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

Posts tagged ‘hope’

Adventures in Writing: Memories of Fall

I’m heading out on a new writing adventure. I want to try to take a picture in words…and capture a fleeting memory, moment, or imagination…in 300 words or less.
<click> here’s my first pic:

The acrid smoke burns my nostrils.

I sniff in again. The prickly sensation travels down the back of my throat, and I am satisfied.

I have smelled Fall.

Our rakes lay abandoned in a haphazard array in the bare grass as we gather around the piles of growing flame. Horse chestnuts, shed with the crisp browned leaves, explode from their hidden shells inside the fire…and we cheer.

The joy tingles us to our toes and we forget our aching shoulders. The chorus of mournful tunes that echoed in the cool clear air just moments before have fallen like the leaves, and now fertilize the flames and the fun.

This burning ritual has no gender bias—I am an equal here with my brothers, covered in crumbled leaf dust, infiltrated with smoke, as we tend the fires with imagined military precision.

We don’t know the smoke is making our eyes sting and our lungs choke until there are only ashes of leaves left.

The rakes are forgotten for the leaves of tomorrow to fall upon them. The boys tease each other and run away down the lane.

No one sees my smile.

I have smelled Fall, and the joy of it I will remember forever.

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After looking at the way things are on this earth, here’s what I’ve decided is the best way to live: Take care of yourself, have a good time, and make the most of whatever job you have for as long as God gives you life. And that’s about it. That’s the human lot. Yes, we should make the most of what God gives, both the bounty and the capacity to enjoy it, accepting what’s given and delighting in the work. It’s God’s gift! God deals out joy in the present, the now.  Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 MSG

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Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for. – Joseph Addison

Praying for you to find delight in the nows of your today and your yesterdays. May you live, love, and hope with joy!

©Linda Crawford 2012, all rights reserved

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.

Dancing Doodle

Hope is hearing the music of the future…

Faith is dancing to it now!

                                        ↓ (that’s me dancing!)  ↓

Happy Monday!

 

Doodle Monday!

Let’s start the week with some no-coloring-between-the-lines fun! No rules, just doodle and post! This week’s doodle theme: Dancing!

Walking it Out in My Red Shoes

I used to hide from you.

Why?

I didn’t want you to see me. The REAL me. Not just the morning hair, dark circles and messy house me. The me that had a messy past. The me that was not the perfect Christian. The me you might not like.

So I hid from you. I was afraid of any relationship beyond “How are you…I’m fine.”

I wore black, brown, and boring so you wouldn’t notice me.

It didn’t work. I wanted it to, but even black and boring is visible! So I worked out a plan of operation to show only the “pretty parts” of me. You know, the “good Christian girl” bits, wrapped up with a pretty bow without all the messy stuff from my past and present.

Living life with a script, I was an actress in the story of my own life. A lonely girl, then woman, who thought life would be safer hiding in the dark corners.

It wasn’t. It was painful. And joy-less.

Until the day I put on a pair of red shoes.

Noticeable red shoes. Shoes the Lord used to set the hidden me free.

Free to be ME. The real me. The one that was finally willing to put God on display through all the messy bits that He had transformed for His glory.

What a victory…except… it wasn’t a perfect happy-ever-after ending. Because later I hid the red shoes, and hid me for about eighteen months. I’d suffered an injury and was in a lot of physical pain. So I put on my black slippers and suffered in a dark corner, steadily losing hope for healing and for ever being useful to God again.

I gave up on April 6th of this year and told God I was done. Done with anything connected to sharing my life because I knew I was useless to Him.

On April 7th Debbie sent me an email. She had read a story I had written years before about my red shoes and how they had set me free. She was so moved by it she created a red shoe theme for the entire year for her women’s ministry.  She wanted to thank me and let me know how the story was inspiring the women of her church.

First I cried. (Messy snot crying) Then I went to my closet, dug out my red shoes, and went to physical therapy. I told my therapist I was going to believe for my healing. Even though I was still in pain, and even though a walk through the grocery store would put me in bed for 2 days, with my red shoes on I was able to believe.

Debbie gave me my red shoes back.

And I began walking into healing and into the future God has for me. The future He has for the REAL me. Not some polished up version I put on display for you so you can think I’m better than I am. Because…

God wants to use every part of my life for his glory – not just the pretty parts.

Once and for all, I’m done hiding. I’m walking into a miraculous healing and I’m walking into the future God has for me willing to share all the good, bad, the painful, and the ugly to bring Him glory. I’m truly free to be me.

In my red shoes.

And not alone! I’m walking it out with a whole bunch of amazing girls like me who are done hiding too!

Why? Because…hear me on this one…

Red shoes are our courage shoes, girls.

They helped me stop in the middle of the Denver airport last weekend to pray for a woman I just met on the shuttle bus. (It was “Tebow-ing,” girl-style!) They helped me share my story with the women at Debbie’s church as the REAL me, not some polished up version of me. They are helping me write and trust that God can use my story to inspire others. They help me to have the courage to be visible with my faith and “sparkle” for Jesus.

Are you willing to make your faith visible too? Are you ready to stop hiding and be real?

It’s time for us girls—girls of all ages—to put on our red shoes and walk it out for Jesus!

Me, and the Girls Like Me from California are doing it!

Won’t you join us?

  ~Linda

(That’s the amazing red-shoe Debbie!)

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

Life is Unfair

Life’s unfair.

And there are degrees of unfairness in life. We may experience little, or “light” unfair-ities, like a store refusing to honor our coupon, work refusing our vacation request, or getting stuck picking up the dog poop in the yard…again.

Then there are the bigger “I’m really getting burned” unfair-ities in life:

Not being able to get a loan to buy a house. Getting laid off from work with no notice, getting hurt or sick, or wrongly accused.

Suddenly dog poop doesn’t seem so bad, and we’ve only scratched the surface of the number of unfair-ities  we could list. There are three big ones going on in my life right now. How about you?

What should we do about unfairness? I would so love to whine, throw a tantrum and ask you to join my pity party. We could even stage an “occupy earth” event on my block. You know, to call attention to the fact that life is unfair!

Everyone would have the freedom to put their whiny-ness on display and gather more supporters for the movement. The life is unfair movement.

Okay, I may be pushing the analogy a little too far, but those “occupy” people have made me consider how I approach the unfair issues in my own life. The big and the little ones.

Do I become easily outraged?  Hmmm…yup, I’d have to say that my injustice tolerance is pretty low.

Do I respond by trying to recruit others to join me in protesting the unfairness? Yup again. “Let me tell you what happened to me…you won’t believe it!”

Do I try to “fix” things by trying to convince those “in the wrong” that I am right? Yup. (Strangely, they don’t respond well to this.)

Do any of these responses help the unfairness of life to go away? Nope. Nope, and nope.

Life is still unfair.

So what should we do about unfairness in life?

Specifically, what should we do about it when life is unfair to us?

God spoke His word to me today when I read  the Message translation of Psalm 37:3-6:

“Get insurance with God and do a good deed, settle down and stick to your last. Keep company with God, get in on the best. 

Open up before God, keep nothing back; he’ll do whatever needs to be done: He’ll validate your life in the clear light of day and stamp you with approval at high noon.”

I know these verses well from a different translation. But today, God wanted to speak to me in a new way, give me a new perspective on His Word, and show me how to handle the unfair-ities going on in my life.

What should I do when life’s unfair?

I should:

  1. Do a good deed.
  2. Settle down, trust in the Lord.
  3. Keep company with God.
  4. Be honest with God about the unfair issue.
  5. Trust in His faithfulness to defend the truth and bring justice.

Armed with this new revelation, I think I’ll stop now and head off to “occupy” a comfy chair and spend some time in the company of God doing these things:

  1. Spending quality time with Him.
  2. Pouring out my heart to Him (aren’t you glad you don’t have to listen to my whining?).
  3. Settling down in my spirit as I remember that I live in this unfair world, but with God’s help I can live beyond my circumstances.
  4. Recommitting my heart to place my trust in Him and praying for the strength to stop trying to make things right on my own.
  5. Praying for God to turn my heart toward doing good for others and away from my self-focused “life is unfair” pity party.

How about you?

What will you do with the unfair-ities in your life today?

Here’s a little more of God’s Word for us to “chew on.” (Can you tell I love the dog examples in these verses?)

Psalm 37: 12-19; 30-31; 39-40:

“Bad guys have it in for the good guys, obsessed with doing them in. But God isn’t losing any sleep; to him they’re a joke with no punch line.

Bullies brandish their swords, pull back on their bows with a flourish. They’re out to beat up on the harmless, or mug that nice man out walking his dog. A banana peel lands them flat on their faces—slapstick figures in a moral circus.

Less is more and more is less. One righteous will outclass fifty wicked, For the wicked are moral weaklings but the righteous are God-strong.

God keeps track of the decent folk; what they do won’t soon be forgotten.  In hard times, they’ll hold their heads high; when the shelves are bare, they’ll be full…

Righteous chews on wisdom like a dog on a bone, rolls virtue around on his tongue. His heart pumps God’s Word like blood through his veins; his feet are as sure as a cat’s…

The spacious, free life is from God, it’s also protected and safe. God-strengthened, we’re delivered from evil—when we run to him, he saves us.”

 Running to God as fast as I can,

Linda

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

Everybody is a Genius

Everybody is a Genius

It’s true.

It has to be because one of the smartest people to ever live said so—Albert Einstein.

It takes a genius to know a genius right? And he says you and I are geniuses.

(Don’t choke on your Diet Coke, it will burn your nose.)

Do you believe it? Do you believe you are a genius?

If not, according to crazy haired Mr. Einstein, there could only be one reason:

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

Let that one hit you between the eyes for a few minutes…

<pause here for a “30 seconds with God” commercial>

Now print it out on a piece of paper along with this from the world’s greatest genius:

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14

And post them both where you can read them every day.

Until you believe the words are true.

Which leads me to my prayer for this week:

May you and I be set free to become who we were created to be—geniuses. Living in the truth and able to believe we can be all that God created us to be!

Amen!

And by the way, don’t forget to tell your husband, friends, co-workers, children, neighbors, and strangers-in-the-checkout-line that they are geniuses too!

~ Linda   🙂

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

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