Tag Archives: one thousand gifts

In the Stretching Moments

17 Nov

fullsizerender-1

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!

Advertisements

Broken and Not So Broken

6 Jun

This is my walking boot. I decorate it, of course.

“God, I’m in the place again/I’m trying so hard not to fall/But everything keeps coming down with the rain.”–Everyday Sunday

I’ve always appreciated melancholy songs.  There’s something about the toned down, raw nature of a rock band that grips my heart and makes me pay attention, like KISS’s “Beth” or Five Iron Frenzy’s “Every New Day.”  (Yes, I just mentioned KISS and Five Iron Frenzy in the same sentence.  Incidentally, “Beth” is the only KISS song I know.)

Since lyrics and song melodies move me, it’s understandable why I’ve danced my way into the genre of singer/songwriter in my old(er) age (though I still enjoy Southern rock, like Credence Clearwater Revival and more recently, NeedToBreathe.)  Lately, it seems, I find comfort in the likes of Bebo Norman (surprise, surpise!), JJ Heller, Audrey Assad, Josh Wilson, and Andrew Peterson.

See, I haven’t had an easy go of things lately.  In mid-May, I broke my left foot. Yes, friends, another broken foot.  As you may recall, I broke my right foot about 15 months ago…and the healing process for the right foot has been excruciatingly slow.  After a couple tests, my foot doctor discovered my Vitamin D level to be pitifully low and started me on a regimen 50,000 units of Vitamin D weekly.  That’s the boring medical part.

This happened a week after I made some changes in my life, after all night prayer sessions, talks with my pastor, and weeping before the Lord, I felt Him saying to me, as He said to Elijah as he ran for his life from evil Queen Jezebel, “The journey has been too much for you.  Rest now, My child, I will take care of the details.”  Two weeks after resigning as lead of a ministry and falling into a more manageable role on the leadership team, I broke my foot simply by getting up from (or rather down) from one of our counter height dining room chairs.

This started a longer-than-I-anticipated journey of rest–no driving, walking around with a rollator (rolling walker), going down the stairs with a cane, needing assistance with normal tasks like showering, shopping, and getting here and there.  Oh, and of course, resting with my legs elevated to improve healing time.  Alone all day in my apartment.  It sounds perfectly lovely to harried people who could use a day off, but it’s house arrest for a social, relational woman like me.

So I’ve been spending a lot of time talking to God and listening to music.  At first, I was struck with severe anxiety, which I believe was my anxiety disorder as well as a spiritual attack from the enemy.  I cried–wailed actually–and copied psalm after psalm from the Bible into my journal.  My fervency for God was strong and trust was a moment by moment walk.  While I don’t miss the panic attacks and tears, I wish I could maintain the level of urgency for God and His Holy Word when I’m not in the throes of fear.

I don’t always listen to music.  I like silence, too.  I can hear the birds singing merrily, the engine of the mail truck, laughter and screams from neighborhood children, the clink of my dog’s tags as she roams about the apartment, and my cockatiel’s own chirps.  So many ordinary sounds that make up the backdrop of this orchestra called life…and most of the time, I barely notice.

And I’m reading.  As much as I love to read, I don’t always make time for it.  Besides my Bible study reading (The Story and Crazy Love) and my daily devotional, Jesus Calling, I’m juggling three books right now–One Thousand Gifts, The Parable of Joy, and The Covenant Child.  My attention span seems to have increased as a result of my sitting in this stillness.

My writing life has been rich, though much of it has come alive in my journal–private conversations between God and me.  While this isn’t a measurable source of earthly wealth, it is the most important writing that I can do.  I call it “holy writing.”  If my purpose here on earth is to bring glory and honor to God, then my writing–for Him and Him alone–can have no higher calling.  Face down before the Throne of God, I write and write, like some ancient, inspired scribe.  Perhaps I will pick out thoughts to blog about here.  Or maybe write that book I’m always thinking about.

Don’t get me wrong.  I would never have chosen this path, but I am learning to be thankful for it.  I am grateful for the friends God has given to support me in this time.  It’s funny how my One Word for 2013 is LOVED and He is showing me how LOVED I really am! (Even when I start to believe the lie that no one cares, including God.)  Who would have thought the path to knowing I am LOVED would come with so much pain and brokenness–the actual physical breaking of another bone?  It seems all paths are littered with sorrow and suffering.  Is it any wonder that these are little Much Afraid’s guides to the high places in Hind’s Feet on High Places? (I plan to re-read the book as soon as I finish The Covenant Child.)

I am loved.  It rings loudly and clearly throughout my days, and it is revealed through so many ways and so many people.

If I hadn’t broken my left foot, my small group leader wouldn’t have moved our Bible study into her living room so I could attend showing me that I am LOVED.  (Thanks, Amanda!)

Nor would I have received a ride to the Bible study I lead from one of the attendees.  (Thanks, Patty!)

I would never have trusted God to help me make it up to the choir loft for praise team or give me strength to sing when my jaw ached with TMJD pain.  (Thanks to the Praise Team for their encouragement!)

I have moments of despair, when I feel God’s touch or receive a phone call or text or Facebook message.  These are precious things I gather into my heart.  Someone is praying or God is teaching me to trust Him more and more.  I hate the aloneness, and I love the intimacy with God.

If this hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t be writing this blog post.  Perhaps I’d write something else, or maybe nothing at all.  I know not the path I would’ve taken and it hardly matters because this is where I am.  Everything around me is speaking to me–the book One Thousands Gifts, reading the book of Ruth this morning (I was struck that Naomi was so very bitter and yet so very blessed through Ruth in the end.  In the middle, it seemed she would never have joy again), and in watching The Fellowship of the Ring last week. (Frodo never CHOSE for the ring to come into his possession, yet it did.  Yet he carried the burden anyway.  He chose to do the right thing in the midst of his circumstances.)

It’s a conscious choice, this choosing to be thankful and grateful in the midst of this disappointment.  Perhaps it’s a divine appointment to receive greater joy.  That’s an encouraging thought, isn’t it?

Tell me, how has God taught you to be faithful or thankful in the midst of something hard or disappointing?  What have you been reading lately?  Do you miss the fervency of intimacy with God when you aren’t going through trials?

Choosing what’s better for me, you, and Backseat Writer

6 Jan

The first week of January is the most depressing week of the year.  For me.  I’m sure there are some people who are thrilled to jump into a new year.  I’m not one of those people, which is probably why I always (and only) have a drink on New Year’s Eve (this year it was Seagram’s Berry Wine Cooler). 

But I usually have a pretty good idea where I’m going, at least with my writing. 

Not this year.

Not at all.

Seriously, people, I am wide open to suggestions from you, the readers.  I feel like 2011 opened me up, ripped everything out of me, and I’m like, uh, I have a blog?  What’s a keyboard?  Fortunately, I do know what a pen, journal, and a Bible are…

Admittedly, I became fairly delinquent in promised book and music reviews (as the piles around my desk would suggest.)  Sometimes I just don’t want to read anything but my Bible or devotional books (Jesus Calling is a favorite) or listen to anything but Bebo Norman (and the other artists I hold close).  Naturally, this makes it difficult to review the latest and greatest when I’m stuck in a nostalgic past.  As I’ve mentioned before, I was reviewing books and albums and whatever else just to get free stuff, and it amounted to nothingness.  I mean, some of the products were excellent, others subpar, but I didn’t do it for the love of the craft.  Lack of passion will really suck the life out of anything.

Now it’s 2012.  I’m listening to Jesus Calling: Songs Inspired By (right this very moment.)  I just started to read One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, but I might read something else.  I’m not really committed to anything at present. 

I am passionate about writing and reading and taking pictures…but I am more interested in being still, listening to God, and pursuing things that will make me well (physically, emotionally, spiritually).  Sometimes choosing what is better is choosing not to blog and not to write. Yes, it’s crazy talk for a writer!  My identity as a Child of God trumps writer every time.

Recently, in Jesus Calling, I read that others may not understand times when God’s children draw close to Him—to listen, to love, and to find rest.  It may seem that we’re simply lazy because blogs aren’t updated, Twitter accounts are silent, and emails are returned in a few days instead of a few hours.  But I’m CHOOSING what is better for me.

And in choosing what’s best for me, I want to nurture my readers as well.  Tell me, what do you like to read?  What do you want to see more of?  Less of?  Clearly, Friday Faves is a keeper, and you do seem to like my photography and personal posts.  Music reviews or book reviews? Do you generally like them or do you only want me to talk about books I choose to read? (Even if that means buying them myself?)

Please leave me some helpful commentary.  Or, if you’re shy, shoot me an email.  Friday Faves will return next week. Probably.

Friday Faves: Werewolf Attack Edition

5 Aug

I’m ba-ack!  Clearly, I’ve been “back” for over a week now, but I think I missed “Friday Faves” the most during my mini-vacation and blogging break.  For more deets on my adventures, check out my post on Backseat Reader, “Where She (Me) Went,” which also includes links to a ton of giveaways!

Now on to new business…I have survived a vicious attack by a [Boston terrier mix] werewolf named Bloodthirsty One [Buddy].  What, you ask?!  Werewolves in Macungie?!   Yes, friends, they’re not just in London anymore.  I suspect by the next full moon I will be howling at the sky, joining a pack of hairy dudes, and maybe getting a T.V. show of my very own called “30ish Wolf”, that won’t be nearly as awesome as the original movie starring Michael J. Fox.  I would show you a picture of the injury I sustained, but I fear the pictures are far too horrible to publish on the Interwebs.  Suffice to say, I had to get the BIG band-aids at Target, and yes, I did cry.

Not the werewolf who attacked me.

Fortunately, Bloodthirsty One [Buddy] doesn’t seem be accepting any new members into his werewolf pack  [is up-to-date on his shots],  only maimed me for life [my injury isn’t serious], and didn’t steal a bit of my soul [all my flanges are intact].  However, due to his heinous behavior,  I will not be reading any werewolf novels for a very long time.  I’m sorry, Andrea Cremer, author of Nightshade and Wolfsbane, but I can’t read your books now after what Bloodthirsty One [ Buddy] did to me.

Also not the werewolf who bite me. *Sad*

I won’t [will] relent, not even [especially]  if you, Andrea Cremer, personally send me autographed copies [or even random used ARCs] of your fascinating books.  Someone’s got to take a stand against these werewolves or we’re going to turn into that town on the Red Riding Hood movie starring Lehigh Valley native Amanda Seyfried.  I don’t care if her werewolf-boyfriend *is* hot; we can’t let these beasties push us around anymore.  Well, maybe the hot ones can take a little nibble…

Enough of this werewolf talk!  I have a lot of faves to share with you and anti-werewolf legislation to draft, so on with the show…

*Currently the Summer Giveaway Hop is in full swing!  Around 300 bloggers are giving away bookish goodies, including me!  Right here at Backseat Writer, you can win a copy of the book that “ruined me”Passport Through Darkness by Kimberly L. Smith (read review)!  The giveaways end on August 7, so get enterin’!

Munch Munch is available for adoption from Prarie's Edge Human Society

*Know what makes a great pet? (Not wanna-be werewolf Boston terrier mixes, that’s for sure!)  Guinea pigs!  In fact, my first pet was a lovely brown and white guinea pig I named Darcy.  I was a mere 6 years-old, but I was ready for the responsibility of caring for my guinea pig (my dad changed her stinky cage), feeding her healthy food (let’s just forget about that time I almost poisoned her with grass doused in weed killer), and of course, dressing her up in little outfits and carting her around in a toy baby carriage.  Come on, what girl doesn’t take her guinea pig for a stroll around the block?  When I saw PetFinder’s information on guinea pig adoption, I felt a little nostalgic about my ol’ guinea pig, Darcy.  Then I remembered Vanessa, Gwynne, Mya, Harry, and Abigail (R.I.P. one and all!) and decided that I should leave some GP’s alive for the rest of y’all.  Still, guinea pig adoption–what a great idea!

*You may think I only love Jonalyn Grace Fincher’s book, Ruby Slippers: How the Soul of a Woman Brings Her Home, because of its pretty sparkly cover.  While I admit Jonalyn’s book cover does start me into a Wicked sing-a-long, Ruby Slippers offers freedom for women who have long felt out of place in a patriarchal church society.  Similarly, Jonalyn continues the work she started in her book on her Soulation blog.  Recently, Jonalyn posted an intelligent response to Mark Driscoll’s “opinions” of gender roles.  I’m not going to lie; Mark Driscoll scares me.  Jonalyn, however, doesn’t back away from stating her opinion, even using *gasp* the Bible.  Here’s one of my favorite quotes from Jonalyn’s post: “Mr. Driscoll is another unfortunate example of theology that justifies strict gender roles wedded to a fallen male-driven honor culture. The mixture is toxic, not just for women, but for the men who must now take all responsibility for success or failure. Not even God thought Adam should handle all that.”  To read more of Jonalyn’s excellent insights, visit her at Soulation.org/jonalynblog.  You will love her, be challenged by her, and most of all, you will find unwavering honesty in Jonalyn Fincher.  (Her husband, Dale, is pretty special, too!)

*Maybe the video’s been posted on YouTube since May, maybe I told Bebo’s publicist that I would post this video 2 or 3 months ago. Maybe.  After the stress of my recent werewolf attack, I can’t be sure about anything.  And isn’t the important thing that I’m posting it now?!   The song is called “God of My Everything” and it is from Bebo Norman’s latest album, Ocean (Read interview.) I have a very special post about Bebo coming up in the next week or two (it’s heart-warming!), but until then, just watch this video repeatedly.  After all, Bebo Norman is my absolute favorite singer/songwriter on the planet.

*Finally, Crystal at SoulMunchies mentioned on Google+ that she started reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, and I said, “Crystal, what are you doing?  We need to read that together!”  Well, Crystal told me that she isn’t that far along and with my awesome reading skills, I’d be able to catch up to her in no time!  Without Crystal’s approval or knowledge, I invited other people to join us in reading the book, and I guess Crystal was OK with it since she ReTweeted it on Twitter.  Anyway, so if you want to read the book with us, let me know!  I have no idea what it means to read the book with us, but I’m sure it will be fun and glitter will be involved!  While I’m on the topic of glitter, I mean Crystal, I’d love for you to check out a wonderful post she wrote this week on BibleDude.net called, “I Will Not Leave You Orphaned.”  And it’s not a big advert for adoption either.  Read it, think on it, pray over it.  Thank you, Crystal, for your beautiful writing!

And, thank you, lovely reader, for supporting, reading, commenting, and subscribing to Backseat Writer!  A lot of writers say they write for the pure joy of writing, and while that’s why I write in my journal, Backseat Writer is all about reaching out to you!  So if you’re reading this, then I want to let you know how much I value you and thank you for being a part of Backseat Writer.  Have a wonderful weekend!

So…do you like or dislike werewolves?  What about Michael J. Fox–do you like him? What do you think his best T.V. or movie role was?  What was your first pet?  Are you thinking about adopting a guinea pig?  If so, what will you name him or her?  What did you think of Bebo Norman’s “God of My Everything” music video?  Did you enter my giveaway?  Want to read One Thousand Gifts with Crystal and me? Do you think I need to talk about more manly topics to get in touch with my male readers?  Doesn’t Jonalyn have beautiful hair?  I mean, doesn’t Jonalyn have a beautiful style of writing?

%d bloggers like this: