The Face of Beauty: Those Who Dare Greatly

Cheryl

Amanda

Pope Benedict XVIbailey

Pieta Jesus

LOVE in the Face of EvilThe Legacy of Lygon StevensEvery Tuesday for the last 3 months I have shared a face of beauty–those who have put the beauty of God on display in my life.

There have been dear friends, the Pope, LOVE in the face of evil, and even my dog.

I wish I could share with you ALL the faces of those who display the beauty of God in my life. So many, who dare greatly to serve Him and reveal His love and grace to the world. But I know you see them, because they are all around you in your life too.

So as I say goodbye here, and lay down blogging to turn to walk the less traveled road the Lord has called me to, I have one last face of beauty to share with you. We just happened to bump into each other yesterday as we were crossing paths in the road…

I’m turning right, she’s going left.

I was writing my farewell blog post of yesterday, and she had just written her very FIRST blog post. We both wrote about the less-traveled road.

This was no accidental, meant to be brushed off, “hey watch where you are going” collision of the shoulders. As I read the comment she wrote on my post and then read her blog, I knew God wanted me to stop and look her in the face. See who she was. Hear her story. Listen to her voice.

We’re turning in different directions, but we each have a baton to pass to the other. Mine is encouragement for her as she starts her writing journey. She passes me the courage, along with the spirit of youthful faith, that will sustain me when I start to feel too old for such a change!

ArikaTake a look at the beautiful face of Arika.

She sings for the Lord. Writes of her journey. Smiles. Puts God’s beauty on display.

She dares greatly.

To walk her less traveled path.

Stop for a moment today. See her. Listen to her sing.

Encourage her.

And encourage all whose shoulders you bump into, who are daring greatly to walk into the beauty of the road less traveled.

And dare greatly to walk your own.

salt and sparkleRead Arika’s first blog post: Finding Beauty in It All

Listen to Arika’s first song: Think About It

Like Arika’s Facebook fan page

Keep on sharing the beauty! Keep on sharing the love!

Looking forward to bumping into YOU someday when our paths cross again. 🙂

Linda CrawfordLinda Crawford

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

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

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

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

The Face of Beauty: Jesus

For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help. Psalm 22:24 NIV

Pieta Jesus

The face of Jesus

from Michelangelo’s Pieta in St. Peters Cathedral, Rome

Pieta

He has not hidden his face from you in your suffering.

He has heard your cries.

He has brought you victory.

They did not conquer the land with their swords; it was not their own strong arm that gave them victory. It was your right hand and strong arm and the blinding light from your face that helped them, for you loved them. Psalm 44:3 NLT

For you, He made his face visible.

For you, He made LOVE visible.

Linda CrawfordCelebrating and meditating on the beauty of Holy Week . . .

The Face of Beauty: Mothers-in-Law

Mothers-in-law too often get a bad rap.

So today, here at Beauty Minute, it’s Mothers-in-Law Day. A day to celebrate the beauty of mothers-in-law and to give them some much deserved honor.

Happy Mothers-in-Law Day!

Here’s my tribute to my mother-in-law. . .

I first met her on August 7, 1988, her 66th birthday, a few weeks after her son and I had started dating. I was understandably nervous about meeting the mother of my new boyfriend and didn’t know the proper way to address the birthday card I’d picked out to give her.

Should I put her first name? Mrs.? What do you call the mother of your new boyfriend?

He told me to just write “MOM” and to not worry about it. Although that sounded way too presumptuous, I did it.

In our first moments of greeting I nervously handed her my card–only I handed it to her upside down. She roared with laughter as she read it and sang out in a loud voice, “WOW!”

I was mortified! Was she mocking me? I wanted to shrivel into a corner and hide. Then she turned to me, took me in her arms, and greeted me with such genuine acceptance and joy I was overwhelmed!

From that day on she was never Mom, but always WOW!

If she was WOW, I was wallpaper. I did everything to try to fade into the background. I tried not to be noticed—not to attract any attention.

She wore gold shoes, drove a bright red car, wore neon green and pink (often together) and had a voice to match! When going about town to do errands I spoke to no one. When out in public with her I would secretly pray she would not talk to people.

I was embarrassed. She spoke to everyone, asking personal questions, giving advice, and teasing total strangers! It seemed she didn’t care how much attention she drew to herself.

She even called the newspaper when a tree blew down in her backyard just to get her picture on the front page with her new granddaughter!

I tried to be invisible when I was with her, but wherever we went people knew her. I was noticed because I was with her.

It was uncomfortable.

As the years went by I slowly began to have a deep respect for her fearless approach to people. She had suffered many hardships in her life. Her family had lost their farm in the Great Depression. Two beloved sisters passed at young ages, then her husband died three months after their son (my husband) was born. This forced her to be a single working mother in the late 50’s and through the 60’s–an unusual role for a woman in those days.

She could have become bitter, sad and withdrawn, but she chose instead to enjoy life and enjoy people. She had no fear of rejection—she didn’t even understand the concept. To her it was inconceivable that people should be afraid of one another.

I was, on the other hand, bound by fear of people, and her presence in my life made it very obvious. Over time, I began to loosen up a little, but unfortunately, it wasn’t until she became terminally ill that I realized what a valuable influence she was on my life.

I spoke with her candidly one day in the Hospice unit and told her I was sorry I had been embarrassed by how outgoing she was. I admitted I was basically afraid of people to which she replied, “I know, and I could never understand that.” I told her I wanted to be less afraid and more like her. She seemed pleased and patted my hand…

Soon after, she went to be with the Lord—an event she looked forward to with great anticipation, and the Lord gave me the honor of being with her as she took her last breath and moved her lips as if to speak…”Wow!”

She may be gone, but the influence of her presence in my life is not.

my red shoesI was wallpaper when I met her, yet now, on occasion, I wear a bright, bold color, and I even own a large collection of red shoes! (She would be so proud.)

Her presence in my life revealed a bondage of fear in me and gave me a building block to a freer future. I will never be a WOW; she was the one and only WOW. But I pray I may continue to be touched and influenced by her example and may the Lord set me free, as she was free!

“So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’” Hebrews 13:6 (NIV)

Linda Crawford

May today be a happy and beautiful Mothers-in-Law Day!

 

 

More Faces of Beauty:

Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI

Lygon Stevens

Lygon Stevens

Embracing the Gift of our Days

Embracing the Gift of our Days

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

The Face of Beauty: Pope Benedict XVI

The truth is beautiful and the true and beautiful go together:

beauty is the seal of truth.

– Pope Benedict XVI, February 2013

Pope Benedict XVIIn 2009, inside the beautiful Sistine Chapel, Pope Benedict gave a speech to those in the arts with a simple, straightforward message:

“Dear Artists, You Are the Custodians of Beauty”

Twelve years ago I sat on a concrete step under the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and stared . . . for an hour and a half.Sistene chapel

Hundreds of people mulled about, talking, pointing, examining, and exclaiming in wonder. My husband, ten year-old daughter and I sat in stunned silence.

I wiped tears from my eyes and could only stutter to speak as my whole body vibrated in the presence of such overwhelming beauty.

Later, we entered St. Peter’s Basilica and experienced the indescribable beauty of Michelangelo’s  Pietà.

PietaAppreciation began to turn to confusion.

I am not Catholic, and I had heard many voices over the years criticize and reject the “ostentatious” and “too ornate” nature of the Catholic church’s cathedrals and art. I had been influenced to believe that being too “showy” was wrong. That “real”  faith was supposed to be unobtrusive, plain-loving . . . and most of all . . .quiet.

I walked under the magnificent rotunda, where I finally succumbed to the force of the beauty that surrounded me. With tears running down my face I looked up into that beauty, divinely inspired and wrought with human hands, and begged God to explain it to me.

“Why, why God, do you need all this? What am I supposed to think about all this ornate-ness? Surely, it can’t be your desire that we focus on such things!”

His immediate response to my spirit was firm and loud: “Do not despise the worship of my people.”

WORSHIP.

To create beauty is an act of worship.

We were created to create it. To worship. To speak loudly and ornately and even obtrusively of the beauty of God.

We are, as Pope Benedict said, the custodians of beauty:

You are the custodians of beauty: thanks to your talent, you have the opportunity 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. Be grateful, then, for the gifts you have received and be fully conscious of your great responsibility to communicate beauty, to communicate in and through beauty! Through your art, you yourselves are to be heralds and witnesses of hope for humanity! And do not be afraid to approach the first and last source of beauty, to enter into dialogue with believers, with those who, like yourselves, consider that they are pilgrims in this world and in history towards infinite Beauty!

Faith takes nothing away from your genius or your art: on the contrary, it exalts them and nourishes them, it encourages them to cross the threshold and to contemplate with fascination and emotion the ultimate and definitive goal, the sun that does not set, the sun that illumines this present moment and makes it beautiful.

Pope Benedict Farewell Pope Benedict,  and thank you for preaching the message of beauty to the world.

May there be more preachers of this beauty among us.

Linda Crawford

Linda Crawford


 

 

More Faces of Beauty:

Amanda
Amanda
Lygon Stevens
Lygon Stevens
Embracing the Gift of our Days
Embracing the Gift of our Days

©2013 Linda Crawford

The Face of Beauty: Lygon Stevens

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