The Rainbow

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“God is always good and I am always loved.”  ~Ann Voskamp
http://www.onethousandgifts.com

I have this quote posted in my kitchen.  I believe this but sometimes I forget it…the times that I am struggling, the moments of sadness or stress, the days of discomfort or weariness.    When I start to dwell too much on the hardships or trials, I find myself drifting away from this truth.  Life can be hard and moments can be trials.  But, through it all I do believe that “God is always good and I am always loved.”

It helps me to count the good things, to write down the gifts, to focus on the blessings and thank God for them.  One of my very favorite books is “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp.  She was challenged by a friend to write down one thousand things she loved.

On page 45, she says, “On a whim, a dare, I scratch it down:  Gift List.  I begin the list.  Not of gifts I want but of gifts I already have…That is the beginning and I smile.  I mean, they are just the common things and maybe I don’t even know they are gifts really until I write them down and that is really what they look like.  Gifts He bestows.  This writing it down–it is sort of like…unwrapping love.”

I too began this challenge and it has been one of the best ways I know to remind myself of His goodness and love…to keep reminding myself so I don’t forget.  Taking the time to write down the blessings has helped me worry less and thank Him more.  I have been keeping this list for over five years now and although I may not write the gifts down daily, this simple routine has helped me greatly.  In the hard moments and difficult days, my mind goes back to counting the blessings and noticing the gifts He’s given me.  My mom also kept a journal of gifts.

I wanted to share with you the details of a God-given gift that happened recently.  My dad and my mom celebrate birthdays 6 days apart.  Without mom here now, the week is somewhat bittersweet and especially hard for Dad.   This year we celebrated his 75th birthday! We gathered all together with extended family to celebrate the gift of him.  We sang “Happy Birthday” and he blew out the candles.  A few raindrops had begun to fall…it was dripping lightly on us from above.  Moments after we sang to him, the sun came out and a glorious rainbow appeared in the sky.  This rainbow had the entire color spectrum and even turned into a double rainbow toward the end as it faded away.

Some might say, it was just a combination of sun and rain that came together at the same time to form a rainbow.  I believe it was an extra-special gift from God, sent at a perfect moment with precision timing.  Dad had been especially sad having to celebrate this monumental birthday without his bride by his side.  I don’t know exactly how things work between heaven and earth. But, I do believe that God knew exactly how to show us His love and help us feel close to her at a very special moment.  Maybe she got to see this amazing gift and even got to see the tears of joy that fell from our faces as we gazed up into the sky?  Either way, I am grateful!

Thank you God for the gift of this rainbow, the colorful reminder of your promises and your love.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”  ~James 1:17

“I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.” ~Psalm 9:1

 

In-depenDANCE Day

Happy Independence Day!!14565778851_621f6458f4_m

What do you think about when you hear the word INDEPENDENCE?  Often, we talk about our ability to depend on ourselves, to determine our steps, to be self-sufficient.  In the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, one definition says “freedom from outside control or support; freedom from the control of others.”  We are often encouraged to “stand on our own two feet” and be independent in this life.  And although, there are parts of being independent that are profitable and worth striving for…I have found that I need others to live this life well.

I believe we were created for relationship–with God and with others.  We need Him and we need others to encourage us in this life that often can be full of stresses and struggles.  I need guidance in so many areas of my life and although I can be independent (and sometimes stubborn)…I am finding that truly I need more than myself to get through.

It may a bit counter-cultural but I want to live in–dependence upon my Lord and Savior.  I need His help, His strength, His wisdom in every area of my life.  I want to live leaning on Him and His faithful love.  Dependence is defined as “relying on another for support.”  I certainly rely on others for support.  But, I also want to rely on, rest on, lean on Jesus.  I believe He alone knows what I need most…He alone can truly provide what my heart and soul long for.

Psalm 59:17 says, “You are my strength.  I sing praise to you.  You, God, are my fortress, my God in whom I can rely.

I John 4:16 says, “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.  God is LOVE.  Whoever lives in love lives in God and God in them.”

KNOW and RELY…I love those words.  The KNOWING here seems to indicate something deeper than just casual knowledge.  To know someone more personally involves a much deeper relationship.  Trusting and relying on someone goes beyond a short encounter with them.  It happens after much time together, many shared experiences and conversations–having a history of trust-building times with them.  I want to be that kind of person–reliable,trustworthy, dependable.  Often times, I believe I am…but also so many times, I am not.

But, I have found that God is the most trustworthy One.  I’ve experienced His extravagant love, dependable strength, and faithful care.  In all the struggles and stresses of my life, He has proven Himself to be trustworthy again and again and again.  He has answered more prayers than I can list and sustained me through some of my most difficult days with a peace, strength, and hope I could not create on my own.  This is NOT to say life has been easy or stress-free.  But, God has been with me at every moment.  Living life in-dependence on Him is the only way I know how to get through it all.

My mom knew how to lean on God.  She did it with much faith and trust, in some of her deepest places of sorrow and suffering.  I was blessed to be with her the last 6 weeks of her life here on earth.  I watched how she rested and relied upon her Savior in her most difficult days as her body battled pancreatic cancer.  She continued to pray and read her Bible, go to church and Community Bible Study, journal the things she was grateful for, shower her smile and love on anyone who came to visit, go for walks and prepare meals.  It wasn’t a checklist of “good things to do” to her…it was her life and God was her hope.  She had a strong desire to spend time with her Savior and with others.  I truly was amazed how she found the strength to keep living so courageously when she was in ever-increasing levels of  pain and discomfort.  She moved forward on this difficult path as if she KNEW and RELIED upon more than what could be physically seen.  She lived in-dependence on Him and I believe He strengthened and helped her through it all.  I too want to live this way.

I love words and I would rewrite the word independence this way:  in-depen-DANCE.  As I researched the origin of the word, I discovered that the French word is spelled “in- dependance“.  I love the thought of following God being like a dance.  I am not a very good dancer but I know several people who are.  When I do dance, it does lift my spirits.  Watching others who love to dance brings happiness and joy.  With partner dances, there is a “Lead and Follow” concept that is needed for the dance partners to move together well.

Marisa Wright at http://www.hobbylark.com states, “Lead and follow” is the secret to getting two partners dancing smoothly together. It’s simply impossible for two people, dancing in close contact, to move seamlessly if each person making their own decisions, choosing their own timing and doing their steps independently. They must coordinate their moves perfectly – and the only way to achieve that is for one person to direct the moves and the other person to follow.”

I’ve found that the more I let God direct my life and the more I follow His ways, the more my life is filled with love, peace, hope, and purpose.  I’ve discovered that as I spend time reading God’s Word and praying, asking God to speak to me, looking at life through a lens of faith, noticing the God-given things and thanking Him for them, responding to nudges and interactions that come my way, then I will grow in my dependence on God.  There will be many mistakes and stumbles, and I will need God’s encouragement and grace over and over again.  Learning to listen for Him will take a lifetime of practice, but I believe it is worth it.

At http://www.arthurmurraylive.com, Chris Lynam states in his analysis of “The Dance Partner” poem–

“One of the greatest aspects of partner dancing is that every dance requires an invitation.”

Every dance requires an invitation…

I believe Jesus gives each one of us an invitation in this dance we call life…an invitation to accept His extravagant love…an invitation to let Him lead our lives…an invitation to join Him on the adventure He has already planned for us…an invitation to lean on Him and find the strength, peace, hope, and love our hearts are longing for.  His invitation is always there waiting for each one of us…

Matthew 11:28-30 says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

God will never force Himself upon us.  His invitation of love will never end and is waiting “in our mailbox.”  He is hoping we will open it to learn more about His love!  I’ve heard it said that”the Bible is God’s love-letter to us.”  I have found this to be true.

If you want to learn more about God’s great love for you, may I encourage you to start reading the book of John, written by one of Jesus closest disciples? As you do, notice especially how Jesus loved the people around Him when He was here.  (It may be different than you expect.)

Happy IN-DEPENDANCE Day everyone!

May we join in the dance and may we keep in step with our Savior…may we let Him lead and may we follow with our whole hearts.