Let’s Be Real – The Benefit of Weakness and Vulnerability

Romans 8:26 contains some of the most encouraging words in Scripture for many people. The verse touches on two very difficult problems in the human heart:

1) We are weak

2)We are sometimes so weak, we can not even pray.

Weakness as a church worker or the spouse of a church worker can be difficult to handle, even for the most “real” of people. Sometimes we feel pressure to keep it together, to be strong for others, or to power through even when we feel weak. The reality is that these verses apply to us also. What are your weaknesses? How does God want to shine through them? Can we let Him? Perhaps these weaknesses, whether in character, or skill, or struggle, help us cling to God and His Spirit in a way we wouldn’t without them. Our people see this, our families see this, and God is glorified.
What about the groanings? The Spirit stands in our stead, crying out to God. Mere words do not suffice sometimes. This also leads us and others to look beyond. This place without words, when we can not reach in our deepest part and come up with something to say, to others or to God, allows God’s strength and not our own to shine through. It causes us and others to look beyond this earthly life, waiting, longing for something more, something better. And isn’t that our work, anyway, to be mere vehicles of God’s Spirit, whether in evident power or by groanings in struggle.
Sometimes we are called to be a Joshua, ready for battle. God’s strength in us, appears just like that- strength, full and brave. At other times, God asks us to be Moses, arms obviously tired and worn, being held up by the Spirit and those around us. 
Identify a time in your life when God worked through the struggle to show you or others Himself and His Spirit. Do you lend toward covering your weaknesses or being transparent with your family and church so they can see through you to God? May God fill you will His Spirit in times of strength and times of weakness. His Spirit never lets go.

Defying Shame


It’s often described as a blanket. It kind of wraps around you. The devil fools you thinking it’s comfortable, it’s where you belong.

We experience shame in any number of things. Our past haunts us, our marriages feel like they’re failing, we never measure up. Sometimes we put shame on ourselves. The guilt sits long enough and we don’t even notice it’s there. The devil tricks us into believing that it’s part of who we are, what we deserve. That it may be, what we deserve. But that’s not grace and it’s not the way we were intended to live.

Shame is all around us. It’s so much a part of our culture that we normalize it. We judge ourselves in accordance with what the person next to us is doing. We’re either “not as bad as all that” or “I’ll never measure up to that.” We turn on the tv and judge our bodies based on false images, and feel the shame creep in. We hide our whole selves, only letting pieces out, because we know that judgement eventually looms with each person we meet.

Shame is at its worst when it comes from a brother. How often do we give someone the benefit of the doubt? How often do we fail to see the story behind the pain? People everywhere are afraid to walk into churches (including Jesus-loving, church girls…even pastor’s wives), because shame waits.

Half of it is a lie of the devil, and half of it is a lie of our culture.

Church isn’t for looking a certain way or getting it together so we can meet with God. Church is for the abused and the abuser. Church is for the faith-filled and the faithless. Church is for the hurting and those who have hurt.

It’s time to throw off the shame.

It’s time to defy it.

As a person, as a church, as a culture.

As a woman, I have particular battles with shame I can name and by naming, I can begin to take some power from it. I don’t feel beautiful enough, smart enough, good enough, or just plain enough. So, I get up each morning and defy shame. You are not a part of me, shame. You are not invited to this party. Christ promises me in John 8 and Romans 8 that he doesn’t condemn me and who else should? No one. I’m throwing off the blanket and letting my whole self out. I’ll mess up, as I have in the past. I’ll say words that should have been more careful, but relationships will be healed because I will be real. I’m not enough, but Christ in me is.

He looks on me and I am radiant. He tells me I will never be in shame.

I’m going to believe His promises, place them on repeat and believe them again.

Those who look to Him are radiant; and their faces are never covered in shame. Psalm 34:5

* This is my good friend, Erin. Who lovingly reminds me everyday that shame has no place in my life. We all need an Erin.

The day autism came to our house

My sweet Zeke. Precious child of God. He was born 3 weeks early on a brisk night in October. I didn’t bother to tell my husband I was in labor until midnight because I didn’t think it was real.

And then he was here. 5 lbs, 1 oz. of wriggly tiny old-man-soul cuteness.

Zeke was precious, and had lots of needs. He never slept well, he never ate great, he used his swing until he was 18 months old. He had RSV, pneumonia, and then RSV again…He hated birds chirping and could do without people most days. He didn’t really talk until he started occupational therapy at age 2.

But oh, the sweetness. When he’s happy, you can’t even imagine how happy. He regales us with his funny matter-of-fact stories, he loves lions and Papa and skipped the Duplo stage and went straight to engineering Legos early on.

I always had this deep fear of autism as a young parent. My generation is probably the one made fully aware of autism from the first moment of parenting. I got the message loud and clear that it was painful, difficult, unknown, and a struggle. I thought that with it my child wouldn’t touch me, laugh with me, look at me. I had built misconceptions all up in my mind that fed a fear leaving me praying- “anything but that, Lord. Anything but that…”

And then it came to our house.

By the time Zeke was diagnosed with Spectrum (Zeke’s form is what they formerly used to call Aspberger’s), I felt freed by it. Here was my beautiful child, a gift from above, with all his quirks, precious to me.It wasn’t anything like I feared. God gave him to me as a gift. What Satan tormented me with in fear, God makes beautiful daily. With Zeke’s diagnosis I can begin to help people understand him and his way of processing the world.

I deeply believe Zeke’s way of seeing the world can teach us so much, if we only take the time to see it.

Isn’t that the way God is. He takes the very thing we feared, the very thing that poked at us and crumpled our hearts, and uses them to take fear from us, to wash the anxiety and build our trust in Him.

God is using Zeke’s testimony already. God has a plan and a purpose, not only for Zeke, but for autistic Zeke, for Zeke’s challenges and his gifts.

Our church is a different place with a little boy who can’t sit in a pew, but prefers to lay in the aisle. Our church is a different place because getting a “hi” from Zeke is something special and you have to work for it a bit. It’s difficult some days, but I’m reminded that other kids and other parents can be encouraged in knowing we all struggle in the world. Zeke’s struggle simply now has a name.

May our churches flourish with these little gifts. Gifts that remind us that God made us all a little bit different, and what God made is always good. May we lift up the differences, celebrate them, and love them in a way that shouts to the world- This is Christ, alive and well, people!

…through a little boy…praising the Lord, in His own way.

Do you have a child who shouts praises to the Lord in his or her own way? I’d love to hear your story.