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

Prayer for You: Gifts of Light

heavenly lights

So, my very dear friends, don’t get thrown off course. Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle. He brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as the crown of all his creatures. James 1:16-18 MSG

Father of Light,

Your gifts are so good, given to us from the fullness of your grace. Help us Lord, not to be thrown off course by the darkness we see around us, or the emotions that quake within us. Though the sun sets and the world experiences the depths of darkness at times, your light never fails to shine and your face is never turned away from our needs.

May your rivers of light be poured out upon all the wounded, grieving, sorrowful, and those thrown off course this week. May your beauty be read, your grace be inhaled, and your love be transfused into us.

Thank you Lord, for your good and perfect gifts.

Every good gift and every perfect (free, large, full) gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of all [that gives] light, in [the shining of] Whom there can be no variation [rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [as in an eclipse]. James 1:17 AMP

Linda Crawford

The Face of Beauty: LOVE in the Face of Evil

In Boston, evil will have a face. Perhaps more than one face.

And when evil becomes a face, the image burns deep into our flesh.

Because the face of evil, the one or ones who hate, look like us.

Human.

And that hurts.

We cry with those who cry and cry out. We war in prayer, yet sorrow in our helplessness to save each other from the wounds of hate.

We cry.

For you, the victims, and your loved ones.

We cry.

For the ones who carried the broken, who held a hand, whispered words of hope, and tied sweaty shirts around bloody limbs.

We cry.

For your loss, your pain, your sorrow, your trauma, your memories.

We cry.

Because LOVE has a face. And it is us, together, weeping with those who weep. Praying for those who need prayer. Holding hands and whispering words of hope. Binding up your wounds as best we can.

LOVE has a face.

A human one.

US.

 And our faces cannot be hidden or destroyed by evil.

We will keep loving. Keep living. Keep praying. Keep fighting.

We’ll keep on running the race.

With you . . . to win.

Boston finish

This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.

Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.     Ephesians 6:12-18 MSG

April 15, 2013

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

Prayer for You: EVERYTHING

The LORD is my strength and my song

The LORD is my Banner

The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer

The LORD is my shepherd

The LORD is my light and my salvation

The LORD is my strength and my shield

The LORD is my portion

The LORD is my helper

Exodus 15:2; Exodus 17:15; Psalm 18:2; Psalm 23:1; Psalm 27:1; Psalm 28:7; Lamentations 3:24; Hebrews 13:6

Lord is

Our times of need are EVERY day Lord!

Linda CrawfordPraying the Lord will be your EVERYTHING today.

Linda Crawford

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

Six Minute Sabbath: My Passion

Love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy. Mark 12:30 MSG

Take six minutes today and give Jesus your all in worship . . .

all your PASSION.

(If you are unable to see the video in email click here to view.)

Give to the Lord the glory due to His name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness or in holy array. Psalm 29:2 AMP

More Six Minute Sabbaths:

Everything is possible

Beauty from Despair

Need You Now

A Friendship Story