Gwen Smith Blog, Encouragement, Faith, Giveaways, Trials 107 Comments

HUGE Announcement: IT’S. FRIDAY!!! #happydances

And today is a GIVEAWAY DAY and FRIEND FEATURE that I’m super excited to share with you. This beautiful, hope-filled post is by MICHELE CUSHATT… a woman who is close personal friends with both challenge and courage. If you’re struggling to see beyond your strains today, then I expect this message will meet you in a tender place.

Now pour yourself a cup of hot coffee, pull up a chair, and soak in the hope of a God who chose us, sent us, and promised to be with us forever. Here’s an excerpt from I AM: A 60-Day Journey To Knowing Who You Are Because of Who He Is by MICHELE CUSHATT.



His name was John. That much I remember without any effort, although close to twenty years have now passed. So much of memory remains captive to the fog of time. But John is someone I’ll never forget.

He sat across from my husband and me, both of us still in our twenties, new parents of a baby boy, and struggling. We’d driven the two hours to his ranch because he was a counselor. And he said he could help.

If anyone needed help, we did.

The details are private and painful, even these two decades later. But I can tell you this: in the short years of our marriage, I’d shrunk to a fraction of myself. Pain—unrelenting pain—does that to a person. Mine was a pain of the heart, of spending years praying for a marriage that could not be saved.

By the time I sat in front of John, I had no hope left. None. Years of effort had produced nothing but disappointment. I wielded anger like a shield, hiding my woundedness behind my hardness of heart.

John, bless him, did not pull away. He did not shrink from my searing cynicism, nor did he judge. Instead, he saw through the anger to the broken woman beneath. He pulled out his Bible and unfolded for me the words of Isaiah 61:

To bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,

the oil of joy
instead of mourning,

and a garment of praise 
instead of a spirit of despair.

They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD

for the display of his splendor.

—verses 1–3

I’ll never forget John’s reading me those words. Beauty from ashes? Joy instead of mourning? I couldn’t fathom it. My pain ran too deep.

John wasn’t finished with me.

“God is not finished with you yet, Michele,” he told me. “Someday you will be an oak of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor. I know you can’t believe it right now, but I believe it enough for the both of us.”

John was right about two things that day. One, I couldn’t believe it. Not that day. It seemed too good to be true, another dream that would disappear the moment I reached for it. So I didn’t reach for it. I couldn’t afford to.

As it turns out, it didn’t matter. Because John was right about one more thing:

God did bind up my broken heart.

He brought beauty from ashes, joy from mourning, praise from despair. It took time. Years. It took the hard work of healing, the help of a counselor, and intense seasons spent in the Bible, wrestling with my faith.

But somehow, as only the Sovereign Lord can do, God took this crushed woman and built her into an oak. Not a tower of perfection but a solid display of His ability to redeem even the most broken of people.

God is more than able to bring forth new life for you too, you know. I know it feels scary to risk hope. Allowing ourselves to believe again could crush us beyond repair. If your hope is placed in a spouse or a friend or a job or a bank account or even yourself, that’s a real possibility.

But if your last scrap of hope is placed in the One with the power to bind up the broken, you will never be disappointed. 
“He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor,” Jesus said (Luke 4:18).

Yes, you are broken, He says. But your brokenness does not frighten Me. I will not shrink back. Because I’ve come for that very reason.

For you.

Be reassured: Where you are fragile, He can make you strong. Where you are wounded, He can make you whole. Entrust your pieces to His perfect hands, and watch His healing work begin. One day, you’ll wake up to discover—joy!—He’s turned your broken heart into Isaiah’s oak, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.

He did it for me. And He’ll do it for you.


AFTER you pre-order your copy, CLICK HERE to get your FREE BONUSES!

Congratulations to our winner- Tanya Laird!

Michele would like to send a copy of I AM:  a 60-Day Journey to Knowing Who You Are Because of Who He Is to one of our readers!

To qualify for the drawing, you need to do TWO things:


#2. SHARE THIS POST on social media.

That’s it! Once you do both, your name will be entered into the random drawing. Be sure to tell your friends so they can sign up too. The drawing will take place on Sunday, January 22nd, so don’t delay! {Contest is limited to US and Canada readers only.}



A storyteller at heart, Michele Cushatt has spoken internationally at both corporate and ministry events, including such notable venues as Women of Faith and Compassion International. From 2014 to 2016, she cohosted the popular leadership podcast This Is Your Life With Michael Hyatt, including close to 100 episodes and millions of downloads. Her first book, Undone: A Story of Making Peace With An Unexpected Life, released 2015 and her second book, I Am: A 60-day Journey to Knowing Who You Are Because of Who He Is releases January 24, 2017 (Zondervan). Michele and her husband, Troy, live in Denver, Colorado with their six children, ages 9 to 24. Find out more about Michele’s incredible story at


FOR MORE on I Am: a 60-Day Journey to Knowing Who You Are Because of Who He Is, visit:


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Comments 107

  1. My daughter is going through a rough part in her marriage. I pray she will find peace and comfort through this book and build a closer relationship with God.

  2. Oil of joy…..How beautiful a picture of the Lord’s love….I am carrying this verse with me this weekend, and bringing this devotional with me today to share with my best girlfriend. Thank you Michele.

  3. God bless you! I am very excited about taking this OBS as I am personally going through a tough part of my life; parenting an adult child who wants to make a decision that I don’t agree with. When they are young and they are about to touch the hot stove we stop them. When they are young and about to run out on the street we stop them. But once they are an adult it is out of our control as they are making their own decisions. I continue to pray for her and the rest of my family as we go through this time together and just pray that the seeds have been planted. Thank you for listening (reading!)
    Love: Laurie

    1. Oh, Laurie, I so understand! Three of my six children are adults, and letting them go has been far more difficult than I ever imagined! I’m guessing by the time I get to #6, I’ll have had enough practice that maybe it will be easier. Okay, maybe not. 🙂 All the best as you love and lead them!

  4. I so needed to hear this message today because I am a shadow of myself, broken and hurting. . I pretend as though I’m fine but I’m not. I’m hurting inside and God knows! I would love to own this book!

  5. It would be neat to win & read encouraging words about this change that’s possible. Your story gives hope that even when we don’t think so, we can see change if we trust in God’s ability.

  6. Would love to have a copy of this book. I have been in different laces in my life too where I needed to be reminded of God’s never ending love. Thanks for sharing your story!

  7. What a marvelous testimony to what God can do with our brokenness. Thank you for opportunity to win this book that is sure to encourage! God bless!

  8. Thanks for the chance to win. This book sounds wonderful. I can think of so many to share its encouragement with! Shared on FaceBook.

  9. The season of Gods hand and change in my life came in the gentle firm voice telling me it is I AM. I don’t hear with my ears the voice of God often. Most of the time it’s through others, their words or life, a nudge to my spirit or this need to do something for someone else. But those 2 words stir so deep within me that I know I am beloved of God. Life has not been easy at all but it is filled with God’s generous faithfulness. To hear my life is to know He cares for mevjust like He cares for each person, plant and animal. Thank you Gwen for highlighting Michelle Cushatt’s book. I am in awe of the fact that she is mom to 6 and and accomplishes the will of God in her life. This book would be a welcome addition to my life but go on to bless others God allows me to pray for and mentor. God bless.

  10. This post absolutely hit me right in my heart. God has done so very much in my life that everyone who knew before and knows me now is regularly shocked by the change in me. God blessed me with a wonderful husband, a beautiful son, a home and so much more.
    I wonder where we get the idea that we have to work to ‘earn’ God’s love or to try to pay Him back for what He has done for us? There is no way we could ever pay Him back or earn His favor.

  11. Those verses in Isaiah are so full of hope. They are true for all of us. I would be so interested in using this book and obtaining it in one way or another as a great encouragement, then allowing God to multiply the benefits to others.Praise the Lord!

  12. Thanks alot for giving us this opportunity to win this book. I am a work in process since I was really brought back to life from an accident that I got a brain injury from so I am learning many things all over like a baby does & this book would help me.

  13. I am still working to let God build me up into the oak He see in me. This excerpt was wonderful and lets us all know we are not alone in this journey.

  14. Thank you, Gwen, for sharing this excerpt of this book today. My husband is still recovering from the pericarditis after his heart attack and stint, and Wednesday, I received a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis. It’s been a hard week. I’m angry, frustrated, and a little fearful. I need I AM, not just in book form, but in spirit form. This spoke to my heart today. I’m so grateful. Hugs, my friend.

  15. Beauty for ashes is our faithful God, I’m a work in progress and praise him for he is faithful. I was looking at the book the other day and would be a blessing ❤️

  16. Kim my heart breaks as I read your comment. I hope you win that book. If not I’d like to buy you one. I know that many times we look at our circumstances and they are huge and impossible. I have BUT GOD is so much biģger. I want to allow God into every broken places of my life so I can be that oak of righteousness. Bless you Kim

  17. Thank you for your devotion today. My dreams have been crushed to the point that I no longer want to dream. I felt what the use. I have had so many people in my life let me down. Because of your encouragement, I can dream once again. Satan keeps trying to rob my joy but the Lord is there & protects. A new day begins for me today-to “dream again”. Thank you again.

  18. Thank you for this message..I am in this situation now, I have been fasting and I am on my thirteenth day, the Lord has spoke to me thru my readings, but it is still hard to understand. The devil works overtime. This book could be what I need.
    Thanks to the Girlfriend’s of God for all the messages they write

  19. I came to know our Lord and Savior personally after the suicide death of my 16 year-old son. My other son, 12 had just been diagnosed with T-Cell ALL Leukemia. My world came shattering down, my oldest daughter rebellion and suicidal and my other daughter devasted by the loss of her brother and cancer for her other one. I share for the picture and of course my marriage was only holding on by strings. Then came Jesus into my life. Slowly I changed and have not stopped seeking Him since. God has allowed a lot of trials in my life since and still. My son is a cancer survivor, daughters grown with children, and we actually recently got guardianship (limited) of our 3 grandchildren. Our marriage is rocked again. Thank you for sharing. It helps many of us to not give up but to persevere.

    1. Good heavens, Emma. That’s a lot. I, too, know what it’s like to take in three children when I thought I was done parenting. So very difficult, and puts such a strain on a marriage. Don’t give up, friend. You WILL get through. Because our God will not leave you, not for a moment. Joshua 1:9. With you. ~mc

  20. Eleven months ago my husband went home to be with our Lord and Saviour.
    I now want to know what Jesus wants to do in my life now, as I turn every
    part of it to him. I want my life to be an honor and glory to God. If this book
    will be a help, I will appreciate that.

  21. Wow this book shared by Michele sounds like a true journey of faith and discovery of Our King and Savior! Blessing to you, Michele and sweetness to Gwen?

  22. is good to know God is with us always he will never leave us or forsake us his word is the same today as it was yesterday ,The Bible is the only true book you can read and God does speak to us through the Bible with Bible verses how awesome is our God .

  23. I would love the opportunity to add yet another book to my collection of inspiration and spiritual warfare material.
    The more we can learn about who we are as beloved daughter’s of the most Awesome God, the better equipped we are to pull ourselves out of a pit or help another broken vessel find its true value!
    Thanks for sharing and for the opportunity.
    God BLESS all of the ladies commenting on here and may all of your prayers be answered each and everyday!

  24. I really needed to read this post this morning! It is amazing to me, and I should know better, that God knows exactly what I need to see, hear, etc. in any given moment.
    Thank you!

  25. Michele… Thank you! Like you I have and still am after 16 years, struggling with the loss of ME to a marriage that should not have been. I was so beaten down by the end of our marriage, almost 10 years of struggle, I tried to end my life by over dose. My mind was’nt death, just wanted all the pain to end. I lost my husband and best friend to their affair. My self worth was nothing. I spent time at bars wanting any man to notice me…looking for love and acceptance..Then God found me and picked me up. I am getting to a point where my strength is almost back…. But it takes little for me to feel that old feeling of little worth. But I do have Faith that I will get there. Thank you for sharing your story so others know that they can come back better than ever with Christ! Blessings. Of course I’d love the book!!

  26. What a tremendous testimony of God’s amazing love and grace! How many times I’ve let His blessing pass me by because of my fears. I’ve felt these pains many times.

  27. I AM – is my strength, faith, trust and hope in my Almighty God. Without Him I would be lost and without the deepest love I have ever known.

  28. I would love to learn to trust again. I try, and I try, but somehow I always find myself doubting….my own capacity to let go of the things that wound me, and my ability to sustain the effort without lapsing back into cynicism.

  29. God gives us strength and love when are facing the unknown. He give us the courage, love, comfort to heal in all situations. God is good

  30. This sounds like the perfect book for me. I have been broken and He lifted me up. I need His love and reassuring promises once again. This world is never enough without Jesus. He is the only way to face the day.

  31. Gina1/20/17.
    The last ten years of my life as I call have been very dark. I went through a awful divorce ,I lost my mother brother andDad . I felt like my life was going down hill. I have two children one child was in college she didn’t see me at my worst. My son did and he also saw me struggling financially …..
    For the last three years a friend want me to do a spiritual weekend kept declining it. Last year I had no choice and I went.

    It was the best weekend in my life!!!!!!! Meet some great ladies . I heard there stories one story I didn’t like the ladie because it was to close to home .
    I left that weekend a new women . It was beautiful .i have more love for God and belief then I could ever imagine . I do struggle but my relationship with God is awesome . I wish it didn’t take me this long but there is a reason why.
    One more thing, I travel twelve hours with my xhusband to see my son at college cause my son want us there . First decline it . I did go it was a great weekend with my son I made it through with my x because of prayer and God helping me through it!!!!!! I know my journey is just beginning I think God for believing in me when I didn’t !!! I will get through it.. Thank you for your story cause this is the first time I ever written part of my story down. I never want to go back to that dark place again …..

  32. Having been broken many times in this life I know without a shadow of doubt that GOD is the only one who can bring beauty from ashes and will always give the oil of gladness to replace mourning. Blessings to the both of you for your ministries in Christ’s love Miss Rusty

  33. Thank You for the hope-filled devotional. A great reminder that we serve a God who is in the business of repair and redemption of the broken, no mater how far gone and hopeless.

  34. Yes, God is able to do more than we can ever hope or think, in and through us, if we will trust his capable hands on our lives!

  35. I want to learn all I can about God I would love to read and learn from this book and then pass it around for others,to read
    God bless

  36. Thank you for sharing this I really enjoyed reading this. This is a great reminder that we need to not lose our sight on the Lord. I know or me sometimes I get so overwhelmed and busy with the everyday life that sometimes I forget to lean on the Lord.

  37. God has made Himself so very real and present to me after my husband left me and divorced me 2 years ago and so many times I did not see the reason to go on and prayed daily that He would come and get me ..But He mist have other plans as I am still here. Healing a little more each day and wondering how long a heart filled with a 34 year marriage will take to heal..I truly hope I won this book. but if I dont he will provide for me to be able to buy it …thank you …Yvette

  38. In a world that seems brokenness is more the norm than anything else, it is faith building to see that God will never give up on us no matter how deeply scarred or angry we are. Joy unspeakable comes to mind when I think of God’s soverign love for all persons.

    Heart touching.

  39. I’d love to bless a friend with this book….she has lost herself along the way in an unhealthy relationship…it has stolen her joy, her smile,…I know that she needs to find herself in God alone!

  40. This excerpt from Michelle’s book has given me a word for my best friends whose name is also Michelle. It’s funny because I thought of her when reading this before I even noticed the authors name. So beautiful when God immediately confirms what we should do. I took pictures of the excerp and will send it to her today. She is struggling with her marriage, and ironically they have a new baby boy. She is a recovering addict, has little or no self esteem, and her husband is in active addiction. I have been witnessing to the both of them for 8 years now and I truly believe that God will prevail in their lives. I would love to give this as a gift to them to prove that there is hope. God bless you for sharing.

  41. Entrust your pieces to His perfect hands, and watch His healing work begin. So encouraging, Thank You for reminding us to keep our eyes and heart on him. Sometimes our circumstances can feel so overwhelming, we forget to lean on our Father. This was a true blessing to read this morning. Looking forward to reading your book.

  42. I loved this mornings reading , it truly hit home and caused tears to form as I am a broken women. I have so much going on and prayer after prayer after prayer has still at this point not helped. Sometimes I wonder if God hears my prayers. I prayed for a loved one in his name to be healed of terminal lung cancer I am attending his funeral tomorrow. I have a son whose an alcoholic and keeps inviting the wrong women into his life, he’s still drinking and etc…I have a daughter who just was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma. And I have another daughter who has a beautiful daughter but lives with anxiety and border line depression. No I don’t attend church like I used to maybe that’s the problem. I need God to fix me and my loved ones in so many ways, not to mention my marriage which is non existent. Where more like room mates then the other way around. I pray for forgiveness and yet let God down everyday, I love God with all my heart but lately have just been as messed up as the rest of me family..I am a broken women

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