Planted By God to Display His Glory -Isaiah 61:3

Archive for August, 2011

Listening for the Words of Life

Human communication is inherently flawed. When I said to my thirteen-year-old daughter, “You’re going to be late for school,” she heard she was a failure. That she didn’t measure up to some personal standard of perfection I had for her.

Whoa! That’s crazy! My mouth never uttered such words of condemnation!

My husband casually says, “The house is a mess,” and guess what? I decide I’m suddenly the lousiest wife on the planet.

How do simple statements like these get translated into beliefs that we’re not good enough?

What we say is so often not the same as what is heard!

I don’t intend to speak words that are hurtful, yet sometimes they end up being just that. People around me don’t intend their words to be hurtful to me, yet I interpret them that way. Why?

I don’t have a clue, so I’ve studied the Bible to figure out some answers. I think I have a tidbit of revelation to share, and it starts with this passage in Exodus:

“I am God. I will bring you out from under the cruel hard labor of Egypt. I will rescue you from slavery. I will redeem you, intervening with great acts of judgment. I’ll take you as my own people and I’ll be God to you. You’ll know that I am God, your God who brings you out from under the cruel hard labor of Egypt. I’ll bring you into the land that I promised to give Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and give it to you as your own country. I AM God.” But when Moses delivered this message to the Israelites, they didn’t even hear him—they were that beaten down in spirit by the harsh slave conditions. Exodus 6:6-9 The Message

They didn’t even hear him?

Hello? These were words from God! How could they not listen?

they were that beaten down in spirit by the harsh slave conditions.

This was their reality. Everything they heard was put through a filter of what they believed, through experience, to be true. Think about it from their perspective…you are a captive, a slave, and for generations there has been no evidence to give you any hope that you will ever be anything but a slave. No matter what you hear, your truth is in what you believe to be true about yourself.

I ask you, are we so different?

When my husband said “The house is a mess” he was just making a statement of fact. It was a mess. I was the one who put it through a filter of what I believed about myself…and it revealed, not what he believed about me, but what I believed about myself!

I do the same thing with words of praise. Instead of receiving them as words of life, I find reasons to persist in my belief that they just could not be true about me…After all, I know myself!

Can anybody relate?

I read my Bible and I hear God’s promises spoken to me. Yup, even those go through the Linda’s-not-good-enough filter.

But how could I not listen to the words of God?!

I was that beaten down in spirit by my own harsh criticisms.

I spent too many years as a slave to a habit of  self-doubt and condemnation. But thankfully, God’s truth and love are stronger than the chains that seek to bind me to the lies. I’m breaking free. From the bondage of lies into the freedom of  life.

I’m now able to hear….to listen for the words of life.

The next time I tell my daughter she’s late and she thinks my words are condemning her, I pray I can communicate that she is loved and wonderful, she just needs to know there’s no time to dry her hair!

The next time my husband comments on the state of the house, I pray I can say, “Yeah, you’re right,” instead of  telling myself “I’m a lousy wife and housekeeper.”

The next time someone praises me or God reveals a promise to me, I pray I can receive and believe that what they say—and what God says—is true for me!

And today, I say to you…

You are wonderful, beautiful, worthy, holy, and dearly loved with an everlasting love. You have been chosen, adopted and anointed as a child of God, and nothing—absolutely nothing can separate you from His love!

Are you listening??  🙂

“Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live.” Isaiah 55:2-3 (NIV)

       

         ~ Linda

© Linda Crawford, Sunny Side Up (not scrambled), 2011.  All rights reserved.

Her Name Was WOW

I want to introduce you to a very special woman–someone whose influence upon my life continues to reverberate years after her passing …and her name was WOW!

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 not to 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 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 years went by I began to have a deep respect for her fearless approach to people and life. She had suffered many hardships in her life. Her family had lost their farm in the Great Depression. She lost two beloved sisters at young ages. Then her husband died three months after their son (my husband) was born. This event 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 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 truly 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. I miss her raucous laughter, her intense and sincere interest in the lives of others, and her bright and flashy personality. As time passes, I desire and pray to be more and more like her. I know it is not just my desire, but also the Lord’s desire that I be free from my restricting fears…free to boldly enjoy my life, to come out of the background, and experience the joy of connecting with people. It’s like learning to plug in a light and then not running to hide it!

I was wallpaper when I met her, yet now, on occasion, I wear a bright, bold color. And I even own five pairs of red shoes! (She would be so proud.)

Her presence in my life revealed a bondage 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!

And may her legacy of fearless freedom also touch you and set you free! (Got your red shoes yet?)

“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)

Miss you WOW. Happy 89th birthday.

~Linda

© Linda Crawford, Sunny Side Up (not scrambled), 2011.  All rights reserved.

Obsolete?

CAUTION: There’s yellow crime scene tape around this blog post. Cross at your own risk, but don’t be tempted to join the dysfunctional party! It’s just me being real, trying to solve the mystery of the pity party that happened here today…

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My husband tells me my laptop computer is “old.” Three years old and it’s already out of date, not up to today’s standards, and frankly…obsolete.

Exactly how I’m feeling today. Old. Out of date. Behind the times. Obsolete.

And it all seems too soon to me. Before fifty I never remember feeling this way. But now that I’m almost three years past that milestone, I do feel it. There seems to be a shift in the way people talk to me. A shift in my energy level.  A shift out of the fast lane and into the pit stops more often.

But I still think of myself as being in the race. I was a racer in my younger years. Competitive, passionate, and a risk-taker. And I still want that, perhaps even more now that I feel I’m becoming more of a has-been than an up-and-comer in life.

I remember my daughter (now 20) asking her dad about a year ago when she would feel like a grown-up. His answer?

“Never.”

True. I never feel like a grown-up, I’ve just learned how to act like one.

My thinking got stuck somewhere around 35 and I always picture myself as a much younger version of me…until the photos show up in my in-box and I have to look at the wrinkles, sagging chin skin, and older tired eyes that stare back at me.

I don’t know HER. She’s not the me that lives in my head.

Not the me who still dreams dreams and prays for God to allow her to be useful. She’s not the me I want people to see. Not the me, like my “old” computer, who could be judged to be out of date and obsolete before my time.

I talk to myself and try to be encouraging and tell ME that I’m a great person. That God says I’m worthy, beautiful, and yes, even useful.

I only wish I could feel it.

Ah, what vanity it all is in the end though isn’t it?

Me, me, me. And I was just reading Psalm 37:4 earlier:

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.

Rats. I just keep looking at the wrong things in the mirror don’t I Lord?

It doesn’t say to take delight in ME…

Doesn’t promise that the desires of my heart (the ones God put there to begin with) will come true if I’m happy with ME…

So where has this process of having a public pity party led me?

Right in front of a mirror. In front of the one reflection that matters.

Jesus.

And I finally remember…I am not my own. My life is not my own. I’ve been bought for a price. Every wrinkle, every ache, every pity party pain—He suffered for me to give me NEW LIFE.

A new life that will NEVER be obsolete.

So thanks Kim, you’re right…it’s time I put on some bright lipstick and let Jesus shine!

(And maybe people won’t notice the age spots and wrinkles!)

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Isn’t Jesus beautiful?

Keeping my eyes fixed on HIM,

~Linda

(I actually like this picture of me, so I’m sticking with it for as long as I can!)

© Linda Crawford, Sunny Side Up (not scrambled), 2011.  All rights reserved.

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