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Archive for the tag “life”

walking in the fight

“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work, so that you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.”  [James 1:2-4]

Awake my soul. You are living. You were created, one spinning thread of molecules at a time, by the Great Creator. Awake. You were chosen to live. Your purpose is to bring life. The act of each day is your fight. It is your test. It is the step by step that will harden your muscles and make you ready for the next fight.

Practice living:

Wake. Say good morning over brewing coffee and pull out Bible and pages. Release the unseeing truth. Ingest His always-good, wise, perspective. It is the real truth. It will heal. It will give strength.

Draft the day’s bits and pieces. There is a war to be fought. It will be done one hour at a time.

Shower. My body is yours. I honor you as I honor me. Sit at the desk with a fresh face and a lighted candle. It is my reminder. It is a prayer. Work with built in hard stops for air, for walks, for stretches or strengthening, for prayer. It is the five minutes that will fuel the many hours.

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My fight is to live. To do what I was born to do. What I dream of. To use my hands, my head, my heart without letting fear grip me, paralyze me.

What’s your fight? Has God given you the steps to work through the fight?

[This picture will lead you to Ann Voskamp’s Grace Plan. God chose to speak to me about living my life through this. I share it with you. It’s not a must, merely a thought or potentially an inspiration. ]

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before the dawn of time

 

image[This post is inspired by Ann Voskamp’s #TheJesusProject. Click on the picture to discover more.]

 

Before the dawn of time, C.S. Lewis writes. I feel a comfort knowing that you were there before me, before people and pain and sky and trees. That you stood unshaken in the dark void, dreamed and spoke. Solid words like a great oak door. The words were a part of you, pieces of you. Rock-steady. The words were good and true, just like you. Just like the words you speak today. Their truth, their goodness do not turn void. You spoke, the words hovered beside you, ready for the next command. Ready to do your bidding. They formed mountains and countless souls with immortal dreams.

Thousands upon thousands of words make up your being. All the good words, true, just, noble, kind, gracious, loving words. They are the bread of you. They hold a fraction of your form, but enough to blow my world apart. They are the words I stand on, lean on, hold hard and tight. They are pieces of you and when I feel alone and afraid I speak the words with my thick tongue and challenge my soul to touch each word as it runs by. I speak your words until my soul remembers and I can walk again.

I will hide your words in my heart, so I can walk and not grow faint, run and not grow weary, soar on wings like eagles. With your words I can fix my eyes on you, put on my hands around your face, see only you in the good, good times when I want to run ahead alone, and in the bad, bad times when I think my heart will stop beating. You are my rock and my fortress, my strong Deliverer. I have grafted your words within me and now they make up pieces of me.

What words of the Great Creator do you hold close to your heart?

Insistent Prayer

Tell me it will be okay. I bury my face in kind cotton threads. Can I know this isn’t the end? Is this just a silly, mean wrinkle? Will I enter into the wildness of life lived again?

I strain against the pulsing pain. Against the wracking fear. I strain against the damning evidence. I ask—let me see beyond the seen.

No matter how my heart betrays me, I know within my soul, you are The Great One. I choose to remember your many names, all promises and goodness. You have gone before and fought. You have decided the victory.

Why you created me for this moment and time, I don’t know. The earth is burning. And we all are in desperate need. What can I offer?

In the midst of my brokenness, let me be your faithful oracle. Bring life out of the charred remains.

“They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:3b – 4

Distracted

crystalDistracted from my task at hand, thoughts swirl over each other like spaghetti. Do you have days like this? Why? What do you do to combat this feeling? Many times, I give in. I don’t feel like fighting it.

Usually, it is extremely frustrating to be distracted. But this time, it was a prompt to tell me I am missing something. Thankful for awareness, I  realize days like these are a sign. No more believing that I’m awful; that I’m incompetent or that something is terribly wrong with me. No, distracted days are now an indication to fill the well, gulping spirit water for my thirsty soul. Currently, the water I choose to drink is full of art. He uses it to breathe life into my deadened parts.

I went for a run the other day. Wind breezing through loose tendrils of hair, sunlight beaming down like a spotlight, and precious air filling my lungs, I studied His creation. As my body tired and longed to quit, clustering birds called out. Beholding the dreamy blue sky, I saw my spirit soaring. Something said to me, “Your dreams are like those birds in the air. Keep your eyes on them, discard peripheral vision, and never give up.” My legs grew stronger, arms propelling momentum as a second wind powered through my frame. How was I so tired a minute ago and then firing my way up the last incline? Spirit food. Dreams. Aspirations. Nature. God. Love. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I know the sense well now.

That run reminded me what I already knew but needed to experience again. It’s easy to forget truth when we stop experiencing it. We must figure out the ways we are spoken to authentically…to the core. For me, becoming lost in nature, in working my body, in writing, gazing at beauty, in acting, in meaningful conversation—speaks to me. Patching up my broken, numb places these pieces of life are my art.

Are You a Risk Taker?

Transforming from a “safe” person to becoming more of a risk taker, I am elated to share this post today. Most of what follows is a lovely collection of quotes (about taking risks, what else?) that I hope you will ponder, pray about and accept into your life…

Over the last few months, I have learned that the payoff of risk taking purely lies in the genuine satisfaction of going out on a limb—on simply risking. As I continue to take risks I never have before—whether it is the best choice or not—I am thrilled by the dare. However, I am not completely fearless. No one is, of course, but I am committed to fighting fear for the rest of my life.

After taking a risky action or promise,  I step back and think, “Wow, I can’t believe I did that. That would have never happened before. I feel like I can do anything”.  Self-value surges within me and I cannot contain the delight, filling my soul. To be honest, I have never felt the way I do today about myself, my family, friends, life, work—everything. No matter what, I believe my Creator has led me to this place—no matter how crazy it may look to some people—to make mistakes, to find freedom and to learn how to help set others free.

After committing to a few risky actions, I become excited that I made those steps. Then later, I really think and realize something could go wrong; that maybe I don’t know what I’m doing at all. That—the big unknown—is part of what feeds artistic survival as well as living life to the fullest for anyone, actually. So, what risks have you taken lately? What about risks you wished you had taken? Any regrets? What can we all do to prevent those regrets? What steps would you like to see yourself take next year?

Quotes on taking risks…

You must accept that you might fail; then, if you do your best and still don’t win, at least you can be satisfied that you’ve tried. If you don’t accept failure as a possibility, you don’t set high goals, you don’t branch out, you don’t try, you don’t take the risk. – Rosalynn Carter

The dangers of life are infinite, and among them is safety. – Goethe

It’s not because things are difficult that we dare not venture. It’s because we dare not venture that they are difficult. – Seneca

Death is not the biggest fear we have; our biggest fear is taking the risk to be alive—the risk to be alive and express what we really are. – Miguel Angel Ruiz

When you play it too safe, you’re taking the biggest risk of your life. Time is the only wealth we’re given. – Barbara Sher

The person who risks nothing does nothing, has nothing, is nothing, and becomes nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn and feel and change and grow and love and live. – Leo F. Buscaglia

Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore. – Andre Gide

If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary. – Jim Rohn

Life is inherently risky. There is only one big risk you should avoid at all costs, and that is the risk of doing nothing. – Denis Waitley

I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood. – Audre Lorde

The risk of a wrong decision is preferable to the terror of indecision. – Maimonides

If we listened to our intellect, we’d never have a love affair. We’d never have a friendship. We’d never go into business because we’d be too cynical. Well, that’s nonsense. You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down. – Annie Dillard

There can be no vulnerability without risk. There can be no community without vulnerability. There can be no peace, and ultimately no life, without community. – M. Scott Peck

Our lives improve only when we take chances, and the first and most difficult risk we can take is to be honest with ourselves. – Walter Anderson

Artist Survival Kit

What is your “artist survival kit”? It can be anything you feel you cannot do without as a creative being (this includes everyone, of course). Or better yet, what is your “human survival kit”? All humans are creative in some way because we are all fashioned by the Great Creator in His image.

As a newfound artist, I cannot be without my emotions. The ability and openness to honestly express myself is vital to my art. Like a rushing river graciously flowing through my core and out to others open to receive, a colorful collage rise and fall—deep purple, tranquil turquoise, vibrant orange, passionate reds and dark black crescendos. My eyes open; my ego shut off as my heart and the “real me” vulnerably dance in front of people I do not know. To fully let go, not care how ridiculous I may look, while telling someone’s story—the good and the bad—brings deep satisfaction and value to my very being. When I let raw emotion pour out, I find joy in expressing an authentic story over and over, making it my own, as if the knowledge was mine in another life. To feel someone else’s triumphs and heartaches is a gift. It not only heals me but the audience as well.

Another tool I cannot be without is writing. To write is to breathe, to sleep, to eat—to savor life. Inner ponderings, experiences, gut reactions and dreams strut onto the page eagerly. Thankfully, my left brain is silenced during these fleeting moments throughout the week. I long to capture “living in the moment” and the thoughtfulness flowing through my sore hands, fingers and worn-out pens. Pushing away all that I want to forget and reaching for the hand of today. The here. The now. My soul’s ears acutely listening and transcribing His lessons and truths. Thankfully, He has prompted me to be aware, giving myself permission to create.

I could go on for pages, but I will end with this: I cannot be without my Creator and all that He offers. Without His guidance, I would not even be open enough to write this. If I had kept myself closed off from His nudging, I wouldn’t be experiencing life; but merely surviving. Human relationships, nature, love, kindness—all things He has given. And I cannot do without them.

How Dreams Can Emerge

Two years ago, my truest dreams began to emerge from the deep sea, as if they had been held down for lifetimes by a colossal antique anchor.

At first, I thought it was wishful thinking. But the visions kept surfacing each day. I couldn’t ignore them—although flailing about—as I became increasingly aware of my thoughts, motivations, fears and aspirations. Driving down the road with Harrison in the back seat; cooking dinner; taking a hot shower. Wherever I was; whatever I was doing, the visions persisted. I wasn’t trying to think about them. After a while, I realized that I would never know the possibilities unless I started taking action toward the dreams. Thus began my new life journey.

First, dispelling deep-rooted fears, and carefully excavating my childhood dreams, I could breathe again. Finally, I realized that I needed creative outlets, just like a child.

My Creator is teaching me courage, real confidence, character, patience, tenacity, love, empathy and other attributes as I continue along this illuminated path. He gently whispers, “Don’t worry about the outcome, Crystal. Stop worrying. Start trusting me. Focus on the process of this new life; how you are creating your own life; it’s your choice. Enjoy the journey. Help others. Love everyone.” These are the truths which keep me going.

Our truest life is when we dream while awake. The question is: Do we choose to have the courage and joy that He already offered to pursue our dreams? That is what will continue to be the catalyst for change, for growth, for the journey to our wildest imaginings.

What do you dream about? Do you allow your mind to open up to all the possibilities the Creator has for you? If not, why?

“All men dream but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes to make it possible.”—T.E. Lawrence

“And the LORD answered me, and said,
Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables,
that he may run that readeth  it.  For the vision is yet for an appointed time,
but at the end it shall speak, and not lie:
though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.”
Habakkuk 2:2-3 (KJV)

Look Fear in the Face

“Have you ever looked fear in the face and said I just don’t care?”—Pink’s Glitter in the Air lyrics

When you first hear the word “fear”, what comes to mind? An impending attack? Feeling paralyzed? Many of us struggle with the fear of the unknown or fear of something that isn’t even real. Why is that? Fear causes irrational behavior and sometimes, harmful outcomes.

Facing fears is an important part of life. Without this courage, how can we continue to grow with God, in creativity, through life? Start by writing it down. Write down all the inner fears you hold on to, too afraid to speak them out. Spill out all the jagged lies that have wreaked havoc in your soul over the years, no matter how insignificant they seem. None of them are—I assure you. These trappings will hold you back from living the life that is meant for you. (It is best to handwrite them down first because you will be more honest.)

When I looked up “fear” online, here were a few meanings offered:
1.    a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid
2.    concern or anxiety; solicitude
3.    something that causes feelings of dread or apprehension

As you can see, fear takes many forms. It can make us feel crazy, paralyzed, worthless, and pointless, like we will never make it. Most of the fear I have experienced in my life has been imagined and propelled by lies—lies that I accepted as truth. (If you want to read more about my story, check out this article from The Good Women Project: https://www.goodwomenproject.com/daily-life/stress-lies-and-truth).

Wherever you are in life right now, it is always a good time to assess what is on your mind and whether anything is holding you back from your life purpose. I constantly remind myself that when I feel fear it is a great opportunity to take some sort of action…and to grow. As an artist, growth has become vital to me—just like breathing. Sometimes, I feel like I can’t even breathe. Then I take a step back, draw in fresh air and stare at the sky. I’ve learned the tricks that help me get past those trying moments. What are yours?

Today, I leave you with a verse that has helped me through fearful days and nights:
The LORD is my light and my salvation– whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life– of whom shall I be afraid?—Psalm 27:1

What do you choose to value?

For the past two years I have thought more about what I value and why than ever before in my entire life. After a while, I realized that my downward spiral of inner struggles was directly related to a few concepts, one of those being my lack of valuing and feeling valued. I had to face the fact that I valued work too much. More accurately, I looked to work for affirmation because I had disregarded other interests. Also, I did not outline boundaries for work, family, friends or anything. Because of the imbalance, I had lost finding pleasure in pretty much everything.

But guess what? I sought help and the Great Helper answered me. Gradually, He drew me back to my first loves in life (a.k.a. writing and acting) and is still helping me rediscover my inner child. I feel peace, love, thankfulness and a hope that I never had before. He showed me how to value all things new again. I value the near-three-mile run that my sister and I just conquered; I value my parents—who they are and all that they are doing to help me with Harrison right now; I value the time I make to read at night; I value my writing; I value my courage to try new things; I value a sound mind. The list could go on and on.

By becoming more aware of what we value and expressing it genuinely, we will be freer as artists. We must reject any belief that tells us “Why is this happening to me?” and “Well, this is just how life is”. We have the choice to take action and live out what we truly value. He gives us the courage to do it. But the choice is ours.

What do you value through specific action in your life right now?

A Letter from my 80-Year-Old Self

Just so you know, I wrote this as a prompt today after reading an exercise from Julia Cameron’s The Right to Write book. Thanks to Sammie and Heather, I am now a writing prompt lover. Here is my letter to myself:

Dear Crystal,

You don’t yet realize what divine power has been placed within you. God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit—all terms and an image you’ve been taught your whole life; realize who the Creator truly is and not man’s idea of Him—what religion has molded His likeness to be.

Get in touch with your inner child. She will whisper truths you need to hear so you won’t be afraid to dance boldly, not caring who is staring and wondering, “Who does she think she is?” When you are dancing and experiencing what freedom truly is, then and only then, will you relay an impact closer to what was meant for you. It’s fun some days. Other days are hard, but at least you will be truthfully feeling, not holding back as you once did, and instead, letting loose all the world’s chains—especially the religious ones. Those often are the heaviest and you aren’t even sure how they all got there.

Don’t feel selfish. You have a pure and compassionate, fully loving heart. You must give yourself permission to be still to write; to learn; to grow; to manifest the right change in your life. And it’s yours—no one else’s. When you look back over your life, what do you want to say? “Wow, I gave it my all, utilizing my passions, interests and gifts to facilitate my change, thus affecting the shift of change within others around me” or “I wish I had…” It’s your choice. Choose life. Choose risk. Choose love. Choose sacrifice. Choose empathy.

You started asking for a “deeper passion” the other weekend and you don’t yet realize that it is happening now. Right now. He heard you. He always hears you. No need to think twice about that, wondering if you should pray harder or more often. He sees your inner beliefs for what they are—the untainted version, not twisted by others’ perceptions. He knows how you’ve pushed the lies away from your mind, through His grace, and smashed them, now absent from your heart.

While you struggle, be forever thankful. He has given you full life and knows your gratefulness for even the little things. Don’t feel guilty. Don’t carry the burdens of others. He will do that for you. Continue to write. Keep pushing yourself. You are capable of greatness in His eyes, never pressured for performance, yet always welcoming fresh inspiration and growth. Forget what the world says—it’s a lie. Don’t try to convince others. Just live it out, always giving, offering vulnerability and love, just as He did.

Make time to do the nice things for those you care about though. You may regret not doing it later. Stop your busyness to enjoy the fleeting moments. They add up fast. Don’t worry about what everyone thinks. It’s what He thinks of you that really matters.

Much love and compassion,

Crystal, (80-years-old)

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