God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes. Psalm 18:21 MSG
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.
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:
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.
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.
More Faces of Beauty:
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
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.
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:
This is where I must start.
I’ll learn to breathe here drawing curvy lines in the sand until the rhythm is just right.
There are days . . .
and then there are other days.
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:
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.
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.
More Writing in the White Space:
God is magnificent; he can never be praised enough. There are no boundaries to his greatness. Psalm 145:3 MSG
I live here. In the margins, between the margins, and sometimes beyond them.
I write notes in the margins of my Bible. Scribble comments in the margins of a favorite book. Doodle in the margins when I’m bored.
There’s room to play here, in the white space of life, yet I’m constrained by the boundaries of the margins.
I know if I stray off the page, go over the edge, color outside the frame–I’ll mess up the furniture…and perhaps my life.
There are a lot of words inside the margins in my life.
“Friends” share many (too many?) words inside the margins of the white and blue “book.” They make me laugh, sigh, grit my teeth, and occasionally cry. But even the white space inside the margins feels full and noisy. I occasionally jump into the frenetic jump-rope game long enough to recite a few words, then jump out again to spectate…and wonder if anybody even noticed I played the game.
It’s too crowded there to play…or breathe.
But the margins of my writing pad are all mine. The margins in my Bible are all mine. And it’s here, exploring, studying and playing in the margins of His words and mine, I discover the healing joy, the love, and the life of the white spaces of my life.
I am hemmed in by His presence, and freed to live beyond the margins of my human circumstances and emotions.
His words are illuminated by a light from within. The margins become a place to digest them, to breathe, rest, play, and become.
I ‘m safe here, living within and beyond the margins with Christ…and
I no longer fear the emptiness…or the edge.
More writings in the white space:
©2013 Linda Crawford
This is small section of an art piece by Sono Osato. She created it by gathering discarded objects from the streets of lower Manhattan and then embedding them in beeswax, paint and asphalt.
There are so many things hidden in the chaos of it when viewed from a distance.
Lost and discarded objects that once had a connection to a human life…or lives.
Up close, I see…
A belt buckle. A hinge. A razor blade. A button.
Keys, lots of keys.
And a nail on a red background.
“This could be the art piece of my own life,” I thought.
I saw the hidden objects as buried stories of connections to people, events, and sorrows.
The button torn from a favorite childhood dress.
The razor blade held in the trembling hands of those who threatened to die.
The hinge from the locked door of my frightened heart before God.
The keys to that door…so many keys…that I had thrown away in my lost youth.
A nail, still covered in the blood of sacrifice, that finally set me free…
This is beauty from brokenness — up close.
Later, as I looked back at the pictures, I saw this art piece from a distance once more.
This time, the focus shifted outward from self, to a broader, more encompassing vision of the hidden beauty in the chaos of life…
I saw the young girls who just lost the buttons on their favorite childhood dress this week, and became enslaved in sex trafficking.
I saw the abused women who still bear the welts from the buckle of their abuser on the flesh of their hearts.
And I saw the prodigals…the sons and daughters who have been lost in the chaos of life…some discarded, some who ran far away, some afraid, and some simply unnoticed and neglected.
These are the lost ones, still out there in the streets, waiting for us to see.
Waiting for us to notice them and see, really see, the art piece God intended them to be.
Waiting for us to show them the blood-stained nail we carry in our hearts. To open our arms, enfold them in an embrace, and celebrate.
What was lost can be found.
Make it so Lord, make it so.
He had this moment of self-reflection: “What am I doing here? Back home, my father’s hired servants have plenty of food. Why am I here starving to death? I’ll get up and return to my father, and I’ll say, ‘Father, I have done wrong—wrong against God and against you. I have forfeited any right to be treated like your son, but I’m wondering if you’d treat me as one of your hired servants?’”
So he got up and returned to his father. The father looked off in the distance and saw the young man returning. He felt compassion for his son and ran out to him, enfolded him in an embrace, and kissed him.
The son said, “Father, I have done a terrible wrong in God’s sight and in your sight too. I have forfeited any right to be treated as your son.”
But the father turned to his servants and said, “Quick! Bring the best robe we have and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and shoes on his feet. Go get the fattest calf and butcher it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate because my son was dead and is alive again.
He was lost and has been found.”
Luke 15:17-24 The Voice
Click the photos to read previous Beauty from Brokenness posts.
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?” Romans 8:15 MSG
Praying for the beauty of the resurrection life of Jesus for you today.
©Linda Crawford 2013
More Writing in the White Space posts:
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 NIV
It’s Six Minute Sabbath. . . well, actually, it’s a seven minutes and fifty-two seconds sabbath.
That’s how long it takes to share this story.
The story of two friends sharing the light on a very dark morning:
Share the light.
Somebody you know needs it today.
© Linda Crawford 2013
Past Six Minute Sabbath videos:
Today’s photo theme is “Focus” and comes from a new blogger friend, Jim, who shares beauty and wisdom that inspires me each day at his blog: jimfields.wordpress.com
What does “Focus” mean to you?
Sometimes focusing on the details can be rather abstract, confusing, or maybe details just don’t let us see the true beauty. Details can be choppy, crude or even obscure.
When that happens, when the big picture gets lost in the details, we have to step back and look from a different vantage point to see with more clarity.
In other words sometimes the greater beauty is seen in the big picture where the details combine and fit together.
The details of life are the moments, the efforts, the work, the play, the things that happen to us or for us. The larger picture is our goals, where we’re headed in life, what we look forward to…And sometimes life distracts us from the larger picture – usually because we are so intent looking at how to make the best of the moment, or because things don’t always go the way we plan.
The same is true in our religious life. The detail is the life we live day-to-day and the effort we make at helping God’s kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. The larger picture is people, mission is people…It is helping people see the beauty in the life of Jesus Christ, the mind of God.
A balanced Christian life is living the details all the while keeping an eye to Jesus. Sometimes we can see clearly up close…other times to see clearly we have to back off and broaden our vision.
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