Walking Away. . .

Walking Away

“This is the way; walk in it.”  Isaiah 30:21 NIV

Taking the less traveled path, today I lay down this blog–this beautiful collection of beautiful moments and memories–as an offering of praise and worship to my creator, deliverer, and sovereign Lord.

I’m off to reclaim the history of my life in its totality through the writing of my redemption story. Afraid, but doing it afraid. 🙂

Let us not be afraid to look at everything that has brought us to where we are now, receive it with gratitude, and see it in the light of a loving God who guides us day by day.  -Henri Nouwen

May God’s beauty and blessings fill your life every day of your story.

Linda CrawfordLinda Crawford

Writing in the White Space: Taking the Less Traveled Road

walkalone

In the beginning, when choosing to walk on the less traveled road, there’s no need for a destination–the joy of the journey is enough to inspire and sustain the strength for each step.

So it has been for me on my journey to share beauty minutes.

Joyful. Beautiful. Inspiring. Strengthening.

And then, last week, I found myself at a fork in the road, with an even less traveled path on my right. I stopped and searched for direction:

This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” Jeremiah 6:16 NIV

I asked. And heard this:

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”  Isaiah 30:21 NIV

Turn right, said the voice behind me.

Lay everything down here and walk alone for the next leg of the journey.

Write your story, your WHOLE story and finish it.

Pursue your healing, your WHOLE healing, and finish it.

Enter the cocoon of my transforming grace, and allow me to complete the work I have begun in you.

Because the soul that sees beauty may sometimes walk alone.

I must leave you here, dear friends and fellow beauty seekers. I must turn right and follow this road less traveled–alone.

He is always faithful to lead us upon the path He has uniquely crafted for each of us.

We must be faithful to follow.

Even when it means letting go of something dear. Wandering into the unknown. Testing our survival skills in the wilderness. Acting the opposite of what the world tells us to do. Daring to discover. Downsizing. . . to the divine.

On May 1st, 2013 I will turn right. This blog will be laid on the path as an offering of praise and worship.

I thank God for this journey, for teaching me how Beauty chases us, catches us, and propels us forward into living wholly for Him.

It’s been a joy sharing the journey with you.

Praying for His beauty to propel you forward on the path He is revealing to you.

Linda CrawfordLinda Crawford

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

Beauty from Brokenness: Sunflowers After Sorrow

Vincent Van Gogh had a favorite expression: “sorrowful, but always rejoicing.”

Henri Nouwen said of Vincent:

“His life and paintings illustrate the three components of the spiritual life.

In solidarity we cry out with those who suffer.

In consolation we feel deeply with those in pain.

We offer comfort by pointing beyond our shared human pains to glimpses of strength and hope.”

Vincent himself wrote: “In a picture I’d like to say something comforting, in the same way as music.”

Art has a way of re-framing the darkness we experience in our sorrows, and helps us to see the light and the sunshine of hope that brightens life once again.

We have cried with those who suffer and felt deeply with those in pain this week.

We need comfort to be pointed beyond our pains to glimpses of strength and hope.

May we find this comfort in a glimpse of the sunflowers after the sorrows.

van Gogh Sunflowers

“I’m thinking of decorating my studio with a half dozen pictures of sunflowers, a scheme in which raw or broken chrome yellows will burst forth against various backgrounds — blue from the palest Veronese green to royal blue — and framed with thin wooden strips painted in orange lead.

The kind of effect you get with stained-glass windows in Gothic churches.” – Vincent Van Gogh

Finally, brothers and sisters, fill your minds with beauty and truth. Meditate on whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is good, whatever is virtuous and praiseworthy. Philippians 4:8 VOICE

Help us Lord to decorate our lives today with sunflowers, to rejoice again in light and life, and find comfort in the beauty of the glimpses of strength and hope all around us.

Linda CrawfordLinda Crawford

 

 

 

More Beauty From Brokenness:

Lost and Found

Lost and Found

Recycled Orchestra

Recycled Orchestra

The Becoming of an Artist

The Becoming of an Artist

Writing in the White Space: Has the Fight Gone Out of Me?

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 God’s beauty in our lives.

Yesterday’s Beauty Minute, Pushing Back the Dark, inspired Cathee to sit down and write in the white space . . . it’s a beautiful thing when God meets us there.

Has the Fight Gone Out of Me?

For days I wallow in dark shadows

all thought of pushing back the darkness gone.candle

I can only cry one thing, over and over and over.

How long, O Lord? How long?

It’s not a good question.

No answer ever comes to that question.

“As long as it takes,” someone quips and I frown.

Don’t hand me clichés right now.

They’ll never stoke my wavering flame.

But I know it’s true – that answer is true.

Is it that I don’t have what it takes to push back the darkness?

If I don’t push, will I be engulfed in blackness so deep it swallows up what little light is left?

Can darkness extinguish light?

What happened to the Dragon Slayer?

She used to travel with drawn sword ready for battle, relishing the very idea of it.

How do I get my fight back?

I need a breath to blow on the small flicker that’s left

A holy bellows that can ignite the few sticks that remain of my hope.

So breathe on me now, O Breath of the Spirit.

Set me ablaze once more until I can see the beauty shining through

And I watch the darkness flee as you carry me on the wings of your light.

Jesus

But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired. Isaiah 40:31 AMP

CatheeBe still and aware of God’s presence, within and all around.

Cathee

Cathee Poulsen is the author of Thresholds & Passages and Quiet Places, books that lead to a peaceful rhythm of worship, work, rest, solitude and community.  She’s a word-stringer by profession and obsession, hopelessly devoted to Jesus and Bob and recognized in public places by her laugh. You can follow her on Twitter @CatheePoulsen or at her website http://catheepoulsen.com

More Writing in the White Space:

Astonished by His Grace

Astonished by His Grace

Margins

Margins

Resurrection

Resurrection

Six Minute Sabbath: Pushing Back the Dark

You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a lightstand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a lightstand—shine!  Matthew 5:16 MSG

Let your light shine!
Let’s push back the dark today!

Email subscribers click here to watch the music video, Pushing Back the Dark.

More Six Minute Sabbaths:

Beauty from Despair

Beauty from Despair

Need You Now

Need You Now

A Friendship Story

A Friendship Story

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.