All Sinew and Muscle


On the verge of breakthrough. Do you ever feel that way? It’s an amazing feeling that is usually wrapped in a little bit of terror. What’s going to happen?

Am I gonna lose it?

Am I going to fall apart?

Will it be messy?

I’ve been walking each day knowing that I was on the brink, knowing that it was going to be the day. A photoshoot, a stirring of my insecurities, wanting to pull the skeletons out of the closet and just be done with these stupid things.

Are you willing to fight for the best version of yourself? A question I have asked many times…


Utterly convicted I realize that I was willing in certain areas of my life, but not the competitive athlete part. That girl died a while back. There’s no need for her anymore, plus she has really big muscles and usually after she comes out to play for a bit the response is overwhelming,

“You’re a beast.”

“You’re a badass.”

“You’re an animal.”

“I wouldn’t want to get in a fight with you.”

“Please don’t beat me up.”

And the longing in my heart cries, but am I beautiful? Why would I want to get in a fight with you? Why would you even think I would want to beat you up?

Our society has marked strong women as something other than, well, WOMEN. We tend to become another breed, we are not allowed to just be women, still beautiful and at the same time strong.  There are assumptions made about who we are as people, some how strong women become something other than women who can lift a lot of weight, run fast, and jump high.

I was told in 5th grade by my teacher that if I didn’t start wearing more dresses and start acting more girly (stop playing sports with the boys at recess) that I was not going to go anywhere in life. REALLY?  Seriously? Come on!!! How many women (me included) have had their sexual orientation questioned because they were athletic…SERIOUSLY!!!!! What the have to do with anything? But, let me ask you this, how many women have been called some sort of name (butch, dyke, etc) because they were athletic…and guess how many might just start to believe it.  I read this amazing article the other day (This One’s for the “Butch” Girls) and it encapsulated so much of what I have been thinking.

My strength is what makes me who I am, it’s the way that God created me.  I can think about putting muscle on my body and I’m pretty sure it happens. I have realized in these past few weeks that this area is bondage, this lie that,

I am not feminine when I push to my maximum genetic potential,


I have believed it far too long and I have literally squelched part of God in me. I have let the world define what is beautiful and what is not. I have chosen to be less than the best version of me for fear of losing my beauty. I will now choose to believe that when I step into the arena of competition, my beauty and femininity does not leave me (Yes that is what I think, that when 3, 2, 1…Go hits that I’m no longer a beautiful woman created in the image of Christ). 

This will no longer be my story! I will no longer take God’s gift and sorta kinda use it. You have heard me say this before, and I shall say it again. The area where we are the most insecure is the area we are destined to be the greatest.  The enemy and world really don’t want us to figure this out, because if we do, BIG THINGS MIGHT HAPPEN!!! So as I wrote in my journal the other day,







The strength that is seen to the human eye serves to protect and support the spirit that lives inside of me. I see it now, I get it, VICTORY I must shout from the rooftops, is MINE!!!!

I pray this prayer for you, as my S.I.L. did for me yesterday,

“There’s something so beautiful about a woman who is strong. Not just in actual physical strength but emotional, mental strength, and spiritual strength. My prayer for her is for her to not ever choose to be less than what God created her to be. That she love every single muscle God chose to put on her body. That she will give herself permission to succeed. And that she realize that her compassion coupled with passion is going to be an unstoppable force for the Kingdom of God.”

-Ashley Crenshaw, Gypsy Jane Photography 

16 thoughts on “All Sinew and Muscle

  1. “A healthy woman is much like a wolf: robust, chock-full, strong life force, life-giving, territorially aware, inventive, loyal, and roving. Yet separation from the wildish nature causes a woman’s personality to become meager, thin, ghostly, spectral. We are not meant to be puny with frail hair and inability to leap up, inability to give chase, to birth, to create a life. When women’s lives are in stasis, ennui, it is always time for the wildish woman to emerge; it is time for the creating function of the psyche to flood the delta…It means to establish territory, to find one’s pack, to be in one’s body with certainty and pride regardless of the body’s gifts and limitations, to speak and act in one’s behalf, to be aware, alert, to draw on the innate feminine powers of intuition and sensing, to come into one’s cycles, to find what one belongs to, to rise with dignity, to retain as much consciousness as we can.”

    -Ms. Estes from “Women Who Run with The Wolves”

  2. I can relate on SO many levels…. Just add P.E. teacher to your list and you have me!
    I battled the same things you do, and it was wiped away entirely when I met the man who loves my strength and thinks I’m beautiful just the way God made me. Look at the woman in Proverbs… She is pretty bad ass if you ask me! It even says she strengthens her arms!
    Thanks for sharing! You ARE beautiful in all your strength.

  3. Lulu –
    I remember how mad I was at that teacher when you told me that. I remember going to school and telling her that she had no business telling you what to wear other than what was required for a portion of the day and that I was NOT going to make you wear dresses when you were going to go out and play football with your friends!! I remember telling her that you were as much a girl as anyone else regardless of what she thought or how she thought you should dress. In a very ‘flinty’ voice I told her she might want to rethink grading you down for your perceived infractions. The principal was a little chagrined when I showed up in his office with my tale of rudeness to my daughter. This momma bear was madder than hops! I was my own version of a badass that day. Nobody, and I mean nobody was going to mess with my girl and make her feel bad because she was an amazing athlete.

    When I look at the photo above the first thing I thought was how beautiful your arms and shoulders look. Taren’s words are RIGHT ON! Ashley’s prayer is perfect! And your description of yourself brought tears to my eyes. My heart was shouting YES!!!YES!!!YES!!!!

    You were born with muscles. (You were never very big but you were always very MIGHTY)
    Those muscles are what made you excel in school and sports and college and life.
    Those muscles are what give you a voice in many people’s world.
    Those muscles tell people that you know of what you speak.
    Those muscles held you together in a car wreck that would have taken the life of anyone else.
    Those muscles remind me of who I once was and am working at becoming again.
    Those muscles were designed specifically for you to carry you through your life just the way God designed it.

    You are fearfully and wonderfully made. I am so proud of how ‘strong’ you are…in all areas. People talk badly about things they don’t understand. They open their mouths and just fill the air with noise. I am glad you aren’t letting them fill your head with the same noise.

    I love my beautiful, strong, intelligent daughter that has a smile that lights up the room!

    • Oh Jan that was beautifully said!!!! I love the words of a momma about her precious baby (even if she is a woman)! I love what Lu said, it is a great reminder to love what God has created in us.

    • What a wonderful, supportive, loving mom! Isn’t it cool how things come full circle? Here you are are, reliving a chain of events from YEARS ago. God used that situation to grow Lu, you, and countless others. God heard your prayer, worked out over time, and today we get to celebrate a little less bondage. Amen!

  4. This is beautiful Lu…. Made me cry! Women all shapes & sizes can relate…. No matter our size we all battle with body image, insecurities & why? Because society tries to tell is what’s beautiful, what’s women, what’s standard, etc. Thanks Ellie for sharing her blog! Really needed this today!!! Lots of love ~ steph

  5. You are so eloquent and truthful in your writing, Lu. Thank you for sharing raw, emotional and beautiful. I say jealousy and insecurity to those that judge. Much Love, Auntie S

  6. This is spot on and very close to what God has been dealing with me about in my life. We are all created in His image and we need to remember to praise Him everyday for the gifts that He’s given us.

  7. Lu!! Thank you once again for reminding me that there is so much more!! I am beginning to walk into the fullness of my femininity and beauty. But today I choose to not leave out parts of me! Not to leave out the badass part and the strong part! I can and will be both! HAHAHHA BEAUTIFLYBADASS! HAHAHAHHAH Thank you Lu! Lord open a big door and send Lu through it into greater influence into greater authority into greater fulfillment! Let her have the desires of her heart!! Let her see multitudes first hand come into the reality and fullness of their true identity in Christ! Give her a platform! Give her a place Lord! Give her the resources! Give her the network! Jesus set her up for the greatest impact! Jesus bless this beautiful, amazing, overcoming woman!!!

  8. Pingback: Can You Stomach the Brokenness? |

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