Strength – Making the Exchange

We idolize strength


I’m tired of trying to be strong, but we live in a world that idolizes strength. Join me at the gym some morning if you don’t believe me. Craaazy.  (That’s not me by the way, lol.)


It’s cool to be a tough girl.

Pick up any women’s magazine or go to the movies. We don’t just have super heroes anymore – now we have female superheroes!

Flip on the radio and listen to these messages:


  • “This is my fight song” (take back my life song)
  • “I am Titanium (I’m bulletproof)
  • “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”


You do know, Kelly Clarkson didn’t come up with that line, right? Friedrich Nietzsche did: “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”  Read up on Freddy and see how that worked out for him. Hint: not good.

So I decided to do a little research about it (suffering that is): does it really make you stronger? What I discovered was interesting, check it out:

Studies confirm: what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.


Also what the research says

Studies also confirm: what doesn’t kill you doesn’t make you stronger.



So much for the research. Listen, if what didn’t kill you really made you stronger, I would be Wonder Woman. Or Zena, the Warrior Princess. And also, strong and tough are two different things.


Just because you survive, doesn't necessarily mean you thrive. Share on X


War Wounds

We tend to view strength in adversity as a badge of honor — a war wound, so to speak, to fight through and come out of a really awful time stronger, more powerful and ready to take on the next battle. It’s what the world admires and unfortunately, the church falls into this line of thinking as well. Don’t believe me? Have a conversation with a friend who has an “invisible” illness; ask them how they’ve been made to feel when they can’t do all the things that are expected of them. They hear helpful things like, “Have more faith!” “Just trust God!” Or “What are you doing under the circumstances?”

Yea, that will make you feel better.

Somehow we manage to survive the anguishing experience and then we have the audacity to pat ourselves on the back when in reality it’s only by the grace of God that we’re still breathing at all. Or is that just me?

Full Confession: I’ve idolized strength. I used to feel proud of myself for surviving. God didn’t let me get away with that for long.

I’ll spare you our conversation but He totally nailed me to my blinged up cross.

It’s just that I’d been through so much failure, and so much loss that I desperately needed to make something positive out of it. I wanted to come out smelling good, not smelling like ashes.




Nothing wrong with that, except for the fact that it’s not my job.


GOD will redeem all my yesterdays, not me.


It’s human nature to believe that our difficulties carry extra meaning, that they are not in vain. Although suffering is undesirable, it’s supposed to help us grow. We want our pain to somehow be edifying, to make sense.

Listen, friends, the hard truth is that the worst of times really is…. the worst of times. There is pain and suffering in this world that doesn’t make sense. Happy feeling gone.

But I keep thinking about our favorite ideal woman, Mrs. Proverbs 31. Remember her? Up before dawn, up past midnight sewing, entrepreneur, etc. She sure seemed like a strong woman. Wonder how she got so strong?

Verse 17 tells us: She girded herself with strength. Girding refers to putting on a strengthening belt around her middle. It meant to get ready for heroic or difficult action.

This was a woman who was prepared for whatever might come, including pain and suffering. No lalalalala prosperity mindset for her. She expected things to be hard. You know why?

Because Life. Is. Hard.

Hard is normal. She understood that suffering is part of life.


We get to choose: We can put on airs or we can put on strength.


gird yourself with strength


I remember as a young mom reading “What is a Family?” by Edith Shaeffer; she talked about how as mothers, when our children get sick, we say things like, “I can’t WAIT until life gets back to normal.” Her perspective was the opposite. It’s normal for there to be sickness, she said. Weakness. And it’s normal for you to feel weak when you’re the one taking care of people who are sick and weak.

Our culture reveres strength and abhors weakness. We point to others and say, “She’s soooo strong,” wondering why we’re so weak. The world is looking for role models of strong women, but the world gets it wrong; strength isn’t in the numbers of likes on Facebook. It’s not running yourself ragged. Strength isn’t in acting tough, or acting like a man. Strength doesn’t have to be loud. Preaching to the choir here.


What if real strength is knowing it’s ok to be weak? What if real strength is being vulnerable and asking for help? Share on X



I looked up the etymology of the word strength and it means: tight, narrow, rope, or cord.

Oh, and also, the literal meaning of the word ‘hope’ is rope. Maybe strength just means holding on to hope.


hope is a rope


There are so many examples of strong women in the Bible but my favorite is Mary, who when told her life was headed in an entirely different direction than she anticipated, responded, “Let it be unto me.”


I wonder if strength could be simply defined as the act of responding to the Lord, “Let it be unto me.”


Strength sounds a lot like surrender. Share on X


I love this quote from Stacy and John Eldredge’s book, Captivating:

“Women warriors are strong, yes and they are also tender. There is mercy in them. There is vulnerability. In fact, offering vulnerability can only be done by an incredibly strong woman, a woman rooted in Christ Jesus who knows WHOSE she is and therefore knows WHO she is. Offering our hearts wisely, living in the freedom of God’s love, inviting others to rest, alluring those in our lives to the heart of God, and responding to the heart of God in worship are some of the most powerful ways that a woman wars for her world. But she also puts on the full armor of God daily and takes her immovable stand against the powers of darkness.”


Another quote, this one from my writer friend, Katie Jo Ramsey, who suffers from Ankylosing Spondylitis. It’s a rare day when she’s not in debilitating pain. She’s written a book about suffering that will be published next year, titled, This, Too Shall Last.


Here’s what KJ has to say about strength:


Strength is saying, “Lord, I am hopeless.”

Strength is letting someone see you cry.

Strength is calling a friend, blubbering, asking for prayer when hope runs dry.

Strength is making the next small, sacred choice to show up in our lives as a place God is present, especially when we fear he isn’t.

Strength, she says, looks an awful lot like childlike weakness.


become as a child


That’s one of the paradoxes of the Christian life; being weak and strong at the same time. “When I am weak, then am I strong,” Paul said.


If you want to live a supernatural life, you need supernatural strength. Share on X



God’s strength.


You can’t buy it.

You can’t earn it.

You can’t learn it.


It’s an exchange: Your weakness for his strength.


You weakness for his strength


It’s an exchange we need to make daily. Hourly. We exchange the natural for the supernatural.


Be supernaturally infused with strength through your life union with the Lord Jesus.

Stand victorious with the force of his explosive power flowing in and through you.  Eph 6:10 MSG.


Don’t you love that phrase, “Supernaturally infused?” Reminds me of the monthly infusion treatment my friend KJ receives; it gives her strength for the battle.

We get our strength for the battle through being in life-union with Christ. By staying connected to the vine. Really, our focus shouldn’t even be on whether or not we’re strong. Our focus should be on Him.

Aren’t you tired of trying to be strong?

We’re ALL weak. But we don’t have to “tough it out.” We just need to LIFT each other’s weak and weary arms and cry out for His Spirit and His Strength.


Let’s make the exchange.




Letter to all the Moms who are waiting


Dear Mom,

I see you.

I’ve watched you as you wait. Motherhood is a waiting game, you know—a game that seems to have no end, at least not as far as I can tell, and I’m a grandmother seven times now.


You learn to wait by waiting


The waiting game starts with waiting to get pregnant, then the nine months of waiting to deliver. You wait and you count the days on the calendar; you waddle around WalMart, shopping for a car seat, and then you wait in line until you think your bladder will burst. It bursts, but it’s not your bladder; it’s time. You thought it would be over then, the waiting, but no; it’s just beginning.

Days, weeks and months go by as you wait to get the hang of this motherhood thing; you rub your weary eyes and wait for the baby to go back to sleep, then to sleep through the night. You wait and wonder if this child will ever get potty-trained or learn to walk.

Then there are the years of waiting for the school bus, soccer practice and report cards to show up in the mail. Before you know it, they’re teenagers and it gets more serious: you wait for them to make curfew, to pull in the driveway safely when they finally get their license. Maybe you wait for college application results, (please, Lord!) or drug test or pregnancy results. (Pulleease, Lord!)

Your prayers in the middle of the night don’t go unnoticed. You bite your nails and you watch and wait and pray for a good report and sometimes the waiting seems endless.


Sometimes the wait seems endless


Later, you’ll wait (and wait) for a phone call and settle for a text.

I’ve waited too. I’ve waited with hope in my heart and with a pit in my stomach. Most of mothering is waiting for our prayers to be answered. I confess I didn’t always wait well. Maybe you can relate?

I wish I could tell you that one day the waiting will be over, but so far, that hasn’t been the case. My children are all adults with children of their own and I’m still waiting for some of my prayers for them to be answered, plus now there are all the prayers for my grandchildren. So many prayers. So much waiting.

It does get easier, though. I don’t get the pit in my stomach so much these days. I’ve stopped biting my nails (-ish.)

Lately, I’ve even started turning my phone off at night. You know how I learned to wait?

By waiting.

You’ll have to learn that way, too, I’m afraid, but hopefully it won’t take you as long as it did me. The waiting is inevitable but there’s a right way to do it. God’s way.


Here’s my Mother’s Day gift to you, whether you’re a new Mom or a Grandma:


Happy Mother's Day


Five ways to win the waiting game that is motherhood


  1. We’re to wait quietly. That doesn’t mean we’re not supposed to talk about it out loud; it’s more about having a quiet spirit on the inside. Psalm 62:1 says, “I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from Him.” It’s about having peace while we wait for Him to move on our behalf. The phrase “wait quietly” means to be dumb, or astonished. Maybe because we trust that God will do something astonishing?


  1. We’re to wait determinedly. Habakkuk was one example of this. He vowed to climb up the watch tower and station himself there until the Lord spoke to Him. And Isaiah speaks of posting watchmen on the walls of Jerusalem who pray day and night, continually, giving the Lord no rest until he completes his work. I like that! “Lord, I’m going to bombard you with prayers for my kid until you turn him around!” I think God likes it, too.


  1. We’re to wait eagerly. This kind of waiting isn’t passive, it’s active. The implication is one of waiting spiritedly, with enthusiasm and thirst. “We have waited for you eagerly; Your name, even Your memory, is the desire of our souls.” Is 26:8 NASB


  1. We’re to wait patiently. I think sometimes we act just like kids when on a road trip: “Are we there yet, huh, are we there yet? Are we, huh, huh; are we?!” To be patient means to bear provocation, annoyance, misfortune, delay, hardship or pain, with fortitude and calm and without complaint, anger or the like. Psalm 5:3 says, “Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait patiently.”


  1. We’re to wait confidently. Micah 7 speaks of a son despising his father and a daughter defying her mother—enemies living in the same household! But then Micah says, “But as for me, I will look to the Lord for help. I wait confidently for God to save me and my God will certainly hear me.”


Oh, friends, if motherhood feels like a never-ending cycle of waiting, that’s because it is. There will be times when you get tired of waiting and you’ll be tempted to grab hold of the reins… to help God out just a little because it seems like he’s preoccupied (maybe with someone else’s kids?) but don’t do it. Won’t work. Know this from experience.


Help is the sunny side of control Share on X




“Then Abraham waited patiently, [makrothymeo to be long-spirited, not to lose heart] and he received what God had promised.” Heb 6:15


One last piece of advice before I go and I’m preaching to myself here…  when you get tired of waiting for the answer to your prayers and wonder what the Lord is waiting for, ask yourself this instead:


What is He waiting for me to do?


Chances are, He’s waiting to see if you’ll be long-spirited and not lose heart.


Abraham waited patiently for the promise


Cheering you on this Mother’s Day,


Why you will never understand addiction

Don’t miss the giveaway at the end of post!

Who hasn’t known the heartache of having a friend or loved one who struggles with addiction? The never-ending cycle of hope vs. hopelessness, of wanting to help but feeling helpless… it will (and should) drive you to your knees, which is why I’ve invited my good friend, Paula Jauch to share at my table today. I first met Paula at a writers conference; we were both rookies, searching for a way to get our words out into the world. Well, friends, her voice comes through loud and clear because she. speaks. truth. Hard-won truth, because she’s been there. The words she shares are written from a place of brokenness and healing.

This past fall I woke up to a message on my phone with a picture of a beautiful baby boy who had just been born into our family. The text was from one of my family members whose daughter had just given birth to this precious child. But what I wasn’t prepared for was the text that followed:

“Please keep her and her son in your prayers; she is being arrested because they found heroin in the baby’s system and her baby boy is being placed in protected custody. In the meantime he will be kept in the hospital to wean him off of the drug.”

I know this is a pretty heavy story to share but this is the kind of stuff I grew up with all my life and I still hear small glimpses of these types of stories from my family and many other families.

Please take notice that I said “small glimpses;” I have to be very careful of what I allow into my life or what I am willing to listen to. I can’t control everything I hear but I know from experience the repercussions of being absorbed into the family’s dysfunction from addiction: reliving the trauma and wounds to the degree that would prevent me from moving forward. And I desperately want to move forward.

Read more

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough (if you’ve got the right guide)

[Don’t miss the giveaway at the end!]

If you’re new to this blog, this is the final post in a series based on Psalm 24 verse 3: “Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord?” It’s comparing the entire life of a Christian to ascending a mountain.

The past three weeks have been all about preparation. We’ve identified our mountains, gathered our provisions and scouted out some traveling companions. I don’t know about you, but I’m itching to start my climb. Now all we need is a trail guide, someone who’s walked this path and is familiar with the terrain. 

I’ve asked my “sticky Velcro friend,” Lisa Morgan Moore to introduce you to our guide. Why Lisa? She’s a tough, seasoned climber who knows that without a guide, you’ll never make it to the top! 

Lately, during my prayer time, I’ve had this huge ball of anxiety in the pit of my stomach. It didn’t make sense; life was good! Fall weather had finally shown up in my hometown of Wilmington, NC. Hurricane Michael (which we survived!) swept away the last of the humidity and cooler, more pleasant temperatures had arrived! I’d been relishing my coffee and prayer time on the back porch while enjoying the view of my cottage garden. So I asked God, “What’s with the anxiety?” 

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