The Secret to Moving Forward, Instead of Being Stuck, & Totally Changing Your Whole Life

T

he woman staring back at me from the mirror in these embryonic days of a new year, a new decade, she’s moving forward.

She needs to.

Ten years ago, on a January night: I handed in the manuscript for my first book, One Thousand Gifts.

And in the last decade:

We didn’t move anywhere.
We bought one used mini van.
My babies started leaving home.
They started coming back home holding someone else’s hand.

One kid dropped out of high school with our blessing.
One kid dropped out of university with our blessing.
Though there were agonizing stretches of being stretched to breaking points, all our kids are flourishing in the Lord, which is only a blessing from His hand.

Levi Voskamp
Levi Voskamp

Levi Voskamp
Grace Crafted Home
Levi Voskamp
Levi Voskamp
Levi Voskamp

I ate feasts of grace with oppressed in Iraq, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Haiti, Guatemala, Mexico, Ecuador, Lebanon, Greece and Bulgaria, and was made rich with purpose. We built a vocational school in Guatemala, dreamed up one fair trade subscription box, The Grace Case, launched one fair trade store, The Grace Crafted Home, and empowered countless oppressed families around the world.

We brought home a family from Syria.
We brought home a family from the Congo.
We brought home one baby from China.

One child was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
One child was diagnosed with Graves Disease.
One child had 2 open heart surgeries on her palliative heart while I prayer-paced hospital hallways and begged God for her life.

I wrecked holy things I never imagined I’d destroy.
I ruined things I couldn’t repair and I couldn’t imagine how to live through the next day.
I scarred people irrevocably.
I fought self-harming daily.
I nearly died by self-loathing repeatedly.

We survived a drought.
I survived heart failure.
We survived raising six teenagers. (That’s not one in the same thing, though some days it felt like it.)

Levi Voskamp

Levi Voskamp

I stopped putting anything with sugar in my mouth.
I stopped living without boundaries.
I stopped living like I had no agency, no hope, no way forward.
I stopped everyday to count my gifts and notice my givenness.

I started therapy. I started spiritual direction.
I started practicing a daily SACRED way of life.
I started fasting —from screens, from toxicity, from food, from noise — so I could feast more on God.
I started a daily examen, started praying the hours.
I started grad school at Wheaton.
I started walking at least 25,000 steps a day.
I started practicing a Daily Glory Soak outside every single day, rain or shine.
I started long listens of the Sacred Word.
I started running.
I started forgiving myself — because Jesus already has.

Things can change. People can change, stories can change, lives can change.

Things can move in a direction that you only dreamed.

Turn the pages of His Word and your life can turn around. Put one step in front of the other and you can have another life.

For too long, decades, I’ve struggled with agoraphobia, anxiety, panic attacks, self-harming. Old demons can revisit you when you thought you left no forwarding address.

So I did this: When I wanted to run away from myself, from the heartbreak, from parts of me, from all I was getting wrong, I started lacing up my shoes, and running slow down our lonely country road.

You don’t have to be good at doing something for it to be good for you.

I heave-panted through lumbering runs that were more like slogging slow jogs.

My lungs screamed. My heart pounded.

But what was loudest was this new narrative about a new me. For too long, I had felt like I was running out of time to become things I always wanted to be: Strong. Determined. Capable.

But running was proving I hadn’t run out of time: I could still change. I could become someone who wasn’t afraid of facing hard things, or who still was and did it anyways. I could forge forward, even when it seemed impossible. I could have a new identity, I could move from one painful way of being— into a sacred way of being.

This is what I discovered:

When I run, I run into a strength within I didn’t know existed. Every step forward proves that there is always a way forward. When you do something you thought you couldn’t do, you realize you can become someone different than you’ve been.

When you challenge yourself to move, you challenge your own perception of self.

I became someone who moved forward — even when she was overwhelmed.

And then on the hardest days, when I did hard things anyways: I was stuck by the epiphany:

Moving every day is how you move through stress.

Daily movement is how you ensure a daily stress movement. I found: If you don’t move daily, you experience stress obstruction in your soul.

When I move, stress moves out of me. A run helps anxiety run out of its adrenaline. One day at a time, I changed: The way to mental health is often by means of physical health.

Movement is a free strategy against discouragement.

And I moved every day not at a gym, but outside. Moving outside creates something of a miracle inside. The Japanese have a term for moving outside into nature; they call it “forest bathing.”

But I call it “Glory Soaking.” Because the whole earth is full of His glory, moving outside calms a heart full of trouble.

Daily Glory Soaks cleanse the mind, so the heart can fill with hope. When you feel like you’re drowning, a Glory Soak outside can keep the soul afloat on the inside. Running under trees began to root my soul.

Moving under sky moved me toward God.

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Levi Voskamp

Levi Voskamp

Levi Voskamp
Levi Voskamp

And when I couldn’t run away from the relentless story of failure that kept running on replay in my head, I began to listen to His Word while I ran and I let God’s Story in me play louder than any other story around me.

When I listened to Scripture while running, I could run away from the narrative of me and right into the narrative of grace. 

The relief of this was everything. I turned off all the noise of news and drama and distractions around me, and all the noise of fear and failure within me, and I just ran with my headset in, leaning into the language of God.  With every step, worries quieted, hushed, stilled — and all I could hear was the voice of God in my headsets, heart keeping time with His.

I move less for my physical health and more for the health of my soul.

And we have more than enough time every day to move toward physical, mental and soul health.

Every single one of us has 1,440 minutes  every single day — and every single one of us can use 30 of those minutes to move in some way, while being moved by the Word of God, to change the health of our whole lives.

30 minutes a day of movement — will change every other moment of your life. Guaranteed.

This is what changed my life as I started moving and the let the Word of God move me:

God became my Pacesetter.

God is my Pacer — and I just stay with the Pacer so I can finish impossible races.

The impossible race of parenting 7 children, of more than 25 years of marriage, of renovating an old stone church, of ministry, of serving, of life.

God is the steady, the consistent, the voice at the ear who shows how to take the next step, and the next step after that. I don’t have to keep up to anyone else — I simply have to keep company with God. I simply have to keep close to Him.

As I physically moved, and was spiritually moved by His Word, thoughts began to move through my mind differently, I began to process my world differently.

I felt stronger, braver, not just physically, but especially emotionally. 

The anxiety ebbed, the hope grew, hope that something was growing in me that I could rise to any  challenge.

Turns out: Courage is highly contagious, and bravery to do a Hard Thing in one aspect of your life, quickly spreads to all of your life.

Running gave me this rash of brave that spread hope across all of my life.

If I let my feet literally keep rhythm with God, fears stop driving my life.

If I put one step in front of the other, I move past all kinds of paralysis.

If I tune my heart, my feet, me ears, to Him, I tune out everything that is making me anxious.

If I stay in The Story, my life stays the course.

Levi Voskamp

Levi Voskamp

Levi Voskamp

People keep asking me if I am training for a race. And the answer is yes: I am throwing off everything that hinders (Hebrews 12:1) and training to run with perseverance and finish the race marked out before us, to keep the faith (2 Timothy 4:7).

The answer is yes: I am literally learning how to put one step in front of the other, to carry on, to keep carrying on.

The answer is yes: As I move, I’m moving beyond a life limited by smallness, by fears, by pain, by regrets, and I’m moving into God.

Putting on trainers is training me how to live.

Move and you begin to move farther, and further up and deeper in, than you ever imagined. Move and Hope moves into you. Move and you move into a new identity.

Day after day, I run with God’s Word at my ear and let God set the pace of my life, and when He’s the pacer, the pace of life changes, and my soul finds the pace of grace.

Listening to His Word while running becomes a kind of soul medication and meditation.

Moving under trees, the answer YES moves through the veins:

YES, I can change, YES, I can do hard and holy things because they are the next thing to get to the best thing, YES, I can let God move into me, YES, God can move into all of my moments, YES, my new identity is found fully in Him, YES to whatever this day and decade and road holds, YES, I can be moved by God who is always making a way for me to MOVE FORWARD!

Levi Voskamp 

When I come back from getting in a run, getting in the Word, and getting the Word in me, I look at the sweating, panting lady staring back at me from the mirror. 

We survived 100% of the worst days of the last decade — and God will make a way for us to move through every day of the year — when we let Him move through us.  

And I exhale into a smile. I have moved on and there is no fear here.  

When His Word begins to dwell in you, you come Home to rest.

“Get in the Word, get in a workout — and get the Word in you — to get back your Hope.”
– Ann Voskamp

Moved: Listen to the NT in 90 Days

Why listen?

Be spiritually moved by the Word of God, while physically moving — running, walking, cycling, any movement —- and watch your whole life move in the right direction.

Join the online #Moved90 community with @annvoskamp for encouragement: check out the hashtag #Moved90 on IG and FB.

Get in the Word, get in a workout — and get back your Hope.  

Moved: Memorization Companion Plan

Why listen?

What you know by heart, is what your heart will know in the dark. Scripture meditation and memorization is key to the eradication of lies — and the transformation of lives.

Join the online #Moved90 community with @annvoskamp for encouragement: check out the hashtag #Moved90 on IG and FB.

Get in the Word, get in a workout — and get the Word in you — to get back your Hope.  

[ (Not an affiliate, not an ad, not sponsored —- just being Moved by God’s Word while I moved every day — has completely transformed my life & am all in for more to get in a workout, get in His Word, get His Word into them — and get their hope back.) ]