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Thursday, May 12, 2005

Stretch Marks

With Mother's Day a recent memory and bathing suit season nipping at my heels, stretch marks happen to be much on my mind. After three children I have plenteous battle scars... all the way down to my knees. :-) I kid you not. Then the varicose veins take over. I'm a lovely colored map from my belly button to my toes.

Lest you question the validity of my stretch mark claims, let me share the weight of my third baby. Eleven pounds, eight ounces.

And all the moms groan for me, right?

Needless to say I do have stretch marks. One does not birth a three month old without some wear and tear. I'd like to say I look at those marks proudly. But I don't. I try to hide them every chance I get. On the other hand, I look at my baby very proudly. She's a delight to my heart, this side of my belly.

Then I thought of other stretch marks I'd like to hide as well. Those of a more spiritual nature. You know, those times when God sends circumstances into our lives that stretch us to the breaking point and often beyond.

I'd like to say I look at these growth opportunities with joy. But I don't. At least not at the time. I'm learning to count it all joy, but that's hard. Especially when the stretching visits places where I thought I'd been broken and healed.

Like my marriage.

In many ways I believed I'd done my time, spent a decade in the school of hard knocks, and recently arrived at a new and healthy place. I was hoping to retire my work gloves and whistle my "Don't worry, be happy" song. I'd earned some R&R, right?

Nope.

In the first place, I hadn't earned a thing. God, in His amazing love and grace, opened my eyes and heart to His healing work. Which is why I am in that new and healthy place.

But there’s still more work to do.

Thankfully, God knew this current stretching place would come and so He provided some neat tools specific to my need, designed to reach my heart. Just to remind me of His love.

He's such a cool Daddy.

The first is a great book called The DNA of Relationships by Gary Smalley It was given to us at the Marriage Intensive and, in connection with all we learned there, this book was a great refresher. God used one of the last things Gary said to tap me on the shoulder and remind me to listen closely. In chapter nine Gary said, "Even with the best of intentions, even when we know this material backward and forward, we can still slip into the old patterns and make a mess of things. But, thank God, when we realize our mistake, we have the ability to stop the madness and get back to sanity~ and back to building a healthy, safe, satisfying relationship."

Great thought to keep in mind I said. If I ever need it that is...

Today, I needed it.

I can’t believe I thought for a second I wouldn’t. I’m so glad God loves me and because He loves me He sends things to remind me I’m not as not as strong as I think.

Like Rich Mullins song “We are not as strong as we think we are.” In it Rich sings, “When you love you walk on the water
Just don’t stumble on the waves
We all want to go there somethin’ awful
But to stand there it takes some grace
Cause oh we are not as strong as we think we are.”

It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who jumps out of the boat like Peter and then stumbles on those pesky waves.

Waves like adjusting to my husband going back to work after a year and a half of running his own web design company from our home. I get scared by the salty spray of change and forget to cry out, “Jesus, save me!”

So God provided another amazing book this morning. This one speaks to my heart every time I pick it up. It's called Objects of His Affection by Scotty Smith. This morning I wrote some of Scotty's words in my journal. "Foolishly we prefer fig leaves to the garments of God's grace." But, "God will not be deterred in getting our attention." He loves us too much to leave us alone.

Wow. God loves me enough not only to stretch me to the point of brokenness and beyond to healing, but He also keeps stretching me so I'll experience more and more of Him.

That's love.

A love so deep and so compelling that I can't look away. I don't want to. Even when it leaves stretch marks on my heart that rival the ones decorating my legs.

So here’s my invitation.

It’s an invitation to be stretched. To come join me in some wave walking.

But only with our hands in the Master’s hand.

Life is full of frightening waves and stretching circumstances. And stumbles and stretch marks are a part of the process. Today I realized they’re a part I’ll just have to accept. They don’t mean I didn’t get what I learned before. They just mean there’s more.

More times I get to reach out my hand and find Jesus there. Always there.

You know something else? As I write this, I'm slowly getting that stretch marks are something to be proud of and even something for which to be thankful.

Because the ones on my thighs mean I carried a precious bundle that was worth every single line.

And the stretch marks on my heart? They show that God is faithful to complete the work He's begun ~ one stretching place at a time.

7 comments:

David said...

Amy,

Just to let you know...you are beautiful from your head to your toes (including your stretch marks)!

Thank you for sharing your heart with me. I love seeing you share it so beautifully with others through your writing. God is truly doing a wonderful work in there.

Love, David

Amy Wallace said...

You are so good for my heart. And your words touch my soul.

Glad we keep running back to God and living out forgiveness.

I love you!
Amy

upwords said...

Amy,

Eleven eight?

:::thud:::

My biggest was nine-ten and I became hysterical at one point! LOL As for stretch marks, well, can you say roadmap? LOL Thanks for sharing.

Blessings,
Mary

Amy Wallace said...

Thanks for posting! Would you believe my eleven eight princess was three weeks early???

Double thud! ;-)

Amy

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