Prayer for You: Promise

Promise

Hallelujah! It’s a good thing to sing praise to our God; praise is beautiful, praise is fitting . . .

He launches his promises earthward—how swift and sure they come! He spreads snow like a white fleece, he scatters frost like ashes, He broadcasts hail like birdseed—who can survive his winter?

Then he gives the command and it all melts; he breathes on winter—suddenly it’s spring!

Psalm 147:1;15-18 MSG

Hallelujah for spring!

Lord, we praise you today for your promise of the coming of spring after the cold, dark days of winter. At times, the darkness we experience in life feels like it will never end, never change. But you have promised, you give the command to melt the cold of our sorrows and breathe the breath of new life into us . . . new life that comes from the transformation you have wrought in the dark.

May those who have experienced dark and sunless days break free today.

Linda CrawfordMay we all turn our gaze heavenward and behold . . . the beauty we long to see, and the beauty we are meant to be!

Linda Crawford

 

 

The piece of art above was created for me as a birthday gift by my dear friend Becky Schultea.

See more of her inspiring art at:

Becky Schultea

 

The Face of Beauty: Our Therapy Dog

baileyIt was a Sunday afternoon in May, warm and sunny outside, but we barely knew of the day’s beauty. Focused on savoring the last breaths of our beloved “Grammy,” all seemed gray.

Hospice had become her home and ours, a temporary dwelling of swiftly moving fears and tears. Moving — away from earth connections — to heavenly realms.

“You’ll see Jesus soon,” I told her on this day. “I know, and I can’t wait!” she did a little wave with her hands and exclaimed with all the joy her weak body could muster.

The phone rang in the room, a friend who had babysat our daughter, offering condolences on the sad news, and offhandedly mentioning they had to give up one of their dogs to the shelter.

“She won’t come out from under the bed anymore and she runs away all the time. She’s too afraid of the other dog and we just can’t keep her.”

I started shaking, thinking absolutely crazy thoughts . . . oh, man, I love that dog! She must be ours!

When I first met her I told my husband that if we ever got a second dog I wanted one just like her. Furry, cuddly, and oh, so cute. She was the only dog  other than Shadow, the one we already had, that I ever fell immediately in love with . . . and now she was abandoned to who knew what future.

Imagine trying to convince your husband that you need to go to the shelter to meet a dog to adopt when his mother has only days to live. As crazy as he thought I was, he agreed . . . “just to see.”

That’s all it took, and for the next five days she happily went everywhere with us, including spending whole days in the Hospice unit. Grammy even gave her approval.

Suddenly gray days full of mourning had glimpses of joy. Bailey needed walks, to play fetch with toys, and to be petted . . . petted a LOT.

We started calling her our “therapy dog.” On the night of Grammy’s passing, she was there, with us, curled up next to my daughter on a cot in the Hospice room.

She was there for us. To hug. To cry tears into her fur. To calm and comfort us while our loss was still too raw to be calmed and comforted by others.

It’s difficult to imagine how we would have made it through that grief and the days of grief to come without her. Or the twelve years we’ve shared with her since.

Therapy Dogs at Boston Marathon Bombing Memorial

Therapy Dogs at Boston Marathon Bombing Memorial (Photo credit: AnubisAbyss)

She was, and still is, our therapy dog.

We hugged and petted her a little more over the last week, finding comfort for our unspoken grief in the softness of her fur and her face of unconditional love.

It’s what dogs can do for us in such times.

Linda CrawfordPraying for your comfort and a return to joy this week.

More Faces of Beauty:

LOVE in the Face of Evil

LOVE in the Face of Evil

Wounded-Healer-Warrior

Wounded-Healer-Warrio

Writing in the White Space: Playing Until My Name Looks Like Me

Writing in the White Space

White space is where creativity can breathe and come to life within us.

I wrote this piece a year ago as I was emerging from a long, dark winter of pain into the spring of new beauty and life . . .

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I have a new journal.

I fill it with words that flow lazily from a high mountain stream. It’s a trickling of water really, looking for a path to forge as it wanders along cracks in the hardened soil and around the strewn pebbles of my abandoned creative self.

I write in

new journal handwriting

hoping the flowing curves and hidden joy of simulating swoopy “a’s” and “g’s” on the screen will help the words find their own curves and rhythm.

Fearfully, timidly, clutching my tattered memory of a yellow Easter bonnet with long flowing white ribbons that danced and fluttered joyfully in the spring breeze, I open the latched and rusted iron gate of my creativity.

old rusty metal padlocks on chains

Opened to the infinite, vulnerable in the newness of this life, I am young again, and I struggle to breathe the air here.

I no longer know who I am. I don’t know where the words come from, how they will shape themselves, or where they will go.

I’m too old for this nonsense, a distant school teacher voice scolds me for trading “serious work” for play.

The little girl with the bonnet turns away in shame . . . ribbons drag in the mud.

Turn back and play. This is right, this is life, the voice of the yellow bonnet whispers.

But my bonnet’s dirty now, I protest.

Turn back and look again.

I obey . . . not with faith, still in fear.

The ribbons dance again. Joy can breathe again.

I write my name with a stick in the dust:

names

girl hat 2I gently snap the elastic thread around my chin and secure the bonnet to my head so I can sit down and practice some more.

This is where I must start.

I’ll learn to breathe here drawing curvy lines in the sand until the rhythm is just right.

new journal me

Linda CrawfordLinda Crawford

Photos From Friends: Love We Must

It’s been a difficult week. Too much darkness and too many sorrows.
Our hold on our love for life, perhaps a weak grasp.
But love we must.
Love we must.
 holding life
THE THING IS…
to love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you’ve held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, *How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you, again.

ELLEN BASS in “Mules of Love” © 2002, BOA Editions, Ltd.

Run for your life from all this. Pursue a righteous life—a life of wonder, faith, love, steadiness, courtesy. Run hard and fast in the faith. Seize the eternal life, the life you were called to, the life you so fervently embraced in the presence of so many witnesses. 1 Timothy 6:11-12 MSG

Linda CrawfordEmbracing life, running the race with you to win.

Linda Crawford

Beauty from Brokenness: About Ashes and Crowns

Today’s post is shared by Sue Riger from A Painter’s Journey

…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. Isaiah 61:

In the 70’s my school showed us film clips of atom bomb survivors.

The radiation poisoning caused unthinkable suffering. Bandaged people walked aimlessly among the ash and rubble.

My school taught that the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki ultimately saved lives by ending WWII. But my gut writhed with the atrocity. I wondered how recovery could be possible.

Incredibly, post-war Japan produced a group of artists in the early 1950s who believed beauty emerges when something becomes damaged or decayed. The Gutai group professed that a thing’s inner life is released during the process. Breaking from traditional Japanese art, they produced this figure:

electric dress

electric dress electric dress Looks angelic doesn’t it? It’s called “Electric Dress” by Atsuko Tanaka.

The concept reminds me of Lodgepole pine trees.

lodgepole pine

High above the forest floor, their cones are sealed shut by resin. In patient dormancy they wait for the liberating furnace of a forest fire.

Only intense heat will melt the resin and release the seeds from the tree’s crown.

In this way beauty emerges from destruction and ashes.

Borrowing a phrase from the 70’s — this next part really blows my mind.

Isaiah says we are to receive crowns of beauty instead of ashes and that we will be called plantings of the Lord, oaks of righteousness!

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. Isaiah 61:1-3

Jesus – despised, rejected, scourged, condemned to die – received a crown of thorns.

Brutal beauty.

Beautiful because he willingly took it all for us. Without the suffering Jesus bore, we could not take part in the victory he offers to us. He descended into death. Total surrender.

Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. John 12:24

Oh happy news! On the third day Jesus emerged from the grave. He is alive and we receive crowns of beauty instead of ashes. By faith we join him – sprouting new growth in the midst of a suffering decaying world. Restoring broken hearts. Setting the captives free.

…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. Col. 1:18-20 MSG

Sue RIgerSue 

I’m sojourner.  Here for a lifetime and hoping to make it count. For me, creativity is a fun gift from God and an avenue to display gratitude for the beauty around us. My husband, three great kids and four giggly grandkids fill my life with wonder and joy. Whether looking through the lens or holding a paint brush, the creative process is a way for me to thank God for surrounding us with so much beauty.

Connect with Sue at: apaintersjourney.com

More Beauty from Brokenness:

Art from the Brokenness of Alcohol

Art from the Brokenness of Alcohol

$5 dresser

The Redefined Dresser

Beauty From the Ashes

Beauty From the Ashes

Photos from Friends: Hometown

Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life. I’m back home in the house of God for the rest of my life. Psalm 23:6 MSG

I grew up on a Lane, four houses long.

A chestnut tree to climb on, a path through the woods to walk to school.

trail

White colonial homes and wild rose bushes, silhouettes of sailboats and lobster boats . . .

colonial house

sailboat

lobster boat

The opera of the gulls . . .the silence of snowfall on the trees. . .

snow

The salty sea air was my breath, the expanse of ocean–my dreams unbounded.

IMG_2452 kport 5

My hometown.

kport 3

Its beauty lives on within me every day of my life.

Linda CrawfordThank you God, for my hometown.

The Face of Beauty: The Wounded – The Healer – The Warrior: Cheryl

I saw the warrior in Cheryl the first time I met her.

To be honest, she intimidated me. But I heard God clearly tell me to be friends, so I stepped out of my comfort zone and took timid steps toward connection.

She did too. She let me see past her armor to her wounds, and I knew it was safe to show her mine.

Cheryl is beautiful in her honesty and brokenness. Brave and bold in her witness of the Lord’s healing in the midst of pain. She cries with us, the wounded. She shares the Healer and her healing. She takes up her sword and battles for all of us–for whole and complete healing.

It’s a beautiful thing.

Wounded-Healer-Warrior

I AM WOUNDED

CherylThe father of lies would have me interpret my wounds as evidence of damaged goods, beyond repair, hopeless, destroyed beauty, marred beyond recognition.  And I will confess that I wrestle with believing these lies.

In any given week you will find me with days of believing the lies, of mourning the conquest they seem to have won.  But you will also find me with days of joy and triumph, sometimes tears of a human frame overwhelmed by the greatness of God’s love.

This last year has been a journey through the highest highs and lowest lows.  I have seen God’s favor and blessing in my life as I write and tell of His story being worked out in me.  But I have also gone through a season of flashbacks to childhood abuse–nightmares experienced awake and asleep.

These are my darkest days.

I have never, in my life, experienced my soul juxtapositioned between words of life and memories of death.

So to say I am wounded is spot on.  The deepest part of my soul has been chewed on by a vicious lion who sought me out to steal, kill and destroy.  Yes, damage has been done.

But the sweetness of God, the beauty of the I AM, the grace given through the cross of Christ is healing me.

His words are ebbing their way into my darkest memories, the dirtiest of wounds, and He is purging out the sickness of lies with the crimson tide of His love.

But to taste His sweetness, see His beauty, and know the power of the Cross means I must journey into my darkness.  I must face the deepest of pains; feel today what I couldn’t feel as a child.  I must go where I fear.  I must see what has set in motion coping mechanisms turned to expressions of sin.

And I am finding that this journey is hard, long and difficult… and I could never make it by myself.  I can’t tell you the perfection of gifts that God has placed before, behind, above and below me.

They all have names.  Yes, they are people, God’s people… whom God called to intercede for me, to listen, to war for my protection, to believe in the victory of the cross.

They see me…the real me…the redeemed me…the me that God designed before sin distorted his image.  They tenaciously hang on to that vision and they speak it back to me, especially when I can’t see it.  They hold high the banner of the cross, so when I fall, I look up and see hope.

I hope YOU will find a banner of Hope, lifted high for you to see no matter where you are in your wounded-ness and in your healing.

I am Wounded.Wounded-Healer-Warrior

I am being Healed.

I am learning to be a Warrior.

CherylCheryl

Cheryl is a speaker and writer, sharing vision and purpose for igniting the power of women who exchange curses for blessings, insecurities for confidence, and self-reliance for giving and receiving.  Cheryl encourages every heart to wrestle with the Lord, not letting go until they find His blessing.  Her healed wounds make her a qualified member of this glorious race we call WOMEN!  Connect with Cheryl at: WoundedHealerWarrior.com

More Faces of Beauty:

Me

Amanda

Lygon Stevens

Writing in the White Space: God Writes in My White Spaces

There are days . . .

and then there are other days.

When writing in the white space becomes a challenge instead of a joy.white space page

When dancing is paralyzed and singing is made mute.

The sun shines, but my eyes see only clouds, my body feels only thunder and lightning . . . and my spirit–cold.

Words tumble and fumble with each other and pebbles of thoughts are prickly instead of polished.

Even a prayer is too complicated to create.

Only tears come easily.

My white space stays white.

I am empty, with no words to offer God in praise or thanksgiving.

No words at all.

I feel the void of the emptiness between the margins of my life and fear I have lost my faith somewhere in the blankness of the unwritten page before me.

I lay my pen down.

“Pick it up.”

God writes in my white space:

white space words 2And finally, I remember . . .

With God, the white spaces are never empty.

White spaces are a place of surrender that create an open space that only God can fill.

May God fill your white spaces today with His words and His love.

Linda Crawford

Linda Crawford

 

 

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.

Take a white space break today: 3 minutes…you, a pen, and a blank piece of paper.

Breathe…and write.

More Writing in the White Space:

Margins

Margins

The Colors of Faith

The Colors of Faith

Joy Floats

Joy Floats

Photos from Friends: Seeing the Beauty

the leaf that wants all the attention

the leaf that wants all the attention

Who out there has a lust for life? Can’t wait each day to come upon beauty? Psalm 34:12 MSG

A camera and a whisper from God sent me on a journey last spring . . . searching for beauty in the pain.

These are the unedited photos I took around my house–as far as I could walk at the time. I saved them in a folder on my computer, entitled  it “small victories” and gave them the captions you read here.

These pictures became the evidence of my small victories–the smallest of small baby steps away from pain and darkness into the light and life of healing.

This is the day God started to color my dark world beautiful. The day the simple, ordinary views of my life became extra-ordinary glimpses of the beauty of LIFE all around me.

This is the day I understood the scripture above–that to recover my lust for life–to experience my pain and darkness redeemed–was about eagerly searching each day for the beauty OF LIFE.

Psalm 23:6 says that God’s love and beauty chase after us every day of our lives.

This spring day last year, I finally turned around to see it.

inanimate curves of life

inanimate curves of life

pink from dry leaves

pink from dry leaves

green and growing

green and growing

growing in the clouds effects

growing in the clouds effects

necklace for a dead flower

necklace for a dead flower

grids of life

grids of life

buddies

buddies

the designs of life

the designs of life

outside the frame of life

outside the frame of life

Beauty in blues

Beauty in blues

Walk on a rainbow trail: walk on a trail of song, and all about you will be beauty.

There is a way out of every dark mist, over a rainbow trail.   – Robert Motherwell

Praying for you to turn around and see the beauty and love of God chasing you, where you will find your rainbow trail, and where God colors your life beautiful each and every day.

Linda CrawfordLinda Crawford

More Photos from Friends:

Focus

The Kingdom's Perfumery

The Face of Beauty: The Time to Live is Now – Lygon Stevens

Sharing Lygon’s story again this week, meditating on the resurrection life Jesus desires for me to live.

Yes, the time to live is now. May I be such a desperate searcher and live it so beautifully . . .

I am a work of art, signed by God.

But He’s not done; in fact, He has just begun…I have on me the fingerprint of God. Never will there ever be another person like me. In all the world I have a job to do in this life that no other can do.

Can you see the fingerprint of God on me?

Lygon climbling

Lygon Stevens once carried my eight-year-old daughter. After a few bumps on her knees from tripping over shoes that were too big, a teen-age Lygon scooped her up and transformed her frustrated tears into joy.

She became a hero to me right then.

Lygon was a gentle, quiet girl who was amazingly strong in her devotion to the Lord and in her physical and mental ability to climb high–very high–mountains. Tragically lost in an avalanche in January of 2008, she would not be found until late June when the snows melted. Only her camera and journal were recovered by her climbing partner, her brother, who miraculously survived.  In Lygon’s journal, in addition to being able to read her last thoughts on earth, her family discovered the astounding beauty of her written words and her intimate relationship with the Lord.

It is my hope that whoever might read the pages in this small book would not see a victory won by greatness, or determination of self, or a uniqueness in a person that brings them to high heights…I can only Lygon journal hope that the reality of human frailty and the inability to do anything outside the will of the Lord God would be evident. This is not the account of the journeys of a young girl, no, it’s the message that that girl is allowed to write of the glory of the Lord God Almighty…He is the reason for living and for whom I will someday die. There is nothing without Him, no god beside Him, and only by Him was I chosen as a witness to tell the world of His great deeds.

I remember hearing her parents say at her funeral that they realized, through reading her writings, that Lygon was always more His than she was theirs. I personally cannot thank them enough for their generosity in sharing her words with us. Lygon was, and always will be, a Hero with a capital H.

She is the face of beauty in a life well-loved. A life well lived.

A legacy of a life well written, left for those of us to read who, as her mother Sarah said, “still have a peak to summit.”

The Time to Live is Now

The time to run and wake up every morning excited about what the world might throw your way is Lygon on mountainnow. The time to lay low in turmoil and humility before God is now. The time to seek and find, the time to change and learn is now…

Now is the time to live. Not tomorrow, not in ten minutes, not in twenty, not when you are good and ready. But don’t think you have to do this and become this — your full duty is to love the Lord so much you would lay down your life and value His will above the richest gain of earth…Be a desperate searcher. Yes, the time to live, and live truly, is now.

♥ In loving memory of Lygon and Sarah Stevens ♥

To order the book Cairns for the Climb from the journals of Lygon Stevens and to read more of her story click here to go to the Lygon Stevens Time to Live is NOW website.

Day of Discovery has produced a full-length documentary The Time to Live is NOW on Lygon’s life story. The links below are to the preview and the full 90 minute video.

Linda Crawford

 

 

More Faces Of Beauty:

Me

Me

Amanda

Amanda

Embracing the Gift of our Days

Embracing the Gift of our Days