All posts by Linda Crawford

About Linda Crawford

Author ~ Editor ~ Speaker I'm coloring life beautiful... because a courageous faith = a colorful life.

The Becoming of an Artist

Jesus is the supreme artist, more of an artist than all others, disdaining marble and clay and color, working in the living flesh.   Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh was a broken man when he first picked up his paintbrushes and pen.

He wanted to be a missionary, to follow in his father’s footsteps as a pastor.

Giving away all his possessions, he lived with the peasants he ministered to.

That wasn’t deemed fitting for a man of God.  It was deemed scandalous…and the church kicked him out.

In his brokenness, Vincent found a new purpose from God:

In that deep misery I felt my energy revive, and I said to myself, in spite of everything I shall rise again: I will take up my pencil, which I had forsaken in my discouragement, and I will go on with my drawing. From that moment everything has seemed transformed for me.

The becoming of Vincent van Gogh had begun.

He set out to paint sermons instead of preaching them.

Self-taught, Vincent professed he would rather paint people’s eyes than cathedrals, “for there is something in the eyes that is not in the cathedral.”

van Gogh

Later in life, as his brushstrokes became more bold, his colors violently vibrant, he wrote: “The uglier, older, meaner, iller, poorer I get, the more I wish to take my revenge by doing brilliant colors, well-arranged, resplendent.”

That’s coloring life beautiful.  🙂

gladiolas

Despite all the hardships and despair he suffered, and despite never receiving recognition for his art during his lifetime, Vincent van Gogh embraced beauty.

Henri Nouwen wrote of Van Gogh: “What beauty, what joy, and what ecstasy he was able to embrace. Mourning calls for dancing, dancing for mourning. Glory is hidden in pain. And in this mysterious duality that has become a duet, Vincent celebrates life.”

His brokenness became his art. His art, the sermon of his life . . . beautiful.

Praying my art, the words I attempt to paint in my own brokenness, will become a sermon of the unfailing love of my healer and redeemer.

Praying for you and the art you are creating today.

What sermons will you paint, write, create, and live?

All the broken and dislocated pieces of the Becoming of as Artistuniverse—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross. Colossians 1:20 MSG

©Linda Crawford 2013

Linda

I first shared this post on my blog, Beauty Minute, where I explore beauty–God’s handwriting–in art, music, nature, people, and brokenness.

To read more about Vincent van Gogh click on these links:

Becoming van Gogh

Van Gogh’s Letters

Van Gogh: The Life

From Preaching to Painting: Van Gogh’s Religious Zeal

Why I Must Write – No Matter What

It was a rough week of suffering with physical issues and lack of sleep and I stopped writing on my memoir. I told my writer’s group friends it would be a miracle if I wrote anything this week . . . but they wouldn’t let me off the hook. I  got this (and more) in response:Write No Matter What

“I’ve often wondered how the most depressed and pained people can survive as writers. Now I think, they couldn’t have survived any other way. 

We close off from life and suffer the consequences. We lose our ability to value what we have, the stories we contain that need to be expressed. There is no greater agony than holding a story inside that longs for expression.”

Thank God for real friends who aren’t afraid to confront you with the truth. I changed my writing goals to these:

1. Write no matter what, even if it’s crap.
2. Write some more, no matter what, even if it’s worse crap.
3. Write even more, look at the words and see their beauty.
4. Be grateful for stupid friends who pray and believe for you and speak the words of life you need to hear.
5. Pray for stupid friends and write even more because you know they’ll be back praying for you and being stupid if you don’t.

Later that night, when I still couldn’t sleep, I wrote. Then shared it with my stupid friends (a term of utmost endearment in our group).

Now I share it with you. Because it’s true–there is no greater agony than holding a story inside that longs for expression.”

This just might become the opening to my memoir:

One morning, probably a cold one, in darkness just before sunrise, the misty dew froze along the ruffled edges of a hundred pink and yellow rose petals. Then . . . light, and the frosty aspirations of the dark quickly melted. The stems took a nourishing sip of life.

After living in my house for almost 5 years, I finally counted them—we had 50 rose bushes.  Every fall they would defy the forward marching of the seasons and gift us with a second glorious blooming, bravely enduring morning after morning as the frosty fingers of upcoming winter attempted to bully their beauty into a final surrender. . . to the cold, to dark days, to deadness. 

Though I don’t remember well the exact weather of the day I almost surrendered, my memory thinks it was cold, with the filtered sunlight of a sun traveling south for the winter. Probably because I felt much the same—cold, filtered, headed south.

I had hit middle age, recently endured a season of loss and tragedy, and my sanity was fading. My petals felt frosted every morning, and the cold of it was frightening. But there was no one to tell about my fears, or about the demons of my memories, because I was determined to conquer them on my own. After all, I had always survived before, stuffing fear and trauma down with hidden boxes of chocolate chip cookies, and when those were gone, bags of just chips.

Sticky handfuls of semi-sweetness numbed the pain and unscrewed the unrelenting torsion of fear and pain in my gut—except they didn’t. Instead, it became an act of hating myself. For my fears, my failures, my insecurities, my grief, and my shame. I feared fear and pain, and so became captive to them. I kept my outside looking happy, but on the inside I loathed my imprisoned, weak, and tormented self.

On this cold day of frosted rose petals, my mind was losing the battle for control of the happy outside and the broken inside, and I knew it. I was beyond cookies. I had to tell my story of horror, the one I was convinced no one would believe . . . or die.

It would be the first of many stories I would have to tell. 

I discovered later that yellow roses mean friendship, jealousy, infidelity, apology, a broken heart, intense emotion, undying love, and extreme betrayal.

Pink roses mean: GRACE

God always plants pink roses in with the yellow in life.

Today, I went and clipped two pink roses that survived the cold of a light frost last night. Ten minutes later my daughter sent me a recording she had just made singing Amazing Grace in six part harmony.

I cried.

My story longs for expression. So I will live.

Perhaps yours does to.

Write. No. Matter. What.

My “stupid” incredibly talented and loving friends are part of Your Writers Group http://www.yourwritersgroup.com/. If you are a writer and could use some friends like mine, come and join us. We’ll love you and pray for you and push you too.  🙂

Linda Crawford

Ellie’s Beautiful Place

I never knew Ellie, but I know of a beautiful place she loved . . .

ellies place

20130228_133622 Ellie's place

Ellie's place

Ellie's placeEllie's place 20130228_10471120130228_133635

bench

I loved Ellie’s place too, but it made me wonder–where would I want MY bench to be?

What about you?

Where is your beautiful place?

Where would you want your remembrance bench to be?

And

Where is the beautiful place you will sit today?

Your beautiful placeWill you rest on the bench before you, and fully experience the beauty of TODAY’s place?

It may not have the natural beauty of Ellie’s, but there’s a place for you today, where God miraculously colors your life beautiful . . . where the holiness of the ordinary is revealed.

Take your seat.

Rest and behold the beauty of your life.

Linda Crawford

 

She Wanted to Be . . .

Two years ago I wrote a blog post entitled To Wanna-be . . .Or To Be? Confessions from my writer’s desk

An excerpt:

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.

She read it.

She wanted to BE. 

And left a comment on the post:

through tears…

i SO want to BE ALL that He has fashioned me to be…may i BE, Lord Jesus, may i BE!!!

My friend Jenifer was a wanna-be writer that God led me to through the miracle of the internet, and told He me, “Help her, give her anything you have that I ask you to share to support and encourage her.”

To the best of my ability I have.

Jenifer had a dream in her heart and a calling from God to take up her pen and lead women to DIVE DEEPER into God’s healing Word.

She is being “launched” into that dream today.

And today, I want to say publicly to her:

through tears of joy . . .

you are ALL that He has fashioned you to be…

and may we follow your lead to BE, Lord Jesus, may we BE!

So many women will be transformed by your writing and your heart Jenifer!

Thank you for having the courage TO BE!

Linda

Jenifer’s book, DIVE DEEPER: Finding Deep Faith Beyond Shallow Religion, is a unique, interactive Bible study of the book of Ephesians. The desire of her heart is for women to fall in love with God’s Word, and she shows us how to do just that. As part of Thomas Nelson’s new Inscribed Collection, DIVE DEEPER is available for pre-order now.

Jenifer Jenifer asked me to be a “captain” for her launch team today, and I am honored beyond words to connect you to this amazing woman of God and share the joy of her dream coming  to BE!

Click the photo below to learn more about Jenifer, her book, and her ministry.

I'm a dive team captain

Faith, Hope, and . . .

A few years back I special ordered a sign with my favorite quote on it for a Christmas present to myself. It’s been in the entryway of my house ever since, where my husband and I pass by it multiple times a day. I read it often, but apparently it’s just been wallpaper to my husband all these years. This week he finally noticed it—and noticed something missing. See if you think something’s missing too:

sign

“What about LOVE?” he said to me. “You know, faith, hope and LOVE? You have faith and hope in there, but where’s the rest of it?”

Immediately this scripture came to mind:

Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. 1 Cor 13:13 NLT

The GREATEST of these is LOVE. Had I missed the rest of the message all these years? I was hearing and dancing…had hope and faith, but where–where was the sentence that completed the quote? The one with LOVE in it?

It may seem trivial, but this really bugged me. My favorite quote was now diminished, incomplete, and lacking something vital. It didn’t inspire me like it had before. I felt silly that I had never noticed the missing sentence on LOVE before, AND I had absolutely no idea what it was supposed to be.

It took a few days of feeling perturbed before I finally asked God to help me figure out the ending. I had to chuckle when it finally came to me!

“LOVE is letting Jesus lead.”

All this time I had pictured myself dancing alone to the music I could hear and believe. But I haven’t been alone, He’s been there the whole time, a silent partner in the dance, teaching me how to yield to my love for Him and surrender more and more of my movements to His lead–to His LOVE.

Now I know, LOVE was never really missing. God is LOVE. Always present, always holding me in His arms and gently leading me in the dances of my life.

Thank you hubby for noticing what I couldn’t, and for challenging me to find the LOVE.

“Hope is hearing the music of the future.

Faith is dancing to it now.

Love is letting Jesus lead.”

Lead on Jesus, lead on!  

Praying for you–for faith, hope and LOVE. . . and your dancing with Jesus life.

~Linda

Why Don’t I Laugh More?

Beauty is whatever gives joy.  -Edna St. Vincent Millay

I want to be funny.

Not ridiculous. I don’t want people to roll their eyes behind my back.

Well, maybe I do.

It’s just that I’ve been so darn serious all my life, devoting myself to striving for perfection standards in everything I do, and everything I’ve thought I should become.

Good girl. Good Christian. Good wife. Good mother. Good Christian older wife and mother. Good this and good that.

I’ve become adept at drawing confinement lines around my behavior because it takes a lot of serious thinking to work toward perfection. And a lot more serious thinking when I inevitably fail to meet my own expectations. Orderly steps, measured words, tempered thoughts, logical actions…

Confined life.

Except when I can’t stand myself anymore and I break into dance, song, or write silly words. Or travel. Out of my comfort zone, away from my “should life” I allow my diaphragm to relax and inhale and exhale fun.

I laugh. Full belly.

I want to be funny, because life isn’t funny if I’m not. I’m a jaw-clencher, and laughter comes hard, like rigid muscles that have forgotten how to move. Even confessing my serious nature barely initiates my moving closer to funny. Yet, from beyond the confined lines, from the infinite undefined space of thought, comes this:

Beauty isn’t beauty without joy.

Joy in me = joy in the beauty of life.

Beauty isn't beauty without Joy

On your feet now—applaud God! Bring a gift of laughter, sing yourselves into his presence.  Psalm 100:1-3 MSG

And so I pray, help me Lord, to forget the confines of the lines and the “shoulds” so I may color life beautiful today with laughter. With you.

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The Beauty in the Dark

To love beauty is to see light.  -Victor Hugo

Some may say there’s no beauty to be seen in the dark . . .

perhaps believe that darkness is the absence of light . . .

or preach that only dark things happen in the dark.

But not me.

I’ve found a secret place in the dark…where sorrows, pain, and grief burst forth in a melody of tears that only God hears.

Continue reading The Beauty in the Dark

Margins

God is magnificent; he can never be praised enough. There are no boundaries to his greatness.        Psalm 145:3 MSG

Margins.

The outside limits. The white space beyond the words. The boundary lines of life, the edges of the impossible.margins

I live here. In the margins, between the margins, and sometimes beyond them.

I write notes in the margins of my Bible. Scribble comments in the margins of a favorite book. Doodle in the margins when I’m bored.

There’s room to play here, in the white space of life, yet I’m constrained by the boundaries of the margins.

I know if I stray off the page, go over the edge, color outside the frame–I’ll mess up the furniture…and perhaps my life.

Continue reading Margins

The Inspiration for Coloring Life Beautiful

 

Pain inspired it.coloring

Beauty will heal it.

After years of chronic pain and disability,

After experiencing another in a long sequence of treatments gone wrong,

After losing a healthy, athletic body training to climb a  mountain at age 50,

After crying lakes of tears and books of prayers,

After almost dying,

After barely living,

After being given the gift of desperation…

Continue reading The Inspiration for Coloring Life Beautiful