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

Posts tagged ‘God’s love’

Pondering the number 3

It’s been three months since I’ve written a blog post.

A lot can happen in three months…

I have three months of wonderful memories shared with family and friends.

I’m three months older (which, at my age, is not something I celebrate)…

Wait…I’m older, but am I also three months wiser?

Oh yes, I believe I am.

I’m wiser and I’m transformed. Older, but renewed.

All because of three miraculous days in June, and the three months of healing that have followed.

So I ponder the number 3 today…

It was three days before Jesus rose from the dead.

Three is a number of RESURRECTION.

Thank you Jesus for the resurrection life you poured into me during those three days and have continued to pour out these last three months.

Three is the number of DIVINE PERFECTION—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit–the fullness of God.

You don’t need a telescope, a microscope, or a horoscope to realize the fullness of Christ, and the emptiness of the universe without him. When you come to him, that fullness comes together for you, too. His power extends over everything. Colossians 2:9-10 MSG

Thank you God, for calling me to empty myself of the things that filled my life that were not of you—pain, fear and sins of unbelief–and filling me with the fullness of your life.

3, you have been good to me.

Soon I’ll write a testimony of your goodness, your mercy, and your healing power Lord. But for today, I’ll ponder your Divine perfection and the power of your resurrection life at work in me…

The number three “signifies and represents the Holy Spirit as taking the things of Christ and making them real and solid in our experience.” –biblestudy.org

You are making them real to me.

Thank you Lord, for 

©Linda Crawford 2012, all rights reserved

A New Adventure: Do It Afraid

In my last post I shared that I was ready for the new adventures God had for me this year…and now I’m headed off on one!

I’ve started a new blog titled “Do It Afraid.”

Do It Afraid is the message God has been trying to teach me all my life, but I only figured it out a year ago! It’s a little embarrassing to admit that I’ve been that slow to catch on (yes, I hit the side of my head with my right palm and exclaimed “I could have had a V-8”), but I’m so grateful for the healing that God is working in my life as a result of him giving me my “aha” moment.

Today I’ve put up my first post on the Do It Afraid site and I hope you’ll take the time to join me there and read a little more of my journey walking out of a life of fear and stepping forward in faith. I’ll still be sharing here at sunny side up, trying to keep the lighter side perspective on life, but I hope you are also blessed by the deeper sharing on Do It Afraid.

Here is an excerpt of today’s post: The Faces of Fear: Shame

Click here or on the photo to read more.

Shame.

 It’s a face of fear that I’m afraid to even talk about.

I’m afraid because I’ll have to make myself vulnerable to you, and share how painful and destructive shame has been in my own life.

I’d rather hide, like Adam and Eve in the garden, than show you the nakedness of my imperfections.

I’d rather live with my pretty make up on, so you never see the mask of shame that lies hidden just below.

But I’m going to share, because the fear of shame has ruled my life for far too long and hiding it was little by little killing me off inside.

The problem is, God did not create me to hide from life, he created me to live life to the fullest. Hiding from God and from you, living life constantly wearing make-up, trying to be perfect at everything, is incredibly painful. And destructive.

Because the face of the fear of shame is driven by perfectionism.

Research in human behavior confirms that perfectionism can lead us down the path of depression, anxiety, addiction and life paralysis:

“Perfectionism is a self-destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect, live perfectly, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment and blame.” –Brene Brown

We know it’s true, but why are we women so consumed with trying to be perfect? And why is it so difficult for us to admit that we live and act out of our feelings of shame? That we are constantly battling the voice in our head that tells us we are not good enough?

…To keep reading click here.

Thanks for sharing the adventure with me!

~Linda

Have you read about my red shoes yet? Join the red shoe revolution and step out in faith to spread the love of Jesus!

Copyright 2012, Linda Crawford, sunny side up. All right reserved.

LOVE is…

LOVE  is…

A Christmas present worth unwrapping every day of the year!

In honor of all that LOVE has done for me recently I’ve put together a video collage of  the images and messages I’ve been blessed to receive from God this year.

LOVE is…

The beautiful sound track is from Hidden in My Heart Scripture Lullabies–the music that healed my soul this year as God healed my body.

Yes friends, I am finally walking (and dancing) into my miraculous physical healing!

What can I say, except that God’s LOVE is amazing!

Praying for God’s LOVE to embrace you and fill your heart with strength and joy today and every day!

~ Linda

© Linda Crawford, Sunny Side Up (not scrambled), 2011

Love Doodle

We are Named by LOVE. Healed by LOVE. Protected by LOVE.

When we allow Jesus to write LOVE on our arms we are kept for good by, as John Wesley calls Jesus, “the lover of our souls.”

He can write:

LOVE over the lies.

LOVE over the pain.

LOVE over the fear.

LOVE over the loneliness.

LOVE over the death.

Because LOVE never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:8)

Let Jesus write LOVE on your arms today too!

Today’s Doodle Monday is a short excerpt from a longer devotional to be published in December at Internet Cafe Devotions.

(Thanks to my daughter Sarah, for writing Love on my arm…today and every day you shine the love of Jesus!)

© Linda Crawford, Sunny Side Up (not scrambled), 2011

I Think I am a Princess

Friends,

I’m on a writing retreat for the month of September (although still at home with dirty dishes and laundry), so I’ve dug out chapters and excerpts from my previous two book attempts to share with you. The first book I started was called:

Escape From Wonderland: How to Stop Chasing Fantasies and Live in the Realities of Your Faith

Here’s Part II of Chapter 4… (See last week’s post for Part I)

I Think I am a Princess


Oh how I have prayed over the years for God to transform me into who I really am in Christ…to change the way I think about myself, and teach me to act like myself so I can be myself. There’s nothing more difficult or distressing than trying to live life not knowing who you really are.

Without my identity secure in Christ I’m just an actress always trying to find the right script.

Years ago I didn’t even know I was not really being me. I found out later that other people knew. A pastor friend told me that I used to drive him crazy because, in his words, “you would never say what you really meant.”

What he’d noticed for years was that I chose my words so carefully I was never free to be real—to say what I meant and to mean what I said. Mine was a tightly scripted act that was supposed to protect me from failure and keep me from thinking too highly of myself. After all, I reasoned, only people who thought too highly of themselves spoke their true minds!

I was stuck in Cinderella thinking.

“Stinkin’ thinkin’” is what my brutally honest husband would call it. And frankly, I have to agree with him. There was nothing sweet-smelling about it.

My thoughts about me were in the dump. God’s thoughts about me were in the kingdom.

I was continually throwing a load of stinky smelly trash on what God had deemed treasure.

It must have smelled pretty bad for me to finally realize that I had to learn how to stop that trash from desecrating the truth. It was time to redecorate my dump and re-wallpaper the rooms of my mind with scripture. I had to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV)

I went to war. I fought every time I recognized a negative accusation. I got lots of practice fighting, especially alone driving in my car and awake in bed at night. That’s when the fiercest battles raged in my mind.

“I am who God says I am! I am not a total failure, I am not a nothing, I am a beloved child of God, and I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!”

I would literally yell at myself to drown out those habitual self-destructive thoughts.

Over time, I began to yell less. Today, most of the time I just need to give myself a good talking to.

Love…As yourself

“Okay, God, maybe I can learn to accept myself, but can I really love myself?”

This was a tough question for me until I realized that by refusing to learn how to love myself I had no idea how to really love others.

My constant self-critical habits were an irritation to my husband and an obstacle to all my relationships. One night my husband said to me, “Do you realize that every time you criticize yourself you are criticizing God?”

He reminded me of Romans 9:20:

Who are you, a mere human being, to criticize God? Should the thing that was created say to the one who made it, “Why have you made me like this? ” (NLT)

He was right. I did not like myself, much less love myself, and every time I criticized myself I was questioning God. God made me and loved me the way He made me. I was His creation, fearfully and wonderfully knit together in my mother’s womb!

But how could I change how I felt about myself?

I began to get some insight a few years ago. I had started to feel pretty confident in my identity in Christ and developed some close friendships I treasured. I was astonished one day when one of my friends confronted me with, “I never feel like you really mean it when you hug me and you’re always the first to let go.”

Ouch. But I immediately knew she was right. I had “personal space” issues and I only allowed people to get so close.

Soon after this, I was involved in the formation of a women’s ministry group. The inaugural meeting was held at my house and the first thing God put on my heart was to have “a ministry of hugs.” (This would later become known as HUGS—Hearts United in Grace and Spirit—and we opened every meeting sharing the love of Jesus.)

About six months later, I heard a brief teaching on Romans 12:9: “Love must be sincere.” (NIV)

I had heard the words many times before, but this time I was hit between the eyes with the simple, no room for negotiation command, “must be.”

My friend’s words of a few months before echoed in my mind. My love was not sincere and I knew it. But God’s Word clearly said it “must be.”

So I started to pray every time I hugged someone that my love would be sincere. I prayed that I would learn to receive love and not be the first to let go. Over time the most amazing thing happened. My hugs began to become real. And I was able to receive hugs. I could love and be loved.

For me, by learning to sincerely fulfill the commandment to love my neighbor, I began to learn how to love myself. I realize now that every time I extend the love of Jesus to another person, that love must first flow in me.

Can I really love myself? I not only can, I must. This is not a distortion of pride or permission to esteem myself above anyone else or God. But if I say I sincerely love Christ, then I must endeavor to sincerely love myself, for God created me and Christ who lives in me is my true self. To deny acceptance of myself would be to deny acceptance of Him. And He not only loves, He is love!

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:7-8 (NIV)

From Fantasy to Faith

Are you like I was, oppressed and “faithfully” scrubbing toilets waiting for Prince Charming (or Jesus) to rescue you? Who do you say you are? Who does the world say you are? Who does God say you are? Are you believing in the minuses or the pluses? Do you find yourself pretending to be two people and never really finding your true identity through “Christ in you?” Can you truly say you love yourself?

Renewing my mind in Christ will be a life-long process, but today I can tell you that I am a princess. I am more who I really am than I have ever been. And with more prayer and practice living in the truth, I will be more of who I really am tomorrow—being ever transformed into His image and likeness.

No matter where you are on your journey from fantasy to faith, God always wants to help you learn more about knowing and loving who you really are.

You are a Princess!

 Have you found it hard to love yourself?

Share your story in the comments!

 ~Linda

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

Is it Okay to Love Myself?

Dear Readers,

I’m taking myself on a writing retreat for the month of September (unfortunately still at home with dirty dishes and laundry), in order to REALLY work on and hopefully finish my first non-fiction book. I’ve started two others over the years that both made it to publishers committees, but I wasn’t ready. I pray I am now! In the meantime, I’ve dug out chapters and excerpts from my previous two book attempts to share with you. The first book I started was called:

Escape From Wonderland: How to Stop Chasing Fantasies and Live in the Realities of Your Faith

Hope you enjoy it! Here’s Part I of Chapter 4…

Is it Okay to Love Myself?

“Sometimes she scolded herself so severely as to bring tears into her eyes…for this curious child was very fond of pretending to be two people.”                                                – Alice in Wonderland

Am I Cinderella or a Princess of the King?

I told my husband a few years back that a strange thing was happening to me—I was starting to feel good about myself. I was beginning to think I was a good person. “Is that okay?” I asked.

“What if it’s pride? How will I know?”

“Don’t worry,” my tell-it like-it-is husband assured me, “I’ll be sure to let you know!”

What a distorted perception I had of the “right” thoughts to think about myself. I had interpreted the scripture “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought” (Romans 12:3) to mean it was wrong to think any good thoughts about myself. I believed proper Christian humility was to think poorly of myself. I thought being a good Christian woman meant living life as Cinderella—a hidden existence of humble servitude.

Being humble to me meant trying to balance performance scores in my head. Every time I felt a teeny bit successful or received any form of compliment I would immediately think of all the things that were wrong with me—I had to negate any thoughts that might pop into my head that something might be right. I had a minus for every pIus. Then I had to find even more minuses so I could always end up on the negative side of the scale.

I didn’t need anyone else’s criticism; I was my own worst judge. I didn’t even need an enemy; I was my own worst enemy. I could aim with sharpshooter accuracy my own fiery darts of accusation. After all, I knew my vulnerabilities better than anyone. I knew I wasn’t really worthy and I knew how to convince myself it was the truth.

It’s amazing that despite all my ferocious attacks against myself, I was never able to extinguish my hidden dream of being a princess—of being a somebody who was a somebody! Somewhere in my heart of hearts I knew I was really not a Cinderella, that my true hidden Christian identity was to be a princess of the King! So while I “humbly” tried to live as a sub-servant servant, I secretly dreamed of the day Jesus would show up and the shoe would finally fit.

I thought it would be like the fairy-tale and one day I would be Cinderella and the next I would be that princess. I had no idea that it would take years and years for God to rewrite the scripts in my head first.

I’m My Own Worst Enemy

Despite my laundry list of doubts about myself, I was somehow able to “put myself out there” and try doing things that were out of my Cinderella comfort zone. Like teaching a Bible study class. After my first night of teaching I decided I was going to go home and curl up into a ball and never venture out of my house again. I scolded myself so severely over what I had said or didn’t say, and flogged myself with my list of faults and inadequacies until I was a sobbing mess.

I cried for hours. But the next week I went out and taught again, and cried again. I continued this cycle for years. I would step out into ministry and do my best, then go home and beat myself up for a week.

It encouraged me to find examples in the Bible of true heroes of the faith who also experienced times of self-doubt and even despair about who they were. Elijah, for example, a prophet and a man of great humility and faith, conquered the prophets of Baal and called down fire from heaven, then packed up and ran to hide in the desert. After a great victory on the mountain he fell into the depths of discouragement.

“I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” 1 Kings 19:4 (NIV)

How well I knew this feeling! And all I was doing was teaching a Bible study class!

I was, like the description of Alice at the beginning of this chapter, a curious child of God, pretending to be two people…

One who could do all things through Christ, and one who couldn’t. I had the scripts for both parts well memorized. But I couldn’t continue to play them this way forever.

Pretending to be anything other than the truth of who we are takes way too much energy. Thankfully, I began to get sick (literally) and tired of acting in the sad, overly dramatic play that had become my life.

I knew enough of the truth about what God said about me in the Bible to know that I was supposed to be believing it instead of attacking it. But the old habits of my thought life were deeply ingrained. I prayed for God to help me learn to live in the truth of the scripture.

Romans 12:2 became a guide for the re-writing of my scripts.

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” (NLT)

You know the old adage “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Well, I’m not a dog, but I might as well have been! It seemed nearly impossible for my old mind to learn to renew itself. I found I had to turn my thoughts against myself again.

Only this time, instead of attacking the positive thoughts I went on a mission to attack the negative thoughts—to erase every minus thought with a plus and try to end up on the positive side for a change.

         To be continued in Part II…

         Have you found it hard to love yourself?

         Share your story in the comments!

         I’ll be back with Part II in a few days!

      ~Linda

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

To Wanna-be….Or To Be?

Confessions from my writer’s desk

I can’t seem to stop writing today.

Words, in caffeinated-like frenzy, somersault down the slide from brain to keyboard-glued fingertips.

I scribble notes as I take my shower.

Thankfully, the ink doesn’t run.

I stop the hairdryer to capture a few more as they whizz by in reckless abandon.

I arrange and rearrange them. More shout to get out and join the happy flood.

Five hours pass.

I forget to eat.

I’ve been away somewhere, yet right here all day.

I’ve felt fear, sadness, and despair.

My teeth have clenched.

My shoulders tensed.

My stomach knotted.

Later they release.

Joy, hope, and love return in a welcome relief.

Something has changed in me today. The spring of words that was tapped into is like no other spring I’ve ever known.

I didn’t even WANT to write today.

I wanted a lazy home alone day. I wanted to plant flowers. Take a nap. Read a book.

But I thought I would take a passing look at the chapter I finished on Monday first. The one in the book I’m writing…and endeavoring to live.

I fixed a phrase. Revised an awkward transition, added a new paragraph…

A paragraph that was hard to write. One that cost me. Cost me my pride, my writer’s pretense, and my avoidance of the real me.

Because it was me. Using words to share about me. Telling truths I never wanted to tell.

And then suddenly the words would not stop. Out of control, yet perfectly controlled by a deeper part of my writer self.

One I have never met before today.

Because I am a reluctant spokesperson for God. More afraid that my weaknesses will fail Him, than I am confident that He can do what He says He will do.

A Moses-like writer, a stuttering failure, who carries a pen as a staff in her hand. And God says,

“Throw it down”

Then

“Pick it back up and write. And I will set my people free.”

I dare not believe it. I can only obey.

Yet I know I am different. God’s taken more control, freed me more from self…to be myself.

And I know…I am no longer a wanna-be.

I am.

A writer. A fool for Christ.

My words have been set free.

But not to teach.

TO HEAL.

Because healing words are not from the head. They bleed from the heart…to transfuse God’s love to a broken world.

I pray my future readers will see the drops of blood I shed on the pages of that book today. I pray God will use them to heal, even as I’ve been healed in the writing of them.

And now I pause in my writing to wonder, have you been a wanna-be too? Can you hear God asking you to throw down what you hold so tightly in your hand? The very thing He has spoken to you that He can use to set his people free?

Will you stay a wanna-be, or will you BE?

Yes, that is the question.

I bet you didn’t want God to ask you that question today, anymore than I did.

But He did. Because it’s time my friend,

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.

                   -Isaiah 61:1-3

I’m praying for you. For you to BE!

The world is waiting for exactly what you have to share.

And so am I.

~ Linda

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