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

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

Beauty from Brokenness: The Redefined Dresser

God made my life complete when I placed all the pieces before him. When I got my act together, he gave me a fresh start . . . I feel put back together, and I’m watching my step. God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes. Psalm 18:20-21, 24 MSG

Broken.  Used up.  Rejected.  Abused.  Abandoned.

$5 dresser

These words defined the story of this dresser as it sat in the broken furniture section of the Re-Store. A $5 orange sticker pleaded for someone to recognize a splinter of hidden value left.

$5 for solid wood.

$5 . . . the price for hope.

The artist saw it . . .

The redeeming value.

The new life.

The hidden beauty.

A renewed purpose.

Adopted for $5 and brought home, the artist set out to redefine it for its new future.

Dictionary pages – words that define life – were pasted over damaged skin and frame.

New handles,  new paint, and hundreds of pages later . . .

dresser complete Redefined.  Redeemed.  Re-purposed.  Renewed.  

Rewritten.

God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes. Psalm 18:24

Take our brokenness Lord.

You are THE ARTIST.

Redefine the abuse, abandonment, rejection, pain and sorrows.

Redeem us to new life.

Rewrite the text of our lives with YOUR WORDS OF LIFE.

Make us beautiful and useful to your kingdom once again.

Linda Crawford

Praying for God to redefine us in the light and life of His truth today.

Linda Crawford

(My daughter Sarah, who sees the beauty that can become from brokenness, redefined the life of this dresser.)

Beauty from ashes, that what God promises us.

Beauty, recycled and made new from the broken pieces of our lives..

We celebrate the amazing and sometimes miraculous beauty of recycled and reclaimed art…and renewed artists.

More Beauty from Brokenness:

Lost and Found

Recycled Orchestra

The Hidden Chair

The Becoming of an Artist

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

Prayer for You

Lord, hear my prayer! Listen to my plea! Don’t turn away from me in my time of distress. Bend down to listen, and answer me quickly when I call to you. For my days disappear like smoke, and my bones burn like red-hot coals. My heart is sick, withered like grass, and I have lost my appetite. Because of my groaning, I am reduced to skin and bones. I am like an owl in the desert, like a little owl in a far-off wilderness. I lie awake, lonely as a solitary bird on the roofPsalm 102:1-7  NLT

desert

The Lord hears your cries. The spoken and unspoken cries of your suffering.

May He restore your joy and your strength. May He feed you with the bread of life and the living water to restore your health and revive your heart.

Comfort these I pray for Lord — these lonely owls in the desert — and lead them to the oasis of your love.  Though life may feel like a desert during difficult times,  You alone God, are able to bring water forth from rocks and rain down bread from heaven for food.

bread waterMay you drink and eat today, and know that God will never leave you in your time of distress.

In the wilderness of life–-He is there.

In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Linda Crawford

Writing in the White Space: Grave-tending What Was

This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?”

For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”

Romans 8:15 MSG, NKJV

the dead trying to look aliveThe roses look dead in my garden.

Yet leaves still cling to thorny stalks that have stood upright through snow, cold, and the wicked winds that have whipped them.

Standing. Through the darkest season.  With the barest appearance of being alive.

Grave-tending the life that once was.

Afraid to let go, lest all becomes lost to death.

Like me.

But.

Today.

Is the first day after.

Resurrection life has been offered to me.

Jesus alive, stretches out blood-stained hands, and beckons me to surrender my grave-tending life . . . to LIFE.

Take my sorrow . . . take my fear, Lord.

“What was, is past,” He whispers.

girl at the graveTurning from tending my grave of the life that was, the eyes of my child open to see what will be . . .

Wonder, joy, and the hope of things beautiful to come.

The grave is overcome.

There’s a day that’s drawing near 
When this darkness breaks to light 
And the shadows disappear 
And my faith shall be my eyes 

Jesus has overcome 
And the grave is overwhelmed 
The victory is won 
He is risen from the dead.

(I Will Rise, Chris Tomlin)

The victory over my was is won . . .

“What’s next, Papa?”

“The becoming of beautiful,”  He whispers.The becoming of beautiful

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.

More Writing in the White Space:

Astonished by His Grace

Astonished by His Grace

Margins

Margins

We long to create poem

vytvoreni

Love and the Unwashed Feet

Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.  John 13:14 NIV

washing feet

“I doubt she will work with you this morning. She refuses to get out of bed.”

80-something, independent-minded, and angry-at-being-in-the-hospital, she wasn’t going to budge out of her bed for anybody, and hadn’t for days.

Which is why they called me in.

She had to budge, move her arms and legs, get on her feet again, breathe deeply of life and start to move forward from the sickness that had landed her here. To not move was a slow prescription toward death.

All she wanted was to go home.

“I don’t want to get up. Just let me go home and I’ll be fine. I don’t need you telling me what to do.”

A bright sunny day lay just beyond the closed shades of her darkened room.

“I understand how you must be feeling, what can I do to help you feel better?”

“Just leave me alone.”

“I have an idea, you must be feeling sore from lying in bed so long, if you sit up I’ll massage your back for you.”

The defiance in her eyes softened. “Oh, alright, I suppose that would be nice.”

I gently washed her back and massaged her frail frame with lotion.

“I’ve got this nice chair set up and I’m sure it will feel good to be in a different position for a few minutes. We can move here and I’ll fill this bucket with warm water so you can soak your feet.”

More softening of the defiance.

Her feet were cold. They also gave evidence to how defiantly independent she was.

As her abandoned feet soaked in the warm sudsy water, she began to speak of her life. Farm girl, ranch wife, self-sufficient widow.

I sat down on the floor and began to gently scrub away the years of the lonely paths of  self-sufficiency she had walked.

She looked down at me in embarrassment, and said, “I’m sorry they are so bad, I can’t reach them anymore.”

“I know, and you’ve always been the one to do for yourself and others, so it’s time for someone to do something for you for a change.”

“This is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me,” she said, trying to hide the glistening in the corner of her eyes.

“It’s my honor.”

I scrubbed around her crooked toes and massaged lotion into the cracks of her heels.

The door opened and an astonished nurse’s face peered in.

The woman who would never get up . . . was up. She had walked, was washing up, changing clothes, and . . . smiling.

“How did you get her to do that?” she asked me later at the nurse’s station.

 “I just washed her feet.”

It worked every single day, with every single patient I saw in my work as an occupational therapist.

Jesus washing feetIt worked because Jesus did it.

He washed the feet of his disciples and even his enemy, the man who would betray him.

It was an act of love to a person with perhaps the ugliest feet ever, the man who was the most un-loveable of them all.

LOVE washes the unwashed feet.

Linda CrawfordHelp me Lord, to bow low and wash the feet of the loved and un-loved today.

Writing in the White Space: Astonished by His Grace

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! Romans 11:33 ESV

Astonished by His Grace

Have you ever come on anything quite like this extravagant generosity of God. . . Everything comes from him; Everything happens through him; Everything ends up in him. Always glory! Always praise! Yes. Yes. Yes. Romans 11:33, 36 MSG

Cathee“This is the piece I wrote after spending the night for the first time at my daughter’s home.

I placed her for adoption when she was born, so sleeping in a bed that she made up for me had a real impact.”

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

Writing in the White Space “is a canvas to be painted, a sky with endless possibilities for combinations of light and dark to streak across it . . . art waiting to happen.”

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

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.

More Writing in the White Space:

Vytvoreni

Vytvoreni

Joy Floats

Resurrection

Beauty from Brokenness: Art from the Brokenness of Alcohol

God made my life complete when I placed all the pieces before him. Psalm 18:20 MSG

El AnatsuiWhat do you do when a piece of art immediately makes you cry?

You listen.

Because, in the words of Pope Benedict XVI, art has the ability to:

“speak to the heart of humanity, to touch individual and collective sensibilities, to call forth dreams and hopes, to broaden the horizons of knowledge and of human engagement.”

El AnatsuiEl AnatsuiThese pieces of art by the Nigerian artist El Anatsui are made from discarded liquor bottle caps. On a walk one day he came across a trash bag of these caps, brought them back to his art studio, and began to create art tapestries by linking them together with copper wire.

But the art is more than art to El Anatsui:

El Anatsui“I have a feeling of the presence of layers of people, right from the people who make the drink, the people who drank them, my associates and myself.”

He also feels a connection between Europe,  Africa and the Americas . . . because alcohol was an item traded for human slaves.

The destructive effects of alcohol have fueled abuse of many humans all over the world, destroyed many a family, and left many discarded hearts with sorrows, wounds, and lingering regret.

I stood in front of the first piece of art and cried, for how alcohol has created brokenness in my own world.  As I moved to listen to other pieces, I cried for how alcohol continues to create brokenness in our world.

Just this morning I read a news article of a teenage girl who drank too much at a party, and in a semi-conscious state was stripped naked and abused by two drunk teen boys. Nobody at the party stopped it.

Brokenness.

I wonder, if she could see this piece of art, would she see the small piece of it that is the story of her life–rewoven into a tapestry of hope, beauty and new life?

Would she, could she, see how much more the divine artist–THE creator, God–can take the pieces of brokenness in all our lives and weave them into a tapestry of such beauty?

I cry more. Perhaps, just perhaps, this is a small glimpse of the beauty of heaven . . . where all brokenness is redeemed, all the stories of our lives are joined, and every discarded remnant of pain turns to joy.

Where we become beauty from brokenness.

I pray you hear the hope in this art today–the hope for the beauty that can be wrought from the broken pieces of your life and mine.

Linda Crawford

Linda Crawford

The art of El Anatsui is currently on exhibit at:

The Brooklyn Museum through August 4, 2013

The University of Michigan Museum of Art through May 5, 2013

Meet El Anatsui and see more of his art on this short video:

More Beauty from Brokenness:

Lost and Found

Recycled Orchestra

The Becoming of an Artist

The Face of Beauty: Me

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

Linda Crawford

For far too many years I could not call myself beautiful.

Today I’m going to say it publicly for the first time.

I am beautiful.

Because God says so, and has since the time I was fearfully and wonderfully knit together in my mother’s womb.

Since my birthday.

Which just happens to be today.

This year, unlike past years, I really want to celebrate it.

I want to embrace the gift of joy, give thanks for the beauty of God, count my blessings, and celebrate LIFE.

I want to put on a silly birthday hat, blow a noisemaker, and let the world hear me sing of what Jesus has done for me:

I once was lost . . . now I’m found.

I believed I was worthless . . . now I’ve found my worth in Him.

I looked for love in all the wrong places . . . now I’ve been found by His love.

I hid in darkness and shame . . . now I shine in THE light.

I spoke harsh words against myself . . . now I listen to His words of worthiness.

I suffered my pains alone . . . now I am healed by THE Healer.

I truly was blind . . . now I see.

I really see.

What Jesus has done for me.

Beauty for ashes, a garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness . . .

I was a captive–now set free!

In celebration of my birthday I’m sharing my story of finding Beauty in the Dark at Internet Cafe Devotions. Click here to read.

I hope you’ll join in the party.

Here’s a party hat–let’s celebrate all that Jesus has done!party hat

It truly is a very, very Happy Birthday for me.  🙂

Linda Crawford

 

 

More Faces of Beauty:

Pope Benedict XVI

Amanda

Lygon Stevens