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

Posts tagged ‘Scripture’

Everything I Need…

Sharing today in remembrance of our beloved Grammy, who passed into the loving arms of Jesus on this day 11 years ago. She was not just a mom, she was WOW!

 

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. (Psalm 23:1 KJV)

Can you imagine telling 2-year-olds that they “shall not want”?

They do want! They want candy bars at the store. They want their siblings’ toys. They want doughnuts for dinner. A child wants a lot of things, but a parent can say “no” if it’s something the child doesn’t need.

As grown-ups, we have “wants,” too. And sometimes our wants are not so different (bring on the chocolate!). But we have a Heavenly Father who can say “no” too.

Just like a 2-year-old, we don’t always get what we want, but 2 Peter 1:3 says,

“By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life.”

Click here to read the rest of the devotion at Internet Cafe Devotions

Linda Crawford

May the Lord give you everything you need today,

~Linda

Devotion reprinted with permission © 2006 Group Publishing, Inc.

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 

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

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

On the Job Healing

Join me today at Internet Cafe Devotions!

I’ve got things wrong with me.

Wounds of past rejections, bruises of past failures, hurts of past losses, and aches of unforgiveness…

Cinnamon Toast

I could have died last week.

How’s that for an opening sentence?

Yes, I’m being a bit over-dramatic, but the truth is I probably came as close as I ever have to realizing the possibility. But I didn’t get it at first.

It took too much time to get through my thick head that I needed to be in the Emergency Room, not driving around town looking for a doctor to tell me I did NOT have a partially collapsed lung, when indeed I did.

It also took too much time for the folks in the ER to believe me when I got there. Three hours to be exact. But when they finally saw the pictures, frantic people suddenly descended on me in a flock, and before I knew it I had a tube in my chest that was supposed to save my life.

I’m sure it did, but it didn’t work perfectly. It sprang a leak the next day that actually made me worse before it made me better. So yes, I was being a bit over-dramatic with my first sentence, but there certainly was drama in my life for a few days last week.

What’s toast got to do with all that? A few weeks ago I wrote a post called Bad Days Happen with the picture below.

I would classify last week as close to a burnt toast kind of day. Here’s a scripture I shared in that post:

God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. Matthew 6:34 (The Message)

I can testify that He does help when the time comes.

Even more than a tube in your chest helps, God helps.

Not only does He help, His grace works amazing transformations and healings on the inside:

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. 2 Corinthians 4:16 The Message

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 2 Corinthians 4:16-17 NIV

My translation of these scriptures (after last week’s drama):

Bad days happen. Stupid burnt-toast-bad days.

BUT

God takes the burnt toast days and transforms (renews) them by His grace into something yummy for my soul…

CINNAMON TOAST.

My favorite I-don’t-feel-good comfort food.

With lots of butter, sugar, and spice, cinnamon toast is like love on a plate when you’re served breakfast in bed the day your nose won’t stop running, or your tummy feels a bit yucky. That’s what my Mommy did.

And that’s what my heavenly Daddy does for me too. He gives me love on a plate of His grace in the midst of the smell of burnt toast. He feeds me with hope, faith, joy, and the strength to endure.

I had a few burnt-toast days last week, but feasting on God’s cinnamon toast I believe I’ll forever be sweeter.

Thank you God for your cinnamon toast love.

 

Thanks for having breakfast with me.

It was yummy. And restores my soul.

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