Cankles and Oak Trees

I have been cursed with cankles.


I quickly learned of this term ages ago when I couldn’t find my ankles to save my soul.  I looked high and low, but there wasn’t an anklebone to be found.  My long legs go straight from my knees to my toes with no definition in between.  Hence the urban term, “cankles”—calves and ankles all rolled up into one.  And from what I’ve learned, it’s hereditary, so I want to thank my great, great, great, great, grandmas.  I could have used a lineage of royalty and wealth, but no, they gave me poverty and cankles instead!  Gotta love family!

 photo: Renae Bowman


And that’s not the whole story.


I have a last name in my heritage that means trees.  Actually, it translates into forest, i.e., many trees.  Ugh.


Combine my family name, with my height of just under 5’11” with my cursed cankles, and I have always despised the reference to trees for me.  I always thought I was a living example of a huge ol’ tree.  Not a little delicate flower, not a glamorous part of the scenery, not a feminine fragile item…nope, a big ol’ round, masculine, tall, mammoth tree.  Do you get the picture of what I’ve had to endure for my life?  Downright depressing.


Until a few weeks ago.


Until I read the sweet words of my man, Isaiah.  I guess I had glanced over it before, but never “saw” it.


Right there in chapter 61, middle of verse 3, these words had new meaning for me:  “They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”


Say what?  Can my own, personal, family-lineage of mammoth people and straight legs actually be found in scripture?  Well, sure looks like it!


Ok, maybe I’m bending the Scriptures a bit to fit me, but really, a reference to a majestic tree?  I fell in love with the verse!


But what about you?  There may be definition beyond your knees, a lineage of great names, and petite clothes hanging in your closet, but you, too, are referred to as a mighty oak—a tree that has always been a reference to strength, resilience, and majesty.  Yes, you!


Isaiah was speaking directly to the people in this verse.  He wrote of the power of being planted by God to be seen great amongst the others.  Now that is a description I can live with!  How about you?


But, I wonder if you have times like me when I don’t always feel like an oak tree? Times when I don’t feel majestic and grand and proud, times when I feel puny in my faith, and stripped, and defeated.  Have you had these too?


It took an open field near my house to help me figure this out.  You see, in Southern California, oak trees aren’t prolific.  In fact, they are rare.  But in their place, we have scrub oak—trees that flourish and populate the hillsides.  They are from the family of oaks, but they are nowhere near the big ones.


And in looking at the field, thinking of Isaiah’s verse, and along with my lineage, and life’s problems…it all came full circle.


God’s intention and promise is to plant us and call us great Oaks.  That is our mission, to be righteous in our faith and display HIS splendor as grand as those trees.  But when life happens, and the times hit where we fall short of the majestics, we have to remember we are still part of the Oak family.  We are still a precious species that is synonymous with greatness, resilience and strength.


So if you live in the arid southwest, or the wet climates of every other state, or the lushness of a different continent altogether—find your oak trees.  Gaze upon them and see yourself.  Look at these trees as examples of your blessing from God to be a majestic splendor in the midst of muted plants.  Whether the species is scrub or grand, take heart that you are a mighty, mighty oak and will be called righteous among His children.


photo: Renae Bowman

10 Replies

  1. Renae, I love this!! I love trees, they are strong and majestic and durable and steady as you said. And also life giving, beautiful and downright comforting and fun (when you climb them, or hang swings on them, or sit under their glorious shade).

    So yay for trees!!

  2. Carrie

    Renae, you crack me up!! I love that you are someone who can turn something you’re “cursed” with into something so awesome! Which by the way, I clearly see ankle there in the picture. Your calf does not go straight down to your foot. Even if they did, you’d still be a majestic oak!
    Amazing how we can just beat ourselves up. It didn’t matter when I was slim and in tip top shape, I still felt fat. It wasn’t til I became overweight that I really knew what stigma was attached to being overweight. Oh how I beat myself up. Then I got to thinking – what can I learn from this? What am I supposed to be learning from this? Then I turned to God. I feel I got my condition because I needed to look inward. It’s still really hard at times to accept me for me on the outside but, because of some soul searching I became stronger in WHO I am than what some stranger may think of me when they see me.
    So now as I take my tired self to the gym, I will stand tall like a mighty oak!! 🙂 Thanks for this funny yet inspiring post!

  3. Meredith

    I love that I can now think of my cankles as a spiritual blessing!

    1. Who would have thunk, huh? Me, too! It’s comforting though, isn’t it Meredith? I don’t mind being called an Oak, anymore. Thanks for supporting us and stopping by.

  4. Lori Perez

    that was great. My ankles and my scar on my knee is only two reasons why I don’t like to wear dresses. By the way I did get a dress for the wedding. Mona and Bella helped me pick it out. Never thought of being an Oak. Love you

  5. Sheila Sanchez

    Being your sister I had to laugh this morning, we have joked about it for years. I love the way you turned what YOU thought was a negative to a positive. Here is another way to think about it… like the mighty oak that lives for hundreds of years our great grandma lived to almost 100 and our mom is 81! Guess God knew that they would be on her feet for many years so he padded their ankles to help them stand strong for all those years they have walked and worked 😉 So stand tall and strong girl, your height is an attribute many women wish for and your cankles are beautiful and may just support you to be 100. The women in our family are a “forest” of oak trees!! Thanks for making me smile and think, when I read your posts. Love you sis

    1. Luv you too, sis! Thanks for adding even more meaning to our “forest” of women. Love it. And through this verse, whether we have cankles and tree-meaning-names, or not, we are ALL mighty oaks in God’s kingdom. Thank you for added insight. 🙂

  6. Chrissy

    Now Renae, lift me up with a scripture for hereditary fat knees 😀

    1. I’ll get started…!! LOL!

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