Beauty from Brokenness: The Life Quilt

God made my life complete when I placed all the pieces before him…. God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes. Psalm 18:20, 24 MSG

Life Quilt

There’s a life story pieced together in this quilt.

In silk and satin, velvet and brocade, scraps of fine fabrics were elegantly and expertly stitched together, decorated with delicately painted flowers and butterflies, and ornately embellished with embroidered flowers, leaves, and fans.Quilt piece

Each scrap connected to a memory, each flower a symbol of an emotion, each stitch a thought to put on display.

Made beautiful from broken pieces, it’s a scrapbook of life left behind by a young woman…who had no one behind her to leave it to. When her heart-broken husband gave it to my great-grandparents, he neglected to read it to them.

Who are you?

Your quilt hangs in my living room, where I’m able to appreciate its beauty every day…yet your life story is a mystery I desperately wish I could read…and a novel I’d love to write.

quilt dandelionWhy silks and velvet? A Portuguese immigrant living in Martha’s Vineyard in the 1800’s, the wife of a ship’s captain, does not wear high society fabrics such as these. You had no children…no scraps of Sunday dresses or little boys knickers to piece together in remembrance of their laughter. So was the brocade to remind you of beauty? Are there more sorrows than joys sewn in the stitches?

Is yours a story of a hoped-for life never lived?

Tulip pieceYour embellishments speak the Victorian language of flowers: a painted dandelion hints at a flirtatious encounter, the repeated tulips at various types of love.

A sunflower tells of your pure and lofty thoughts, and the most repeated feature–the oak leaf–of strength.

But is it your strength or another’s you speak of?

oak leafThere are snowdrops for hope and comfort, and finally…the butterfly.

Butterfly                                                                            A symbol of the resurrection…

the place where the broken pieces of every life are made whole, and all stories are re-written in the words of redemption.

Thank you, lost heroine of your own story, for the beauty you created with the broken pieces of your life.

I pray the story of my own life would read so beautifully one day.

Linda Crawford

Linda Crawford
©Linda Crawford 2013

Friends Photos: Love Redeemed

Today’s theme is “Love Redeemed” and comes from my dear  friend Melody, who shares the beauty minute she discovered in the memory of one very un-beautiful Valentine’s Day.

What does “Love Redeemed” mean to you?

Valentine’s Day Rewind: Love Redeemed

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

Broken HeartIt was on this “day of love” eleven years ago that I discovered my husband had not only purchased gifts for my daughters and me, but also for another woman.

While I have forgiven him many times for his decision to walk away permanently, there is always the memory that pops into my mind on Valentine’s Day.

So where is the beauty?

It is the power of Christ to make all things new.

Love Redeemed: Melody and Jon - married September 2011

Love Redeemed: Melody and Jon – married September 2011

It is the faithfulness of God to work all things together for good.

It is in knowing that what the enemy meant to steal, kill, and destroy, God turned into a beautiful masterpiece.

There’s a beauty minute in today’s memory that I choose to gaze upon joyfully.

God’s love redeems.

~Melody

Anything Can Happen: Valentine Party!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Remember the days when you used to give Valentine’s cards to all the kids in your class?

We’re having a party like that here today, sharing different Valentine “cards” on our Facebook page that you can pass on to friends and family. We’ll be posting different cards all day, so you can share the love with everyone!

To join the party click the Facebook “like” button on the left side of this page or click here!

Valentine card

©Linda Crawford 2013

The Face of Beauty: My Valentine

I heard his voice and my heart was won.

My Valentine

I knew.

His love healed the wounds from others.

His truth battled the lies and won.

His arms released my pain so joy could live again.

He’s never given up on me.

To be truly loved is a beautiful, beautiful thing.

Love you forever, my valentine.my valentine

Love never gives up

© Linda Crawford 2013

Writing in the White Space: Joy Floats

Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope! Romans 15:13 MSG

JOY floats

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Joy…

Joy is a red balloon floating into a deep blue sky…far above the noise and clutter and confusion of earth.

Joy floats.

It’s free and I wonder sometimes where the helium of joy can be found in this earth-bound life.

But then I breathe . . . and the very breath of life is inhaled deep into my being from the source of life.

Joy takes flight again.

I float above life. I touch the sky and laugh ’till it hurts, tickled by the freedom of the reality of it.

Joy floats, and I soar with it and upon the breath of it.

And live beyond myself . . . again.

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Vytvoření! 

Linda CrawfordEach Monday we celebrate the beauty of words…written in the white space–the empty room of freedom of thought–where words are created that sing, dance and illustrate life’s beauty.

©Linda Crawford 2013

Need You Now: Six Minute Sabbath

On Sundays we slow down here.

We take six minutes to sit at His feet and read His beauty in words, pictures, and music.

To heal is to let the Spirit call us to dance. The mystery of the dance is that its movements are discovered in the mourning. – Henri Nouwen

In my dark hours, when I feel trouble will overwhelm me, I cry-sing this song…and find healing in the beauty of calling out for Jesus…who takes my hand…and leads me to the dance.

May He do the same for you today.

Beauty from Brokenness: The Becoming of an Artist

broken man

Jesus is the supreme artist, more of an artist than all others, disdaining marble and clay and color, working in the living flesh. – Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh was a broken man when he first picked up his paintbrushes and pen.

He wanted to be a missionary, to follow in his father’s footsteps as a pastor.

Giving away all his possessions, he lived with the peasants he ministered to.

That wasn’t deemed fitting for a man of God.  It was deemed scandalous…and the church kicked him out.

In his brokenness, Vincent found a new purpose from God:

In that deep misery I felt my energy revive, and I said to myself, in spite of everything I shall rise again: I will take up my pencil, which I had forsaken in my discouragement, and I will go on with my drawing. From that moment everything has seemed transformed for me.

The becoming of Vincent van Gogh had begun.

He set out to paint sermons instead of preaching them.

Self-taught, Vincent professed he would rather paint people’s eyes than cathedrals, “for there is something in the eyes that is not in the cathedral.”

van Gogh

Later in life, as his brushstrokes became more bold, his colors violently vibrant, he wrote: “The uglier, older, meaner, iller, poorer I get, the more I wish to take my revenge by doing brilliant colors, well-arranged, resplendent.”

That’s coloring life beautiful.  🙂

gladiolas

Despite all the hardships and despair he suffered, and despite never receiving recognition for his art during his lifetime, Vincent van Gogh embraced beauty.

Henri Nouwen wrote of Van Gogh: “What beauty, what joy, and what ecstasy he was able to embrace. Mourning calls for dancing, dancing for mourning. Glory is hidden in pain. And in this mysterious duality that has become a duet, Vincent celebrates life.”

His brokenness became his art. His art, the sermon of his life . . . beautiful.

What sermons will you paint, write, create, and live today?

All the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross. Colossians 1:20 MSG

The broken pieces©Linda Crawford 2013

To read more about Vincent van Gogh click on these links:

Becoming van Gogh

Van Gogh’s Letters

Van Gogh: The Life

From Preaching to Painting: Van Gogh’s Religious Zeal

Friends Photo: Winter Beauty

Today’s theme is “Winter Beauty” and comes from my wonderful friend Niki, who went looking for beauty in a winter season of life.

What does “Winter Beauty” mean to you?

Burning Within Us

For the past three years life was extremely hard; several people I cared for deeply were struggling with mental illness. It was a dark, terrifying, lonely road; there’s not much help out there.

But in the midst of it, one day God told me to take a picture of a flower. As I did, I was amazed to see His face smiling back at me through my camera lens. He took my breath away, He was so beautiful!

For a moment I stepped outside my pain and captured a sparkling glimpse of God’s amazing, graceful beauty. It gave me hope. I so desperately needed hope.

Winter was hard though; everything was dead, it was so depressing!  But recently I heard this:

Winter is an etching, Spring a watercolor, Summer an oil painting, and autumn a mosaic of them all. Stanley Horowitz.

So, I went out to find etchings, and the image above is one of the results.

God took a leaf-less, barren tree and, with software magic, brought it to life with a glowing beauty

Just like the Holy Spirit does with our broken hearts and lives.

The Lord came…

To comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion-to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes. Isaiah 61:3

 Burning within truly does reveal a crown of beauty.

NikiNiki Moran is a 50-year-old (yikes!) single woman living in Fort Collins, Colorado. She is a Project Manager by day and is reconnecting with her artistic roots by night. Her blog is the creative outlet for her writing, photography, and love of Jesus: www.GleaningtheNuggets.com. She is honored to share a Beauty Minute! Thank you, Linda!

 

Anything Can Happen: Everybody is a Genius

Anything can happen here on.You're a Genius

Even a fish in a pair of glasses.

Never forget that you are fearfully and wonderfully made, which means you ARE a genius!  🙂

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14

Genius©Linda Crawford 2013

The Face of Beauty: Amanda

People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

As you have the light, believe in the light. Then the light will be within you, and shining through your lives. You’ll be children of light. John 12:36 MSG

Amanda

And we know that God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28

Amanda’s story:

I have wrestled with this verse for a LONG time.

I look at the trials I have faced in my own life and think that no good could come of it. Or that it wouldn’t be enough good for it to be worth what I’ve endured.

Now my journey includes Bell’s Palsy.

Bell’s Palsy onset- September 16, 2011

Six months after onset, the doctors said that was it. I would see no more change. And I haven’t.

After receiving the diagnosis I kept asking “why?” I thought about extreme tragedies that have turned out for “good.” I thought about people who have endured far worse and say they wouldn’t change it because of how God has used it.

But I’m not changing the world.

Struggling through unemployment, miscarriage and now Bell’s Palsy, won’t leave my name in the history books.

So how do I find joy in the midst of my circumstances? What “good” is coming out of my struggles?

The answer I’ve come to is this…

If I allow Him to, God will use my time here on earth to make me more like Christ.

And that needs to be enough “good” for me.

Satan wants to isolate us.  He took my smile. He robbed me of my beauty and with half my face sagging and unresponsive, there are days where he manages to steal my confidence and strip me of my desire to be with people. No girl wants to hear the words, “What’s wrong with your face?

But if I listen to the lies of the enemy, he wins. And there aren’t a whole lot of things I want more than for him to LOSE.

I pray that God would change my heart and make me more loving, joyful, compassionate, generous and humble. If I open my life and my heart to his molding, he’ll use my circumstances to make me more like his Son.

I don’t have my miracle yet, but I’m grateful that God has brought me laughter even before my miracle has happened.

But I still hope for healing, that others would laugh with me.

God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me. Genesis 21:6

For more inspiration from Amanda, watch this beautiful video of Amanda and Andy’s “surprise” 2013 marriage vow renewal. It’s well worth the extra minutes.

© Linda Crawford 2013