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Life Is Too Short to Clean My House . . . Or Is It?

Life Is Too Short to Clean My House . . . Or Is It?

Some men don’t care if their home is clean or messy. Not my hubby. He grew up with a mom who could challenge anyone to the Heavyweight Cleaning Champion of the World title. Trevor is used to a spotless home (and I really do mean spotless). Mess stresses him out. But his high expectations for a clean house stress me out. Sounds like a killer combination, huh? Yes, I’ve shot lots of heated words his way over this volatile subject. 

The Clean Freak I Married

You know from my first book how for thirty plus years I ached for a pair of strong arms to hold me close. In God’s extravagant kindness, He granted that gift. However, in all those years of pining, I never gave a thought to what might accompany such a gift. 

Turns out, marriage involves more than being adored by a man. With a husband come kids, and that husband and those kids must live in a house, and that house must be cleaned, and those hubby and those kids must be fed and clothed with freshly laundered clothes . . . again and again and again. 

I was not prepared for that kind of service. In one childish-sounding journal entry I spewed, 

“Cleaning is stupid. As soon as you finish, it’s messy again. It’s futile . . . It’s not creative . . . I hate it.”

Truth be told, I thought myself above such dull tasks as dusting and mopping and window washing. After serving in women’s ministry for well over a decade, these sorts of tasks felt like the demotion of the century. 

My Cleaning Conundrum

Now, lest you think him a chauvinist pig, let me clear the record. Trevor does pitch in and help me clean. If it weren’t for him, our fridge, oven, and floors would never get a deep cleaning. But we’ve worked out a deal of sorts. 

See, he’s handy, and I’m not. We have been—and still are—in the middle of a home renovation. So anytime there is something I can do, I try to do it myself rather than asking him for help, in order to free him up for the tasks that only he can accomplish. 

In Search of Answers on Why a Clean Home Matters

There was simply no way around it. I needed to clean, and I didn’t want to hate every minute of it for the rest of my life. I desperately needed some big questions answered. Is there any redeeming value to cleaning? In light of eternity, why does cleaning matter?

By the grace of God, I finally stumbled across the answer in Courtney Reissig’s book, Glory in the Ordinary: Why Your Work in the Home Matters to God.  

First, she showed me how housework is connected to the two greatest commandments of loving God and loving neighbor. My closest neighbors are my husband and kids, and work in the house is for them. This was an “a-ha!” for me:  

“Laundry is for people to wear. Food is for people to be nourished. Clean floors are for people to crawl around on. Dishes are for people to eat off. The people and the physical work of the home are not in competition. They are two sides of the same coin. . . . The physical work of the home exists for the physical people in the home.” 

I was wrecked (in the best kind of way). 

Another paradigm shift I experienced from reading her book is that work is not about my personal fulfillment; it is for the good of my neighbor. How have I missed that for all these years?! I wondered. Courtney quoted Martin Luther more than once in this regard: 

“If you find yourself in a work by which you accomplish something good for God, or the holy, or yourself, but not for your neighbor alone, then you should know that that work is not a good work.” 

Ouch. 

Keep the Whole Law with a Clean Home

Ever since I read these truths, things have been changing in my house and my heart. As long as I keep the big picture in view, I don’t resent the poop stains I have to magically remove from my son’s shorts. I don’t mutter about the smooshed grapes I have to clean off the floor. I don’t cry over the onions I have to chop for supper (well, actually I do, but for a different reason!). 

Life is too short not to love my closest neighbors with a clean house, clean clothes, and food on the table. Do I do it perfectly? Not even close. But I keep working hard at it, because in this small, ordinary way, I can actually fulfill the whole law (Galatians 5:14). 

Thanks to Crossway’s generosity, I’m giving away five copies of Courtney’s book, Glory in the Ordinary. If you think you or someone you know could benefit from reading it, enter here.

Should We Move?

Should We Move?

Should we move? 

A few weeks before, Trevor’s sister had told him about an amazing opportunity with her company. Trevor has lived in Syracuse his whole life; I remember him telling me when we were dating that he had no plans of ever moving.

Still, I encouraged him to interview for the position. A former elder from Missio is co-leading a church in that city, so we would have a place to plug into. Plus, the job would provide a substantial pay increase and growth opportunity for Trevor’s career. “What do you have to lose?” I asked. And so he dusted off his suit and traveled to the interview.   

Weeks passed, and we thought that was that . . . until he received the job offer. We had just one week to decide.

Should We Move?

We both believed we could say yes or no in good conscience. “I feel like I’m in a pinball machine,” Trevor told me. I felt like I was in a pressure cooker.

God could be glorified and we could be devoted to good works in either place. Neither decision was sinful. “It’s not even that one decision would be wiser than another,” one of our elders remarked when we asked for advice. 

We prayed, searched Zillow.com, talked, and both completed an exercise of best and worst-case scenarios if we did or didn’t go. We also sought counsel. Here are a couple helpful pieces of advice/questions we received:

  • The burden of proof lies with the new place. It’s their job to convince you it’s worth all you’d be giving up. If you are divided right down the middle, it doesn’t sound like there’s enough there for you to say yes.
  • Who do you want to do life and ministry with?

“I want you to weigh in,” Trevor told me more than once. It was a good opportunity for me to learn not just to dutifully say, “I’ll go wherever you go,” but to really engage my mind and heart in deciding along with him what would be best for our family. 

As Trevor processed the potential move, he said more than once, “I feel like I’m missing an opportunity if I don’t take it, but leaving family and friends . . . I just don’t know that I can put a number to that.”

The night before he had to give his answer, we sat across the table from each other. “On the count of three,” he said, “show by thumbs up or thumbs down if you want to move. One, two, three.” And both our thumbs pointed down.

Syracuse, We Choose You . . . Again

We felt relief, but also a mixture of sadness the next day. It would have been an adventure, for sure. But there’s something about suddenly being given an opportunity to start over somewhere that shows you just how much you have right where you are.

God has blessed us big time, and unknowingly, we had begun to take this place and these people for granted. But thanks to this difficult decision process, we are recommitting to this place. Syracuse—among the top ten most poverty-stricken cities in the U.S.—is where we want to be a part of giving every man, woman, and child repeated opportunities to see, hear, and respond to the gospel. And the people at Missio church are the ones we want to do this alongside of.

In a world full of pressure to climb up, up, up, I am so grateful for a man who is committed to this cold, needy place. Syracuse, we happily choose you. Again.

How about you? Are you fully engaged where you live, or have you grown lax? Are you taking your influence on the people around you for granted?

In the words of Jim Elliot, “Wherever you are, be all there.”

PS: Through this process, we prayed that God would keep or move us to the place He knew would be most strategic for His kingdom advancement. That appears to be Syracuse. When you think of us, please pray for increased boldness and gospel-success in our neighborhood and city. Thanks so much!

If you enjoyed this post, you might want to check out Should I Move to the City Where My Long-Distance Boyfriend Lives?

So You Want To Write A Book?

So You Want To Write A Book?

I often hear from aspiring writers asking for tips on how to make their dream of becoming a published author come true. Here are three steps I recommend for those whose eyes are set on a writing career.

Explore Your Motivation to Write

Why do you want to write? Why do you want to publish a book? Motivation matters—big time.

In 1 Samuel, we see the Israelites demanding the prophet Samuel to appoint them a king. There was nothing technically wrong with wanting a king (see Deuteronomy 17:14–20 for proof). The problem was why they wanted a king. Here it is, straight from their mouths:

“There shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles” (1 Sam. 8:19–20, emphasis added).

God had a flawless record in fighting their battles for them, but they wanted a king who looked and acted like the kings of the nations around them. This was a direct rejection of God:

And the LORD said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them” (v. 7, emphasis added).

God gave His people the king they wanted, but He warned them through Samuel that the day would come when they would cry out to God for relief from their king. On that day, God would not answer them (see vv. 10–18).

Motivation matters to God. And it should matter to us.

I’d encourage you to take some time to journal through these questions. Ask God to search your heart. Why do I want to become a well-known writer? Why do I want to publish a book? If you find less-than-lovely motives (or more like when you find less-than-lovely motives), confess them to God. Ask Him to cleanse you from sinful desires and to replace your ungodly motives with pure ones.

Write Like You Mean It

If you want to become a writer, you have to write. And write. And write. Dreaming won’t put words on the page.

If you’re anything like me, it’ll take you awhile to figure out what routine fits you. Try different options until you’ve figured out what works best in this season of life.

  • Are you an early riser . . . or could you be? Wake with the roosters, and write at a set time each morning.
  • Do you need a good amount of time to “get into the zone”? Maybe an extended Saturday date at Barnes & Noble would be just your thing. Consider inviting a friend along for accountability and an occasional laugh.

Warning: This will feel like work. Hard work. Because it is. This is why it’s important to know why you’re writing (back to that motivation thing). You’ll need a solid reason to sit down at your laptop again when others are out enjoying the sunshine with friends.

Don’t always choose writing over time with friends, though. You’ll need to read diversely and live well so you actually have deep thoughts to ponder, adventures to write about, questions to answer.

Once you’re into a rhythm of writing regularly, you might want to think about starting a blog (I recommend WordPress), so you can begin to grow an audience and so others can benefit from your words.

Once you’ve mastered the discipline of writing regularly, there’s one more thing to do.

Something Your Profs Won’t Tell You

Bestselling author Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth (author of nearly twenty books, with more than three million copies sold worldwide) never set out to become an author. She was approached by a publisher for her first book when she wasn’t well known. When I first heard that, I thought, Well, that worked for you, but then . . . you’re Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. You’re special!

But then, miracle of miracles, it happened for me, too. Unbeknownst to me, a publisher had been reading my blog, and then they approached me about writing a book. Professors never even tell you that’s a possibility when you’re sitting in Writing 101! They spend all their time warning you that you’ll have to submit countless query letters and will receive scores of rejection letters.

There’s nothing wrong with sending query letters, but I think those writing profs would do well to also remind hopeful students that they live under God’s providence. While we were still unformed, God wrote in one of His books every day that was formed for us (Ps. 139:16). This same God opens doors no one can shut and shuts doors no one can open (Rev. 3:7).

Wait on God

One of the twelve “Cutting-Edge Commitments” of Life Action Ministries (the parent ministry of Revive Our Hearts where I’ve worked for the past eleven years) is faithfulness. They say it like this:

God has not called us to be “successful,” as the world measures success, but to be faithful. It is not our responsibility to promote ourselves or the outward, visible growth of our ministry. If we will take care of the “depth” of our lives, God will take care of the “breadth” of our ministry” (1 Cor. 3:12–14; 4:1–2).

So my counter-cultural advice to you would be rest. Wait. Stay close to Jesus. Be faithful with what God’s entrusted to you, even when it looks like no one is watching, when you don’t know how this could possibly be advancing your own dreams.

Regularly talk to God about your dreams. He will most likely ask you to die to them. But then, He is the resurrection and the life, and I’ve found He will often resurrect dead dreams when you least expect Him to.

How about you? What dream could you begin to work toward today?

As I share in this post to college grads, be patient if it doesn’t happen right away. Trust God and know that He doesn’t waste anything; He is still writing your story. True contentment is found in Him; not in a dream job.

Pursue your dream job (as long as you don’t have to sin to do your job), and trust God to open and close doors in His perfect, infinite wisdom.

So You Want to Write a Book? was originally published on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. 

Do More Better: A Productivity Tool That Could Revolutionize Your Life

Do More Better: A Productivity Tool That Could Revolutionize Your Life

I can’t stop talking about it everywhere I go. Tim Challies’ book, Do More Better has revolutionized my life.

It’s a slim little book, which is probably why it’s the first book on productivity I’ve actually read cover to cover. Not only that, it’s such a practical book that I’ve been able to implement most of what I’ve read along the way! And oh, how drastically I needed someone to come alongside me and help me figure out how to change . . .

For years, I left untold emails unanswered. I have also been guilty of failing to return voicemail messages and asking for grace when returning a purchase a few days after the thirty- or sixty- or ninety-day return policy had ended. Piles around the house have remain untouched; great ideas of doing good for others have remained just that . . . ideas.

I have worked frantically, moving from one incomplete project to the next, attempting to keep my world from crashing down around me. As a result, I have not loved people well, I have not enjoyed life, and I have been a slave to work without ever feeling like I was getting anywhere.

This book has and is changing all that, though. When I read the true measure of productivity, I was stunned at its simplicity. I wrote in the margin, Could it really be this simple, God?

What Productivity Really Is

Productivity is not about crossing every task off our to-do list. It is about organizing our lives so that “you can do the maximum good for others and thus bring the maximum glory to God.” Matthew 5:16 summarizes this well:

“Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Tim Challies writes, “Your primary pursuit in productivity is not doing more things, but doing more good.”

He then pointed out the “productivity thieves”: laziness and busyness. If you’re like me, you’ve come to normalize and even spiritualize busyness. But Challies puts an end to that with this enlightening paragraph:

Busyness cannot be confused with diligence. It cannot be confused with faithfulness or fruitfulness. Busyness does not mean you are a faithful or fruitful Christian. It only means you are busy, just like everyone else. Busyness . . . probably just means that you are directing too little attention in too many directions, that you are prioritizing all the wrong things, and that your productivity is suffering.

Ouch! But it got worse. He went on to diagnose my condition perfectly. I have been “Busylazy”: I put tasks off until I absolutely can’t avoid them any longer, and then I work like crazy to meet the deadline.

Getting Practical

With that foundation, Tim led me through some super practical exercises:

In chapter 3, he showed me how to define my areas of responsibility and then fill in the roles, tasks, or projects that fall under each.

In chapter 4 he encouraged me to define my mission. In his words:

You haven’t begun to live a focused and productive life until you have said no to great opportunities that just do not fit your mission.

In chapter 5 he taught me a basic organization tool: “A home for everything, and like goes with like,” and he recommended a task management tool, a scheduling tool, and an information tool. Because . . .

Appointments always need to go where appointments go, information always needs to go where information goes, and tasks always need to go where tasks go.

In chapters 6–8 he honed in on each of these areas:

  • collect your tasks
  • plan your calendar
  • gather your information.

In chapter 9 he encouraged me to “live the system.” He writes:

Your day needs to have two phases: planning and execution. . . . While planning does not need to take much time, it is very important, and when done right, will dramatically increase what you are able to accomplish throughout the rest of the day.

And then in the final chapter he emphasized the importance of maintaining the system consistently. “Nothing in this world coasts toward order,” he writes. “You need to free yourself from thinking that organizing your life is a one-shot deal.”

Ever since, I’ve scheduled a “daily review” first thing each morning (Tim outlines how to do this in chapter 9), and I’m starting up weekly reviews each Friday as he recommends.

He closed the book with two bonus sections that were perfect for me. The first, “tame your email,” taught me to start at the top of my inbox and take action on each email before moving on to the next:

  • trash it
  • archive it
  • reply to it
  • or move it to my reply folder.

And then his final bonus section included twenty tips to increase my productivity. A few I especially appreciated:

  • Stop multitasking. Whenever possible choose a task, take it to completion, and then move on to the next one.
  • Move around. Sometimes a change of scenery is as good as time off.
  • Learn to delegate. What you do poorly someone else may be able to do with excellence.
  • Don’t send unnecessary email. Send sparingly, and you will receive sparingly.

It’s For Us All

With all this talk of email, you may think this book is just for someone with an 8:30–5 desk job, but it’s not. I believe this book will be revolutionary for the student, the housewife, the women’s ministry leader . . . for you.

That’s why I’m so grateful Tim has agreed to give away three copies. If you think you, too, could use some help thinking about productivity biblically and practically, log on to the giveaway widget over at ReviveOurHearts.com for a chance to win one of three copies of Do More Better.

Do More Better: A Productivity Tool That Could Revolutionize Your Life was originally published on ReviveOurHearts.com

Dear College Grad . . .

Dear College Grad . . .

Dear College Grad,

Congrats! You’ve worked so hard, and now commencement is over. I was cheering big as you walked across the stage, and I’m praying for you as you make this transition out of college. I remember well the conflicting emotions: mourning all the goodbyes, anticipating all the adventures just ahead.

Speaking of adventures just ahead . . . let’s talk about that, because if your experience is anything like mine, reality won’t quite meet your expectations.

Let’s Talk About . . . Your Friends

Your circle of peers is likely going to decrease. Significantly. You’ll no longer have a built-in community to play intramural basketball or to go out with for ice cream.

You’ll need to work to find new friends. You might look right past them at first, because some will be older than you, others younger, and most not much like you at all. And while that might not feel okay, it really is. They have a lot to offer you, and you have a lot to offer them. Befriend newly-married couples. Befriend preteens. Befriend families with kids. Befriend senior citizens.

Let’s Talk About . . . Your Local Church

Where can you find all these new friends? The best place to look is at a local, Christ-centered, Bible-teaching church. Of course, that’s not the only reason you’re attending, but as you spend time with these brothers and sisters in Christ week after week—hopefully in smaller settings throughout the week
as well as in corporate worship on Sundays—you will begin to feel and receive true affection for and from them.

Let’s Talk About . . . Your Relationship with God

It’s not enough to just hear about God. You need to hear from God through His Word.

Attending a local church is important, but it’s not your only connection to God. And while the Christian life is not meant to be an individual affair, it is deeply personal. It’s not enough to just hear about God. You need to hear from God through His Word, as that’s the way He’s chosen to reveal more about
His character.

  • Are you aware of and in tune with His presence as you go about your day?
  • Are you regularly spending time studying His Word?
  • Are you talking to Him about everything, as He is your Father, your Counselor, your Lord, and your Shepherd?
  • Are you praising Him with songs—even if you have a terrible voice or you’re feeling depressed? (That’s the best time to sing, actually!)

Let’s Talk About . . . Your Career

It’s rare that you’ll get your dream job right out of college. Don’t be discouraged if your first job seems . . . beneath you. Mine sure felt like that. But I had a ton to learn about blessing my employer rather than making a name for myself.

Learn, learn, learn. Grow, grow, grow. Give more than you take.

So be patient. It’s not likely that your first job will end up being your lifelong career. Learn, learn, learn. Grow, grow, grow. Give more than you take.

Trust God and know that a) He doesn’t waste anything, b) He is still writing your story, and c) He is where satisfaction is found. True contentment is found in Him, not in a dream job.

Let’s Talk About . . . Your Ultimate Purpose

True happiness and peace come from knowing, enjoying, and seeking to make much of Him, not much of ourselves.

Life is not about us; it’s all about God. They won’t tell you this in your business classes, but that doesn’t make it any less true. We were created by God and for Him. True happiness and peace come from knowing, enjoying, and seeking to make much of Him, not much of ourselves.

I’d love to hear back from you. What are your expectations for friends? Do you plan to commit to a local church? What’s your plan for pursuing God daily? What are your career dreams? And what do you consider to be your ultimate purpose?

Rooting for you,

Paula

Dear College Grad was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. 

Is It Wrong to Want to Make Lots of Money?

Is It Wrong to Want to Make Lots of Money?

A soon-to-be-graduate asked:  “I really want a career that not only glorifies God but also gives me financial security. Am I wrong?”

I think the answer depends on two things:

1)   her definition of financial security, and

2)   her motivation for wanting financial security.

By “financially secure,” does she mean that she will have enough to cover her expenses and bless others in need? Because that’s wise. We know from God’s Word:

It is important to work hard and earn your own living so you won’t be a burden to others.

“We hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living” (2 Thess. 3:11–12).

We are to honor God with our money.

“Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine” (Prov. 3:9–10, emphasis added).

It is good to have enough money to share with others.

“Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need” (Eph. 4:28, emphasis added).

We should be prepared to provide for our close relatives if necessary. (FYI, the context of the following verse is caring for widows in your family.)

“If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5:8).

So if by “financially secure,” this girl means she will have enough to cover her expenses and bless others in need, that’s wonderful!

But I don’t know her heart. She could be asking, “Is it wrong to want enough money so I can have a closet full of expensive clothes and drive a fancy convertible into the garage of my luxury home?”

Is she wanting to never have any financial needs that she might have to trust God to meet? If this is the case, God’s Word warns:

Riches are anything but secure; they are uncertain.

“As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy” (1 Tim. 6:17).

Riches are deceitful and can choke out God’s Word.  

“They . . . hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful” (Mark 4:18–19).

If you trust in riches, it’ll trip you up.

“Whoever trusts in his riches will fallbut the righteous will flourish like a green leaf” (Prov. 11:28, emphasis added).

Trusting in God, who cannot be moved, is so much more secure than trusting in riches that can be stolen or decrease in value.

There are temptations that come with both poverty and riches.

“Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the LORD?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God” (Prov. 30:89).

What a great prayer to pray! Will you pray it with me?

“Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me.”

So what does this mean as you search for a career? Ask yourself:

Would this amount of money allow me . . .

  • To honor God first?
  • Not to be a burden to others?
  • The freedom to share with those in need?

If so, it’s enough money.

How about you? How much money do you hope to make in your future career, and what’s your motivation?

Is It Wrong to Want to Make Lots of Money? was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. 

How to Know God’s Will For Your Career

How to Know God’s Will For Your Career

Do you struggle to know God’s will for your career? If so, here are a few thoughts for you as you face this overwhelming decision.

How to Know God’s Will For Your Career: (You Decide!) 

First, a little history; We live in a unique time. Choices abound: Ministry or military service? Dive into a job directly out of high school or attend college? Major in film, business, engineering, or teaching? 

It was not always so.

“During Bible times,” Gary Friesen writes in Decision Making and the Will of God, “Sons usually took up the occupations of their fathers . . . daughters became wives. Asking a young Israelite if he had discovered God’s will for his life’s work would probably elicit a blank stare.”

Yet often Christians believe they need to discover God’s specific will for exactly what kind of work they do.

It doesn’t work that way.

Scripture shows God is not concerned with what career you choose (unless, of course, it’s in direct disobedience to His revealed will in Scripture, such as prostitution). God cares about how you do your work.

How to Know God’s Will For Your Career: (Represent Him Well)

As Gary Friesen shares in his book, your work should be characterized by:

As you seek to represent God, it’s important to:

  • Work diligently, even when no one is watching, knowing your ultimate superior is the Lord (Col. 3:23).
  • Regard your employer as worthy of all honor (1 Tim. 6:1) and show respect even to unreasonable supervisors (1 Peter 2:18).
  • Not take advantage of an employer who is also a believer, but serve him or her all the more out of love (1 Tim. 6:2).

Don’t fret when you don’t hear God whisper, “Work in the fashion industry,” or “Enroll in Bible college.” Instead, listen to His clear voice through Scripture and practice representing Him well right where you are. How can you glorify God and love others with the gifts He has given you today?

I’d love to hear from you. What thoughts or questions do you have after reading this post? And what specific step will you take today to glorify God in the way you work?

A Few Final Notes

How God Is Using One Woman to Reach Brazil

How God Is Using One Woman to Reach Brazil

This woman hosted me when I spoke at a school in Brazil last month. She prays. Oh how she prays! And the things God does through her prayers . . . here’s just a tiny peek at how He’s on the move as a result of her persistent asking and believing. Teach me to pray and trust like that, Lord!

In 2012, after completing the True Woman 101 study with three other women, Cindy Rast—a missionary in Brazil—just knew Brazilian women needed to hear this message. For months she thought about how to spread it to women in Brazil, but she always came back to, What can I do?

Still, she continued to lead group after group of women through True Woman 101—American women, Brazilian women; older women, younger women; divorced women, married women, single women—and she saw the same results over and over. Women were starving for this truth.

This message is in all of Latin America except for Brazil! “God, what do You want? I don’t have anything to offer.”

“We’ve let the world define us for so long, but when you look at the Word and see your Creator’s design, there’s something so affirming and beautiful,” she told me. “It’s not just someone’s nice idea. It’s what the Creator is saying! There’s the power.”

One day in December 2013, as Cindy was sitting down to lunch, she turned on Revive Our Hearts and heard Laura Gonzalez de Chavez sharing how God made her dream of starting Revive Our Hearts in Spanish a reality. As Cindy listened she thought, This message is in all of Latin America except for Brazil! She got on her knees, weeping, and cried out, “God, what do You want? I don’t have anything to offer.”

But then God began to bring to mind her connections . . . at TransWorld Radio, at the audio-visual company where her father-in-law serves as president, and more. So with trembling fingers, Cindy picked up the phone and left a message at Revive Our Hearts, sharing her passion. They’re going to think I’m a crazy lady! she thought.

When she hung up with Revive Our Hearts, she contacted Shedd Publishing and told them how much True Woman 101 had transformed her life. They don’t usually publish Bible studies, so they had no idea how consumers would respond. But after thinking about it for several months, in April 2014 they agreed to publish the workbook in Portuguese.

Cindy then went to work raising money to also publish the True Woman conference video messages into Portuguese.

“The Lord has done everything,” Cindy told me. “You wouldn’t know it, but I’m a high-functioning introvert. He’s impressed on me, ‘You be obedient, and I’ll do the work.’ It’s like this gear that has been greased so well and moves without any difficulty!”

Cindy believes the Lord will raise up a team of Brazilian women who are passionate about spreading this message. “I’m just the little match that’s striking the flame,” she told me.

Burn on, Lord, until every woman in Brazil has a chance to hear Your beautiful design for her life!

How God Is Using One Woman to Reach Brazil was originally posted on TrueWoman.com.

The Myth of My Strength

The Myth of My Strength

Do you think of yourself as a strong or a weak woman?

Personally, I’ve counted myself a strong one.

I was the girl who ran around flexing her biceps, challenging boys to arm-wrestling matches, and re-arranging my heavy bedroom furniture all by myself.

I was the young woman who had a scheduled activity on her calendar every night of the week. I was the woman who wrote a book on the side while continuing to work full-time. I was the woman who always, always pushed through.

But then last month I had an Isaiah 40:30 fall,

“Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted.”

My doctor said I was strong to have made it as long as I did.

I wasn’t so sure.

God, do You think of me as weak or strong? And how should I think of myself?

Taking Cues from a “Strong” Man and a “Weak” Man

I went to God’s Word for answers, starting with the strongest man I could think of: Samson. You know the beast—tearing a roaring lion to pieces with his bare hands, striking down 1,000 enemies with a donkey’s jawbone, pushing down a house killing 3,000 party-goers.

Here’s the surprising pattern I found. Just before Samson displays great strength, this is what happens just before:

“The Spirit of the LORD rushed upon him” (Judg. 14:6).

“The Spirit of the LORD rushed upon him” (Judg. 14:19).

“The Spirit of the LORD rushed upon him” (Judg. 15:14).

It was always God’s strength Samson displayed; never his own. God is the strong One. Even Samson was weak apart from God.

Then I re-read the familiar story of David and Goliath. Anyone observing the battle scene that day would’ve put their money on the intimidating war champion Goliath, not the young, inexperienced David. Goliath had complete confidence in his strength; David had complete confidence in his living God. And at the end of the short fight, David was the unlikely victor.

I Am Weak, but He Is Strong

Funny how many times I’ve gotten it mixed up. I’ve considered myself strong and believed God to be weak. Nothing could be further from the truth:

“Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable” (Isa. 40:28, emphasis added).

God’s strength will never, ever give out.

Me on the other hand, I’m weak. My strength is finite.

What freedom that realization brings.

Strength comes when we first own up to our own weakness. (That’s ’cause we don’t rely on God when we consider ourselves strong.) But in our weakness, as we depend on our strong God, His strength flows through to us. Catch Paul’s personal testimony of this:

“We were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again” (2 Cor. 1:8–10).

And then there’s my favorite passage from this past month,

“He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint” (Isa. 40:29–31).

How is this strength-for-weakness exchange possible?

Strong Made Weak; Weak Made Strong

It’s all because the Strong One was made weak so we, the weak, could be made strong.

Check out this baffling verse:

“The foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Cor. 1:25, emphasis added).

The weakness of God? But God isn’t weak!

Study the context, and you’ll see this verse refers to the cross. The world judges Jesus weak and pathetic, hanging there exposed and bleeding. “Weakness,” they spit.

But to us who are being saved, we gaze at the cross and celebrate. “Strength!” we shout.

God refuses to save Himself so He might save us. The Strong One is made weak so we, the weak, can be made strong.

What weakness can you boast about today? How might God want to showcase His strength through your particular weakness?

Don’t get it mixed up like I did.

I am weak, but He is strong.

The Myth of My Strength” was originally posted on TrueWoman.com.