Mar 05 2015


Broken crayons still colorI love a tidy house. I’m sorry; I should rephrase that. I would love a tidy house…if I had one. I try to keep it in decent order, but with a six-year-old, there’s lots of stuff. (Also, I’m a little bit lazy.) With Skylanders men, super hero costumes, books, toys, puzzles and art, we have all the bases covered and sometimes half the floor. One thing I’ve learned from this: if there are three things on this planet that can find their way under a foot, it’s Legos, green army men and crayons. And, oh the sadness that comes with broken crayons.

Those things have caused some introspection for me lately. The broken crayons, I mean. You see, a few months ago, I was killing time on Pinterest, and I saw the quote, “Broken crayons still color.” Perhaps you’ve seen it as well. It was the first time I had ever heard it, and it hit me in the gut. It echoed in my mind and heart over and over again: Broken crayons still color. It resonated with me because I know what it is to be broken, and I’ve often felt that my “coloring” days were all in my rear view mirror. In dwelling on the profoundness of this little proverb, I’ve discovered not one but three truths about brokenness. If you, too, have ever felt like a broken crayon in a box full of better-than-you instruments, read on.

Truth #1: Broken crayons still color. No matter how broken you may be, what you’re made of hasn’t changed. All the good that was there before is still there now, and what you once had to offer your family, your friends and your world is still within you. No amount of brokenness can change that. You are still you.

While helping Z clean up his room today, I encountered a number of runaway crayons with a broken one among them. I mentioned that even though we hate to break crayons, they’re still good because they still color. I was curious what his reaction would be, and he said, “But I don’t really like using broken crayons.” When I asked him why, he said, “Because they’re harder to use.”

Truth #2: Broken crayons are harder to use. You know it, I know it; my six-year-old knows it. And you and I are harder for the Lord to use when we’re broken. It’s a sad truth, but there’s beauty hidden in it when you realize that the reason it’s harder for Him to use us can be fixed. It’s because we make it harder, and it doesn’t have to be that way. We wiggle ourselves to the bottom of the box because we impose our own assumptions on our worth and decide, on His behalf, that we’re not usable.

Have you found yourself doing this? Is it because you feel like you’re not good enough? Reread truth #1. Is it because you don’t think you have anything left to give? Reread truth #1. Is it, perhaps, because you think no one really wants a broken crayon anyway? Ahh, then keep reading to the end because truth #3 is for you.

When I was young, I loved to color. I was meticulous about which colors I chose and worked diligently to stay within the lines. I even practiced how I held my hand to ensure the smoothest possible sweep of the crayon so the shading would be even. Coloring was serious business, people. I wanted it to be perfect. When a crayon broke, it often sifted to the bottom of the box and tended to stay there even if it was one of my favorite colors…until.

Until I needed that one perfect-for-this-spot color, and I’d be happy with nothing else. Determined, I would rummage through the box, and just when I was about to lose hope, I’d find it. That ideal color. The one that topped everything off and made the page look exactly the way I wanted it to. The broken crayon at the bottom of the box that was absolutely perfect. It didn’t matter to me that it was broken. I was just glad I had found it because it was exactly what I needed, and nothing else would do.

Nothing else would do.

You won't despise a heart, God, that is broken.

Image courtesy of Sias van Schalkwyk at FreeImages.com

Lesson #3: When you need a specific color, it doesn’t matter if that crayon is broken. And it doesn’t matter how small and broken you may be or how much you may feel forgotten; absolutely no one else on earth can fill your shoes. It may look like you’ve been passed by, but have no fear. He may be giving you time to rest and heal, or maybe the timing isn’t right just yet, but your time is coming. The One doing the coloring has a place where He wants you, and I can assure you of this: when He needs that spot filled, no one but you will do.

From the heart of Dixie Mama…always say grace.



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  1. Kim

    Thank you!!! I wanted to be able to tell you eloquently what your words helped this morning…it’s all I can do to see through the tears to type. I am a very broken crayon that’s been broken a couple of times. I am a 39 years old, a recovering addict, I battle with depression, my 3rd marriage is in the beginning stages of divorce, and my children and I are facing moving in with my parents…again. Until I came across your post this morning…I was ready to give up. I felt that the person I was so many years ago was hopelessly lost and that I would never be that person again…that I’m only the sum of all my
    mistakes….or as my soon to be ex husband puts it “Kim, if I had known you had problems, I never would’ve wasted my time on you”…I felt like someone not worth knowing. In an effort to stay clean I was going through blogs on planning and I seen yours advertised on Corie Clarks blog. And I clicked it and seen this post…..I don’t have the words to tell you how much I needed to read all 3 truths. You saved my life in more than one. God used you!! Thank you!!

    1. Hayley Cranfield

      Kim, all these months later it is YOUR words that are encouraging ME. You might have noticed, but my blog has become dormant. I’ve had a number of life changes and don’t seem to have the time to write, and so I have just seen your comment from January. Thank you for taking the time to write and tell me that my blog ministered to you. That means more to me than you could know. I pray you’re doing well. No matter the circumstances, broken crayons DO still color, and God is a master at working even the worst things for your good if you will let Him. Be encouraged, dear one. He is faithful.

  2. Uncle Randy

    I’m still new here and not very sure of myself, but your thoughts speak to me too so if it’s OK I’d like to participate.

    I’m also quite familiar with brokenness. I suspect some of us Dixie Daddies are a lot like Dixie Mamas with a pinch of macho stirred in.

    It seems to me that most of the spiritual growth in my life came in my darkest moments. That’s the times I am most likely to realize that maybe I CAN’T BUT HE CAN.

    Many years ago when I was attending Antioch Baptist College in Marietta, Georgia (it’s a broken crayon right now) one of my professors (Dr. Smith) shared with us about the principle of weakness and strength from his lifetime of marvelous experiences.

    Dr. Smith had had the privilege of teaching a man who was destined to become a mighty man of God. He was teaching a class on Evangelism and this student almost failed the class. However, this crayon refused to stay broken and in turning his weakness over to God and by trusting in Him, Rev. Billy Graham arguably became one of the greatest Evangelist the world has ever known.

    Alone I may be just a broken crayon and it may seem I can’t do anything, but “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Php. 4:13 KJV

    Uncle Randy

    1. Hayley Cranfield

      Thank you, Uncle Randy. I suppose if we’re honest, we all know what brokenness is like. I’m so glad the Lord uses the foolish to confound the wise and serves as our strength when we’re weak. His mercies are new every morning, and the beauty of that truth is immeasurable.

  3. Elizabeth

    This is so beautiful. Really. We had a speaker at our MOPS group this morning and your post ties in perfectly with her message! I am in love with this analogy. So true that God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness, and he may place us where we are BECAUSE of our weakness and not in spite of it. Thank you for posting this. I’m pretty sure this is going to stick in my memory!

    Sharing for my MOPS gals!

    P.S. Loving the site makeover. :-)

    1. Hayley Cranfield

      Thank you, Liz. (Is it Liz or Elizabeth?) The analogy is powerful, isn’t it? Wish I could take credit for the original quote ;) Thank you for the support and shares. You’re awesome!

      1. Elizabeth

        I totally confuse people by going by both. ;-) When I introduce myself I usually say Elizabeth, but all my friends and family have called me Liz from childhood. I answer to both. You may certainly call me Liz if you like!

        And I do love it, so fitting.

        1. Hayley Cranfield

          Thanks, Liz :)

  4. Hope snow

    Wow Haley! This is soooooo good!!! I didn’t know you were such a talented writer! (I love to write too) This is so inspiring & uplifting ~ just the thing I needed this morning! Thank you for doing this, and sharing your beautiful gift with so many.

    Love, Hope

    1. Hayley Cranfield

      Hope, thank you! I’m trying to follow my heart and God’s leading. It’s my hope that the things that spill onto this site will encourage hearts.

  5. Jennifer

    This post made filled my heart with such joy! Joy because yes, this is a truth that so many people, especially broken women need to hear, but more joy because it came from you. You speak the truth and I pray this truth settles deep within your soul so that you can’t do anything but realize that His beauty from your ashes is waiting for you to claim. I look forward to the day when you will look back at all the brokenness you went through and realize that you would do it again because of the purposes that came from it. Love you Hayes!

    1. Hayley Cranfield

      Jennifer, few people know me like you do! Your encouragement means so much to me. God does have a way of using brokenness and turning it into something beautiful, doesn’t He? Love you too!

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