In Others’ Words: Progress

“The fatal metaphor of progress, which means leaving things behind us, has utterly obscured the real idea of growth — which means leaving things inside us.” G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936), English writer

I came across this stop-me-in-my-tracks quote as I read author Ann Voskamp’s A Holy Experience blog.

I was reminded of it today as my husband measured the pencil marks lining the wall near our kitchen pantry. The oldest mark is dated February 4, 2007.  The most recent mark is dated April 15, 2012. Each pencil line charts my youngest daughter’s growth: tall, taller, taller … still growing.

And yes, each mark indicates things left behind. In 2007, CJ was 7 years old. Fourteen inches shorter than she is now. She was in second grade — a little girl, not a pre-teen.

I could choose to lament the little girl lost … or choose to look beyond what that viewpoint obscures, to “the real idea of growth,” as Chesterton says, and think of what those five years have left inside my daughter.

  • A faith revealed in a beautiful ability to lead worship
  • A sharp wit that often leaves her older siblings speechless
  • A desire to be courageous that causes her to push past her fears
  • A resiliency wrought through heartache most 11 year olds haven’t had to face
  • A way with words that hints at a talent for writing that thrills this writer mama’s heart


In Your Words: Ah, progress. Things lost. Things gained. What has been left inside of you in the past five years?

**I have a post over on the ACFW blog: Revising my view of Rewriting. I hope you stop by.**

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  1. Roxanne Sherwood
    April 16, 2012, 5:49 am   /  Reply


    • Beth Vogt
      April 16, 2012, 8:43 am   /  Reply

      Hope — and you are all the more beautiful because of it, Roxanne.

  2. April 16, 2012, 6:02 am   /  Reply

    Yeah for resiliency! Great job, Beth! Way to grow Beth’s DD.

    • Beth Vogt
      April 16, 2012, 8:43 am   /  Reply

      Resiliant — CJ is that, Wendy.

  3. April 16, 2012, 6:24 am   /  Reply

    A desire to keep moving forward. I like Roxanne Sherwood’s answer of hope as well.
    I have hope!

    • Beth Vogt
      April 16, 2012, 8:43 am   /  Reply

      TC — I am all about forward motion.

  4. Jeanne T
    April 16, 2012, 6:50 am   /  Reply

    Beautiful post, Beth. And look at how grown-up Christa is! For me, some of what is left inside is a better understanding of the necessity of humility in walking my days on earth. One of thing left inside me is a greater dependence on God as I figure out the hows of writing a story that brings glory to God.

    • Beth Vogt
      April 16, 2012, 8:44 am   /  Reply

      Humility and dependency on God — two signs of wisdom, Jeanne.

  5. April 16, 2012, 7:13 am   /  Reply

    Love this post. Love it. The last five years have wrought many things in me, but the number one is a faith that is my own. Not my parents’. My own. I’ve claimed it for myself, and I’m never letting go.

    • Beth Vogt
      April 16, 2012, 8:44 am   /  Reply

      Oh, Lindsay, I love your comment.
      Love it.

  6. April 16, 2012, 7:33 am   /  Reply

    Christa’s lovely. We have a similar ladder of pencil marks inside our guest-room closet plus others in last 2 homes, memories of sons and now grandchildren stretching on tip-toe, vying w/ each other for top spot. Some disciples did that with Jesus, sometimes we do. Things to leave behind? Tuning out little voices that used to demand and get attention, realizing with passing years that very few things are truly unsettling and those are dissolved or solved by what Jesus has to say on the subject–even if it takes a while.

    • Beth Vogt
      April 16, 2012, 8:45 am   /  Reply

      So wise, Dee — the need to tune out the wrong voices and realize what is needed & what is not.

  7. April 16, 2012, 7:34 am   /  Reply

    What a beautiful young lady! And for the words of this post – it sounds like she’s every bit as beautiful on the inside!!

    • Beth Vogt
      April 16, 2012, 8:45 am   /  Reply

      She is, Katie. She is.

  8. April 16, 2012, 7:39 am   /  Reply

    I still remember Christa with face paint that day we met her at Deep Thinkers, when she and Rob came with you!

    And the last five years have left, I hope, a greater dependency on God. And I just realized that I copied Jeanne’s answer… 🙂

    • Beth Vogt
      April 16, 2012, 8:46 am   /  Reply

      Hope … that was my word for 2012.
      And it seems like you and Jeanne are tracking each other these days …

  9. April 16, 2012, 9:14 am   /  Reply

    Aww, Beth, your daughter is beautiful! I love how you look forward to the future unfolding, not stay in the past already folded and tucked away in memories. The things left inside of me the past five years have served to draw me so close to God. Priceless. Absolutely priceless.

    • Beth Vogt
      April 16, 2012, 4:06 pm   /  Reply

      With 3 older kiddos, I’ve learned to embrace my kiddos’ futures while cherishing the memories.
      And being drawn closer to God — that is priceless.

  10. April 16, 2012, 9:19 am   /  Reply

    This is an awesome question, or rather, challenge. I can’t answer because there isn’t room here, and I need to shush the voices and think about it. ( 🙂 ) I’m so “pedal to the metal”, eyes on the horizon of where I want to be that I’m often blind to how far I’ve come, how much I’ve grown, what the Lord had done in me, what he’s deposited in me for his glory & safekeeping. The faults and what I’ve failed to do are easy enough to list. (I don’t wish being a selective defective perfectionist on anyone…)

    Roxanne, I share yours: HOPE. And more recently, I’ve acquired a sense of TOTAL ACCEPTANCE AS IS. (That was a tough one to install, it kept falling out for the longest time…) These are like the defibrillator doctors use to restart your heart, the thing with the paddles. The thing that keeps you going when you’re nearly a goner. I know I will find more measures of progress, but they will take looking in from an unbiased (non-critical) perspective. I think I’ll post what I find on my own blog rather than take up all your lovely space, Beth. 🙂 Thank you for the thought-provoking prompt, as always.

    What an amazing, precious girl you have. And what an intuitive mom she has to spot & call her wonderful gifts. As beautiful as she is, these are the gifts of the soul that outshine and outlast outer beauty. I would do well to give such a gift to my daughter and sons.

    Thank you!

    • Beth Vogt
      April 16, 2012, 4:06 pm   /  Reply

      Camille, I always love it when you join our conversation.
      I look forward to reading a post on this over on your blog.

  11. Loree Huebner
    April 16, 2012, 11:16 am   /  Reply

    Beautiful young lady!

    Hope, joy, trust, and strength are left inside of me.

    • Beth Vogt
      April 16, 2012, 4:07 pm   /  Reply

      Hope, joy, trust, strength: all treasures.

  12. April 16, 2012, 12:05 pm   /  Reply

    Having met Christa, I know how beautiful she is–inside and out. Truly a remarkable young woman. And look at her mama–no wonder. 🙂

    I’m clinging to my One Word for 2012–Faith. God continues to anoint my faith and validate my fears, but promises I’m not walking this path alone. By continually putting people and words in my path, His promises are a constant reminder of His unfailing faith. And I’m so thankful.

    • Beth Vogt
      April 16, 2012, 4:07 pm   /  Reply

      I’m with you, Lisa.
      Focusing on one word this year (Trust) is a way to see what God is working within me.

  13. April 16, 2012, 12:27 pm   /  Reply

    Your daughter is beautiful, Beth!

    Wow, five years ago I didn’t have any children and now I have two. Along with those children came permission to dream and to be who God made me to be.

    • Beth Vogt
      April 16, 2012, 4:08 pm   /  Reply

      I love what you said about your children being “permission to dream and be who God made me to be.”
      So often, people think our children hold us back.
      I know my children helped mold me into the woman I am today.

  14. April 16, 2012, 1:32 pm   /  Reply


    The last five years have been filled with change as my writing career began and my primary role as stay-at-home mom came to and end. I’ve learned a lot about myself during this transition, and I like to think I’ve grown as a result of those lessons.

    • Beth Vogt
      April 16, 2012, 4:09 pm   /  Reply

      I am certain you have grown — and I’ve seen how you’ve blessed others with who you are.

  15. April 16, 2012, 1:59 pm   /  Reply

    My mom became sick 4 1/2 years ago. The word I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is… PROMISE.

    • Beth Vogt
      April 16, 2012, 4:09 pm   /  Reply

      Promise is a hope-filled, life-giving word.

  16. April 16, 2012, 2:41 pm   /  Reply

    I have learned to let go and let God. A-ma-zing how that works. 🙂

    • Beth Vogt
      April 16, 2012, 4:10 pm   /  Reply

      Indeed it is.
      I know sometimes I let go, and take it back.
      I want to truly let things go — and never, ever take them back into my hands.

  17. April 16, 2012, 3:49 pm   /  Reply

    Transition. I love the growth chart. Last year, we added my son to his grandparent’s wall. He didn’t understand all the fuss, but hopefully will when he sees his name among other family members.

    • Beth Vogt
      April 16, 2012, 4:10 pm   /  Reply

      Transition: it’s powerful.

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