24 Feb 2014

What you think you’re not good at is *only* half the story

“You’re just no good at that.”

There’s a voice that tells me this often.



It’s funny how it doesn’t matter what I’m doing. I can be cooking or organizing the pantry or picking out new curtains or working on a piece of writing or figuring out how to fund a kitchen for a community center in South Africa or trying to remember to read the Bible to my kids or planning a book release.

That voice slides into my ear and just says the same thing it always says with the same confidence, “You’re just no good at that.”

I’m a grown woman with three children, a career that matters to me and a blog where I get to share my ups and downs with women who are strong, and funny, and wise, and also in the raw places of raising kids. And many, many times I believe that voice.



I hear it and it sinks in and I feel tired and the venom travels down my veins and makes me want to just give up. Why bother with writing or figuring out ways to make sense of my kids or this recipe book or the way-too-many curtain choices if I’m not any good at any of it.

Because if I can’t make my house look like hers or my kids craft like theirs or the words on this page turn out like his why bother at all?

There’s a chocolate milkshake that could make the afternoon feel better and help drown out my stupid nagging voice of uselessness.

Instead I sit at this keyboard and keep typing.

Instead I swallow down the fear and the doubt and keep typing through my racing heart and my lethargic fingers.

Because I know that voice is a liar.

I know that voice is not my own.

I know that voice is a one-way-ticket to walking away from all the glory and the beauty that has been planned into my DNA. And yes some of it will be messy. And some of it won’t turn out the way I imagined. And much of it will be a work in progress.

But the some things I might not be perfect at, aren’t the sum total of no good.

I might not be good enough, brave enough, profound enough. But the God who made me – He. is. enough.

And maybe today you’re scared too?

Maybe there’s a voice been whispering how no good at anything you are?

Maybe there’s a lie been slyly slipping a measuring stick with impossible units to live up to into your life this afternoon.

Maybe you need a sister to snap that stick in half and hand you a flash light when you’re facing the dark. I have a sister who prayed these words over me and I’m bringing them to pray over you. Gather ’round, let me whisper this in your ear:

Dear Lord, I come before Your throne right now, lifting up Your sweet child. Thank You Father for the ways You’ve uniquely gifted her, and given her a spirit — not of timidity — but of power through Your Holy Spirit. Empower her today and in the coming days for all the things that You have placed before her. We praise you in advance for the ways that You will work in her and through her, so that we can look back on these days, and as sisters, say, “See there, look what the Lord did, right in the middle of the fear!”

Give her the strength and courage to move forward, even when it looks a little bit dark around the corner. Also, give her peace … Give her a light unto her path, and a lamp unto her feet … and Lord Jesus, she probably wouldn’t mind a big flashlight every now and then, a big Light of reassurance that what’s ahead is good and right, and that You are already there … just like You’re here. We love You, Lord Jesus, and it’s in Your name we pray … Amen.

OK, sweet sisters, now take a deep breath and say it out loud and clear into the comments what God has called you to do in this season. Not perfectly – just obediently.

Standing here beside you cheering, from behind this keyboard and right out in front of my own doubting voices,


Lisa-Jo, author, champion of orphans, mom to three, and sister to you.


{ Leave a Comment }
  1. 1

    Such encouragement. That voice IS a liar, and yet sometimes, it sounds so much like truth. I hate that.
    Right now, God’s called me to hold the door open for my sisters, to tell them that it’s okay to take a retreat, to step into the unknown, to wait expectantly on a KNOWN God to meet them there. All of this while trying to school and mother and wife well. It feels impossible, and I have made mistakes in the process, but God constantly reminds me that He has INDEED called me to this messy space, that it doesn’t have to be Pinterest perfect. It’s life, it’s worship, it’s obedience, and in that He receives the glory–even as it’s messy.

    Thank you for holding the door open, Lisa-Jo. I love you always.

  2. 2

    Hi Lisa-Jo,
    Isn’t that voice horrible. At the moment it is telling me I am a lousy mom. I am also battling with my weight and the voice tells me not to even bother to try and do something about is, as I will always be overweight. Thanks so much for your encouragement

    • 3

      Yes. I’m right with you. The voice that says, ‘You’ve been this way for so many years, get used to it. You’ll never be thin.’ I hear that voice too, and it keeps going, telling me that because I’m not thin I’m ugly, clumsy, unwelcome, unacceptable.
      I feel for you, sister, even though I don’t know you. The voice lies, and we believe it, but Jesus came to set us free – and give us life in abundance, not a half-life of self-loathing and defeat. Surely there’s a way?
      Saying a prayer for you today.

  3. 4

    At a retreat this past Saturday I learned we have about 85,000 thoughts a day…..and only 10,000 of them are positive thoughts. Now while that may sound like a big number..for each positive one, seven negative ones echo in our head. It is a daunting task to identify and reroute these negative thoughts as often they are automatic…I’m so stupid; How could I let that happen; I can’t; I should have…. I try to imagine what I would say to my best friend….and then pretend there is a mirror there…and shine the words back at myself. Self love is not selfish. We were created these imperfectly perfect beings and to condemn oursleves…condemns the power that brought us into being. Perfectly imperfect…it was who we were meant to be.

  4. 5

    Oh, Lisa-Jo, I only hear that voice every single day. Thank you for the prayer. For the wise I’ve-been-there words. (Also, what fun to see familiar faces on the blog today!)

  5. 6

    Lisa-Jo, this post resonated with this weary heart. I so easily listen to and believe the lie that I’ll never be to good wife and mother that my kids need. The Liar is always pointing out my failures as a mom, and my inability to get laundry, housecleaning, and homeschool all accomplished in one week. I then walk away feeling hopeless and inadequate for this calling God’s placed on my life.

    Thank you for reminding me of Who my Hope truly is and that He was perfect in my place so that I don’t have to be!

    So thankful for you and your encouraging words!

  6. 7

    Lisa-Jo…you always know just what to say, just when I need to hear it. I blogged about doubt all week last week…and still feel doubtful about what I’m being called to do…today. And tomorrow. And about what I did yesterday. And didn’t do. Satan is the best at whispering those lies, isn’t he? Such a snake. Slipping in my soul without me noticing, until I’m knee deep in doubt and worry and fear. Second-guessing what I’m doing. Who I am? And who am I to think God is really going to do something with this scarred-up-messed-up life. Then I remember this scarred-up-messed-up life is covered by an eternity of GRACE. Grace that delivers. And frees. And soothes. You ask what I’m feeling called to do this season. I’m being called to spread Gods story through my own pen and lens. And I see you and so many others writing and I compare myself and feel less than. But then I remember we all have a story to tell. And praise God He has called so many of his daughters to share and tell their stories and relate to other daughters that need to hear our stories. Thank you for continued inspiration and support through the words God gives you…and thank you for not giving into your own doubts. You are being used so greatly and this is one sister you are encouraging daily. Hugs.

  7. 8

    You, Lisa Jo, are the ultimate cheer leader!! When that voice starts handing you those lies you just remember how many of us depend on you to help us make it through each day with a smile and a pat on the back for those things that we do accomplish.

  8. 9
    ro elliott says:

    I have told myself and others, for most of my life what I couldn’t do…so I am in the season of my big YES…yes to thoughts that come…”make that gift”…my old self would have replied…you aren’t crafty…but yes I made them…I am taking small step and some big ones( for me) in the world of YES… and the greatest part…results don’t matter…I am not looking for the end result to be something to achieve…just saying Yes is all He asks me to do…the rest is truly up to Him…I feel like I have flung the doors wide open and am facing the wind and walking straight ahead. I love love to see and hear how you younger woman are getting this at such a young age…you all spur me on…and I cheer you on…keep going…the freedom God has for us all is endless!!!!

  9. 10
    Lindsey Bellow says:

    Thank you, Lisa-Jo, for putting into words the anxiety that has been plaguing my soul. I tend to use my perceived perfection of others as my own measuring stick; all the while beating myself up for not living up to it. Sometimes it takes all my strength to keep my feet planted and choose to fight instead of running away and giving up. I am so thankful for a loving God who isn’t tempted to give up on me in the same ways I am tempted to flee when the refining fire becomes too hot. I am also thankful when He reminds me that this measuring stick I am using is foolish because the only measuring stick I should be concerned with died on the cross so that I wouldn’t be a slave to my sin but free in Him. I am also so thankful for you! Every time I see that you have posted to your blog I am happy. So when you think you are no good at writing just know that you are blessed by God with this wonderful gift and you are bringing glory to him through your posts. You are inviting women like myself to come into the kitchen of your heart and encouraging us, selflessly, as we travel the same journey. Your sister in Christ and this beautiful challenge of motherhood!

  10. 11

    Thank you so much Lisa-Jo! I needed this reminder today!

  11. 12

    Oh you. You just nailed it. And I’m so thankful when The Lord sends other voices to counteract the Liar. When the Light of Truth in Scripture just shines right through the dark places. (And wouldn’t you know light is my one word and it just keeps shining in my favorite places.)

  12. 13

    In this season, He has called me to trade. A clean sink for sign language. Empty laundry baskets for Lego Time. Organized anything for nursing bras. I need to remember that I am doing what He has called me to do. A strong-willed preschooler. A disabled toddler. A breastfeeding infant with severe allergies. I am serving them today.

  13. 14

    Oh, for the sisters that are willing to snap that stick in half!

    I’m beginning to see that I’m in a season of mothering achild that is difficult to mother. As I continue to flesh out what that means in my daily life and my writing and my quiet times, I know I’m surrounded by strong true voices of loving friends here and in real life. God is so good to me that way. To all of us, really.

  14. 15

    Since the middle of December I have been battling those very doubts and lies. Between you, Crystal Stine and NJ, I am so encouraged to speak to those doubts and lies and move on in the call God has on me to write, and raise up boys who know who Jesus is personally. I get discouraged because I feel like I’ll never stop learning, but isn’t that what life is really about? Learning, and learning every day? Love you, Lisa-Jo! You are always on-time with a word from God that seems specific to me (and lots of other women)!

  15. 18

    Isn’t it funny when God wants you to learn something, he keeps telling you every.where.you.look?! Thanks for this reminder. On my blog today, I shared the constant looking at “her.” Thanks for a prayer to keep on going in the midst of worldly fears!

  16. 19

    Oh such words and the prayer I need to hear every day. Thank you. As an amateur blogger, I often get caught up in the comparison, not good enough trap. Rejected for a blogging community. Pictures that aren’t up to par. Page visits and comments that lack in numbers. These things obviously aren’t the point of blogging, but can weigh me down a lot. Again, thank you for your words. The Lord is speaking through you to me today.

  17. 20

    Your words spoke volumes of truth I needed to hear, and the prayer powerfully stirred my soul this morning. God has me on the path of change and transition and as I’m juggling everything – which thing will I drop? And it feels like failure and I feel like failure – then your words arrive in my inbox and your cheer of encouragement reminds me that it’s a lie. And more importantly, that you feel it too – those brave women that have it all together ;-) and are a huge success feel it too. Your heart shared is precious indeed. Thank you for giving me the encouragement needed to take the next step and the next and keep going, and to remind and encourage another sister along the way.

  18. 21

    I’m sure there are countless numbers of moms who are reading this today that will be encouraged and blessed and given that extra “ummph” to keep doing what they’re doing. Thank you for your words that have done just that for me this morning as I head to our “schoolroom” and follow what HE has called me to do ~ to invest in the lives of my boys (academically & spiritually) who HE has entrusted to my care. That, in this season of my life, must be my number one priority. Thank you for the reminder this morning : )

  19. 22

    Thank you for this encouragement. I need it every single day. Do “it” afraid. Whatever “it” is. We aren’t “enough” but God is.

  20. 23

    Write. A blog, a book – His glory story on my heart, go to Africa again – twice this year, be His child, freedom warrior, champion of weight loss of 132 lbs. I can’t do it all, but HE is my all. I don’t know to manage that in the piles of dirty laundry and sticky plates. I’m overwhelmed everytime I pop up my screen. I quit a full time job for this gig, & it should be easier. And also knowing that our words matter when no one reads. Thats the truth that hurts the most. .

  21. 24

    I had a really bad night last night, and just not a great weekend. I felt really alone. Not saying I am, but that’s how I felt, devastatingly. There are a lot of parts of this season in my life that are just haaaaaaaaaaard for me some days. Maybe a lot of days. The way you put it, “stupid nagging voice of uselessness” is the perfect description for that inner liar.

    But I know that I know I am exactly where I’m supposed to be and doing what I’m supposed to do. Which is being a homemaker and wife and mother. This is not the job I planned for or prepared for but it’s the one that God wants, and I know it’s important. And it’s doing it here, the other end of the country from our family and friends-like-family. Maybe because the people here need someone who connects and cares like from where I come from. I don’t know. The assurance that I know I am where I am supposed to be is good, but sometimes I forget the comforting truth that this means this won’t all be for nothing, especially when I’m missing the old folks at home.

    Thank you for the encouragement today, Lisa-Jo. I hope you went and got that chocolate milkshake after you were done writing…and if you didn’t, go get it now girl!!!!

  22. 25

    Not good at art, not good at music, (I listen for the words in songs or the feeling in music) I have an only child who is good at both! I am called to homeschooling her, and it’s hard and I love it and am so grateful for the chance to. Also working with husband and another couple on a baby church plant in a new Lutheran denomination (NALC) and while it’s hard it’s wonderful to be working together in ministry. Writing, teaching a little English class for middle schoolers, caring for dad with Parkinson’s in my home, my days are full and each morning I pray the begging prayer for God’s love to fill me.

  23. 26

    I found myself right in the middle of this struggle this morning. Came out of left field, like I blindly turned the corner and got punched in the gut. But really, it’s an inner battle. Rather, it’s more like a war at times.

    I am grateful, however, that in my blubbering mess I had a dear friend I could turn to who also, in turn, prayed life-words over me, too, even though there is a whole coast between us.

    And I’m grateful for your honest words and the Truth you bring. I’m grateful for you. Much, much love. <3

  24. 27

    Your words resonated in my core! Thank you for the prayer…and for this quote (amazing & profound, btw!) – “I might not be good enough, brave enough, profound enough. But the God who made me – He. is. enough.”

  25. 28

    God is calling me to GET OFF of the hamster wheel and step out in faith to journey with Him. There are so many days when I feel a compulsion to do ALL THE THINGS all the time and He’s asking me to rest and be still in HIM. It is so hard!

  26. 29

    God knows I needed to read this today and know that prayer was prayed over even me this day.
    I’m desperate to do God’s will for my life and working patiently with Him to find out exactly what it is He wants me to do with my jumbled bag of talents and gifts.

  27. 30

    The thing is? I don’t even know right now…

  28. 31

    I hear that voice all the time. Right now, it’s been ringing in my head as I start to think about high school for my oldest next year. Never mind that I’ve homeschooled him from the beginning, or that I taught in high school before he was born, or that I tutored other children in high school math after I had him and decided to be a stay at home mom. I still hear that voice telling me “You can’t do that.” But I can, and I will, because I know that THIS is where God wants me to be and what He wants me to do.

  29. 32

    I have been called to start a new job in a carrer that I thought was over in my life. Mixed feelings: fear, gratitude, doubt. I just wish for one feeling to remain and that is peace and if possible joy…

    • 33

      Linda – I just prayed for you… for peace on all sides, and joy unspeakable. I even prayed that he will give you a very special “sister” in your new job that will help with the joy factor when you aren’t feeling it. xoxo God’s best for you in this new adventure!

  30. 34

    There’s “ready” … there’s “able” … and then there’s me. Good thing God’s got the first two! I have to keep reminding myself that it’s not my job to get results. That’s His job.

    Thanks for sharing that prayer with us!

  31. 35

    I wrote a whole blog and e-book about turning to that chocolate milkshake. It is so easy to run from that terrible voice in our heads, to run so far that we think we don’t have to confront the fear and the anxiety and the self-consciousness. But you’re so right that when we acknowledge that it isn’t about US but about HIM, suddenly we are able to push through that fear…without the aid of a milkshake.

  32. 36
    Michelle S. says:

    In this season, God has called me to the everyday. Against all that the Christian world says is “right”, I work outside the home full time while my husband works part time and home schools our oldest son and cares for our preschooler. This is not what I wanted… not because I don’t like my job, but because I finally have found my groove in this motherhood ‘thing’. This is not what we wanted, because my husband has an amazing work-ethic and wants to provide for our family… but it IS what God wants. So here we are, taking one step at a time in obedience. It’s the everyday, sometimes mundane, walk wondering when this might change or if God will provide another way. He is good and faithful and we will walk and trust. But I do pray for that flashlight!

  33. 38

    There have been so many broken things in my life that I can no longer tell the pieces apart. I love how Jesus can take my broken pieces and match them up with someone else’s. He makes us more than “useful” again… His greatest work is the way that we, all our brokenness, somehow become whole. We are a marvel. His church. His family. Perfectly Imperfect.

  34. 40

    Yeah.. maybe. Maybe all those things and more. Thank you for the flashlight.

  35. 41

    Oh my goodness Lisa-Jo, I thought you were talking about me as you described your thoughts and feelings here on this post. It was so timely for me to stop to visit your blog today and to read your words. Goes along so well with the post I just put up yesterday: http://encouragement-is-contagious.blogspot.com/2014/02/far-better-things-ahead-than-what-i.html
    God is soooooo good and he sure makes His way known for us in sweet and unexpected ways.

    I feel like God wants me to write a devotional for women and yet I have always let those excuses like you have talked about here in this post stop me. Especially the “not good enough, smart enough etc..” Well Lisa-Jo, you just squashed those many excuses. Ker-plunk!!! Thank you for obeying the Lord and writing!! You are such a blessing.

    ♥Lee Ann

  36. 42

    God has called me to do the unthinkable: homeschool my 12-year old step-daughter who has down syndrome. I also have two other kids with aspirations of one or two more.

    My life is crazy and a lot of times incredibly overwhelming. Some days I just have a good cry on my husband’s shoulder – and the tears always start over something silly (like an American Idol song. No joke). Every day is full and every day I am being stretched far beyond a capacity that I thought possible.

    Insecurities tell me I am not good at homeschool and I do a poor job of being a mom. But I just have to remember that’s not truth. And I tell myself: “I think that’s not true. Actually I’m pretty sure that’s not true. Honestly, there is now way that’s true!” God put me here in this season for His purpose. That’s good enough for me.

  37. 43

    Hey.. remember that time I struggled day after day with the weight of so many unshakeable lies, only to finally hear His sweet Voice say “I am Truth and I am in you and so therefore, you have the truth – leave the lies. I am freedom and I am in you and so therefore, you are free – live in freedom.” And remember that time I kept my face tilted up and my head afloat and dared to live in freedom even when I didn’t feel it, and then procrastinated the homework because I saw this post of yours and then sent it to my heart sister who always pushes me to follow the Truth? Yeah. That. I remember. *thanks times one thousand, this is gift #671. xoxo*

  38. 44

    yes yes yes! One of the things I wrestle with is Mom Guilt- worried I’m not good enough, not doing enough! But there is a difference between guilt and shame. Most often, I wear shame like by favorite hoody hot around my neck.
    I’m in the midst of a week long blog series called “How to OFFload the MoM GUiLT.” http://www.amyruthwriter.com
    So many of us share in this struggle that we really don’t need to!
    Thanks for being a light!

  39. 45

    I think we all feel like that from time to time. I know when I get the feeling of doubt, I stop and pray. It makes me feel better and then I go about my day hoping for the best.

  40. 46

    Thank you for your words and your prayer! They are just what I needed to “hear” in the middle of this unforgiving season. A season where I am not good enough at parenting, at being a leader, at being a wife or a home maker. I feel like I am falling short in every area of my life and that God has left me with no light of reassurance.

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your honesty, forthrightness, and prayer that has helped me to feel like there is light in this dark tunnel of my life. You are most definitely and undeniably wonderful at what you do!

  41. 47

    That voice? Only too familiar with it here. Thank you for the encouragement to listen to something else louder today.

  42. 48

    So, I’ve got something big and scary happening this week. I *just* sent an email out to a few friends and asked them to pray for me as I deal w/the stress of it. I got a reply back from a girl that prayed the exact same Scriptures Jennifer prayed over you. It was like having them prayed over me again.

    God is just cool.

    (And you are, too. Love you, friend.)

  43. 49

    Thank you for that sweet prayer, it brought tears to my eyes! Got to keep it in mind and heart as I continue in my walk raising my three month old baby boy. I am sure being with him will be worth giving up a career for now, and that God will provide through my husband alone! God bless!

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