Successful & Stuck

Oct 13, 2019

When we tell people about The Smart Carpenter...

We’re typically asked two questions: Are you carpenters? And when we say “no,” the next question is, What exactly do you do? 

Though we tinker with basic home projects (and we do mean basic), our craftsmanship is of a different kind. 

We work with women who are successful and stuck. We help them choose to move and equip them to build life well

We’re passionate about this because we were successful and stuck for far too long. It’s a complicated and frustrating place to be because you look like you have it all together, so people think you do.  

In short: 

You have the right stuff but still feel empty. 

You’re living “the life” but don’t feel alive. 

You’re moving fast but going nowhere.

This is a frustrating place to be, but you don’t have to stay here. We believe that breaking the cycle of living successful and stuck begins when you recognize the power of your partnership with words. It’s an unconventional (but still practical) place to begin how you build life well, and we believe this matters more than you may realize. 


When you’re successful and stuck, you’ve accepted, spoken, and participated in the crazy cycle of ideas about who you are, how you should live, and what you should be doing, many of which were ascribed to you, but not by choice. 

The cycle of being successful and stuck gains momentum with words. Some are words that seem committed, true, fun, and even good. Words like promotion, marriage, kids, new car, new bag, new shoes, vacation, fun friends, success, degree, recognition, desire, prosperity, skinny, experiences, health, exercise, social media likes, beauty, connection, accomplishment, church, intimacy, and more. 

You partner with these words, confident that the best is yet to come. But then something shifts.

You accept a promotion and buy a new car hoping the package deal would bring happiness. And it does... until your hours at work and the new car payments cramp your personal and financial freedom. You lose weight believing this will be the change that changes everything. But it doesn’t. You're still unfulfilled. You finally get those new shoes that other women dream about, but after 15 minutes in them your feet need therapy! You get married, earn another degree, receive public appreciation for your work, take that long-awaited vacation… sure that *THIS* will be it — whatever it is. But days later you’re still dry inside wondering how to get back to that fleeting feeling of fulfillment.

This is how wrong words work: they offer a quick fix and leave you wanting more.

When you’re stuck in a cycle that leaves you questioning more about your life than you’d like, it’s easy to look for a quick-fix that leaves you feeling momentarily satisfied. Most efforts to this end are made in the comfort of already established patterns. You embrace the same words and do the same thing, but hope for new outcomes. 

No matter what you do to get a fresh perspective and renewed motivation, it’s not bringing the clarity and peace you anticipate. Everyday is a full to-do list and an even fuller schedule. You know something needs to change, but it’s hard to find time to reflect and reset your priorities.

You’re tired inside. It’s hard to rest and recharge. It’s even harder to resist saying yes to more work and more commitments. When you do find time to be still, it’s hard to sit still. It’s even harder when you try to be still with God. 

And as you’re moving along in this holy hustle, having coffee with a friend, running errands, or sitting in a meeting, you just can’t shake the disquieting refrain in your heart that says:

. . . there must be more to life than this. 

When we say it’s hard, we mean it. The struggle is real. The cycle is frustrating.

We know it well because we lived it for far too long.

We did our best to shake off being stuck by embracing conventional wisdom from all different spheres of influence. We added stamps to our passports. We switched jobs, even industries. Then there was counseling. And more counseling. We even had car-conversations with ourselves (lots of car conversations). There were small groups and ministry conferences. We stepped into serving, leading, and participating in things at church and in our communities. We welcomed new friends, new babies, new shoes, and new opportunities. We expanded our resumes, closets, and list of accomplishments. We stretched our capacities by working harder, working out, and doing more. We dreamed as big as we could, creating vision boards and filling journals with ideas of what might be.

We read. We prayed. We grabbed hold of what we thought would be the right words — those spoken to us and over us in conversations with spiritual leaders and with friends. They were words of faith and promise. We even searched the scriptures to declare and confess God’s Word over our future.  

We sought the right words from women who appeared to have a level of fulfillment that we desired, hoping to find wisdom, guidance, and maybe even an escape route. Instead, we encountered the same restlessness in them that was in us. Every conversation seemed to lead to the same frustration: there must be more to life than this 

We found ourselves asking the question, How could so many seemingly with-it women–women of faith–be successful and stuck, just like us? 


The answer came through well-known scriptures in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 7. They so impacted our life that we made them the foundational verses for this company.  

You’ll find the heart of our purpose in Matthew 7:24-25. Jesus is speaking.

“These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock.” (Matthew 7:24-25, The Message)

Being fixed to the rock is a foundational principle for understanding how our partnerships with words and God’s Word works. The right words — foundational words — set things in place and keep them there because of a clear relationship with an immovable source.  

Building with words grounded in the Word of God does something that no other words can do for you. It’s not magic. It’s not mental gymnastics, positive thinking, mindfulness, or meditative practices. It’s building smart.

When foundational words are worked into everyday life, they change things from the inside out because they are alive with power and purpose. They are words that transform how you believe, think, see, and act. 

As Jesus continues the story, He contrasts foundational words with fluid ones. 

“But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards.” (Matthew 7:26-27, The Message)

The idea of using God’s Word is uncomfortable. It’s an approach that may actually carry street cred, social validation, even acceptance — at least at a surface level. But when the Word needs to work, there’s no power, fulfillment, or fixed foundation to build on. In short: Loose associations result in fluid foundations.

To build life with the right words is to build on the Word of God first

In Matthew 7:24-27 Jesus paints a picture of two very different foundation-building relationships with words. One builds a fixed foundation. The other doesn’t. There’s no in between. 

Building on and from God’s Word gives your own words gravitas… resolution… purpose… firmness... stability… power… weight. And words with weight function like rebar. They strengthen and support the structures, actions, thoughts, decisions, relationships, etc. that you call everyday life. And when tension or transition comes, these rebar-like words from God's Word keep you fixed and grounded. Immovable.


Partnership with the right words is about more than saying the right thing. It’s about a relationship, and not just any relationship. It’s about a relationship with the right Word — the living Word of God.

God has so much more to reveal about living your best life, and it all starts with purposeful partnerships grounded in His perspective.

This isn’t from a place of practiced religious action, though certain habits are going to be helpful. It’s from a place of authentic connection, sharing, listening, learning, loving and being led. 

God wants you to build life well even more than we do! He is not keeping His best from you. He's keeping it for you, and it is meant to be discovered in partnership with Him.

Now is the time to choose the right Word and break the cycle of living successful and stuck.

We’ve done this, and we're excited to come alongside you in this journey!

All it takes is one word to begin a new partnership with the right Word. That one word is, YES! A simple YES to stay connected to us here, each week. You'll get more messages with resources, encouragement, creative strategies, and inspirational conversations that will help you build life well with words that carry weight.

You may be successful and stuck today, but we believe the change you need is one right Word away.

Don’t wait. Join us, and let’s build life well, together!



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