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

Posts tagged ‘Jesus’

Re-written in Red Ink: Jesus is the Game Changer

Sharing a devotion at Internet Cafe co-written with my daughter:

Much of my life over the last three years has been written in black ink…a dark script of pain, sorrow, loss and loneliness.

And yet, every day and every word of darkness God has edited, rewritten, crossed out, and written over in red ink.

Because…

Red-inked words of life rewritten over the black-inked script of our lives.

A truth so beautifully captured in a story my daughter wrote when she was just sixteen:


Checkers

Imagine an intense checkers game.

You’re the red pieces…and your opponent smiles menacingly as he sets up his black pieces. You start out feeling very confident, thinking that this game will be a breeze. But as the game goes on, red pieces start disappearing and black kings seem to be everywhere you try to go. Eventually the board is totally void of red pieces…except for one.

One tiny, pathetic little piece is cornered by all the black kings. Sweat pours down your face and you think that there is no way you could ever beat your opponent. On the other hand, he’s sitting across from you with glinting eyes and a devilish smile, showing confidence that makes you feel like he could jump up and smash you into the ground.

But then a shadow falls across the board. You both look up, and see a man standing there with a smile on his face. A patch on his shirt says “All-Time Checkers Champion, 33AD.” You look over at your opponent, only to see that his face has gone white. The man gently places his hand on your shoulder and says, “Well, how’s the game going?”  

“Not so well…” You reply. “I’m going to lose.”

The man quickly scans over the board and then looks back at you. “Doesn’t look too bad to me. Anyway, this isn’t your game…”

To read the rest of the devotion at Internet Cafe click here.

©Linda Crawford 2012, all rights 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

To Write Love On Her Arms

I met Renee last week. Through a story so real and raw it makes my heart bleed just to think of it.

Lots of people know her…mostly those young enough to be my kids. But one day soon millions more will meet her on a big screen. And I pray that on that day millions of lives will be changed. And millions will write love on THEIR arms…perhaps for the first time…and forever after.

Because love changes us. It changed Renee and it can change you, me, and anyone. No person is ever beyond love’s reach.

NO PERSON IS EVER BEYOND LOVE’S REACH…

She has known such great pain; haunted dreams as a child, the near-constant presence of evil ever since. She has felt the touch of awful naked men, battled depression and addiction, and attempted suicide. Her arms remember razor blades, fifty scars that speak of self-inflicted wounds… She drinks long from a bottle of liquor, takes a razor blade from the table and locks herself in the bathroom. She cuts herself, using the blade to write “**** UP” large across her left forearm…

It’s the only identity she knows. The one she tells herself is true.

God sends her friends that same morning to tell her a different truth. One of those friends, Jamie Tworkowski, writes her story a few days later…and titles it “To Write Love on Her Arms.”

And that’s exactly what he did:

We often ask God to show up. We pray prayers of rescue. Perhaps God would ask us to be that rescue, to be His body, to move for things that matter. He is not invisible when we come alive. I might be simple but more and more, I believe God works in love, speaks in love, is revealed in our love. I have seen that this week and honestly, it has been simple: Take a broken girl, treat her like a famous princess, give her the best seats in the house. Buy her coffee and cigarettes for the coming down, books and bathroom things for the days ahead. Tell her something true when all she’s known are lies. Tell her God loves her. Tell her about forgiveness, the possibility of freedom, tell her she was made to dance in white dresses. All these things are true.

We are only asked to love, to offer hope to the many hopeless. We don’t get to choose all the endings, but we are asked to play the rescuers. We won’t solve all mysteries and our hearts will certainly break in such a vulnerable life, but it is the best way. We were made to be lovers bold in broken places, pouring ourselves out again and again until we’re called home.

Love until we are called home…

That’s God talking to you and to me.

I have never carved a lie on my arm, but over the years I certainly have written lies like billboards in my thoughts… “I’m not good enough…I can’t do anything right…Nobody really loves me. I’ll never accomplish anything worthwhile.”

Meeting Renee reminds me of the agony of my days of despair. Days I want to forget, but God calls me to remember. So I can love better.

So I can write love on someone’s arm—where lies were once written.

Thank you Jamie, for sharing Renee’s story and your own. And for inspiring me to dig deeper, much deeper, into my own heart so I can love, truly love, as God fills my heart with His love…until I am called home.

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me 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. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. Isaiah 61:1-3 NIV

Thanks for sharing a part of my story today. May we always remember the sun  never fails to shine, and the love of THE SON never fails to heal.

~ Linda

Read the rest of Renee’s story.

Learn more about TWLOHA.

Watch this inspiring video 

Do you have a hyperactive conscience?

Do you have a hyperactive conscience?

Yesterday one of my favorite authors, Mary DeMuth, published  a blog post titled “Confessions of a girl with a hyperactive conscience.”

(Click here to read it)

“That’s me!” I thought and clicked the link to read Mary’s thoughts. Judging by the number of responses she’s received, there are a lot of women in the same boat with Mary and me.

We question ourselves. We doubt our worth. We berate ourselves for our mistakes and failures.

Even though we know we shouldn’t.

Are you in the boat with us?

I’ve battled this hyperactive conscience for years and so I posted a comment on Mary’s blog. She wrote back:

“Wow, Linda, this has “book” written all over it.”

I laughed.

So Mary, it’s not a book, but here’s a blog post, and I pray God uses your words and mine to bring healing to all of us who want our hyperactive consciences to just shut up.

First, here is the response I posted on Mary’s blog:

At times in my life this battle against my conscience has had me curled up in a fetal position on the floor in agony. My wise husband finally told me one day that every time I questioned my worth or berated myself for doing/saying something wrong that I was calling God a liar : Isaiah 45:9 “Does a clay pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, ‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’”

God’s been busy shaping me and my conscience over the last five years as I have yielded to accepting the TRUTH of who God says I am and what I was created for—to love God and to love others. As long as I stay in that battle with my conscience I’m too preoccupied to do either of those things. Precisely the way the enemy of God wants it…

I have to choose to take an action that is completely the opposite of what I’m feeling and go love on somebody. And guess what happens with that battle with my conscience?

God wins!!

Let me elaborate on this a little more…AS LONG AS I STAY IN THAT BATTLE WITH MY CONSCIENCE I’M TOO PREOCCUPIED TO BE WHO GOD CREATED ME TO BE.

Sorry for shouting at you, but I feel pretty strongly about this. Here’s why:

I spent years talking truth back at my conscience (even shouting at times). I prayed, read my Bible, read books on the topic, and I asked for wisdom from my friends. Now I’m here to tell you that ALL of those things were beneficial. But they only led to a certain level of healing—an incomplete one. After years the battle was still waging in my mind and I was ready to wave the white flag and surrender. I figured the war would never end, no matter what I did.

“I’m not good enough. You shouldn’t have said that. You messed up…again.”

I shot those fiery darts at myself almost daily…even though I knew they were lies. Like an addiction or bad habit, I simply couldn’t break myself of it.

Until the “I could have had a V8” day. The day God put two scripture passages together in my head:

Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”  Matthew 22:37-39

Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead…You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. James 2:17, 22

My paraphrase: Love with all my mind. Love my neighbor as myself. My faith is made complete through acting in love.

Yeah right, I thought. At the time my mind was so preoccupied with me, there was no way I could love God or others. And then I saw how this had played out in my life:

Withdrawl. Hiding from people. Avoiding situations where I might feel unworthy. Trying to find a “safe” space where my conscience would not be tested.

My hyperactive conscience had the power in my life, not God. I realized the only way out was to take action. To fight the enemy on God’s terms, not man’s. I started to unfurl from my fetal position and make a choice to take a loving action. So when I started to berate myself I would purposefully go and encourage someone else instead. To be who God created me to be!

I discovered that I knew all the truth I needed to know, but I was waiting for the actions to just follow naturally. Nope, God said, YOU make the choice to act in truth and that’s when your faith is made complete. Your healing is made complete.

I think Joyce Meyer is famous for saying “Take the right action and the feelings will follow.” I’m here to tell you it works.

No, I’m not perfect at always taking the right action. But I haven’t been curled up in a ball for years. A little stomach ache now and I know what I need to do.

Do you have a hyperactive conscience? Put my method to the test and see if you can make it shut up too.

After all, what good does it do me, or you, or God if we’re wasting all our time talking to a liar?

By the way…you are beautiful,  you are worthy, you are used mightily by God and He has great plans for your life!

Go forth and conquer!

 

            ~Linda

He is Risen!

Thank you Jesus for setting us free!

Free to become who we are meant to be!

Hallelujah, Jesus is alive!

The Women Who Watched

I want to be a woman who will watch.

A woman who will keep my eyes fixed on Jesus as I remember His death and resurrection this week. A woman who will remember His sacrifice, made for me. A woman willling to try to understand the depth of His suffering for my healing. A woman who would have been with THE WOMEN. The women who watched…

There were women watching from a distance, among them Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of the younger James and Joses, and Salome. When Jesus was in Galilee, these women followed and served him, and had come up with him to Jerusalem. Mark 15:40-41 The Message

“Watching from a distance.” Not weeping, not speaking. Watching…as Jesus, whom they had faithfully served and cared for, was brutally crucified on the cross.

The word translated “watching” is the Greek word theoreo, which means to be a spectator of, to discern, to literally or figuratively experience, or intensively acknowledge. These women were not watching in the sense of watching a TV show or a sporting event. They watched with discernment. They watched intensely. They watched as one who tries to enter into the experience of another. And despite the horrific suffering they witnessed, so intense was their love and devotion, they could not turn their eyes away from Jesus.

But how could they watch? It had to be the most violent and horrific death ever witnessed!

Mary Magdalene watched and couldn’t bring herself to leave Jesus even after He was laid in the tomb. He had cast seven demons out of her. Imagine the torment she must have suffered until the day He set her free. She hadn’t just watched Him perform miracles—she had received one! So filled with love and gratitude, she was compelled to follow Him and serve Him wherever that would lead…even to the cross. Despite how painful and traumatic it was to watch, she had to be there.

Have you ever had to witness someone you love suffer?

I remember sitting in the Emergency Room with my ten-year-old daughter watching and wincing as the doctor put five stitches in the tender fingertip she had almost sliced off with a pair of scissors. I remember holding my mother-in-law during an extremely painful test as she battled cancer.

Was it excruciating for me? You bet! People I loved were hurting. But I had to be there for them. In the most painful experiences of their lives what they needed most was to be surrounded by love. And what I needed most was to be there.

Imagine the depth of love Mary and the other women must have had for Jesus to endure witnessing His suffering on the cross. Love compelled them to be there. They couldn’t leave Him—even as He suffered and died before their eyes. While others forsook Him, and multitudes of people cried “Crucify him!” the women remained faithful.

“To their everlasting honour, these women evidenced more courage, and affectionate attachment to their Lord and Master, than the disciples did, who had promised to die with him rather than forsake him.” (Adam Clark commentary)

I want to be a woman like that. A woman who will be there, eyes fixed on Jesus…no matter what. A woman who will watch.

My prayer for today and every day:

I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead! Philippians 3:10-11 NLT

Thank you Jesus. You paid the price for a debt you didn’t owe. One I can never repay with words, though you will forever own my heart.

 

Thanks for watching with me today.

                                                   –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

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