Tag Archives: christian life

In the Stretching Moments

17 Nov

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For over three years, I’ve been walking on a broken foot.  Every step towards something or away from something was taken on a foot that wasn’t healed. Because I didn’t know it was broken, I walked on it anyway.

Often times, my foot would was sore and swollen. My podiatrist assured me I was fine, just suffering from tendonitis.  She told me to keep doing my normal activities and gave me a strong painkiller.  So I worked out, jumped, played, drove, shopped, and swam.  I walked on a boardwalk, on a sandy beach, on the sides of beautiful rivers, chased children and puppies, and I stood.  When I stopped taking the painkiller, which masked what was going on in my body, it hurt too much to stand. It hurt so much to walk, at times I would fight back tears.

Right now, it hurts too much to stand.  Sometimes I fight back tears.

So I’m in physical therapy, learning how to stretch my muscles and tendons because my broken foot doesn’t work properly.  It can’t do what it was designed to do—to roll from the heel to the toes—to carry me from place to place.

The muscles in both feet are atrophied. Therefore, they’re learning how to be strong again through stretching and bending and pulling and aching.

And the stretching out hurts.

As stiff muscles are pulled this way and that, they burn and the burning makes me nauseous.  Yet I keep stretching because I know my foot won’t always be broken.  I know that the stretching will provide the healing I need.  I know the muscles will become strong.

My foot isn’t the only thing that’s broken.  In fact, in many ways it has taken a back seat to my broken heart and crushed spirit.

See, I was doing life broken and crushed I didn’t realize it.  From the business (busyness?) of doing ministry and life, my spirit had become atrophied.

And now I’m in the place of the stretching out—finding a new place to belong, putting myself out there to make new friends, healing from wounds that are still bleeding, and pulling on  muscles that are rigid. 

I’m opening my hands before God, for He is the One who gives and takes away

The stretching out is uncomfortable, but I’m trying to see it as a gift.  Everything God gives me or allows to happen in my life is part of the stretching.  He is making the hard places malleable and builds strength in the weak places.

The stretching is necessary if I’m ever going to walk right again…and I don’t just want to walk, I want to run!  I want to run the race He has given me to run.

It is strange how God still allowed me to walk broken and to do ministry so crushed, yet that’s His mercy.  Maybe we’re all broken, but He only makes us aware of the areas of brokenness as we can handle them, as we become ready for Him to heal them in our lives.

I’m walking broken—physically and spiritually and emotionally—but I am still walking.  Isn’t that really the point of this race we call life?  Whether we rest or run a marathon, we keep on going.  Whether we’re warming up for a sprint or drinking Gatorade on the sidelines, we look at what is ahead, not behind

And sometimes we’re in the stretching, the waiting and the trusting for the moment God will let us run loose.  We will be stronger, faster, and more like Him because of the stretching.  The brokenness and the stretching is all part of the life race. 

Unlike other races, It’s not about who wins.  It’s about how we get there.  Because we were made to run.

*This post was heavily inspired by Jennie Allen’s RESTLESS Bible Study and Ann VosKamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts.  I highly recommend both resources!

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Book Review:: Permission to Speak Freely by Anne Jackson

7 Sep

“What is one thing you feel you can’t say in church?”  It’s a question author Anne Jackson posed on her blog, receiving a worldwide response.  Readers mailed hundreds of confessions, some artistic, some simply written on index cards to Jackson who cataloged the responses on PermissionToSpeakFreely.com.  Jackson uses these artistic avowals along with essays and poetry in her astounding new book, Permission to Speak Freely.

In the introduction, Jackson outlines her purpose for putting together Permission to Speak Freely; she wants to let others know they are not alone in their secrets.  She is also clear that her intention is not to malign the church, but rather to allow broken hearts to express their woundedness.  In the end, the author desires readers to find the irresistible hope rooted in God.

Since Anne Jackson is one of my favorite bloggers, it was with eager expectation I began to read Permission to Speak Freely, which is also like an essay-guided PostSecret book, but better!  Incorporating telling art and poetry into her lush writing, Jackson produces her own mosaic masterpiece with the glass shards of her own story.  Admitting her past and present struggles with mental illness, pornography, and drug addiction, Jackson offers the readers freedom to admit their own shameful secrets, first in their minds and then to close friends, small groups, or even PermissionToSpeakFreely.com.

While this book could have easily fallen into an art niche or essay niche, it’s not that kind of book.  In fact, the infusion of Scripture, art, essay, and poetry make this a book that is a treasure, both visually and intellectually.  At times, this book is challenging because readers are meant to wrestle with this book.

Permission to Speak Freely has changed me as a person.  So many books about Christian freedom come from the perspective of male authors, the fact that Anne Jackson is a woman immediately made me more receptive to her message.  And because she is a woman, I believe that her struggles resonate with me in a deeper way, which is not to say that she is not massively appealing to both genders.  Her book is for everyone and really should be read by everyone.  And I do mean everyone, though I fear some may not be ready for the freedom Jackson offers Christians.

Thank you, Anne, for having the chutzpah to write this marvelous book!

Amy’s Grade:: A

**Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”**

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