When God Gives Us More than We Can Handle

Last week, I published a piece entitled I’m Not Enough — and Why It’s Liberating to Admit It. The message must have resonated with my readers, for within the first twenty-four hours, over 1000 people had clicked through to read the post. The gist of the article is that positive self-talk does not change the facts — repeatedly telling yourself “I am enough” doesn’t make it true.

Today, I want to focus on another saying that’s long been popular among Christians: “God never gives you more than you can handle.” Have you ever heard that one before?

Such a sentiment may sound reassuring, but it simply isn’t true.

You see, God routinely gives us more than we can handle. It’s His modus operandi — the way He naturally operates.

That’s because God loves using our weakness to showcase His strength. And He loves doing it in a way that leaves no doubt as to Whose strength we were leaning on in the midst of seemingly insurmountable odds.

Think about it.

  • If David had won a fist fight with a boy half his size rather than a death match with a giant who’d intimidated the entire Israeli army, no one would have lauded his bravery.
  • If Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego had been thrown into a jail cell instead of a fiery furnace, nobody would be surprised when they came out unsinged.
  • If five loaves and two fish had been used to feed five people instead of five thousand, the meal would have seemed mundane, not miraculous.

Yet in each of these situations, God gave His children far more than they could handle on their own. And He does business the same way today. That’s one reason our family enjoys reading missionary biographies. They serve as a reminder of the amazing things God can do through a life that is wholly yielded to Him.

I finished reading Gladys Aylward: The Adventure of a Lifetime aloud to my children just yesterday. It was my younger ones’ first time to hear this incredible true story, and they were completely mesmerized. “Just one more chapter? Please? Please?” they’d beg every time I tried to set the book down.

They marveled at how, after being kicked out of missionary school, Gladys scrimped and saved for years until she could afford to pay for her own passage to China, even trudging through the snow on foot through war-torn Siberia to get there.

They rejoiced that, when Gladys was left without any means of support to continue her mission work in China, the Mandarin hired her as his Royal Foot Inspector, to travel throughout the countryside eradicating the practice of foot-binding and simultaneously carrying the gospel to the farthest reaches of the province.

They were astonished that the Mandarin would send this tiny British woman into a prison to quell a riot that was so violent that armed prison guards were too afraid of being killed themselves to attempt to stop it. Since Gladys claimed to have “the living God in her heart,” they believed she couldn’t be harmed and therefore insisted she do their job for them.

My children sat on the edge of their seats as Gladys lead nearly 100 orphans to safety during the Japanese invasion of China during World War II.

This book recounts the adventures of a woman who accomplished more in her 67 years than most of us could accomplish in ten lifetimes. Reading the account of her years in China leaves no doubt: it would have been impossible for her to do these things in her own power. God obviously strengthened her for the task.

And He longs to do for us what He did for her.

Yes, God gladly gives us more than we can handle — but He never gives us more than He can handle.

Fathers Matter (Every Day of the Year)

Fathers Matter!Last Sunday was Father’s Day — a day for celebrating the parent that goes largely unnoticed and under-appreciated the rest of the year.

Dads are under-appreciated partly because our society is no longer conditioned to hold fathers in high esteem.

Fathers have long been a favorite target of television sitcoms, where the vast majority of them are depicted as inept, irrelevant idiots more deserving of ridicule than respect.

For decades, fathers have been marginalized and emasculated and treated as if they have nothing of value to contribute to their family’s life beyond its economic support (if that).

And to the degree that life imitates art, men must fight against these stereotypes, not only in contemporary culture, but sometimes even in their own homes.

But another reason dads go unnoticed and under-appreciated is because so many of them are absentee fathers — they’re seldom around to attract any attention or appreciation.

This may be due to death, divorce, abandonment, or career choice; regardless of the cause, their absence comes at a high cost to the children they’ve left behind.

Despite what the liberal media might lead us to believe, fathers play a vital, irreplaceable role in the development of their children. Despite the divorce lawyers’ assurances that “kids are resilient and will quickly adjust to life without you,” the children rarely (if ever) escape such an ordeal unscathed. Most will carry scars from their parents’ split for the rest of their lives.
Do Fathers Matter?
And while having a loving, engaged father living in your home, eating at your table, and taking interest in your life is not essential to success, studies show that paternal involvement makes such success a lot more probable.

According to a fascinating new book by Paul Raeburn, Do Fathers Matter?: What Science Is Telling Us About the Parent We’ve Overlooked, the general consensus, at least in the research community, is that fathers do matter. They matter a lot.

Beginning before conception and moving through pregnancy, delivery, infancy, children, teens, and all the way to fathering in old age, Raeburn covers cutting-edge research that gives insight into how fathers shape their children, for better or worse.

The bottom line? When fathers are involved, everybody fares better:

The children benefit.

  • Infants respond most positively to the way their father plays with them, which tends to be more physical and idiosyncratic than their mother’s play. (p. 126) Furthermore, children of fathers who engaged in the most physical and enjoyable play were less aggressive, more competent, and better liked by their peers. (p. 152)
  • Fathers have a huge impact on their children’s language development, even more so than mothers and irrespective of the mother’s education level or how she speaks to the children. (p. 145)
  • Children with fathers who are supportive and encouraging show a boost in intellectual development. (p. 147)
  • They also do better in school, both academically and socially: Paternal encouragement is associated with better relationships between children and their school teachers, as well as better behavior and social skills. (p. 150)
  • Engaged, attentive fathering has been linked to higher IQs in children, lower risk of smoking as teens, and even lower incidence of depression and psychological ailments decades later. (p. 151)
  • Sadly, there appears to be a robust association between father absence — both physical and psychological — and accelerated reproductive development in daughters, increased sexual risk taking, and higher incidence of teen pregnancy and STD infection. (pp. 160-164)

The wives benefit.

  • When fathers are present in the delivery room, mothers are less likely to cry or to require pain medication. (p.111)
  • Supportive parenting on the part of fathers has been shown to improve the behavior of mothers toward their children. When he’s more loving and attentive, she is, too. (p. 147)
  • When couples forge a strong alliance in parenting, their marriage is strengthened, as well. (p. 85)

The fathers themselves benefit.

  • Fathers who are involved with their children have a reduced incidence of illness and mortality. (p. 138)
  • Men who devote more time to fatherhood also have higher self-esteem and lower parental stress. (pp. 123-124)
  • Interestingly, low testosterone is not only associated with increased longevity, but also with better, more attentive fathering (pp. 74-75) — so why does our society push supplemental testosterone on middle-aged men as if it were candy?

And those findings are just the tip of the iceberg. I’d encourage you to read Do Fathers Matter? to get the details on the benefits mentioned above and to discover a myriad of others.

So what does all that mean for us? How should these studies affect our day-to-day lives?

For me — and these are my thoughts, not the author’s — this book serves as just one more reminder of how vitally important it is that I nurture my marriage. The next generation is counting on it!

No matter how much others would like us to believe that marriages are just contracts of convenience that can be dissolved without consequence, that simply isn’t true. When Mom and Dad go separate ways, the children are always affected.

No matter how often society argues that what consenting adults do in private should be of no concern to anybody else, their behavior does affect the community around them — especially the children.

And no matter how emphatically our culture insists that one definition of “family” is just as good as the next, the preponderance of research indicates there is an optimal design, at least when it comes to rearing offspring: that of a father and a mother firmly committed to one another and jointly and lovingly involved in the lives of their children.

5 Great Reasons to Read My Husband’s Book

5 Great Reasons to Read 25 Ways to Show Love to Your Wife....

Today is the official release date of my husband’s new book, 25 Ways to Show Love to Your Wife. It’s been two years in the writing, but over twenty-seven in the living.

Of course, I’d love to see every married couple devour this book, together with my companion book, 25 Ways to Communicate Respect.

That’s why this little two-volume set has become my standard wedding gift: I know husbands and wives will both be abundantly blessed when they put the principles into practice.

I can think of a lot more than I’ve listed, but for the purpose of this post, I’d like to share the five main reasons you should grab a copy of my husband’s new book ASAP (plus one possible reason you shouldn’t).

5 Great Reasons to Read This Book:


  1. Because It’s Biblical
  2. This book is absolutely drenched in Scripture. That’s a good thing, since the Word of God is the most solid foundation any marriage can be built upon.

    The reason divorce is so rampant in our society is because we have strayed so far from God’s original purpose and design for husbands and wives. It grieves my heart that Hollywood can take things as wholesome and wonderful as love, sex, and marriage, and turn them into something dirty, degrading, and dysfunctional.

    This book is a clarion call to reject all the contemptible counterfeits our culture proffers and return to the role God established for every husband from the beginning: that of protecting, cherishing, nourishing, loving, leading, and providing for his wife in the same self-sacrificing way that Jesus loves His church.

    Marriage is in trouble....

  3. Because It Works
  4. Nothing in this book is hypothetical. The principles discussed have been tried, tested, and proven, not only by my own husband, but by countless others like him — men who are committed to living by these ideals to the best of their abilities by the empowering grace of God.

    The more successful a husband is at integrating these truths into his life and actions, the more secure his wife will feel in his love. That’s why every chapter ends with a bulleted list of action points, so readers will immediately be able to put what they’re learning into practice.

  5. Because You Love Your Kids
  6. No matter how grossed out your children act when they catch their parents kissing in the kitchen, there is a reassuring calmness that settles over their little souls when they know Mom and Dad love one another and are committed to staying together through thick and thin, for better or worse.

    The old adage is true: One of the best things a father can do for his children is to love their mother. It doesn’t take long to see the damage done to children when Dad is not committed to the marriage or involved in the lives of his kids: the statistics associated with fatherless families are heart-rending.

    If you love your children, you should nurture your marriage and invest in resources that will help you tend it more effectively.

  7. Because You’ve Been Waiting for It
  8. I am always thrilled to hear from women who’ve read my books and have seen the Biblical principles promoted bring positive change in their marriages. That’s an answer to the prayers I poured out while writing the books, and I rejoice over every letter I get that shares such victories and triumphs with me!

    I’ve even received a few letters from husbands, marveling over the changes they’ve observed in their wives’ disposition, thanking me for writing the book, and asking whether we have a similar book for men.

    I’m delighted to now be able to answer, yes, we do! So if you are one of those men who’ve been waiting for it to be publishied, I can’t think of a better time to buy…

  9. Because Now It’s On Sale
  10. Order a copy before Valentine’s Day, and save 25% (and pick up a discounted copy of my book while you’re at it):

    50 Ways to Grace Your Marriage...

And Here’s One Reason Not to Read It:


  1. Because You Think Your Marriage Problems are All His Fault
  2. If you are a wife who is hunting for something to hang over your husband’s head, please don’t buy this book. It was never intended to be used as ammunition.

    If your marriage is struggling, your husband doubtlessly deserves part of the blame — there are two sides to every story, after all — but instead of pointing fingers, I urge you to examine yourself. What changes might you make to improve your relationship?

    Sometimes women are unwilling to do what Scripture calls them to do (respect their husband) until their husbands fall into line with what Scripture demands of them (love their wife). They use their husband’s perceived failure to justify their own disobedience.

    That’s a loser’s game. You cannot make your own obedience to God contingent on somebody else’s performance. You’re responsible for controlling your own actions and reactions — attempts to control his are futile.

    So if your marriage is in trouble and you are trying to fix it without any help or cooperation from your husband, skip getting this book for now and start with prayer.

    Pray that God would open your eyes to things you may be doing to contribute to the relationship problems you’re facing. Pray that He’ll give you grace to make necessary changes, even though you have no guarantee your husband will ever reciprocate. Pray that He will help you see your husband as He sees him, and that He’ll renew your love and admiration for the man you married.

    Get my book or read the blog or sign up for the 30-Day Challenge and work your way through each of the action points. And be encouraged that God can make something beautiful of even the most hopeless situations.

    “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9, ESV)

Invest in your marriage. Take the 30-Day Respect Challenge!

My Favorite Marriage and Family Blogs

Want to nourish your marriage? You'll find a healthy dose of encouragement here: My Favorite Marriage & Family Blogs | lovinglifeathome.comIf there’s anything I’ve learned in 27+ years of marriage, it’s that “happily ever after” takes work.

Yes, it’s attainable, but not without liberal helpings of love and focus and commitment and intentionality and grace and forgiveness and discipline.

Marriage is wonderful. I love sharing life with my best friend.

But we are both human, and there is always room for improvement.

The secret for me has been to focus on the areas I need to improve rather than on what I think he needs to change.

One way I invest in my marriage is by reading good books and blogs on the topic of marriage and family.

I love the encouragement I receive from these candid, Christian writers.

I like the fact that reading their stories gives me the opportunity to learn from somebody else’s mistakes rather than repeating them myself.

There are lots of great books and blogs out there to choose from, but here is a list of my personal favorites: Click on each image to visit the blog and learn more about it.

Ashleigh Slater  Better Mom  Club 31 Women  Happy Wives Club  For the Family  Matt Jacobson  Revive Our Hearts  Time Warp Wife  To Love, Honor, and Vacuum  5 Love Languages

Incidentally, all but two of these authors/bloggers have books in the Ultimate Christian Living Bundle (only on sale through November 10, 2014). Among all the other great resources, you’ll find these treasures:

As well as a copy of my own book, which is also included…

Are there any books or blogs on marriage and motherhood you find yourself gravitating toward? Tell me about them in the comment section below so I can check them out, too!


Check Out My Book

Messy Beautiful Love {Review and Giveaway}

No marriage is ever beyond God's redeeming grace...Is your marriage struggling? Does it feel one-sided? Do you long for it to be more than it is?

Marriages are under attack as never before. Unfortunately, those attacks sometimes come not from without, but from within.

In Messy Beautiful Love, bestselling author Darlene Schacht discusses just such an attack on her own marriage — one that surely would have torn it apart were it not for God’s redeeming grace.

The biggest marital problems rarely begin big. Seldom are we slammed with something that materializes out of thin air. Our problems usually start out small and grow.

“If I were to pinpoint the one thing that led me to almost destroy my marriage,” Darlene writes candidly, “it would be that I was keeping a record of wrongs…. I took count of [all my husband’s] faults and kept track of each one.”

Do you ever do that? Do you harbor grudges against your husband or nurse resentment toward him in your heart? Be forewarned: doing so will lead you down a path you do not wish to follow.

“I had forgotten what 1 Corinthians says about love,” Darlene continues. “It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”

"Love is what is left in a relationship when the selfishness is taken out." - Nick Richardson

Love is unselfish. It puts the other’s interests ahead of its own. While love heals wounds, unforgiveness causes them to fester. When we keep a record of wrongs, we do so to our own detriment. When we give root to bitterness, our love gets choked out and our hearts grow cold, hard, and impenetrable.

“The problem here isn’t your husband,” Darlene explains. “It’s that your level of expectation for him is outshining his character. When you measure him against the weight of expectation, you are left with an unbalanced scale.

“Accepting a person for who he or she is doesn’t mean that you excuse sin. I’d never ask or want you to do that. What I am asking you to do is to look past the human frailty of a man to seek his beauty by removing the weight of expectation you hold. I’m asking that you walk in the grace of messy, beautiful love.”

Darlene opens the book with a prayer that her testimony would bring glory and honor to God, and that it does. Hers is a powerful story of hope and redemption that will powerfully impact the life of everyone who reads it.

Messy Beautiful Love

Messy Beautiful Love is a collection of important life-lessons learned — some of them the hard way — that you can take and apply to your own marriage. When you do, you will avoid many of the pitfalls the author points out along the way.

Want to read this book yourself? Darlene’s publisher has graciously offered to give a free paperback copy to one of my readers. Enter to win it here: a Rafflecopter giveaway