Tag Archives: faith

Why I Stopped Writing

For four years I wrote.

Cried.

Bled my heart out in red-inked words handwritten on pads of pristine white-lined paper.

Searched for my story as I fingered letters on my keyboard, and prayed a melody would emerge from the chaos of my life.

I wrestled with my story, my words, myself.

I fought. I faltered. I failed.

“All writing is prayer,” said the wise and witty Anne Lamott.20121206_155310

For years I felt my prayers went unanswered.

The pain. Would not. Go away.

Then ever so slowly, it began to ebb. I kept writing, but no instant miracle came. It was one agonizingly plodding word after another—like climbing the very last, steepest section of a mountain. Exhausted, barely breathing in the thin air, and only able to focus on the ground beneath my feet . . .

When I started to catch glimpses of healing, I became more afraid of the life that lay ahead than the pain I was living in. I knew my pain so well, and found a deep intimacy with my creator within the pain. As crazy as it sounds, I struggled to embrace the healing changes.

But I couldn’t stop what I had put in motion. What started as a desire to find some validation for my insecure, “I’m never good enough” writer self became, sometime in the process, less about a story for others to read and more about writing for the redemption of the deepest, most holy, and sacred sufferings of my life.

Words that flowed like a flood for years gradually ebbed over time to become puddles of less and less tears.

One day in my writing the sun came out. Full in my face sun. Sun that woke me to the beauty of what my life could be beyond the pain, and beyond my writing about it.

I stopped writing and went outside in the sun to play. And I’ve had no pain for the last six months.

NO. PAIN.

I honestly never imagined in those four years of agony that it would be possible.

Sometimes miracles happen in slow-motion.

In slow, very slow, writing. In slow tears, slow prayers, and slow-to-come joys.

Now, every day, I’m slowly living again.

Sacred, holy, beautiful, joyful, messy, imperfect, failure-filled, redemptive, miraculous living. Authored by the one who took all the words I wrote and rewrote each and every one–in red–redemption red.

With slow dripping . . . His lifeblood, poured out–A greater love had no one than this. 

Now your drink offering (Phil 2:14!) sacrificed to be set free,

and to set free those captive with you,

bound in this covenant to the One whose red words cover, purify and save.

The world,

Drawn to communion,  by His radiant red life,

Bright and bonded, pooling spirit, split and covenanted, dead to all else,

and held within this terrible beauty,

Of his holy blood.

Dear beautiful friend, fellow story-liver, slow writer, tear puddler, pain and shame sufferer, and messy, joyful, abundant life seeker —

Please write your story. Even if no one ever reads it.

Because who you really are—healed and whole-hearted and living in the sacred space of you—must be given to you.

Sometimes it’s a slow, holy process, but exploring the darkness to discover the light is so worth it.

Coloring Life Beautiful on PInterest“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”
― Brené Brown

Dare, brave ones. I’m praying for you–for the courage to own your story, to embrace slow writing and slow healing as you allow every word of your beautiful, messy, imperfectly perfect, painful yet glorious, story to be rewritten. In red.

I can’t begin to tell you how beautiful life becomes in the slowly dawning light.  🙂

Linda Crawford

hike
My first mountain hike in 4 years with a dear friend this past spring.

(The beautiful poem above was a gift of words given to me in the midst of my suffering by my friend, writing coach, and fellow holy wonderer, Mick Silva)

be BRAVE

This week I’m working on being BRAVE!

On Saturday I speak to a group of women for the first time in a year, and THIS is an important part of the message my heart is bursting to share:
be BRAVEHow fun it was making this graphic illustration! (I need to add CREATE to the message)

You can be BRAVE this week too!

Share your story. Dance. Wear red shoes. Love messy. Color life beautiful. Create.

Live open-hearted.

Praying for you, BRAVE one.

Linda Crawford

Love in a Basket

If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch you must first invent the universe.  -Carl Sagan

pie basket

I have the pie basket.

I rescued it the night before the garage sale, horrified that my mother and her sisters would discard such a sacred family object.

“We couldn’t agree on who should get it so we thought it would be better to just sell it.”

“What?” I wanted to scream in all capitals, in bold, and really, really BIG.

“That’s not happening,” is what I really said.

Every Thanksgiving of my memory (except for the last two years of her nineties) my grandmother would make the pies—pumpkin, apple, and the occasional mincemeat, and transport them to our house safely nestled in towels inside the pie basket. We would gather around as she unhooked the tiny latch and lifted the top, to behold the first glimpse and get the first mouth-watering whiff of the beauty of them.

Perfection, that’s what her apple pie was, and we anticipated it more than any other Thanksgiving treat (Although her cranberry and pumpkin breads were a close second).

She would start with homemade pie crust, rolled thin, which always turned out golden and flaky–never burnt, never tough, never soggy, never blah. She tried many times to teach me how to replicate her crust, but impatience was always my downfall. For her, it was an act of artistry and love to gently mold it to the perfect shape to fit the pie tin. For me, it was just a ball of obstinate dough that refused to become what I willed.

Much like the obstinate blob I must be in the Master’s hands, impatient in my suffering as I’m shaped by His love and molded by His artistry:

 Jesus leads us into a place of radical grace where we are able to celebrate the hope of experiencing God’s glory. And that’s not all. We also celebrate in seasons of suffering because we know that when we suffer we develop endurance, which shapes our characters. When our characters are refined, we learn what it means to hope and anticipate God’s goodness.  Romans 5:2-4 VOICE

Refined, that’s what Gramma’s pie was. Macintosh apples, fresh from the orchard, were the only kind she would use. Hand peeling and coring each one, she would ever so carefully slice them into thin slivers.  This part alone would take her at least an hour, perhaps two. These seemingly hundreds of paper-thin slices would then be meticulously layered in the crust, dotted with butter, and sprinkled with a touch of flour, sugar, cinnamon, and lemon juice and then the second crust would be finger-crimped to the first, in wavy ruffles of equal size and shape.

Oh how we loved that pie. And oh how that pie loved us. The pie basket brought us the perfect LOVE pie every Thanksgiving.

It’s been empty of pie for many years, but it will never be empty of my Grandmother’s love—warm, sweet, bubbly, a little tart, and so satisfyingly wonderful and delicious.

This Thanksgiving I’m pulling the pie basket off the shelf and giving thanks for all the apple pies of my Gramma’s love.

They feed me still.

Linda Crawford

Writing to Reveal the Unraveling Stitch

Rewritten in RedI’m writing on my memoir this week, praying I write honestly of what the world has been to me in the dark and light places and that my words will help reveal the stitch that unravels hidden fear. And hidden SHAME.

Writing my story is how God is setting me free of fear and shame. Because telling our story is how we overcome the author of shame, the one who accuses us relentlessly of never being “enough.”

For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who relentlessly accuses them day and night before our God, has been cast down and silenced.

By the blood of the Lamb and the word of their witnesses, they have become victorious over him.

Revelation 12:10-11 VOICE

unashamedYes, by his RED blood, and the word of our testimony, we overcome the accuser.

You have a story too. Praying for you to share it–unashamed!

Linda Crawford

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

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.

signature red

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