More than my story….

Have you ever felt eaten alive by a situation in life? Or felt like you might not survive? I want my recently launched book, Perfectly Weak, to be about more than my story. This is about all of our stories–how we can find healing in our brokenness and be infused with God’s strength in the midst of our weaknesses. We all have stories of broken hearts and wounds, and I love sharing others’ stories of overcoming! Please read my sister-in-law’s beautiful story of how God met her in shattering loss and she found Him faithful.

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Creative, faithful, loving, forgiving, nurturing and so much more; I had learned those were characteristics of God. However, in December of 2000, I learned about the sovierenty of God. My husband and I were youth pastors expecting our second child. At a very routine check up, I abruptly found out I was pregnant with twins and that I had lost both children. Twenty-two weeks into a very normal pregnancy my world was shattered. The first question I asked was why? I knew God could have fixed this. As a matter of fact, I felt like He owed me. I had done everything the “right way.” And that night as I lay in bed I began to imagine a different picture of God. It was one the enemy was painting. With dark strokes of brazen lies, he began to color a very tainted picture of my situation. It was destructive and it focused on what God had not done for me rather than all He had done for me.

I continued to carry that pregnancy for almost a month, all the while knowing there would be nothing but heartache that would come from it. I found myself focused on the loss and darkness the enemy delights in. It was apparent I was walking in the valley of the shadow of death and was becoming more and more comfortable there — alone, angry, jaded, and broken.

It wasn’t until the sweet voice of the Holy Spirit reminded me that turning my mourning into dancing had to be something I chose to do. Reluctant and broken, I lifted my hands to Him. In an instant, Jesus met me and all of a sudden I realized that God was right in the middle of the pit with me. I guess I had always known that, but I FELT Him for the first time in what seemed like forever. The gentle strokes of His hand now colored over my broken heart and I began to understand His sovereignty. He knew all along I would need to go to a place I had never been, so I could know Him in a way I had never known.

When I thought I would not survive, Jesus showed up! Not only did I survive but also I began to grow with an intimate understanding what the prophet Isaiah penned in chapter 55 verse 8 when he wrote, “ My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts, and my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.” He is sovereign and sees what we cannot. After I lost those babies, in 2002 I gave birth to our son Jaden . His name means “God has heard.” In the middle of heartache He is still sculpting and designing. His fingerprints are all over every situation we face.

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any & every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or want. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12-13.

There was a period of time in my life I did not think I would survive, but because of who Jesus is and what He conquered on the cross, not only did I survive but I thrived. Whatever may seem to be crushing to you today, please know you can survive it and come out stronger on the other side. With Jesus ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE!

Welcoming Weakness

There’s a lot of pressure out there to be all things to all people, and to never mess up or make a mistake. Leading, in whatever capacity, puts you in the position to have all of your strengths and weaknesses on display. Putting yourself out there can put you on the ugly side of criticism and wounds that I have felt many times over the last 18 years—as I am sure you have too. Those kinds of wounds are not easily forgotten, and can cause us to step back—way back and hide. Hide from people to avoid the pain. I know I did that. About 10 years into ministry, I decided I had enough and I withdrew. As I withdrew, I dug myself into a pit and hid. Inside that pit I did not find safety and refuge, but I found fear. I found myself wallowing in all the hurt, and coddling the fear. After I allowed God back into my mess of hurt and fear, I had a lot of ground to recover in my own heart and mind. I had to begin to obey Him again, and step out and take risks as I put my heart out there again.

As I began to step out and obey God, I was keenly aware that I had so many weaknesses. My experiences in the past, and my new willingness to take a risk for God exposed all the areas in which I felt vulnerable. I felt like the least equipped person to do what God was asking of me, and still do at times. I was so focused on all the things I was not good at as a pastor’s wife, and I tended to be nervous and timid. I didn’t have that bubbly personality that commands attention when I entered a room. I could only see everything I wasn’t, instead of seeing all of what God is. While being focused on all that I couldn’t do, I was missing out on all the God could do in me. As I, ever so slightly, stepped out in faith and actually did what He’d asked me to do, He started showing me what He could do.

I continued feeling weak and fearful as God kept asking me to do the things I didn’t think I could do. I kept asking Him, “Why me? Why did you choose me?” Finally, God answered and said, “Because you said yes. Because you were willing.”

God doesn’t need our expertise. He needs our willingness to obey. To do what He asks us to do. He needs people who are willing to follow His dream even when that plan doesn’t seem like much of a dream at all. He does not ask us to be over-the-top talented, gifted, and confident. He just needs willing hearts.

See, I thought that if God was calling me to do all these things that I wasn’t good at, or afraid of, or that I was too weak for, that He would take away my weaknesses and make me good at those things He was asking me to do. That wasn’t what happened. He pointed me back to the verses in 2nd Corinthians 12:9-10 that I lean on so much, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

I really love the first and last part of those words, but I was mumbling through and skipping over the part about “…I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why I delight in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and difficulties, because when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 9b-10)

I realized that I had to be able to step out in areas in which I feel weak, untalented, and not good at and allow God’s strength to be made perfect in my weakness. I had to learn to obey, even if I feel weak. Even if God asks me to do something that I think I can’t do. Even if I don’t know how, and it makes me scared.

When we step out in weakness, that’s when God’s strength kicks in. That’s when Christ’s power rests on us. That’s the perfect place to be with God—operating in His power and His strength, not our own. Each step I took, God caught me, held me in His hands, and let His strength carry me.

God doesn’t want a different you, or a different me. He made each of us, weaknesses and all, just the way He wanted us. When we yield all that we are to Him, weaknesses included, He takes what we aren’t and fills us with what He is. His call to us is an invitation to surrender everything. Our strengths—which really are no strengths at all—and our weaknesses—which really are no hindrances at all—and delight in how He made us to walk in His Grace and His Power. He won’t accomplish His will in our lives by making us different people. Rather, He will empower us to do His will through His grace and strength. He wants us to exchange our weakness for His strength. By stepping out in obedience, I learned to delight in my weakness and acknowledge that I needed Him in those weaknesses. I said to Him “I can’t, but I know you can. I had to learn to live perfectly weak.

 

Perfectly Weak

 

Sometimes we do something we don’t want to, or think we can’t do, because God asks us to.  2 Timothy 1:7 tells us that we have not been given a spirit of fear/timidity, but a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind. I often find myself leaning on my own nature of fear and timidity and not operating out of that power God’s nature gives me. When He asks me to do things that I think are scary, I have to choose to operate in His strength and not in my weaknesses. I have been so keenly aware of my weaknesses each time God asks me to take a risk and step out in obedience so much so that I have shrunk back from obeying Him.  I have decided to stop letting fear dictate what I say yes to from God, and rest perfectly weak in His Strength that is perfected in my weakness.

As God has asked me to begin writing (which I think I can’t do) and then sharing the writing (which is really scary for me) I have resisted and put it off. So much so, He has nudged and pushed so hard that I can no longer say no. He has even revealed to me, through a study of the book of James, that it is sin to know what I ought to do, and not do it (James 4:17). It is not humility to tell God that I can’t do what He asks me to do because I am too weak, untalented or afraid. It is disobedience. So, with great trembling, I have begun this blog. I am writing from a place of weakness that I might spur someone else to do the same in their life with their own gifts. I am writing from weakness to produce God’s strength in my life.

I have a passion to help others develop their gifts God has placed in their lives to use for Him and His glory, yet I have been dragging my feet using mine. I find it funny, and ironic, that the verse right before 2 Timothy 1:7 (saying I have do not have a spirit of fear) then instructs us to fan into flame the gift of God.  God must’ve known that it can be daunting to step out into obedience and fan that flame, so He had to follow that up with reminding us we can do it with His power, love and sound mind. He must’ve known that Satan would try to use his scare tactics to prevent us from obeying God and taking risks for Him. So I launch this blog to fan the flame of the gifts God has entrusted into my life, I encourage you to do the same. In this culture of self-promotion, and the building of our own kingdoms, I seek to make myself smaller and myself less known, so that HE can be bigger in my life, and more known in what I do.  I do not start this blog out of self-promotion, but in God-promotion. I truly desire to share what He gives me to share, with the intention to push us all towards serving God with our gifts in such a way that we are stretched way out of our comfort zones to make His name famous and change this world. I do this to serve God with all that I have –  to be full on committed to do what God asks me to do even if it scares me.

My usual pattern is to care what others think, and then shrink back from the task. And recently we had a women’s event at our church that was way bigger than what we had planned for. That is amazing, right?! My husband kept saying, “not enough seats and not enough food is a good problem to have.” Well, one morning driving in the car I wasn’t feeling that was a good problem to have. I started whining to God that this had gotten too big for me to do and that I was overwhelmed. After the long whine session, He said to me, “How many times have you asked me to be a part of something bigger than yourself?”

That’s when I said, “I’m in God.” And I am. I am in for allowing God to do things that are bigger than I can accomplish in my life by myself. So let’s do this together. Let’s be full on committed to fan the gifts of God into flames in our lives and not be afraid or held back from taking the God-sized risks to be obedient when He calls us to step out in faith. All of us together, using our own unique gifts and abilities fearlessly can become a great army for God.

Ezekial 37:1-14 says, ”

The Lord took hold of me, and I was carried away by the Spirit of the Lord to a valley filled with bones.  He led me all around among the bones that covered the valley floor. They were scattered everywhere across the ground and were completely dried out. Then he asked me, “Son of man, can these bones become living people again?”

“O Sovereign Lord,” I replied, “you alone know the answer to that.”

Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to these bones and say, ‘Dry bones, listen to the word of the Lord!  This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again!  I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”

So I spoke this message, just as he told me. Suddenly as I spoke, there was a rattling noise all across the valley. The bones of each body came together and attached themselves as complete skeletons. Then as I watched, muscles and flesh formed over the bones. Then skin formed to cover their bodies, but they still had no breath in them.

Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to the winds, son of man. Speak a prophetic message and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, O breath, from the four winds! Breathe into these dead bodies so they may live again.’”

So I spoke the message as he commanded me, and breath came into their bodies. They all came to life and stood up on their feet—a great army.