Tag Archives: God

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)

A Prayer for the Suffering

A scripture and prayer for you who are afflicted today:

“Lord, hear my prayer! Listen to my plea! Don’t turn away from me in my time of distress. Bend down to listen, and answer me quickly when I call to you. For my days disappear like smoke, and my bones burn like red-hot coals. My heart is sick, withered like grass, and I have lost my appetite. Because of my groaning, I am reduced to skin and bones. I am like an owl in the desert, like a little owl in a far-off wilderness. I lie awake, lonely as a solitary bird on the roof.”    Psalm 102:1-7 NLT

The Lord hears your cries. The spoken and unspoken cries of your suffering.

adversity sufferingMay He restore your joy and your strength. May He feed you with the bread of life and the living water to restore your health and revive your heart.

Comfort this one I pray for Lord, this lonely owl in the desert, and lead them to the oasis of your love.

Though life may feel like a desert during difficult times, You alone God, are able to bring water forth from rocks and rain down bread from heaven for food.

May you drink and eat today, and know that God will never leave you in your time of distress. In the wilderness of life–He is there.

desert prayer

In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Linda Crawford

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

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

Why I’m Choosing to Live Open-Wounded–Because Life Hurts and Healing is Never Perfect

“I can see you’re still not healed.”

“You’re not ready yet. You need more healing.”

Thanks people of the world, for noticing and confirming that I’m still a broken, wounded mess. No thanks for the box of shame I feel your words put me in.

The box of the Un-Healed.

It’s the place where I’m told I’m not qualified to handle life yet, that I shouldn’t show my wounds because they’re too messy for people to see, that anything less than perfect isn’t good enough, and that I can’t dare to speak, do, or be anything outside the confines of the walls of the box of Un-Healed.

I’m supposed to heal up here in this box, because only “healed” people qualify to live outside this box–at least that’s the message I’m led to believe.

The “Healed” give me “steps” and absolute answers that are supposed to be the keys to my healing.. They tell me to pray and read my Bible more.

“Go ahead,” they say, “apply these answers to your wounds yourself. It’s what you need to do to be healed.”

They may even call this compassion.

But it’s not.

Compassion, the real key to releasing the healing balm we need for our wounds, doesn’t come from perfect prescriptions from the “healed.”

love heart keyCompassion can only dispensed by the open-wounded. By those who put away their measuring sticks of perfection and revive, empower, and champion rather than rival, empale, and compare.

Connected, compassionate people create nets of healing to catch the falling, the failing, and the ones bleeding too much to ask for help. Because they know:

brutal beautiful

I know I’m not the only one suffocating, suffering, and yes, even occasionally swearing when I feel I’ve been shamed into the box of the Un-healed. I’ve found some of you there and we’ve started talking about our pain and our shame, and we’ve discovered that compassion is the key. Together, we’ve found the courage to punch our fists through the walls of the box, tearing the labels “unworthy,” “broken,” “too wounded,” and “not healed enough” that were plastered on the outside.

We know we can’t live and we can’t heal in here, in the shame of the Un-healed box. Hidden, silent, separate suffering does not heal.

A covered up wound may look better from the outside, but it always digs deeper into the flesh. It always gets worse.

Only open wounds can heal.

Open wounds are messy to look at and messy to deal with. They bleed on our white t-shirts of I-hope-you-only-see-that-I-have-it-all-together. We get stained by each other’s pain.

His blood stains us too. Our wounds became His.

And we. . .

We. Are. Him.

The Body. His Body on earth.

Open-wounded, we are able to love like He does. Bleeding together, we connect our suffering to His, our healing to His

There is no shame in living open-wounded. No. Shame. Anymore.

Yes, I’m Un-Healed. My complete and perfect healing will come the day He calls me to my perfect home. Until then, I’m going to live open-wounded.

So now, to the people of the world who see my wounds and say:

“I see you are not healed yet.”

I say, “HURRAY!”

I’m glad you see it, and I hope you always do. Because I want to invite you into my house that is a mess, with dishes in the sink and mold growing on the leftovers in the back of my refrigerator.

Compassion--the key to healing heartsSee the real me—Imperfect. Wounded. Sit down and let’s talk about the messiness of life. Let’s let the wounds hurt here and have no answers, no measuring sticks of perfection, no formulas for healing. I’ll serve you love offered on the used and abused chipped plate of my heart. It’s what I have to give.

Compassion is the only key that unlocks my healing.

Life hurts and healing is never perfect, so I’m choosing to live open-wounded. To dare to use the brutal to color life beautiful.

We can do this thing called true compassion.

We can put down the measuring sticks of our brokenness, and

pick up the healing keys of HOLY HEALING HEARTS.

Imperfect, open-wounded loving.

Brutal into beautiful.

Let’s dare to live–and LOVE–open-wounded to the hurting ones in our lives today.

Linda

Making the Whole of Life Beautiful

Make the Whole BeautifulI’m in the third year of writing my memoir. It’s a project that can’t be hurried along, even though many days I feel like I’m running late for the school bus and need a good shove on my bottom to get moving.

I long to get through the schooling in the brokenness of my own humanity, and on to the grown-up life of the promised happy ending. But patient endurance must finish its work.

Over and over I must keep going back. Back to study brokenness, back to study pain. Back to study who I was, who I became, and who truly I wanted to be. It’s like picking up shards of a broken mirror, each reflecting a fragment of me, and trying to piece it back together.

Trying to make the pieces, and me, WHOLE again.

I can’t go back and make some of those pieces pretty.

But I am moving forward, and with God’s help, the whole is becoming beautiful!

The book of my life will be colored by beauty, and not by shame and pain. Because:

God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes. Psalm 18:24 MSG

Praying for God to help you make the whole of your life beautiful too.

Linda

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