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

Posts tagged ‘God’

Rewind 1 Year: Bad Days Happen

Bad Days Happen

(This was originally posted on February 8, 2011, and it’s an amazing thing that God led me back to it tonight, February 8, 2012. Tomorrow I am going in for knee surgery, another step toward my healing from the injury that has sidetracked my life for 2 1/2 years now. I needed to read this tonight. I need to keep my perspective on the right things–the things of God. May it bless you today, whether it’s your first or second time reading it. Tomorrow’s going to be a good day, I just know it!)

I had a good day last week. Followed by a bad day. Followed by a moderately bad day, which was followed by a moderately good day. None of which were caused by my choice to quit caffeine last week.

This is just how I rate my life these days. Good, bad, and the moderate ones in-between. It’s become a habit, and another one (like the caffeine) that I’d like to break. But it’s tough, because I’ve been at it for over a year now, ever since that one very bad day happened.

Have you experienced one of those? I bet you have, and whatever your story is, I pray for you…because I know the pain. Literally. For me it’s been coping with unrelenting physical pain, but I know for others it can be unrelenting emotional pain. And so we rate our days: good, bad, and in-between…

On the good days I will call you and chat and maybe even go to the movies. On the bad days you won’t see or hear from me. Only my family sees, but I even try to hide the pain from them. So they won’t start rating their days good or bad based upon mine.

What really got me thinking about how I rate my days was an article I read last week by my favorite writer called 8 ½ Steps to Make it Through the Moderately-Worst Day of Your Life. It made me laugh but also gave me a good dose of God’s grace and hope:

“Even on days when absolutely nothing is going your way, and you watched your toast walk off the plate and jump to the ground butter-side-down, there is something you can control. You. Your outlook, your attitude and your level of optimism.” 

Yup, I can control me. I can control what I choose to focus on and what I choose to believe. And when I make the right choices my best days are the ones when God gets the attention instead of the pain:

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” Matthew 6:34 (The Message)

“Give my attention to what God is doing right now”…right now. Today, this moment, and every moment, pain or no pain, God is working in me. Working good things. Things that can only be formed in the heat of the furnace of my pain. And I’m a better person because of that.

So I won’t give up. And neither should you:

“So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (The Message)

Not a day goes by… I’m going to endeavor to stop rating my days good or bad based on my pain, and instead rate them all good based on God’s unending grace and love, and His promise for the blessings of my future. Besides, as my favorite author says:

“Bad days happen, but after they are over–that’s just it. They are over. Don’t give a bad day more recognition than it deserves, because it doesn’t deserve any. Stupid bad days.”

Stupid bad days indeed.

Have a good day!   🙂

                   -Linda

By the way, in case you were wondering, my favorite author happens to be Sarah Elizabeth Crawford. Who, in addition to ministering to her Mom, speaks to teen girls through her articles in SUSIE magazine. And you betcha I think she is great!

Copyright Linda Crawford, Sunny Side Up (not scrambled) 2012. All rights reserved.

What Am I Fishing For?

What Am I Fishing For?

I think this picture could sum up my life. First it was love, then a little good fortune and money to survive. Later I went fishing for some recognition in my work, and finally, after many failures at those, I saw the value of fishing for my faith.

But even though I caught it, the fishing never stopped. Sometimes I still fish for love, fortune and fame. And in the midst of everyday life, the triumphs and the sorrows, I am constantly fishing for more faith.

So…I put the worm on the hook again…and what am I fishing for today?

All of the above.

Good thing Jesus is teaching me to fish and holds the pole with me. That way we reel in the catch of the day I REALLY need.

Which just might be joy for the journey.

What are you fishing for today?

“You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.” Matthew 7:9-11 NLT

[I decided to do my own version of Five Minute Friday today and would love for you to join me! Look at the picture above, write your own five-minute story, and post it in the comments. Have fun!]

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

Fret and Faith Colored Glasses

I was fretting.

Justifiably so. A once in a lifetime opportunity was about to occur and we were going to miss it.

It was thirty minutes until the last solar eclipse of the century, and my husband, daughter, and I were stuck in a traffic jam on the outskirts of Vienna, Austria. Only miles from the total eclipse zone, traffic was barely moving and I was grinding my teeth in frustration.

Click here to read the rest of my amazing God story at Internet Cafe Devotions today!

~Linda

It’s a Red Shoes Day!

I  have my red shoes, do you?

Today I’m sharing my story of how God transformed me from a black, brown and boring shoe Christian into a red shoe one!

To read A Red Shoes Day click on the red shoe picture or this link: Internet Cafe Devotions

And you if you follow the instructions at the bottom of the devotion you can win a free copy of this devotional book my story was published in too!

That’s right, the title is  “God So Loved the World…That He Created Chocolate”

 

God, red shoes, and chocolate! Yup, it’s going to be a great day!

 

~Linda

Daffodils and Destiny

Bright and brilliant yellow, my four daffodil blooms SHOUT from my corner garden at the world…“Look at us! We’re the first and brightest blooms of Spring!”

I love them. I have only four this year, but hundreds blossomed in unison along the front edge of my childhood home in Maine. After a dark and gloomy New England winter, they were my lifeline to the future—the first hope of sun and Spring.

It’s amazing to me how these hardy bulbs bloom year after year, but only after spending time hidden, in the cold hard ground of winter with no sunshine at all.

Like me. At least it feels that way. It’s been a cold hard winter in my life as I’ve struggled to recover from an injury that gives me almost constant pain and severely limits my activity. At times over the last eighteen months I’ve wondered if I would ever see the sunshine of hope. Yet now I wouldn’t trade any of those dark days for some man-made premature spring. Because God’s been doing miraculous things deep inside me as I’ve been hidden. Working on my heart, my pride, my insecurities, my faults, and my fear.

Jesus even told us we must be willing to be buried in the ground:

“Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.” John 12:24 (The Message) 

There’s a transforming work that could only take place as I’ve been buried deep in the ground with Jesus. A place of surrender that I would never have discovered without the pain, the darkness, and the alone-ness of it all. I could not hold onto life the way it had been. I had to let it go, and trust recklessly in the love of Jesus to bring me new life.

Nobody’s really been able to see yet what’s been happening in my underground place with God, but eventually I pray the bloom of the love of Jesus will burst through the ground so I can show off His glory! Then I’ll shout “Hey, look at Jesus! He’s the first and brightest bloom of life!

Wait a minute…I’m shouting it out to you now! Maybe you’ve experienced a dark and hidden time in your life. Be encouraged, God can work miraculous transformations underground.  It’s your destiny and mine to one day break free and become the beauty we are meant to be!

A dear friend knows me so well, she made the artwork below for my birthday present last month. She made it for me, but it’s also from God for you.

I pray you are as blessed as I am by the heart and art of my incredible friend Becky Schultea.   

Thanks for the daffodil blooms you share with me just by being here! 

            -Linda

BELIEVE!

I hit the rewind button on my life this week, to take a look at where I started on my writing journey seven years ago. I’ve been feeling a bit discouraged and confused lately, wondering if God wants me to write more, or focus on something else and write less.

To write or not to write…Is that really the question? What is it about words that continue to want to pour out of my thoughts, a stream without banks, flowing to a destination as vast as the sea? Why write when your words only become diluted and lost?

Because…

“The word carries such power…That flavor in your work, unlike anything they’ve ever tasted, some of them didn’t know what tasting was until you showed them. You awoke their mouths, gave them a taste for something and created a desire they will never forget as long as they live.” –Mick Silva

A new friend of mine is just starting her own writing journey. It’s easy for me to serve up Mick’s encouragement on a silver platter for her. Harder for me to put it on a paper plate in front of myself.

How about you? God gives each one of us a ministry that can be rewarding one minute and an uphill challenge the next. It’s easy to feel like we are a small fish in a big pond and wonder if anything we are doing is making a difference. Sometimes we see how God touches others through our service, but most often we do not.

It’s in those times I feel like I am losing the battle to believe in what God is calling me to do. Yet I know it’s precisely the time that God is forging in me a stronger faith than I dare to believe I could possess.

God gave my new writer friend one word for 2011: BELIEVE.

Precisely the title of the first devotion I took to my first writing conference, where I met my first editor, who hired me to write my first article. It’s where I started on this writing journey. It’s where a pastor who read the article said,

“It made me feel something, and that’s hard to do. I rarely feel anything when I read articles.”

He tasted something. He was a pastor and he tasted something in my writing! It encouraged me even more than the first job offer.

I needed some encouragement this week, so I hit REWIND to read that first article again. So I can taste it. And savor the message God wants me to receive.

Here is it, served up to me on a cardboard plate with a hot dog and my baseball hat…

 

October 2004

BELIEVE

“I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency]” Philippians 4:13 (AMP)

I have a confession to make. Friday I bought a silver necklace that says “Believe” with a pretty green stone on the B. You may have guessed I was motivated to buy it to make the statement that “I’m believing God!” But I need to confess to you that my motives weren’t entirely pure…I had another motivation to “Believe” this week…Forgive me, but I come from a long line of die-hard Red Sox baseball fans, and this last week was our week to “Believe!”

For those of you who are not die-hard Red Sox baseball fans (are there any out there?), let me recap for you what took place this last week in baseball history. At the beginning of last week the Red Sox were behind in the championship series 0-3. There was no chance for them to come back and win four games in a row to win the championship and go on to the World Series. No chance—no other team in the history of baseball had ever done it. Then they won a game, and then two, and signs appeared all over the stadium that said “Believe!” It was not possible, the commentators kept saying—no team had ever done it! But die-hard Red Sox fans kept waving those signs and choosing to believe.

By Tuesday of this last week my faith was being challenged. And not just my faith in the Red Sox. God began to use the experience to talk to me about my faith in general…about how easy it was to give up when the odds were against me…how I could line up all the reasons why I couldn’t do “all things through Christ” …and how often I have given in to the insecurities and fears that overwhelm me on the brink of every breakthrough.

Until the Red Sox won the second game I really had only a mustard seed of faith. But on Tuesday, I made a choice to believe it was possible for the Red Sox to win. And yes, I prayed for it! I remembered scripture tells us that we “can” ask anything. So I did. I prayed that God could use this kind of story to get out a message of true faith—that He would give the Christians on the team a platform to share their faith and help spread the true message of “believe” wherever He wanted.

Maybe it sounds a bit strange and not very refined of me to pray for such a thing. I felt like I was just God’s kid asking for something from an honest heart and with a sincere desire for my Dad to get some recognition and glory. If you watched Boston’s victory in the seventh and last game of the American League Championship Series, you know that He did. When Curt Schilling, the Red Sox pitcher for the game, was asked on national television how he managed to pitch so well against multiple challenges, psychological as well as physical (he performed despite a painful ankle injury), he gave God all the credit and all the glory. He basically said, it was all God. It was God who empowered him. My husband can tell you that I jumped out of my chair praising God when I saw that. Yay God! He won the victory! I can believe! And not just for them, but for me!

You may know the rest of the story—the Red Sox did come back and make baseball history. To date (Sunday as I write this), they have also won game one of the World Series. Regardless of whether you are a baseball fan, let’s face it, we all love a comeback story. We are inspired ourselves when others overcome all obstacles and gain the victory. We realize we can believe for the impossible–because all things are possible with God!

By faith…Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Rahab. All on God’s winning team. In my imagination I picture they had angels (not the Anaheim Angels!) all around them, cheering them on and waving signs that said, “Believe!”

I’m going to be wearing my necklace this week. I am choosing to believe against all odds…both for the Red Sox and for myself. The Red Sox may end up in the baseball Hall of Fame—but I want to be like the overcomers in the Bible’s “Hall of Faith.” No wall too high, no mortal weakness too great for the strength of Christ to empower me to be ready for and equal to any challenge!

Praise God that no matter what our personal faith challenges are right now, we are always a member of God’s winning team! And, “we can do all things through Christ!”

I’m waving a sign for you! It says “BELIEVE!”

Thanks for believing with me today.

       -Linda

Is This Real Life?

One little boy asks his dad, “Is this real life?”

Millions laugh.

Another little boy tells his dad, “Heaven is for real.”

Millions listen. 

 

 

Millions of people ask “Is this real life?” every day. And millions listen for an answer.

What will they hear from us? From the story of our lives? And will it be real?

What will they hear from me?

A three-year old is not afraid to tell his story. I am. But today, I need to do it anyway. Because I came as close to heaven as I ever have a few weeks ago. And there are things about my life to share. So refill your coffee because it’s a long breakfast today, and I pray you get a little taste of heaven along the way…

…Nobody told me Jesus was real when I was a kid. I knew him as the guy in the Bible who was born in a manger, walked on water, died on a cross, and came to life again. He was a cool story character, with superhero characteristics, that people liked to talk about on Christmas and Easter.

I never once remember a person talking to me about knowing Jesus. Or that I could talk to Him and He would answer. That He could be my best friend. That He was my savior. That the empty hole in my heart could only be filled by knowing and loving Him.

Jesus was served to me like one of those fake plastic dessert displays some restaurants mistakenly think will inspire you to want to eat them…dust and all. I couldn’t stick a fork in what was presented to me. It wasn’t real. So I wasn’t buying.

But that didn’t stop Jesus from pursuing a relationship with me, and showing me how real He really was. Like the time I was eleven, sleeping in a big one room cabin with my family at a country resort. In the middle of the night a huge bright light came in through the window across the room from my bed and woke me up. I watched it move over me and then over each of my sleeping family members. It was so beautiful and I was suddenly filled with incredible joy and love. It was as if I had taken a huge drink of heaven…like nothing on earth I had ever experienced.

My parents were baffled and unable to console me when we got home as I cried for three hours straight, telling them I did not want “it” to end. I couldn’t explain what “it” was at the time. All they could figure was that I had such a good time on the trip that I didn’t want the trip to end. That wasn’t it. I had experienced IT and I never wanted to lose it.

I was thirty-two when IT showed up again as I cried in the shower. I had just prayed “Jesus if you are real, I need to know, because I’m not going to make it.” By this time I had heard people talk about a real Jesus. One who would love me, guide me, forgive me, save me, and give me the hope I so desperately needed to go on. The tiny shower stall filled with the same beautiful glowing light and I knew, finally, that Jesus was real. And not only was He alive in the world, He was alive in me.

IT has shown up twice since then. Ten years ago, just before my mother-in-law took her last breath, I saw the same light move behind me as I lay on a recliner next to her bed in hospice. Immediately her breathing changed and I sprang up, grabbed her hand, and witnessed the miracle of passing from this life to eternal life as she left me for the arms of Jesus.

The last time IT showed up was quite recent. And it’s taken me weeks to be able to talk about it. Even as I write these words I have not yet spoken them to anyone. These memories are so precious, so personal, so mine.

I was alone in my hospital bed a month ago. It was the middle of the night, and it was dark, but I was not afraid. In fact, I had not been afraid for many hours. Not since 3:30 pm when the nurse left me in the Emergency Room waiting area alone. I suddenly realized that they didn’t believe me when I told them I had a punctured lung. I could feel my body wanting to panic, wanting to shut down. From my medical background I knew I was headed into shock. And that shock could kill me.

I wasn’t ready to die. Nobody in the ER was ready to help me live. It was up to me and Jesus.

At first all I could do was say His name. “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.” Over and over. Then I could say the Lord’s prayer. Over and over. Then my body changed direction. It calmed. Someone else had taken control and I knew I would live, no matter how long it took anyone to believe me.

That calm never left me, even when they put a tube in my chest without pain killing drugs. And even in the middle of the night, as I lay there, with every painful breath, and all I could say was His name, and all I could pray was the Lord’s prayer. Over and over and over.

I closed my eyes and the light came in the door. My eyes flew open and I saw IT again. More familiar to me now, I rejoiced in His presence. But it was a quick visit, a fleeting one that left me wishing it had not passed so soon. But I had tasted a piece of heaven again. And it changed my life forever…again.

I want to live more now than I ever have. I want to love more than I ever have. I want to laugh more than I ever have. I want to talk about Jesus more than I ever have. He is my savior, and He’s saved me more than once!

That’s my story. Is it real life? You bet. If you asked me how I know Jesus is real this is the story I need to tell you. Just like that three-year old boy experienced heaven was real, I’ve experienced Jesus is real. And He’s not just with me when the light shows up. He’s with me 24/7, and I could no more deny that He exists than I could deny my own existence.

Jesus is real. He’s not some plastic superhero Bible character.

I have my story, you have yours. Live it, breathe it, and share it, because millions are still blind:

Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:1-6 NIV

I pray sharing my real life story will help the light shine out of the darkness so others may see. This is real life, my life. If you want to share what I have it’s okay to ask, “Jesus are you real?”

Then stick your fork in this, the very first scripture He led me to after I asked that same question:

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7 NIV

Trust me, when that door opens, IT will flood into your heart.

Thanks for sharing a piece of real life with me today.

          – Linda

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