You Can Do This: By Gwen Smith

You Can Do This Gwen Smith

Today’s Truth

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13, NKJV)

Friend to Friend

You can do this.

Sometimes we just need to be reminded. I know I do. Yesterday was a whopper. I rose early, worked hard, was intentional, and still felt unproductive. Been there? On top of that, we got a heavy heap of unwanted news yesterday afternoon. My dad has an aggressive form of cancer.

I cannot believe I just wrote that last sentence.

He has been through so much. To explain the details would take a whole book. All I can say is that when it comes to the distribution of health challenges, my dad has had an unequally large share.

We found out a week ago that his ear was riddled with the c-stuff and that he would be losing it. But I thought it was just an ear. I thought dad’s biggest challenge following surgery would be figuring out how to hold eyeglasses on his head.

The results of his full body scan indicated otherwise.

The presence of disease is more invasive than what the doctors thought last week, so the ENT that my parents met with yesterday removed himself from the case explaining that the scope of dad’s surgical needs are beyond his abilities. Great. Today they meet with a specialist to see if surgery is even a possibility and to map out a treatment plan.

Far from Pittsburgh my family and I share the pain and pray.

As I pray God changes me.

My heart still aches, but a peace holds me. His peace. Him. Jesus, my Prince of Peace. And as He holds me I remember to exhale. To breathe deeply of His hope.

I remember that our days are known and numbered by a loving God who has a plan for each of us. I remember that I am not alone in this and that my Lord knows the agony of suffering. I remember that though this disease is completely rank, that God is still good and His strength is made perfect in my weakness… that His grace is sufficient.

I can do this. Dad can do this. Mom can do this. We can do this. Not on our own, but with God. And no matter the outcome, life goes on because we know Life. The source of life. The way, and the truth, and the life.

We know Jesus, so everything is possible.

No. This doesn’t change the challenge.

It changes me.

It changes how I will face this challenge. Because if I’m really taking faith seriously. If I am really telling the Lord that I want it all and asking Him to be glorified in my life, then I have to want everything He allows to pass through His hands and into my life.

I have decided.

I’ve drawn a line in the sand of my life.

I want everything He has for me… so that.

So that.

It’s one of my favorite phrases in the Bible. “Do this {instruction/directive}… SO THAT… this {desired outcome/goal}.” It seems that the apostle Paul loved the phrase too because he used it a great deal. Look at a few examples from his letter to the church at Colosse.

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us too, that God may open a door for our message, SO THAT we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.” (Colossians 4:2-3, emphasis mine)

“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, SO THAT you may know how to answer everyone.” (Colossians 4:6, emphasis mine)

Yes. I can do this. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13) It’s not just a familiar Bible verse that can be found on a T-shirt, bookmark, or bumper sticker it is a truth that I can cling to. It is a tested truth.

I can do nothing of eternal value without Him, but anything and everything with Him.

You can too.

SO THAT God can show you and your people how awesome He is.

Let’s Pray

Lord, I ask that You would receive the maximum amount of glory in and through my life. Drench me in the power of Your presence and wring me out SO THAT others might be drawn to You. Keep my eyes open to opportunities to build others up in faith and keep my heart firmly rooted in Your love SO THAT I will always be prepared to give an answer for the reason of my Hope.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen.

The Wresting Match BY: Gwen Smith

The Wrestling Match Gwen Smith

Today’s Truth

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. (Ephesians 6:10, NIV)

Friend to Friend

It was the end of the school year. The sun was blazing in the sweltering high 80s with not a hint of shade to be found on the treeless playground. The boys were stinky from their sweaty schoolyard endeavors and the girls were now wilted versions of the fresh flowers they had been that morning.

It was almost time for the big wrestling competition. Electric excitement lingered in the air. I was a fifth grader at West Hempfield Elementary School in Irwin, Pennsylvania and I had signed up to participate in the wrestling match. Yes. You read that correctly.

To this day, I’m somewhat amused and perplexed that I would’ve thrown myself into the middle of such a barbaric display. Wrestling certainly wasn’t my sport of choice, or even a faint interest of mine. So, as we all gathered around the red and white striped gymnasium mats for the annual, end-of-the year wrestling tournament, I was sweating bullets… not just from the relentless, yellow ball of heat in the sky, but also from the nerves that consumed my body.

Before the match even began, I was a captive to the bully in my brain. What do you think you are doing? This is ridiculous! Caroline is not only three inches taller than you, but she’s meaner than you, and she’s in the sixth grade! You are going down, Gwen. Prepare to be humiliated in front of every fourth, fifth and sixth grader in the school.

At the sound of the whistle, the match was on. Caroline and I danced around like two alley cats with their backs raised high. She had a confidence in her eye that was foreign to me at that moment. A series of unskilled and ungraceful moves followed. (Cringe with me here!)

She lunged and I retreated. I lunged and she retreated. Then came contact. Within seconds we were on our hands and knees battling for control. Battling for the win.

The sounds of the crowd were deafening as Caroline moved in to get the better of me. All I could think was, Just DON’T let her get you on your back! Feelings of hopelessness and desperation flooded my heart as she and I exchanged move for move. There were several points allotted and several restarts from Mr. Gordon’s whistle. In the midst of this primitive battle, my goal had changed from trying to win to just trying NOT to be pinned… therein lies the defeat.

As the match came to an end and the final whistle blew, it was Caroline’s victorious arm that was raised high in the sky. I was defeated in front of half the school. Cheers went up for Caroline as I shrunk back into the sea of students, longing for super powers that would render me invisible. I was exhausted from the match, humiliated from my failure, and defeated by both Caroline and my own mind.

That was a dark day for me as a young girl. But as dark as that day was emotionally, I was able to clearly see my opponent. Ladies, when it comes to spiritual wrestling matches, we do not have the advantage of sight. The Bible says: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12, NIV)

Many of the battles we contend with each day are spiritual. We can’t see our enemy. And while at first glance this may seem disarming, look again at Ephesians 6. The Bible clearly tells us that we can be equipped to stand firm with the Armor of God!

“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” (Ephesians 6:13-18, NIV)

Though the wrestling match with Caroline seemed overwhelmingly daunting, the battles that I face now are so much greater. I’m thankful that God’s word clearly says the victory is ours if we are in Christ. If God is for us, who can be against us? {TWEET this!}

What are you wrestling with today? Is the enemy speaking lies to you? Do you feel weak? Strength comes when we call on Jesus! We can stand firm against the schemes of the devil when we put on the armor of God! Suit up girls…a battle is going on all around you. Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power!

Let’s Pray

Dear Lord, I thank you for being a mighty God who longs to cover my weakness with Your strength. Please equip me for all that lies ahead today, protect me from attacks and schemes of the enemy, and help me to be strong in Your mighty power. Cover me with Your peace, truth, faith, and salvation so I can stand firm in the battle.

I ask this in the powerful name of Jesus,

Amen.

Take Your Need To God By: Jennifer Kennedy Dean

Take Your Need To God Jennifer Kennedy Dean

Today’s Truth

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective (James 5:16b, NIV).

Friend to Friend

Prayer is neither complicated nor difficult. It is so simple that any child of God can lay hold of all God’s power and provision through His designated strategy we call prayer.

Decades ago God began to redefine prayer for me. I came to understand it as a continual interaction between the spiritual realm and the material realm. An unceasing flow from His heart to mine. I quit thinking about how to say prayers, and began to live a praying life.

The Holy Spirit can make direct deposits from His heart to mine and awaken His desires that define the content of my praying. In these years of learning how to live a praying life, I have come to realize that if God designed prayer to work, not to fail, then He surely designed it to be accessible and simple.

I think we see this pictured clearly in a story John records. He tells the story of a wedding at which Jesus was a guest, and His mother seemed to be in charge behind the scenes.

When the wine ran out, apparently the servants turned to Mary with their problem. I’m imagining the scene when a servant came running to Mary, concern apparent in his demeanor and his inflections. “Mary! They have no wine!” He puts the whole burden on her. Their wine-less state has now become her responsibility. She has to come through.

I think she says something like, “Don’t worry. I’ve got it covered.”

She turns to Jesus and says, “Jesus, they have no wine.” (See John 2:3)

He makes a response to her that our 21st century, perhaps Gentile, ears hear as a rebuke. But let’s hear it again: “Woman!” He says. A word of endearment. The same word He used from the cross to say, “Woman, behold your son.” Addressing her gently. Then He uses a Hebrew idiom that His contemporaries would have heard as, “[What do we have in common? Leave it to Me.]” John 2:4 (AMP). Finally, He said that His time had not yet come.

Did He violate His sense of timing to please or appease His mother? No. He was warning her that the time to reveal His actions publicly had not come. She had to let someone else get all the credit for what her son had done. The master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

Notice that the response did not deter Mary. She didn’t slink away as if scolded. She turned to the servants and said, “Do whatever He tells you” (John 2:5). She knew Jesus, so she knew there would be action. She didn’t know what that action would look like, but she had learned that Jesus would know what to do. She didn’t know what He would do, but she knew that He would do.

Do you see how simple her request was? She knew that when she took the burden that sat on her shoulders and handed it over to Jesus, He would know what to do and how to do it. She knew that the secret to powerful praying is to take God the need, not the answer.

Sometimes the most powerful prayer sounds something like this: Jesus, they have no wine.

Let’s Pray

Dear Lord, I realize that I often think my prayer needs to tell You the answer and instruct You in how to accomplish it. I embrace the release of knowing that when I bring You the need, You have the answer. I confess that I am empty unless You fill me. I am weak unless You strengthen me. I am helpless unless You come to my rescue. I have no wine.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

Who Am I Becoming By: Lynn Cowell

JULY 10, 2015

Who Am I Becoming? LYNN COWELL

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)

Dragging my feet and my heart, I headed to her room, finding her buried in her schoolbooks. She was responsible; I hadn’t been.

Welling up with tears, I began my apology. Seems like I’d been doing that a lot lately. This time I had failed to order my daughter’s graduation announcements.

What kind of mom am I?

My girl smiles as I blubber my confession. She reassures me: this is not an emergency. Tilting her head, she looks at me as if I’m from another planet. Not because I forgot, but because I’m crying. Who is this woman? I imagine her asking in her thoughts.

I know she must wonder about me these days.

Lately, I haven’t been recognizing myself either. The normally organized, rational, on-task woman can’t seem to keep it all together.

Maybe the forgetting isn’t so unintentional. Could this be my heart’s way of trying to put off the inevitable?

On my desk sits the form, the one I’ve procrastinated completing, requiring me to admit her age. She’s an adult now. How did that happen? My mind wonders, Will she still need me? Who am I now? What is my place? Change is hard.

I’m guessing that like me, you’ve either just come out of a season of change, are entering a season of change or it’s just on the horizon. It might not be your youngest graduating from high school. You might be returning to school, making a move or looking for a new job.

Change has a way of swirling in and around our lives. Just when we adjust, like a squirming toddler, life refuses to stay still. We finally think we’ve gotten control, when chaos erupts again. One activity stops while two are added. And whether we like the new that’s come, or wish we could run and hide, our feelings don’t change the inevitable.

Facing another change, and handling it well, requires a woman of character. Change requires traits I feel like I haven’t fully mastered and so I tend to think, I’m just not patient. I can’t be kind.

But maybe, just maybe, times of transition are God’s way of bringing the change. He just might be setting up this opportunity for me to grow into the woman He knows I can become.

I’m learning I can allow the pressure of transition to transform me. I can permit the rain and the sunshine in my life to grow His fruit in me … the kind described in today’s key verse from Galatians 5: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Every day we are becoming something different. The question is, Who are we becoming? During the planting, watering and weeding of change, if we will be diligent and faithful during each season, we’ll see beauty grow in our lives.

As we lean into God, asking for strength through the peace or through the pain, He will make us into the women He’s intended for us to become: Women becoming God’s definition of beautiful.

Dear Jesus, I don’t always like the change that comes in my life, but I do want to be beautiful instead of bitter. Grow in me the traits You call gorgeous and help me to embrace this season. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY: Galatians 5:24-25, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” (NIV)

Romans 8:5, “Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit.” (NLT)

You Get To Decide By: Renee Swope

You Get to Decide RENEE SWOPE

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)

My 8-year-old son walked into my room before school one morning and declared, “Mom, I don’t want to have any anxious thoughts today!”

“I don’t want to worry about you not being home when I get off the school bus. I don’t want to worry about my teacher not liking my science project. And I don’t want to worry about Dad getting in a car accident! I wish I could be like other kids because they never worry.”

Listening to him describe his fears made my stomach ache. Anxious thoughts had been a companion ever since I was a child, so I knew just how he felt.

However, I assumed my fears stemmed from hard things in my childhood during my parents’ divorce. My anxiety had solid reasoning behind it. My dad left before I was ever born. And by the time I was 2 years old, their divorce was final.

For as long as I could remember, I feared my mom would leave me too. Fear of rejection and abandonment followed me into every relationship I had for the rest of my life: with friends, boyfriends and even my husband.

Somewhere along the way, I accepted worry as a disability and settled into believing I didn’t have a choice in how it impacted my life. I let anxiety form a pattern in my thoughts.

Now here I stood with my son who’d declared he wanted a day off from worry! And I was determined to help him get it. I wanted to rip those threads of fear out of his thoughts and make sure he knew what to do with them.

I couldn’t take my child’s fears away, but I could equip him with the truth to face them courageously and fight them victoriously. I told Andrew, “You get to decide what to do with your worries.” And I shared three powerful truths to help him:

Truth #1: Other kids do worry; they just don’t talk about it on the playground.

Truth #2: Worry and fear must be a normal because God tells us not to, over 100 times in the Bible.

Truth #3: God doesn’t just tell us not to worry or fear, He tells us what to do when we do!

I read today’s verse out loud from 2 Corinthians 10:5, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” But a puzzled look on his face told me Andrew needed to know how to do that, so I described it in terms he could understand:

“Andrew, when you have a thought that makes you feel anxious, you have to decide to catch it like a baseball.” I then cupped my hand like I was holding a ball and told him to look at it and ask, “Is this something Jesus would say to me?”

If the answer is “no” — then throw your thought back into the outfield!

For instance, worry says: “Your mom isn’t going to be home when you get off the bus.”

“Would Jesus say that?” I asked.

“No,” he replied.

“Then it’s outta here!” I told him, as I threw the invisible ball across the room.

Worry says: “Your teacher isn’t going to like your science project!”

“Would Jesus say that?” I prompted.

Again, “No.”

“Throw that one away, too!”

We talked through each worry, and I helped him decide what to do. Then we prayed and asked God to replace each worry with confident peace, and thanked God for ways He’d protected Andrew in the past, reminding him how good He is at being God.

After our collective “Amen” I looked up and Andrew had a big grin on his face. Then he said, “Thanks Mom!” as though all his worries were gone.

My sons are 17 and 20 now, and there have been many days I’ve wanted to take away their worries. I’ve been tempted to fix problems and sticky situations. But I’ve learned that doesn’t strengthen their faith or their ability to decide what to do when hard times come.

Instead, what our kids need most is for us to be there: to talk through their struggles, listen to their stories, pray through their worries and be willing to share God’s truths that have helped us decide how to face ours.

Dear Lord, show me how to be still and listen, and let You be God in my child’s life. Help me walk in Your truth and win the war over my own worry so I can share Your Word and show them how to lean on You when they come to me for help. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalm 56:3, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” (NIV)

Working Out The Kinks By: Gwen Smith

June 30, 2015
Working Out The Kinks
Gwen Smith

Today’s Truth

Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart… (Psalm 24:3-4a, ESV)

Friend to Friend

I became a watering girl last summer.

Not because my black thumb suddenly turned green, but because my husband had ordered a heap of mulch and I was determined to not have a lame bare patch in the landscaped section of the house. No sir-eee! Mulch should be the accessory, not the main feature. My opinion.

So, in response to the mulch mountain I drove my spontaneous little self to the gardening store and bought us some new bushes, a few flowers, and a tree. And I quickly learned that once all of said planty-purchases were in the ground, they required… gasp… maintaining so they could take root.

Totally cool. I thought as I strapped on my big girl panties. I can do this!

So now I’m a watering girl. My sunny days often begin with the garden hose in hand. And I love it. The birds sing melodies with all their chirpy cuteness and the plants respond with claps of gratitude. {I seriously think they clap… in their own way. Moving on…}

Early one morning I unwound the hose and watered our small cucumber garden. Then I headed toward a few thirsty plant-friends in the back of the lawn along the fence. As I began to water, the flow trickled to a stop.

I looked up and spied the water-stopping nemesis. A kink in the hose.

So frustrating.

There was plenty of water. It just couldn’t flow because the hose had flipped and kinked. I tried to flap it out from where I was across the yard, but this kink was a good bit down the line. It required that I drop everything and address it. Once the kink was fixed, the water flowed smoothly and the rest of my plants got their drinks.

What a picture of faith.

Just like a hose is connected to a water source, our souls are connected to the Living Water – Jesus. And though as believers we are always connected to Him and always have access to the refreshment and nourishment we need, there are times when kinks happen and the flow stops.

I can think of a few times when, just like the hose, I flipped and kinked up the flow. Can you relate?

Our kinks come in all shapes and sizes. We can get flipped over by disappointments, unmet expectations, other people, or simply by our own attitudes, unbelief, fears, behaviors, rebellion, or unhealthy emotions.

How can we work out the kinks of our circumstances and relationships? By depending on the strength of God instead of our own. By going to Him in prayer, spending time in the Word, and by yielding to His Spirit.

The biggest of all kinks, however, is our own sin.

Yep. I said the s-word.

Pastor Timothy Keller said it this way; “The sin that is most destructive in your life right now is the one you are most defensive about.”

Ouch. Big kink. Right?

How can we work out the kinks of our sin? By confession. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:8-10, ESV)

“Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” (James 4:17)

Got a few sin kinks? Sure you do. We all do. Some might stem from blatant rebellion to God’s will, while others might be simply NOT doing something you know you ought to do. Regardless, if you want to have a right relationship with God, you must deal with sin honestly. Nothing can separate you from God’s love, but sin sure can stop the flow of you experiencing the power of His peace, grace, strength, and joy.

The Anglican theologian Richard Sibbes summed up the good news of Jesus beautifully when he said; “There is more mercy in Christ than sin in us.”

I. Am. So. Thankful.

Let the grace of God work out your kinks today, friend. Sometimes we just have to drop everything and address them. The Bible says that the Lord’s kindness leads us to repentance – which, in turn, unleashes the powerful flow of His peace, grace, strength, and joy.

Want MORE of God’s peace, grace, strength, and joy in your life?

The Living Water is waiting.

Drink up, friend. Drink up.

“Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. He will receive blessing from the Lord
and righteousness from the God of his salvation.”
(Psalm 24:3-5, ESV)

Let’s Pray

Lord, I am so thankful that your mercy is greater than my sin. Please forgive me for ____________________ . You know my heart and You know my ways. Cover me fresh with grace today so that I can experience Your joy, strength, and peace.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

The Strength of Weakness By: Michele Cushatt

JUNE 24, 2015

The Strength of Weakness MICHELE CUSHATT

“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.” 2 Corinthians 12:10 (NIV)

It was the opportunity of a lifetime, I knew.

For years I’d dreamed of being a writer. In between mothering a houseful of monkeys (a.k.a. children), I’d hunker down over my laptop and wrestle with words. But navigating the tension between dream and duty seemed impossible.

Until, one day, an email landed in my inbox.

“We’d like to invite you to be one of our speakers …”

A speaking invitation. To a national conference.

Hope rallied. I stared at the screen in disbelief. A break, finally! I couldn’t mess it up.

But soon after, the unthinkable happened. Three short months before the speaking date, with a single phone call from my doctor, my world collapsed.

Cancer. Of the tongue.

It made zero sense. I was a healthy 39-year-old mom. I ate right, exercised. Heck, I even flossed. That deserved bonus points.

But cancer is no respecter of persons, I’d learn soon enough. It plows through a life like an unmanned car, destroying individuals, families and dreams without the slightest hesitation.

What followed in the months after that unexpected phone call involved an upheaval that’s still hard to describe. Only those who have endured the unthinkable understand how quickly a life can change. Unending doctor appointments. Countless tests and scans. Major surgery to remove part of my tongue. Long, painful months of recovery.

But the physical trauma was only a fraction of my nightmare. The hardest part was the unanswerable questions:

God, why? Where are You in all of this? Will I ever eat or speak normally again?

Will I live?

By the first day of the conference, I’d shrunk to a fraction of myself. Cancer had zapped my strength. Fear and unknowns had claimed my confidence. I considered canceling. Who was I to talk about peace and faith? I had nothing to offer. Nothing except my broken and battered self.

Intent on keeping my promise, I made my way to the conference venue. But moments after arriving, pain gripped me again.

God, help me!

Grabbing ibuprofen, I headed for the water fountain. That’s when I heard my name.

“Michele, hold on,” a female voice whispered. It was Erika. One of the conference staff. Before I could answer, she grabbed my behind.

Yes. Erika’s hand. On my derrière.

“Excuse me?” I might’ve slapped her. We didn’t know each other that well.

“Hold on a minute.” She maintained her grip. “You lost your skirt.”

What?!

“Your skirt fell. I’m pulling it back up.”

Sure enough, the long chocolate brown skirt I’d meticulously ironed and donned an hour before had dropped well below the tree line. An unfortunate consequence of months of weight loss. In a room filled with conference staff and speakers I wanted to impress, I’d exposed the lesser version of myself.

Isn’t that nice.

Even so, something shifted. What began as my mortification became my salvation. For a lifetime, I’d exhausted myself trying to be “enough,” to deliver the polished and put-together me I believed God and the world demanded.

Then cancer. Fear. A shaken faith. And a skirt malfunction.

That’s when God delivered an unexpected healing. You see, there’s nothing wrong with doing my best. And excellence certainly has its place. But in all my trying I’d missed a beautiful truth: The strength of weakness.

As our key verse of 2 Corinthians 12:10 reminds us, when we are weak, we are strong. Yes, I’d been striving to be good enough, strong enough, pretty enough, faithful enough. But in the process, I’d forgotten Jesus’ offering of relief:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” (Matthew 11:28, NIV).

Rest. Rest.

It’s what this cancer-fighting, failure-feeling mama needed. A grace-loving God big enough to take the pressure off her and put it squarely on Himself.

Turns out it’s what the women at the conference needed, too.

My friends, ministry — of the purest kind — isn’t about impressing others with a flawless life. It’s not about polished presentations, perfect families and always-put-together women.

It’s about daring to expose our hidden imperfections and giving others permission to do the same. Becoming a fellow struggler, faith wrestler and hand-holder who delivers zero judgment but instead offers oceans of presence and grace.

Why? Because we have a God who says we’re enough. Just as we are.

Even when our skirts fall to the floor.

God, heal me of my desperate striving! Help me to believe and rest in the truth that I am enough, because I am Yours. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY: Lamentations 3:22-23, “Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (NIV)