“Can’t Never Could.”






“Can’t never could. ” ~ Lydia S.

My assistant for a few years was Lydia.  I love her dearly and am so thankful that our paths crossed. She’s a cancer survivor. She’s mother who has lost an adult child to a heart attack. She’s a woman who has lost a husband. She’s a woman who worked whole-heartedly in the school system on days when some might want to give up and not be vested. She’s a woman who enjoys her life. She’s a survivor. Some survivors focus on the story leading  up to the survival. They focus on the fact that they survived and can unintentionally let their survival be a road block to what’s beyond the survival.

Not Lydia.

Lydia has used all that she’s endured to help her live life well. She laughs easily. She speaks truth in a way that makes me laugh out loud because it’s uncensored and free and true. She loves well and calls our students her babies even now that she has had to be out of school due to cancer treatment.

She has a lot of sayings, but my favorite one is “Can’t never could.”

She’d say it to students when they’d say “It’s toooo harrrrrd….”. And I’d hear it.

She’d say it when referring to people making choices that make the hard harder. And I’d hear it.

And now that I only see her every few months or so over a cup of coffee at her home, well, I still hear those words in my head….”Can’t never could.”


Because sometimes I hear “I can’t” pretty loud in my head…and the cool thing is, that when I hear that, I pretty soon hear a few other things–like Lydia’s voice saying “Can’t never could.”  I hear a verse that says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (a verse I memorized decades ago and have been strengthened by so often.)  So when “I can’ts” scream, well, the whispers of my dear friend Lydia and the voice of Paul in scripture speak so much more loudly and clearly. Am so thankful for that.


We all feel like the “Little Engine that Could” sometimes. We have a mountain ahead, and people relying on us who need us to step on, press on, and overcome. When my kids were little, I’d sing them a song, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can, I WILL!”  I still sing it in the classroom and get the occasional eye roll from a student which mimics the occasional eye roll that I’d get from my kids as I sang it. But it’s true. And it feels pretty good on the other side of the mountain to, like the Little Engine that Could say “I thought I could, I thought I could, I thought I could”  (I did!!).


I don’t  know if you’re facing any situations which cause you to hear “I can’t” in your spirit.  It could be a financial stressor, or a relational divide. It could be decisions about jobs or family. It could be a huge life changing decision, or a small step… Heck, it could be doing the piled up dishes and laundry because you’re tired and have gotten behind. Or, it could be being ‘all-in’ in the privilege of taking care of small children and the million task that requires from dawn to dusk, day to day.

DSCN4862Or it could be life-threatening issues like illness and addictions. But if you are feeling discouraged and hearing the “I can’t” s in your heart and mind which lead to discouragement, well, I just want to encourage you (and me) to not give weight to the “I can’t”s , but to give full attention to the ” I cans”. There are always things we can do…and sometimes doing those helps us to get the courage and strength and momentum to do what we might feel we can’t do.  Another voice I often hear in my heart is Elisabeth Elliot, and one of the things I hear most often is….”Do the next thing.”  Yep. Do what you can, and bring what you can’t to the throne of grace and ask God to help you do what you can’t.

Another thing I hear Elisabeth Elliot  say is “In acceptance lies peace.” Well, there’s truth  in the fact that while there are things we can control , there are things we CAN’t.  It’s true. And those things that we can’t control? Well, those are the things we CAN accept as not ours to handle.  Yep. “In acceptance lies peace.”


As I’m writing this, I realize it’s Memorial Day Weekend…a weekend to remember so many folks who rose above the “I can’t”s. Their willingness to serve in difficult times and situations made all the difference in our freedoms. We can make a difference in our lives and the lives of others. We truly can. But ‘can’t never could’.  It’s an honor to acknowledge those who served our country.


It’s also an honor and a privilege to get up everyday and live with gratitude knowing that we Can face the challenges of the day—one little bitty step at a time. Sometimes it’s a step. Sometimes it’s a leap. But what and who we listen to can make all the difference in the journey. I’m thankful for my Lydia whose voice reminds me to keep on keeping on, because ‘can’t never could’.


Pressing On ❤ (Hosea 6:3) ~




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