand on my shoulder and his inaudible voice in my ear? Here are a few ideas:

Give God your waking thoughts
. Before you face the day, face the Father. Before you step out of bed, step into his presence.

Give God your waiting thoughts
. Spend time with him in silence.

Give God your whispering thoughts
. Imagine considering every moment as a potential time of communion with God.

Give God your waning thoughts
. At the end of the day, let your mind settle on him. Conclude the day as you began it: talking to God.

Just Like Jesus
~Max Lucado

Give Him your thoughts sweet friends. Each and every one of them.

I'll be back next week,

Living Like We're HIS!
I took these pictures this afternoon. As I looked at my little girl and her daddy, hope welled up in my heart. And these words became my prayer for us this year...

I pray this new year will be filled with
countless moments and lots of lingering memories,
just sitting in our Daddy's lap...enjoying Him.

And on days when we can't see Him,
I pray our confidence will still be found in Him!

May our hearts and souls seek assurance,
not in the certainty of our circumstances,
but in the security of our Father's promises!
And may we know without a doubt
that our Daddy delights in us!

Oh sweet friends, let's live each day like we're HIS!
Lavished in love. Created with purpose.
Held securely in our Father's arms!