How to Turn Your Weaknesses into Strengths

I am currently doing a study with my women’s Sabbath school class called “Stuck” by Jennie Allen. This morning’s exercise was awesome so I want to take you through a part of it with me. We’re going to write a comparison list. Did I just lose anyone? It’ll be quick and powerful, I promise.

First, take a few minutes to write down the areas of your life that you feel you really succeed in, those things in your day or week that you do well and don’t worry much about.

Next, I want you to list the areas of your life that you feel unsure of. The things that trip you up, make you anxious or insecure.


Did you do it?

Seriously, do it. Use your phone notepad or scribble it on the back of a bill envelope.


If you are like me, the list of insecurities lengthened making me want to add “this list” to it! I realized how much I needed God to help me with.

Then I was led to 2 Corinthians 12:10.

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Consider, “How could this verse transform your view of your weaknesses? (31)”

The very list that freaked me out, full of insecurities, is the very thing that can make me strong. These weaknesses can be my strengths because I have to turn to God for each one. Which basically means I need to constantly turn to Him.

Perfect, because that is the life I want! One of constant focus on Him.

How great it is that I have so many failings! So many reminders of my need of Him. So many opportunities for Him to carry me, uplift me, save me. So many chances to see Him work in my life and through me.

These failings really are strengths.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.” Romans 8:5

A picture came into my head of life lived according to the flesh. Now, keep in mind that doodling is not my forte but I think the essence comes through my stick-figures 🙂

A life lived according to the flesh is one of constant strain, weighted down, looking only where we are going. Focused on insecurities, burdens, and failures.

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I think we all know that once we surrender to God we do not automatically become perfect. So I visualized:

A life lived according to the Spirit as one where those weaknesses and insecurities are carried by Him.

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We become lighter. We can move and dance and sing looking up to Him because the burdens are lifted for us. And any time one of those insecurities is pulled back into our hands, the weight is felt immediately reminding us to give it back to Him.

Has your perspective changed like mine has? I am looking forward the day ahead of me and even to my weaknesses reminding me to look to Him.

If any of you are interested in this “Stuck” group study, check out Jennie’s website.

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How An Old School Word Study Got Me All Emotional

Word study does not bring to mind riveting visions of quality time with Jesus. It sounds, well unless you love information and study, boring. I understand that…even though I happen love learning and studying! Buuuut for those of you who don’t, I want to unveil a recent study I did that brought me to tears as I understood God in a much fuller way.

Reading in Psalm 145 one morning, the Holy Spirit caused me to pause over the following verse:

The Lord is good to all,

And His tender mercies are over all His works. (vs 9)

Nothing about the verse really connected with my heart. I felt like it should because it was all about His goodness to us, but it didn’t. I wondered what ‘tender mercy’ really was and I hoped that by looking up the root word and it’s meaning, I might be able to move this verse from my head to my heart.

Using blueletterbible.com like I showed in my post called “Where to Start,” I found two definitions. Womb and compassion, which I found very strange until I came across the following:

“compassion (in the plural); by extension, the womb (as cherishing the fetus)

I immediately pictured a pregnant woman absently rubbing and holding her stomach while in conversation with someone or waiting in line at the grocery store. There is this sort of…constant awareness of the tiny life growing inside of her. A gentleness, protectiveness, and responsibility.

“His tender mercies are over all His works.”

Kinda gives a new picture to that phrase doesn’t it?

God took me a bit further and reminded me of the moment that I saw my first nephew. Our whole family had overtaken the waiting room much to the nurses frustration. Our family is big. And loud. And we were excited to say the least.

When the moment came and we were let into the room to see him, he was snuggled into my sister-in-laws arms and started to cry. She leaned down, nose touching his, and gently soothed him with “shhh, shhh. It’s ok.” He whimpered and opened his eyes looking at her, recognizing his momma.

Needless to say, I was crying as I watched. But even now as I think about God caring for us as a mom does her baby. Talking to us, soothing us. And when we look up, we know Him. We know His voice. We know His strong arms. We know we are safe and loved.

All that from a simple word study. Well, that and a whole lot of the Holy Spirit leading.

May His love and leading move you to happy, loved tears.

Where do I start?

So you sit down, coffee steams beside you. Gently opening your Bible, you scan the delicate pages. So many words! You are suddenly overwhelmed with where do I start?

I have a small group of teenage girls that I have to my house once a week. The group has been going for 4 years now, though the faces have changed. Last week I led them to a passage to begin our study. It was inspired by my personal study that morning and one of the girls asked,

How did you pick that text to read? How do you know where to start or what to study?

Huh. Good questions.

I believe with my whole heart that when you intentionally sit down to meet with Jesus, He is ready to lead you. So always begin with a simple prayer asking for Him to join you and lead the time. I picture Him sitting down beside me, ready to go. Sometimes I feel like we chat back and forth for a few minutes…is that crazy? I don’t think so. He’s seriously like my best friend. My invisible Friend…uh, yeah, I’m not crazy.

I believe God had prepared me for those questions that night because I had literally just gone through this process myself.

How did I choose? I admitted sheepishly that I simply looked through my Bible for a page that had no highlights or pencil markings and started there. They laughed and one said, “I don’t think that’s a good strategy.”

But my reasons had her agreeing with me. When I have markings, highlights, and notes it shows me that I have spent time in that story or passage. If it’s empty, it means I’m not familiar with it. One of my goals is to have every page of the Bible marked in some way. It shows my time with Him, it illustrates the lessons He’s taught me, it gives an idea of the time that has been spent learning and sitting at His feet.

So what are some other ways to choose where to start when you open the Bible?

There’s always the “close your eyes and open randomly” method. As far as choosing a text/story, I truly believe there is no right or wrong choice. But what are some intentional ways to start your study?

Here are some questions to ask yourself as you begin:

  1. What am I struggling with lately?
    1. Do I need patience?
    2. Strength?
    3. Stress?
    4. Forgiveness of someone who really hurt me?
    5. Debt?
  2. What interests me?
    1. Stories?
    2. Poems?
    3. Personal help for daily life?
  3. What do I want to know more about?
    1. Prophecy?
    2. Jesus life?
    3. Marriage and dating?
    4. Parenting?
  4. What is something someone has asked me about and I had no idea how to answer?
    1. Where do you go when you die?
    2. How do you know you are saved?

What now?

Let’s say you are stressed and feel like each day is just piling up more and more and you don’t think you can take it any more! (I have no idea what that is like heh heh)

If you have a concordance in your Bible, just skim to the end and look up words related to that like: stress, anxiety, anxious, etc. Or even what you wish you were/had instead: peace, calm, rest, relax, etc. Skim through the texts given until you find one that you feel like digging deeper into.

Another method is to google “Bible verses about stress” or “What does the Bible say about stress?” I know, too easy, but I seriously use google a lot as a reference/idea tool. It’s just a quick way to find what I want to get into. I don’t get caught up in all the articles and stuff, mainly just looking for texts and getting right back to the Bible.

As the links show up, I scroll through them until one catches my eye. Like this one:

From Skitch

After clicking on the link, I scroll through to see if any of the 5 texts “speak” to me and grab my interest. Ironically the first mentioned is one of my favorites: Matthew 6:27-27.

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”

Sometimes I have to look at a couple ideas before I find one that stands out to me. That’s okay.

No right or wrong way. Let Jesus lead you.

I have dozens of ways that God has led me to my daily study but this is the easiest and most consistent. Some day I’ll share other ideas and link them here, for now, I pray your time with Him explodes with joy and excitement as you explore His messages to you.

A post about expecting God to show up

“A striking feature of worship in the Bible is that people gathered in what we could only call a “holy expectancy.” They believed they would actually hear the Kol Yahweh, the voice of God…It was not surprising to them that the building in which they met shook with the power of God (161).” The Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster.

Do you have that same expectancy when you go to church? How about when you sit down with your Bible to have devotions? When you pray?

My daily time with God has been consistent for years. I have seen what a day is like for me when I don’t consciously begin with Him and it isn’t pretty. I need him. I have felt his presence. I know His voice and we have a familiarity, a unique relationship that has been built up over time.

But in the last year or so, I have struggled to feel Him. Something has been different and the enemy has used it to attack my heart and mind. Have I done something wrong? Am I living outside of His will? Is He testing me?

“Those who have once tasted the shekinah of God in daily experience can never again live satisfied without “the practice of the presence of God (Foster).””

Yesterday I came across a new devotional in YouVersion Bible App called “Here As In Heaven.” I believe it is supposed to go with a worship album that was released through the Elevation Church. I’m not sure if the devotional guide is written by the pastor, Steven Furtick, or someone else but this stood out to me from Day 1’s entry.

We live under an open heaven. If we open our hearts by faith to receive it, God will fill us with His love and allow His miracle-working power to overflow into every area of our lives.

As the Spirit pulled together all these details: my struggle with feeling close to Him, coming across this “holy expectancy” and then this, “open heaven” concept, I felt a change coming. God is not one to hold back. He is passionate, expressive, jealous, and all these other strong emotions. He is not aloof. And everything leads me to believe He would NEVER miss a chance to spend time with one of His kids.

This morning as I sat down to worship, I focused on that. I sat at my desk, set down my cup of coffee, opened my Bible and journal, and focused my thoughts on God being with me, excited even to share space with me. I cast doubt away and expected Him to join me.

And He did.

Whether you are a seasoned devotional-er (made it up myself), or just getting started here’s a tip:

Close your eyes before you begin, shut out distractions, and visualize God being with you. Because He is. Every. Time. Smiling most likely.


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Dip into the Word:

Scripture: 1 Kings 18:17-39 Elijah and Mount Carmel

Observe and get in there: Write down all your observations within the texts. Anything that stands out to you. Any questions that pop into your mind.

Something that helps me is to put yourself into the story. Read through it as if you are one of the people witnessing this demonstration. What are you thinking? What do you hear those around you whispering?

Read it again, now picture yourself as one of the Baal prophets or even Ahab himself.

Read it a third time, this time imagine you are Elijah. Are you scared? Worried? Confident? What does the text say to give you insight into what Elijah experienced?

Apply: I obviously think that this is personal and I recommend taking a moment to just pray and allow God to share with your heart the message that He has for you within this story and text.

But if you still need a little prompting,  what are you going through in your life that is your Mount Carmel? Is there a situation where you waiting for God to show up? To act on your behalf? To reveal Himself in a powerful way or maybe even in a simple way so that you know He is real?

My application:

God will show up for me.

Pray: God, I pray that You would grow my confidence in You. Remind me that You show up especially in the times where I sit down to spend time with you. Those “dates” are just as special, if not more so, to You as they are to me. Don’t let Satan steal that confidence from me.  And for those who might read this, build them up as they learn to hear Your voice. Help them to know Your presence for themselves because it is the most amazing thing I have ever come to know. I love it!

My heart is yours,

Amen

Be brave

Tonight I heard a young lady share her journey from split family in Mexico, to abuse, to being unwanted and forgotten, to filling voids with boys, to finding a church and a family that loves and adopted her. Too full of pain for 17 short years of life but her main message was how God led, protected her, and blessed her with a family that loves and cares for her.

How incredibly brave of her to share this story in front of her peers, many of whom have suffered or are suffering similar stories. How brave to get up there knowing how so many judge and ridicule but willing to put it all out there in hopes that a couple would hear, really hear about the love of God and the power He has to save.

I was completely blessed. As I thought of how to close the meeting after she finished speaking, I prayed silently that I wouldn’t say anything cliche or weak to distract from her story. I felt God speak through me as I encouraged the girls to share their hurts and struggles, to give hope to each other by sharing God’s blessings through the stories. I prayed that they would remember that even in the low times, that many of them are currently in, God provides.

Hang tight! Be strong and very courageous because this God we serve? He pulls through.

Musings over marriage quote

“Don’t be a wife with all the answers. Listen, be patient, don’t push him to open up about problems because he might be trying to hide failures.”

This morning I came across a quote I had copied down out of a marriage book. Of course I didn’t write down a full bibliography like this was College Writing 101. So I only have the author (Pelt) and the page number (33).

I am newly married, only 3 1/2 years in. You can tell it’s early in that I added that 1/2 year as if it will give me some more credibility. Like a young kid saying, “I’m 6 and 3/4” as if that 3/4 of a year puts them on the brink of adulthood and maturity.

Lawren & Ronny Wedding reception-137

If we were going to liken marriage to a new home, Ronny and I are still at the stages where we are exploring.

Oh look, didn’t see that closet there before.

Uh oh, when it rains that window leaks.

How do I keep bumping my head on that low ceiling!

Point being, we’re new. Newlyweds. Not sure how long we can claim that title but I still am. So I am still learning.

One of my biggest struggles is getting my man to open up. I poke and prod, plead and cry, to no avail. So I needed to read that quote again today. I needed to remember to give him space and time. If there is something he wants to share, he will. If there is something he needs to share, it will be all the better if he is in control of the when and where of being vulnerable. The same author also wrote, “A man will respond to a woman he trusts” which reminds me of Proverbs 31:11, “The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain.”

So here’s to (raising my cup of morning brew) being the woman who my husband can trust and keeping my mouth shut!