Friday, November 27, 2015

Karen Wingate: The True Meaning Of "I Can"

Everyone's Story warmly welcomes author Karen Wingate. Though I have yet to meet Karen face-to-face, I want to! She is someone to admire: strong despite what others may perceive as weak, courageous, optimistic, energetic, and most importantly, someone who loves her Father as much as He loves her. In this week of the American holiday of Thanksgiving, please enjoy and reflect on Karen's inspiring words--I know they've uplifted me! Both Karen and I look forward to hearing from you.


As someone with a severe visual impairment since birth, I’ve lived my life by one rule:

Never say the words, “I can’t.”

Any person with a disability or a minority ethnicity has to work twice as hard to be half as good. Get busy.

This philosophy worked for many years. I’ve accomplished far more than my rehabilitation teachers thought I could. Early on, I learned to bring God into the equation. Often I saw Him provide and use me in ways I could not explain by human standards. In spite of what He did, I failed to call on Him enough. It was more, “I can do this. I’ll call you if I get into trouble.”

In recent years, my favorite verse, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13)” became my nemesis. I grew tired of the struggle, always having to do everything everyone else did, always needing to be a step ahead so I could prove the power of God. I became weary of the “all things.” If I wasn’t doing it or if I didn’t think I could do it, I must not be trusting God enough, my lifelong mantra told me. Was it ever acceptable to say, “I can’t?”

I’ve had a long publishing career, but not the joy of a published fiction book. I’ve completed three novels and have come so close to a contract/ No cigar. No celebration with chocolate either.

Karen and two Russian students when Karen
served as a short-term worker at a
Bible training center in Southern Austria.

A week before I attended a writers’ conference, I was ready to give up on this writing life. Why was I going to a conference that wouldn’t take me any further? Too much was stacked against me and I don’t have the strength to keep fighting any longer.

I threw my reasons at God. I’m visually impaired, remember? I’m a pastor’s wife. My husband, who suffers from chronic back pain and diabetes, can hardly manage when I’m gone. Moreover, silly me had written an edgy novel and had the audacity to sign up for appointments with two of the largest CBA publishers in the business. Whatever was I thinking?

“This is impossible,” I told God. “If you want me to publish a book, You’ll have to do it. I can’t.” The Bible stories of David and Gideon came to mind. “Just call me Gideon,” I muttered at an elevator wall when I first arrived at the conference.

Then I walked into Allen Arnold’s continuing education class, “Writing On The Wild Side.” He distributed spiral bound notebooks, saying he had penned a separate message for each of us on the front flap, praying that God would direct each statement to the person who needed those particular words.

My inscription read. “Nothing is impossible with Me. Let’s do this together.”

Did the instructor have a thing about Lowe’s Home Improvement tagline?

Unlike Lowe’s, God provides the resources of His strength, the guidance of His wisdom, and the partnership of His labor. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28, NIV).” Rest. Oh, sweet rest. It’s available if I agree to do things His way in His time.

That verse I had come to dislike? Catch those words. It says, “I CAN do all things.” It doesn’t say, “I MUST.” If I’m joining God’s partnership, He chooses what He wants me to do. I don’t have to do it all. I do what He asks me to do. Each day, I convene with him for His daily assignment. If He wants me to get that book published, He’ll take care of it. If He wants me to be the only one blessed by its words, that’s His choice. If He wants me to spend a week writing blogs and magazine articles, or stop my editing to pray with two women from my bible study group, I do that instead. I don’t have to get it all done. Whether I finish everything on my to-do list is His decision, not mine. I do my best with what He has given me and leave the outcome to Him.

I walk in God’s strength. I must also walk in His wisdom.

“Lord, help me hear Your voice. Help me choose wisely.”

Karen's Ah-hahs To Tweet:
Can you relate: Writing frustration led Karen Wingate @kwingate715 to ask God what He wants her to do? (Tweet This)

Karen Wingate @kwingate715: living and overcoming a #disability when it comes to #writing. (Tweet This)

Ever cry that God’s asking the impossible? Visit Karen Wingate @kwingate715’s on Everyone’s Story. (Tweet This)

Author's Bio:
Karen Wingate wrote Christian education curriculum for nearly thirty years for Standard Publishing, the Salvation Army, and Rainbow Publishers. She has written over 300 articles and devotions for both adults and children. Now she has turned her attention to fiction writing and loves to write about the history of the places where she and her husband have ministered. Karen and Jack have two grown daughters. One serves as a U.S. Army optometrist and the other is a university TESL instructor. Karen keeps up with her blog at Grace On Parade, writes a column for her newspaper, and as the Lord leads, is working on her fourth novel.
Places to connect with Karen:

Please note:

--I will soon launch a specially designed website that will incorporate Eveyone's Story blog. I hope you will follow me on this new site. When it goes live, I'll make the announcement!


  1. Wonderful post. I enjoyed reading your testimony to what God has done in your life.

    1. So happy you visited, Ann. I'm glad to know that Karen's words touched your heart.

    2. God is so good, so gracious. Thanks for stopping by,Ann.

  2. For years I lived by the mantra God helps those who help themselves. I mean, it's in the Bible...right? I tried to make things happen. Finally, I decided that just maybe God wanted me to rely on Him and to stop running ahead of him. It was still several years before I was published, but I started enjoying the journey because it was no longer up to me, Great post!

    1. Pat, that's a very interesting debate that I've heard for years: whether or not that He helps those who help themselves is indeed in the Bible. Since I'm no Bible scholar I won't tackle that but will say that my life began to change for the better when I surrendered my human attempts to God and begged Him to help me because I can't do a thing without Him. May you continue to enjoy His blessings, my dear friend.

      Always a pleasure to see you!

    2. I had a family member tell me this when I asked my family to pray for me because I was going to play the piano for my grandmother's funeral. It didn't sit well with me. It was at that moment I began to realize we need to include god from the start, that we are in partnership with Him before we get into trouble1 Thanks so much for your thoughts, Patricia.

  3. Hi Karen. So good to read your story here. And I hear you, Pat, about "trying to make things happen" ---running ahead of him is SO what I used to do. Of course, I had no idea I was doing that. Anyway, you're also write about the enjoying part! Happy after Thanksgiving to everyone.

    1. Gail, thanks for visiting. May you also enjoy your Happy after Thanksgiving (I like that!)

      I think it's part of human nature to take things by the reins, and that's where the Divine part comes in :)

    2. Hi Gail. Thanks for sharing my heart. Have a blessed God-orchestrated hoiday season!

  4. Karen, thank you for sharing your testimony. He has indeed been working mightily through you! I agree with Elaine--I also have great admiration for you.

    I think it's true that we "can" do all things through Christ who
    strengthens us. The question is: what does He have for each
    of us to do? We can't do everything, for sure. As someone
    with a limited amount of energy, I've had to learn that. You're
    so right that we can grow weary when we try to do everything!

    On a completely different topic, Elaine--"God helps those who help
    themselves" goes back all the way to ancient Greece, but it was
    Benjamin Franklin's use of it in Poor Richard's Almanack
    that made it popular. It's NOT in the Bible.

    Thanks for another great post, Elaine!

    1. Now that's an interesting segue discussion, Kathy: what does He have for each
      of us to do? And I do believe that while He may have created all of us out of equal and His powerful love, that yes, He has individual and unique plans for all of us. So, no guilt that we're not perfect, right? :)

      Ah… yes.. Ben Franklin!

      Always a pleasure to see you here, Kathy.

    2. That's what I ask the Lord each day - what's on tap for today. Sometimes we stay with the big plan; other times we go on a side trip. It's always an adventure. Blessings on your day Kathy and may you experience His strength in a new way today. :)

    3. Thank you, Karen. I appreciate your wisdom.

      And Elaine, it's always great to be here!

    4. Oh, thank you for saying so, Kathy! If there is any wisdom, it comes from years of making a lot of mistakes.

  5. Wonderful interview, Karen and Elaine! I've had the privilege of meeting Karen in person (we were roommates at two conferences) and her unwavering trust in God and her "can do" spirit are an inspiration!

    1. I am so looking forward to meeting both you and Karen… one day soon, I hope!

      Thanks for visiting, Kate.

    2. Kate, you're the best! You had the grace to not mention that I do despair at times. You are such an encourager and I deeply appreciate you.

  6. I too, living life with a walking disability, don't know the words "I can't", for if I did I wouldn't have even accomplished the things I can do. I know my limitations, but I know my strengths too, and it's the strengths I choose to focus on. September of 2014 my 9th novel was published, and I'm so glad I never gave up on myself.....on being a big part of life. I have my faith to thank for the hope that dwells deep within. Jesus is my light and my anchor.

    1. You're always such a shining role model for me, Roberta, let alone my beautiful friend.

      Thanks for visiting today!

    2. You are so very wise, Roberta. It's good to know both our strengths and our limitations.We are also stronger when we involve other people in the process; God never expects us to do it all on our own. Thanks for sharing your faith in Him who can do all things through us, within us, and sometimes, many times in my case, in spite of us.

  7. Sweet Testimony from Karen. Appreciate her attitude and perseverance. Thanks Elaine for your encouragement to all of us.

    1. And I'm thankful for your visit this evening, Barbara. You're my sunshine during this wintry rainy night.

    2. I'm so glad you were encourage, Barbara!

  8. What a week it's been, not only here in this little corner of the world but worldwide, from Thanksgiving here in the States to the outbreak of additional terror and sadness in this world. I'm so thankful for His mercy and grace. He will get us through all this!

    And I'm thankful for my past week's guest, Karen Wingate. Karen, what a phenomenal uplifting message you've shared with all of us. Thanks so much for your strong, sweet, caring words that are helping to sustain all of us.

    Blessings to all.

    1. I'm very honored to be a part of Everyone's Story. Keep the faith, everyone. Fix your eyes on Jesus. He will never ever let you down.


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